Archive for the ‘Audacity’ Category

Service of Citizen’s Arrest

Thursday, January 25th, 2018

Photo: steelturman.typepad.com

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve said out loud, sometimes to no one in particular “I wish I could make a citizen’s arrest!” When I told my husband the subject of this post he suggested I check out just what this would entail, “because,” he added, “everyone uses that expression and they may not know.”

So a quick detour before I share my targets. According to criminal.findlaw.com, in a Breaches of the Peace section: “In general, people can’t use citizen’s arrests for misdemeanors unless the misdemeanor involves a breach of the peace. Even in these circumstances, however, individuals can only make arrests when they have personally witnessed the criminal behavior and the breach has just occurred or there is a strong likelihood that the breach will continue.”

Photo: youtube

In its conclusion: “Every individual is empowered to arrest wrongdoers in certain circumstances, but individuals looking to make a citizens arrest act at their own risk. Not only is the act of apprehending a criminal inherently dangerous, but failure to meet the legal requirements for a citizens arrest could have devastating consequences for the person making the arrest.”

I trust that you don’t take me literally and that you realize I write out of exasperation. It’s helpful to let off steam once in a while in a benign way and not make life miserable for others as some of my fellow citizens are prone to do.

Photo: nyc.streetsblog.org

The most recent affront that awoke the policewoman in me was made by a delivery truck driver for a well known brand who leaned on his horn when there was nothing the vehicles in front of him could do to move out of his way. Nobody was walking in front of him; no car was cutting him off, yet he polluted the air and turned the time we all shared with him on that street into earsplitting misery.

Joining him on my hit list are the

***selfish subway passengers who won’t let me either in or out of a train

***bicyclists who miss me by a hair when they are driving in the wrong direction, zooming past me against the light or whisking past me on the sidewalk

***impatient drivers who ignore oncoming pedestrian traffic and swerve into avenue or street while endangering all those crossing an avenue

***bus drivers who use their airbrakes with abandon even when they know incoming passengers, some frail, aren’t yet holding on or settled in seats. Note: In some busses it’s quite a distance between the MetroCard fare collecting machine and strap or seat.

***drivers who won’t pull over and stop for an ambulance to pass: Don’t they realize their sister, mother, child, spouse or nephew might one day be inside?

An arrest for the following infractions would be too harsh—maybe I’d just give a warning for

***people who bump into me and don’t apologize

***elevator passengers who let the door slam in my face or who don’t offer to hit my floor when my hands are full

Are there infractions or violations to living in crowded places in a civilized way that you would hit with a citizen’s arrest or warning if you could?

Photo: dreamstime.com

Service of Being a VIP

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

Photo: dailymail.co.uk

Photo: dailymail.co.uk

I found out why I so often hear crickets after I’ve held open a door to wait for a much younger person to pass regally past; why some youthful cashiers at full price grocery stores are comfortable watching me place my purchases in bags while they don’t participate; why there’s silence in return when I greet a young tenant on the floor of my office building or in the elevator of my apartment and why I must fight for a spot on the sidewalk if I’m walking against heavy foot traffic at rush hour. I’m a native New Yorker. I know how to negotiate crowds at a clip. At least I did at a time in which citizens respected each others’ space.

Helicopter parents 2So what’s the reason for the behavior I described above? These people are VIPs. Here’s proof.

David Brooks [below, left], identified them on page 6 of his book “The Road to Character,” [Random House, 2015], which I’ve begun to read [and so far like very much]. He reported responses to a 1950 Gallup Organization query of high school seniors who were asked if they considered themselves to be “a very important person.” Sixty five years ago 12 percent answered “yes,” as compared to 80 percent of seniors asked the same question in 2005.

 David Brooks The Road to CharacterNo wonder I was almost run over by two bikers as I crossed the street corner during a short walk in midtown yesterday. The light was green for me but they were in a rush; I was in the way.

This VIP approach is a striking turnabout for a person who, as a kid, often heard “The tail doesn’t wag the dog.” In the day we didn’t cotton up much to faux VIPs. We’d giggle at young officers who’d swagger or show conceit or arrogance for no reason when I was the 20-something Air Force wife of a lieutenant the same age.

Do VIPs who have earned their stripes resent all this competition? Do VIPs owe consideration to their underlings? Who changes a light bulb in an office full of VIPs? What happens when an artificial VIP disagrees with his/her boss or instructor or when two VIPs are married to one another? Are so many ersatz VIPs only in America?

VIP room

Service of Strangers Knowing More About You Than Your Family Does

Monday, June 15th, 2015

Photo: rmbo.org

Photo: rmbo.org

Len Berman and Todd Schnitt

I wake up to Len Berman and Todd Schnitt in the Morning on WOR 710 Radio, a welcome addition to the NYC media scene since January. Last Thursday Schnitt, [on the right in the photo with Berman, at right], said he’d deleted the Uber app from his Android phone because he didn’t want to give the company access to his address book nor did he want the company to know his location even if he hadn’t opened the app. He said the latter intrusion will happen in July. Schnitt said he takes yellow cabs to work every morning at 4a.m.–the show runs from 6 am to 10–and plans to look for a different car booking company, like Lyft.

I asked a friend (in her 20s) what she thought about all this surveillance, shadowing and privacy invasion. She said, “I always just think/sort of joke around that my iPhone knows more about me than I do. The other day my phone told me how long it would be for me to get to Columbia [University] from midtown — I never put that in as a home address or anything. The phone just sort of figured out on its own that I was there a lot. Creepy. 

“As for Uber,” the recent Columbia Journalism grad student continued, “there was that ‘God view’ feature which gave away a users’ location. Not sure if that is still in use. It makes sense to a certain extent so the driver can find you but access beyond that they shouldn’t have—such as your contacts’ info!”

Dog tracking scent Photo: pbs.org

Dog tracking scent Photo: pbs.org

According to Insurance Journal, “The car booking company now more clearly tells its customers it can pretty much track everything they do while using the Uber app, after facing criticism over privacy, especially its use of a tool called God View enabling the company to know where its riders were at any given moment.” Eric Newcomer, who wrote “Uber Discloses Expanded Customer Data Tracking,” continued: “the firm said Uber needed to make sure it was clearer and more transparent, rather than significantly altering its existing policies.” The [law] firm referred to is Hogan Lovells.

“The new privacy policy is clear,” wrote Newcomer. “…The company can read text messages you send to drivers, follow your location as you ride in an Uber and store your address book on its servers. Customers can find the policy on the app and the company’s website.”

Newcomer reinforced what talk show host Schnitt said. He wrote: “With the new update, which takes effect July 15, Uber can ask permission to track a rider’s location even when the application isn’t open.” And “Uber retains permission to hand over data to third parties. If a rider is using Uber for business, the startup can turn over data to the rider’s employer.”

Remember the prehistoric slogan about customers always being right?Customer is always right right At Uber the drivers rate customers. If you keep a driver waiting, if you aren’t as polite or friendly as a driver expects a passenger to be, you’ll get a bad grade. Why does this matter? If you are looking for transportation at rush hour or after an event, you very well might be left waiting on the curb.

Sidebar: Why did Uber hire the law firm in the first place? According to Newcomer: “Uber hired Hogan Lovells after the company faced criticism for prying into journalists’ private lives.”

Uber, available around the world, has caught on like wildfire [though it’s encountering legal glitches in France, Germany and South Korea according to techcrunch.com]. In February alone, according to fusion.net, the company attracted $2.8 billion in venture capital.

Is the public so in love with clever technology that it accepts every–and anything–from a company that’s expert at it? Have you used the service? Will you continue to after July 15?

Privacy

Service of Dammed If You Do & If You Don’t

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

scam-alert

A friend, I will call her Lisa, works in a small but prominent boutique with beautiful things. She’s been in high-end retail most of her life, has owned stores and traveled abroad on buying missions for years.

boutiqueLast week a woman returned an item saying it had broken. Lisa offered immediately to exchange it for another one and was pleased to see she had one in exactly the same colors, when she noticed that the item was badly stained.  She immediately figured that the woman had broken the piece so as to wangle a new one. Lisa also knew that she couldn’t get a replacement from the manufacturer under these circumstances.

Meanwhile, the store continued to fill up with other customers.

Lisa pointed out the stain and offered to have the piece fixed explaining why she could no longer give her a new one, at which the customer began to argue loudly that the thing broke the first time she used it and that she wanted a new one because she was a good customer. [Lisa had never before seen her though clearly someone had been to the store to buy the article.]

angry-womanKnowing she was being taken, Lisa chose not to inflict a scene on the others. She also wanted to free herself to answer their questions, ring up and wrap their selections. So she gave the woman a new item to get rid of her. 

When I saw Lisa several hours afterwards, she was still annoyed that she’d done that, angry that she’d caused a loss to her employer. She felt this woman deliberately came at a busy time, knowing loud arguments aren’t conducive to business, figuring a crowd to unsettle would work in her favor.

In my opinion, the woman stole the second item from the store. Had she brought in the soiled piece and asked if the manufacturer could clean it or requested the name of a stain remover she might try on the textile, that would have been another thing.

Lisa’s boss backed her decision though several colleagues said she shouldn’t have let the woman get away with it and claimed that they wouldn’t have been so easy on this weasel.

What would you have done? Can you share other examples of no matter what, you’re wrong?

arrowsintwodirections

Service of Duh

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

duh2

I was surprised by the glitch in the planning of the President’s speech before the joint session of Congress tonight. When planning an event for a client, I check industry calendars and place a call to a trade editor or two to see if he/she knows of potential conflicts for a date in question. I can’t believe that the White House staff didn’t do such elementary research. Duh number one.

calendarOK, so they didn’t. I am equally surprised and disappointed that there is so little respect for the office of President that the Republican debate organizers didn’t defer and select another date. This isn’t a duh moment as much as a worrisome attitude for a country with huge problems to solve.  And everyone’s watching: Duh!

The cat’s out of the bag given our slip in a World Economic Forum listing. In 2008 we were first, Mathew Saltmarsh reported in “U.S. Slips to Fifth Place On Competitiveness List.” He wrote in The New York Times: “The weaker performance was attributed to economic vulnerabilities as well as ‘some aspects of the United States’ institutional environment,’ notably low public trust in politicians and concerns about government inefficiency.” Would you invest in a corporation with warring factions? Another duh: Why should people want to invest in this country if our leaders can’t even be cordial and cooperative about a date?

electricity1On another subject, some of the electric companies in the NY Metro area after Hurricane/tropical storm Irene–in Long Island and Connecticut especially–got a zero grade in both customer service and PR. Caroline Gatto commented about her friend and relatives’ frustrating experiences in these states in the “Service of Silver Linings” post. Some customers, sitting in houses without electricity for five and six days, couldn’t get through to their supplier on the phone. Others were unable to speak with a person. Routinely people in suburbs and exurbs lose electricity whether from weather or blackout. An effective crisis plan for an electric company to communicate with customers in such instances is elementary. Not having one is a duh.

In fact, all these examples illustrate disrespect: White House staff for anyone else, John Boehnor & Co. for the office of President and the electric companies for their customers.

Do you see a relationship between duh-like work and behavior and disrespect? Any duh situations you’ve noticed lately or that are memorable?

 disrespect

Service of Do as I Say….

Monday, August 1st, 2011

snake-in-the-grass

….Not as I do.

You’ve heard of the parent who yells at the children on a Sunday morning, ordering them to hurry up and get dressed and off to church on time and then turns over and falls back to sleep. I thought of the do as I say, not as I do man I knew when listening to pro-business New York morning talk radio host John Gambling discuss two events relating to General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt last week.

Note: Gambling is not a President Obama fan and Immelt heads the President’s panel of outside economic advisors–more about this shortly.

I went to Google to make sure I heard correctly and confirmed the instances Gambling mentioned:  That in less than half a month, Immelt coolly contradicted himself.

us-chamber-of-commerce**At CNNMoney on July 11 Chris Isidore wrote: “The head of General Electric told a jobs summit at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Monday that businesses needed to take the lead on job creation.”

**On July 26, Vittorio Hernandez wrote on allheadlinenews.com: “General Electric announced on Monday that it will move its healthcare x-ray division headquarters from the U.S. to Beijing, China in August.”

counting-moneyBack to Immelt being the head of outside economic advisors. In Service of Pet Peeves II and previously, a reader has corrected me about my criticism of Immelt for his profitable corporation paying no taxes at a time of economic crisis and for moving the light bulb operation to China to save manufacturing costs-and now x-ray headquarters for the same reason.  I understand that his job as the head of a corporation is to make money for his stockholders and for this he gets an A+.

But is this the person to be addressing job creation here? Is this the fellow to lead economic advisors to the President right now? I pray that I am connecting all the wrong dots to come to this conclusion, but as a PR person sensitive to superficial things like consistency, symbolism, and practicing what you preach, Immelt is sending out all the wrong messages in the economic advisory role. Only if the plan is for all of us who want to work to move to China is he our man. Your thoughts?

 what

Service of Lines

Monday, February 21st, 2011

long-lines

We attended a great classical music concert upstate in a stunning concert hall on a college grounds in Dutchess County. We subscribe and go quite often year ’round.

Something must have been in the air last Saturday night as what happened was a first and it occurred three times. While I stood in line at the ladies’ room my husband lined up to get something to drink at the snack counter and we shared a similar experience in our respective lines. A foursome pushed in front of Homer and placed their orders. He said it was as though he wasn’t there. My line was so long that it formed an L shape down two halls. At the bend a woman marched right in front of the person ahead of me and became deaf when we told her where the line ended.

Later, as we drove out of the parking area, a car cut me off in what is usually a smooth departure directed by students strategically placed at crossroads. You can’t miss them: They carry oversized flashlights.

subwaycrowdWe’re used to this behavior in big cities around the world. In New York, for example, you’re poised to fight for a cab, a space in a crowded subway car, your place at grocery store checkouts or some attention in retail establishments.

busstopMind you, we can do lines in the city. I notice neat ones on sidewalks at bus stops and in front of coffee carts as well as polling places. I often see double rows of young children kept in check by vigilant teachers and parents ushering the little ones across busy streets.

At the concert, we were misled by civilized music and the elegant hall in a bucolic setting. The arrogance of cutting in seemed out of place.

Are there line-breakers these days all over the country, not just in big cities? Why do you think this is happening? Are there some cultures that respect lines more than others? When you see a line, do you honor it or break in? Are some lines meant to be ignored?

line

Service of Appointments

Monday, October 11th, 2010

appointment

One of the technicians in my doctor’s office told me what a now retired dentist patient mentioned to her. He said, “I wish that I had been a hair stylist because none of my female customers would have cancelled appointments with me as they did when they had a tiny headache or the inkling of a sore throat. When they didn’t feel perfect, they’d cancel with me but they’d never cancel their hair appointment.”

scardey-catAnd he’s right in my experience although I honor dentist appointments equally as half of the hard thing for me to do is to call up and make the appointment, the other half is to show up and get it over with. Sometimes I wonder if the anxiety over the whole thing is what makes me feel icky on doctor/dentist day. [I’ve noticed that connection with checkup appointments of any stripe. I’m a scaredy cat.]

And I admit to practically crawling to have my hair cut when I’ve felt dog-sick because looking at myself another minute when my hair cries for attention would send me over the edge.

But I’m the type that takes all appointments seriously. Not everyone does.

One person I knew through a professional organization pursued me for months to have a drink after work. I couldn’t duck any longer so we made a date, which she kept changing. This was fine with me as I didn’t want to see her in the first place and don’t like to cut my workday short to meet with someone I don’t particularly want to see. The day came and she pleaded with me to move the appointment from 6 pm to 5 pm which became horrendous for me, but to get it over with, I said, “OK.” I got to the place at 5 and waited. She had the audacity to arrive half an hour late. Throughout our time together, she kept looking at her Smartphone screen and taking calls and to this day, I cannot tell you the reason for this meeting, other than to assure me that my instincts about her were spot-on: She wasn’t worth my time. And I should have left the place when she was 10 minutes late.

churchI’d already written this post when I read the “Left at the Alter” letter to Philip Galanes in yesterday’s New York Times Style section. The letter writer and her husband left the church after an hour when the bride hadn’t yet appeared because they thought the bride was rude to keep a church full of people waiting. She asked Galanes if her action was defensible. I have a feeling that this wasn’t the first time the couple was kept waiting and they were acting out their annoyance at the bride’s incredible self-absorption and probably shouldn’t have accepted to go in the first place. That wasn’t Galanes’ answer.

Some doctors and lawyers consistently make patients wait having nothing to do with emergencies. Friends told me of having to wait at the bar of a well known NYC steakhouse for an hour after their reservation time and there were empty tables which they acknowledged were saved for regulars and celebrities. They eventually stalked out. Going to restaurants with my father was nervous-making because he didn’t care what the place was in the firmament of famous, if he had a reservation and if he was on time, he expected to be seated, period. If he wasn’t, there were words.

How long do you wait when someone is late to meet you? Now that so many people have cell phones, 10 minutes should do it, don’t you think? And unless you are meeting on the street, another option has always been to call the restaurant and ask the staff to give a message to the person you are meeting along with your ETA.

Have you changed doctors or lawyers or other service providers who routinely make you wait? What about friends and business associates who do so? Do you honor all appointments equally?

 clockwatching

Service of Inflation II

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

blahblahblahThis is the second in an inflation series. The first came closer to the standard meaning of the word, addressing rising prices in light of government assurances that they weren’t. The inflation in today’s post is about overstuffed promises.

Ethan Smith covered a story in The Wall Street Journal, “Live Nation’s Diller Resigns as Chairman Amid Turmoil,” in which early in the article he described a PowerPoint presentation given by Live Nation’s chief executive Michael Rapino at a summer investor conference that Smith described as “disastrous.”

Smith wrote: “One slide in a Powerpoint [sic] presentation implied that with the help of Live Nation it would take a contemporary recording artist just three months to vault from obscurity to selling out concert arenas.” Smith continued, “Most in the music business believe a more realistic timeline to be on the order of two years.”

bloatNo wonder Barry Diller resigned. More people should discourage this kind of fact-bloating behavior.

You may have read posts and comments here that illustrate claims as outrageous as Rapino’s. The reaction of too many is to shrug and think, “Business is business.”

No it isn’t.

On the one had we have specialization to the nth degree in everything from medicine and law [people who help select juries] to sports [the left handed pitcher who shows up to throw to the left handed batter and returns to the bench for the duration].

At the other end of the spectrum are the people who know nothing about a subject and babble on about it with overstated claims. I’m not referring to the face cream marketing and sales types who assure that their glop will remove your wrinkles or the pill pushers who claim theirs will slim a person by 20 lbs in a month. I think they know better.

loudmouthI am referring to the people you’ve worked with and/or observed in action who attract business with Rapino-like outrageous claims and they don’t know what they are talking about. Do they keep the customer or client? Do they sleep at night? Do they care?

Checking out services and claims is so easy today with easy access to online information and linking in with knowledgeable people around the country without having to move from a chair. How come so many of us still appear numb–even mesmerized–by inflated claims?

strawberrygiantIs it because we can’t get over the bigger is–or must be–better syndrome from huge tasteless strawberries, enormous restaurant portions, gargantuan boxes of snack foods and cups of soda, humongous houses and ginormous hedge fund and entertainment [star and sports figure] salaries?

So I repeat: good for Mr. Diller.

Can you share examples of inflated promises that tick you off or of high profile people who put their foot down and refuse to be associated with the verbal inflation approach to business?

 lies

Service of Hiding II

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

hiding

I was driven to write about businesses hiding from customers last August in “Service of Hiding.” Must be that time of year!

peekabooThe obvious reason for hiding is if you’ve done something wrong, unless you are a young child playing hide-and-go-seek or peek-a-boo.

 

You’d be flabbergasted just how hard it is to find a person to speak with at certain companies. Take major search engines–the kind you use every day. Need to ask a person questions for a client? Good luck!

magnifying-glassTwo seasoned researchers spent 10+ hours using social networking and traditional techniques, knocking on the doors of a prolific list of contacts and filling out countless online contact forms. Result? Zero. I was one of those researchers. This has never happened to me before. More important: I don’t understand why companies whose reputations and missions are built on providing information insulate themselves this way.

They are working in precisely the same environment in which a GPS system can track you through your cell phone whether or not you want to be found and cookies trace what you buy and where you buy it. People like Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, post secret war records that endanger our soldiers and Afghani friends and supporters yet venues such as those we were trying to reach won’t let you in to ask a question of a person and–as noted in the first Service of Hiding–feel very comfortable not to respond to queries posted on web site contact forms.

The biggies aren’t the only ones. Have you searched a whole bunch of blogs that cover a specific topic recently? Most have contact forms or if you noodle around long enough, they indicate an email address should you want to reach the bloggers or the blog.

I’m astonished at the number of blogs that have no way to reach anybody, save jotting a comment to a post. But it would be inappropriate and poor etiquette–tantamount to spamming–for a PR person with news to send a blogger to jot an irrelevant comment to a post such as, “How can I reach you to send news on behalf of ABC Company, my client?” Why go to the trouble to write a blog and conceal who you are? Doesn’t this make the information on the blog less credible with nobody to hold accountable for the reviews or points of view?

telephone2In another instance, I reported a dead phone at our house last Thursday. It took me ¾ of an hour to reach a person. The voice activated solution to make an appointment for a repair person to come to the house six days later, didn’t fly. But at least I reached someone. I fell for a bill of goods. The phone wasn’t fixed in the promised time nor did anyone come to the house when we were told they would and it took until Saturday afternoon to get back a dial tone. The subject of expectations and telling customers what they want to hear to get them off the phone is for another post.

My business was in a law firm for its first 10 years. One of the lawyers left clients in the waiting room literally for hours. They’d call him and he didn’t respond to phone queries either. Sometimes we’d see the same client waiting for hours a second time. I always wondered why they’d come back for more. I’ve heard about lawyers who never get back to clients nor do they update them about a case or situation as promised. Amazing they stay in business.

Why do you think corporations, bloggers, lawyers and others get away with hiding? Do you know of other or similar examples?

 corphiding

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