I DON’T WANT ANYTHING BUILT THERE

015.JPG 2This is a bit of a rehash of my first post here.

It’s not political either, even though I’m not happy with the new property assessments in my town.

It’s in reply to a comment that appeared on Keith Wiggand’s post on the If Your From Delmar Face Book Page.

The comment:  I was wondering if this idea is even possible. If a large landowner has to sell a parcel to offset taxes, and the neighbors don’t want their “viewscape” or green space to go to developers, could they pool their money and buy it from the landowner? Say the parcel would be purchased by a developer for $40,000. If 20 people chipped in $2,000 a piece, they’d each own 1/20th of the land. As owners of the property, they could decide if it would remain unused by people, or if they would allow each other to walk their dogs on it, and their kids to build forts on it. Then they’d have to decide if they’d allow other people to use it. If one owner moved away he could sell his share to one of the other property owners or to a new person.

In my opinion, yes they can, or rather, YES THEY SHOULD, AND they should do it as soon as they think about it, not wait until it’s about to be sold or developed.

MarshmellowsFour years ago, there was a petition circulated attempting to block residential and commercial development on this corner. The reason, as I recall, was more or less to preserve it as agricultural land. Sounds good, doesn’t it? Yep, grasp at anything when you don’t want to see land developed that you don’t own. Am I being sarcastic? How about this? The petition originated across the road from this parcel! That’s right. Across the road from a fairly new development that had been built……on a corn field!

Now let’s go back 35 years or so ago. Next to where I lived at the time, was 80+ acres of vacant land. 20 or 30 acres had been stopped being hayed, the year before we had moved into our home, in 1969.

Don’t get me wrong, here. I didn’t want to see it developed any more than my neighbors. Maybe, even less, because there was no barrier/buffer between the vacant land and our property. We had to pass through that land to get to our house. The vast majority, in fact none, of the neighbors who wanted to see it remain “green”, had to pass through it to access their homes.

Let me clarify something. By being developed, I mean in a use that was already legal and permitted by town code in effect at the time.

Anyway, I was approached by a couple of the people opposed to development, sporting a petition of around 60 reasons why it should not be developed. They got a little(a lot) agitated with me when I told them that I thought that there were only 2 or 3  legitimate reasons on the petition, and that I wouldn’t sign it.

I also suggested, as does the commenter mentioned above, that they should get together as a group and purchase the land. That way, they could basically do what they wanted(legally) to do with the land, and keep it green. Nope, that wasn’t an option.

What I haven’t mentioned, is that the land was still in the hands of a financial institution, that wanted to unload it for almost any reasonable offer.

What I didn’t tell anyone, was that I had tracked down the institution and visited them, and was told that if I made an offer of X dollars, I could own it. Even for the time, it was a quite reasonable price – substantially under appraised/assessed value! Doing a little more investigating, being direct, but vague, I was told that the town would maintain the assessed value(read – not lower) of a piece of land, even if it was purchased under market value. That was the breaking point of my continuing considering making the purchase.

The parcel sat vacant, going through several purchasers, going through applications for non-conforming zoning code uses, which were rejected. One or two or three more changes before it was finally begun to be developed for residential use, as permitted by the zoning code.

5553_499685576764026_1663739515_nWhat I’m trying to say is, think BEFORE you try to tell a landowner that they can’t use their land for a legally allowed use, just because you and your neighbors don’t want to see it happen. Also, don’t move someplace and expect the landowner (business) to stop what they’ve been doing for years, because YOU don’t like it – aka, look before you leap.

 

 

Dixie’s Adirondack Adventure

This is a guest post from Eileen Laskoski:

IMG_3917-22I wanted to tell you about Dixie’s big Adirondack adventure. I think I told you, we had to buy a new tent so we could take her with us so when we were at Kittery Trading Post, we picked up a blaze orange vest for her to wear while out in the woods so it’d be easier to spot her.

Anyway, we let her off leash on the trails and she was soo good! I stocked my pockets with really strong smelling doggie meat treats just in case we needed to entice her to come back but she stayed right with us. However, I was a little worried I’d also smell good to the bears… 🙂

It ended up raining on us the entire evening/night we camped. Big thunder and lightening storm but we had brought the red lead you bought when you stayed at our house and hooked Dixie to a tree while we got dinner ready. She kept sneaking under the rain fly though so she’d have a dry place to lay.

On to day 2, the bushwhacking portion of our trip. Someone isn’t good off trail and it’s not just me. Dixie ran off and we couldn’t spot her. I was getting really nervous before we finally spotted her on the other side of a stream. dixie 7She gave a pathetic bark like, “Help! I want to come back to your side but can’t”! 

We got her to head back up stream where the water wasn’t as deep and moving as fast and she crossed back to our side. She was soaked so we think she must have fallen in and scared herself.

We abandoned our plan and kept her on leash (not easy when bushwhacking) until we got back to the trail. Then we let her off again and she stayed right with us! I think she’s good when she can anticipate where we’re going to be. Where there’s not that defined path, she runs off.

Anyway, she was a super happy pup out in the woods. She’s totally a country dog and not a city dog.

From Bethlehem to Bethlehem

75580_10151384764784804_752998275_nAs Christians, we celebrate Christmas in honor of of the birth of Jesus. This beautiful hand carving of Jesus and Mary and Joseph, a gift from Bud and Jorgine Hanson, has made it’s way more than 1/2 way around the world, passing through many hands on it’s journey from Bethlehem, the West Bank, where Jesus was born, stopping at the Hanson home in Minnesota, then on to Hawaii, and finally back to our little town of Bethlehem, NY. It’s kind of ironic that we brought it into our house in the first hour of Christmas Eve 2012. It’s been a family tradition, (I don’t know if it was of French origin or something our mother started for us kids), for over 70 years, to light a candle at dusk on Christmas Eve as a symbloic way of saying that the Holy Family was welcome to stay here. Looks like this year they took us up on the offer. Thanks, Bud and Jorgine, for finally prodding them in this symbolic way.

Pearl Harbor – Today

If anyone knows:
Charles Ebel of Guilderland, a seaman 1st class aboard the USS Curtis;
Robert Grimm of Schenectady, a carpenters mate 1st class on the USS Cummings;
Adolph Krenn of Delmar, a seaman 1st class on the USS West Virginia;
William Langston of Cohoes, a fireman aboard the USS West Virginia;
Edward Bartholomew of Troy, a gunner’s mate 1st class serving on the USS Pennsylvania;
Leonard W. Dooren of East Greenbush, a chief warrant officer on the USS New Orleans,
who were at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, would you please do me a favor, and get this post to them.
Little did I know when I was on this tour of Pearl Harbor, that these local sailors had been here in 1941.
Chuck Ebel, I haven’t seen in probably 35 years.

The photos will open up on my Face Book page if you click this link — Pearl Harbor 9/26/2012 (20 photos)

Restless in Delmar (aka CSRs must have dozed off)

Originally posted on the Albany Times Union Bethlehem Blog on July 27, 2010 at 1:10 am by Freddie Dunn

A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I went mattress shopping. She, so I guess that means we, decided on one at Macy’s at CrossGates Mall. A signed, sealed, and to be delivered deal. One out of three parts is missing.

Said mattress was to be delivered either July 14 or 17.  The 12th, I received a call from Macy’s Customer Service, that the manufacturer was out of stock on the model; and it couldn’t be delivered until August 4. Not being sure if we would be available on that date, I told the CSR, that I’d call back after checking with my wife, who wasn’t at home at the moment.

When my wife got home a few minutes later, she told me we had no plans scheduled for the 4th. So, I called Macy’s Customer Service back to confirm the date. I explained to the CSR that I reached, why I was calling. To my surprise, he told me that their warehouse in NJ, that services this area, was in fact going to receive a shipment of the mattresses that we had purchased, the  next day. But, he told me, his computer wouldn’t let him set up a delivery date until they actually arrived in the warehouse. I said that I understood that; and the CSR replied that he would call me back in a day or two to set up the delivery date. That call never came.

Sunday, July 10, Macy’s left a message on my answering machine that we would receive the delivery on Wednesday the 21st – no required action on our part if that date was OK(which it was), and that we would receive a call on the 20th setting up a 2 hour delivery window. That call never came.

Still expecting delivery on Wednesday, my wife readied the old set for removal. And we juggled appointments around, so at least one of us would be available all day. The delivery never came, nor did a phone call, the day before or that day.

Late Wednesday afternoon, I finally got connected to some one in the CrossGates store, who told me he was in charge of the multi million dollar delivery system for the Northeast. After listening to me, he offered me $$ off my purchase, which I refused, telling him that I wanted accountability as to why I didn’t get the call backs or delivery as promised, not $$. Additionally, he checked and told me that we could have a delivery Saturday, July 31.

Oh, did I tell you that this man also told me that he would check to find out what went wrong in the Customer Service Department, and get back to me? You guessed it, didn’t you…three business days later and the call hasn’t come, yet. But then, he didn’t tell me when he would call me back.

So, here’s the deal, Mr. Big Man, at Macy’s. You know who you are. You know who I am. I’ll give you a break. I’ll withhold your first name, which you gave me, and definitely your last name that you were afraid to give me, (because you didn’t want to see it on a blog), after I told you that I’d probably write about my experience with your Customer Service Department, on this blog. You also told me that I was trying to scare you. Well, you haven’t  called me, so I wrote. If you had returned my call, no one would be reading this.

Almost forgot. This purchase is going to be on my charge card for almost a month, before I even receive it.

Please forgive me, Cathy Woodruff, The Advocate, I’m not bucking for your job. I’m just a P-I-A customer who expects what I’m promised. Something that is without cost, yet priceless…reliable customer service.

20 Comments »
  1. Tony Barbaro says:

    I can picture you waiting patiently by the front door in your PJ’s and Scrooge sleeping hat…but to no avail…..maybe you’ll end up with 2 mattresses…it’s happened to me, not with anything as big though.

  2. sj says:

    I would most definitely charge back that amount on my credit card and go somewhere else.

  3. Jen Smith says:
    July 27, 2010 at 9:31 am Oh I’d be mad. I can’t believe they charged you before you received it. Isn’t that illegal?? I know when I have bough furniture from a furniture store, they don’t bill until the items are received.
  4. Tony, Snow White thinks I’m Grumpy, not Sleepy, even tho I’m grumpy because I am sleepy. :)

    sj, in shopping around since, I found out that different retailers have different names for basically the same model of the same national brand mattress. Retailer “A” has a Brand “Toss n Tunn matteress model “Wavefree”. The same, or basically the same mattress at retailer “B” is “Toss n Turn model “Smoothwater”, etc.

  5. Erin’s Dad says:
  6. Old Brick worked for us.  No BS, No hassle, Delivery on-time and exactly as promised. Since their performance (for us) has remained the same through three purchases over 7 years, I have to assume they have their act together.
  7. Freddie Dunn says:

    Erin’s Dad, my son and daughter-in-law bought a dining room set at Old Brick two weeks ago. You’re right…every thing as promised.

    Cute~ella. I made it very clear as I went from person to person that I wanted to talk to someone in Corporate who CS was answerable to. This guy assured me that he fit the bill. To paraphase,”the ball is hit to deep center field. The fielder is running to get under it. He’s got it! Waitttt! Unbelievable! He fumbled it. The ball’s on the ground and the runner is heading for second”. :(

  8. cute~ella says:

    Oh wow! Have you thought about reporting this to Macy’s corporate? They seem to take their customer service issues very seriously.

  9. Erin’s Dad, my son and daughter-in-law bought a dining room set at Old Brick two weeks ago. You’re right…every thing as promised.

    Cute~ella. I made it very clear as I went from person to person that I wanted to talk to someone in Corporate who CS was answerable to. This guy assured me that he fit the bill. To paraphase,”the ball is hit to deep center field. The fielder is running to get under it. He’s got it! Waitttt! Unbelievable! He fumbled it. The ball’s on the ground and the runner is heading for second”. :(

  10. Eileen in Selkirk says:

    Freddie,  I don’t think it is right that the charge is already on your credit card.  I think most places put the charges on there after delivery.  I’m wondering if you can just dispute the charges with the credit card company since you never received the product?

    Definitely go elsewhere.  Old Brick is great!  Great customer service and their prices are decent.

    PS….I think you will get a call tonite after this blog.  Too bad the TU didn’t put it on the front home page so many can see it.

  11. Ken says:

    Maybe you were at odds with a better way that “life” was pushing you toward.  I shopped every mattress store (I think) from Delmar to Clifton Park, and easily, the best place was NY Mattress in the Delmar Plaza.  Now Delmar Mattress.

    As I get older, I’m realizing that those people involved in my series of unfortunate events seem to be just victims of the result of me working against “life’s” forces.. or maybe the challenge involved might not be about my “mattress” issue, but an opportunity for me to be part of a good thing in a person’s life.

    Coming straight from a nearly reformed P-I-A customer!

  12. Jen and Eileen…You are right. I checked tonight and the “charge” is authorized at time of purchase, but not posted to the card until the product is in the customers possession.

    Not holding my breath, Eileen, and I even sent a link to this post to Macy’s customer service this afternoon, via their web site.

  13. Bad bad bad business. And we eat bad business for breakfast.  Get ‘em Freddie!

  14. That’s why I like buy and carry, Teri.

    I did have some appliances delivered from Home Depot a few months ago. Great on time delivery, as promised.

    In my opinion, and I know people who don’t agree with me, ATT wireless is 2nd to no one else, when it comes to customer service, especially by phone.

    For a couple of years I sometimes delivered to Lowes. If I was running late, I’d call them and let them know. They would check their “tally” and if it showed that I had special order items, they told me to come even tho it was after normal receiving hours —get this— because THEY had to accept it, as long as the store was open, and they knew it was enroute!

  15. Below is a copy of an email, time stamped 8:03, I received today. Certain personal information has been x’ed out, otherwise it’s intact.

    Probably, since last evening I went to the store in question and cancelled my order, I won’t hear from them.

    Again a very pleasant and understanding sales person. Salesperson brought up on the computer, that I was contacted on 7/20 notifying me of the delivery cancellation. I don’t know what number they called, but I never received a call. Sales person suggested that I should have contacted the salesfloor, rather than going to “corporate”, because the sales people have a lot of influence with CS.

    ______________ E-mail from Macy’s _______________ Thank you for taking the time to tell us about your recent delivery experience.  I have forwarded this to the appropriate person for review and response.  You will be contacted in the near future. Our goal is to provide you with an outstanding delivery experience.  Please be assured we take your feedback very seriously and we apologize that we did not live up to your expectations.

    Our hope is that you will give us the opportunity to improve our service to you and renew your confidence in Macy’s.

    Sincerely,

    xxx xxx Vice President Macy’s Delivery

    Customer Information:   First Name:             Fred   Last Name:              dunn   Address:   City:   State:   Zip:                    12054   Country:   Phone:                  xxx   Email:                  xxx   Region:                 NORTHEAST   Delivery Region:        USNY   Overall:                Disappointing   Our Service Vs. Others: Disappointing   Contact Me:             No Answer   Route Number:   Sales Check Number:

    Customer Comments: In store salesperson was great. The customer service story is slightly different. see:   http:blog.timesunion.combethlehem3479restless-in-delmar-aka-csrs-must-have-dozed-off   the man I spoke with identified himself as  xxx Freddie Dunn

  16. Eileen in Selkirk says:

    Live and learn.  I think you received the form letter email.  Thank you for your time to respond and we take your comments really seriously…blah blah blah.  Time to move on and get better service.

  17. observer says:

    As a country we have traded our local businesses for corporate America.The small, locally owned stores are becoming extinct because we want more selection and the chance to save a few dollars.Unfortunately, with that comes a different level of service. Although Macy’s didn’t gobble up the small town businesses that existed 20+ years ago in Delmar, it is gradually doing this with department stores in this country.Freddie, if you haven’t already done so, perhaps you could open the topic of “local businesses you remember”. I will start with  Village Furniture Shop(I may not have the name quite right..). Although it may have been in other locations, I first remember it where I Love Books is. Later it moved to the new Main Square. I think people who have moved here in the last few years will be shocked to find out that Delmar has had such a variety of stores, including a little department store at the 4 corners!

  18. Observer…here’s a couple of posts on Bethlehem businesses 50-60 years ago. Delaware Ave http://blog.timesunion.com/bethlehem/1089/recognize-delaware-avenue/ and 9W http://blog.timesunion.com/bethlehem/3007/driving-in-the-50s-on-9w/. Tentatively, my next “trip” will be the southern part of town, which ironically, is encompassed by the RCSCD. Didn’t really realize that, when I broke off at Wemple Road, a few weeks back.

    Wasn’t there a furniture store(associated with Tad’s Men & Boys Shop??) in the old “Wood Building”(Key Bank, today) that was/evolved into the Village Shoppe/Town & Tweed? Taking a look around town, we still have a wide base of local businesses. We have large chains, too. We have chains that are locally owned franchises. And, there are several businesses that appear to be local, but are actually parts of non-local chain operations.

    I think that some of the department stores in the Macy’s fold, actually Federated Department Stores , were leveraged because of financial necessity. And the shopping mall/center  expansion added to their growth. I won’t deny that large regional/national chains have contributed to the demise of small businesses, but many of those small family owned/run businesses were /are just that…family sized. And there comes a time when age or death or other circumstances, with no family members wanting/able to continue in the business, to turn the key if a ready buyer isn’t available.

  19. Albanypaul says:

    After reading the following reader comment several times, I decided to post it in its entirety, because, while the reader comments about shortcomings of some businesses, the reader does it constructively, pointing out specifics, and offering suggestions to correct them; and also mentions some of the things that are important to them when shopping at a business. -Freddie Dunn

    Freddie, fantastic customer service is nearly gone in America.  I lecture business owners and at least one government leader about common sense and customer service frequently.   Unfortunately, some managers of establishments couldn’t care less what the customer thinks or does (they need a new job and I need to “vote with my feet” when they are uninterested in change) as evidence the way you were treated when playing telephone tag with Macy’s.  Ever get the idea they really couldn’t care less what you have to say or think?

    I try to spend my money at a business that offers the best customer service, even if it cost more.  Holding the door open, please have a seat, can I offer you a cup of coffee or tea, thank you, polite attitude not kiss my _ _ _ style either.  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all receive genuine great service, the golden rule seems to have changed in America.  Remember the golden rule: do onto others as you would have them do onto you. It seems the new golden rule in some parts of America is: those who have the gold, rule.  How unfortunate, or maybe not, perhaps more poor customer service by giant business will lend opportunities to smaller businesses success (I hope so).  Here are a few business that I feel deserve special mention (note to managers of those businesses, I am not alone in these thoughts)

    Very Good Customer Service :  Ace Hardware (various locations),  Barnsider in Colonie, Bose store in Colonie Center, Perfect Blend in Delmar, Vanguard Roofing in South Bethlehem, Bethlehem DPW, Most Bethlehem employees at the town hall, Harbor Freight, Grand Premier Tire in East Greenbush, Price Chopper in Glenmont,

    Ok Customer Service: Lowes and Home Depot,  Golden Corral,  Starbucks, JC Penny, Panera Bread.

    Businesses that require improved management or better customer service:

    Friendly’s in Delmar (day manager always creates confusion and customers know it, maybe he should manage instead of cook and get on employees for ignorant problems, ask your customers what they think instead of telling us what you think for a change) ,  McDonalds in Glenmont (rude employees and uninvolved mangement, was good for a while, what happened),  Delmar (to busy to do it right, only one employee (mature female) is outstanding) and Cohoes (terrible service altogether in Cohoes; no management, uninterested employees, never going back there again visited three times disappointed three times), Dunkin Doughnuts on Lark St (ignorant and rude employees in late evening/early morning, management condones bad and outright rude actions, I will never go back),  Walmart in Glenmont (security manager is directing his efforts on the wrong people, store management needs to be more concerned with people who are not stealing, instead of the visiting criminals that his security manager should tend to; by the way, does anyone actually ask the customers what they think here, noooo, CSM’s are to busy yelling at the employees openly, yes we notice),  KMart (when are you going to close your store?  your service is pathetic, it always feels like your going out of business the day I visit), Appliance Giant (used to be good but now feels cheap and uninterested in helping, some employees have a chip on there shoulder, I don’t go there anymore and they couldn’t care less),   Movie theaters in Colonie Center and Crossgates: employees need to treat people with respect, “Yea, ok”, is not what I want to hear for my thirty dollar 90 minute entertainment experience, thank you.  Movies and the other things there are expensive and I don’t need or want the attendants crummy disinterested attitudes when doing business with me, thank you.  Radio Shack (doesn’t matter where you go they either ignore you or are all over you like you’re going to stealing something, and no I don’t care to give them my address, email or phone number when purchasing anything.   They just don’t need to know this, they will be out of business soon as no business that is so annoying could stay afloat for to long with this mentality in this day and age.  I actually have to gear myself up to enter the one in Crossgates store and prepare to be direct as required, it’s easier to shop on line for these things and avoid the stress).

    Police departments in all cities need to practice what it says on most of there cars and remember that the people of the community have invited them to the job they currently hold (now law enforcement this is a business that could really use some contractor competition, an excellent opportunity for the Sheriff to do more business all over the Capitol District)   I do support community people working in there community in all positions but frankly the police force is out of hand and control in almost all communities in this area.  When will this business ever become customer focused instead of self gratifying).  Police officers, citizens of your community are not to blame for your crummy day and we don’t want your attitude when you are supposed to be helping us.  Each call is different and each person is different, treat us with respect, or watch for our negative thoughts at town meetings about your self’s.  Yes you can be replaced, be nice and fair to the community, you are not there as a source of revenue for the community you are there to educate citizens and enforce the law in as gentle way as possible.  Note I stated educate and enforce that order, think before you act and write that $200.00 or more traffic ticket that we just don’t need.

    And last but certainly not least NY State Government elected officials: YOUR FIRED! Your customer service is the worst of all professions!   I will not vote for anybody who is in office.  You have let us down with your greedy ways and actions.  Indeed the words of JFK should echo in the new hopeful politicians minds:  “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what can you do for your country” .  You are servants of the people we are not your servants.  We don’t send you to office to become rich, we send you to fairly govern and do what WE want not what YOU want, and you would all do well to remember that.

    OK Freddie I just fell off my soap box but the ride was stress relieving.  Customer service is my number one pet peeve.  I try to shop at small businesses or carefully managed businesses that are concerned with fine and fair customer,  and believe in quality of the product they produce or sell.  Most cost more but not that much more and most are willing to help if there is a problem.  Personal, not corporate or canned responses are appreciated and for this customer, expected.

    It is my opinion there is much money to be made in the education and application of proper customer etiquette and customer service for American businesses.  Managers, customer service is a quality control process that requires constant evaluation and change in today’s society.  You’ve got to get it correct or the people will vote with there feet.

    These are just a few and I would love to hear from other people on business that offered them outstanding customer service as I would patronize those businesses.

    I have noticed that Home Depot employees in several locations are far more friendly then they used to be, maybe this has something to do with lost profits and customers selecting a different home improvement store(s).   It would be nice to see a manager of a fast food restaurant actually managing the restaurant instead of cooking or cleaning.  The manager is supposed to be managing not performing crew work.

    My predictions for business on there way out: Radio Shack (in near future) Sears (in the future) Kmarts (in the near future)

  20. Albanypaul, a couple of months or so, ago, I was in a Home Depot, some  where in the capitol district. I pieced together a couple of things that I saw/observed, while in the store, and made a comment to an employee. Yes, HD was stressing the importance of customer service to ALL their employees, not just at that particular location.

  21. I think the 17th comment was the longest one I have ever seen anywhere. Your experience is almost like a sit-com, but not funny when you are in the experience. We had a terrible time getting a refrigerator delivered to our farm from Sears. Admittedly, we had no street signs at the time, but we marked well the turns. This was before the advent of GPS. Three times they tried and failed. We finally sent one of our business trucks to fetch it.

    As for business etiquette, gone. But then, etiquette at large is disappearing from the social landscape. Not sure why (actually I am, but I’ll wait till I retire to post that one, and perhaps a few others).

  22. RJ. I did farm deliveries for a large Northeast farmers co-op for 28 years. Some of my drivers would bust on me because of some of my direction…turn by the tall rock, you’ll recognize it; you’ll know that you made the correct turn when in about 1/4 mile you run over a rock “Growing” thru the pavement; turn at the 3 trees; next driveway after the sycamore tree that is paved around; and a few other “gems”. We didn’t have GPS or cell phones, but we ALWAYS found our stops.

    As far as Macy’s, I cancelled the order, haven’t heard from them, and bought an in stock mattress from another smaller chain for less than half the $$, put it in my car and brought it home. And Mrs Freddie is happy because she has a new mattress.

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The Choice IS Yours.

This post was prompted by Teri Conroy’s Times Union Farmlife blog. Here, I elaborated a bit more on my personal business experience.

My comment on Farmlife: Christmas or Merry Christmas has been changed to Happy Holidays to pacify the objectors to the word Christmas. But if it were not for the celebration, and commercialization of Christmas, there would be no Holiday Season….just Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years.

Flash mobs can be a beautiful few moments of entertainment. And yes, the presentations are usually in public places like malls, train stations, etc.

I would guess that the reason malls welcome(give permission) to flash mobs during the month of December, is to provide some free entertainment, as in free for them, and free for the shoppers in a vain that will encourage them to spend a few extra dollars at their tenants; not that they necessarily agree with the flash mob’s tenets.

How many have ever been to New York City, or some other city, and witnessed the “street performers” who hope you’ll toss a buck or two in their box or hat. Should they be called “flash performers”?

In either case, if I like what I see/hear, I’ll stick around for a few minutes for the performance.

Now, if I disagree/dislike a performance, I have several options: move on, complain to management, not shop there anymore; or all three.

In my opinion, being politically correct is a double edged sword. One side to “keep the peace”; the other side to be a coward. And sometimes the decision should be to keep it in the scabbard.

Sorta related to this discussion is a real life situation I encountered three or four years ago. I had a customer base of around 200 retailers. Some were stores associated with local or national chains. The majority, probably over 90%, were mom & pop establishments, owned and operated by people who had been born outside of the United States, or at least their family origins were. Examples of where they came from include Sudan, Iran, India, Pakistan, Guyana, and Nepal, amongst other countries.

Obviously, besides the various nationalities, surely there was just as diverse a group of religious beliefs and backgrounds.

So here it was the middle of December as I made my bi-weekly deliveries. Now for my dilemma. Knowing the diversity of my customers, do I make my deliveries, say thank you and walk out the door as usual, or……do I do something else?

I choose to leave the sword in the scabbard. And if you think I wasn’t scared of a possible confrontation, you’d be wrong. But, I figured I’d take the risk that I knew my customers.

As we exchanged paperwork, I held out my hand and shook hands with each and every customer, as I said, “Merry Christmas, or whatever you do, or don’t celebrate”.

To my astonishment, they all returned my greeting with a smile and some version of ‘Merry Christmas to you, too, my friend’. AND…….NO ONE objected or was ticked off, then or down the road! Actually, I believe it strengthened the bond and trust between us.

Although Christmas is still nearly a month away, to all of you, “Aloha, and Mele Kalikimaka, or whatever you do, or don’t observe”.

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What I left out in my comment on Teri’s blog, is that I considered this group of customers as sorta my little United Nations. What I learned from them about their homelands and in some cases personal backgrounds, could never be learned in a classroom or the press. And was an education that was priceless. They were all friendly. Fact is, there was a far greater raport with them, than most of the large stores I served. Many, not all, of the large stores, seemed to enjoy creating a power struggle of sorts.

At most of these mom and pop stores, I gathered the returns, put the new product in the racks, handed them the bill to sign or pay, and left. As simple as that. Trust both ways. Of course, if they weren’t busy, I’d get my history/geography lessons.

I’d Like the Special, Please.

015.JPG 2Strangely enough, with this Dr. Seuss story, “Green Eggs and Ham”,  having been around for 52 years, I’ve never read or seen it…until tonight. Some how I missed it despite having 8 kids and 11 grandkids. Missing it doesn’t mean that I’d never heard of it. I just never knew anything about it other than the title.

Tonight, I did rather enjoy the movie. Liked Sam, but was shattered by the surprise ending. Maybe that’s why I had a flash back to 13 or 14 years ago, when I was trucking in the North Country of upstate New York.

Doing an evening run  from Schodack to Massena to Watertown, and then down thru Lewis County, gave me just enough legal hours of driving time to make it back without having to do a layover along the way. On the way back, I had a pick up at Lyons Falls Paper Mill, in , where else, Lyons Falls. Since I hit town a few hours before my scheduled pick up time, I found a safe spot to pull over and take a couple of hours nap in the sleeper berth. Naturally, I set the alarm to go off in time that I could catch breakfast before heading to the mill.

I found a small “hometown” restaurant with an open sign and lights on inside. It was daylight, around 5:30-6AM. I parked the truck in the large lot and wandered on in and grabbed a seat at the counter. I must have been pretty quiet, because I sat there for probably 5 minutes before the ladies in the kitchen saw me.

They apologized for not noticing me, and proceeded with the usual, “Do you want coffee”, which brought an affirmative answer from me. That was followed with, “What would you like for breakfast?” Having sat there for awhile, I’d had a chance to peruse the menu and the white board with the heading Today’s Specials.

Not really sure what the ‘special’ would be like, I had already decided to give it a try, so I nodded toward the board and said I’d have the special. I started to wonder if I was having an hallucination when the ladies looked at each other in a very puzzled way, then looked back at me and said they hadn’t posted a special yet.

“It’s there”, I said, “and I’d like to give it a try.”

One of the ladies, the owner, took a couple of steps forward and  turned so she could see the message that she knew wasn’t there.

“That granddaughter of mine. Wait ’til….she was in here last night helping me clean up”.

Don’t know how old the granddaughter was, but she had neatly, and artistically, written on the board, I still remember, in green marker “Green eggs & ham”.

And yes, I had to change my choice of breakfast amid the laughter of the two ladies. What did I have? I haven’t a clue.

 

 

Everyone Needs a Haircut, Even Blockheads

We all get haircuts – babies, well infants, boys, girls, men and women. Rare is the person who doesn’t get a hair cut. OK, Rapunzel didn’t get one for a long time.

As a kid, I remember going to barbers Fred Gilette, Harry Oschner and Larry Jearm. Once, my dad cut my hair, and I called Larry to see if he could trim it up on a Monday morning before I went to school.

Men’s barber shops were closed on Mondays back then, as they are today. Larry thought one of my older sisters had practiced on me. Not wanting to rat on my dad, I let Larry leave this world many years later still thinking that was the case.

My boys were teenagers before they went to a real barbershop. Me, the clippers, comb and scissors kept them trim. After all, I gained my knack of the barber trade while at Cobleskill Ag and Tech College – trimming beef cattle for show. And I might add that I DID place first, or was it second, in the Fitting and Showmanship category.

The girls got off easy. My wife either did some light trimming or took them to a hairdresser.

Those days are well behind me, for better or worse.

Recently, one of my daughters asked me to get the grandsons haircuts, and not wanting a couple of yelling and screaming little boys, not to mention the thoughts of what their mommy and daddy would say, I took them to the barber who had cut my precious few strands a couple of weeks earlier.

Having watched how well she handled the young lad who was getting his hair cut while I waited, I knew she could do the job. She was way better than any gold tongued politician or journalist, and could probably sell freezers and ice cubes to the Eskimos. That kid couldn’t have been more attentive if he was licking a 5 scoop ice cream cone.

Besides, the cost of a haircut here is still only 10 bucks.

Talking about haircuts is kinda dull, but hopefully the clippers aren’t, so let me get to the point of this story.

What I saw this morning, and you are about to see, is the process of one of the sharpest haircuts you’ll ever see. This barber is gooood! So good, in fact, that he doesn’t use sissy clippers. He’s honed his skills to the point that he uses, are you ready for this, a chainsaw on his clients overgrown tops. Who but a blockhead, would stand still for this kind of trim job.

Click picture to enlarge.