Service of Apology V

August 3rd, 2020

Categories: Apology, Business Etiquette, Etiquette

Photo: my-confidential.org

I first addressed the subject of apology in 2010 when I covered one by the editor of a student newspaper for publishing an inappropriate cartoon and subsequently when a high school sports coach apologized for a tantrum and later by Whole Foods for overcharging. Then there was a post about those who didn’t or don’t apologize: Donald Trump, Quentin Tarantino and a department store customer service staffer.

Photo: inc.com

I have the opposite problem: I apologize too much. One friend attributes it to my sex, age and maybe upbringing. In his experience women apologize more than men, especially older women. “I’m sorry” pops out of my mouth as automatically as “God bless you” and “thank you.” I need to snap a rubber band on my wrist to stop me. Just today I almost collided with a man coming around a blind corner on the street. Me: “Sorry.” He: silence. Culpability: equal.

I cannot pinpoint the date at which businesses big and small and the people who work for them stopped apologizing–maybe 30 years ago? No apology, never my fault traveled from C-suites to NYC delis at that time. I was once yelled at when I told the cashier I’d not ordered OJ and she insisted that I had while holding out her hand for the additional money. I’d been going there every morning for months and had never ordered juice. Reminding her didn’t elicit an apology.

Photo: teamoutpost.com

There is dissent among lawyers as to whether or not to apologize if you’re in an accident. To some it might imply culpability that will be reflected in a crushing settlement. Some insurance lawyers  negotiating settlements find that an apology has impact: the injured person often agrees to a lower settlement. A friend was crossing a Manhattan street with the light when a taxi ran into him. One of the first things he told me was that the driver never once apologized. His lawyer is still negotiating the settlement. If I remember the no apology he also does–as well as the pain in his hip.

Has a stranger apologized to you lately? A business associate or colleague? A friend, family member, spouse or companion? Under what circumstances, if any, do you apologize?

Photo: policyholderpulse.com

Service of Little Things Mean A Lot II

July 30th, 2020

Categories: Attitude, Customer Care, Customer Service, Library, Pandemic, Retail

Photo: psychologytoday.com

I wrote the first post with this title three + months ago. It’s time for a reprise. The first post was about friends who reach out. This one is about strangers who warmed my heart.

How Cool is That?

The air conditioning units in my apartment all fizzled on a toasty day. I followed up a few times–the units belong to the landlord–and when the temperature had climbed upwards of 86° with four more hours until sunset–I get afternoon sun–I visited the lobby again explaining that I was beginning to feel woozy. The morning year-round doorman had been passive and useless. The manger was on vacation.

Climbing up to 86 degrees+

Doorman Joshua, a very young man and summer temp jumped into action and within an hour a porter/handyman was on the job. As I waited for him to return with new units the intercom rang. It was Joshua–we’d met only that afternoon–asking if I was OK. The porter told me Joshua had also called him again to confirm that he was on it. Too bad for us this is his summer job. I suspect he’s a student and given his common sense and empathetic streak predict great things for his future.

Beautiful Cashier

I visited CVS drug store on Third Avenue and 42nd Street early on a recent Sunday morning. The cashiers consistently help me make the most of my coupons. As I left that day–I was dressed in pandemic fashion on the cusp of sloppy–the young woman, who was barely out of her teens, called out: “Stay as beautiful as you are.” She could see my wave but not the smile under my mask.

Moving Along

I called the Metropolitan Transit Authority [MTA] about returning a discount MetroCard sent my husband. When I explained the reason the clerk, hearing he’d died, was compassionate and so heartfelt in her condolences I could hardly catch my breath.

Read On

I treated myself to an iPad so I could download books. I got tangled in the process of ordering a book after I’d downloaded an e-card from the New York Public Library so I sent a query to the help desk. After more fiddling I figured it out. A few days later I heard from Elizabeth at AskNYPL and in another email I explained that I was set and apologized for bothering her unnecessarily.

She wrote: “You are not bothering us. We’re here to answer questions, so if you run into any more e-book trouble, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Chat and phone are best for quick answers.” I responded again as did she: “So glad you were finally able to get a book! I loved A Gentleman in Moscow. Hope you enjoy it….Take care and happy reading!”

You don’t feel alone when dealing with people like these. Kindhearted, lovely strangers who take extra steps beyond their job descriptions are welcome anytime but especially these days. I suspect they enjoy their jobs more as well. Many of them suffer from pandemic fallout yet they still go the extra mile. Do you have similar instances to share?

Photo: nypl.org1

Service of Uncommunicative Left and Right Hands: Counterintuitive Marketing

July 27th, 2020

Categories: Medical Tests, Vote

Photo: latimerapplyby.com

I am baffled by the gap between reality and the vigorous marketing and promotion of two crucial initiatives that impact millions. Marketers deliberately caused pressure on insufficient supply boosting demand making things worse.

I’m speaking about write-in ballots in the New York State primary and Covid-19 testing around the country. Neither was/is able to meet expectations yet both continued/continue to be promoted.

Will My Vote Count?

I already covered the disgraceful New York write-in ballot snafus in “Service of Uneven Performances During a Pandemic.” I ended up voting in person because my write-in ballot came the day after I voted. Yet the Mayor and commercials urged citizens to request ballots until deadline. A friend’s mother never received hers.

Photo: gothamist.com

And that is just half this sad story. Edward-Isaac Dovere wrote last week in theatlantic.com: “More than a month after New York’s June 23 primary elections, state election officials are still counting votes. In some legislative districts, they haven’t even started counting absentee votes. In the best-case scenario, election officials hope to declare winners by the first Tuesday in August—six weeks after Election Day. It might take a lot longer than that. Election officials in New York City have already invalidated upwards of 100,000 absentee ballots—about one of every five that were mailed in from the five boroughs. And furious candidates are already filing lawsuits charging discrimination and disenfranchisement.”

Failing the Test

The Covid-19 testing scenario is a disaster and yet every day the public–in New York at least–is urged to be tested even if they aren’t sick or have no reason to be. Backlogs have created inconceivable delays and who knows why there are so many inaccurate results.

Some examples:

  • One couple was thrown into a tizzy when the wife, whose husband was recovering from open heart surgery, came down with a sore throat and tested “presumptive positive.” She had a second test elsewhere and it was negative. A week later the original lab informed her that the  test was faulty–no virus. Were others who had the virus told they were OK?
  • An acquaintance missed a long-scheduled procedure because the results of her required Covid-19 test, taken six days prior, didn’t come in time. Did you know it’s recommended that patients quarantine themselves after being tested until the operation? How many people can afford to quarantine in addition to potential recovery time from an operation?
  • Others, such as the son of WOR 710 radio morning show producer Natalie Vacca, get their results in two days. Her husband’s took 11. Morning show co-host Len Berman’s son’s test came back in 10.

Standardization? Ha. It’s every man or woman–or State–for him/her or itself. Sady Swanson in the Fort Collins Coloradoan wrote: “With a national backlog of COVID-19 tests causing delayed results, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has announced plans to expand lab capacity within the state to get Coloradans results quicker.”

She reported that some Coloradans waited 10 to 12 days for results. Governor Polis won’t count on national testing. Swanson reported: “The national labs have been receiving ‘tens of thousands’ of tests to process per day from states currently seeing COVID-19 case spikes, like Arizona, Texas and Florida, Polis said.

“With no national testing strategy, Polis said the state is moving forward with purchasing additional testing supplies, expanding state lab capacity and securing more private partners to meet the state’s testing needs.”

So many questions:

  • If an initiative can’t fulfill current requests why prime the pump?
  • Are you planning to vote by write-in ballot in November?
  • Are you concerned that you won’t get your ballot in time or if you do, that your vote won’t count?
  • Should there be a national testing strategy or standardized test for Covid-19?
  • If you had the test, did you trust the result?
  • What good does it do if it takes more than two days to learn that you are a carrier or that you have Covid-19?

 

 

Photo: medscape.com

Service of Summer Prep Similar to Winter During a Pandemic: It’s Relative

July 23rd, 2020

Categories: Complaints, Inconvenience, Pandemic

Photo: galmeetsglam.com

As millions of people around the world suffer from unrelated-to-the-pandemic health and economic issues I point out a microscopic bother and am ashamed.

One of the many things I love about summer is walking out the door not having to put on a sweater, coat, scarf, mittens and earmuffs/hat.

Photo: artofmanliness.com

Leaving my apartment is no longer carefree. I don a mask, once I’ve found it, and plastic gloves and tie the laces on my outdoor pandemic sneakers that live by the front door. If I’ve covered my hair with a scarf on a bad hair month I remove it to secure my mask strings and put it back on. When I come home I try to remember to leave my outdoor shoes by the door.

Since apartment management requires residents and guests to wear a mask I take advantage of an outing to coordinate garbage runs so I don’t need to get Covid-gussied for the ramble down the hall to the trash room with bags of wet, paper and plastic.

As I left my apartment today, another resident at the end of the hall saw me coming. He threw up his arms and turned on his heels to return to his apartment. He’d forgotten his mask. Even after all these months it can happen.

These little inconveniences that remind me of winter prep are nothing compared to the 780 million who have no access to improved water sources according to cdc.gov and the 2.5 billion who “lack access to improved sanitation.” The World Health Organization identifies regions with lowest improved sanitation [latest stats from 14 years ago reflecting priority] are sub-Saharan Africa and Southern and Eastern Asia. “Unsafe drinking water, inadequate availability of water for hygiene, and lack of access to sanitation together contribute to about 88% of deaths from diarrheal diseases.” Let’s hope the situation has improved.

While we are focused on the pandemic what is happening to these and other sufferers?

Has the pandemic discombobulated you? Have you inadvertently left home without your mask? Do you feel ashamed mentioning small inconveniences when there continue to be so many fundamental, achingly horrific wrongs in the world?

Photo: timesofisrael.com

Service of Fakes: Phony Laughter Doesn’t Cheer

July 20th, 2020

Categories: Entertainment, Fake, Laughter, Radio

Photo: geneticliteracyproject.org

The first “fakes” post in 2016 was about food. A bunch of others followed on various aspects of fakery mostly published in 2019.

Laughter has been a most welcome part of my life. If I’m at a restaurant and see people at an adjacent table doubling over in hysterics I enjoy the scene even if I don’t know what’s tickling them. However just as I don’t like the aftertaste of faux sugar–I’d rather not have any diet ice cream, cookie, yogurt or soda–I don’t react well to pretend laughter.

Photo: scienceabc.com

Since the pandemic started, the weekday morning talk show hosts I listen to on a commercial NYC radio station increasingly roar at nothing hoping to achieve a cheery atmosphere. I realize they are trying to mitigate these calamitous times but their mirth is phony and the triggers childish–often mean-spirited–hardly worth a mild chuckle. NPR isn’t exempt. On one of its Saturday morning programs involving a host and a few participants the grating, forced mirth of one of them, shrieking at every sentence uttered by the others, pierces my eardrums and annoys me in equal measure.

I laugh all the time without being prompted by soundtracks while watching programs on Netflix such as “West Wing,” “Call My Agent,” or “The Gibson Girls;” favorite vintage movies like “Auntie Mame” on Turner Classic Movies or while reading a book–The Gentleman from Moscow these days.

An exception may be the late night show host-comedians Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers or Jimmy Kimmel. They might need an audience soundtrack as their pandemic format suffers without the jollity of a live audience.

Does hearing someone laugh–even if the person is faking it–cheer you? What makes you laugh these days? Is there anything that you should like or appreciate that you don’t because it’s ersatz or fake?

Photo: indiatvnews.com

 

Service of Memories

July 16th, 2020

Categories: Fruit, Memories, Memory

From a frenetic to a busy to a quiet life made more so by the pandemic I find memories pop into my head these last months. I usually focus on looking ahead but between the pandemic, the economy and anticipation over the November election it’s increasingly difficult.

I have always been drawn to cherry motifs. Happy memories associated with this luscious summer fruit have inspired my attraction. [The little bowl, photo right, bought at a craft show years ago is an example.]

As I ate some cherries, freshly picked yesterday in upstate New York, I remembered a childhood dinner game. We’d help ourselves to as many cherries as we could eat for dessert and when finished, we’d hide our piles of pits under our hands and give the others at the table a quick glimpse. The winner guessed the number of pits on the other diner’s plates.

Next cherry memory took me to a boutique hotel with restaurant near Puy, France that boasted one of the few up and coming female chef-owners at the time. Her husband was a magnificent host. Some 20 years ago while we were relaxing by the pool after a day of touring we saw her strolling on the property. As she walked she pulled a few cherries from her trees and popped them in her mouth. I remember this scene–and one of two American couples who shared a car who had a rip-roaring fight in front of us–but not what we ordered for dinner. Dessert was crème anglaise with meringue–floating island.

With all the sheltering at home I wonder if families are again eating dinner together and perhaps playing similar games as we did in the day. Have you been distracting yourself with memories to avoid thoughts of the immediate future? What triggers have sparked your memories?

Photo: nature-and-garden.com

 

Service of Fraternity Behavior During a Pandemic: The Winner Loses

July 13th, 2020

Categories: Children, Death, Games, Illness, Pandemic, Youth

Photo: thefraternityadvisor.com

Some adults never grow up. That can be good if they keep the enthusiasm of discovery and optimism of youth and discard the foolhardy aspects.

When I first heard about covid parties I thought “fraternity behavior.”  The winner of a Covid-19 party is the first person to become infected by the virus after one sick person joins a room full of healthy ones. The “honor” often comes with cash if each guest puts money in a pot for the prize.

The tragedy is that a 30 year old died of coronavirus contracted at such a party. “‘He didn’t really believe, he thought the disease was a hoax. He thought he was young and he was invincible and wouldn’t get affected by the disease,’ [Dr. Jane] Appleby told KSAT.” Dr. Appleby is chief medical officer at Methodist Hospital in San Antonio.

Photo: nomadicmatt.com

The concept of such a party is nothing new–just the winner who loses part is. In my 20s I was invited to parties that took place on winter Fridays after work where each couple put money in a pot to cover the cost of a weekend for two on a tropical island–flight and hotel paid for by the money collected. Couples with kids made arrangements for their care should they win. There was a drawing early enough in the evening for the winners to get to the airport with a small satchel filled with summer clothes that they’d brought with them. The losers stayed to enjoy the rest of the party.

How can the message about the dangers of a pandemic get so lost and misunderstood? Did covid party goers not notice sheltering at home that must have happened for some reason? Or how it has impacted their lives and the economy? I’ve witnessed apathy about politics with acquaintances throughout my life but ignoring or dismissing this virus as no biggie would be like going on a tap water diet before Flint Michigan addressed the poison coming out of its faucets.

Photo: yourdictionary.com

Service of Eating Out During a Pandemic

July 9th, 2020

Categories: Bicycles, New York City, Pandemic, Restaurant

Living alone during a pandemic has its benefits and drawbacks. You get to see what you want on TV and watch until the wee hours and there’s only yourself to blame if you don’t like what’s for dinner.

However if you live in NYC and have a yen to meet a friend at a restaurant and you practice social distancing, you’ll hit a snag. The tables are understandably small [see the photo above] so that restaurants can squeeze in as many as possible in the allotted tiny sidewalk or street spaces. As a meal involves speaking, eating and unprotected mouths and noses, being only two feet from another person you don’t live with is risky. Yet you can’t blame the restaurants.

I don’t mind eating alone and would feel safer doing so these days rather than with a pal although in July’s heat and humidity I’m not rarin’ to bake while I eat. I also think that a restaurant would much prefer to ring up two meals in these times of slim pickings so I’ll leave tables to couples.

And how comfortable are we in NYC’s restaurant retrofits? Desperate measures make for unusual placements of some outdoor eating arrangements. I wouldn’t anticipate a relaxing break in this shelter [photos right and below] with Second Avenue traffic and vehicle exhaust passing on one side and all manner of two-wheeled vehicles on the other. But as they say across the pond and I often hear on Call the Midwife, “needs must.”

Have you eaten at a restaurant alone or with a friend, spouse, companion or business contact indoors or out during the pandemic? Do you plan to soon?

.

Service of a Name II

July 6th, 2020

Categories: Arrogance, Brat, Name, Storm, Weather

Photo: redbubble.com

I’ve written a few times about names on this blog but not about names chosen to identify a storm and more recently, to describe a style of person. I wrote the first “Service of  Name” in 2012 about Rupert Murdoch’s proposing a name change for The Wall Street Journal. He didn’t.

We’ve been naming storms for people since the 1950s. Hurricane Jeanne caused floods and mudslides killing more than 3,000 in Haiti in September, 2004. Memorable storms such as Katrina, Sandy, Rita, Wilma and Ivan in the 2000’s alone wreaked havoc.

I have never been called out or teased because I share a name with a deadly natural event and I doubt if the Katrinas, Wilmas, Ivans or Sandys have either.

Yet Karen is a different story.

Karen meme. Photo: dailydot.com

Of late I keep hearing and reading “Karen” used in derogatory ways. According to Wikipedia “Karen is a pejorative term used in the US and other English-speaking countries for a woman perceived to be entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is considered appropriate or necessary. A common stereotype is that of a racist white woman who uses her privilege to demand her own way at the expense of others. Depictions also include demanding to ‘speak to the manager’, being an anti-vaxxer, or having a particular bob cut hairstyle. As of 2020, the term was increasingly being used as a general-purpose term of disapproval for middle-aged white women.” [An anti-vaxxer refers to people who won’t take or give vaccines to their children.]

Wikipedia continued: “The term may have originated as a meme on Black Twitter used to describe white women who tattle on Black kids’ lemonade stands”. It has also been described as originating with black women but having been co-opted by white men.”

The coverage attributes the origins to characters from movies Goodfellas and Mean Girls, a sketch by Dane Cook–“The Friend Nobody Likes”–and “a 2016 Internet meme regarding a woman in an advert for the Nintendo Switch console who exhibits antisocial behavior and is given the nickname ‘antisocial Karen.'”

I dislike people who act in insufferable ways. I question trashing a name because a person with that name or powerful destructive storm acted inappropriately or killed, respectively.

Do you think storms should be named after inanimate objects or birds or animals rather than people? If your name matched that of a deadly storm did you hear about it? What about taking a name from a demanding, irritating, nasty person and turning it into a generic one: Is it appropriate? Will the Karen storm blow over after we identify other malicious behavior perpetrated by Frieda or Gerry or Philomena or Frank?

Hurricane Ike September 2008 Photo: weather.gov

Service of Vacation Travel During a Pandemic

July 2nd, 2020

Categories: Pandemic, Travel

Photo: flickr

It’s Fourth of July weekend! Where are we going?

Two friends have planned or have already gone on days-long summer vacations by car involving motel or hotel stays. Another will visit a friend later in summer traveling by train and a fourth would fly in a second were he welcomed in Europe.

They are in the minority according to a June 2020 survey of almost 1,000 adults commissioned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association [AHLA]. It “found that only 44 percent of Americans are planning overnight vacation or leisure travel in 2020, with high interest in road trips, family events, and long weekends over the summer months.” Of those who planned to travel, 68 percent “are likely to stay in a hotel.”

The survey found that “55% plan to travel for a family event, such as a wedding, birthday, anniversary, or family reunion; 50% plan to travel for Christmas, 43% for Thanksgiving, 33% for 4th of July, and 30% for Labor Day.”

According to spectrumlocalnews.com “The American Automobile Association estimates that 150 million people had to cancel travel plans this summer…..In fact, this year, 97 percent of summer trips are road trips. According to the AAA, air travel is down 74 percent. Trains, cruises, and other forms of travel are down 86 percent. The only number that’s close to normal is car travel, which is down just 3 percent compared to last year.”

What interested me about the AHLA website was information about a “safe stay” initiative “focused on enhanced hotel cleaning practices, social interactions, and workplace protocols to meet the new health and safety challenges and expectations presented by COVID-19.”

Photo: smartertravel.com

An excerpt of the “Cleaning & Disinfecting Products and Protocols” section about guest rooms: “Cleaning and disinfecting protocols will require that particular attention is paid to high-touch, hard nonporous items including television remote controls, toilet seats and handles, door and furniture handles, water faucet handles, nightstands, telephones, in-room control panels, light switches, temperature control panels, alarm clocks, luggage racks and flooring. The frequency of room cleaning during a guest’s stay may be altered based on guest requirements. In accordance with CDC guidelines, Housekeeping staff should wait at least 15 minutes before entering a guest’s room for cleaning to allow for adequate time for air exchange following the guest’s departure, and will discard all single use items provided by the hotel that were used by the guest during their stay, or left by the guest. If bulk personal care items are used, the cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all high touch surfaces in the room including any bulk toiletry items that may have been used or touched by guests prior to the next occupant.”

The point that raised my eyebrow in light of the controversy about indoor eating at restaurants and sharing air space in trains, planes and buses was “Housekeeping staff should wait at least 15 minutes before entering a guest’s room for cleaning to allow for adequate time for air exchange.”

Are you planning to travel? Will you disinfect your hotel room or assume that it’s clean? Are you driving or taking public transportation to get to your destination? Do you welcome overnight guests to your home these days?

Photo: pinterest.com

Get This Blog Emailed to You:
Enter your Email


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Clicky Web Analytics