Service of When Less is Perfect and When It’s Not at the Olympics

August 2nd, 2021

Categories: Uncategorized

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

There was a turning point for women in the PR business when they didn’t have to appear at every event with a new suit or dress which sure made it easier to pack for days-long business trips as well as on the wallet.

But it’s been different for most women in the public eye, until now, thanks to the First Lady. “Dr. Biden apparently wore only a single new garment during the entirety of her trip to Japan: the Ralph Lauren navy jacket and pants that were part of the official U.S. Olympic Team uniform, and that she wore in her role as official U.S. Olympic Team booster,” Vanessa Friedman wrote in The New York Times. “Other than that, her clothes were all recycled outfits from her closet. And not just at fun family getaways: At public events. Often very big, photo op-filled, recorded-for-history public events,” she wrote in “Jill Biden, Changing the Fashion Game.”

Friedman, the paper’s fashion director and chief fashion critic, acknowledged that a recycled wardrobe is crucial for “image-making, celebrities and their powerful political or entrepreneurial equivalents.”


Image by Pexels from Pixabay

She observed: “She is not rejecting fashion — each look she wore is part of the current New York Fashion Week story, each one from American brands both establishment and up and coming. She’s doing her part to promote local business on the global stage.” Friedman mentioned that Dr. Biden “reflects the climate-focused aspect of the Biden agenda,” while supporting the worth of the clothes, that they merit keeping.

Meanwhile in “The Sexualization Of Women In Sports Extends Even To What They Wear,” Sharon Pruitt-Young reported on npr.org: “The Norwegian women’s beach handball team is in a battle with the sport’s governing bodies to wear less-revealing uniforms. After the team’s repeated complaints about the required bikini bottoms were reportedly ignored, they wore shorts during a recent game in protest and were fined 150 euros (around $175) per player.”

According to Jenny Gross in The New York Times “Men, on the other hand, can wear shorts as long as four inches above their knees as long as they are ‘not too baggy.'”

Do you think a First Lady or celebrity should have new clothes every time she will be photographed? Should female athletes be forced to wear revealing uniforms to compete in the Olympics or in any sports event?

Service of All Olympians are Winners

July 29th, 2021

Categories: Awards, Loser, Sports, Trophy, Winning, Youth

Ariarne Titmus of Australia, left, won. Katie Ledecky, USA, won silver.

A friend wrote on Twitter early this week: “One thing that bothers me about Olympic press coverage is when silver medalists are described as having ‘lost.’ Yes, it’s technically true. But when there are 3 top prizes, I consider any of those positions a win. Being second or third best in the world is an accomplishment.”

A New York Times headline illustrates the point: “Katie Ledecky Feels the Sting of a First Olympic Loss. In the 400-meter freestyle, she was something of an underdog.” She won silver.

The tweet reminded me of what I’d written three years ago: “My father, for years an avid Olympics watcher and supporter, reminded us during each winter and summer game that even the ‘worst’ of the participants are outstanding athletes. It’s easy to forget sometimes when listening to the coverage of the announcers, often past athletes themselves, criticizing a tiny twitch of a knee or microscopic landing quiver.” This was from the post: “Service of Pick Yourself Up & Dust Yourself Off: Olympic Figure Skaters Rule.”

Image by Josh Dick from Pixabay

I never met my husband’s grandfather who rowed for America at an Olympics long ago but I was impressed to learn that. I don’t remember who won–doesn’t matter.

It’s ironic that we can be so hard on these outstanding athletes who deserve acclaim and so easy on kids in team sports where everyone wins an award no matter the outcome. In “The Participation Trophy Debated: What Psychologists Say” on K2awards.com: “Giving children a reward for their efforts is great, because it shows them the value of being present, working hard, and contributing to a team. They are shown how good it is to be reliable, and how important the effort of every person is, no matter if it leads to a victory or a loss.”

The other side of the debate from the same post: “The biggest argument against participation trophies is that handing them out is a form of overprotection for our children. In other words, we hand out trophies to kids, no matter how poorly they performed, so they don’t feel bad about losing. Kids never get the chance to experience failure, or to learn from it. They grow up feeling entitled to rewards for simply showing up.”

Do you come down on the side of the press who consider Olympic gold winners the only ones who count? What about giving all kids a trophy to participate–yea or nay?

Image by Keith Johnston from Pixabay

Service of Favorite Expressions

July 26th, 2021

Categories: Bakery, Expressions, Money

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

I went overboard the other day when checking out a new branch of a Manhattan bakery, Dominique Ansel Workshop, and texted a friend–along with some photos of the goodies I was going to taste test. I wrote: “I bought three things because they said the ham and cheese croissant just came out of the oven so since I am printing money in the back room…”

She responded: “Hahah! That’s one of my jokes! I print singles, harder to get caught.”

Then I wrote that my father used to say when he’d seen or bought an overpriced thing that it cost “Les Yeux De La Tête.” [the eyes of the head].

She replied: “That’s funny. My family would say the money tree out back died.”

And so this post was born.

I often say or write onward; golly Moses or holy smokes. I love the image and meaning of vintage sayings. A favorite: the cat’s pajamas though I don’t use it much. According to Google: “‘The cat’s pajamas’ is first recorded in 1920 as part of the typical vocabulary of Jazz Age flappers and was soon popularized by cartoonist Tad Dorgan in his comic strip Indoor Sports.”

What are some of your favorite expressions? Did your family have an expression to refer to things that were expensive or when a member was spending money like crazy?

 

Dominique Ansel bakery on east 27th Street, NYC.

Service of Sisterhood: Does it Exist?

July 22nd, 2021

Categories: Customer Service, Friends, Friendship, Retail, Sisterhood, Wine, Women

Image by Jacquelynne Kosmicki from Pixabay

Drives me nuts when women don’t treat women as well as they do men. Fortunately I don’t notice it that often in restaurants and stores. I last wrote about a particularly irritating instance in 2015 in “Service of Sales Promotions: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.” In my example of “ugly” a young woman attended to a man when a woman was next in line.

I write today about one of my favorite places, Trader Joe’s Manhattan wine store. I’ve consistently been nicely treated there which may be why this occurrence annoyed–and disappointed–me.

Here’s what happened.

The scene: An employee is posted at the exit. His/her job is to take from customers the empty little red TJ marketing carts.

Last Saturday the middle aged woman at this post left it and raced, all smiles and hearty greeting, past several cash registers to the farthest cashier from the door to relieve a handsome white haired man of his store cart. He was also encumbered with a personal shopping cart. I was at the register nearest her and had the same two carts to juggle. She didn’t budge to take mine from me and she hissed, “thank you misssss,” when I handed it to her. [I haven’t been called miss for decades and haven’t heard anyone use the term either.]

After a dozen years at an all-girls school and at least the same number at a woman’s industry association I have no rose colored glasses where women treating women respectfully or helpfully is concerned: Some do; many don’t. In my experience the sisterhood word is a figment of a creative or wishful marketing person’s imagination.

That said, I’ve always been blessed with a wonderful number of supportive, dear, beautiful women friends–men friends too. I enjoyed mentoring both men and women and representing men and women in business.

Have you noticed when women end up on the cutting room floor in retail or restaurant situations that another woman is wielding the scissors or is my experience/observation a one-off? When organizations of women refer to “sisterhood,” or sisterly relationships among their constituents, is there something to it or is it fiction?

Service of What’s Going On? We Were Nice to One Another for a While

July 19th, 2021

Categories: Anger, Apartment Living, Customer Service, Impatience, Pandemic, Restaurant, Temper, War

Image by Methawee Krasaeden from Pixabay

Certain friends would reprimand me when I complained about service. They’d say, “The person is paid so little. What can you expect?” That was never a viable excuse for me. I don’t think that clients or customers should be penalized for that reason.

Today there’s a new excuse for bad behavior or flaunting the rules. Some say “Oh, but the poor things have been cooped up so long because of the pandemic.” So? I should be put in danger or yelled at because somebody is sick of social distancing or wearing a mask and is asked to do so? I feel no pity. And there’s another difference: The perpetrators of grouch and grump are customers.

We are so spoiled. If this was a traditional war would these people go for a stroll during bombing while whining that they’d had enough of being stuck in a basement or subway platform? This is a kind of war–against a silent enemy we can’t see.

We’ve recently seen fisticuffs over mask-wearing on national news between passengers on planes.

Apt Cape Cod friend’s comment on the restaurant’s Facebook page: “Please let your staff know that there are more nice people in the world than not-so-nice ones! Jocelyn”

Neil Vigdor wrote about “The owners of Apt Cape Cod, a farm-to-table restaurant in Brewster, Mass., [that] drew a line in the sand against customers’ rude behavior since being allowed to fully reopen.” In his New York Times article he reported “The verbal abuse from rude customers got so bad, the owners of one farm-to-table restaurant on Cape Cod said that some of their employees cried.” All one waitress had done was to tell a customer that the restaurant wasn’t yet open so she couldn’t submit his takeout order. He blew his top.

Vigdor wrote: “So Ms. Felt Castellano and her spouse, Regina Felt Castellano, who is also the head chef and co-owner, announced on Facebook that the restaurant would close for part of that same day to treat the restaurant’s employees to a ‘day of kindness.'”

The attitude is spreading like a rash. Here’s an example of what another industry is faced with. An excerpt of a comment by Liese Swann on Apt Cape Cod’s Facebook page follows: “My spouse works in home improvement retail, part of management. The stories he comes home with now are simply unreal. He hung up the phone on one abusive customer, and his staff looked at him wide-eyed and said “We can do that?” They were mightily cheered when he said yes. Some of these customers threaten to call the state AG’s office because the manufacturer can’t supply their order fast enough! As soon as that phrase comes out of their mouths, management has no choice but to cut off the conversation and refuse their calls…..they cannot comprehend that their kitchen cabinets or new washer and dryer set simply can’t be conjured up out of thin air. And they throw temper tantrums at people who have no control over manufacturing and shipping. It’s completely unacceptable.”

Nasty bares its ugly teeth where I live too.  I was sad to learn that tenants in my apartment building are acting badly. We had been so good for so long!

We have received almost daily notices from building management requesting that we please continue to wear masks in public spaces because of the rampant Delta Covid-19 variant that, wrote the manager, is up 23 percent in our neighborhood. Another reason he gave: so many tenants travel internationally. [He didn’t mention our proximity to a major NYC hospital and its many specialty satellites.] In one reminder the manager wrote: “Some residents have cursed at others for asking them to comply. This behavior is unacceptable. We all want to feel safe.”

Are people continuing to keep their cool where your life takes you or have you begun to see fraying at the seams of good behavior? Do you excuse the short-tempered people because Covid 19 has confined them and they are fed up? What else do you think is going on?

Image by klimkin from Pixabay

Service of Worker Shortage

July 15th, 2021

Categories: Customer Service, Restaurant, Retail, Service, Travel, Work, Worker Shortage

Have you been impacted by worker shortage? The answer would be “yes” if you were trying to renew your passport. Debra Kamin reported in The New York Times that it could take 18 weeks to renew by mail vs. six to eight before the pandemic. Appointments at one of the 26 official passport centers around the country–if you hope to fast track a renewal–are almost as hard to come by as winning lottery tickets.

A shortage of Transportation Security Agency (TSA) workers has created inordinately long Airport lines.

Photo: Hudson Garden Grill

Yet service was perfect at the Hudson Garden Grill located in the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx last Sunday. One of my friends asked the waiter if they were serving monkey bread and he explained that the restaurant is short-staffed and not fully back to where it was before the pandemic, so not yet, but soon. [I’d never eaten, seen or heard of this bread. Next time.]

I was happy to find an item that was out of stock at the three CVS stores within walking distance of my apartment when I happened to be on East 72nd Street. The store was clearly short staffed as it took too many minutes to get someone to free the item from behind locked doors. And then there was trouble with an express checkout machine and only one cashier. A valiant very young man was trying to answer questions, assist at checkout and open locked items.

CVS usually sends a “how did we do?” query after I buy something and I gave my experience an 8–because I was so happy to see the hard-to-find item. There’s space to explain your score. I was blown away when the store manager wrote the day after my response. Here’s an excerpt of his email: “As the Store Manager, I deeply regret that we were not able to meet your expectations regarding the items you wanted being locked up and your checkout experience.

“Good news or bad, feedback from our customers helps us understand the experience for all, and when necessary, make improvements to meet your expectations. We will continue to get better at unlocking items. I truly apologize for the inconvenience. In terms of your checkout, we do have some new hires that we are training and it takes some time to get them up to speed. They will get better as well. I hope next time your experience is a 10!

“I would like to personally invite you to let me know how we are doing. Please respond directly to this email with the best date, time, and phone number to reach you.”

Now that’s customer service!

Has the worker shortage affected you? Have the businesses and services you frequent been able to work around it?

Service of Lopsided Friendships

July 12th, 2021

Categories: Conversation, Friends, Friendship, Listen, Sensitivity

Image by michael maggiore from Pixabay

I’ve written about friendship over years. A favorite post is “Service of What is Good Company,” from 2012.

Some friendships are lopsided temporarily either during crises such as illness, job loss and death or at happy times, to celebrate milestones: births, marriages, raises, promotions, new jobs, clients, relationships or homes. At these times most conversations involve the special events/circumstances.

Image by Here and now, unfortunately, ends my journey on Pixabay from Pixabay

Other relationships seem chronically out of balance. One example: Person A, who lives alone and is retired, has enjoyed a lifetime relationship with Person B, also alone, who still works and is in frequent contact with siblings and their offspring. Person B has little patience with A, often cutting off B saying “I don’t need all those details” or “I know what you are going to say,” or “everyone knows that,” or “you’ve said that before.”  B doesn’t understand–or care–how important it is for A to share thoughts even if at times they are heavy with minutia. It’s not as though A is wasting B’s time. Conversations–or putdowns–often take place when the two are on the road.

Friendship should be like a game of ping pong or tennis between two people of similar ability, with back and forth conversation–equal amounts of listening and talking. Do you agree? Are your friendships even Steven most of the time?

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Service of Dog Owner Etiquette at Outdoor Restaurants

July 8th, 2021

Categories: Dogs, Etiquette, Pandemic, Restaurant

Image by ttwan from Pixabay

My friend grew up with beagles and loves dogs. She takes photos of all sorts she meets on her travels and posts them on social media. So when one lunged and barked at her at the outdoor section of a restaurant where she was having lunch with her family she was all at once shaken, scared and later angry. “I thought I was going to be bitten. I’ve never had a big dog jump on me and bark like that. She wasn’t wagging her tail.”

This is what happened: She was returning to her outdoor table when she passed the dog and said “hello.” That’s when the canine reacted. The owner, who was seated at a table, pulled the dog off of her and responded, “I know,” when my friend said “I didn’t touch her.”

Image by S. Hermann & F. Richter from Pixabay

“The woman never apologized or asked how I was. When we left the restaurant I dropped by her table and told her she should have done and only then did she say she was sorry, although she claimed to have said so earlier.” In addition my friend told the woman that if the dog can’t behave she doesn’t belong in restaurants.

She overheard the dog owner tell another restaurant patron that the dog was a rescue and becomes aggressive if anyone comes near.

In a previous post, “Service of Will Your Pooch–or Parrot–Pass the Scrutiny of a Co-Op Board?, I mentioned that when we bought a co-op apartment decades ago a board member interviewed a tenant of the building we lived in about our dog’s behavior. Today I see docile pooches on the street with muzzles and assume the precaution is required by a landlord, condo or co-op board. Some buildings make dogs use service elevators to avoid potentially nasty confrontations with other tenants in passenger elevators.

Restaurants have spent a great deal to create attractive outdoor spaces. They are not shutting down as NYC increasingly sheds its pandemic restrictions that caused them to crop up in the first place. In fact Governor Cuomo just extended for a year permission for restaurant outdoor dining structures that take up parking, sidewalk and driving spaces in the city. Do you think that there should be protocol for pet owners who bring their canines to outdoor restaurants as clearly some take no precautions to safeguard other patrons even when they know their pet has aggression issues?

Service of “But Everyone Does It”

July 5th, 2021

Categories: Age, Cheating, Everyone Does It, Job Hunt, Lies, Resume, Taxes, Weight

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

People cheat on their taxes and some claim everyone does, but best not try. Ask Allen Weisselberg.

Taxes aren’t the only thing people fiddle with.  One friend lied to the anesthesiologist about her weight. She thought that was why she woke up in the middle of the operation. A doctor subsequently told me that wouldn’t happen for that reason. But still, not a good idea to underestimate.

Image by Niek Verlaan from Pixabay

What about people with healthy resumes and years of accomplishments under their professional belts who nonetheless cheat on theirs? Some report a degree they don’t have [which is nuts as it’s so easy to confirm]. Others stretch a three month stint into a year. Many companies make the background check the last thing in what can be a month’s long process, sometimes more. What a shame to be beached after all that. From the employer’s point of view, the thought would be that such a candidate could as easily cheat the company or its clients. “You’re only speaking about a seven month difference,” a few might argue. I say keep it to three if that’s the truth.

One friend learned that his mother was older than she’d admitted when he accompanied her to the doctor towards the end or her life. She hadn’t wanted to be older than his father which was the reason for the discrepancy.

Some people exaggerate their wealth [which I’ve never understood].

What other things do people do–that they shouldn’t–with the excuse that everyone also does it? Any repercussions?

Image by TheDigitalWay from Pixabay

Service of Advice II

July 1st, 2021

Categories: Advice, Bully, Employees, Families, Family, Mentoring, Work

Image by Dean Moriarty from Pixabay

Pauline Phillips, the Abby of “Dear Abby,” had just died at 94 when I first wrote about advice in January 2013.

I loved being a mentor to college students which is vaguely related. I devour advice columns and like to read Philip Galanes’ “Social q” column in The New York Times. What fun to be responsible for such a column as long as the questions–and my answers–don’t involve life and death.

Here are a few topics of recent Galanes columns:

  • “How can I tell my mother-in-law to buzz off?” [She intrudes on the writer’s little time with her parents on a visit home.]
  • “My son is being bullied, and I don’t know what to do.” [He’s a teenager.]
  • “How do I get  parents to stop bankrolling their adult son?” [Query from a sibling.]
  • “Do I really have to tip?” [carpet cleaning service staff.]
  • “Can my kids forgive their brother for his secret wedding?” [It was a surprise to both sets of parents who, along with one best friend, were the only ones in attendance.]
  • “I shouldn’t tell my employer I’m vaccinated, right?” [The writer was leery of the company. It gave gift cards to those who shared photos of vaccination cards.]

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

David Brooks wrote an opinion piece in the Times recently “Why is it OK to be Mean to the Ugly?” He noted that “We live in a society that abhors discrimination on the basis of many traits. And yet one of the major forms of discrimination is lookism, prejudice against the unattractive. And this gets almost no attention and sparks little outrage. Why?” I’ve seen it in action. All female employees of a company with which I was once familiar were remarkably beautiful–8 level attractive at the very least.

Brooks also wrote: “In survey after survey, beautiful people are described as trustworthy, competent, friendly, likable and intelligent, while ugly people get the opposite labels. This is a version of the halo effect.” He lists the interviews, preferred jobs and bigger salaries they attract, the better grad schools that accept them–even the number of times they are quoted by media. He praises Victoria’s Secret that has opted to change its strategy by switching out its body-perfect models for women with a range of silhouettes.

What questions would you ask an advice columnist? Would you enjoy that gig? What have you observed about what David Brooks called “lookism?”

Image by Anastasia Gepp from Pixabay

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