Monday, February 22, 2010

The Squeaky Wheel

It always amazes me how folks will complain to their family, friends and colleagues about the customer service fiascos they encounter, but they never complain directly to the source of their dissatisfaction. I’m a firm believer in letter writing – be it an old-style hard copy letter to a company or a website comment area and yes, I even break it down in the Google reviews for the vendor in question. I also read Better Business Bureau reviews for businesses I want to engage to avoid some of the hassles that may arise – hey, if someone else is bitching about the business, then maybe I should avoid them. All said, we have to be proactive with regard to bad customer service. Let folks know (in writing) what you are dissatisfied with.

So here are the simple steps to follow BEFORE engaging any organization where you’ll be spending more than a hundred dollars for their goods/services:

1. Check out their Better Business Bureau (BBB) rating and any customer comments about the business
2. Google the organization and read customer reviews
3. Call their customer service department and ask questions – hey, if they’re rude before you do business with them, imagine how you’ll feel when they have your money

If you have to engage a company to rectify an issue, follow these steps:

1. Call their customer service department; get the name of the person you speak with BEFORE you begin detailing the issue and be concise about relaying what your problem is and what you need; keep your emotions in check
2. Google organization and post a review about your experience; keep your review to the facts; do not use profanity; explain what went wrong;
3. Go to the Better Business Bureau ( and file a complaint
4. Write a letter to the organization’s President/CEO and to their customer service manager(s); be clear, but keep it short; no profanity; leave out your emotions; simply write what went wrong and what they can do to resolve the issue

Your family and friends may be a great resource to vent, but if you want a resolution to your customer service disasters, go to the source. Remember that the squeaky wheel gets the grease.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Friday, February 19, 2010

The Exit for Humiliation is Marked, “Divulge for Dignity”

I will be the first to tell you that your life is NOT everyone’s business. You do not need to explain your motives, decisions or reasoning to anyone – well, unless you understand that your silence will leave room for speculation and uninformed conclusions. Case in point, Tiger Woods chose the high road. Caught red handed, the parade of women he cheated with lined-up to tell their version of what happened and painted him as the cheating, low-down husband who betrayed his family. Although this may very well be true, had Tiger chosen to come out at the onset of the scandal – ala Kobe Bryant –appeared contrite and apologized to HIS FAMILY for his betrayal, the parade of women would have had the wind knocked out of their gossip sails; America would have simply looked at those women and their stories as jilted ‘home wreckers’ unworthy of our attention. Today Tiger faces the media – still with his posturing and rules in place – and he will try to explain what has been discussed for months.




It’s seems difficult and complicated at the onset, but addressing issues head-on is always the best solution. After the initial explosion of emotions, today’s disaster quickly becomes yesterday’s news.

To recap…follow these simple steps:
1. Admit to the incident (especially when there is proof of the same) and provide a few short sentences about why you believe it happened. Do not provide sordid details – including names, why it felt good at the time, etc. This only creates further insecurity for parties who want to repair relationships.
2. Apologize to the loved ones your hurt. Do not attempt to save face during your apology since this will be the ONE time that you will put forth that you are SORRY for hurting the ones you love.
3. Explain what you look forward to – this includes, not repeating the same mistake, rebuilding your relationship OR attempting to forge a friendship with the hurt party.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, Don’t Die

Ignorance is ignorance. There’s just no way of getting through to folks when it seems they lack commons sense. Gay men and women live among you, go to school with you, shower next to you in locker rooms across America every day and we can probably count on ONE hand how many reports of male-on-male or female-on-female rape occur every year at the hands of a gay person. Translation: Gay people have a pool of eligible, available and equally GAY individuals to interact with, date and be intimate with AND we are not uncontrollable sex-starved maniacs ready to attack every unsuspecting straight person in our day-to-day life. Which brings us back to the FEAR some straight individuals have of serving side-by-side with gay servicemen and women; stop fantasizing, we don’t want you. Throughout the years this argument has become more and more comical to me for ONE reason and one reason only: Why should I fight to be placed on the front lines and defend a bunch of ignorant asses that would sooner kill me themselves when we are on our home turf? Gay people of America, hear me and hear me well….LET THOSE HOMOPHOBIC MEN/WOMEN WHO AGREE WITH THE DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL POLICIES DIE FOR OUR GAY ASSES. GO AHEAD AND PRAY FOR THEIR SAFE RETURN TO AMERICAN SOIL AND RAISE YOUR GLASSES AT YOUR NEAREST GAY PUB TO THANK THEM FOR ALLOWING YOU TO BE FREE, SAFE AND SOUND. Go out and fight for rights that really do impact our day-to-day lives like marriage equality and the right to equal housing, jobs, etc. Yes, it’s wrong for anyone to discriminate against a group of Americans based on their sexual orientation, but sometimes you have to choose your battles and I say, LET IGNORANT STRAIGHT AMERICA FIGHT AND DIE TO PROTECT ALL AMERICANS – STRAIGHT AND GAY. There’s really no point in fighting for the right to die for our oppressors.

On Blast
America is suppose to be the picture of freedom, diversity and opportunity for all. Throughout history we’ve proven to be as intolerant and prejudiced as some of our most primitive adversaries. Do you consciously choose to be part of the solution and impart open minded support for diversity and inclusion for all or do you find that you sometimes fall prey to intolerance for certain groups of people?

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Monday, February 08, 2010

Didn’t Want Any, But Lucky to Have One

I’ll be the first to tell everyone, I never wanted children. I sincerely feel that folks should stop feeling like they HAVE to leave their mark on the world by adding another human being to it. For the record, if your ass is screwed up, there’s no need to pass those jacked-up genes of yours on to another person in the world. It’s like an even more f*cked up version of 100 Years of Solitude (a novel by Gabriel Garcia marquez)…maybe I’m just wasting that little reference, but what the heck. All to say that children are NOT for everyone…shoot, let’s keep it real here, children are not for MOST people. My initial thought was that children require a lot of time, positive reinforcement, selfless love and an innate ability to place them-over-you, at all times. Well, as a man who is now parenting a 10-year old boy, let be the one to tell you that none of my thoughts on the subject were off…not even a little. If you’re going to do a good job of parenting you will NEED to put your child’s needs first and let me tell you, this is a HUGE learning experience for someone who has cared for himself and only himself all of his life. Take this simple example…our son asked me why I would give him the best bacon on the serving plate and take the burned pieces for myself. He asked, “Do you like burned bacon?!” I let his giggles subside before I replied, “No, but I love you, so I sacrifice what I want to give you the best.” He fidgeted for a minute then smiled at me and I smiled back. Nothing else needed to be said on the matter. That ONE simple interaction really defines good parenting…you MUST be willing to give up all that you thought was yours for the simple pleasure of making the life of another human being wonderful. Don’t sleep on this story, I still will tell anyone that I didn’t want children, but now that I have one I realize that the ONLY concern I now have is whether I’m making an impact in his life. Am I making him a better person? Will he ever understand how much we love him and are willing to do for him? The truth is that those are moot questions. This isn’t about what I desire or what I wish the outcome will be, I now realize that the real way to make an impact is to be the best example to him, coach him and give him a little fun and laughter in between it all. I really didn’t want any kids, but I’m so lucky to have one. It is the most gratifying, taxing, selfless and core-love experience I’ve ever had in my life. I’m lucky to have our son and I’m thinking that it’s not just about what we WANT in life, sometimes it’s about what life deems we need.

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Friday, February 05, 2010

What Do You Know?

Isn’t it odd how little we know about the folks in our inner circle? I mean let’s keep it real, if folks don’t share something with you, you can assume all you want to assume, but you don’t really know it. This means that our family, closest friends and colleagues are sometimes a labyrinth of unknown tidbits. These tidbits are sometimes discovered at death and sometimes never at all. A few days ago I watched Oprah – yeah, I watch the O show y’all – and reality TV star Ruby was on the panel. The story was simple; Ruby had reached 716 lbs. by comfort-eating. What was she soothing? Well, the fact that the trauma was hidden was a big part of Ruby’s problem and burying it further with food seemed like the right thing to do for her. She had no recollection of her life before the age of 13 and her mom, who apparently had the key to those memories, was keeping her mouth shut. The point of this is that Ruby, like many of us, didn’t know everything about herself or those around her. We compartmentalize our lives in an effort to cope with trauma and emotional distress and we become a vault of undiscovered experiences and information. I know for a fact that there are traumas in my childhood and in my formative teenage years that were so traumatizing that even today, I choose never to share them or speak of them. Are they a consistent pain? The short answer is NO. By compartmentalizing these traumas I’ve managed to live a fairly normal life – albeit a few quirks that peek through the cracked eggshell that is my personality. I’m a firm believer that sometimes the preacher’s message is for the preacher. This may very well be one of those times. In the event that this post speaks to you as well, well suffice it to say that to be truly free, happy, secure and healthy – mentally, physically and emotionally – we have to open the compartments and be honest with ourselves and those we love. We have to let the sun shine clear through to the pale and sometimes ugly, innards. It really is tragic to think that the folks that I love and who love me don’t really know me OR that I really don’t know them. Ask yourself, what do you know?

On Blast
Have you ever heard your inner voice (spirit) call you a liar?

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Ode to My Sister; Happy Birthday Evelyn!

Two years my senior, but light years ahead
Her strength, her calm, her resolve immense
Ability to navigate through the roughest storms
A super hero by day; and at night a humble sibling takes form
A Bachelor’s Degree while in the midst of disaster
One more life curveball and she’ll get a Masters
She’s my sister, my champion, my hero, my heart
Happy birthday today; you’ve made life’s ordinary into art

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Dear Bobby

So much has happened in the last few months! BD and I moved-in together at the end of December – three days after Christmas to be exact! It was stressful as hell. I tried remembering my previous move and I think you didn’t help me on that one either! Hmmm….could it be that death wasn’t the only thing preventing you from helping me move all along?! I know..I know…bad joke, but it’s how I’ve been coping with you being gone. Clent and I call each other and ask each other if we’ve spoken to you. Depending on which of us asks, the other will go into this long discussion about how we spoke to you, “…just the other night…” and give a great story of what we chatted about with you. Sick huh? It’s our joke/wishful thinking to keep us from crying about you constantly. You know me…sick sense of humor to mask the pain. Anyway, the new crib is going really well. BD, the Minnie and I are living the happily-ever-after and we’re quite the postcard for SGL family living. I’m cooking dinner for the family every night – and they are still living – and you would be proud of my being able to fix BIG meals. I still remember you being angry that I burned pots boiling water back in the day. As an aside, I miss your fried chicken…nobody fries some chicken like you. On a depressing note, Al isn’t doing too well and I don’t know what to do. After you passed, his already worn and disheveled appearance got worse. Folks that see him more regularly than I do have mentioned to me that he looks really bad. I can’t bear to hang with him – shoot, I don’t hang much at all really – but the thought of having another inner-circle friend racing toward his end has alienated me from him. I know…unfair. Then again, you know you were the buffer between Al and I and he and I can find many a reason to get into silly catfights. He seems to think that I’m spoiled…go figure. I see Slugger for special occasions and he looks great. He’s my faithful buddy and I love him for that. Strangely, when you and I fell out, Slugger took the reigns to be my everywhere buddy. No matter where I went or what I did, I had Slugger by my side. I kind of feel disconnected to only see him two-three times a year now. Herby is doing great…you know our Herby. He’s nuts, he’s beautiful, he’s funny and he’s me without the restraint of good sense…LOL Well, I celebrated a year off of the cigarettes – I know you begged me for years to quit, but you know I never listened to you I have started hitting the gym daily to get my weight back in order. Yeah, I’m still battling a demon you never felt I should even entertain. Well, I almost want to say that I hope everything is going well…and really, since I don’t know for certain what happens once we leave our earthly bodies, I hope you’re able to see me…to hear me…to know that I think about you everyday. Somehow, someway, someone reminds me of you and I smile through the tears that glaze over my eyes. I’ll write to you again soon!

On Blast
How have you changed the way you live today because of the loss of a loved one?

Keep passin’ the open windows…

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

WTF Is Groundhog Day Really?

The short answer with the “groundhog” thing is that if he (the large rodent) sees his shadow, there WILL be six more weeks of winter, but if he does not we can expect spring to come rolling right in. This year, the groundhog saw his shadow predicting six more weeks of winter. F’ing rat! The long story surrounding Groundhog Day is not very interesting. Apparently German tradition says that a hibernating animal casting a shadow on the Christian holiday of Candlemas (February 2nd) is a sure sign that six more weeks of winter will follow. The tradition has been tracked since 1887 and the groundhog has seen his shadow 98 times. Yeah, this is truly Doppler Weather Forecasting for the late 1800s. If you’re as skeptical as I am you’re wondering how often Phil – that’s right folks, this groundhog has a name – has been right about predicting the end of winter. Can you believe he has a 90% accuracy rate! I guess I can go ahead and buy those boots I was on the fence about.

On Blast
What longstanding tradition do you believe in that others would find comical? Does it have a great accuracy record?

Keep passin’ the open windows…