Quips and Quandaries

 

I was certain I won the game of charades until someone pointed to the notice behind me: “Beginner’s Sign Language Class Today at 6 p.m.”

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Looking back, it’s difficult for me to believe I thought that “On Top Of Old Smokey” was a romantic love song geared toward senior citizens…

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I decided recently to change careers. When I applied to Yoga Certification School, my application was denied.

Turns out, my birth certificate was stamped “Do not bend or fold.”

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In the last two days, zero out of 23 people I’ve asked failed to accurately recite or sing the first 7 words to the “Mister Rogers” theme. I’m not counting those who were less familiar with it -just those who were ‘sure.’

Most of you will Google it and among those several still won’t believe that they too have a false memory of the actual words.

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I am trying to find the original fool who said, “You can’t run from your problems.” Since most of us would agree that many of our problems are in fact people, it is very logical to run from your problems. Early and often.

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I guess it’s one thing to holler “Recess!” at work – but another to stand by the door with chocolate, regular, & strawberry milk cartons and encourage everyone to take one as they exit the work area to go play outside.

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I sold the mineral rights to my land. Texas Oil Company and Johnson & Johnson are partnering to drill for baby.oil.

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I sold the mineral rights to my land. Texas Oil Company and Johnson & Johnson are partnering to drill for baby oil.

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“It’s a sure sign that dance has evolved too far into the realm of the esoteric when a dance trend is done so well that it is indistinguishable from electrocution.” – X

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That guy had so little creativity that when he joined the church they accused him of having unoriginal sin.

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I ain’t saying the fog is thick this morning but two boats have passed me already.

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Due to my lack of controversial behavior I have been down-graded to the “Do Not Watch List.” #aarp

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To the residents of Springdale, my apologies. I misunderstood what my boss was asking for when he asked for a flash drive on my way to work. I know it can’t be unseen.

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To the residents of Springdale, my apologies. I misunderstood what my boss was asking for when he asked for a flash drive on my way to work. I know it can’t be unseen.

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The doctor told me to serve more veggies but I gotta say that broccoli and tennis rackets don’t mix.

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Sir, you can’t stand here,” the Walmart manager told me.”You’re loitering.”

I pointed to the sign above me, the one which indicated ‘Fruit’ and asked her why they put my nickname there.

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It is situationally ironic to hear hospital employees say that “they are sick of the place.”

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Normally, I follow the admonition of “never negotiate with terrorists.” My mother-in-law is the one exception.

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Odd 80s Music Fact: The 80s anthem “Broken Wings” by Mr. Mister, is actually a customer service complaint about defective chicken.

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Normal eaters say, “I’ve got to get something to eat,” whereas cannibals say, “I’ve got to get someone to eat.”

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So that people will be reminded to do them correctly, Congress has renamed the act of “The Splits” to now be known as a ” Lunar Landing. ”

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Did y’all hear about the guy the police brought in for questioning due to possible cannibalism? They grilled him for an hour.

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My first startup failed: Scratch-And-Sniff Résumés.

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To say that you want a bowl of cereal is accepted as normal, whereas if you say you want a plate of cereal you sound crazy. Ergo, insufficient concavity is bad.

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It occurred to me that the song, “Don’t let the sun catch you crying” is basically a PSA for sad vampires.

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The Hogeye Marathon is passing in close proximity to my house again this year. I think they put up the mile markers on the route so early only to tempt me to finally succumb and pull shenanigans. It’s getting more difficult to resist the wild call of my inner prankster.

Because life is short, I’m hereby letting everyone know that if the Hogeye foolishly passes near my house next year, the game is ON.

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Among my laundry list of highly desirable Christmas/Birthday gifts for my wife Dawn last December: this beautiful custom metal door sign for her office. I waited for her to remind me to install it. Shockingly, this reminder never materialized.

Nevertheless, I took the initiative this afternoon to put it up.

It reads: Dawn C. Teri CEO, CFO, CIA, FBI

The original template had Voodoo Mojo Conjurer, but wouldn’t quite fit on the door plate.
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There’s Always Time For Underwear

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Note: this anecdote is from my favorite cousin Lynette. She grew up in Brinkley, Arkansas, a quintessential small agricultural town in the South, one preoccupied with tornados.
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A bad weather post a friend made earlier reminded me of a tornado experience from my youth.

We lived a block from a tornado siren. If you have never experienced one of these at that range, you should. A resident of my hometown likened it to the sound of the angel Gabriel blowing the final trumpet.

Anyway, one evening I was in the shower, and the alarm sounded. The sudden firing up of the siren alone was enough to cause cardiac arrest even for a teenager. Add to that the thought of being hit by a tornado nude, and the panic was real.

My mother runs into the bathroom throwing clothes at me. I catch the underwear and throw it to the floor.
She yells, “Put on your underwear!”
I scream, “There’s no time for underwear!”
She shouts back, “If the house is destroyed by a tornado, that is the only pair of underwear you will have!”

It’s Mom for the win!
Remember – There’s always time for underwear.

A Great Customer Service Story

As much as I like the pursuit of a bad customer service issue, I’ve found that people overlook those times when I highly recommend a business or service.

Today, one of the owners of Oasis Property Maintenance personally reached out to ensure that he could answer my questions and make things right. It was a literal delight to hear someone directly address an issue and offer to make it fully right, even if it bit him in the pocketbook.

I reciprocated and told him to pay it forward instead and that I didn’t want any refund, credit, or compensation. Just knowing that he was willing to go to that length to ‘fix’ a mistake was enough for me. It would have been a costly fix for him. As a consumer, I should have caught the issue when I bought this house, but didn’t.

Oasis is mainly a lawn company, one which charges based on lot size. They do online billing, which is a massive benefit to those of us who are antisocial. I’ve used them since they started. They’re not perfect, but they listen if there is an issue. Taking cost and intangibles into consideration, they are almost unbeatable, unless you have a cadre of teenagers to force to do your yard work.

If you currently have a lawn service, you can look online and ‘see’ what they will charge you without any misdirection. Oasis Property Maintenance

Even though you might not see or hear me doing so, I try to thank, reward, and appreciate good businesses. Thanks, X

No Cashier For You

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“1) Will a cashier always be available at the local Neighborhood Markets?” The answer is “No,” if Walmart has its way.

By the way, this hasn’t been answered by any of the dozens of emails, tweets, or direct messages I’ve exchanged in the last few weeks. Luckily, the corporation is staffed by human beings, ones who exist in the real world – and who share our misgivings about achieving cost reduction by eliminating jobs (and people) at the expense of customer convenience. Despite my complaint regarding being coerced into using self-checkout, even for large volume grocery shopping, the bigger shadow will come from passive scanning technologies which are designed to eliminate almost all interaction between shoppers and employees.

To all those with physical limitations or who dislike being required to be their own cashiers for one of the largest corporations in the world, please accept my apologies. Walmart will imply that their “Store Pickup” system will address these concerns. They won’t, at least not in the immediate future. From listening to people I know who’ve tried the order ahead and “Store Pickup” system, they love the idea of it but have universal frustrations with the implementation. Most of the hiccups are from, you guessed it, human error and insufficient staffing to provide a worry-free grocery experience. Warm ice cream? Shorter expiration dates on your dairy? Less appealing merchandise compared to what you might choose? Scheduling and logistic issues? Yes, yes, yes, and yes.

If you have a disability or limitation, I can only recommend that you insist that all retailers accommodate you. If you resent being less valued as a customer, I can only advise that you seek a retailer which honors your request.

Most of us will gladly embrace self-checkout for some situations. We’ll even use the ‘scan as you go’ apps in most cases. Equally true, though, is that we’re not going to accept a multi-billion dollar corporation’s insistence that we do a job better performed by an employee of its organization, a job for which we are already being charged. There are times when we want a cashier, especially when we’ve accumulated a few dozen items in our shopping carts.

As for the customer service reporting system, Walmart’s is broken. As it turns out, it is deliberately designed to function that way. In the last few weeks, I’ve exchanged hundreds of emails, direct messages and fruitless tweets and posts. None of them came from an identifiable person. With each promise of contact, I’d be sent back to the starting point of the broken carousel. I could almost hear the crackle of laughter behind some of the redirects. Walmart insulates itself from marketing glitches by pushing everything back out to the local branches, as if the store manager is the one wanting to reduce his or her staff. In a moment of candor, I had a store manager tell me directly that he/she blamed all of it on corporate’s sole focus on cost, even though the metrics of customer satisfaction skew away from cost as being the sole factor.

Officially, no one at Walmart had the courtesy or professionalism to answer any of my questions, even when I reduced it to the one question which starts this post. Their failure to answer me is a testament to their proven ability to ignore most pushback and to their own belief that they are too large to fail. I can’t blame them, not really. Arrogance of that magnitude is almost inescapable when scaled to their size.

One thing I found out for certain is that Walmart is slowly transitioning to self-kiosks while simultaneously avoiding any blanket statements about their future. A bigger part of their vision involves using scanning technology or customer-driven input, which either passively tracks what we pick up at every point in the store or requires our input to scan or tally the selected merchandise. We are the proverbial frog in the slowly heating pot of water and we won’t realize that we can’t turn back until we’re too boiled to hop out. Walmart is counting on our complacency to reach a point of no return.

Between initiatives like Project Kepler and Code Eight, Walmart is investing heavily in technology which reduces labor by removing Walmart employees from the process as much as possible. For cost reductions, it’s smart. For human relations, it is less than ideal.

If you don’t want to use a self-checkout kiosk, the best option is to politely say “No.” If you’re told something you don’t like, try to remember that employees are either badly trained, which is management’s fault, or they are only parroting the words and procedures given to them, which is also management’s fault. They are still people first and employees second. This is ironic when you stop to consider that these very people are the ones Walmart is eliminating to save you money. Truth be told, most managers don’t have any real ability to control these types of issues.

It is a certainty that many retailers will follow suit and use technology to push our shopping habits in a new direction. As I’ve said all along, such technology holds a place in our future but it shouldn’t be forced upon us for all situations.

I started all this weeks ago by saying that Walmart and its smaller food markets in particular is a business model I very much want to embrace. I love technology and welcome both self-checkout kiosks and “as you go” systems. I resent the idea, though, that I am becoming an involuntary employee of the organization I’m rewarding with my business. For those who are older or with physical issues, I am especially concerned.

Locally, most of us will have choices through smaller grocery stores and chains. They’ll face the same price pressures, though, at some point.

I realize that this isn’t the most well-written post but perfect is the enemy of the good. If a billion dollar company can wing it, I see no reason to hold myself to a higher standard.

P.S. If you write me, I’ll be sure to forward that to my compliance and correspondence officer. Or Tier 3. Or Reader Spark. Or that guy Jonathan sitting in the basement waiting to help you. Please give me at least 24 business days to ignore your message.

You Don’t Bring Me Flours Anymore

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Several days ago, I brought my wife Dawn a nice vase of flowers.

It was, therefore, a surprise when she said, “X, you don’t bring me flowers anymore,” a couple of days ago. (Much like the old Barbara Streisand standard…)

Later that day, as I was reading, it struck me that she was, in fact, using one of her favorite communication tricks: the homophone. I won’t bore you with a redundant reminder of what constitutes a homophone because I’m sure that you all, much like myself, spent a good portion of the weekend reading your “Obscure English Quarterly” magazine.

So, today, I granted her wish. Now, she can no longer say, “X, you don’t bring me flours anymore.”

Quizzical initial looks of consternation aside, I think she enjoyed the surprise.

When I bought this gift today at Richard’s Flourist Shop, he told me to not add water to these flours. Even if I was going to make bread.

Another Nostalgic Surprise

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Recently, I wrote a story about finally discovering exactly what type of coffee cup I had used to drink my first cup of coffee with, back when people like my grandpa Willie believed that such things should simply just happen regardless of one’s age. I ordered a jadeite Fire-king cup from Etsy, more as a tribute than a keepsake.

A cousin of mine read my post and reached out to me. It turns out that she had a blue Fire-King cup, a cup my grandpa used to hold his razor and shaving cream brush. He was a minimalist, too, but for totally different reasons than mine.

My grandpa died on a Saturday back in October 1977. The cup he used most days sat dormant, waiting for me to wind my way through decades of intervening years. My cousin graciously offered to send it to me. I received it today. With the piece of ‘art’ I already posted about, this was a day for both something old and something new.

As sentimental as it may sound to say it aloud, holding the cup has already peeled back the foggy curtains of my youth.

The half-broken nail in front of the ‘shaving kit’ is the infamous nail that I wrote about in another blog post. This is the shortened version: A Rusty Nail…

P.S. My post about the jadeite green coffee mug on my blog and public figure Facebook page opened many doors for other people, people whose memories were triggered by the same recollections of family and home.
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The Perfect Art For the Discerning Bathroom

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Using the excuse of our impending anniversary, I ordered another amazing addition to our decorative theme, most often referred to as “What has he done now?.”

This one is 16X20, on a thick wood panel. I revamped all the picture’s elements, mainly to enhance the colors.

As always, I would like to know what the person who made this for me was thinking when he or she fabricated it.

This artwork is going to look huge hanging in the bathroom. Y-U-G-E, even.

I’m sure it is going to be inspirational for everyone who visits me.

My wife Dawn seemed amused by this one.

I’d like to take a moment to point out that you should try to hide your coveting of this beautiful piece of art.

P.S. I’m not sure which role is for me in the movie “Dumb and Dumber.” I’m leaning towards Dumber. On the other hand, I’m the genius who wisely decided to get one of these lovely reminders of life’s zaniness. The colors in my bathroom are a hint of what I’d like the entire world to look like, one huge and chaotic splash of paint and color.

 

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This is the artwork once mounted on the bathroom wall. In the background, you can see the beautiful shower curtain, also decorated, as it hangs in reverence toward the artwork.