Service of Little Things Mean A Lot

April 6th, 2020

Categories: Charity, Family, Friends, Little Things Mean A Lot

Photo: ballooncoach.com

We hear on the news and on social media about the magnificent donations of goods, services and salaries that corporations and billionaires are making to help shoulder the damage and havoc the coronavirus is causing.  Hotel tycoon Sheldon Adelson is paying salaries and estimated tips of almost 10,000 employees at the shuttered Las Vegas Sands; Oprah Winfrey is donating $10 million to relief efforts and Robert Kraft of the Patriots used the team’s jet to bring in almost 2 million N95 masks from China. He shipped 300,000 of them to NYC’s healthcare workers. A Brooklyn landlord–owner of 18 residential buildings–told tenants they didn’t have to pay April rent.

Just as important are less flamboyant unpublicized gifts from friends and family.

Photo: patriotswire.usatoday.com

A friend mailed a face mask to me when she heard I couldn’t find one for love or money and she knew I grocery shop and go for brisk walks in NYC. It was a priceless gift.

I mentioned a futile search to a friend, I’ll call Dorothy, for a thermometer for another friend, I’ll call Donna. I’d stopped in at every pharmacy and drugstore, hardware and health food store between 39th and 56th Streets on First, Second and Third Avenues. There wasn’t one. Dorothy found a thermometer in its original packaging in her apartment and mailed it to Donna. Pay dirt! Another precious gift.

Photo: medscape.com

Another friend who lives alone wrote: “My children decided the delivery service I use needs too many hands touching the food they deliver.  Consequently they will do my shopping.  In my last order I received 4 cucumbers, 5 heads of lettuce, a pint of 1/2 & 1/2 and I can go on. Now I may not die of the virus but I might succumb to overeating. The things we do for love!”

A daughter living in NYC ordered a surprise package filled with goodies from chicken breasts to biscuits for her father and step mother who are sheltering in place in Massachusetts. Another friend took lists of groceries from her mother and landlord and delivered them so the other women didn’t need to venture out.

Why didn’t these people order food online? Those who do report wait time for delivery is almost a week. Good luck if you’ve run out of milk, coffee or juice.

Have you heard of or experienced similar loving, even life-saving gestures by friends and family?

Service of Pets in a Pandemic

April 2nd, 2020

Categories: Comfort, Pets

Georgie Rabinovitz. Photo: Helen Rabinovitz

Haisten Willis wrote this article in usnews.com: “Isolated by a Pandemic, People Are Stepping Up to Foster Pets–Shelters have been forced to close by COVID-19, but community support is helping animals find homes.”

He reported that on a standard month the Best Friends Animal Society’s Atlanta shelter finds 10 homes for dogs and cats while 62 were fostered in five days in March. “Elsewhere, its New York shelter placed 67 pets from March 16 to 20, compared with its typical 30; Salt Lake City placed 42 instead of the typical 12; and Los Angeles placed 166, up from about 45 to 50,” according to Willis.

On this blog guest writer Helen Rabinovitz previously reported her daughter’s experience in “Service of What the Public Must Learn About People with Disabilities.” She submitted the inspiration for this post and wrote the following:

Photo: wp.sbcounty.gov

During this time of isolation I find the companionship of my parrot Georgie is the key to my sanity. Georgie is almost 37.  I’ve been his mom since he was around a year old. He’s funny and really, really bad sometimes–but I love him.

Even though you can’t snuggle up with a parrot he’s great company. I’d probably lose what’s left of my mind if it wasn’t for G!

Most of my friends have pets. I’m the only crazy bird lady but there are crazy cat and dog ladies in our group. We talk all the time, mostly about our fluffy kids and how great it is to have them around. It makes me feel needed and gives me a reason to get up in the morning. Someone to talk to…I speak parrot.

So for all of us who feel trapped in our homes, as long as we have our feathered and fluffy companions we will survive.

I miss hugging one of my long-deceased dogs or cats and wholeheartedly agree with Helen. Do you have a love-pet to hug? Do you know someone who adopted a pet at this time?

Photo: ultramodernpet.com

Service of Can You Ever Do Enough to Be Safe?

March 30th, 2020

Categories: Delivery, Health, Packaging, Panic, Safety

Photo: accuform.com

For a moderately good housekeeper these are stressful times especially since I can’t find the ideal products recommended for coronavirus whistle-cleaness.

So I wonder: “Did I clean the plastic bags correctly? Are my apartment keys virus free? My credit card? Do I really have to wash my hair every time I go outside? Did I catch every nook and cranny of that tuna can or OJ bottle? What about my jacket pocket where I keep my phone? And the phone itself?”

Photo: physicscentral.com

And then I remember what happened one summer vacation in high school. I was in southern Italy with two classmates and the mother and brother of one. For our safety, Mrs. G was scrupulously careful about the water we drank–it had to be bottled. At the time we didn’t care for fizzy water but that seemed to be the only kind available. One day we found a restaurant with bottled still water. We were gleeful. As we sipped our drinks through a straw–real straw–we suddenly realized that the ice in our drinks was made with local water. None of us got sick.

Fact: My home will never be as clean as an operating room–live with it [I hope].

Joseph G. Allen’s Washington Post opinion piece “Don’t panic about shopping, getting delivery or accepting packages” put some of my concerns in perspective. He claims low risk for “box delivered by UPS, touch packages at the grocery store or accept food delivery.” Allen is at the Harvard T. H Chan School of Public Health in its Healthy Buildings Program.

He wrote “First, disease transmission from inanimate surfaces is real, so I don’t want to minimize that. It’s something we have known for a long time; as early as the 1500s, infected surfaces were thought of as ‘seeds of disease,’ able to transfer disease from one person to another.”

Today a New England Journal of Medicine article is trending [and scaring]. “The coronavirus that causes covid-19 ‘was detectable . . . up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.’”

Photo: amazon.com

Allen shared an example of an Amazon package delivered by an infected driver who wiped his/her nose, didn’t wash hands and touched your package. “Even then, there would be a time lag from when they transferred the virus until you picked up the package at your door, with the virus degrading all the while. In the worst-case scenario, a visibly sick driver picks up your package from the truck, walks to your front door and sneezes into their hands or directly on the package immediately before handing it to you.”

Allen then described a model–think pieces of pie. “For disease to happen, all of the pieces of the pie have to be there: sick driver, sneezing/coughing, viral particles transferred to the package, a very short time lapse before delivery, you touching the exact same spot on the package as the sneeze, you then touching your face or mouth before hand-washing.”

He wrote to cut the chain: leave the package outside or right inside the door for a few hours and wash your hands. He continued: “you could wipe down the exterior with a disinfectant, or open it outdoors and put the packaging in the recycling can. (Then wash your hands again.)”

Regarding grocery stores: “Keep your hands away from your face while shopping, and wash them as soon as you’re home. Put away your groceries, and then wash your hands again. If you wait even a few hours before using anything you just purchased, most of the virus that was on any package will be significantly reduced. If you need to use something immediately, and want to take extra precautions, wipe the package down with a disinfectant. Last, wash all fruits and vegetables as you normally would.”

Feel better? What precautions are you taking? Any shortcuts? Can you share examples of when a goal of perfection fell short yet all was well in the end?

Photo: smartsupp.com

 

Service of What Will Change and What Will Remain the Same: So Many Questions

March 26th, 2020

Categories: Change, Forecasts, Predictions

When I see a street with nobody on it in NYC I’m usually on alert. Now I’m relieved. Will it always be so?

I keep a few hidden dollars around just in case and have for decades. On occasion Homer would leave a note saying he owed the envelope $X. Now it turns out dollars and coins may spread coronavirus. Recently E-ZPass announced it doesn’t accept cash anymore nor will Metro-North Railroad and some restaurants have had this policy for a while. [I wrote about the trend in “Service of Cashless Restaurants” in 2018.] So is cash on the way out permanently? If street vegetable, fruit, coffee and falafel vendors return will they only accept credit cards?

Will we have the option of going to the movies anymore? A friend who just saw “Emma” at her neighborhood movie house suggested to friends that they watch it on Pay Per View as they shelter in place admitting she preferred seeing it on the full screen. Do enough people agree? Will Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Turner Classic Movies fill this hunger?

If hair stylists remain closed will long hair on men of all ages become the fashion and gray/white hair for women of a certain age?

Printed copies of newspapers pile up at the office. Is this the death knell for the print versions?

How about church, temple and synagogue attendance–more or less once the crisis is over and services resume?

Will more people telecommute to save employers the cost of rent? Local hosts on 710 WOR Radio are on-air from their homes now and some save hours a week in commuting time. Speaking of real estate, will more people flee from living in cities where viruses thrive on crowds? We all press L for lobby in elevators.

What about teaching: Will the cost of college shrink as techniques to teach online become more compelling and interaction realistic through technology? Will gathering in classrooms become obsolete? What will happen to all those buildings?

Will enough people have learned to cook and/or to order in to make restaurants less tempting?

Will sports fans have found other interests? Will libraries close forever as people increasingly download books and will borrowed books be forever suspect? What about the classes and lectures held at libraries?

What about auto-pay? If a bank account is bare, won’t people want to strategize about which bills to satisfy and not have vendors grab at the overdraft willy nilly?

Too many questions. Should we not ask them now?

 

Service of When What Calms You is Out of Reach

March 23rd, 2020

Categories: Church, Museums, Music, Religion, Restaurant, Retail, Solace, Sports

Open for contemplation.

Congregants at synagogues, mosques, temples and churches, passionate sports fans and shoppers, movie and concert goers, bar hoppers, exercisers, museum and restaurant enthusiasts and travelers are up a creek these days. There are no religious services or sports competitions, and favorite roosts  that calm, uplift, cheer and/or distract are closed: movie houses, gyms, museums, concert halls, stores, bars and restaurants.

Photo: redskinswire.com

Even hugs are out.

I was looking at a favorite cooking show on TV yesterday but can’t find the ingredients so is there any point?

What do you substitute and how do you maintain your equilibrium when your favorite distractions and sources of solace are on hiatus? What do you look forward to? What’s an anxious person to do?

 

AKC Museum of the Dog NYC

 

Service of Heroes II

March 19th, 2020

Categories: Doctors, Hero, Retail

Photo: mnn.com

There are many heroes these days who face the dangers of coronavirus while many of us have the luxury of being able to work remotely. Cashiers at grocery and other stores, apartment and office building staff, construction workers, firemen, policemen, doctors and nurses, radio and TV production staff and reporters to name just some.

Regardless of pay they are on the front lines in contact with potential germs.

Photo: chicagodoorman.com

From the start we’ve been told most at risk for this virus are older people and yet, as Julia Marsh reported in the New York Post, “In just a single day, one thousand retired and private practice doctors and nurses answered City Hall’s cry for help, volunteering to join the Big Apple’s medical reserve and help treat their fellow New Yorkers stricken with coronavirus.” The underline is mine.

The owner/founder of the Union Square Hospitality Group, Danny Meyer, has laid off 80 percent of the staff in his 19 restaurants–2.000 people. He’s not the only one. What else can he do?

These employees and millions like them with nowhere else to work will need the help and support of heroes to keep them afloat at a time when millions of others have seen their savings evaporate. In future such small businesses may be forced to set aside money for such crises. The public will pay more but what other choice?

Here’s to all the heroes and bless them. Can you identify some in your life? Will you thank these heroes for going to work in spite of the danger?

Photo: verywellhealth.com

Service of Hoarding

March 16th, 2020

Categories: Hoarding, Panic, Retail

Photo: mlive.com

The morning after the August 2003 Northeast blackout I visited D’Agostino, a grocery store. We were going on vacation, the cupboard was bare and a friend on business in NYC was locked out of her hotel room so she was roosting at our apartment. I waited in line on the street and staff let two or three of us at a time in the darkened store. My mission: Bread and cheese. The numbers of other customers with grocery baskets filled with toilet paper eight-packs was remarkable.

A run on toilet paper is happening again these days. I can understand stockpiling food should we follow Italy, France, Israel, Spain and other countries closing everything down. But toilet paper?

Wegman’s in Rochester, NY.

Several places online report that the average person uses 100 rolls of toilet paper per year (over 20,000 sheets). Does this match your experience? Eight rolls a month seems like a lot to me unless the rolls are minuscule, you are extremely ill, you use the stuff for other things–the way we use baking soda for far more than cooking. Or maybe the national toilet paper association, if there is such a thing, spread the word in the hopes that people try to meet the statistic.

Trader Joe’s NYC 3/14/2020, 8:40 a.m.

The behavior–hoarding such paper goods–doesn’t match mayoclinic.com’s definition: “Hoarding disorder is a persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions because of a perceived need to save them. A person with hoarding disorder experiences distress at the thought of getting rid of the items. Excessive accumulation of items, regardless of actual value, occurs.” I had a friend with the disorder and have seen it in action.

The symptom, as reported on the website, is a little closer to what’s happening: “Getting and saving an excessive number of items, gradual buildup of clutter in living spaces and difficulty discarding things are usually the first signs and symptoms of hoarding disorder, which often surfaces during the teenage to early adult years.”

People with houses have plenty of room for all those extra rolls but in a typical NYC apartment an excessive number would likely be incorporated in the decor.

Everybody asks why people hoard toilet paper and I’ve not heard a valid answer. When anxious, people apparently need to have excessive amounts of it–why? Are you hoarding anything at this stressful time?

Trader Joe’s NYC 3/14/2020, 8:41 a.m. NYers don’t eat artichokes.

 

Service of Sensible Measures: How to React to a Crisis

March 12th, 2020

Categories: Crisis, Economy, Events, Illness, Panic

Grand Central Terminal that’s losing its reputation as a crowded place.

Coronavirus has increasing nasty, damaging ramifications: Its super-contagious nature; the threat of quarantining people for 14 days if exposed or sick; the potential long-lasting crushing economic consequences; the seminal changes to education as more and more colleges are closing dorms for weeks after spring break and moving students online for instruction if they haven’t already done so and for the near future sports, entertainment and expos–to the trade or consumers–won’t be the same. What about young children and their working parents should the kids be forced to stay home? Will imports/exports be stopped? One of the worst aspects: the fuzzy, ad hoc nature of the strategy to contain the virus.

Photo: phase.com

Will we remain helpless, grasping at straws, improvising in a scattershot way for the year we must wait for a vaccine? Can someone please facilitate production and delivery of test kits for the virus, hand sanitizer and face masks? Manhattan is also bereft of the latter two.

Any good ideas, Mr. President and team?

In my apartment building tenants must pick up takeout food in the lobby as delivery people are not allowed upstairs. A week ago the manager installed a hand sanitizer dispenser in the vestibule by the elevators.

You’ve heard the expression “As busy as Grand Central Station?” If this keeps up, it will be meaningless. Please see the photo I took yesterday at the top of the post.  And doors to the terminal and the Rite Aid drugstore inside are left open [photos below left and right] so people don’t have another handle on which to spread or from which to catch germs. The doors normally are not left open but nothing’s normal.

Doors to Grand Central not usually left open

Some friends called off vacations, [while one left for India as scheduled and I wonder what her return in a few days will be like], and others, planning to cover industry events, aren’t going because their meetings or trade shows have been deep-sixed or their employers withdrew their OK for travel/attendance. Venues such as hospital and church community rooms have pulled the plug on professional or educational gatherings for now yet a trade show in Manhattan next week so far is expected to go forward. A friend who pooh-poohs 99 percent of every danger said he was working at home for the next few days to avoid the train commute.

And for me? I’ve always used my knuckle to select my floor in an elevator but I’ve never before washed my hands as much. I bought a large container of peanut butter should I be quarantined or ill so I don’t have to bother anyone if I run out of other food. [Truth: I’ll probably finish the jar long before the crisis is over.] I picked up an extra bottle of prescription meds in the event there’s a delivery glitch in the near future and the last 2 bottles of CVS-brand hand sanitizer. I gave one away. I’m not doing laundry in the communal laundry room at my apartment and I’m hand-washing as much as I can.

I wasn’t soothed by the NY Metropolitan Transit Authorities’ warning–without proposing viable alternatives–that citizens avoid taking crowded subway or buses. Jeanne to the MTA: This is NYC. Everything’s crowded pretty much. I worry that the system will be shut down.

Photo: forward.com

I’m tempted by the $50 Broadway theater tickets to fill otherwise sold-out shows left with last minute seats because of significant cancellations by ticket holders–but hesitate to take advantage of the bargain and think all the shows may eventually be closed. Tickets are supposed to go on sale today at noon. According to amny.com, “Tickets for “To Kill a Mockingbird”, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and “West Side Story” are available through telecharge.com. “The Lehman Trilogy” and “The Book of Mormon” are available through ticketmaster.com.

I don’t have the stomach to calculate my financial losses spinning out of control.

Have you altered your life or plans in recognition of the virus or been forced to? Are you concerned about the financial ramifications or do you figure everything will return to “normal” shortly? Have you experienced anything like this—a triple-whammy of health, lifestyle and financial menace all at once? War perhaps? Do you feel that someone responsible has her/his arms around this? What will you do with your time if restricted to your home for 14 days? Am I overstating the situation?

Photo: advancestanchions.com

Service of Business Cards

March 9th, 2020

Categories: Business Cards, Business Etiquette, Communications

 

Photo: hobancards.com

You may remember that I posted previously about something I overheard at a craft fair in New Paltz a few years ago. A little girl around six chided another child who’d grabbed a stack of business cards from one of the exhibitors. She said: “Put those back! He may be looking for a job and will need them.” She may well have been similarly admonished at home.

Such cards have been around a long time. “Calling cards, also called visiting cards, visiting tickets, or compliments cards, originated in their paper and ink form in France in the 18th century and their popularity quickly spread across Europe and the United Kingdom,” according to Claire Green on hobancards.com.

Photo: nationsphotolab.com

Does anyone use them today? According to Te-Ping Chen the carte de visite “can be used as fire starters or toothpicks, folded into origami or just cherished as ‘a little slice of time.’” Most of his Wall Street Journal article is actually about what people do with cards that no longer apply though the subhead I just quoted leads a reader to think otherwise.

I keep a few in my wallet but I’ve met a few people recently who don’t have a card on them which I find strange. The other day I met a chef/restaurant owner, a guest on a Sunday morning TV news show, who said he’d given away his last card. Nuts. I am not good at remembering names so he and his eatery are lost to me and my friends.

I’m grateful for a card if I visit a new doctor, vet’s office or restaurant. I input the vitals to my phone’s address book when I have a minute. I don’t keep the cards. When I was selling my house I resented it if a real estate agent didn’t leave behind a card to prove he/she had been there. This happened more times than not.

Vistaprint told Chen that sales are growing and that it prints almost six billion/year. Another company, MOO, claims it sells 250 million+ a year.

Do you still hand out and/or take cards from others? Do you save other people’s cards or your old ones? Are there certain businesses–and people–that should continue to use them for the foreseeable future even though some may think that they are old school? Should retired people have business cards?

Photo: clubflyers.com

Service of On the Job Training

March 5th, 2020

Categories: Building and Remodeling, Construction, Education

Last Saturday morning Lou Manfredini interviewed Paul Robinson on his weekly WABC HouseSmarts Radio program. I no longer have a house but many of Lou’s tips that solve callers’ challenges also apply to apartment dwellers. And Lou is fun to listen to.

Robinson is founder and CEO of ConstructReach, St. Louis, Mo. Its objective is to train high school students and enlighten them–and their parents–about the construction industry as a passport to a good living. At the same time the organization is creating a crucial trained workforce.

In particular, Robinson described the “I Built It” program. “High-school students aged 16 to 18 from neighboring school districts will gather at Target stores in Los Angeles, Calif., Denver, Co., St. Louis, Mo., and Miami, Fla., to learn about the construction industry and participate in elements of the stores’ remodel.” Vincent Salandro wrote about the “I Built It” program in Remodeling magazine.

Salandro continued: “The company aims to connect general contractors to interns and to create content and experiences to expose a diverse population to sustainable construction careers. It also fosters close relationships with educators to work on closing the gap between the industry and educators. Educators are on the front line and are in ‘a prime position’ to speak to young people and their families about the next steps in life, Robinson said, and ensuring construction has a place in those conversations is important for the future of the industry.”

The construction industry has bad PR: People consider that students “fail into it,” according to Robinson, and educators, parents and kids need to be shown an accurate perspective. In addition, “More than half of skilled workers are nearing retirement age and the industry is not doing a good job of filling those positions at the same rate they will be vacated,” reported Salandro.

Robinson told Salandro, “If you’re not exposed to what you can do, or what’s in front of you, that’s a lot of untapped potential.”

I represented building products and industry trade organizations for years and have long felt that little is done to elevate/recognize the significance of careers in building trades. Kudos to Robinson!

Further, as a former homeowner, I lived and suffered by my appalling lack of skills and knowledge in plumbing, electricity, laying flooring, painting, plastering, how a furnace works and so forth. I wish I’d been trained and think that if these skills were taught in college–or made available to students–it would benefit them and automatically elevate the trades in the eyes of those with doubts. I went to a private NYC school that didn’t teach typing but in high school a bunch of us attended the Y to learn what turned out to be an essential skill. What do you think?

Paul Robinson, ConstructReach Founder

 

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