Service of an After Pandemic To Do List–or Not

August 17th, 2020

Categories: Customer Care, Customer Service, Fear of Technology, Pandemic, Technology

Photo: makeuseof.com

There are a few things I’ve put on a list to address when the pandemic cools and companies reestablish their sea legs.

  • One large corporation doesn’t recognize either my phone or account numbers so I cannot access my online account. I finally got customer service to mail a hard copy of my monthly bill. It worked once. Here’s hoping for subsequent ones.
  • Customer service at another company that’s supposed to send money can’t find me in their system so I can’t set up direct deposit. Some computer knows I exist as I get a mailed check. Don’t ask.

Photo: atlantic.net

Meanwhile, there are other companies that are buttoned up in spite of the pandemic. I use Saashost for a variety of email functions. The company was changing platforms which meant that all my devices/computers that receive email–laptop, phone, iPad and desktop–needed to make changes to accommodate the upgrade.

It’s a pandemic for me too and the timing was the worst because my IT consultant had other issues to settle and could only help so much. Life goes on.

The upgrade word always gives me the shivers. In my experience every “upgrade” makes it longer and harder for me to do what I did before, usually involving many more steps.

My IT consultant went through the first round so my laptop and phone could communicate to the new platform under the guidance of the indomitable Shaun at Saashost.

The rest was up to me. I was petrified. I didn’t need to be.

Shaun and Bradley held my hand virtually. They didn’t utter a single techie word or slap their heads in exasperation when the desktop–the mother of challenges because it’s a granny–didn’t perform or because attempted fixes took so long to download. They had me laughing as we delved into the scary depths of the ancient desktop.

Eventually Shaun had to rescue granny with some behind-the-scenes techie pyrotechnics by entering the computer remotely. He fixed it! Granny gets emails. Hooray!

Do you have a list of follow-ups you’ll be making once corporations are comfortable with the new normal? Have expert, patient, kind tech support staff worked you through treacherous steps in an unfamiliar world of behind-the-scenes letters, numbers, links and downloads?

Photo: steemit.com

 

Service of Too Ambitious: Mixed Signals

August 13th, 2020

Categories: Agressive Behavior, Ambition, Mixed Messages, Politicians, Politics

Photo: flexjobs.com

To apply for the advertising director position I took a psychological test required by the magazine I worked for as an editor. I didn’t get the job. I was “too aggressive” according to the analysis. That was eons ago.

The day after the Democrat VP pick, the 28th White House Press Secretary and former White House Communications Director for DJT, Sean Spicer, told 710 WOR Radio morning show co-hosts that one of the downsides of Kamala Harris is that she’s “too ambitious.” That’s one reason he thought Susan Rice would have been a better pick.

Photo: todayifoundout.com

At the same time going Dutch on a first meeting is not appropriate according to many otherwise progressive, independent women who have always supported themselves and who applaud the professional successes of women. Even though the initial face-to-face meeting made possible by online dating websites is a crapshoot for both, they expect men to pick up the tab for the wine, coffee or meal or they say there won’t be a second date.

Mixed signals.

Are customs and conventions for business different than social ones? We’ve come a long way from the Hepburn-Tracy movies of the 1940s like “Woman of the Year”–or have we? Should men always pick up the tab?

Name a politician who isn’t ambitious.  Why are ambition and aggression such bad traits for women? Do those who object to ambitious, driven women prefer a wallflower to run the company they work for or the ones they invest in?

Photo: whydoguys.com

Service of Ignoring Pressure When Your Gut Says “No”

August 10th, 2020

Categories: Gut, Instinct, Medical Tests, Pandemic

Photo: superpreneur.ie

I’m always sorry when I haven’t listened to my gut and I’m angriest at myself when I’ve given in to pressure. I first wrote about the subject in 2017. These days it could be life or death if you ignore your instinct.

Photo: hopkinsmedicine.org

This excerpt of a comment on Facebook from someone waiting in line for a Covid test reminded me. The writer ached, had low fever, cough and sore throat adding: “Could be a cold/flu but for fact that a stupid inconsiderate friend hung out w me Sunday —no mask—after testing positive on Friday…he got the results after contaminating my home. Shouldn’t have let him in.”

One friend did follow her instinct. She refused to leave the car when she saw that none of the guests at an outdoor celebration wore a mask. Another was embarrassed to wear a mask at a gathering of 10 because nobody else wore one.

It’s not easy being green, or an outlier, though if September 11 and the pandemic have taught us one thing it is to avoid or extricate from situations when our antennae flash “danger.” Would I have exited the World Trade Center, I asked myself, even though people were told to stay in place? Since 2001 there’s no question that I’d head for the stairway–and I did several times when my office was in a building with a sketchy fire alarm system and no loudspeaker to warn or explain why it went off. I always left the building.

Is your gut reliable? Do you listen to it? What’s happened when you’ve ignored it? Have you missed opportunities when it directed you to be too cautious?

Photo: pinterest

 

Service of Because I Say So: When is a Hope a Lie?

August 6th, 2020

Categories: E-Commerce, E-tailing, Expectations, Hope, Lies, Medical Care, Pandemic, Words

Photo: ffonts.net

I ordered something on the Internet and tracked its whereabouts a day after receiving an email stating “your order has shipped.” Someone had printed a label. Would you call that “shipped?”

Photo: pinterest.com

I’ve largely represented consumer products, organizations and events in my  career–no politicians or controversial issues. I’ve counseled clients when I thought they might word a description in a different way–a pattern featuring a green leaf is not “unique”–or suggested they drop an unsuitable element from their special event. Sometimes clients agree, sometimes not. I resigned one account run by a person whose inappropriate behavior and demands would have rubbed off on my reputation.

Nobody can counsel the president. I wonder if any try. He discourages me when he raises false hope and makes inaccurate declarations. The headline on Berkeley Lovelace’s article on cnbc.com, “Trump says U.S. may have coronavirus vaccine ‘far in advance’ of end of the year,” quotes the president from his August 3rd news briefing. He didn’t soften it with “I wish,” or “I hope” –which we all do. He declared it.

Photo: centracare.com

We want to believe it. Maybe he knows something we don’t know. But it doesn’t seem that way.

Vaccinologist and physician Gregory Poland, MD, of the Mayo Clinic predicted in an interview on WOR 710 Radio yesterday morning that the soonest we can expect a vaccine approved for emergency use would be early in 2021 though March/April for full use would be more likely. Even then, there wouldn’t be enough vaccine for everybody and essential workers would be inoculated first.

Is false hope a successful strategy if expectations are consistently dashed? Should a leader treat citizens as some adults do children declaring regardless of what it’s about–audience size,  state of the economy, vaccine readiness– “it’s true because I say so”?

Photo: mspoweruser.com

Service of Apology V

August 3rd, 2020

Categories: Apology, Business Etiquette, Etiquette

Photo: my-confidential.org

I first addressed the subject of apology in 2010 when I covered one by the editor of a student newspaper for publishing an inappropriate cartoon and subsequently when a high school sports coach apologized for a tantrum and later by Whole Foods for overcharging. Then there was a post about those who didn’t or don’t apologize: Donald Trump, Quentin Tarantino and a department store customer service staffer.

Photo: inc.com

I have the opposite problem: I apologize too much. One friend attributes it to my sex, age and maybe upbringing. In his experience women apologize more than men, especially older women. “I’m sorry” pops out of my mouth as automatically as “God bless you” and “thank you.” I need to snap a rubber band on my wrist to stop me. Just today I almost collided with a man coming around a blind corner on the street. Me: “Sorry.” He: silence. Culpability: equal.

I cannot pinpoint the date at which businesses big and small and the people who work for them stopped apologizing–maybe 30 years ago? No apology, never my fault traveled from C-suites to NYC delis at that time. I was once yelled at when I told the cashier I’d not ordered OJ and she insisted that I had while holding out her hand for the additional money. I’d been going there every morning for months and had never ordered juice. Reminding her didn’t elicit an apology.

Photo: teamoutpost.com

There is dissent among lawyers as to whether or not to apologize if you’re in an accident. To some it might imply culpability that will be reflected in a crushing settlement. Some insurance lawyers  negotiating settlements find that an apology has impact: the injured person often agrees to a lower settlement. A friend was crossing a Manhattan street with the light when a taxi ran into him. One of the first things he told me was that the driver never once apologized. His lawyer is still negotiating the settlement. If I remember the no apology he also does–as well as the pain in his hip.

Has a stranger apologized to you lately? A business associate or colleague? A friend, family member, spouse or companion? Under what circumstances, if any, do you apologize?

Photo: policyholderpulse.com

Service of Little Things Mean A Lot II

July 30th, 2020

Categories: Attitude, Customer Care, Customer Service, Library, Pandemic, Retail

Photo: psychologytoday.com

I wrote the first post with this title three + months ago. It’s time for a reprise. The first post was about friends who reach out. This one is about strangers who warmed my heart.

How Cool is That?

The air conditioning units in my apartment all fizzled on a toasty day. I followed up a few times–the units belong to the landlord–and when the temperature had climbed upwards of 86° with four more hours until sunset–I get afternoon sun–I visited the lobby again explaining that I was beginning to feel woozy. The morning year-round doorman had been passive and useless. The manger was on vacation.

Climbing up to 86 degrees+

Doorman Joshua, a very young man and summer temp jumped into action and within an hour a porter/handyman was on the job. As I waited for him to return with new units the intercom rang. It was Joshua–we’d met only that afternoon–asking if I was OK. The porter told me Joshua had also called him again to confirm that he was on it. Too bad for us this is his summer job. I suspect he’s a student and given his common sense and empathetic streak predict great things for his future.

Beautiful Cashier

I visited CVS drug store on Third Avenue and 42nd Street early on a recent Sunday morning. The cashiers consistently help me make the most of my coupons. As I left that day–I was dressed in pandemic fashion on the cusp of sloppy–the young woman, who was barely out of her teens, called out: “Stay as beautiful as you are.” She could see my wave but not the smile under my mask.

Moving Along

I called the Metropolitan Transit Authority [MTA] about returning a discount MetroCard sent my husband. When I explained the reason the clerk, hearing he’d died, was compassionate and so heartfelt in her condolences I could hardly catch my breath.

Read On

I treated myself to an iPad so I could download books. I got tangled in the process of ordering a book after I’d downloaded an e-card from the New York Public Library so I sent a query to the help desk. After more fiddling I figured it out. A few days later I heard from Elizabeth at AskNYPL and in another email I explained that I was set and apologized for bothering her unnecessarily.

She wrote: “You are not bothering us. We’re here to answer questions, so if you run into any more e-book trouble, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Chat and phone are best for quick answers.” I responded again as did she: “So glad you were finally able to get a book! I loved A Gentleman in Moscow. Hope you enjoy it….Take care and happy reading!”

You don’t feel alone when dealing with people like these. Kindhearted, lovely strangers who take extra steps beyond their job descriptions are welcome anytime but especially these days. I suspect they enjoy their jobs more as well. Many of them suffer from pandemic fallout yet they still go the extra mile. Do you have similar instances to share?

Photo: nypl.org1

Service of Uncommunicative Left and Right Hands: Counterintuitive Marketing

July 27th, 2020

Categories: Medical Tests, Vote

Photo: latimerapplyby.com

I am baffled by the gap between reality and the vigorous marketing and promotion of two crucial initiatives that impact millions. Marketers deliberately caused pressure on insufficient supply boosting demand making things worse.

I’m speaking about write-in ballots in the New York State primary and Covid-19 testing around the country. Neither was/is able to meet expectations yet both continued/continue to be promoted.

Will My Vote Count?

I already covered the disgraceful New York write-in ballot snafus in “Service of Uneven Performances During a Pandemic.” I ended up voting in person because my write-in ballot came the day after I voted. Yet the Mayor and commercials urged citizens to request ballots until deadline. A friend’s mother never received hers.

Photo: gothamist.com

And that is just half this sad story. Edward-Isaac Dovere wrote last week in theatlantic.com: “More than a month after New York’s June 23 primary elections, state election officials are still counting votes. In some legislative districts, they haven’t even started counting absentee votes. In the best-case scenario, election officials hope to declare winners by the first Tuesday in August—six weeks after Election Day. It might take a lot longer than that. Election officials in New York City have already invalidated upwards of 100,000 absentee ballots—about one of every five that were mailed in from the five boroughs. And furious candidates are already filing lawsuits charging discrimination and disenfranchisement.”

Failing the Test

The Covid-19 testing scenario is a disaster and yet every day the public–in New York at least–is urged to be tested even if they aren’t sick or have no reason to be. Backlogs have created inconceivable delays and who knows why there are so many inaccurate results.

Some examples:

  • One couple was thrown into a tizzy when the wife, whose husband was recovering from open heart surgery, came down with a sore throat and tested “presumptive positive.” She had a second test elsewhere and it was negative. A week later the original lab informed her that the  test was faulty–no virus. Were others who had the virus told they were OK?
  • An acquaintance missed a long-scheduled procedure because the results of her required Covid-19 test, taken six days prior, didn’t come in time. Did you know it’s recommended that patients quarantine themselves after being tested until the operation? How many people can afford to quarantine in addition to potential recovery time from an operation?
  • Others, such as the son of WOR 710 radio morning show producer Natalie Vacca, get their results in two days. Her husband’s took 11. Morning show co-host Len Berman’s son’s test came back in 10.

Standardization? Ha. It’s every man or woman–or State–for him/her or itself. Sady Swanson in the Fort Collins Coloradoan wrote: “With a national backlog of COVID-19 tests causing delayed results, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has announced plans to expand lab capacity within the state to get Coloradans results quicker.”

She reported that some Coloradans waited 10 to 12 days for results. Governor Polis won’t count on national testing. Swanson reported: “The national labs have been receiving ‘tens of thousands’ of tests to process per day from states currently seeing COVID-19 case spikes, like Arizona, Texas and Florida, Polis said.

“With no national testing strategy, Polis said the state is moving forward with purchasing additional testing supplies, expanding state lab capacity and securing more private partners to meet the state’s testing needs.”

So many questions:

  • If an initiative can’t fulfill current requests why prime the pump?
  • Are you planning to vote by write-in ballot in November?
  • Are you concerned that you won’t get your ballot in time or if you do, that your vote won’t count?
  • Should there be a national testing strategy or standardized test for Covid-19?
  • If you had the test, did you trust the result?
  • What good does it do if it takes more than two days to learn that you are a carrier or that you have Covid-19?

 

 

Photo: medscape.com

Service of Summer Prep Similar to Winter During a Pandemic: It’s Relative

July 23rd, 2020

Categories: Complaints, Inconvenience, Pandemic

Photo: galmeetsglam.com

As millions of people around the world suffer from unrelated-to-the-pandemic health and economic issues I point out a microscopic bother and am ashamed.

One of the many things I love about summer is walking out the door not having to put on a sweater, coat, scarf, mittens and earmuffs/hat.

Photo: artofmanliness.com

Leaving my apartment is no longer carefree. I don a mask, once I’ve found it, and plastic gloves and tie the laces on my outdoor pandemic sneakers that live by the front door. If I’ve covered my hair with a scarf on a bad hair month I remove it to secure my mask strings and put it back on. When I come home I try to remember to leave my outdoor shoes by the door.

Since apartment management requires residents and guests to wear a mask I take advantage of an outing to coordinate garbage runs so I don’t need to get Covid-gussied for the ramble down the hall to the trash room with bags of wet, paper and plastic.

As I left my apartment today, another resident at the end of the hall saw me coming. He threw up his arms and turned on his heels to return to his apartment. He’d forgotten his mask. Even after all these months it can happen.

These little inconveniences that remind me of winter prep are nothing compared to the 780 million who have no access to improved water sources according to cdc.gov and the 2.5 billion who “lack access to improved sanitation.” The World Health Organization identifies regions with lowest improved sanitation [latest stats from 14 years ago reflecting priority] are sub-Saharan Africa and Southern and Eastern Asia. “Unsafe drinking water, inadequate availability of water for hygiene, and lack of access to sanitation together contribute to about 88% of deaths from diarrheal diseases.” Let’s hope the situation has improved.

While we are focused on the pandemic what is happening to these and other sufferers?

Has the pandemic discombobulated you? Have you inadvertently left home without your mask? Do you feel ashamed mentioning small inconveniences when there continue to be so many fundamental, achingly horrific wrongs in the world?

Photo: timesofisrael.com

Service of Fakes: Phony Laughter Doesn’t Cheer

July 20th, 2020

Categories: Entertainment, Fake, Laughter, Radio

Photo: geneticliteracyproject.org

The first “fakes” post in 2016 was about food. A bunch of others followed on various aspects of fakery mostly published in 2019.

Laughter has been a most welcome part of my life. If I’m at a restaurant and see people at an adjacent table doubling over in hysterics I enjoy the scene even if I don’t know what’s tickling them. However just as I don’t like the aftertaste of faux sugar–I’d rather not have any diet ice cream, cookie, yogurt or soda–I don’t react well to pretend laughter.

Photo: scienceabc.com

Since the pandemic started, the weekday morning talk show hosts I listen to on a commercial NYC radio station increasingly roar at nothing hoping to achieve a cheery atmosphere. I realize they are trying to mitigate these calamitous times but their mirth is phony and the triggers childish–often mean-spirited–hardly worth a mild chuckle. NPR isn’t exempt. On one of its Saturday morning programs involving a host and a few participants the grating, forced mirth of one of them, shrieking at every sentence uttered by the others, pierces my eardrums and annoys me in equal measure.

I laugh all the time without being prompted by soundtracks while watching programs on Netflix such as “West Wing,” “Call My Agent,” or “The Gibson Girls;” favorite vintage movies like “Auntie Mame” on Turner Classic Movies or while reading a book–The Gentleman from Moscow these days.

An exception may be the late night show host-comedians Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers or Jimmy Kimmel. They might need an audience soundtrack as their pandemic format suffers without the jollity of a live audience.

Does hearing someone laugh–even if the person is faking it–cheer you? What makes you laugh these days? Is there anything that you should like or appreciate that you don’t because it’s ersatz or fake?

Photo: indiatvnews.com

 

Service of Memories

July 16th, 2020

Categories: Fruit, Memories, Memory

From a frenetic to a busy to a quiet life made more so by the pandemic I find memories pop into my head these last months. I usually focus on looking ahead but between the pandemic, the economy and anticipation over the November election it’s increasingly difficult.

I have always been drawn to cherry motifs. Happy memories associated with this luscious summer fruit have inspired my attraction. [The little bowl, photo right, bought at a craft show years ago is an example.]

As I ate some cherries, freshly picked yesterday in upstate New York, I remembered a childhood dinner game. We’d help ourselves to as many cherries as we could eat for dessert and when finished, we’d hide our piles of pits under our hands and give the others at the table a quick glimpse. The winner guessed the number of pits on the other diner’s plates.

Next cherry memory took me to a boutique hotel with restaurant near Puy, France that boasted one of the few up and coming female chef-owners at the time. Her husband was a magnificent host. Some 20 years ago while we were relaxing by the pool after a day of touring we saw her strolling on the property. As she walked she pulled a few cherries from her trees and popped them in her mouth. I remember this scene–and one of two American couples who shared a car who had a rip-roaring fight in front of us–but not what we ordered for dinner. Dessert was crème anglaise with meringue–floating island.

With all the sheltering at home I wonder if families are again eating dinner together and perhaps playing similar games as we did in the day. Have you been distracting yourself with memories to avoid thoughts of the immediate future? What triggers have sparked your memories?

Photo: nature-and-garden.com

 

Get This Blog Emailed to You:
Enter your Email


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz

Clicky Web Analytics