Archive for the ‘Pandemic’ Category

Service of Ghosting

Monday, May 16th, 2022


Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

Maybe I am excused for living in the dark, until recently, about the meaning of the expression “ghosting” because I wasn’t dating in the early 2000’s when it became a thing and my friends who do haven’t used the term. It has nothing to do with what New York City Mayor Adams accuses Gracie Mansion of containing: Ghosts. Nor is it related to a homemade, untraceable firearm–a ghost gun.

Wikipedia defines ghosting as “also known as simmering or icing, [it] is a colloquial term which describes the practice of ending all communication and contact with another person without any apparent warning or justification and subsequently ignoring any attempts to reach out or communication made by said person.”

A TV producer, in a recent email, apologized for not previously responding to my queries saying that she wasn’t ghosting me. Then I read The Wall Street Journal article “Hiring Is Hard Enough. Now New Workers Are Vanishing Before They Even Start. More companies find that people who accept offers are never heard from again; ‘It was just crickets.'” The reporters are Chip Cutter, Lauren Weber and Ray A. Smith.

They wrote: “The practice, often called ghosting, isn’t new. In the tight labor market that preceded the pandemic, employers reported that some staffers quit without giving notice or just stopped showing up for their shifts. The practice picked up its own shorthand: ‘no call, no show.'”


Image by Lukas Bieri from Pixabay

They reported “Add another head-scratching new feature to the post-Covid employment landscape: A job isn’t filled until the new hire actually shows up for work.” The hardest hit in this regard, they wrote, were manufacturers, restaurants, airlines and cleaning companies. Never before have so many been no-shows after accepting a job.

“In posts on Twitter,” wrote Cutter, Weber and Smith, “workers offered all sorts of reasons for blowing off new jobs. They said they got better offers between when they were hired and when they were supposed to show up. They claimed they discovered the pay was lower or the hours or conditions different than what they were told. Some even complained that the hiring companies had previously ignored them after interviews or applications.”

Quoting Keith Wolf, managing director, Murray Resources in Houston: “We have a generation of professionals who grew up on dating apps, where ghosting has been accepted as an annoying, but common, phenomenon. I believe that is leaking into the professional world.”

The manager of a home cleaning service in Texas said that “80 percent of new hires eventually disappear without notice.”

Have you known employees who ghosted a business? Does this phenomenon explain why services you once depended on are no longer reliable? Can you think of reasons, short of death or sudden severe illness, that excuse a newly hired employee for not showing up without a word? What can we expect to be the next chapter on the spectrum of “I can’t believe this happens in the workplace?”


Image by LuckyLife11 from Pixabay

Service of Above and Beyond

Thursday, March 10th, 2022



Image by marekr from Pixabay

Though service sometimes seems to have its dry spells, lately I’ve experienced a riches of the best, even if I had to nudge one instance along.

Old Fashioned Service

As you could tell from my last post I’m not thrilled with the lifting of pandemic mandates with so many unanswered questions and inconsistencies. For example, if the pandemic is over and face coverings useless why are they required anywhere? Which businesses and organizations plan to continue to check vaccine status?

To find out I left a message at the Metropolitan Museum of Art members department last week to learn if the organization was still asking for proof of vaccines. I never expected to hear from anyone. I’ve left messages on voicemail at other places before, such as on my councilman Keith Powers’ [followed, in his case, by an e-mail], and never heard back. Hence the surprise when a cheerful woman called Tuesday to tell me the vaccine restriction at the Met is gone. Oh well.

White Glove Service 1

I just came from Staples looking to replace the mouse for my laptop. I know, I know–I should use the touchpad like 99.9% of the world but I don’t. The young man I lucked into tested the mouse I brought–extremely polite asking if it was OK before heading to the back. He thought it was fine yet I still wanted to buy a backup and I said that it would be worth $20 to me. “Oh, you don’t have to pay that much!” he said handing me one for $13.99. He wished me good luck, hoping there wasn’t something wrong with the laptop portal [me too] and we had a brief discussion about the beauty of old gadgets that work perfectly well. He was in his 20s, hip enough with his long hair, and yet an old soul in this regard who gets five gold stars for service.

White Glove Service 2

Where I live, once a year handymen check the 510 apartments to change AC filters, confirm that smoke detectors work and so forth. All tenants know is that the inspections will take place between certain hours over a matter of weeks. That didn’t suit me. I wanted to know the day they’d come to my apartment, at the least.

I make use of every surface including the AC/heating element covers where plants sit so I planned to move them–but when? The staff slide open the covers to switch out the filters. And for countless other reasons, with advance notice, I could be sure to be home.

So I found out who was on the inspection team and tracked one of them down, asking him for a heads up the day before they’d land on my floor. I handed him a note with my phone and apartment numbers. They warned me and more, giving me a choice of times and they arrived on the dot! I was prepared, they were in and out in short order and everyone–especially me–was happy.

Have you enjoyed service that was above and beyond lately?

Service of Who Decides–Doctors or Dollars?

Monday, March 7th, 2022


Excelsior Pass proof of vaccine Photo: epass.ny.gov

I feel increasingly insecure and cynical about who makes decisions that are crucial to my life and welfare because so many are not up to the specialists such as doctors and scientists, it’s the judgment or ultimatum of those who hold purse strings. For years I’ve shuddered at countless examples of insurance companies determining how long a friend or relative stays in the hospital either after a procedure or to recover from a disease. Insurance companies OK the medicines they’ll cover, consistently ignoring a doctor’s recommendations about patients’ requirements.

Now, with business interests–not science–to back it IMHO, NYC Mayor Adams has removed proof of vaccination and face covering mandates starting today, with the speed the Covid pandemic overcame us to begin with.

I was delighted to show my Covid-19 Excelsior Pass Plus proof-of-vaccination to the guard on the street in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art last week. Everyone was wearing masks inside. I felt relaxed while visiting my familiar picture friends and new visual acquaintances.

What clearer example do you need to illustrate that money, not science, is in charge when you read the first sentence in Emma G. Fitzsimmons, Sharon Otterman and Nicole Hong’s New York Times article: “The day after announcing that he planned to end New York City’s mask mandate for public schools and a proof-of-vaccination requirement for indoor dining, gyms and entertainment venues, Mayor Eric Adams smiled broadly as he rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange.” [I added bold.]

I still have my hopes pinned on Adams but I fear he’s being pushed by business to jump the gun to open up the city. I don’t blame him his mission and hope that it is not at the cost of the health of its citizens. Why can’t he do it one step at a time: Evaluate the result of removing the mask mandate and wait before lifting the one requiring vaccines.


Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

Face coverings are still required on public transportation, in taxis, nursing homes–all health care settings– prisons, and homeless shelters.

According to The New York Post: “Private establishments such as restaurants, shops, museums, gyms and entertainment centers can also still require patrons and workers to mask up. For example, theatergoers are still required to be vaccinated and wear masks while attending Broadway shows at least through April 30.”

The Times reporters shared city data that 87 percent of adults are fully vaccinated and 56 percent of children 5 to 17. They wrote: “Asked about concerns that visitors from other places, particularly those with lower vaccination rates, could spread the virus, Mr. Adams said he was not worried: ‘We want tourism back. It’s a major economic boost for us.’”

So do we know what the vaccination rate is among tourists? What will the cost be if we end up back where we were at the height of Covid-19 or its super contagious, persistent variant?

“’We have been fooled too many times, and I would like to wait longer, at least until more of the world is immunized, or we have a good sense of where these variants are headed, because we absolutely do not know what the next variant is going to look like,'” said Dr. Stephen Morse, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Medical Center. This might be in another month or two he told the Times reporters.

“Dr. Ayman El-Mohandes, dean of the City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health, said that ‘now is as good a time as any’ to lift mask mandates. But he was skeptical about lifting vaccine requirements at the same time.”

Have you ripped off your face coverings for good? Are you unconcerned about the vaccine status of others in restaurants and entertainment venues you plan to visit? Does the inconsistency give you pause where vaccines and masks are required to attend a Broadway show but not in other entertainment venues? Will you retreat to your home until you see how the lifting of major pandemic restrictions goes? Is your preference a prudent one, to experiment first to see whether there’s an uptick in the virus after removing one mandate before letting go of the second?


Image by Foundry Co from Pixabay 

Service of Dream Jobs that Become Nightmares

Thursday, February 17th, 2022


Image by Orna Wachman from Pixabay

I once had a dream job that went south so I empathize with flight attendants these days. For me the issue was with management. It’s passengers/customers who are causing trouble in the sky and spoiling a good job with great travel benefits.

Maggie Jones underscores why many flight attendants are quitting in her New York Times article “See (the Worst People in) the World! How defiant Covid-era customers turned a dream job — flight attendant — into a total nightmare.”

She wrote about one attendant who was attacked by a German shepherd service dog whose owner didn’t control him; one threatened to be punched in the face for asking a passenger to put on a mask; and another was mimicked, defied–even threatened–by a team of female athletes who kept removing their masks.

She reported that alcohol accounts for some of the behavior and that it also “reflects a time of receding civility.” Angry passengers refusing to wear masks have tossed used ones at flight attendants; pulled down their pants and threatened a pilot with “don’t touch me;” and one chipped an attendant’s teeth. In addition, the employees don’t feel backed up by their employers: when they report incidents nothing happens. However, yesterday on NBC Nightly News,Tom Costello reported that Delta is trying to establish a no fly list that would bar out-of-control passengers from boarding any flights.

Jones wrote that the F.A.A. didn’t count passenger incidents as there were so few until recently. In 2021 and early 2022 it “reported a stunning 6,300 unruly-passenger incidents — more than 4,500 of them mask-related. And 85 percent of flight attendants said they had dealt with such passengers last year, according to a July 2021 survey by the Association of Flight Attendants-C.W.A., which represents attendants at 17 airlines.”

She observed that frustrated and angry passengers don’t feel that a person they consider to be little more than a cocktail waitress has the authority to force them to wear a mask even though the attendants are following a federal mask mandate.

There’s plenty to love about the job, wrote Jones: “joking with passengers, having conversations with them about the honeymoon they are headed to or the funeral they returned from. Sometimes they pray with passengers or in other ways comfort them when they are in distress. They hold and rock babies to give parents a break. They also build lifelong friendships with other crew members and have jump-seat therapy, as they call it, with flight attendants they’ve just met. And they are proud of their lifesaving skills: They are trained to give CPR, fight fires onboard, help with emergency landings and evacuate planes.”

There’s more: Traveling for free—or almost—in addition to hotel and car rental discounts and on layover, added Jones, they have chums with whom to visit Disney World, Capitol Hill or share a picnic in the Jardin des Tuileries.

But that was then.

Whether due to exhaustion, fears of Covid or rules in destinations such as Tokyo or Seoul, when they land instead of exploring the destination with fellow crew members, many remain locked in their hotel rooms.

Have you observed unruly behavior in planes, or anywhere else, over the mask issue? Has what you thought would be a dream job morphed into a nightmare?

Service of Conversation Starters

Monday, February 14th, 2022

Not since my broken foot was in a boot ages ago has something attracted as much attention as my Kusama tote bag [photo above and right]. Then, strangers stopped to ask me how I broke it and to share their story. At the time I thought I should lend it to friends who wanted to make new acquaintances.

T

Now, when I carry the bright yellow bag it receives a compliment several times a week. Sometimes people recognize that it came from the New York Botanical Garden gift store because the pattern features the sculptor’s trademark polka dots. Her sculptures enhanced the garden last summer. Other times they simply say “nice bag.” It’s happened on the bus, in stores and at cash registers.

What’s extraordinary is that in NYC women carry tote bags everywhere. I have for years. None of my others have attracted as much attention.

The bag has a history. On a warm winter day I walked from home to Bryant Park and halfway there I realized the tote was no longer on my arm. It is feather light and dropped off the arm of my slippery leather jacket without my noticing. My heart sank. I ran halfway home retracing my steps and couldn’t find it.

I returned to the park and the Christmas shops to distract myself from the sinking feeling I get when I’ve lost something I love. I stopped on the street to try to buy one on my phone from the garden shop website but there were none left. In addition to liking the tote, a good friend who knows I love polka dots, bright colors and that I had enjoyed Kusama’s sculptures gave it to me. Another friend, following the same intel, gave me a pair of Kusama-inspired socks! Am I lucky for having such caring and observant friends–or what?

Not enjoying myself in the park I soon went back home. As I reached Lexington Avenue and 41st Street I saw a bright yellow bag on the sidewalk. It was mine–my Christmas gift to do list was inside. The Pandemic saved it for me: there weren’t many people on the street that day and the few who walked by didn’t want to touch a stranger’s bag.

Does something you wear or carry attract cheery conversation?

Service of Knowing When You’re Not Considered or Wanted

Thursday, February 10th, 2022


Image by Sozavisimost from Pixabay

What will seniors do if they aren’t computer literate, don’t own or know how to use a smartphone other than to speak on it or a tablet other than to read a book and have nobody to help them? The third reminder confirming an eye doctor appointment asked me to sign in to a website to fill out a bunch of Covid information. And if I couldn’t?

I will only order food from businesses that take my request over the phone or have easy-to-navigate websites and I usually pick it up. I avoid Grubhub, Uber eats, Doordash and the other delivery services and I use restaurants that have their own delivery crew on the rare instance that I require it. The additional cost appears to be prohibitive although you’d never know it by all the bicyclists whizzing around the city toting packages big and small.

Here’s one example. There’s no flat charge for a Grubhub delivery. In addition to the recommended $5 tip to the delivery person, Brett Helling explained on ridester.com “Grubhub’s pricing is based on delivery and service fees, which make up 70% of the meal price.” He wrote:

  • “Grubhub’s delivery fee is the fee charged by the restaurants to deliver food to the customers’ locations.
  • “The service fee is the amount Grubhub charges the restaurants for facilitating the order.”

In addition to the expense, and confusing pricing, arranging for delivery is done online. Older citizens on fixed incomes who may depend on such service will feel the impact most or do without.

Some restaurants are making a drastic change–the ones that Victoria Petersen wrote about in her New York Times article “Restaurants to Customers: Don’t Call Us, We Won’t Call You.” She reported: “Channeling all communication through emails, direct messages on social media and reservations apps might frustrate diners and deter those who are technology averse, but restaurants are finding that communicating this way frees up time for front-of-house employees, is more efficient for restaurant administrators and gives flexibility to restaurants operating with a small team or through Covid-related staffing shortages.”

Nice for the business, but what about customers? At the same time I read about the difficulties that restaurants are still having because of the Pandemic. I’m not sure that this is the best time for them to eliminate a form of communication that some depend on–that is, unless they don’t want taking up space, and ruining the hip vibe, older folks who would probably prefer the traditional way to reserve a table.

These marketing decisions have most impact on older citizens. Have you noticed systems and setups that convenience vendors and service providers and ignore or discount some of their patients and customers?



Image by Concord90 from Pixabay

Service of When to Be Frivolous

Thursday, January 27th, 2022


Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Some friends refuse to look at the news; others do so in small bits and still others have the TV on all day long. Between relentless destruction by the family of Covid viruses; Ukraine on the verge of war; inflation explosion; stock market craziness; missing products on shelves and in car dealership lots, and in NYC, innocents or police being killed or maimed by gunfire and citizens tossed on subway tracks–who wants to keep up?

That’s why Joseph Pisani’s article in The Wall Street Journal caught my eye. He wrote “Green M&M’s Fashion Makeover Is Covid Comfy but Not Everyone Is Happy.” He started with: “The green M&M has a new look. Not everyone is impressed. 

“The problem? The once-sexy cartoon candy seems to have been stripped of her mojo, some say. Online chatter objected to her makeover to sneakers from high heeled boots and to her pose which ditched the traditional one hand on her head, and another by her hip.”

In the 673 word article, [not counting headline and photo captions], the manufacturer responded: “The changes are part of an effort to make M&M characters more inclusive, Mars said Thursday. The company tweaked the looks of five cartoon candies and dropped the Mr. and Ms. prefixes for the cartoons to put the focus on their personalities, instead of their genders, it said.”

For two days “Green M&M” trended on Twitter. First thought, “Do some people have nothing better to do?” Second thought, “What kind of person gets caught up with characters in commercials?”

I’ve been to memorable memorials and funerals where laughter was an essential element inspired by the deceased. It felt good and appropriate.

Do you seek out lighthearted stories these days or do they strike a false note? Should there be more or less of them at a time of turmoil? Do you think “not now?” or “bring them on–please!”


Image by lisa runnels from Pixabay

Service of I Thought I’d Need It

Thursday, January 20th, 2022

I have boxes of plastic gloves I no longer use but did early in the pandemic and just before I heard they were no longer effective I bought another box of 50 paper face masks to supplement a half empty box.

I found a package of 20 N95 masks at a local hardware store and paid full price, a hefty sum, that I wonder if I’ll use. They sure fit tight. Maybe I should take up construction as they are made to keep fine dust from sneaking into lungs. A few days after this purchase, my sister told me that the government will be giving out free N95s. I’ve given away a bunch of my stash meanwhile and plan to double up with paper or paper and fabric masks unless I’ll be in a jammed indoor event.

I’m prepared with two boxes of Covid tests I I bought. I’ve not lucked into any of the many handouts for these things that I’ve heard about. I’ve signed up for some free ones at https://special.usps.com/testkits.

When I used to cook I’d buy a bottle of herbs for this recipe and a container of spice for another–and never again use either. Same with eccentric liqueurs.

I was full of ambition when I bought a pasta press. Before one of my too many moves I realized that even though my husband made the best pasta sauces on the planet I’d never use it so I gave it away.

I’m fickle about other purchases too as I admitted recently in the post “Service of Best Intentions: Makeup and Exercise.”

Have you bought items to combat Covid that soon became obsolete? In a moment of weakness have you talked yourself into a piece of equipment or gadget or makeup you rarely if ever use?


Image by kinkates from Pixabay  

Service of Expectations III

Monday, December 27th, 2021

Margaret Brennan on Face the Nation

I wrote the first two in this series in 2012 (though I suspect there are many posts in which dashed expectations are at the core).


Image by Please Don’t sell My Artwork AS IS from Pixabay 

In one I covered highlights of irritants identified in a customer service survey where rudeness, passing the buck, waiting too long for problem resolution and having to follow-up too often topped the list of complaints and disappointments. In the other I described a person who didn’t send a message that he was kept waiting for his doctor’s appointment for three hours. He refused to own a mobile phone and didn’t ask the receptionist to borrow hers. Friends expecting his visit that afternoon were frantic when he didn’t show and didn’t call–which they expected him to do.

In a recent Social Q’s column in The New York Times, Philip Galanes responded to Ally who asked “Why Doesn’t Anyone Put as Much Effort Into Secret Santa as I Do? A reader feels consistently disappointed by her family’s gift exchange.” In part of his response he wrote: “This is like shopping regularly for heirloom tomatoes at the hardware store. You will never find them there! Try to lower your expectations before the unwrapping begins. Consider the other ways your relatives show they care.”

How many viewers of Face the Nation expect to be able to walk in heels as high as the ones Margaret Brennan wears [photo above]? Here she was this Sunday interviewing Vice President Kamala Harris. Do you think she walks far in them? I was on a set before a client’s TV interview where the host slipped off Uggs boots and put on heels just before cameras rolled.

Some friends respond to emails and texts and expect others to as well–but they don’t or it takes them ages to do so. Others generously share their contacts but that favor is never returned. These situations generate feelings of disrespect.

I see signs in windows for “quick turnaround PCR tests” for Covid and understand that there will be laws to punish those who lie as there must be plenty of them. They promise results in a day when the reality is closer to five.

My advice for happiness: Drop expectations. Agree?


Image by Samuel F. Johanns from Pixabay 

Service of Faster and Faster and Faster and For What?

Thursday, November 11th, 2021

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

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