Maybe this is “preaching to the choir” – a term used often in Charlotte – as a leadership thought deal, but while giving myself and writers of many descriptions credit for writing ability, the customer service aspect is what makes one-shot clients into regular gigs.
While perhaps a stretch as political commentary, I’ll take the COVID-19 vaccination program – 309M doses given, 145M/43.8% of population fully vaxxed – as proof we elected a President who has delivered maximum customer service on a MAJOR promise.
Customer service-wise, if your Wellington’s somehow sprung a leak, just tell them, they will gladly send you another pair, is an example of Excellence. The Home Depot person who can lead you directly to the product you’d already walked by twice is A Cut Above, the gas attendant who feels empowered to comment about your tee shirt slogan because he’s already got your money, much closer to the bottom.
‘Getting stuck’ March 18th– for an investment of 26 minutes – with the COVID vaccine, instead of worrying it could take until mid-May, you’ll have to believe that cemented my concept of delivering customer satisfaction.
Dysean at T-Mobile delivered too. When he didn’t know the deal with my phone making a constant notice noise, he was willing to call a guy who might. Bazinga! Turn the phone all the way off periodically, not just screen off.
Getting my phone back doing as it should brought an appreciation of the service effort, but c’mon, the day a Novant supervisor at a clinic around the corner from my place – no extra effort to try – said to 64-year old, Category-5 person me, “Sure, let’s get you stuck,” that’s going to be tough to top as customer satisfaction.
How matters get handled
The point is, those who emphasize the customer’s satisfaction of the service delivered gain loyalty – business might have changed over the years, but its not an outdated, ‘used to be’ philosophy.
As a creative I can deliver written content that hits specific points I’ve learned from a client during interviews. With plenty of extra experiences communicating through Q&A to determine wants and expectations from sales situations, the truth is, the happiest people will ever be is when “Is that what we decided to do?” or similar matters get handled right.
A different POV
Having umpired Little League baseball the last two weekends, I’ve had three situations with balks resulting from batters that I didn’t allow a time out to just because they asked for it. Managers want to disrupt a pitcher’s rhythm when he’s working well, but I very seldom grant any requests when the pitcher is ready and a batter gets in the box.
Specific point: Unfortunately, the pitcher has to release the ball or yes, it’s a balk, even though one stopped because the batter was stepping out, without knowing I hadn’t given him a time out.
Late in a semi-final game, I have to allow the runner from third to score that way, and there is a third hoo-hah! with a particular coach. Best outcome: The ‘customers’ are really the spectators, and with that correctly handled balk call – even against their team – and two others in a wild game, one guy calls me to the fence with a “Hey Blue! I want you to know, I’ve told the tournament director he needs to do something about that screaming coach who charged you. You’re running things right, and we all got your back out here.”
THAT’S what I’m talking about! Customer satisfaction seal of approval.
Umpiring has been good extra cash – $400 last weekend – which helps make things happen like this move back into the Real World, after brother Mike and his two dogs head off into the sunset in his 37′ RV.
It’s always been his clear goal, and I knew this day was coming from the moment one of those “guaranteed cash offer” people briefly toured the house over three months ago and he signed immediately.
No, I didn’t get serious about the search until this month, and while its true some of the online operations – Roomster leaps to mind – are bona fide (mostly) scammers, I’m confident the cash from three full weekends income will allow this move to be smooth.
My point in mentioning this is how stressful such situations are for others, too.
Staying awake from before 5:00am, that’s never been a problem before. Like during the Great Recession years, I wonder how parents with tuition, car payments, and mortgages made it on retail wages. I was single, chiseling every nickel, and still wound with significant credit card debt. Others used their accumulated cushion to get past the last economic problem, and it won’t be available this time around.
My time essentially runs out in this house on the 23rd. I’m about half-packed, and while I don’t *think* I’ll wind up sleeping in my Hyundai, it’s going to make a difference how soon a real person responds to my phone messages. It’s also going to be an upheaval of way large proportions for MILLIONS. Families large and small are going to experience some REAL dislocation the end of June, when the protections of the pandemic social net expire .
Having stayed one overnight a month during the colder months for a Room in the Inn ministry for many years, I didn’t question that, with only minor changes, I could be some of those people.
Umpire-wise, I’m neither out nor safe in the moment. On the good side, I do have cash in hand now…
I honestly hope my rugby mentor with the Schenectady Reds RFC, Dr.Julius R. ‘Skip’ Aycox III, is alive to read this, because his grabbing me by the throat for using the N-word made a difference the last thirty-five years.
Now, “that word” was used in a sing-song style lots of close friends did in late 1970’s college, and I did it right after one of our team’s best players used it while talking to him, so getting clutched by the throat surprised me hugely.
“What? You didn’t do anything when Ted just said it!”
“He does it to try and upset me, and he can’t be changed. You I can help.”
When I moved to Charlotte in 1995, Carolina Panthers rookie QB Kerry Collins getting a black eye from his center sticks in my mind, smaller examples of “correcting behavior” compared to the massive upheaval this country experienced last year. Across the USA and beyond, George Floyd’s murder, at the knee of now-convicted white police officer, Derek Chauvin, had finally brought a specific reckoning.
The call to STOP! police brutality that continues to result – especially with young Black men – in violent death, literally echoed around the world. Not as significantly in certain parts of our Congressional representatives, but there have been large numbers of white faces available every step of the way.
Without meaning to claim any special ‘wokeness,’ of course it’s time to consider walking in someone else’s shoes. It’s been part of the journalistic process since my HS days, and with all due credit for watching Ken Burns’ “Hemingway,” I appreciate it when people share the experience I’m putting on the page, too.
A guiding thought in my life process was a NYT Sunday Book section title, “Hemingway made his own hours.” Case closed, but now a few positive points on Attitude to set out.
Ideas recognized, ‘salt & pepper’ counts
Should I have to consider my willingness to walk into a Novant site around the corner from my house, on the way back from grocery shopping, ‘white privilege?’
While still only 64 and a Category-5 profile in North Carolina, I did exactly that, getting the Pfizer vaccine March 18th, a full two months earlier than I’d expected.
My May estimate was based on the trump administration having no actual stockpile of vaccine revelation, the number of distribution points at the time Joe Biden became President Biden, my birthday two days later being no real factor.
The nurse said they did 3,000 a day where I got mine. Reality at Novant was immediate – I’d barely started talking to a young lady with a laptop when a supervisor said, “Sure, let’s get you stuck.”
She also said, “You don’t ask, you don’t get” about Life. Pulling into that parking lot was taking the shot. Bazinga! But that was actually Novant #3 attempt. I’d also called Lancaster, SC about possible appointments when they were giving shots to 55+ there, long before things went into overdrive on options.
In early March, going to shoot baskets, I saw cars pulling in at McClintock (school), barely a mile from my brother’s house. Those “they had to use the extra shots” stories had been on TV, so I got in line and called my 65 yr/old brother about the possibility. Once a representative spoke to me directly about having accounted for any extra shots, I simply left to shoot baskets as planned.
Turns out, my bro apparently did some extra ‘yapping’/discussing about people in line, they couldn’t ALL be teachers, although when I’d checked earlier, all actually had after 4:00 appointments. When the (black) Novant rep delivered her message and I left, she came back out shortly thereafter, with a cop and two co-workers, apparently because she’d felt a little threatened.
Counting these as white privilege? I don’t rate it that way, just because I dropped in to a local unit and my brother didn’t get shot or manhandled for extra commentary. It was handled appropriately, and when he admitted why he was already back when I returned, I said yeah, I can imagine her feeling ‘something,’ based on what I’d heard.
Fact: Upset about his “65 and waiting until an April appointment!” status vs. those in line, he called Novant and wound up with a first shot (Moderna) the next Tuesday.
Freedom Park hoops with Rahim
Basketball ability is a legitimate baseline for judging another person, because its understood I’m talking about us, not LeBron, right? Black/white/whatever, female/older-cagey vet or wannabe, when we’re keeping score, how you perform reflects on whether we get to keep running the court, right? Save the yackety-yak, unless you got the chops to back it. High school doesn’t count here. Make it, take it.
Do not call stupid little fouls, especially if you’re the only ‘salt.’ I was playing tennis the morning I saw a wiry kind of rec-speced white dude take an old-school boat hook forearm right across the chops after some of that. Started right below the nose, the glasses kind of proving their worth. To be honest, I’d heard the yapping…
Oh, and it’s not racist to say everyone wants a piece of the white guy in a gorilla-ball game, where its all against all. Best thing to do is make up to three free throws after scoring a basket, reduces time banging heads with dudes for rebounds. Sticking a knee into a thigh, jacking a butt, or getting my money’s worth on a hack in the lane before a guy finishes his move, kind of a specialty. Being soft, waiting for a rebound instead of guarding someone closer, its not a label I ever had. Only brother of four under six-foot, I’ll let you know I’m back there.
We’ve got 7-8 guys in a gorilla game, one of them finally holds onto the ball, looks at me and says, “What are you doin’ here?” and I said, “I’m with Rahim.” Everybody there knew Rahim, a central figure way beyond the current game at the other end for sure. As others looked over, Rahim came out from the lane and *volleyballed* a guy’s 3-pt. shot out of bounds.
Couple minutes later, he calls me over, tells another player, “You’re out.” You have to be confident in your skills AND manhood at that point. Having a scorer’s touch always counts, like tucking putbacks in and making sure the big dogs get their touches, because you truly are repping white guards right then.
“No blood, no foul” is a legit guideline, and sh*t yeah, its better to give than (just) receive contact. Don’t embarrass yourself or your host is a Man Thing that crosses color-cultural.
Real Rahim, such a monster figure, I actually use him in my books, and yes, it’s good to be easy and right with people across a spectrum. Last night it was Karina, waiting in line together for a beer at Camp North End celebration https://www.camp.nc/events, it felt soooo rightly social with jazzy Spanish-centric music.
She appreciated my being able to say “I have two courses of Spanish at CPCC, but 10 years ago…” It was many people’s first time there, plenty of family and music, but out of beer and everything else before 9:00 – guy in front of me literally got the last cup of wine. That sort of goodness – plus more beer – is EXACTLY what builds communities.
‘What abouts?’ Four quick thoughts
At one of the Communities in Schools programs I think so highly of, https://www.cischarlotte.org/ helping HS seniors write better letters for scholarship money, I had an opportunity to listen to and speak with two young Black men. My straight up message was to let them know how different-better it was to talk with young people who weren’t using ummm, errrr, and you know every other word, was a legitimate asset.
“I noticed it and told you so, and every other adult you’ll meet will notice, too.” A positive affirmation is easy. What individual meetings with fertile minds can accomplish 1:1 *always* counts.
I got the same degree of change in attitude at a lunch meeting with perhaps eighty military people. They weren’t just trigger pullers like my Uncle Howard had been in the Pacific – this luncheon was about job search, and they KNEW what their ratings said they were qualified to do. When I admitted about being way off on that attitude to the gentleman next to me, Lt. Col. (Ret.) Nicolas ‘Chris’ Short told me about being Rumsfeld’s top kick at the Dept. of Defense. Definitely not just a trigger-puller.
Two last facts
Our Linton High Class of ’75 didn’t get to have its 45th reunion in 2020. At the 40th I’d decided to go into real estate, but waiting for a 50th, there’s no telling how many of us Forever Young Boomers might still be around for that. We might get it done this year, I dunno.
Paging through the yearbook, which our Journalism program put together – Take a bow, Liz Nealon, as Editor, your handwriting is all over it – I counted 20 Black seniors in a class of 540. If anyone wants to check me on that, fine. We also – can you believe it – let freshman (brother David) in that year.
Nobody’s brought it up that I know of, but at the time of 25th (2000) I know I wasn’t the only person who wondered if we’d be FORCED to have future reunions with the people from cross-town Mont Pleasant HS. Declining enrollment in Schenectady had forced a merger, at the Linton campus, but “we” didn’t particularly want to have an evening together with them.
I’ve mostly mellowed on the melding…it just took 46 years.
In 2021, I’m hoping to catch up to Scotty Grayman, Bobby Mazz – anybody know about Lussier? – and a couple dozen (probably not you, Malitz…) others. Here’s hoping we have it at Saratoga Racetrack instead of indoors – wasn’t that the plan? Let’s see if old people can agree on August fun instead of traditional Thanksgiving, just for starters.
Three weeks ago, I started an online interview with a Human Resource person from a major international corporation, and barely an hour later, after consulting with a vice-president, Mr. Malcolm said “regarding your standing in a customer service online role, you are hired!”
To acquaint with, I’m Mr Greg Malcom. I’m located at Huston Tx, I appear to you as the Hiring Superior/Client Services of Doosan Group
While two out of three brothers congratulated me on what seemed like a legitimate late touchdown of economics, my Wells Fargo Director brother, Steve, opined that money seemed steep for a customer service job, and when I got back from walking the dog, I tagged him for expertise.
Later in online session, after I was ‘hired,’ there was a significant listing of technical gear I’d need. Along with two weeks training @ $30 an hour, (I’d start at $40+ an hour, benefits after thirty full days), there was a niggling negative about how I would get a check, then withdraw funds to pay for equipment within 24 hours.
Just so you know when you see it…
“Below are the list of materials and softwares needed for this position since you’d be working from home: 4 in one (fax, scanner, copier and printer), Zebra ZM400 Bar-code printer and cards, 4 drawer cabinet and office desk,Apple-(Macbook Air), Blu-ray Drive, Vista Premium), myob business essentials software 2005,For Peach Tree premium 2010 US Patent Single Users Pack, simply accounting 2009,Adobe Photoshop 52011,Adobe Acrobat 8 2012,Ariba 8 2012ASP 32007,CSS 6 2012,Dreamweaver 7 2011,HTML 11 2011,Illustrator 3 2009. Are you familiar with any of those software programs ?
The funds for the software’s and your working materials will be provided to you by the company via check You will be using the funds in making purchase of your equipment from the company certified Vendor and All equipment will be labeled on them with the company name, they will have you connected to the company database UNDERSTOOD?
“The check will be covering up for both your working and training materials as well as setting up a mini office in your home which i believe you do have a space provided for that ?
“Once you receive the check you are needed to have it deposited in your bank account via Mobile Or Bank teller. Then the funds would be credited in your account immediately or within 24 hours for cash out.. Do you understand me ?“
TOO GOOD TO BE TRUE
It’s an age old truism, that what might seem so super incredible juuuustmight be Too Good/Untrue, and this is why accessing real expertise in the clutch is always a good idea.
While discussing the tone of ‘interview’ – especially never actually talking to a representative – you bet he smelled something wrong. His international experience with Koreans was that they’d die if professional communication was read as anything less than ‘regular English’ – the online stuff I saw wasn’t up to that standard. ‘Malcolm’ had apparently misspelled his own name and Houston (no ‘o’) in first line of introduction online, another wiggle of doubt.
What could have been a small disaster then, in what is at heart a CHECK SCAM, is worth putting out as a warning for those eager to return to economic goals in this surging economy, extra glad their skills are coming to the fore again.
That ever-lovin’ $1,400 stimulus check many were waiting to get passed by Congress, it got to my bank account on Wednesday, and depositing the company funds – which are inevitably declared NSF – electronically lets ‘them’ into your account is the heart of the scam.
I had enough sense to investigate what seemed too good to be true, more like Reagan’s “Trust but verify.” That made a disappointing ending to a singular ‘fake event’ three weeks ago easy to bury. There’s a light in tunnel now that doesn’t feel like another train. Don’t make hasty decisions or imagine a Disney ending to the challenges we’ll all still face in 2021, but hey, ask someone you trust about something TGTBT.
Of course, having facts that others can see and believe has been a problem for some lately, but journalistically, I go with believe your experts. I deep-sixed further contact with ‘Doosan Malcolm’ by 3:00. They sent a notice the next morning that I was supposed to be online at 8:00. I laughed, and will continue thinking I dodged a bullet. Be aware people.
It’s problematic that, despite 930,000 job growth last month, the U.S. still has some 8.4 million dislocated workers in a year of panemic, even those like myself, who were essentially WFH (work from home) types thinking of being ‘inside.’
Year Three of CDTalent Enterprises https://www.linkedin.com/in/glennshorkey/ company growth suffered in 2020, and putting irons in the fire or RFPs (requests for proposals) in 2021 means our personal information is often available.
I actually gave last four of my SSN to a different interviewer recently, but you had damn wellbetter know ANY information out there is a nugget someone wants.
Check extensions for a fake contact. While e-dresses should be the company’s, mine had 3296 after it.
“Sure, let’s get you stuck.”
Thursday will be my 2nd shot (Pfizer), the first coming a couple days after that job disappointment on Monday. Amazingly, the stimulus check was on time Wednesday, and while still officially a Category-5 person in North Carolina, I got a vaccine shot right around the corner, coming back from grocery store.
No extra fuss, the whole event took 25 minutes, from parking lot to post shot departure, an effective flow from first temperature check, to a supervisor appearing just as I talked to a young lady at a laptop to register and saying, “Sure, let’s get you stuck.”
March Madness has provided a mass catharsis
Honestly, it should be stated what a non-scientific boost this years Madness was compared to zero in 2020. Reducing the usual travel to sub-regionals, the NCAA did the bubble thing amazingly well.
The Stanford ladies team story was beyond compelling – When the Palo Alto campus was CLOSED to them, they spent almost forever – 86 days! – traveling as true road warriors. They decided that only WINNING the title would make all the discomfort worthwhile, and that’s now a 54-53 fact.
In both the semi and championship finale for Stanford, the other team’s final shot was just off the iron, the ultimate difference between victory and defeat. South Carolina’s was a put back at the buzzer that didn’t go down. Haley Jones for Stanford ‘only’ had 17 for the winners, and looked like a star on every one. Aari McDonald for Arizona – I couldn’t have been the only person surprised she only had 22 after stroking multiple bombs – including a miss on last shot, with three Stanford players hanging all over her.
In the Gonzaga-UCLA men’s semi-final, Bulldog freshman guard Jalen Suggs banked in a half-courter at the buzzer to win 93-90. Who hasn’t done 3-2-1… EHHHHH! a thousand times in back yard? Super tournament, and tonight a worthy men’s Final. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwX4yHytLJU
We’ve seen heroic efforts by all, and (for once) Charles Barkley was right, two players for UCLA were unstoppable, and who doesn’t appreciate a superhuman effort falling just short?
A LOT of clouds got less threatening that shot in arm day. Getting four solid calls from recruiters, two discussions (1 still not rejected, 1 rescheduled because I was headed for visit to Mom pre-Easter), and even having gotten out 4x for rides and shooting hoops regularly, I still sincerely applaude how March Madness has provided a mass catharsis in this country.
I’m also glad to have participated in a fish fry with another church organization last week. We served about 350 dinners between 4-7:30, most of them at drive through, and there was great sense of comraderie and community with those who came and sat down inside. Normalcy? We’ve always provided ‘beverages’ at our events, and those who enjoyed that and some ice cream for dessert were reminded what our Men’s Clubs can do.
That it came together in barely a week, that’s community action.
We’ve certainly seen the ultimate in team play during March Madness, and Easter is always appreciated as a time of optimism and renewal. That one small negative three weeks ago, I’m still AWARE stuff like that is out there, and that when it showed up, I questioned ‘Too good to be true.’ Be aware America.
I’m still a Boomer, flag recently replanted in 2021, and now days from fully vaccinated.What’s Next?
Having finished re-editing Chapter 18 of ‘With Platinum Fury Focus,’ Swiffer-ed and vacuumed most of the house, gotten current with ACA (Stim. #2 finally arrived), raking and branch-trimming yardwork, started the spaghetti sauce, had three cups of coffee, walked the dog, put on a favorite striped dress shirt/suit pants, AND SHAVED – I proclaim Thursday’s one year anniversary of COVID-19 lousiness and ennui an official rebooting of “Life More Like It Should Be,” maybe within sight of normalcy.
As of the 18th, I became part of a terrific statistic, arms stuck.
The karma of Asking.
Yes, America, WE made it an entire year with this declared pandemic. It’s still difficult to deal with a ‘previous prez’ knowing how bad it was *really* going to be – and telling a well-known journalist, who recorded it for posterity – early on and then lying about it. There are hundreds of millions of vaccine shots available to help the process now – Donnie J. actually got one, and Mr. Snake Snot didn’t tell the world, which juuuust might have made a difference.
The Karma of Asking
At 64, I was still a Category-5 outsider in North Carolina when I decided to take a chance on the way back from grocery shopping. The Novant clinic is across Independence, barely a block away, it wouldn’t be a killer waste of time, to check out the possibility of a ‘Freedom Shot’ if you will.
In late 2017, “checking things out” about timing when getting an x-ray resulted in an immediate (five days) appointment for a knee replacement had been my standard for good karma. That a supervisor appeared immediately as I’d gotten a temperature check and started chatting with a laptop person (among MANY staff/volunteers) about 64 and around the corner, so why not? Her response was, “Sure, let’s get you stuck.” From parking lot to post-15 minute stay period and leaving, 25 minutes.
I will be heading to Mom’s place at Carmel Hills for a couple hugs. We got to hang with her a little for her birthday, March 1, but it wasn’t one of her better days. Even though masks are still a good idea for a while longer, if your Mom’s been vaccinated (like mine), and so are you, hugging her a bunch of times is a start on what they’ve suffered without so long.
‘March Madness’ Hits Full-on Stardom
The fact of genuine ‘March Madness’ arrival, after being denied that annual basketball bachanal in 2020, means leaving behind any “coulda-shouldas.” Fill out a bracket or three, quaff a quantity of cold ones with variously seasoned wings, invite – righteously vaxxed, no masks? – a couple buddies to watch your big screen, because that *IS* about normalcy.
Those with Ohio State or Purdue in Final Four, oh that Madness thing!
If you gotta go on Spring Break instead of camping on a couch to watch, see if you can plant a big ol’ kiss on Gov. DeSantis, just for the sake of freaking him out. Most of those wild ‘n crazy hombres you’ll be hanging with are still two months from a shot in the arm, but (bleep) it, you only live once (as far as we know).
A nephew and a bunch of buddies drove an RV around the Midwest parks, fishing for two weeks last May because post-college jobs were on hold, my NY brother’s entire family helped move another nephew from Kentucky to the Pacific Northwest, so why shouldn’t you celebrate some in 2021?
The simple fact this administration carefully counts FULLY VACCINATED and ‘sticks’ as two statistic shows an understanding and accounting, right? but who isn’t aware there are multiple bad-ass variants of COVID-19 out there?
Worse case, saying “If it’s good enough for those governors from Texas to the Keys,” nobody over thirty *really* expects you to be the responsible people,” y’know? Sure, its a numbers thing, but also a ‘shoulda learned year,’ too.
I didn’t go to Pennsylvania for a three day car show last July with a brother I’ve been hunkered down with, but he came back without problems. (tongue in cheek) I needed to be ready for that bicycle accident I was going to have in August. Maybe you can get to that age/mileage marker (64) I have no matter what you do…
Truth is, given a year’s perspective – especially the party line vote, zero Repub Yes votes, 100% willing to stiff their non-Washington, DC people – 75% of the country favoring that $1.9T COVID bill *has* to include some ‘regular’ Repubs in favor of sending checks. If that COVID bill is supposedly the easiest one Dems will have, that doesn’t bode well for the future of Repubs helping their constituents.
This coming week, President Biden and Vice-President Harris will work on the public relations aspect of what they have maintained all along, that Americans can overcome any obstacle if they put their collective minds to it. ‘100 million shots in 100 days’ has gone from an attitude to fact.
Setting new, familiar and desirable goals, like 4th of July cookouts, that’s legit. Do you have to invite everyone, including recent non-maskers? The ones who never bring meat (or beer), just those plastic containers of ten cookies? Naaah. Maybe next time.
Was slipping into that 100 million category as significant a milestone as John F. Kennedy’s goal of putting the USA flag on the moon “before the end of this (1960s) decade”?Personally, guaranteed survival during a pandemic is at least as important. I didn’t expect to get vaccinated until almost Memorial Day, which seemed like forever.
While the entire WORLD was doing that collaboration thing on an all-important COVID-19 vaccine, having four different U.S. manufacturers produce highly effective ones in less than a year surpassed even the miracle of the sugar-cube polio vaccine. (Wikipedia ref. – a weakened oral polio vaccine (OPV) developed by Dr. Albert Sabin, the sugar cube was first used in 1961.)
Dr. Jonas Salk’s inactivated (‘dead,’ IPV), first used in 1955, is still considered a gold standard of scientific achievement.
I was a “sugar-cube kid,” would’ve trusted any of the current vaccines, but I have no worries about Tuckaseegee, circa 1932. My Dad survived polio in the 1930’s when lots of kids died, and while his left leg was always visibly thinner, he served his country in the Navy. That some would risk death instead of taking a proven “You won’t die or wind up on a ventilator” shot makes me sad.
That a certain former president has made several attempts to claim credit for that vaccine success speaks to political gas-lighting. His denial of the pandemic’s (world-wide) deadliness, and his administration’s brutal mishandling of the health crisis enrages many. https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/country/us/
Since ‘politics’ were part of everything this past year, it was surprising that tens of millions of protesters taking to the streets during the Black Lives Matter uprisings across the country didn’t cause the level of “super-spreader” infections that certain indoor events during his campaign did. (Sorry, facts are just part of my journalist background)
And now, ‘Selection Sunday’
Having watched my share – and perhaps the shares of several others, with three days of quadruple-headers – I’m ready to put my sportswriter expertise on the line by picking at least a few brackets worth. Gonzaga looks strong to me, Illinois has a HUGE center and guards like crazy, that’s my finals. Most experts are calling this a year for ‘chalk,’ meaning favorites.
Of course, during this messed up year, MILLIONS of others will be doing multiple sheets, which again, counts as normalcy. Will there be a chance to pick a perfect one, maybe win that $1 billion prize that’s been dangled the last couple years? (Not if the first two days of wreckage continues through weekend.)
Nahh, but winning cash, that’s not really the point. Most of the world is looking forward to the Olympics, which were delayed from 2020 because of the pandemic. Some will hold their fervor for the World Cup, scheduled for 2022 in Qatar. For Americans though, there is truly nothing like ‘March Madness,’ school ties and buzzer-beaters to cheer insanely for.
Because playing abbreviated seasons in ‘bubbles’ last Fall (ie- Edmonton and Toronto for the NHL) worked so well to reduce COVID infections for the high-priced talent in NBA, NHL, and MLB (baseball) leagues, this year’s three-weekend NCAA tournament will all be held in Indiana venues this year.
Being a righteously dragged-out fan from watching late West Coast games in 2019 will be mitigated by that fact, and even having gotten first Pfizer shot, I’m still not hanging out in bars in 2021. (Well, one two blocks away is mostly outdoors…)
As a WFH (work from home) content writer, it’s very possible I can grab a cup of java and be ready to start a workday by 8:15 anyway, but that’s the *only* thing COVID-19 has done for the viewer experience.
Congratulations America, with a special extra nod and two thumbs up of appreciation for the healthcare people and essential workers who got us through a truly terrible time. For every baller – male and female – who plays their guts out for our enjoyment, NOBODY laid it on the line more than you did. Amen.
Two recent technical writing recruiters, who supposedly know how certain skills may fit with work orders, told me Monster and Careerbuilder were places they found most of their placements and possibilities. I’ve never liked those chronologically-oriented sites, and there have been plenty of possibilities on LinkedIn and FlexJobs, including remote options.
Two basic points:Know which sites work best for your skill set and goals, and my expectation is that perceived “talent gaps” could be mitigated if recruiters AND people with skills try moving the job needle differently. I’m a Boomer with a “Smarter than the average Bear writer” attitude, and I’m looking.
No Goldilocks recruiters?
Of the tech callers, one was totally in left field, because he was trying to chat about an Careerbuilder resume from 2015 . Trying to steer him to my current information, like LinkedIn, seemed futile. Thinking I could turn that option into even a 3-month contract wasn’t reality.
Trying to explain a 2015 post-Recession in retail resume, which represented nothing I was trying to accomplish in 2020 – just, no.
Talking with Recruiter #2, the ‘take over’ local (Charlotte) person I’d scheduled a call with, left me far less confident about success. Compared to the CBD company I connected with through LinkedIn right after New Years in 2019, was he describing a totally different job from what I’d responded to?
A month later he proved right on about a situation that sounded far above my comfort level regarding *real* technical expertise. While a third recruiter had sounded better, he was ultimately wrong about the role.
On the bottom line, there’s a definite difference in needing-to-be-done-a-certain-way, design for multiple layers, starting from scratch technical writing vs. something closer to compilation and interpretation of content with “editorial and technical values.” I’m generally the later.
KEYWORDS – BIG DIFFERENCE
It’s worth noting that early searching for ‘Writer’ roles on LinkedIn often produced more Underwriter and Service writer possibilities than creative positions. Putting ‘content creation’ and ‘writing’ vs. writer in the keyword box, that went from barely a handful to over 100, and often included marketing and editorial manager roles.
Knowing more than one way to look for things is a legitimate piece of any search.
One recruiter indicated a training period, so that contract people were all trained in Open Text. Picking up skills on gigs is always career enhancing expertise for content people. I haven’t been intimidated about using systems listed in job descriptions, and knowing about up front training, that’s nothing but good business.
Having previously declared The Super High end of good information was represented by 2 1/2 pages of printed who, what, why, how? relative to one company’s Content Marketing position, backing off of that doesn’t make it less desirable. A statement of corporate positioning, responsibilities, the necessary skill set, personal qualities, and some bullet points regarding the compensation situation that would be worth knowing, that’s beyond solid stuff to learn, but there’s a new sheriff on my RFP (request for proposal) sending front.
Content creation types understand that every CV or cover letter sent involves a judgment of our writing skills.
Almost without question – whether pursuing dates or a potential client – you’d invest more effort in something A-B-C, 1-2-3 clear about extra details to start. From the content creator side, responding to that well-defined description with an equally well-defined reason to investigate further is fundamentally right.
When you’re close to a like mind with what Clevertech CEO Kuty Shalev is dishing, going through some hoops in their information gathering process proves something for both parties. I took a couple hours to answer an 11 question panel that addressed several operational tasks, 300 character responses as I recall.
I ran across their ‘You’re not a Robot’ video on YouTube post-application, and I appreciated the searching questions. I want to put my Boomer journalistic skills to work for this operation, and coding isn’t even on my list of qualities. But, as an element of unique, I got to put my best shots FIRST THING.
What a difference – PRIMO space for ‘Extra’ Good Stuff
Have you wondered if your LinkedIn profile, and how real estate skills regarding database and research translated into project skills, actually got read?
The point is finding a totally online company, with a total reversal of standard recruiter ‘interview’ and 8-second rule scanning. Mr. Shalev isn’t rubbing it in anyone’s face that they’ve tricked people into responding in his videos, he does believe they’re above average on unique, especially being totally remote since 2000. Dammit, THESE guys will read what I send!
I still can’t code, but I believe in this process. If it’s a must have, I’ll learn it. Me, 2/20/21
One question involved a social media campaign – Was it successful, how could you tell? My year as VP Community Development of the (Albany, NY) Junior Chamber was a taproot of professional skills development through my thirties. How I recruited members to honcho career-enhancing extra projects instead of just raising $$$ by doing ‘thons, I got it in there.
How could I tell? Because the ‘Chairman’s Planning Guides’ (CPGs) were part of the documentation process for gaining three State-level awards. You rarely get asked about things people don’t know are possibilities, and all I had to do was paste good links? DONE!
COMMUNICATION is always the deal, and showing volunteers how this project had succeeded before, touching them with good follow-up was part of understanding how things worked. Having some fun while improving your resume and-or recognition factor is chicken soup for the soul. Try mentioning being a flying witch for a legendary Haunted House – people will know you’re a good kind of different by Tuesday.
When the bell is rung
Many freelancers and creatives like to think its just a matter of getting in front of a decision maker to ‘get in’ someplace. Perhaps we lack an attribute or two software-wise, or depth of expertise required, but if there’s not an organic height requirement, face-to-face will win the day.
That would be amazingly naive of the one picture dating profile to think, and just as unproductive for a content writing candidate. Don’t ignore the relative clues in a well-written description of how to impress any ‘date’ appropriately.
Immediate, verifiable info regarding candidate
Verifiable intell regarding an All That candidate doesn’t always happen, but a pre-pandemic date was interesting, attractive, way better than just fit, a look-you-in-the-eye type with a compelling story about spirituality (including tarot, the hook in my books) that kept conversation flowing. OMG! she also wanted to go ‘dutch’ from the get-go.
Here’s hoping Clevertech looks at me the same way.
All positive responses constitute a successful ‘first date’ for content writing (with exceptional verbal dexterity) people like me.
Never let it be thought you only did the least that could be done. Quality communications don’t need to be all-revealing bikini shots of one’s career, just promote the belief that we as responders might be that terrific person you’ll want to discuss a future relationship with.
My community group has historically done large eating-oriented events that brought out 600-800 paying customers, often (over) filling the school cafeteria. Our fish fries have been legendary forever, Oyster Roasts an October tour de force our members and others loved.
The original pierogi event came from one member (Stephen Fogg), who suggested it as a substitute for a not well-attended spaghetti night in late January. Noting that, “Every Catholic church in Cleveland has pierogi dinners every Friday in Lent,” was math many former Yankees in our club could imagine. He served about 50 of us those buttery, cheese and potato filled Polish delicacies, what most describe as like ravioles. For many, it was comfort food from childhood.
It’s truly a Collaborative Process
We decided to do a test run the week before the dinner, and besides cooking the kielbasa and slivered onions that would make workers familiar with production tasks and timing, we made 1200 kolacky cookies. It took about 2 1/2 hrs. dedicated effort, turning balls of dough into, smaller, thin squares, dab a blob of jelly in the middle and fold cookies.
Those cookies were THE inspired hit. Only two at a time rationing, unforgettable. We were short of *everything,* bought out the nearby Harris Teeter on supplies, including turkey kielbasa, more onions, and sour cream.
When our marketing, essentially just church bulletins as far as Rock Hill, produced wild response, people coming down the stairs at 5:01, we started ringing the register at all levels. Customer satisfaction? Highest rating every time.
Like the Oyster Roast (October) and what had been a 34-year tradition of selling Christmas trees starting after Thanksgiving, we’re not doing pierogies this year, and didn’t last year, because really good crowds are not how we break COVID-19’s grip on being together.
Job Two Counts Big
That means, at the most basic level of collaboration, masking up as an act together for a common goal. Call it best practices overall, IMHO, Pandemic is Job One.
Job Two is putting some economic levers back into full play, and WFH (work from home), the ability of not-in-the-same-place talents to be immediately and easily incorporated into a creative flow, has proven that connectivity and productivity can maintain high standards.
Naysayers might point to ‘job encroachment syndrome’ or something similar, because widely diffused sources don’t always slot easily with time on task vs. ‘dark hours.’ For every ‘The Intern,’ where a go-go executive learns the human cost of constantly being ON regarding business, you’ll find dozens who have found a rhythm they can live with.
Perhaps not including those who swapped drive time with at home schooling concerns, or might have to consider paycheck alterations – If we’re ALL tele-commuting, sending contributions to a central point, able to SEE the results in real time, should there be a location differential?
There isn’t a room full of Mad Men-style creatives down the hall any more. Whole operations are dedicated to the proposition of lots of people doing pieces, with a use ’em and lose ’em financial philosophy.
As part of that Boomer Generation that turns sixty-four this year (Really? Friday? Huh…), where most haven’t got their retirement funds at millionaire level and ready for that sunsets-and-RV travel-the-country deal, its kind of ‘put up or shut up’ time. For once I concur with Snoop Dogg, “Down the rabbit hole we ALLLL go!” and almost nobody is guaranteed anything.
A Small History for Boomers
The Generation that survived Vietnam, and how that conflict split families across America, death totals every night on the news, that was us. There were REAL protests of 500,000 people at a time, hippies, dads, black/white, well before the miracle of instant communication arose. Civil rights got some air time, and the environment improved because we paid attention to it.
Robert Kennedy, speaking to an almost all Black gathering in Indianapolis as news was finally arriving about the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. is the ballsiest human-political speech I believe I’ll ever see. It was the only time he invoked his own brothers death, and from his heart and guts, he spoke of Truth AND peace, no filters or spin.
Indianapolis was the only major city in America that didn’t explode in violence that night. No sports analogy for that. We Boomers will always own the Moon landing, and EVERYBODY cared about Apollo 13 – saw it again last night – and in Sr. Mary Anthony’s class, we prayed for those guys.
That so many people of every stripe stepped up during the BLM protests, which jives with our collective Boomer regardfor doing ‘right,’ wasn’t this all straightened out back then?
I’m sure there was at least one environmental SuperFund site (thank you GE) in Schenectady, NY. Our journalism program at Linton HS actually followed socio-political news, and Highlights-“you journalism guys,” with our magic yellow hall passes – has been an identity at reunions. Ahhh, Karen Korniak and the majorettes… A bunch of us became the huge wave of journalism majors in post-Watergate times.
SOUTH Vietnam was overrun the spring of my senior year, 1975.
I never regret missing any part of the meat-grinder Vietnam was for my generation. 2020 was supposed to be our 45th reunion, because waiting for a 50th – who knows what could happen to even the Forever Young Generation by then?
Cripes, we thought Tricky Dicky was a menace to democracy! Turns out America has over 150 people in Congress – and a mob of angry white people with truth and rule of law wiped from their collective minds – who did worse than Nixon ever considered doing to the U.S. of A. as a country. Kow-towing to a RUSSIAN like trump? The idea of a Black President actually worked…
America, still a place to try whatever
I started a real estate class the week after 40th reunion, 79 hours of class time, LOTS of studying and taking chapter tests on line that were a very real part of qualifying for State exam, which I passed first time, a good ending to 2015. https://wordpress.com/post/cdtalententerprises.com/968
Coming out of The Great Recession, I went from reunion to first sale in 100 days, but it wasn’t quite the economic turnaround I needed. While I’ve come inside with a couple operations, since 2019, CDTalent Enterprises has provided skills working in collaboration situations.
I’m taking a philosophical mulligan on last year being Year Three of my transition to ‘long-term copywriting resource.’
For everything that’s going on in American politics and healthcare in a pandemic, Vietnam becoming a non-factor made college just part of a regular life – I was part of a two year blind spot that never registered. Whether ‘white privilege’ or just Boomer Lifestyle, a four-year double major (journalism and marketing) away from home, then first job as a road man regional rep ($14,000) for TIME, Inc., with company station wagon, twenty cold calls a day, improving retail displays.
“You’re a pretty good talker, you should be in sales,” was the thinking, and I learned plenty, then quit to move to Tampa and become a poorly-paid freelancer.
Yes, that was road-muscle building time, sports and city-magazine writing was a great entree in early ’80s. Comparatively speaking, there are an incredible array of ways to monetize writing skills and content now, when everyone has a website and blogs, and corporate voice material. “Long-form informational content” is the essential journalism of storytelling.
My mantra about best practices is giving the reader “content worth knowing about, considering and using.” Getting an acknowledgment of information being conveyed is okay – always the point with copywriting – even if it doesn’t entirely convince. I did it for a fire-fighter niche while a realtor – their professional aid response had given me another Christmas with Dad – so giving my best effort counted.
The Miracle on Ice, Al Michaels “Do you believe…!” 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, second month on the job, every Sports Illustrated, TIME, LIFE, and People magazine in my territory sold 95%-plus. That constituted a HUGE, real, shared, cultural event.
I’ve been a WFH (work from home) content writing-long form blogger for over two years, and I don’t fit easily in economic or pandemic vaccination criteria . Except for shooting hoops and greenway bike riding, I’m masked. Yes, pandemic is Job One, and as a Cat 5 person, I will get a shot aaaaany time they tell me its a possibility.
I come to vaccines from the anti-polio sugar cube kids experience, and for smallpox (I think I had chicken pox). My Dad survived polio as a child, his left leg was always thinner, but he (Navy) and three brothers, Donnie (USAF), Howard (USMC), and Harold (Navy) all served their country. My favorite nephew – parents have to love everyone the same, uncles and grandparents are allowed favs – Curtiss, is an Army Captain, wife Stephanie just delivered a baby girl. The Mom is ex-military (USAF), yes, we love our military people. (Smile – you too Malitzia.)
OF COURSE Grandma Donna was there, because especially in these very trying times, FAMILY COUNTS.
Life goes on isn’t political, its lifestyle
Another nephew and wife delivered Trace (Stephen Paul, III) last June, but first appearance in Charlotte (from Boston) was Thanksgiving. Surprisingly, even the hour of socially distanced family, with a little Tin Cup and a take-it-with-you cigar when leaving with a deep-fried bird, was ‘Enough’ to feel right on family. Mom has flowers and her senior community was vaccinated the end of December, good by me.
Life goes on, right? We Boomers learned that from experiences, not all of them good. I’ve had two bicycle crashes during lockdown, the August one with some substantial injuries, from toes to shoulder on right side. In North Carolina-speak, “I was tore up.” I did a couple blogs about it, but at no time was putting bike away part of any solution. I mentioned that in connection with voting at the time, like in keep doing it, not losing it.
In both cases, I recognized that always wearing a helmet saved me from tremendous negatives, same as seat belts and face masks, because I *heard* the thunk of helmet on concrete both times. Having a front wheel torque off and being DOWN in a heartbeat, and then being literally, physically saved from infection by a chance encounter with a PA while doing furniture pickups for a church operation – that sounds like karma coming around in a good way.
As a Boomer, I credit 35 years of regular bike riding as the core of being an active sixty-four. In real estate, we learned you never talked about age or retirement with Boomers. As I mention in a thought leadership piece about nonpandemic healthcare, all I needed during my last visit was blood pressure meds – physically I’m right, extra thanks for the new knee from ACA in late 2017 – Gimp no more!
Boomers were also early adopters of CBD, because good hemp *does* make a difference. While doing several months of content writing and loads of research for a CBD manufacturer, I learned those cannabinoids worked, I even helped convince a Type-A brother to use several after sampling. Yes, from me on focus (JMHO), yes for ‘anxiety’ by many, yes for topical cream doing an amazing job on Mom’s legs, a bit of service we Boomers probably won’t get down the line.
Crisis of Confidence, trying to keep good ‘tude
I self-published a romance novel with bonus money working in retail during the Great Recession. https://www.wattpad.com/story/216172684-cards-consequences-return-of-marlena-the Its true how having actual books in your hands makes an author-writer feel, but compared to my Dad as a kid… The distributor made a Coca Cola wagon for him, he brought iced Cokes around the Watervliet Arsenal, across the street from his home, returning with the amazing amount of $5 a DAY during the Depression, that is truly humbling.
Right now, with full knowledge of what happened in our democracy on January 6th, dammit, I still have to replant my personal flag.
I affirm as an American, Boomer, and content writing professional – whose been there and done that, maybe more than once – that I continue to get better with age, because us Gigger-Boomers are about that, picking up Zoom skills, reviewing keywords with clients, getting that corporate voice deal righteous.
Yes, plenty of opportunity to click on in 2021, even if being 64 on Friday leaves me wondering about what old is, because I still cycle and shoot hoops regularly and don’t groan getting out of bed. One serious thought for Mr. Azar, telling us in U.S. that there reeeallllly isn’t any vaccine sitting around in reserve – how long before that important shot in the arm makes my day as a Category 5 person?
Memorial Day will be 26 years in Charlotte – there might be some parties to get social at by then. Perhaps someplace where few contrary opinions about trump’s departure are the norm again. Wearing masks? We’ll see. That ’70s phrase “Always question authority” isn’t in vogue with COVID-19.
‘Normal’ isn’t what Boomers are about
‘Normal’ isn’t really what Boomers are about though. We jogged, played tennis, drank green stuff from blenders, probably burned a quantity of green stuff not from a blender, cheered for bratty McEnroe, remember the 444 days of the Iranian Hostage Crisis, the kerfuffle of Reagan-Ollie North and guns for contras. My now a Democrat brother railed about “How else could they get guns?” (Answer – not THAT way if Congress didn’t fund it). Lakers-Celtics in the Finals every year, Clinton as President – THAT’S how to move an economy (and yes, Hillary got schtupped) – the millineum and then agony of 9/11 and where the World has devolved to since.
Thirty-five years since Challenger exploded.
I’m good about online collaboration, but also looking forward to seeing a friendly smile from across the room this year. Its not the same to nod at someone as you’re rolling past on the greenway.
Clients still need what I have an endless supply of, words arranged rightly. Gotta add ‘truthfully’ in there too, we can’t overstate that facts are still an essence in the process, not optional extras.
I obviously and truly admire the extreme dedication of news bringers who kept a bright, hot light on trump admistration thuggery, constantly connecting us with facts that counted on this long, long road back to within sight of Real again, The Washington Post people… To think I have similar writing DNA, yeah, that’s ego – like saying Tom Cruise and I both have blue eyes, two arms and legs, and same height. True, but…
Michael Beschloss paused on 11th Hour last night to give Brian Williams a sincere thanks for how he’s handled last four years, steering information consistently, productively, an unimpeachable and comforting resource, an accolade Williams certainly wears well. He knows and owns his singular fumble with Truth, but hey, the Pope wanted him to do the interview. His good humor and humanity works for me – Mom says she raised four gentlemen, and I’ll claim any quality in common like that. Your service and Truth is noted, an honor to stay up late with you, sir.
After a shout out to the FDA for allowing emergency use for a second COVID vaccine, I’ll also offer a definite thumbs up to the Re-cyclery here in Charlotte. On a shiny, pre-Christmas, Carolina-blue day in America, I don’t care if my front wheel is orange and the fork red while rest of bike is dark gray, physically getting my 30-year old Miyata back on the road constitutes my ‘essential worker’ for these coming, button-down times.
I am safe this Christmas week, as is Mom at Carmel Hills, and the New York brother expressed no discomfort in getting out from under a legendary 34″ snowfall, while I ride Clyde a couple miles on a cool, just 50-ish afternoon.
After nine months of being hunkered down with brother Mike, we know its just us for Christmas, although we’ll get to visit Mom on Sunday. They only allow one visit a week, and Steve said she talked strong and well in 30-minutes with her yesterday, as Joyful a message we can have and give thanks for this season.
I’ll start the sauce, a killer meat sauce instead of meatballs, for using on my first lasagna-making in a while. Turkey, ham have been good, I think Mike wants lasagna before he starts dieting – he mentioned needing to use current freezer space.
That’s going to be our Reality Christmas 2020, classic lasagna, maybe bump some elbows at church Thursday night, where I’ll be on lot patrol, but mostly watching football, knocking out a blog with a terrific slab of leftover lasagna Friday-Saturday afternoon, but I won’t be traveling.
There can’t be anything ‘more smarter’ for Americans to swallow hard on and change, because what so many on the move from now till New Year’s will statistically become, is part of some serious negatives, even as we hear the first million people have been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Brian Williams, Snow day, Campbell’s Soup
At the end of a challenging 2020, that massive, classic snowstorm working its way https://www.cbsnews.com/news/snow-storm-weather-blizzard-northeast-noreaster/ through New England last week didn’t seem to cause much bitchin’ and moanin’. That’s because in Schenectady, NY and beyond, we’ve all lived through similar poundings before. Nothing crazy, no Hugo Chavez accusations, no Flynn reappearing on the radar, just snow, lots of it.
Got just the thing for it, say people with teenagers, or who do this often every year. Doesn’t happen that often, say Charlotteans and others not living in the mountains.
Snow isn’t an unseen COVID-19 virus, its dealing with something known and handled before, like clearing the porch 4-5 times instead of trying to walk the dog.
The highlight to what some might grumble was more bad news was totally offset by Brian Williams at the end of 11th Hour, when he read Dr. Bondy Shay Gibson’s official snow day letter to the Jefferson County School Dist., and saluted every person who makes decisions in favor of family memory making. An official snow day included no remote learning, and making a snowperson as suggestions.
I was moved to send a note to a Campbell’s soup spokesperson who liked my comment about the good-good thinking of every person to make such a declaration in favor of kid-ness. I sure dipped a LOT of grilled cheese sandwiches in Campbells tomato after a couple hours working a shovel, or watching ‘Wild Kingdom.’
Snowstorm memories include $$$
While the saucering and tobogganning and snowman-making from that story were legitimate, our family going to the golf course after church or many a cold night, spending hours going up and down always got better later, after lots of people got it packed down for better speed.
That Dad tossed brother David away from our full toboggan just before a couple college guys t-boned into us is a memory that’s obviously never gone away. College days, where I was one of only two guys who could steer a ‘boggan among Nu Yawk-types brings a smile.
Snow shoveling was the best thing for young muscles and money during all those years, always beginning with Dad – doing his impression of Sgt. Schultz on ‘Hogans Heroes’ – rousting us at 6 a.m. if necessary, to shovel at least a path on 150 feet of driveway so he could go to work.
Whatever else we did for our regular customers, that driveway, sidewalks, and walking into house had to be fully cleared when he returned at five.
Dad telling us to disengage the propeller and TURN OFF the machine before attempting to clear the chute when we finally got a decent sized snowblower, was never less than gospel, but apparently some guys I know didn’t get the same safety talk.
The optimal snowfall was like ten inches of the powder that nor’easter showed up with last week – easy to move out, significant enough to charge a premium. A corner house became a $12 job for a ‘regular,’ those people who knew you’d come.
Driveways were a test of strength to shovel, a definite kick upwards in economics of more-faster when you had the snowblower. If there was ice to be chopped, it was a point of pride to clear a place *real well*. Customer service was prized, and no problem negotiating, but we learned early that “Whatever its worth to you” and relying on kindness wasn’t a good business model.
That the city changed fairly quickly from older, maybe 10-foot concrete street lights to much taller green metal ones, came as a result of piling more plentiful than usual snow on the islands in many streets. That put inquiring youngsters within easy reach of globes, and the possibility of someone sliding off that snow and into the path of a vehicle on a main thoroughfare, or perhaps passing through many neighborhoods, became a factor.
The optimal snowfall was like ten inches of the powder that nor’easter showed up with last week –
easy to move out, significant enough to charge a premium.
The problem isn’t that lots of people just dug in, took that big nor’easter in stride during a challenging 2020. The fact we are going to have a truly terrible winter of death, that goes directly to seeing just how many people in America are on the move, poised to possibly infect or be infected by our closest, most huggable loved ones.
The snow and time of year memories, these will need to suffice this dark winter of extra intense hunkering down.
Its my fondest hope that the single day I sold Christmas trees for a church – our’s didn’t do it for first time in 34 years – and saw all those young families, searching in Chamber of Commerce weather that Saturday after Thanksgiving, if they remember that tree as any part of a great Christmas 2020 together, that’s *still* the good stuff. It was also THE best all-masked, people enjoying talking to others event I could have asked for after eight months. ‘Uplifting’ is the word I’d use.
Beyond the fact that $100 day was within reach during a 14-year olds snow day, circa 1971– compared to $1.65/hr. working at McDonalds at 16 (and who is FICA?), I’m still humbled by the fact my Dad made the princely sum of $5 a DAY during the Depression with his red Coca-Cola wagon, selling beaucoup drinks in the Watervliet Arsenal across the street from his house during the summer. Dad had polio as a kid, always had a smaller left leg, but served in the Navy, and I’m going to use his drink wagon story somewhere in my writing career.
I wonder how many kids like me still roam the streets, willing to put their backs into making their own spending money in this economy?
If all 85 million people on the move this holiday are as absolutely SURE of *nothing* negative happening as I was selling trees…well, they’re not.
Christmas – Of course ‘We want!’
One year, when the folks flew up from Tampa, there was actually enough snow in Charlotte to mostly cover the grass. Mom was thrilled at their first white Christmas in over twenty years, Dad stayed wrapped in a Panther blanket I got him for Christmas and said, “I’m cold, I’m cold.”
That’s also the year I arrived with my date just in time to stop Mom from hacking the meat off a drumstick. Dad was resisting, because he knew it was a tradition for me. Turns out Mom hated me chewing a drumstick since the early days, strange stuff to overhear after almost fifty years.
The two feet of snow, actually Thanksgiving weekend, which I recall coming the year Nebraska and Oklahoma met in a huge football battle, was the start of my mother and Mrs. Kline alternating making dinner for major holidays. I’m still not sure how Mom let us watch it during dinner – with her, dinner on-TV off was almost always the deal.
That I went back to school over semester break in ’77-’78, when it snowed *every*single*day,* and Buffalo eventually sent a VERY long trainload of snow to Charlotte is a little foggy, but the Khohtetec Blizzard, which was supposed to be the worst of the century, never showed up in Rochester.
Hearing it was coming – “Overthree feet and 60+ mph winds, with drifts to 9 feet, you should have three days of groceries” – set off panic buying in Wegman’s, people with carts front and behind. You get that kind of reaction in Charlotte for the THREAT of snow.
We brought more beers, bread, and burger meat in the last hour before that was supposed to hit, but those high winds blew the entire lake effect snow belt significantly north, clobbering Oswego. We had a great party after work called to tell me stay home, nobody was going to be moving.
The Khohtetec reference was a comet that came by around then, one particular cult thought it was their ‘ship’ to elsewhere, and like 26 people killed themselves when it didn’t mean a pickup for them.
Lessons learned in 2020?
Those comet-people and Jonestown used to be the standard for well, stupidity, for us Boomers. For any bloggers and/or trolls, accusing someone of “drinking the koo-laid” is a reference to about 960 people drinking cyanide-laced kool-aid in a mass suicide for a churchy-type ego-maniac name of Jim Jones.
Way back, way-way crazy, but compared to trumpies unwilling to mask-up when all applicable metrics are pinned in the red of overload, getting together enmasse and in close quarters? With the Spanish Flu pandemic of 100 years ago as a graphic case history? Wear a mask or die? Hmmm…
The dinosaurs didn’t die from stupidity, like continuing to smoke three packs a day – they didn’t have a choice about an asteroid that kicked up massive planetary dust, etcetra. A house-sized asteroid missed us around election time, just a 400-mile miss across the vastness of space, but staying hunkered down during a pandemic, that’s a smart, even if not happy, choice.
Dr. Fauci got out the word that he made sure Santa Claus got the vaccine.If that’s the best-reasoned lie I hear from anyone in trump’s realm of nutso about *everything,* we thankfully didn’t have to rely on any 2020 public relations from those lacking that humanity gene.
If you think, “It could be worse” while shoveling out from a nor-easter, people will share your estimation if they got extorted on the price for milk and bread at the only store they could reach back in the Blizzard of ’77, which was more a blizzard that just kept coming. Like hitting 100 degrees here in Charlotte, taking weather in stride is part of what makes us strong, and its hard to imagine worse for the thousands who lost all to rampaging fires out west, AND had to deal with COVID-19 and unemployment.
Okay, there’s something to be said for the smarts and survival instincts of the many State Dept. personnel who skipped Mr. Pompeo’s Christmas gathering. 900 invited, a couple dozen attended, that’s a lot of speaking with your feet. I’ve heard he and the wifey know how to entertain well, especially when somebody’s tax dollars are footing the bill.
With safety (maybe some luck), Christmas again in 2021
Christmas only comes once a year, but if you’re lucky, it comes again the next year is a lesson I hold dearly.
It wasn’t the same year as snow, but Dad wasn’t doing well (congestive heart), walking around at 5:30 am, my nephews were up, nurse friend they called said if Grandpa didn’t look good, call the paramedics. They came and packed Dad up; he spent three days in a hospital. Years later, when I was a realtor, as a more solid ‘Thank you’ than stopping by #14- Cotswold periodically, I served two fire stations my great spaghetti sauce and meatballs once a month for three months (to get all the shifts).
If once is Good, twice is Better, three times you’ve accomplished something, but those guys doing whatever meant that Christmas and another in 2012 with Dad, that’s all the motivation anyone should need. I saw paramedics work on a marginal homeless patient while doing an overnight for Room in the Inn – 20 full minutes in the truck, almost 3 a.m. – and she didn’t make it. It should be impossible not to think of protecting our loved ones to the max – and NOT hugging them now actually counts.
“It ain’t over till its over” is a well-honored athletic point of fact, and given the puke-worthy level of self-serving bastardization of prez power, meant for the righting of certain situations, but which trump has slopped around on a day to day basis, don’t expect relief until 12:01 on January 20, 2021.
Democracy took a whack with all this horses**t lawyering by GOP to invalidate 10 million votes, but both bike and the greater body politic are still sound vehicles, even if they’re being driven with a bit more caution.
The snow thing, we got that.
– Me. December, 2020.
I appreciate how smoothly my bike handles, it *feels* like a new bike, although I do go across bridges MUCH more carefully now. Safety comes more naturally when you’ve taken some bad injuries, but even “getting tore up” in August crash, if a ventilator becomes a reality, it won’t be because I sucked in the wrong air, traveling with millions of others. Amen.
Having thought about it for a while, the actual action required for doing some small part in helping clean my environment meant bringing a glove and bag on walks counted the most. Thankfully there are no Marco Rubio’s around to critique the methodology of crushing them to fit more in the bag, how soon they might be placed in a donation bin, or that shoveling leaves out of the gutter around drains could’ve been considered instead.
Seeing discarded cans day after day, wondering why someone felt leaving garbage around instead of putting them in a barrel was okay, was it relevant to my success as a content creation-writer? Did it improve my client relations ability, or add anything solid to my professional-economic bottom line? Highly doubtful, and if people two blocks away didn’t care what they saw, why should I as a citizen do anything about it?
NIMBY – Not In My Back Yard (If its not there, its not my problem) wouldn’t be a new attitude in the current Bigger Picture socially. Still, in a smaller way than a President-elect can do to change how this country does things, every person doing ‘positives’ – like mail in ballots – makes a difference.
Writing a thought leadership piece won’t create the dancing in the streets joy trump’s loss, in combination with two effective vaccines success did, but hell yeah, I can pick up cans while getting the dog his constitutional.
Day One was pre-Thanksgiving, pitch perfect
Tuesday, right after the GSA final certification, Biden presented ‘his people,’ the ones he’s willing to sink or swim with, picked for their qualifications vs. financial donations. That he followed up his presentation of trust in their CREDIBILITY by allowing them to talk about what the roles they expected to play actually meant to them, what a thinking, positive process in comparison to the aggressive negativity of trump. https://www.nationalreview.com/news/biden-cabinet-clinton-administration/
Everyone will have opinions about Biden’s early selections, and filling out his administration more completely is going to be a process. That the stock market crested over 30,000 – and trump was willing to take credit for it – is a fact far from campaign rhetoric about coming disaster. Even if he considered it a conspiracy against him, like the vaccine announcements post-election, take a look at what steady on the wheel looks like ‘Merica.
30,000 still isn’t The Economy, just a fact far from campaign rhetoric about coming disaster.
Picking up different brands or sizes of beer cans, soda cans, or Red Bulls isn’t really diversity, more like ‘low hanging fruit.’ As noted in all articles about Biden’s first batch of nominations, his people cover the cultural spectrum and are dedicated public servants with loads of experience.
Several are from families with unique backgrounds: UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield is a 35-year veteran of the State Department; Anthony Blinken‘s (Secretary of State) father was a Holocaust survivor who only knew three words of English – God bless America – when he was picked up by troops at the end of WWII. With due respect to Jean Haspel moving up to CIA Director under trump, Avril Haines is the first Woman to lead the intelligence community as DNI (Director National Intelligence), and since everyone is counting, a Latina.
Repurposed, not Recycled
Its absolutely true that aluminum cans save 90% of the energy necessary to make new ones. Mining bauxite is destructive to the environment and requires twice the energy as making new plastic. Whatever else you put into recycling bins doesn’t pay for itself – only cans do.
Many of the people Biden chose are long time workers within the Federal system, people he’s known and worked successfully with, are relevant expert resources that deserved to be utilized. Janet Yellen (Treasury) has significant weight as former head of the Federal Reserve, and sound economics are going to be a priority when the national debt ($23.3 trillion as of February, 2020) ballooned hugely this year because of needs brought on by the COVID crisis.
Former Secretary of State John Kerry (2013-2017), a decorated Vietnam veteran and later anti-war activist and Presidential candidate (2004) might be a “rich white guy” to the max, but as the leader for a newly created Climate position, no one else has the gravatis with world leaders that will benefit US interests.
Recycled doesn’t make them ‘cronies,’ tired warhorses, or the grifter-level payoffs to unqualified contributors and loyalists trump stacked his administation with. Some impune it as what Obama should have, or Clinton would have hads, but repurposing proven assets seems a reasonable resurrection.
Not about bottles, chip bags (or progressives)
While the dog (CharlieToo) appreciates the opportunity to sniff things outside his own yard, he’s a little impatient waiting for can collection and stomping them flat so more fit along the way. Some nerve on that. I admit that I’m not cleaning up other stuff – glass quart beer bottles, chip bags, empty blunt wrappers, McDonalds cups, a soggy shirt – just doing my little part along the way.
There is opportunity for others, no doubt, pitching in cans with “think global, act local” still works. Don’t sweat Biden and ‘progressives,’ consider the anticipation of U.S. rejoining the world community.
Saw my first naysayer about Biden’s choices on TV – and for sake of accuracy, a young Black Woman – is already outraged that MORE PROGRESSIVES weren’t included. C’MON PEOPLE! He picked a *diverse* and VERY experienced group. Bernie’s role is essentially holding the Senate, although his and Warren’s input should be considerable. It’s doubtful Jim Clyburn of South Carolina expects a role in the Administration, and HE is someone who should get whatever he wants in a theoretical Christmas stocking.
Look at Biden’s picks, and yes, many are people he’s worked with even before the Obama years, and he trusts them – has anyone used that word around the current White House administration? What tells more about Biden is *not* how beholden he’ll be to some groups that think DEMANDING specific picks they 100% agree with is the price for their voting. That’s not governing, that’s paying off, and luckily Joe’s plans are still the opposite of putting people with the same last name as him in top roles, right?
This first batch, which shows he’s going to make sure he’s got people who know the job and *just maybe* can make it through any confirmation hearings without Repubs trying to blow them up, is 100% legitimate. There were *never* going to be ‘progressives’ any closer to White House than that barrier around it, so have faith all ye who want to start popping off about getting what you think is Totally Righteous as payback.
No, I’m not cleaning up the whole neighborhood’s crap, just cans, although I did shovel out four drains worth of pine needles and leaves before expected rain started last night. People should hang loose on the idea of how ‘progress’ has to look or be labeled.
Fundamentally better than ‘before’
Yeah, the dog agrees with me about better all the way around. He’s excited about walks every time – you can see the change in his eyes when he thinks its time to go – saying “walkies” makes the ears go up. Compared to trump et al being stupid-slack about COVID and just being lumps in the White House living area-administration, his bouncing off the front door to show his energy levels is easy to smile about.
It’s useless at this point to recall how ugly the administration’s hoof-prints are environmentally, those bigger and badder swamp monsters who were, with unfailing consistency, former industry schlockmasters and destroyers who pulverized every arena possible.
They’ll never be concerned about picking up cans or filtering the micro-plastics out of what survives in our oceans, not when global warming has laid bare the usual hurdles, turned Artic drilling leases into a turkey shoot, still trying to hustle rigs into existence even during the last days of trump’s environmental slash and burn antics.
Honestly, I haven’t got the range to deter those SOBs, but while gathering up even that 12-pack of Bud Light cans is a move in the right direction, having John Kerry involved puts a sense of gravatis to a newly created role for the renewed U.S. leadership in this all-important time.
No tweets about it
I’m working under the radar for sure on cans. I heard trump blathering away about election fraud Sunday morning while heading out for a walk, and beyond not carrying a phone every time and place, I’m not on his radar either way. He won’t be sending any attaboys! for not masking up while I walk or pick up. Having a writers imagination, I can figure out what stupid and outrageous bloviating he might have done on FOX (without promoting it further myself).
I’ll stick with the sense of calm I got from Biden’s broadcast the day before Thanksgiving, Day Two of picking up cans. One continuous message, sanely presented, and no need to respond per se, just nod in agreement.
But I am picking up those cans, and yes, I was grateful for how well Thanksgiving went, even met new great-nephew Trace (Stephen Paul, III). As Joe cautioned, we all kept contact under control, he even gave minor thanks for whatever sacrifices we might make by not traveling to see loved ones, his acknowledging the difficulty of not putting our elders at risk in any way with the usual hugging of everyone.
More obvious changes over time
Like those runoffs in GA for control of the Senate, it won’t matter how many votes are enough until the final tallies are done. Because some ‘kids’ will leave another 12-pack of Modelo or Bud Light cans scattered for periodic pickup, there’s not going to be an obvious change around here. I’m NOT an ‘enabler’ because I pick up cans, and on a bottom line, elections have consequences. This country is looking forward to great changes for AMERICA, not just one tribe of any specific kind.
The January 6th runoffs will not be any less wild a political mess than we’ve witnessed with trump et al’s denial of what is Big Picture of who is in and who’s OUT, which is obvious at the national level. That said, January 20th could become a incredible kind of day on a wide front, including climate change and the environment.
It’s about two good causes
I’ll bury the lead a little, but after picking them up, I’m also turning bags of cans in at Fire Station #3 on the other side of street and over two blocks from my house. My first goal is 100 cans to help their cause, filling a rolling cage to donate for burn victims.
A couple years ago I did spaghetti-meatball dinners for two fire stations for three months, so I hit all the shifts. It was extra thanks because I got another Christmas with my Dad when they got him packed up and taken to a hospital in 2011. Anything you do three times usually makes more of an impact than one-offs, but not it the case of saving someone’s Dad. https://cdtalententerprises.com/2018/11/25/yes-america-its-that-simple/
We can do more than pick up cans, and wearing masks to show we care about others, that’s a minimum ask from all.
Bernie for Labor Secretary? I’d have said Hell yeah! but the Reality is, he’s much more valuable in the Senate, same as Warren.
It’s not more “Wait your turn progressives” or “We OWE you coalition people” time – voting was because saving the *country* was important, right? Biden and Kamala are aware of the coalititon that made the difference, and dammit! if you want immediate gratification by being two of the first eight posts, that’s a bit immature on process or Reality. Read the bios of those people – they are clearly THAT GOOD.
FYI -Just because I’m picking up cans doesn’t mean you should leave your old masks lying around neither.
Beyond the dancing in the streets that was seen alllll over the world after the US elections, just maybe there should be some thoughtful extra nods sent over dinner for Asteroid 2020 VT4, which passed Earth a mere 400 miles over the Pacific last week. It came from the Sun-ward side, which is apparently why nobody appears to have raised the alarms about seeing it coming.
While South Dakota governor Kristi Noem might have been relieved about it lifting the burdens of trying to repair her COVID ravaged state, I have no idea how big a blast hole a house-sized asteroid makes, so I’ll go with thinking it was a warning shot and buy a frozen turkey today. We’re not expecting to be together for the holiday, but brother Steve will deep fry it, maybe socially distancing with a cigar and a little bourbon while waiting, to maintain a tradition we’ve had for the last ten years.
That MILLIONS are still on the move for Thanksgiving is as good a snapshot of why over 12 million have been infected, a perfect “chicken or the egg” argument. People want to see grandkids or be together “one more time” just in case, when the actual being there is probably going to cause an already out of control pandemic to hit whatever gear comes after ‘overdrive.’
If innocents would somehow be spared the negatives, it would’ve been worth the extra bead-work to have it land directly on trump
As a content creation writer, its still a stretch to have a lighter touch regarding the negatives in the USA at this current moment. If you want the Life SUCKS! outlook, you can find 1200 words in that direction anywhere, but looking forward to 2021 doesn’t make anyone a bad person. A lot of ‘Merica is ticked about the delay in transition because of crackpottery and legal wrangling that threatens the safety and very roots of our democracy, but hey, no asteroid, a turkey leg and cranberry sauce, some beers and enough football, being a day closer is a positive, y’know?
Beads, as in prayer
For what its worth, the rosary pictured was my Grandfather Shorkey’s, who was a WWI ‘doughboy’ in 1918, although he was kept in Greenville, SC during his service time. The carry pouch also had a small page of questions to ask wounded-dying soldiers about conversion to the Catholic faith.
Its been said many, many times that there are no atheists in foxholes, and knowing to any extent the ugliness of that conflict’s trench warfare, I’d bet more than a few said yes along the way, just so a well-meaning soldier wouldn’t leave them to die alone.
That said, I’m equally certain a large number of the 250,000-plus Americans who have died essentially alone during the COVID-19 pandemic would have liked the chance to have any kind of last contact with a human being before passing on.
In 2020, it turns out we often had to go with FAITH instead of trips to the physical churches, because having hundreds of worshippers singing and not being socially distanced created a breeding ground for that COVID virus.
You don’t have to dig too deep to recognize that a President Biden will feel, and hope to assuage, this country’s collective pain as much as a WWI soldier would for a dying comrade. Certainly more than trump, who mostly wants credit for the vaccine Pfizer and Moderna – who were NOT part of the governments Operation WarpSpeed – and his enablers ever will.
As they often say in the Carolinas, “Not to be ugly about that,” more hallejuah! for the knowledge of a couple 95% effective vaccines being available in the near future. That I haven’t personally lost anyone that way, yes, a prayer can’t hurt, some focused gratitude is fine any time.
More outside time in Charlotte
Living in Charlotte, “The Buckle on the Bible Belt,” for 26 years, its also easy to look at all the fires out west (5 million acres of Washington, Oregon, California) and the stream of hurricanes that have landed in the Gulf Coast region (seven) and offer an un-sad “Thank you God, it wasn’t us.” HUGO (1989, 67 dead, $11 billion damage) is still remembered here, there were six hurricanes last year, but two named hurricanes in 2018, while wet, weren’t epic disasters like 2005’s Katrina (1,800 dead, $125 billion in damage) in New Orleans.
I watched college football and barbecued under clear blue skies during the second one; Steve’s man cave is open aired, and our Fall weather has been terrific.
Whether having over 1,200 churches in town makes a difference nobody can say, but compared to spending five days of the coldest February EVER the last time I drove to upstate NY, I wouldn’t trade our weather here for anybody’s. Well, maybe Hawai’i, and growing up a Yankee (which is still a term used frequently in these parts), I recall promising I’d *never* say it was too cold if nothing fell off while delivering my paper route in -60 wind chill.
Hey, no asteroid, a turkey leg and cranberry sauce, some beers and enough football, we’ll be a day closer to 2021, y’know?
Beyond the voting chicanery
The WORLD is watching how this country handles being a powerful leader laid low in so many ways. Political animus was an overwhelming fact even before the additon of over 12 million citizens infected, a blown up economy, the shockingly brutal battle between factual Truth, constant misinformation, and administrative malfeasance that left each piece of the once UNITED States of America to fend for itself.
Thanksgiving is uniquely OUR holiday though, and it goes beyond what’s on the table, family from afar arriving (fingers crossed) safely, or the approach of other seasonal holidays and the end of another calendar year, a traditional marker that we’ve collectively cherished.
For the 150 million plus Americans who voted for change this year (well, 80 million anyway), there’s still an element of fear in how the process works out. President Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand,” and Franklin Roosevelt put a pin in the Great Depression with his, “The only thing we have to fear is, fear itself.”
The joke about “If you remember the Sixties, you weren’t really there” is on a par with those dancing in the streets post-election – our Euro-friends might equate it with the Nazis being defeated.
They, unlike our Founding Fathers, who quite easily imagined there could be people in the White House who would sell this country out like modern day Benedict Arnolds, were on another plane from what trump and his enablers have tried to do by screwing with this election.
Copywriting revolves around the use of keywords, and while ‘hunkered down,’ ‘gratitude’ and ‘thanks’ might be a little tougher to find than ‘election fraud,’ ‘transition blockage,’ or ‘COVID deaths,’ this year, take any part of Thanksgiving that makes a difference to you, especially the family part, and cherish it.
That my Mom’s best friend the last fifty-five years, Joanne Kline, whose family we alternated holiday dinners with for years, laughed in mentioning she’d finally gotten better at mashed potatoes (don’t ask) when we visited before a Clemson game a while ago, is the sort of Memory buttons copywriters like to push.
Even the best content writer would have a tough time imagining how an asteroid would have become the quintessential and ugliest cherry on top of a tougher 2020 than we already had. I’ll smile and be grateful knowing “my people” are all safe at this point, and while Mom won’t remember telling Dad she’d always hated me wanting a big ol’ leg to chew on like a mountain man while I thought it was a tradition, stuff like that should always count.
A little bourbon, a cigar, family, and being a day closer to 2021, that’s worth writing a little something about too.