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Archive for the month “September, 2011”

You Owe Me The Truth

We need a service, we do the research, we hire someone, they do the job, and we pay for that service. Simple process; at least it is easy enough to understand. There is a need, an expectation for fulfillment, and the final stage is payment. I want to talk about that final stage, the settling up, if you will.

I have often observed how easily and rapidly we will have something bad or negative to say and we will go out of our way to complain; but when someone does something good, positive, or admirable suddenly we do not have the time. This fosters a behavior in us to look to someone else for all of our problems and thus we feel correct in blaming others for virtually everything that we see is wrong.

Let’s examine this service issue. Since my business provides a service I feel like I am qualified to address this and I am going to draw on personal experience. I can say that most of my customers are happy. We have established a rapport with them that allows for a friendly exchange. We do try to make it clear that we are professional and take what we do seriously. Therefore, if there is a problem we want and expect to be given an opportunity to address and correct that same problem if it is at all possible.

Recently we have encountered a new type of customer, and I am going to call them “the quickies”. “The quickies” are being named that for some very pertinent reasons, they are quick to complain and quick to quit. This behavior leaves any reputable business wondering what really happened.

Example one: this “quickie” had been approached when we started our business a few years ago. We offered her a competitive rate, we knew her home because we provided her with this same service when we worked for someone else. Two years passed, she had quit our former employer due to financial issues (she said), but now she contacted us wanting to obtain a quote and possibly start service. We came to an agreement and went out to do the job.

Upon our arrival there was a note asking us to do something additional. Now when you are in a service oriented job additional service can be provided, but often it is with an additional cost. The smart thing to do is to inquire prior to the actual service being scheduled. This did not occur, but being professionals we did what was requested and made her aware this was not a part of  the regular service of which she ordered and that there is a charge for the additional services.

Afterward we requested feedback; and all we got was positive comments along with an apology for asking for the additional work. Again, the exchange was friendly and positive. Therefore, I was accommodating and let this new customer know that it was an honest, understandable mistake. “No harm, no foul”.  She happily stated she was looking forward to our next visit. FOUR DAYS LATER, she sent an e-mail to me stating that after she examined the house further she found several deficiencies and decided that she would not need our services, as she could do this good herself. She went on to tell me that she felt she did need a deep cleaning job on her house once a month, in spite of my recommendation.

Quickie number two” stayed with our service for five months following an intense screening process. They asked for references to e-mail and/or call them to answer a series of detailed questions. It had been their experience that companies start off good, but gradually deteriorate over time until they reach a point of unsatisfactory service. Well we passed their screening and began providing them with service. We gave “Quickie number two” the same information that we provide all of our clients with, making them aware that they are not contractually bound and if there were complaints we would address and correct them promptly. ” Quickie number two” was given the same request for feedback. There were a couple of initial items deemed questions rather than complaints. These items were resolved and never spoken of again.

“Quickie number two” sent me an e-mail stating, “he wasn’t sure if he had our phone number (cards are left after each visit that have business contact information that includes the e-mail address as well as the phone number) but he wanted to inform us that he and the wife were cancelling service, because it was not up to par and they wished us much success.

Okay, now let me explain a couple of things here. I am not by any means saying our business is perfect, I do believe we do a very good job and strive for excellence. I feel confident in the service that we provide and am willing to stand behind it. If a customer is dissatisfied we have a policy to try to fix the issue; but if we can not we feel it is better to let an unhappy customer go than to try to keep one, for they will more than likely never be happy.

The former customers referred to here as “quicky number one and two” were dishonest and while from a revenue standpoint you do not like to lose paying customers, from a peace-of-mind standpoint you are truly better off. In each case I did personally answer the respective e-mails and I wished them each well. Their responses confirmed that the real problem was not necessarily our service; but their inability to own up to the truth, they could not afford to pay for our service.

This is all  really immaterial in the sense of the “why”, but again it breaks down a system that encourages honesty and credibility. If the job truly was bad you should be willing to let the provider correct the problem. However, if you say the job was not done good maybe you will drop your price, or even provide service for free to keep me.

Next time you have someone come out to provide you with any type of service, realize that along with the monetary payment that bill will not be settled to an upstanding business, until  you give that individual an honest opinion about the work they did for you. Your opinion matters; it is a gauge, a barometer to help businesses know when they do good work and where they need to improve. That does not give you authorization to lie for your own personal gain. It will hurt the next person. Remember your indebtedness can only be paid with the truth.

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Waiting In Line for YOUR Turn

I am going to try not to rant and rave here. However, I cannot make any promises. I want to first give a couple of personal experiences as examples to reference.

At the pharmacy of a certain health care group my better half stood in line to pick up his medication. Without belaboring the matter, saying that this is generally a long process is the short version. Seemingly, out of no where a woman walked in front of him and stood. He is not a  small, calm, or overly friendly man. Even in the best of moods he can become let’s say, abrasive rather rapidly. This rude  unexplained action prompted immediate response from him, he would later relay he was surprised. The response was, “EXCUSE ME”. To which the woman turned and as-a-matter-of-factly said, “I was in line but had to tell my husband something….” He went on to tell her that it would have been nice if she had demonstrated and utilized elementary manners by asking to return to the spot she had vacated for a short amount of time. However, he permitted her to go on and take the spot back after she was thoroughly embarrassed.

I was waiting in line at a local gas station with my son, there was a man and his small son ahead of me. They both left the line before they were called to the counter.  During their absence several other patrons came inside and joined the line. The man and his son returned and stood along side of me now. He never made eye contact or said a word, I was conscious of them though. When the next clerk was available I simultaneously walked to the counter as he called out “next in line please”. The man and the small boy did not move but stayed off to the side. I do believe it may have been different had I been alone.

We are all in a hurried, pressed for time state, yet what makes one feel as though their time is any more precious than yours? These two scenarios are just recent occurrences that stand out, of course there have been others. In the first one here is my take the woman was presumptuous. Since she knew she had been in line she felt like she was entitled to return to that spot. I ask “why”, what would give her that impression. In the second example, the man was trying to be sly. He did not want to get in line because now others were ahead of him. He figured I would recall seeing him in line and I would either let him go ahead of me or he would make the attempt anyway. In both cases these individuals were wrong.

There are some very basic rules that must be applied when one is in line. There is also a state of mind one must embrace and conform to. As my spouse pointed out to his line busting perpetrator, manners would have helped. In either case the very least one should do is make eye contact, no matter what you think you owe that other person acknowledgement that they are present. The next thing that MUST occur is you must speak to this unknown individual and I might add it should be in a polite voice. These situations do not warrant a commanding oration. Finally, realize you are at the mercy of this unknown individual. This means if not handled properly you could end up on the receiving end of a less than pleasant predicament, in which the small scale result could be embarrassment.

I want to remind you that once you are in line you must stay in line to insure your spot. Let me make this clear, if you get out of line you loose your place. Your mere presence in a line does not insure that spot indefinitely, otherwise people would not camp out all night for tickets to concerts or to get specially priced retail items. The line signifies that there are going to be other people that have need of service and/or merchandise around the same time, and the only way to accommodate them all is for people to be served one at a time on a first come first serve basis. THUS, A LINE!

Newsflash: people you are not the only one on this Earth, stop behaving as though you are. Be patient, be respectful, and simply wait your turn.

Do You Torture Yourself

Now why would someone even consider something like torturing themselves? It does seem rather masochistic yet you probably watch a news show or pick up a newspaper( a reputable one, if that even exists anymore). Stocks plunging, murder and mayhem, political views any one of these has the potential  to create stress , I am speaking of stress at a high level too. We are now all very aware that stress kills.

Lately, I have found myself spending time watching programs that have stories of South Africa during its apartheid  period. I have seen stories of the cruel treatment, murder, and injustice. I was curiously compelled and captivated by these stories; I was also disgusted and angered at a level which made me ask myself, “why, why are you still watching this?”  I recall hearing(and I don’t know when or where) the United States was South Africa prior to the Civil Rights Movement. I cannot say I agree with that statement. Also very clear in my memory is my “adopted”mother never being interested in films, miniseries, etc. that depicted slavery or the segregated south. She simply said, “I don’t want to watch that sh%t, I lived that sh%t…”

Angered by yet another something that I have no control of. Sometimes I just feel like I want to, need to scream. I cannot just scream on command, for no apparent reason. Watching these programs are enough of a catalyst for me to call up that anger. Once it is released, I can move on.

Parents often make children do things they do not want to do(i.e. eat your vegetables, clean up your room). This may seem harsh at the time, but ultimately it teaches the child some valued lesson and/or is good for them in the long run. Perhaps this is the very place we learn about dealing with the bad.

Therefore, we lament. Enduring the bad relationships, staying on a job we hate; in some way these things help hone our coping skills or do they? Being the tortured, tragic soul may in some way symbolize a hero and you cannot be a hero unless there is a test or trial to overcome. Do not forget the final essential component in this process, you must move on.

Like Buttah…

This a tribute to my all time favorite songstress, Barbra Joan Streisand.

I cannot tell you the first time I ever heard her sing, but I can tell you each time I hear her sing it is an event. Barbra could do a duet with the most unlikely, untalented individual; in my mind the song would be a hit, because her voice would make you forget and completely ignore anyone else.

I have become a cynic when it comes to love and romance. Yet when she sings the stirrings of youth return to me. I can remember my first crush, with the breathless fluttering in my heart and soul. The symphony that is her voice, makes me want to recall that time.

She is a musical instrument and she will take your breath away. As I watch her in concert and I am in awe and perplexed, to hear the sound that comes soaring from her being is simply amazing. It looks so easy, the way she sings, and yet you can see it comes from deep within her. Her sound resonates and fills any space that is in earshot of. The next time you need beautiful, pick up anything Streisand and let it play. 51 Gold albums, 30 Platinum albums, and 13 Multi-Platinum albums in the United States speaks volumes of this lady.

Beyond her obvious musical talent/gift what I like, admire, love about Barbra is that she defies what we as a judgmental society say is beautiful and acceptable. She did not about change her name the way it was suggested. She certainly could have changed her face, but the signature features remain the same. Her politics are genuine and supported in the most outspoken fashion. Her generous contributions to charities demonstrate she has tremendous heart.

Finally,  in my book Barbra is simply and completely BEAUTIFUL.  “Like buttah”, she IS “buttah”.

“Space Invaders”

Maybe you remember the game.. This is not about a game, it is very real and very serious.

As a being who feels rather independent, one of the most difficult decisions I was forced to make in my early adult life was to return home. I am not talking about coming back to the states from a foreign land. The result of a series of errors and misjudgements I found myself in a financial dilemma; broken and bruised I ran to sanctuary. Fortunately, I left on good terms and I was permitted to return to a place I once called home. My time there was short.  As soon as I was able, I departed from a place I will forever be grateful was there and available to me.

Adults return home more frequently then we like to believe. There is no shame in falling short of expectations. We all make mistakes.  Divorce, hard times, etc. it happens to the best of us. However, if and when you find yourself in such a predicament let me offer a bit of insight. You are now in a territory that is not your own. All the things that you remember, all the things that once were now are a thing of the past. Think of yourself as an “alien”, for that is the only way you will survive. You cannot take anything for granted, the freedoms of being a” go where you want individual” have been suspended.  Unless you are ready to have a miserable existence in the place you now reside in or possibly find yourself without a place to stay, you must assume a role of what might make you feel like a teen who has just gotten their driver’s license.

It helps to be helpful. Things that you let go when you were in your “own spot” do not hold true in your current circumstances. This mean you will probably be picking up the slack for someone else. No matter how unfair this seems, you have to keep reflecting on the fact you are imposing. The best way to not impose is to make your presence a welcomed change rather than a daily annoyance, and this will take some effort on your part.

Finally, you have to realize at any given moment you may inadvertently “wear out your welcome”. Then it is time to go.  Do not allow arrogance and pride to provide you with a one way ticket to the streets. Besides, why are you feeling like your ego is being challenged in a place that generally speaking, the folks around you truly have your best interest at heart. The real trick is to be ready to leave when it is in fact “time”.

No matter how large or small a place is, walls will close in on you. Well meaning family members and/or friends become “clock-watchers”. Everyone wants the ideal situation that is to have company/ guests/ visitors when you want, for however long you want. Beyond that, all these people become and are treated as aliens a.k.a “space invaders”

Finding That “Perfect” Fit…

This could have taken several directions. I was diverted and conflicted in thought. That made this a personal challenge. Therefore, the end result toke on a life of it’s own and it seemed to “be fitting”.

Shopping used to be fun for me, especially when I was looking to buy something for “me”. I did not need an excuse to shop, all I needed was time. I also did not need to buy anything, but that was often a perk. I enjoyed the entire process; with the exception of the crowd, but even the crowd was manageable once I had what I wanted/needed to purchase out of the way. However, in recent times this guilty pleasure has escaped me. I have to admit that I still quite enjoy making purchases for people I love and care about. My precious granddaughter has afforded me an opportunity to visit the baby and girl’s sections that has eluded me for many years now, on a regular basis. Yet, it still isn’t the same.

I could blame it all on the current economy, but that does not prevent me from indulging my pass-time in the state of”window shopping”. Time or a lack of it could claim some responsibility, but if I wanted I could make time. The desire has escaped me and with good reason; I have made the process a task, and frankly I have enough tasks already. In an effort to be efficient and smart I  have employed steps to making purchases. The steps are: desire/need, target area for search, visit said area for possible purchase, make purchase. I thought it was the smart thing to do. The random and impulse shopping is virtually eliminated. I also eliminated the fun and joy. Thus, my last adventure.

It was time, because I hadn’t purchased one in about a year. A lot of things can happen to your body in a years time. When you pass the half-century mark, unless you are disciplined a lot of things do. I am not disciplined. I made the dreaded decision to go an buy a new one or at least browse for one. I was not looking forward to it either. I thought about how in my earlier years my best buddies and I would turn the need of something like this into an all day outing… Yeah right, I wanted to accomplish the task and be back home inside of an hour. This was an equally ridiculous thought. By-the-way the item I was searching for, if you haven’t guessed was in the intimate apparel department. Yes, an exciting bra.

See what I told you about making this into a task?  I recall being told that a certain mega-star talk show hostess supreme(who I did not watch, but that’s another story) had a show discussing and demonstration how’s and why’s of bra’s fittings, purchases, and number needs. I also recall thinking,”huuum she has run out of show ideas”.

I walked into what I hoped and honestly needed to be my first, last, and only department store. Although, I did not believe that was going to be the case. I walked through departments barely giving a glance to items set in plain sight to get you to stop. I was on a mission, the intimate apparel area was targeted and I honed in on it.

Beautiful colors and styles were everywhere, I paid no attention. I wanted to go directly to my size, pick one, and move on to the check-out stand.  Then I could relax and head home.  I am going to give a conservative estimate and say there were about,what my mind told me, fifty-five trillion bras and furthermore none of them appealed to me. I made that determination inside of five minutes. As you can tell all of my good planning had gone to waste, I did not want to be here and I was not going to find anything. The smartest thing I could /should do is walk right out and come back when I was actually ready to make a good effort. I did not. Instead I laboriously rummaged through a couple of racks, beginning in the clearance sale area. Did I mention I am very frugal when it comes to most things for me? I want the best there is to offer at 1980 prices, and I think this is perfectly normal and understandable.  A full three and a half minutes into this I knew I wasn’t going to find anything. I dubbed this an impossible task…. and then there it was a voice…. as though divine intervention had come to save me from this “fate-worse-than-death” search for a bra. “Searching for the right bra for you? 9 out of 10 women are currently wearing the wrong sized bra. Come in on Tuesday August 16th and let our experts measure you and find the right one JUST FOR YOU. Sign up in customer service today for your scheduled appointment and get the customized fit you want and need.” I was the first one there.

To say I had an unrealistic expectation, is an understatement of monstrous proportions. Yet, I felt this was my answer. I had toyed with the idea of going to an intimate apparel salon and have them do this magical fitting and pull a perfect bra for me right out of some mysterious drawer that had been hiding from me. I had even accepted that this was not going to be an inexpensive venture. I was prepared, I was ready, I just somehow never quite got around to completing the task. Well for this chain of events to unfold like it did with the expert basically coming right to me… I knew it was going to be my answer.

I met with the fitting expert and the short version, it was like having a stranger with you on a shopping venture, minus the fitting/measuring. I came to this realization after the fifth bra selection. There was a lot of build up, for an ultimate let down.

This experience can be likened to relationships and friendships; there are no short cuts, no magical solutions, no easy way outs. You must invest time and effort into anything worth doing and there still may not be the desired result. Plus the desired result may be the root of the problem. When it is all said and done at the end of the day, you have the satisfaction of knowing you did you best and made a conscious effort. Also, try to avoid anything that has the adjective “perfect” attached to them we tend to take that word LITERALLY.

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