Monday, May 30, 2016

Wings and a Big Cookie

This bitch (and many others) belong on a Greyhound.

Back when I used to wait on tables at Friday's I HATED the holidays or special occasions.
It was on these days that people would go 'one better'. 
People who were used to family dinners at Mc Donald's would go to ummm... let's say Golden Corral. People who were used to going to Golden Corral would come to Friday's. And our normal guests would be at a real restaurant somewhere else....

But back to our store; it would be a Mother's Day or Easter and we'd be filled with The Clampett's (as we'd call them).
Since everyone goes 'one better' we'd end up with unruly, over-demanding and poor tipping guests.
The biggest problem in businesses that deal with the public is that one must deal with the public.

I used to fly a lot as a kid - most of the time I would fly alone.
I used to love the trips. The flight attendants usually wore just a bit too much makeup and bit too much perfume.
Most smelled like cigarette smoke but I always thought they were very attractive and nice.

Plane service in no where near what it used to be. Long lines, poor service, unattractive workers, overly crowded cabins, ..... . 
Gone are the days of full meals and smiling workers. No one dresses to travel anymore. Manners seem to be a foreign concept to most travelers. 

I can understand the frustration felt by many passengers.
As a child at eight years old, on a flight back to California from Texas over the Christmas holidays our plane was forced to land in Denver due to bad weather. We were let off the plane and told that the rest of our flight would take place sometime the following day. 
I went to the desk and asked to use the phone to call my parents. 'Kid, the pay phones are over there', an old man in line behind me said. 'I'm only eight - I don't have any money.', I replied. The woman behind the desk dialed my parent's number and let them know that I was alright and that our flight was being delayed. I had spent most of my traveling money in the airport in Houston at the arcade. (Never leave an eight year old alone at the airport with $100, a few hours to waste because of weather delays and an arcade and expect them to have much money left over by the time the flight leaves.) 

By this time the flight attendants were leaving the airport to go... I don't know where. But a couple of them stopped to ask if I was alright and whether I needed anything. They introduced me to the woman working the desk, sat me nearby, fetched a pillow and blanket and magazines for me and gave me a huge cookie and those tin pilot's wings and told me to be good. (The big cookie and pilot's wings were what I always looked forward to when traveling alone.)

I didn't throw a fit because it took 36 hours for a relatively short flight. I didn't talk back because the man in line behind me was rude. I didn't feel entitled because we had paid for a service that wasn't being delivered. I just sneaked off (I told the lady at the desk that I was going to the gift shop and to the restroom whenever I needed to stretch my legs.) and made the best of a bad situation. I had flown enough to know that these things sometimes happen.

But as businesses try to increase their customer base many are appealing to segments that probably shouldn't be there in the first place. 

Maybe Wal-Mart people need to stay in places where Wal-Mart people belong.

Monday, May 23, 2016


In business, Service is King.

Monday evenings is our big night out.
It's the night some in my crew set aside to get away from 'regular people'.
It's the night politicians, business owners and titled people get together to talk about things which we cannot in public.

A month ago - while sitting in the town's posh new lounge - we made a bet that we could NOT give away $1000 to people who were just doing their jobs.
The bet was simple; just hand out $100 bills to anyone who provided good service at any point in one's day-to-day life.
The car wash, laundry, restaurants, bars, grocers, Wal-Mart, whatever...
All we had to do was keep track of to whom we gave the money.

Since most in our crew were Black we had planned on going only to Black-owned businesses and showing our appreciation for their services.
But this proved to be a challenge.
In the whole month NONE of us were able to give money to Black employees.
(This is not a complaint about lower standards at Black-owned businesses - our findings were that there is a dearth of service at ANY business.)

My first hundred went fast. On my way home from the club at 3am I stopped for gas. Another customer threw his bottles near the trash can and drove away. One of the guys behind the counter excused himself, opened the door for me as I was leaving and began to clean up the mess.
Simple, nothing special - just a kid doing his job.
As I handed him his hundred I just told him that he was benefiting from a bet.
He thanked me and I was off...

I don't particularly like Chic-Fil-a. There is nothing wrong with the place, I'm just not a chicken sandwich kind of guy. I don't even have a problem with their political positions. I even like that they choose to close on Sundays, Christmas and Thanksgiving.
But what I DO like about Chic-Fil-a is their dedication to service.

After being disgusted with the service at a neighboring restaurant and leaving I decided to cross the parking lot and settle on chicken sandwich.
The sandwich itself was good enough but the service was outstanding.
Even though the overweight girl behind the counter was named Diamondnetta (or something of that sort), she was attentive, articulate, polite and focused.
No nail poppin', gum gnawing, dismissive attitude - the young lady was on her job.
As I changed my order from take out to dine-in so that I could check out their other employees I noticed that EVERYONE was on their job.
It was the manager who ran my food out to my table and offered to refill my lemonade.

Obviously Diamondnetta was getting a quick hundred.
But NO - she refused?
I explained my bet but she explained that she was just doing her job.
I told her that I was just going to donate to charity and she smiled and said a quick thank you.

This had to be a fluke.
A couple of weeks later I was only able to give $100 away, another $100 was on reserve and I still had eight hunnys burning a hole in my pocket as our bet was winding down.
I HAD to get rid of some money.
I stopped at another Chic-Fil-a and it was the same story. EVERYONE was on point.
And again my chosen employee turned down her $100.

By the end of our bet one from my group was able to give away money to an employee from a local deli, from Walgreens and she tried (and failed) at Chic-Fil-a. Another guy gave an extra hundred to his dry cleaners. And I forget the rest.
To a person, everyone commented on the service and their attempts at Chic-Fil-a.

Whatever this chain is doing they are doing right.
Even drawing from the same labor pool as us they are able to obtain superior results.
This bet caused all of us to rethink the way we run our businesses.
Are our service levels where they need to be?
Do we pay our employees enough?
Are we making things harder than they should be?
While some of our businesses are doing better than other's - we ALL have room to improve.
While we couldn't agree which charity got our remaining money (we split the six thousand and change between three local organizations) we could all agree that Chic-Fil-a IS the shit.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The Direction of Light - A 'New' Form of Light Discovered

Science seems to be getting closer to settling the debate first posited to us back when we were kids in elementary school (and to real scientists and mathematicians over millennia).

Sure, the question of whether light was a particle or a wave stumped our class - it was one of those unanswerable questions our teacher would ask in an effort to just get us to think. Some kids chose the 'particle' argument while most chose the 'wave' point of view. My small group chose the 'both' or 'neither' path. ('Then PROVE it.', our teacher would then say.) Our Fridays were spent on field trips, catching up (or getting ahead) with schoolwork, or just chillin'.
 Fridays were our free time. Like the Squaring the Cube bet or the later bet of trying to get just a mouthful of water through a one inch thick run of surgical tubing from a bucket on the ground to a kid standing on the second floor using just one's lungs - these challenges were just placed in order to get us kids to understand just how little we actually knew or understood.
 But back to the Direction of Light question...

 While staring at one of those spiral mobiles, ' Like THAT.', I said as though I was having an epiphany. We were surrounded by photos of the Galaxy, of spiral fractals, of spirals in plants - why wouldn't light travel in a spiral?
 Again, we were asked to PROVE our assertion. 'Man, I can't do that kind of math. Ask Seiji, Kio or Johnathan - someone who plays violin or the piano. You know, one of the smart kids.' I replied.
 But the teacher liked my idea.
He asked me to explain how the concept agreed with the theory that light traveled at a constant speed.
A few weeks later I told him that I thought that light DID travel at a constant speed but both forward and in it's spiral pattern. (I hadn't yet thought about light traveling backwards as well only in a spiral so tight that it appeared to be without light.)
I thought that dim light was just light at a lowered frequency in it's appearance at any given straight point. That while it's speed in it's ever expanding spiral remained constant both 'vertically' and 'horizontally' - that as the distance from the source became greater so did the distance it must travel in it's orbit until it would become so infrequent that it would be assumed to not exist at all.
No, I was never able to explain my theories to my teacher but I still got an 'A' in the class.
And no, the new discoveries led by the Trinity College of Dublin may not agree with my childhood theories but I think they are on the right track.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Friday Night Lights?

In a state that (according to Wikipedia) has the lowest academic achievement in the nation - why are there so many high priced high school football stadiums?

Like Drive-Thru Banking?

Elon Musk is at it again.
While not (yet) involved in the Hyperloop project - I wonder if he thought of the concept for high-speed land travel while depositing butt loads of cash into a pneumatic tube at his local bank....