Archive for February, 2019

Service of Assumptions That Get You Into Trouble

Thursday, February 28th, 2019

Photo: brickunderground.com

The old saying “to assume makes an ass of you and me” can cause far worse repercussions than a spot of embarrassment–it can be dangerous. It’s best to assume nothing.

Photo: mnn.com

Tuesday morning an elevator operator survived a four story fall down an elevator shaft in Manhattan’s SOHO neighborhood.  According to ABC 7 New York “the 49 year old man was on the third floor of the building when he stepped into the open shaft, but there was no elevator there.” He landed in the basement. Amazingly his injuries were not life-threatening. He must have assumed that as it was every other day, the elevator was in place when the doors opened that morning.

Photo: railway-technology.com

As I write this I haven’t read or heard what the motivation or thoughts of the driver of the vehicle in the horrendous accident on Tuesday might have been. He [or she] swerved past the closed railroad gate while bells announcing the oncoming eastbound train clanged at a Long Island Railroad crossing. My conjecture: the driver assumed he could make it and thought the risk was a better option than the wait. The westbound train also hit the car and the three in it died. The impact was so fierce that first responders couldn’t identify the make of the car.

New Yorkers and other city dwellers walk into elevators countless times a day. Do we pay attention before stepping in to confirm that it—and not an empty hole—is on the other side of the open doors? Do people take outrageous chances, like the driver in the terrible LI Railroad crossing accident, assuming that they are fast, clever, agile or smart enough to survive a potentially deadly choice?

Photo: mobilityelevator.com

Service of Vintage Handbag Styles that Don’t Work Today

Monday, February 25th, 2019

 

I’ve tossed a lot of things in my various and far too frequent moves but out of nostalgia I’ve kept a few of my mother’s handbags. I’ve not worn them because they are impractical and too small for all my stuff but they make me smile when I see them.

My real issue is with their short straps or handles. To carry them I need to use one hand that has other things to do like answer a phone, carry a bag of groceries or hold on to a subway railing when the steps are slippery. Unattached to me I envision leaving the bag behind in busses and cabs.

Saks Fifth Avenue window

That’s why I like long straps that hang from my shoulder or slip over my head and across my chest.

The windows at Saks Fifth Avenue that I passed last week celebrated the iconic handbag and some were reminiscent of my mothers’ in that they also sported short handles–much shorter than those on my mother’s bags. If I had a car and driver and the deep pockets required to pay for them and the handbags, I would be tempted because they are attractive.

Saks Fifth Avenue window

I’ve seen removable straps attached to small-handled bags that clip to metal loops on each end, but they ruin the bag’s silhouette and look awkward especially on a small bag.

Do you hold on to things you don’t use, even if space is at a premium, because you can’t let them go? Do you favor handbags with straps or are you comfortable with compact bags with short handles? Are there other vintage styles of clothing or accessories that you find best fit a previous lifestyle?

Service of Women Construction Workers: Positive Political Impact?

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

A few weeks ago I was walking in midtown Manhattan and was taken by the sign above. That’s why Anne Kadet’s Wall Street Journal article also caught my eye: “Yes They Can! Program Boosts Number of Women Construction Workers–New York City’s construction unions say the portion of apprentice slots reserved for women has risen from 10% to 15%, and most are filled with graduates of the Nontraditional Employment for Women [NEW].”

Kadet wrote that the seven week tuition-free training program is done in a former Manhattan firehouse. The Blue Collar Prep program includes carpentry, electrical work, trades math, health and safety.

According to its website, the program was founded in 1978: NEW “prepares women for careers in construction, transportation, energy and facilities maintenance industries.”

Photo; new-nyc.org

Kadet reported: “NEW recruits and trains about 225 women a year to enter apprentice programs offered by the city’s construction unions…… Nationally and citywide, women fill just 3% of construction jobs, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. NEW and union officials say that as a result of their unusual efforts, women represent more than 6% of the New York area’s roughly 100,000 union construction workers.”

Jennifer Wilkerson with the National Center for Construction Education and Research [NCCER] pointed to an anticipated shortage of trades workers, the strikingly low number of women currently in the industry and the fact that many women aren’t aware of the opportunities for them. Hopefully the word will spread about this way for women to make a lucrative living and more will.

“NEW’s incoming students usually earn low wages in traditionally female occupations, said Erik Antokal, the group’s assistant vice president for programming. Union construction jobs, meanwhile, typically pay $40 to $60 an hour, plus full benefits. ‘These are family-sustaining, middle-class jobs,’ he said.”

Photo: youtube.com

According to Kadet, “Some still have a hard time accepting women in hard hats. But NEW grad Erika Glenn-Byam said the culture has improved since she started working as a laborer in 2006. On one of her first jobs, a co-worker confessed that the men on her crew shared a secret motto: ‘Get rid of the women!’

“‘You guys need to grow up,” she told him.” After 13 years as a laborer she is buying a two-family house for herself, her mother and brother who has Down syndrome.

I admire people with construction skills and almost daily wish I had some. I’d not heard of NEW or programs like it for women–have you?– yet it’s been around for 41 years.

What do you think of women in construction? As their numbers increase do you think it will inflame resentment by men feeling women are increasingly infringing on their world or because it seems to be working, might it assuage tensions between men and women in certain industries with positive political ramifications for women?

Photo: nwic.org

Service of Presidents: I’ve Worked for Great Ones

Monday, February 18th, 2019

Photo: maggievalleync.gov

It’s Presidents Day so I wanted to honor two great ones I worked for—both at PR agencies: John Havas and Bob Schwartz.

I’ll try to be brief—I see eyes glazing over as I type–though I could write pages about each.

I wasn’t at Havas’ shop long when he invited me to lunch to tell me that my job was not in jeopardy. He didn’t give details, which was appropriate, but he’d had to fire an account exec and didn’t want me to think I was next—last in first out. Another time he called in from a trip to learn that a supplier was asking about an unpaid bill. He immediately instructed the office manager to cut and mail the check. We got good prices from the suppliers—loyalty went both ways.

Photo: Groupon.com

A freelance person was doing the work I’d been hired to do. There was plenty for both of us. I had one weekend to get my arms around an account and its products and write a press kit full of releases for an impending press conference. That Monday the freelancer, Havas and the AE who seemed unable to do the job, met to review the material before sending it to the client for approval. After witnessing the snarky, nasty approach of the freelancer, who was trying to discredit what I’d written, he got up, said, “You all work this out among yourselves,” and left the room. She wasn’t around for long after that though had she not been so nasty she might well have been.

Havas ran the agency well and took the term profit sharing seriously—and so he shared. Another plus: I like the man.

Photo: linoit.com

Bob Schwartz ran the first agency I worked for which was one of the largest in the U.S. When he entered a room I thought someone had turned up the lights between his smile and presence. The agency made up a title for me when I joined—writer–after the magazine I worked for folded: I had zero PR and little relevant experience.

The agency had a major crisis minutes after I was promoted to AE. They discovered the billing department director had absconded with a large sum of money. My raise was delayed and when my boss told Schwartz she was afraid I’d leave, he had me in his office to assure me that the raise would be retroactive as soon as things settled down. Remember: I was at the bottom of a large totem pole but he wasn’t an arrogant president. He was the kind of boss who would pick up a secretary’s phone if he was walking by and nobody else was around and, in spite of his title, he rolled up his sleeves and collated the entry to the industry’s most prestigious award late into the night before the deadline–along with the others in the group.

Do you currently or have you worked for a great president?

Photo: pinterest.com

Service of Gratitude: We are Blessed

Thursday, February 14th, 2019

We are overwhelmed by the support and kindness friends have extended to us in the last week. Phone, text messages, and cards–even a surprise cake and incredible wine– have warmed our hearts and stomachs. Thank you.

We have landed at an apartment house owned by Pan Am Equities that is unlike any other. I have owned co-ops, lived in a condo and in a range of rentals. None compare. This gives you an idea: Management put a rose outside every door for Valentine’s Day. There are over 500 apartments.

Angelo oversees the team. Yesterday is too late for him to grant a request. He’d ordered a new sink the moment he heard ours was cracked and the next business day, after I told him tiles needed caulking, Leroy was busy at the task. Leroy did a superlative job and offered to switch out knobs on kitchen cabinets.

We are surrounded by hundreds of packing boxes and a sinful amount of packing paper. Cheerfully porters Phillip, Leroy and Giovanni have lugged the empty ones to the basement. I did this bit in the condo we lived in before.

Doorman Fred knew our names the second time we walked through the door and greets us. Jerzy, the handyman, repaired a broken light fixture minutes after I reported it. A friend said goodbye to me in front of the doorman’s desk on Saturday saying “Please sit down once in a while and take it easy.” The young doorman on duty piped up, “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of her.”

Not only the building has been kind. I changed our pharmacies to one in the new neighborhood and seeing my frazzled state Claudette at CVS [neither of us had our Rx accounts there] pulled together our profiles and within a short while had all prescriptions in the branch’s computer.

My hairstylist, now also a friend, volunteered to work on a day she never does to fit my schedule, so I can look in the mirror. Andrew, our brilliant IT expert, also a friend, stopped by Home Depot to pick up some items to save me a trip. He knew he couldn’t work on our computer when he dropped off the crucial items. It is buried under hundreds of boxes and is slated for a room that is not ready to set up a thing.

We are blessed. Thank you all. I hope that when you’ve needed support you received it–even from unexpected places.

 

 

Service of When Loyalty Goes Out the Window

Monday, February 11th, 2019

Photo: worthpoint.com

I used Tide detergent for eons as my mother also did until all of a sudden the price skyrocketed–it’s still in the stratosphere even on sale–and I realized that the world wouldn’t end and my clothes wouldn’t rot if I changed brands. I thought of this as I read Aisha Al-Muslim’s front page Wall Street Journal story, “Prices to Rise for Household Staples.” She reported that this is the second year in a row.

An aside: I knew Al-Muslim when she was a New York Women in Communications scholarship winner and look at her now!

The companies are Church & Dwight–Arm & Hammer cat litter and baking soda for example–Proctor & Gamble, Colgate-Palmolive and Clorox Co. They are responding to increased costs of transportation, raw materials and “unfavorable currency swings.”

I wasn’t pleased to learn that Bounty paper towels and Charmin–the only brands I insist on–are on the list. Oh and Clorox 2, another favorite, is no doubt also.

Are you married to certain brands or have you seen sense and found alternatives that suit you just the same? Can you recommend a terrific substitute for Bounty, Charmin or Clorox 2?

Photo: chewy.com

Service of Congestion Pricing that is Giving Yellow Taxis the Flu

Thursday, February 7th, 2019

Photo: amny.com

I tucked this horrible decision on the part of New York Governor Cuomo into an early December post, “Service of I Love New York… But Don’t Push It.”

It’s too important a move–a giant $2.50 surcharge on every ride in yellow taxis in Midtown Manhattan–big enough to fell an essential NYC industry.

A judge postponed the measure from January 1, which was the deadline when I originally wrote about the debilitating tax. It started last weekend. I’m appalled. As a result, I forecast the end of an industry that served me, my parents and grandparents so well. According to Google, it was the first Yellow Cabs that in mid-1880 knocked “less predictable” competitors out of the ring in the big apple.

Yellow cab owners have invested so much in their businesses, and NYC’s citizens whose cabs touch a toe below 96th Street and are slapped with the surcharge, don’t deserve this. Tossing a tax on the vulnerable to solve your financial difficulties in an allied but otherwise unrelated sector isn’t the way to go.

I’d written on December 6, 2018:

Photo: fineartamerica.com

The January 1, 2019 $2.50 congestion pricing fee will help destroy the already limping yellow cab industry and hurt citizens of modest or microscopic means who rely on traditional cabs. Many can’t manage busses or subways, can’t afford limos or don’t have smartphones to hire car services like Uber or Lyft. The fee impacts “any yellow cab, e-hail or other for-hire vehicle trips that start, pass through or end in a designated ‘congestion zone’ below 96th Street in Manhattan,” Vincent Barone wrote in amny.com.

What’s the destination of the some $400 million the tax man anticipates collecting? According to Barone, it will help the Metropolitan Transit Authority [MTA]  which is “financially strapped.”

Services like Lyft and Uber are charged a $2.75 fee but because they can fiddle with their basic price which yellow taxis can’t, they could make rides cheaper than traditional cabs—another stab to the financial heart of their competitor.

Barone reported: “‘The fact that it will cost $5.80 to step into a taxi cab now is going to be devastating for the taxi industry,’ TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi said after a City Council oversight hearing on the surcharges, referencing the existing fees on taxi trips. ‘The other sectors … have more flexibility. They have to add $2.75 on but they’re not bound to a metered fare, so they can reduce the price of the trip so that the passenger doesn’t feel the effect of the $2.75.’”

I took [too] many yellow cabs last weekend between my current and future apartment filled with TJ Maxx bags holding my plants, food and other items movers don’t carry. My suitcase was embarrassingly heavy. Each driver was helpful, grateful and cheerful. Only one pointed out that drivers don’t benefit from a penny of the surcharge yet their volume will be impacted. “People don’t take us for short trips like they did before–look at the meter: $9 for a few blocks.”

Do you think that there is a chance for a rollback to a more reasonable surcharge such as 50 cents instead of $2.50? What impactful action might we take to put the brakes on this poorly conceived method of paying for the city’s subway system? Why does this city care more about bicyclists than about pedestrians or taxi drivers?

Photo: amny.com

Service of Closets: Why Do They Fill Up So Fast No Matter What?

Monday, February 4th, 2019

Photo: freepublic.com

I’ve lived in big and small homes and apartments with many or few closets. The main closet in one apartment was so narrow that if we closed the door, one shoulder of each jacket wrinkled.

Somehow, if blessed with lots of space, it doesn’t take me much to fill it.

In the last few years I’ve moved a lot and tossed out bags and bags—the 30 lb size—of belongings. Yet my closets, desk and bureau drawers and file cabinets still look–and are–full.

Photo: lockandloadstorage.net

We’re moving again this week and I’m down to the essence in most categories. Every night, I throw out giant bags of stuff as I have in my previous recent moves. I dragged to Goodwill seven heavy bags and last night started another one. Even so, all the closets and drawers look the same as before. The mover’s rep, peering into one decimated closet asked, “You going to clean out some of that before we come?”

SO WHAT’S GOING ON?

Photo: securitypublicstorage.com

With the exception of using the storage service of a local dry cleaner, a necessity at the end of each season for some given small city apartments, I don’t believe in renting a storage unit for belongings with one exception: If you or a family member is moving to a larger place in a short period of time.

Whether you clean out the files at the office or scour your closets and bureau drawers to toss beloved items—don’t think just do–it’s never enough and makes little visual difference. Have you also found this to be true?

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