Friday, December 24, 2010
For many people this has not been a happy year. Lots of people have lost their job or at least had their hours cut or their pay cut, still others have lost their homes to foreclosure or have had to delay the purchase of a new home because they couldn't sell their current one; and on and on. But I just read a story about a woman in Florida who has apparently lost her job because she would not say "Happy Holidays" when she answered the phone. What has this world come to? Now that I work for a large, national company that employs over thousands of people, I had to go through something called "diversity training" when I first started working for them. This was part of a full week of instruction for new employees of the firm, and it was mandatory. In it, we learned to respect all of our fellow co-workers and to be careful of what we say and do around them because they might not share our same beliefs, morals, and sexual orientation. It was designed not as much to prevent hurting a co-worker's feelings as much as it was to show that the employer had provided training on these topics to thwart legal action from sexual harassment suits and the ACLU. But what bothers me more about not being able to forward funny e-mails, and telling jokes in the office, is this whole "Happy Holidays" thing. Now think about it. Obviously not everyone celebrates Christmas, most notably the Atheists. But unless you work for Walgreen's, just about everyone I know takes Christmas day off, even the Atheists. Now, I would not be offended if a Jewish person wished me a Happy Hanukkah, or if an African-American wished me a Happy Kwanzaa. I love holidays and wish we had more of them. I have always been a big proponent of Boxing Day and I have always gone out of my way to wish people a Super-fantastic Groundhog Day! So what's the big deal about saying Merry Christmas? After all, it is a National holiday! If I say to someone, Merry Christmas, I am wishing them a wonderful day off to celebrate with their friends and families, in their own family traditions. Even though it is a Christian holy day that is marked as the day to celebrate the birth of Jesus, I am not saying that if you don't believe in Jesus you are going to Hell (future blog topic)! So relax. It still says Christmas on my calendar, so I will say Merry Christmas instead of Happy Holidays! If you don't agree, well, air your grievances. There's Festivus for the rest of us!
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
I want to talk about a disturbing pattern I've noticed lately among retailers. Now we've all seen the Salvation Army bell ringers outside the grocery stores and department stores, collecting money during the Christmas season. This is something that they have been doing for years and I have memories of giving some change to them when I was a kid. One thing I have noticed that is different lately is how early they begin setting up their kettles. I spotted my first bell ringer this year on the day after Halloween! Yes, November first. And I would be willing to bet that they will not go away until well after New Year's day. But that's not my beef today. Twice in the past week, when I have checked out of a store and was waiting to swipe my credit card in the card reader, I was asked by the cashier if I would like to donate a dollar to some charity, I forget which one. Now I am not a scrooge, I give lots of money to churches, charities, and non-profit organizations, but why does Toys R US or my Mobil "On the Run" convenience store have to ask me if I want to donate to a charity? Isn't that my business? Or why doesn't the charity have their own people in the store asking the same question? Sure one dollar is not a lot, but if you get hit up for a dollar at ten stores a week, that could translate to $50 during the holiday season! $90 if you're on the Salvation Army schedule. The reason why they do it, is because it works. I did give a dollar to Toys R US when I purchased my kids Christmas gifts. What's an extra dollar on a $200 bill? But when I made a $10 purchase at the gas station, I respectfully declined. Not today I said...maybe next time. I knew there would be dozens of more times that this same thing will happen before the end of the year. I'm glad I let my wife do most of the shopping. I wonder what she would do? I better have a talk with her.
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Today's blog is kind of a public service announcement for all cell phone users. No, I am not going to comment on the hazards of talking on cell phones while driving. I actually still do that, as I live in a state where this kind of activity is still not against the law. I have considered purchasing a bluetooth, but have resisted so far because I don't like the way it makes you look like you have a beetle attached to your head. One time we had an A/C repairman come to our house to work on our outdoor air conditioning unit, and when he came inside to write up his work ticket, my wife noticed that he had this strange device attached to his ear. After he left, she commented that she felt sorry for him because he had a hearing disability. That's when I said, "that was not a hearing aid, it was a bluetooth!" No what I want to address today is when to actually talk on a cell phone, no matter if it's a bluetooth, a flip phone, a walkie-talkie, a Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or anything else. Nowadays, no one is impressed if you have a cell phone. My neighbor's 7th grade girl has a cell phone for crying out loud. Now I realize that keeping in touch with your friends, family and business associates is important, and that's the beauty of cell phones, you can stay in touch very easily, and can always be reached. But here's my gripe: when you are in a public place, like a store or a restaurant, just let the call go to voice mail and call them back in the privacy of your car or take it outside. Nobody wants to hear your business! I have heard cell phones going off in church, on airplanes, and even in bathrooms! And the crazy thing is, people take these calls! Just yesterday, I called a colleague about a mutual client we are working with, and he took my call, and I immediately noticed that it sounded like he was in a tin can. I thought maybe he was in a stairwell or a hallway that echoed. We talked briefly about the case, and then he interrupted, "Scott,...can I call you back? I'm in the bathroom." THE BATHROOM? Why on earth did you answer the phone if you are in a stall, in the bathroom, I thought to myself? There are some places that you should NEVER answer the phone, and the bathroom is one of them. So here is my plea for cell phone users: Do yourself and everyone else a favor, please do not take that cell phone call if you are in the bathroom, and especially, a public bathroom. For the love of God, this creeps me out! I had to go for a drive and clear my head...oh yeah, and listen to my voice mails.
Friday, December 10, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
For most motorcyclists, this is the time of the year that we all dread...fall and winter. The end of the summer riding season. Depending on what part of the country you live in, your season could end in September or October, or maybe extend into November if you're in a warmer climate. For those lucky enough to be in Florida, Arizona or southern California, you don't have this problem, but for people who experience all four seasons, there will be a time when you have to garage your bike. When you get to December, that time is now. Some people in extreme cold climates may decide to winterize their motorcycles, meaning they drain the fluids and disconnect the battery, to keep their bike in good condition through the winter. In this case, you really are done for the season. For those in the Midwest or climates where the weather can be fickle, taking a chance against winterizing may mean you'll get a ride in every now and then if the weather cooperates. I have lived in Missouri for the past 29 years and can remember times when we saw temperatures in the 70's in January! So if you watch the weather trends and see a nice warm spell coming, get out the tender and charge that battery up...you might get a ride in! In the meantime, you may have to pass the time talking up past rides and rallies with your biker buddies at the shop or dealership, or diner. Heck, you could even check out an upgrade for next year. This is the time of the year for deals on new wheels!