Archive for the ‘Following Instructions’ Category

Service of Wacky Things People Do

Monday, May 14th, 2018

Photo: balunywa.blogspot.com

In quick succession I became aware of some screwy things people do–mild in comparison to what is happening in the photo above.

Homemade Floods

Photo: hiawathasewer.com

The note slipped under our door at the high-rise we live in warned that the water would be turned off the next day from 9 to 5 and to please make sure “when leaving the unit to turn off all the faucets.”

I asked the morning doorman, who has worked at the building for decades, about the reason for that odd faucet request. He said that when learning of a water shutdown some of the tenants turn on all their faucets before leaving for work. Then he smiled and shrugged.

We’ll Learn to Read Next Week

I was waiting for a test at a doctor’s office in a cubby-size space in which patients change to a hospital gown and wait their turn. I was pacing and couldn’t help notice the giant sign on a hamper to hold used gowns [photo, left] and a few steps away, a trash can. On closer inspection, I saw trash in the gown hamper. The garbage can was empty.

Don’t Look Now

Did the person installing the Vanderbilt Ave. detour sign [photo below, right] bother to look at the direction of the traffic? In addition, this sign is right off First Avenue, blocks and blocks away from Vanderbilt Avenue. I feel very sorry for out of towners driving in NYC.

Sticky Mail Boxes

Some unscrupulous people fish for mail.

Lindsay Gellman wrote “Sticky Fingers Fishing” in The New Yorker’s “Talk of the Town.” In it she identified the “most pressing crisis” for the USPS, noting that it’s not what the president identified: He blamed Amazon for using the service as its “delivery boy.”

People are stealing credit cards, checks, cash, gift cards and money orders from mail boxes using a low tech method. They put rat glue on a small juice bottle and tie a shoelace to its neck, creating a mail fishing device. Phil Bartlett, in charge of the postal service’s New York inspection division, shared how the thieves transform checks to reissue them to someone else. He told Gellman: “There’s products out there, things like Ink Away, or sometimes nail-polish remover. Or they soak them in a solution containing brake fluid.” Or they take bank and account numbers from checks and make counterfeit ones.

The post office’s solution is to replace or retrofit the 7,000 traditional mailboxes in and around NYC with ones with thin slits [photo below]. I haven’t seen anyone fish for mail, but I imagine they do it late at night.

Have you observed or read about any wacky things that people do?

Photo: riverdalepress.com

Service of The Only Show in Town

Monday, March 19th, 2012

fingerprint1

When Greg Smith left a much talked-about billet doux on the Op-Ed page of The New York Times, “Why I am Leaving Goldman Sachs,” he set off enough tongue wagging that Mayor Bloomberg dashed to the banking institution to give management a supportive hug.

I read and heard some of the conversation.  Take-aways: The company was always known for making money and had no reputation for treating its customers either with kid gloves or kindly. Further, as they are currently about the only investment banking company left standing, companies that need their services don’t have a choice.

flashlight-in-darkI thought of this when a client described his experience at a well known convention center, [not in NYC], where there is only one choice of vendor if you want to light your exhibition booth-an essential for visitors to see what you’re selling.

At some trade shows or art, craft and other events open to the public at convention centers, lighting is part of the exhibit space package, but not at this one.

My client followed the procedure and placed his order by fax, before the deadline. It was worth it: After the deadline, the price for the lighting would increase almost 60 percent.

On the second day of the show, he arrived five minutes before the doors opened as his exhibit was set up. He found a letter from the electric vendor in his booth. It noted that since he hadn’t placed an order, if he didn’t pay for the electricity at the show office immediately, they would turn off his lights.

fax-with-copyWith no minutes to spare before crowds swooped down the aisles, he dashed over and explained to two young men at this vendor’s desk that he had sent a fax with his order-even kept a confirmation that the fax went through. They replied, “That doesn’t mean it went through.”

He said he’d pay but as he’d placed the order before the deadline, he’d appreciate the pre-show price. Not possible. One replied, “It’s not up to me.” Client: “So who is it up to?” Answer: “It’s up to the fax machine.”

The young men went on to say that the instructions stated he should receive an email confirmation. There was no such info on the fax sheet-my client checked on his return to his workshop office–though he admitted it might have been in the online instructions.

“They weren’t aggressively rude,” he noted. “However, they didn’t get it and they didn’t care. They probably know that they are the only show in town.”

My client is a successful businessman and entrepreneur-which describes many of the hundreds of exhibitors at this event and thousands if you count all the others. He is so busy filling orders–and does most everything himself–that he hasn’t had time to lodge an official complaint to the vendor and the show management–yet another dynamic that this vendor and others like it count on. [Perhaps he’ll copy this post and fax it in with a note: “She is writing about YOU,” and that he tells them they are lucky because the blog’s policy is not to bash a brand unless it is in the news.]

This is my prediction: Goldman Sachs and this event’s lighting vendor had best watch their backs. Regardless of unpromising odds, I bet that an enterprising person with a better mousetrap and attitude, such as Fredrick W. Smith who founded Federal Express in 1971, will slip in and knock out Goldman Sachs, this lighting vendor and countless others. Who would have thought, some 41 years ago, that the United States Postal Service would have competitors such as FedEx and the Internet?

Do you know of other companies or services that are the only shows in town that don’t fight to maintain their positions, they smugly take advantage of it? How about those that honor their spot and try to do everything right?

 no-competition

Service of Following Instructions

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

following-instructions

On a recent Sunday, Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service, spoke to the C-Span audience of “Washington Journal” about three who were killed by falling into a waterfall at Yosemite National Park. On the program, “State of America’s National Parks,” Jarvis noted that there were barricades and signs indicating the dangers and that the three ignored all warnings, climbed over the barricade, slipped on the wet rocks and plummeted to their deaths.

So I got to think about instructions especially because I live in a city with roads increasingly painted with bus and bike lane lines with giant white lettering that umpteen taxis and commercial vans ignore, a city where millions cross the street wherever they may be when the light turns green, faghedabout crosswalks.

hot-stoveSome young children must touch a stovetop regardless of how many times they are instructed not to put their fingers near the heat. They continue to test rules into adulthood. Surely successful entrepreneurs, scientists, politicians and corporate chiefs share the trait–they must test and question, usually for the good, though sometimes they get burned. A friend’s brilliant brother–full scholarship at MIT in engineering–blew off all the fingers of one hand when setting off fireworks in high school: Experiment gone bad.

reading-instructionsMany ignore instructions that come with appliances and devices and wonder why, when they click the “on” switch, they don’t work. [I’ve always thought that if many of these companies cared about their instructions they’d hire me or someone like me to write them as most are impossible to follow, but now I’m off point.]

follow-instructions2I took the photo [right] in a doctor’s waiting room. I swear I didn’t style the shot by moving the soda bottle and napkin next to the sign: “Please do not eat or drink in our waiting room we appreciate your cooperation.”

And how many times do able-bodied people slip into a handicapped parking space “just for a second,” to run for some milk, a paper or to buy a lotto ticket?

rxHow many follow instructions that come with pharmaceuticals or doctor’s orders about lifestyle and diet?

What about recipes? Do you strictly adhere? I think it matters when baking, though I got away with brown and white sugar mixed because I didn’t have any light brown sugar to make devil’s food cupcakes the other week.

Are you the type that follows instructions? Have you paid the price when you haven’t? Is there something telling about the personality of a person who consistently does or doesn’t?

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