Service of Salary Secrecy

May 17th, 2021

Categories: Hiring Manager, Human Resources, Job Hunt, Negotiation, Salaries, Secrets

Image by Ryan McGuire from Pixabay

Job seekers have shared their opinions with me about whether to insist on knowing the salary range before pursuing a position and in the first conversation revealing, to the prospective employer, the remuneration they expect. They fall into two schools of thought: Do and Don’t. The same thing applies to a PR agency before staff takes time to write a proposal. The risk of failure increases when the client doesn’t share how much the company is budgeted to spend.

One friend at the top of her game won’t work for less than $X and doesn’t want to waste her time on countless interviews for nothing so she says she won’t move forward on a job lead without salary information. She’s also fine with sharing her salary expectations with headhunters and hiring managers.

Alison Green wrote “When Employers Demand a Salary Range From Applicants but Refuse to Suggest One,” asking why “hiring managers play such coy games around salary.” In her article in she reported that employers sometimes wait until they make a formal offer or late in the process yet they require that candidates spill their figure right away. She commented, after being contacted by a close-lipped headhunter: “Why not just tell me what [the salary] is so we each know if we’d be wasting our time or not?”

In one example, she was told the interview process entailed, after HR screening, a call with the hiring manager, a full day of interviews in the office, potentially a second day, and maybe having to complete a project or test.

There’s no surprise why employers opt for secrecy–they want to pay as little as possible. Candidates fear if they mention an amount they won’t be paid what the employer is willing to pay. If the job is appealing enough an applicant might be willing to accept a lower salary but fears, by mentioning a higher one, they will knock themselves out of the running.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Green wrote: “Job seekers who just ask directly what range the position will pay risk running into interviewers who bristle at the idea that money might be a key factor in someone’s interest level.” That happened to her in the example above that potentially entailed two days of interviews. “The HR person got really cold and awkward and said she couldn’t tell me that information. … I received an email later that afternoon that said because I was so interested in salary and not the company or the job, they weren’t continuing with my candidacy.”

She found that some employers say they duck offering a compensation range because candidates will be disappointed if not offered the top salary.

She advises job seekers to do research about jobs in the targeted industry by speaking with recruiters, directors of professional organizations and colleagues. “Ultimately, as long as employers treat salary info like a closely guarded trade secret, candidates will be at a disadvantage.”

Have you been caught up by the salary question? Should employers be open about their salary range and prospective employees be relaxed about sharing their expectations? Aren’t employers who object to candidates asking what the pay will be naive to think that people work for fun, with no concern about covering expenses or what others in the industry pay? What about prospective clients who won’t tell an agency what their budget is–do you write a proposal anyway?

Image by Nattanan Kanchanaprat from Pixabay

Service of Dishonesty or That’s What Makes Horse Racing

May 13th, 2021

Categories: Dishonesty, Honesty, Horse Racing, Vote


I’ve been mulling over the subject of dishonesty lately because of a rash of high profile examples. This relatively mundane one brought my thoughts to a head: A friend who is on a co-op apartment board said a company called  Honest Ballot is overseeing the election for board members. The voters are tenant-cooperators. I’ve been on a co-op board and my husband was on another. One building was self-managed and the other hired a building management company. Bamboozling at such an election never came up in the day.

It sure has been the ongoing subject of the 2020 Presidential election that derailed a leader of the Republican party who objected to allegations that the election was unfair/illegitimate.

What about Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit whose trainer, Bob Baffert, has been suspended from the Louisville racetrack because the steed tested positive for betamethasone, an anti-inflammatory drug?  The horse will nevertheless be running in the Preakness in Baltimore on Saturday. Len Berman, legendary sportscaster and journalist who co-hosts the morning show on WOR-AM 710 in New York can’t believe all the passes Baffert has been given. He acknowledged that interest in the Preakness is piqued by Medina Spirit’s participation hence, no doubt, his being welcomed to run in the second of three races in the triple crown. According to “Over the span of his four decade career a total of 30 horses have registered positive drug tests on Baffert’s watch, with four in the last year.”

Have you heard of organizations that hired a company to oversee voting results? Do you think that Liz Cheney will in future rise from the ashes within her party? What’s with horse racing? Are other sports as loosey-goosey with the rules and those who break them?


Image by anncapictures from Pixabay

Service of I Can Get It for You At Full Price

May 10th, 2021

Categories: Celebrations, Gifts, Luxury, Retail

Line at the Gucci shop-in-a-shop at Macy’s

Last fall Meghan McCarty Carino reported in  that according to a McKinsey & Co./ survey, one in four women were considering leaving the workforce. Working women juggling children and jobs have been severely impacted by the pandemic.

I wondered: Are children sure their mom wanted something extravagant this year? A hug, surprise visit or day off from daily chores would seem to be the most precious gifts. Yet on Mother’s Day eve there was a line outside the Gucci shop-in-shop at Macy’s at Herald Square. There were thousands of gifts to buy in that oversized emporium. The iconic Gucci brand isn’t known for bargains. Crucial sectors of the economy are still in upheaval in this neck of the woods.

New store on Second Avenue and 47th Street

To illustrate, pedestrians can’t miss a recent gut wrenching epidemic of small retail closings in downtown Manhattan as workers don’t seem to be returning to offices anytime soon. My heart leapt with happiness when I saw a handsome new store, Stellar Hardware and Bath, open at 900 Second Avenue in the 40s. Someone sees promise in the city!

We hear about available jobs–seasonal businesses in southern N.J., gearing up for summer, are short on employees. Some reporters use the crisis word to describe the scarcity. But salaries connected with these positions don’t allow for luxury gifts.

“Both the unemployment rate, at 6.1 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 9.8 million, were little changed in April,” according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics on May 7. “Notable job gains in leisure and hospitality, other services, and local government education were partially offset by employment declines in temporary help services and in couriers and messengers.”

Topsy Turvey–right? Clearly there’s a hunger for expensive things. Kanye West’s Nike sneakers recently sold at Sotheby’s for $1.8 million and a computer file with a digital creation by Beeple sold for $69 million two months ago.

Beeple, Mike Winkelmann, is a Charleston, S.C.-based graphic designer whose costly digital creation is a nofungible token–NFT-based art. Digital art is a hot trend in the art world. In a New York Times guest essay Albert-Laszlo Barabasi wrote that NFTs “use blockchain technology to certify authenticity and proof of ownership. (Beeple’s piece was a collage of images that he had posted online every day since 2007.)” describes a blockchain as “a digital record of transactions. The name comes from its structure, in which individual records, called blocks, are linked together in single list, called a chain. Blockchains are used for recording transactions made with cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, and have many other applications.”

Do you give, receive or expect extravagant gifts these days? Do you see value in digital art, uber luxury goods or in anyone’s sneakers?

Atlantic City in southern New Jersey. Photo:

Service of More and More Shortages

May 6th, 2021

Categories: Appliances, Automobiles, Furniture, Shortages

Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

Local and national news outlets report shortages daily. A dearth of kitchen appliances join lumber as well as microchips that choke manufacturing in auto and computer industries.

According to a segment on 60 Minutes, 75 percent of microchips come from Asia. Intel, which passed on the opportunity to make chips for iPhones early on, doesn’t currently have the ability to make the small chips here.

Image by Michael Schwarzenberger from Pixabay

A friend ordered a sofa at the end of April and was told to expect it in September. Segments of the furniture industry have a reputation for slow deliveries but lately, a lack of shipping containers is partly to blame.

Not all shortages are pandemic-driven. A three-day fire last August at the Biolab chemical plant in Westlake, Louisiana, crippled operations and impacted availability of chlorine tablets for swimming pools. Most were manufactured there.

We’ve just begun to see changes in our lives as a result of the pandemic. Will we be back in the manufacturing business here? Have we reached the end of the heyday of cheap prices because of our reliance on products made abroad by poorly paid labor? Will we want more control over essential goods? What shortages would impact your life or already have?


Service of Regional Food

May 3rd, 2021

Categories: Food, Regional Food, Restaurant

Steak de Burgo Photo:

It all started with a Facebook review by a friend complaining about the Steak de Burgo she’d been served at a restaurant. New to me I looked it up and soon learned why I’d not heard of it. Seems the butter topping, with herbs, garlic and wine in one version, has been a specialty in Des Moines–where she lives–for 60 years. It appears to be an adaptation of beurre maitre d’hotel [butter, parsley and lemon juice] and other herbed butters the French put on steak.

Ess-a-Bagel Photo:

For New York–the city anyway–I think of bagels and dirty water hotdogs, the latter sold by sidewalk vendors, and giant soft pretzels often combined with mustard. My favorite bagels are from Ess-a-Bagel. And we used to specialize in fat deli sandwiches with pastrami or corned beef. My favorite haunts–like Carnegie Deli–have been out of business for years. Health and diet conscious customers opting for smaller portions–or no meat at all–dealt a blow to these establishments.

A friend from New Jersey told me about Italian style hotdogs served either on an Italian roll or pizza bread, with bell peppers, onions, and potatoes.

Another pal shared some Rhode Island specialties. Autocrat is a brand of coffee syrup made in Lincoln, R.I. used to make coffee milk. She told me about a milkshake known, in the Ocean State, as a cabinet. When I lived in Boston we called it a frappe. In R.I. they serve a creamy clam chowder–no doubt a version of what we ID as the New England variety–and celebrate the dish at an annual festival. Local clams are Quahogs. And Del’s lemonade, a frozen concoction, is sold from trucks especially in summer at the beach.

A cabinet. Photo:

David Landsel stuck out his neck in Food and Wine Magazine when he selected the best pizza by state. I bet noses of many pizza aficionados flew out of joint at his rankings. The winners, in order, are New Jersey in first place followed by Connecticut, New York, Illinois, Michigan, California, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts,  Ohio and Missouri. I’ve not tried the famed Razza pizza in Jersey City but I have often been to Pepe’s–Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana–in New Haven which my husband had been going to since college. Landsel mentioned John’s of Bleecker in NYC–opened in 1929– which I’ve never tried.

What are some of your most beloved regional drinks or dishes made either where you grew up or where you have lived or do now?

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana. Photo:


Service of Patience Rewarded

April 29th, 2021

Categories: Customer Service, Discounts, Impatience, Patience, Retail


My husband used to tell me to slow down. I’ve only now begun to heed his advice on occasion. It paid off this time.

I scratched my eyeglasses badly, right in the middle of the lens. Reading through the smudge was driving me nuts. I finally reached out, on the Internet, to the company that had my recent prescription to order another pair and immediately heard back. I sent the invoice number, [proud that I knew just where to find it from a while ago], and subsequently heard nothing. I figured they couldn’t do it.

I described my experience in a follow-up customer service survey and forgot about it. Maybe I was getting used to reading through the distortion. Truth is, I dreaded having to go to an eyeglass store in person. I’m still Covid-cautious.

On Sunday I received an email from Jessica who said she was the supervisor on the Customer Experience team. She wrote: “I feel awful that your experience wasn’t up to snuff—that’s not the kind of Warby Parker customer experience we pride ourselves on, and I see where we fell short in our previous email thread about re-ordering some reading glasses. If you’re still interested, I’d love to offer my personal assistance with ordering a new pair of Yardley in Blue Marbled Tortoise with your reading prescription.​”

We spoke the next day and I asked if I’d be paying the same as for the first pair. She said that because I’d had to wait too long to reorder she’d given me a $30 discount. Nice surprise!

Are you usually impatient? Have you found that patience, especially during the pandemic, can have its rewards? When you order from a vendor do you always demand to get service yesterday even if you don’t need it that fast? Have we changed the kind of oil to apply to the squeaky wheel?


Service of the Child in All of Us

April 26th, 2021

Categories: Children, Children's Books, Cooking, Enthusiasm, Music


Scott Simon, NPR, interviewed Sandra Boynton and Yo-Yo Ma on “Weekend Edition” this Saturday about their collaboration for toddlers: “Jungle Night,” printed on thick paperboard. It comes with a downloadable recording that in addition to narration features a variety of animal snore noises–made by instruments–and includes a lullaby, “Jungle Gymnopédie No. 1.” The music is a combination of Ma playing Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 1 backed by Ron Block on guitar, and Kevin MacLeod on drums.

Yo-Yo Ma Photo:

During the interview Ma–and I quote loosely–said “I have the mind of a child. Every time I perform it has to be as though on a clean chalkboard; I start new every time. I’m not doing something because I did it yesterday.” He said his performances require a beginner’s mind and described a sandcastle at the beach that is different every day because the tide wipes out the previous one.

I imagine that a successful stage actor who plays the same role week after week must go about it similarly as did cookbook author/TV personality Julia Child. She worked on recipes countless times until she got them right nevertheless showed such joy and a feeling of discovery when she shared her tips on her TV show.

Many approach their creative jobs in the opposite way. A comment made by a former colleague, when I was at the intermediate level in the PR business, was a head scratcher. How the boss didn’t fire him when he was asked, “Why are you suggesting XYZ tactic for the client?” and he responded, “Because we’ve always done that,” was a mystery.  In another example, a client asked “why can’t we send out the same press release for each collection launch–just change the title?” The client wasn’t on the design side fortunately and would not have understood Ma.

Some of the best public speakers and many people others like having around share a youthful spirit and energy–a joie de vivre which has little to do with their age or lack of fame. A great aunt and my mother lived into their 90s. They were blessed with the spark. Neither were the slightest bit childish, nor is cellist Ma. There’s a difference.

Do you know people who approach their work and life with the freshness and enthusiasm of a child–often backed by study and hard work–resulting in magnificence? For what projects do you evoke the child that was in you?

Julia Child Photo:

Service of Returns

April 22nd, 2021

Categories: Retail, Returns


People expect to be able to return items whether pricey or not.

A friend told me she felt lukewarm about a mattress she’d just bought and mentioned that she had three months to return it.

Trader Joe’s, as I’ve previously written, is customer friendly in this regard. I returned beer introduced for St. Patrick’s Day that tasted medicinal. The store took back the remaining three cans no questions asked.

I’ve written before about a colleague from long ago who switched his very old neckties for new ones at Brooks Brothers. The store had an over-generous return policy in the day. He claimed the tie had worn out.


AVG sells antivirus software and it consistently offers free trials to test expanded coverage. Similarly newspapers, magazines and video streaming platforms give folks an opportunity to try them out. A cancellation at the end of a trial period is a virtual return.

Pets can be returned to shelters.

Some of the reasons for returns at Costco that posted are as nervy as they are amusing:

  • The store got back an empty wine bottle because the customer got a headache from its contents.
  • Two months after he’d bought a laptop a customer returned an eight year old one–even the manufacturers were different. He stuck the sticker with serial number from the new computer on the oldie.
  • A woman threatened to call headquarters when the local store refused to accept a 13 year old frozen fish.
  • A pressure washer had stopped working so back it went. It was15 years old.

What does a retailer do with an almost new mattress? I wonder how many people take advantage of free week or month offers by streaming video services just to watch a show or some programs. I don’t think that those cancellations should count as returns because the buyer intended to give up the service from the start–do you? What was the nuttiest return you’ve tried or heard about?

Brooks Brothers neckties Photo:

Service of Respect II: Don’t Get Between Me and My TV Program

April 19th, 2021

Categories: Funeral, Respect, Royalty

Prince Philip Funeral April 17

There was a hullabaloo in the UK when the publicly funded BBC cancelled scheduled programming like “Master Chef” and “EastEnders” to run commentary about Prince Phillip the day he died. “Viewers switched off their TVs in droves after broadcasters aired blanket coverage of Prince Philip’s death, audience figures revealed on Saturday, and the BBC received so many complaints it opened a dedicated complaints form on its website,” according to

Didn’t the Duke of Edinburgh deserve recognition and respect?

The man had served the nation and commonwealth for 70+ years–starting with distinction in the Mediterranean and British Pacific fleets during WWII. He supported veterans and the armed services for decades; was associated with 992 charities in his lifetime; gave–and wrote–80 to 100 speeches a year and was an environmentalist/conservationist to the end: The Land Rover hearse he specified for his funeral was electric.

“Behind every successful woman, there is a strong man.” The Prince gave up the career he expected to follow in his beloved Navy and learned to play second fiddle with grace–under public scrutiny–decades before it was common for women in a family to have the main job. He avoided the spotlight, staying literally and figuratively two steps behind his wife

Even ABC reported 200 complaints here when they cancelled “Vera” to cover the Prince’s death. Yet on Saturday his funeral ran in the U.S. on all networks, CNN and MSNBC.

Are we so devoted to our TV programs that we can’t prioritize or think of anyone else–such as the Prince’s grieving family–or show respect to a historic figure who died if it means we miss a show on a single day?

Service of Trust and Risks

April 15th, 2021

Categories: Food Safety, Investment, Risk, Trust


We each have different tolerances of trust as well as for risk. The death of uber Ponzi-schemer Bernie Madoff reminds us of the potential hazards of the financial investment kind.


We continue to eat fresh food in spite of reports of E. coli. Romaine lettuce, a favorite of mine, was on the carpet at one point. On March 10 the Center for Disease Control reported that 22 people in seven states were sickened by this bacteria but they couldn’t identify the causes. The FDA even looks out for pets. As of April 12 Meow Mix has been recalled for potential salmonella contamination.

I’m not known as a risk taker, but I fought to get a vaccine appointment even though vaccines for Covid-19 hadn’t yet been approved by the FDA–nor have they yet. I’m not alone. Our World Data reports that 95 million have been vaccinated in the U.S.–76.7 million fully vaccinated, or 23.4 percent of the population.

Anti-vaxxers must rejoice at the pause that federal health officials have put on Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine until researchers can determine the cause of rare and severe blood clots in six women aged 18 to 48–one died–of the 6.8 million doses in arms in this country. I couldn’t find out how many of the almost seven million vaccinated were women. Nevertheless this was the prudent thing to do.

We recall lettuce and cat food that make fellow citizens and pets sick and few blink. The J & J recall shows how vigilant federal health officials are being in the interest of public safety. It underscores my trust. Do you agree? Are there risks you were happy you took and some that didn’t turn out as well?

E. coli Photo:

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