Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Life's little instructional rants (#763)

cue the soothing music

Dear wuzband,

In response to your text:
“The late fee is your fault for not communicating send some letter without telling me I have no idea what it is and will not sign this time nor next time and will not pay the late fee you created”

I have this to say:
A.)   I don’t have any obligation to tell you I’ve sent you a letter. Do you require this of all your correspondences? It’s a ridiculous thing to say.

B.)    If you choose to ignore or refuse mail from me and the due date for the material subsequently passes, that becomes your problem, your late fee. Don’t sign when I send you things, I don’t care. But if a kid doesn’t get registered for school because of it, that’s your fault. If a late fee is incurred, that’s also your fault. And if I send you the winning lottery ticket  - - ooop, no money for you!!!

3.)Don’t refuse to accept a piece of certified mail and tell me the communication problem is mine. I was communicating via mail. You could have called, emailed or texted to ask me what it was, but you didn’t. (If you wanted to know what it was, you should have signed for it & opened it! What was it going to be? A ninja?) Refusing the letter (supposedly because you didn’t know what was in it) & not calling to ask what’s in it is YOU not communicating, not me.

Your attempt at argument is nonsensical. What’s with the need to oppose rationality (and then write the check anyway)? That does not make you look smart!! It makes you look like a little bully who just really, really wants to fight with somebody for no good reason - - but is afraid the boogieman is in an envelope!

For clarity, and for the entirety of the future, if I send you something via certified mail, it’s probably something you- as a parent - need to have, see, sign or otherwise handle, most likely for the benefit of your child(ren) and most likely by a particular deadline (see, this way I have third-party confirmation that I did whatever my part was. . ). After I have done everything I can do, (and especially when you've done nothing toward it) just shut up and write the check! And you're welcome.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

End of an Era

ASHEVILLE - Chester Thompson, also affectionately known as: Chesteroni, My Mister, Mouth, Mouthy, Mouthy Cat, Chet, & Chessercat, of Asheville, NC passed away peacefully Wednesday, June 25th attended to by his vet and two loving parents, after a brief illness. He was 14 years old.

Born into a litter of 6 in a Canton, NY barn, Chester was rescued from barn-cat life by a succession of Thompson family members, eventually becoming the full-time fur baby of Kira Thompson, originally of Saranac Lake, NY.

Chester enjoyed a quiet rural upbringing in the northern Adirondack Mountains, sharing, for more than a decade, a small home with his sister and mother. There, he enjoyed chasing tethered balls and laser lights as well as bugs, mice, and the occasional squirrel. Winters being frigid so far North, he and his family were great fans of long, snuggly naps. It was during these naps that he cultivated the habit of holding his mother’s finger with his paw, as well as perfecting many creative human-waking techniques such as yowling in the face, headbutting, jumping on full-bladdered abdomens, and pawing at the face, ears, & hair.

Later in life, in addition to successfully uprooting to North Carolina, Chester took on many new challenges. He grudgingly tolerated being driven from his native northern climes to the mountains 900 miles away in a rented Nissan Altima. Subsequently, he only slightly impatiently endured one roundtrip journey to visit the old homestead, during which he came to appreciate hotel rooms and the luxurious roominess of a mini-van. He overcame his fear of children to happily co-habitate with human-sisters Maris & Gillian, whom he periodically invited to pet him. Chester learned about stairs and embraced central air conditioning with gusto. 

These late-in-life changes, combined with a cat-walking phase inspired by his mother’s purchase of a fancy harness in Thailand, may have awakened a wild spirit in him, as, in his golden years,  Chester was known to take on surprising levels of adventure. He relished taunting and physically confronting his much younger adopted fur-brother, Ozzie, who, as a canine, outweighed him by at least 50 pounds. Chester also set forth, unannounced, on a 3-week sojourn in the wilds surrounding the Smoky Mountain National Forest near his new home in Asheville. Whether in search of  meditative self-discovery or sheer thrills, no one ever was told of his whereabouts or experiences during that absence.

Upon returning, Chester, as was his nature, recovered physically and calmly returned to peaceful domesticity. His final years were spent enjoying the fruits of a well-spent life. Among his greatest pleasures were sharpening his claws on the  cardboard affectionately dubbed his ‘scratchy slut’ or surreptitiously spying on birds from a windowsill perch – especially if the window was open. Many sunny afternoons were spent on his extra wide windowsill cat perch soaking up the sun, just gazing at the nearby bird feeder. Chester was all about spreading the love (and fur). He graced each family member equally by regularly ensconcing himself in their personal spaces. Some favorites included: curling up against the pillows of his mothers’ (ivory linened) bed, coiling at the foot of Gillian’s bed closest to the window, and hunkering beneath the blanket-draped papasan chair in Maris’ room. He very much enjoyed slurping the gravy off of his daily treat of canned food at “breakfast time”. Chester will be fondly remembered for loudly and emphatically declaring ‘breakfast time” at any hour he damn well pleased by climbing on his sleeping mother’s chest, yowling and headbutting her face. 

Perhaps the most precious memories will be of Chesteroni insistently signaling bedtime by demanding his 3-5 second nightly pet session while posed upon his mother’s chest. He would then curl up beside her head, in the nest she strategically constructed every night of their lives together. A body pillow set at just the right distance from and angle to her own pillow formed a sacred space, lined with a fresh fur-catching cloth, where he slept nightly, not one breath from her.

Chester was predeceased by his beloved sister, Smooch (aka: Peepee) with whom he shared a home in Sugarbush, NY for her 11 years of life. He is survived by human-sisters Maris and Gillian; fur-brother, Ozzie; adopted Mama, Mary Lynn; and his Mommy, Kira as well as innumerable loving friends along the east coast and throughout cyber space.

In keeping with his characteristic charm, Chester passed on wearing his accustomed tuxedo with white whiskers. He no doubt would have liked to express appreciation to his maternal grandparents: Bob & Janet Simonson, of Saranac Lake, NY and Rick Thompson, of Lake Clear, NY for their loving care of him throughout his life. Thanks also to his many caregivers and friends, especially: Carey Cook, Dr. Cindy Feiler, Kelley Mihok, Jessica Pepper, Dr. Heather Sinclair, Eric Thompson, Meiko Xavier, and the caring staff at Haw Creek Animal Hospital.

An intimate honoring ceremony will take place this Friday evening at Papa’s & Beer on Tunnel Road in Asheville. Memorial services will take place in both Asheville and Saranac Lake at future dates yet to be decided. Memorial donations are suggested to: Asheville Humane Society, 14 Forever Friend Lane, Asheville, NC 28806. (828) 761-2001

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Dear CVS (aka: I would argue there's no employment crisis, but a priority crisis in leadership)

Dear CVS,
Excited by the news that you’ve bravely chosen to rid your stores of tobacco products, I drove well out of my way yesterday morning to pick up a few medicine cabinet staples and offer immediate positive feedback. As the loyal customer of a competitor, I wanted to do my part in rewarding you for breaking status quo and doing what’s right, in spite of what’s more immediately profitable. Still job-hunting after 23 months, my enthusiasm had been invigorated by a dynamic presentation on branding at a successful networking function I attended the previous day. 

So, I happily drove several miles out of my way, refining my presentation as I went. If serving on the administration end of the equation isn’t currently possible, at least I could provide the feedback necessary to close the marketing circuit as a customer. And for an organization that has taken a financial risk aligning their actions with their mission. . .! I was absolutely giddy!!

Parking in a sunny spot directly adjacent to the door, I strode in with purpose. Half way down the aisle headed for the back, I heard the girl from the register call,  “Welcome to CVS. How are you today?” I turned to see who was behind me, as there had been no one else in the parking lot. There was no one. She’d meant me. “Do I yell back that I’m fine?” I wondered. I figured it must be one of those stores where they train employees to greet each customer upon entry, took a moment to appreciate indoctrination, and wrote off the awkwardness.

Turning, I was disheartened by the chaotic display shelves. Items were haphazardly arranged, a number of items needed restocking, and the whole place felt overcrowded. Is it that my regular drugstore has wider aisles or broader shelves? Still, I was undeterred. Although one item I wanted wasn’t available, I was able to find a similar substitute, and successfully found the second product.

Feeling righteous, I headed for the cashier desk. Where I stood. For a few minutes. By myself. With my items (and my feedback!). The one employee was over near the beverages, presumably checking what the vendor, who was also visible from my position, was delivering. I waited. Candy shelf. . .”where are they going to put the Mega M&Ms I see unopened on the counter when they’ve already got plain, peanut, mint, peanut butter and pretzel right there? I guess if they moved the Rolos down. . . Oh, here she comes.”

She apologized for my wait, asked if there was anything else I wanted but had been unable to find, and rang me up. When she’d bagged my items and looked up to thank me, I said, “I wanted you to know, and please tell your manager, that I drove out of my way to come here today because I heard you’ll be taking tobacco products off your shelves. I’m usually a Walgreen’s woman, but a decision like this could bring me around to your stores.”

She looked behind her at the rows of cigarettes and said, with some apparent wonder, that she had no idea about that. Then, obviously confused, she asked “So, did you want to BUY some cigarettes?” I thanked her and declined. Then I left, completely deflated.

If you, as employer and retailer, don’t know what needs to be done to fix all of the many things that contributed to what is wrong with this scenario, please hire me so I can help you. It’s what I do.

Best regards, 

P.S. - (updated 2/20/14) Authenticity, too!

Friday, January 31, 2014

Dear HR person who wants to tell people how to write a cover letter to make your life easier (Oh, NO you dit't!)

This was thoughtfully composed in reply to a commenter on this LinkedIn article . My computer's been glitchy & virus-like lately, and no matter how many times I hit SUBMIT, my pithy verbosity wouldn't go through. SO now I shall post it here.

First: the article, which I found interesting & helpful.

Then, what I wanted to say to the very first commenter (better get your coffee or whathaveyou, 'cuz you know how I get. . .) :

I find it interesting that the replies to this comment come from the employing side of the equation, not the seeking side. My suspicion is that a good number of job-seekers educated and professional enough to be investigating alternative strategies (scouring posts like these and their commentary for the route off this hamster wheel) are in the throes of desperation regarding their job search likely would join me in assessing the view you suggest as lacking perspective on the realities faced by recent job-hunters. That, or they're so defeated that they've stopped participating in the discussion. You sound like someone with no idea what it's like to conduct a dream-job oriented job search while wondering how long you can hold out before losing everything you've ever built. I for one, am in a position where I NEED to find a job - not the perfect career opportunity, not the perfect fit for me and the organization - within the confines of a geographic region that is notorious for being devoid of industry and well behind the curve in technology and innovation. Jobs are incredibly scarce, mostly labor (not even what I'd call blue collar). I've been told my resume will 'go further with decision-makers' if I leave off some of my education. I've been told that my cover letters are 'incredibly well-crafted'. I've been told I'm probably more qualified than some of the leadership for whom I would be working, if they hired me. Which they haven't. So, I rework my resume and craft each cover letter with the awareness that I NEED A JOB, but I can't overwhelm the hiring manager, don't want to undersell myself, all while balancing "Algorithm-based, keyword-searching processes that seek to match job-seekers with job openings by clerical means" and addressing the arbitrary, meaningless job descriptions in whatever explicit fashion the hirer prefers (but probably didn't specifically state). I've actually had a placement agent say I'd probably get better results if I didn't print my resume on 'grey paper, like this'. Upon comparing the paper to a nearby white board and a napkin on his desk, he agreed that the paper was white and it must have been the lighting. . .I subsequently pointed out to him that most resumes are submitted via electronic media, so I doubted my paper choice is the major hold-up. Now imagine if I hadn't been in the room to SHOW him that the white paper was white and he was the hiring manager on which my future hinged! Employers seem to have no idea how crazy-making, debilitating and absolutely soul-sucking it can be to feel that random dart-throwing has a better chance of hitting the target during a job search than any well planned strategy. I don't have the luxury of going for what I " really want intrinsically" because I AM "your (sic) unemployed and desperate" in an area where I'm 'overqualified' for anything that's available. And if ONE MORE PERSON says I should move to a larger city or other state for a job - perhaps they can also explain to my 8 & 11 year old why Mommy can't be with them anymore because 50/50 custody doesn't work beyond say 30 or 40 miles. If I leave this area for a job, it means forsaking custody of my children. I don't need the perfect intrinsic harmony of a romantic career fit. I need a job. Really soon. I HAVE to try to be whatever the employer is looking for, because that's the only way my children will have a mother and I won't lose my house. Sincerely, The Next Cover Letter whose resume happens to make it through your key-word screening process.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

We should meet

Dear Revered Employer,

You broadcast your desire for professionalism. And I responded. You announced intentions to engage someone of intelligence. There's been no secret about your need for creativity, initiative, drive. . . I've tried consistently, enthusiastically, and optimistically to capture your attention.  You're playing coy!  I've wooed you with educational and experiential background details, completing tedious and redundant applications to accompany an impressive resume, all in an effort to be noticed. I've made it abundantly clear that I'm at your disposal 24/7, so I'd fit seamlessly into your timelines. It's time we meet face to face. I think that an old-fashioned conversation, frankly addressing each of your needs and plans, as well as my capacity to fulfill them, will move us one step closer to the relationship we're both seeking. Please give it some thought. I will contact you by early next week to set up a time for us to get together.

With most sincere admiration,

M.L. English, M.S.