Service of How Do You Say It or Don’t You?

November 29th, 2021

Categories: Speak Up

Photo: Youtube.com

Philip Galanes recently shared Beth’s question in his New York Times column “Social Q’s.” She asked: “What should I do if I am sitting next to a stranger at a performance, and he falls asleep and starts snoring?”

Galanes told her to “tap [him] on the shoulder and whisper: ‘You’re snoring.’”

There’s a Tostitos commercial featuring Dan Levy and Kate McKinnon at a party with a man between them [photo above]. They are standing in front of a table of food. Salsa from a chip drips on the man’s shirt. He turns to McKinnon and tells her she has lipstick on her teeth and walks away. The voice over has Levy and McKinnon arguing which one will tell him about the stain. Clearly neither wants to.

I’ve written before about this instance. I was an early teen going through the everything embarrasses me stage. My father whispered asking me to tell the woman in front of us in church that a price tag was hanging from the collar of her suit. I couldn’t so he did.

Is it easy for you to tell a stranger about such things in addition to tights with a run in them, spinach in teeth or a missing mask on a bus or train? Are there other similar situations? Does it matter if you do or don’t speak up?


Image by Namar from Pixabay

Service of Perfect Customer Care: A Michaels’ Cashier Wins

November 26th, 2021

Categories: Customer Care, Customer Service, Retail, Service, Service Personality

Photo: michaels.com

As I write on Black Friday I think about Angela, a cashier at Michaels on Sixth Avenue and 23rd Street in NYC.  If she didn’t love her job she gets my kudos for being a great actor.

I’d waited to pay in a long line for noon on a workday. She greeted me with an angelic smile befitting her name and asked if I had any coupons. I said “no.” She asked if I was ever a Michaels member. I had been when I lived upstate three years ago. She told me to type in my phone number on their website. It worked.

To save time, she expertly directed me from memory to click the right spots on the site. Boom. I was recognized and got a 20 percent discount.

Meanwhile to protect the item I was buying she’d quickly wrapped it in paper as carefully as a gift. She didn’t ask me if she should.

Not once, when I thanked her, did she say “no problem,” two words that drive me nuts. She would have been one of the only service people who had reason to as in all ways she went beyond the strict requirements of her job which was to ring up the sale and hand me my purchase. When I thank a person who has done her/his job, “no problem” is irritating and inappropriate.

I hope you run into an Angela as you find a perfect gift you hope will please. Have you already?


Image by NguyenLe365 from Pixabay

Service of Automation Hiccups

November 22nd, 2021

Categories: Automation, Doctors, Pharmacy, Prescription, Technology, Telephone Service



Image by Gordon Johnson from Pixabay

I’ve written 74 posts in the “technology” category the most recent about the hurdles to sign up for the first Covid-19 vaccines; a restaurant where the only way to order was through a smartphone app that was faulty and platform upgrades that benefit the vendor and make life more complicated for the user.

Here are some examples that illustrate that those who designed the programs didn’t consider the vendors or customers.

Seeing Straight

I received an email asking me to make an eye doctor appointment. I’d already done that before leaving my last one but figured the office may have had a computer hiccup that erased all appointments so I called. There were 17 people ahead of me–an unusually high number. [I use telephone waits to water plants]. Turns out my appointment is scheduled and that the lovely assistant who kept her sense of humor said she’d received countless similar calls. The email had been sent automatically, she explained. My suggestion: revise the automated notification so people with appointments don’t get such reminders. Then office staff can focus on their work and patients don’t waste their time.

Here’s to Your Health

Prescription renewals usually take a minute by phone using a simple system: the customer types or says the Rx number. This time after I’d punched in the numbers the computer voice turned me over to the pharmacy department. Another wait. The pharmacy clerk who took my name and that of the prescription mouthwash was out of breath on answering and said to come in for it in the afternoon. The automated system used to do the same. Why bother drugstore staff? I have a lot of plants to water but not that many.

Do You Hear Me Now?

I’m early on this journey to unravel malfunctions galore and may write a post about the twists and turns once there’s resolution. But for this post I will simply note that to change my Verizon account from my husband’s first name to mine has caused tangles of many layers. Just one: the company is now billing me for both the cancelled account and mine. Hoping for resolution to this and the rest very soon. I think I’m in capable hands.

Have you found that some automated systems have fallen short or wasted your time? Which ones worked like a charm? What do you do while waiting on hold to speak with someone?



Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay  

Service of When We Think We’re Terrific But We’re Not: Inconceivable Job Interview Mistakes

November 18th, 2021

Categories: Human Resources, Interviews, Job Hunt


Image by Tumisu from Pixabay 

I couldn’t believe the results of a survey that Steven Greenberg reported on WCBS News Radio 880. He’s the host of “Your Next Job.” Among other things on his LinkedIn profile he lists HR and Talent Acquisition Consultant.


Image by Tumisu from Pixabay 

Most job candidates think that they do well on interviews he said in a recent radio news brief. Speak of delusional if you compare this impression with what employers had to say!

Greenberg covered highlights of a survey of employers:

  • 71 percent said applicants answered a cell phone call or texted during the interview. He advised this is inappropriate behavior even during a Zoom call. Really?
  • 70 percent said the candidate dressed too casually.
  • The majority said applicants appeared disinterested: They didn’t ask questions that showed they’d looked into the position or the business or organization.

These are such obvious, easily remedied issues none of which should have happened in the first place. They illustrate that the preponderance of job candidates in the survey were oblivious of others. I can’t offer another explanation. Can you? Have there been times you thought you aced something and you didn’t?


Image by Robin Higgins from Pixabay

Service of Obstreperous Guests: What To Do

November 15th, 2021

Categories: Anger, Entertaining, Guns, Restaurant

‘Tis the season–there will soon be lots of entertaining going on especially for the vaccinated. Are we ready?

No surprise the subject of guests who cause discomfort came up with friends I saw last week. I reminisced with one about an incident that happened at his dinner table a few years back. We could laugh about the eccentricity now but it made him anxious at the time. My friend and his wife were welcoming a couple to town. The new neighbor put a loaded gun next to his plate. “Is the gun loaded?” he asked. It was. He requested his guest put it in his jacket in the hall. The man argued he never went anywhere without his gun but eventually relented.

Another friend was hosting a dinner party and a last minute guest she didn’t know–a pal asked if he could bring him–wondered if it was OK if he smoked pot and offered the others to join him. Before anyone answered she said she didn’t allow smoking in her home. [Tenants in my apartment house sign an agreement that there is no smoking period–even on our balconies or in front of the building.]

She also told us about an in law of a buddy who arrived at her home badly inebriated. That visitor held hostage the conversation with her angry rants and nobody could get in a word.

I recall a restaurant review many years ago–I’ve written about it before–in which the critic loved the food, service and ambiance but interspersed with her compliments she quoted the boisterous and vicious argument of a couple seated nearby. The restaurant did not receive the stars it should have, she wrote, because the Maitre D’ should have told the couple to keep it civil or leave.

A bunch of friends addressed the restaurateur’s challenge. Some felt the noisy couple should be asked to go and one, who had witnessed a similarly loud fight, felt that she should have been compensated for a free meal as nothing was done to quiet the couple.

The hostess in the instances above asked me “What would you do about a trouble-making, quarrelsome or out of control guest?” a question which I ask you. Should a restaurant manager evict unruly patrons–including shrieking children–in the interest of the comfort of others while at risk of losing a loyal customer or facing a nasty confrontation?



Image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay

Service of Faster and Faster and Faster and For What?

November 11th, 2021

Categories: Delivery, Food, Food Delivery, Pandemic, Speed

I ran out of eggs while making a quiche the other evening. I was too lazy to go out–it was 7 pm–and I don’t know my neighbors so I improvised.

Winnie Hu and Chelsia Rose Marcius covered a potential solution to my missing eggs in their article in The New York Times. They wrote: “Now the nation’s largest city has become the biggest laboratory for the latest evolution in rapid e-commerce — a surge of online companies promising groceries at your door in 15 minutes or less, so no one has to worry about running out of milk or missing powdered cinnamon for a poundcake recipe.” This near instant grocery delivery service model is old news in London, Paris and Moscow.

An aside: The reporters prefaced news of the concept with the following: “The explosion of internet commerce has transformed New York City, with same-day delivery of a couch, a television or the latest laptop just a few clicks away as more companies compete for faster delivery.” This was posted on November 9. With the container backup I wonder how these promises are working out. A friend’s Christmas ornaments meant for sale in her store are sitting somewhere–but not on her shelves.

There is some downside to balance the convenience: Pedestrians are already at risk with the multitude of delivery people on bicycles–many motorized, driving at top speed in the wrong direction or on sidewalks. And what about the bottom line pressure on grocery stores whose owners pay dearly for substantial real estate and staff? And I cringe for the countless bodegas that city folk depend on for a quart of milk or can of soda.

Columbia Business School professor Mark A. Cohen conjectured that “grocery companies cannot realistically deliver in 15 minutes every time as their order volumes increase, or hold on to customers who may give them a try but grow disappointed with the limited selection of products.” Competitors working in some Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and Bronx neighborhoods include Buyk, JOKR, Gopuff, Gorillas, 1520 and Fridge No More. A supermarket carries some 35,000 products, report Hu and Marcius, where the micro hubs, maintained for fast delivery, stock from 1,500 to 5,000. One delivery worker told the reporters he dropped off 18 orders over 10 hours.

How does the model work that offers low or free delivery charges and products at standard prices? It does for those businesses, “with investors funding their operations for now,” the reporters wrote, that don’t pay for checkout or customer service employees and buy in bulk from manufacturers. Their locations needn’t be prime nor space big and they maintain tight inventories with little waste they reported.

If the price of goods remains moderate and delivery charges modest I see a use for the 15 minute delivery in market niches such as parents caring for infants and young children as well as the infirm. The frantic who juggle too much would also be likely targets.

Back to my quiche. I wouldn’t have ordered half a dozen eggs through a high speed grocery delivery service. I’d need to retrieve the package from the lobby because deliveries have not been permitted upstairs throughout the pandemic. Once downstairs I’d rather walk up the block to the deli than order online.

I’m statistically insignificant. I’m surely among the few in my giant apartment building who enjoys picking up my Chinese and Mexican takeout meals. What’s seven blocks? [Many other options are a block away but are not my favorites.] At certain times of day and on weekends the numbers of food deliveries to athletic looking 30-somethings made to this building are jaw dropping.

Do you think this almost instant food delivery service will be a flash in the pan? Does the concept appeal to you? Will you give it a whirl?


Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

Service of Crowds II

November 8th, 2021

Categories: Crowds, Pandemic, Panic, Uncategorized

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I am crowd averse as I’ve written previously, most recently about the impact of the pandemic on Manhattan that eliminated swarms of citizens who normally congregate at certain times and places. I was caught in a mass of people all trying to exit a courtyard at once through a narrow opening in a gate when I was 10. I had no control over the direction I wanted to go or whether I could stick near my mother and I didn’t like that feeling.

That’s why I’m amazed that people scramble to fill stadiums that hold over a hundred thousand fans. Madison Square Garden has almost 20,000 seats which seems like a lot. Friends flock there to hear their favorite singers, pay exorbitant prices and consider themselves lucky to snag tickets.

It’s remarkable that the dreadful event, that happened in Houston last Friday at the sold-out Astroworld music festival–50,000 people attended–hasn’t happened more often.


Image by Vishnu R from Pixabay

This venue holds 200,000+ reported J. David Goodman and Maria Jimenez Moya in The New York Times

They wrote: “The most common cause of injury and death in crowds is compressive asphyxia, when people are pushed against one another so tightly that their airways become constricted, said Steve Adelman, a lawyer and the vice president of the Event Safety Alliance, an advocacy group. This happens most often during a ‘crowd crush,’ when the audience is packed together so tightly that people cannot move, but it can also occur during a stampede.”

They added that “Houston police chief, Troy Finner, said that officials worried that cutting off the concert could make the situation worse. ‘You cannot just close when you got 50,000 and over 50,000 individuals,’ he said. ‘We have to worry about rioting, riots, when you have a group that’s that young.’”

Eight died in the third year of this event, from ages 14 to 17.

According to the Associated Press, as reported in usatoday.com, “‘The crowd began to compress towards the front of the stage, and that caused some panic, and it started causing some injuries,’ the [Houston] fire chief [Samuel Peña] said. ‘People began to fall out, become unconscious, and it created additional panic.'”

“The deadly surge was the most deaths at a U.S. concert since the 2003 Station nightclub fire that killed 100 people in Rhode Island.

“Eleven people died and about two dozen were injured in 1979 at a concert for The Who as thousands of fans tried to get into Cincinnati’s riverfront coliseum.”

I’ve happily attended concerts and performances in Carnegie Hall, New York City Opera and Ballet, the Metropolitan Opera and concerts at the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College as well as at sold-out performances in theaters here and abroad. Security checked handbags for bombs and firearms after 9/11 but I didn’t stress about the possibility of an explosion. Issues of Covid-19 aside, am I naive to be unconcerned in these places?

Does attending a crowded venue–even a place of worship with a modest capacity–give you pause? Are some seats– stadiums and concert halls–safer than others? Have you been in a crowd that worried you?


Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Service of Women Confronted by the Same Old Hurdles

November 4th, 2021

Categories: Age, Ageism, Women, Work


Image by Ernesto Eslava from Pixabay

Working women of a certain age in senior positions have countless stories about meetings at which they were asked to serve or order refreshments, take notes or were talked over by a man who was praised for a great idea–the one the woman had just suggested but apparently nobody heard.

Sad to report that little has changed according to speakers and participants at an event I attended this week. Sponsored and produced by #DisruptAging from AARP and Tuenight, the topic was ageism and equity focusing on Gen-X women. Some attendees were younger than 41 to 56 and some older. I don’t know the demographic makeup of the viewers who were streaming the program on their devices. Note: All the tech people installing and running the streaming equipment were men.

Here’s a headline on the #DisruptAging website: “Don’t you hate it when people make assumptions based solely on someone’s age? It’s time we shed the negative stereotypes and unconscious age bias.” Anecdotally, I propose that ageism is worse for women than for men–especially women older than Gen-X. But enough about what I think–on with highlights of the program.

Margit Detweiler, a veteran on the topic and founder of Tuenight, welcomed attendees and introduced the speakers. The 40 over 40 website described her organization as “a cohesive, safe place for women ‘to hang out’ with their peers. It’s the ultimate book club meets Girls’ Night Out.” And about Detweiler, she “combats the idea that women over 40 are somehow meant to be put out to pasture rather than in the prime of their life. She’s truly walking the walk for the ‘over 40’ mission.”



Image by LUM3N from Pixabay

To ace the interviews for a job one of the speakers, Tracey Lynn Lloyd, used the formula for over confidence she’d observed resulted in the [irritating] successes by what she called the “mediocre white man.” She had the techniques down pat and snagged a prestigious marketing position which, in the end, she declined. As she didn’t tell the audience why, I asked her afterwards and she said she wasn’t qualified and that she wanted to be a writer, which she is. She admitted that her Dad was disappointed that she’d passed on such a lucrative salary, but she realized that money doesn’t mean that much to her. [I couldn’t help suggesting that most people are severely deficient in some part of every new job but admired her self-knowledge.]

Another speaker, Abby West, was urged by a friend in HR to ask for $20,000 more even though she was thrilled with the salary, bonus and stock options of a job she coveted. She did ask, after describing to us the reasons she was reluctant to, and with her friend’s guidance with wording, said that she was then offered “significantly more.”

Women continue to discount their worth. In a conversation during the break a manager said that the men who report to her consistently ask for raises–some twice a year–and that the women never do.

I was alarmed to hear Marcelle Karp, well on the road to 60, say she didn’t get a job, in spite of a stellar career that made her a match, because she didn’t have a college degree. She now has one and is working towards a Masters. And how old fashioned am I? I would weigh job history and success over a degree any day. Silly me: I know an organization that insists on Masters degrees for what I’d consider menial administrative positions.

Have you observed advancements for women in the workplace–no more coffee runs, note taking requests or discounting/ignoring their contributions at meetings? What about opportunities for those over 40 or 60–are women still at a bigger disadvantage than men? Is the most viable option to strike out on their own and give up hope of working for a large organization? In spite of the increased number of single mothers and women in the workplace, do companies still think of men as being the primary breadwinners which once was the excuse for paying them more? What do you suggest women do to change the paradigms about them?

Service of First Impressions Redux

November 1st, 2021

Categories: Chain, Fast Food, Pandemic, Restaurant

Over the years–this month marks the 13th anniversary of my blog–I’ve written a few times about first impressions. The other week I was fooled by a restaurant a few blocks from my apartment, Wagamama, that I’ve passed hundreds of times. It never appealed to me because it looked sterile–like a chain. With the exception of Maison Kayser, the bakery restaurant that was killed by the pandemic, Le Pain Quotidien, headquartered in Belgium, and Danish-based Ole & Steen, with three NYC branches, I’m usually not a fan of restaurant chains or of fast food.

You’d think a huge sparkling clean space would attract me during the Covid catastrophe. It gave me the impression that the dishes had previously been frozen and heated in a microwave.

Photo: painquotidien.com

My intuition was wrong.

I met two friends there for lunch the other day and enjoyed one of the best dishes of pad Thai that I can remember. The British chain has three branches in NYC and two in Boston. Here’s how they describe themselves, cut and pasted from their website–the punctuation and lack of uppercase letters is theirs: “we’ve been practising kaizen since 1992, when we opened our first doors in london’s bloomsbury. inspired by fast-paced, japanese ramen bars and a celebration of asian food, wagamama burst into life. we set out to create a unique way of eating. bringing the fresh, nourishing, flavors of asia to all.”

Are there chains you like? Is there something about the quality and standards of foreign food chains that makes their food tastier? What first impressions –good or bad–have fooled you lately?

Photo: oleandsteen.us

Service of Volunteers II

October 28th, 2021

Categories: Disrespect, Museums, Volunteers

What is it about museums? The last time I wrote about volunteers was in 2012 and oddly, it also involved a museum’s shabby treatment of its volunteers. Then the Brooklyn Museum suddenly disbanded its 64 year old Community Committee formed to raise the museum’s profile, start a docent program, give presentations in low-income schools with items from the collection, and plan events. The committee was kicked to the curb.

This time it’s the Art Institute of Chicago that dismissed its 82 docents ending the program in a letter. The goal of the new program, wrote Robin Pogrebin in her New York Times article, is to “forge closer ties with the racially and economically diverse city it serves.”

She reported “The docents — longtime, dedicated volunteers who know the Institute and its collections intimately — lamented the decision.” The Chicago Tribune “denounced the move in an editorial headlined ‘Shame on the Art Institute for summarily canning its volunteer docents.’”


Image by Hermann Traub from Pixabay  

The editorial “described the dismissal of the docents as ‘a callous move in a cruel time in America’ and called on Mr. Rondeau to ‘apologize and find some kind of compromise that does not involve the spectacle of long-serving devotees of a great museum left to feel like they’ve been put out with the gift-store trash.’” James Rondeau is the museum director.

According to Pogrebin “The new plan calls for hiring paid educators — Ms. Stein invited the volunteers to apply for those positions — and then developing a new program over the next few years.” Veronica Stein is “the executive director of learning and public engagement for the museum’s Woman’s Board, which supports education activities.”

Pogrebin reported: “The docents at institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston are all volunteers. ‘For many years we have worked concertedly to attract a diverse corps of docents,’ said Gary Tinterow, the Houston museum’s director, ‘and we look forward to continued diversification of staff and volunteers.’”

I come from a long line of volunteers–Two grandmothers, mother and father, uncles and aunts rolled up many a sleeve for decades–and my sister continues to do so. I’ve done my share and can speak only for myself: It seems so easy to disrespect and discount volunteers and cut off their contributions in a trice like unwanted suckers on a tree trunk–so why not do it? Are volunteers treated with disrespect because they are not salaried? Is it because many are retired and therefore old and not in sync with what an organization wants its image to be? Are museums alone or is this behavior typical of all organizations that use volunteers?



Image by StockSnap from Pixabay  
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