The salesman mentioned that I would receive a survey. He wanted to make sure that I saw the email, opened it, and answered it the right way (all superlatives). I met the salesman’s boss. He let me know that a survey was coming. He verified my email. Did I know that it was important that I took the survey and gave them top marks? OY. I hate these silly surveys.
I received a letter from the business a week later. The envelope contained a thank you letter and a printed copy of the forthcoming survey. All of the questions had been helpfully answered just in case I had forgotten how wonderful the buying experience had been. They felt compelled to remind me how well I had been treated.
The survey finally arrived by email on Friday. I would have deleted it had I not promised the salesman, the only truly positive part of this whole process, my participation.
I dutifully checked the boxes. There was no point in providing a nuanced opinion or an honest answer. These are Pass/Fail, all or nothing tests. The business is judged a failure if all of the answers aren’t off the charts positive. But, the survey was incredibly long and I started to read the questions. I was supposed to check that I strongly agreed with a series of statements. Did I strongly agree that I love the item I purchased? Officially? Yes. And I was coerced into confirming that I now feel better about myself because I had made this transaction.
They’re screwing with us.
Knowing that these surveys are total BS, the companies are now extracting embarrassing answers from us. We are being punished for being nice.
I’m glad that my business doesn’t engage in this foolishness. Can you imagine purchasing a life insurance policy and getting a survey? “Tell us, Mrs. Jones, do you love Prudential?” Hell, I’ve been doing this for thirty-seven years and I don’t love the insurers.
And what happens if you change policies? Would the insurance company call you?
Hello, Mrs. Miller? This is Bupendra Smith with Intrusive Life. How are you today?
Fine. How can I help you?
We’ve just been alerted that you have lapsed your policy.
I no longer need it.
Mrs. Miller, you told us that you loved your policy. Your policy with Intrusive Life made you feel better about yourself. It completed you. Do those words mean nothing to you?
I think that I am done with surveys. I’ll threaten to answer honestly if anyone ever insists that I complete another.
This blog serves many purposes for me. As per my daughter Jennifer, it is first and foremost my opportunity to vent. I also see it as a chance to open conversations about politics, religion, and relationships. Some of those conversations take place in the comment section and on Facebook. Some of the most interesting exchanges take place in private messages and emails. But I still view the recipes as one of the most creative aspects of Again? Really? There are a surprising number of people struggling with Type II Diabetes or weight issues. Finding new and tasty low carb meals is a key to long term success.
These recipes take a lot of time and effort. It starts with a dinner that I would like to recreate as Kosher Low Carb. I then research recipes online, regular and low carb, and print five or six. I study the recipes for similarities and contradictions. That normally gives me enough of a foundation to create my own concoction. I carefully measure all of the ingredients and write down everything.
Last night was to be a new dinner night. I had all of the ingredients and I was ready to create. Sally was working late and would be home by 9:45. As all of you know, timing is everything. And in the case of chicken, the difference between moist, perfectly cooked and flavorlessly dry. It was not to be. Due to a late customer and other issues beyond her control, she didn’t walk in the door until 10:20. And yes, even though I grew up in retail and know better, I still took it personally. The good news is that this dish is idiot proof / time proof / delicious. In my case I took the chicken out of the oven, let it sit on top of the counter, and put it back into the now cooling oven for the last 15 minutes prior to serving it.
Low Carb Coconut Chicken
1 lb. Boneless Chicken Breast
½ C Unsweetened Flaked Coconut
½ C Almond Meal
½ t Garlic Powder
½ t Dried Parsley
½ t Smoked Paprika
- Line large baking sheet with parchment paper
- Rinse chicken breasts, trim excess fat, pat dry with paper towels
- Cover breasts with waxed paper and pound to uniform thickness
- Slice into 1/2″ strips
- Beat egg and place into glass pie dish
- Dump the dry ingredients into a one gallon Ziploc bag
- Dip all of the chicken into the egg and then place into the bag. Shake well.
- Place the chicken on to the baking sheet and place into the refrigerator for an hour.
- Preheat the oven to 400
- Bake 40 minutes
I served this with humus and cauliflower. And I felt better once I realized that the wait hadn’t ruined the dish.
As noted previously, my favorite traditional magazine is Esquire. I learn something new from each edition. I am always entertained. The current issue has Scott Raab interviewing astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson. At one point they were discussing Dr. Tyson’s previous interest in the New York Knicks, but that was a long time ago when the Knicks were a much better team.
SR: The Knicks haven’t managed to rekindle your interest?
NDT: No, and even if they were winning, I don’t know that they would. It was just a moment in time. But I like extreme excellence in anything. I thoroughly enjoyed Michael Jordan. Who didn’t?
SR: I didn’t, but only because I was a Cleveland fan. I’ve since come to recognize his greatness. Back then, I took it personally.
NDT: If you have a cosmic perspective, you don’t take anything personally.
It’s funny what we notice. My friend, fresh from attending her first meeting of an entrepreneurs’ organization, told me what she had observed. “They seem to have a chip on their shoulder”.
Melissa (name changed) has been a business owner for over twenty years, but her modesty prevents her from seeing herself as an entrepreneur. Her naturally positive attitude set her apart from so many of her peers in that room.
Melissa is an entrepreneur and her business history, both successes and failures, mirror the experiences of the men and women at the meeting. The difference isn’t financial. It is attitude.
How or why does someone become an entrepreneur? This list is hardly exhaustive and can’t possibly include all of the paths to business ownership. It is just a start.
- Some of us, from our first lemonade stand, just knew that we were happiest when we were the boss.
- Some were downsized / fired / let go one time too many, couldn’t find a job, and were forced to create their own jobs.
- Some were born into a business that became theirs whether they really wanted it or not.
- Some toiled for a boss or corporation that never fully recognized their value and never rewarded them, financially or emotionally, for their efforts and expertise.
- And of course, some of us just make lousy employees.
What unites so many of us is that feeling that we have succeeded In Spite of our parents, our siblings, our friends, the banks, the government, etc… There was always someone dying to play the devil’s advocate. No matter what you achieved, awards received, goals set and met, there is always a helpful family member sure that you could get a real job if you just tried.
Spend a few years playing Me Against The World and you will probably have a chip on your shoulder.
But that is only part of the story.
The other part is Victimhood. We have become a nation of victims. We have elevated our personal grievances, great and small, into world class trauma. We conflate our losses and brushes with danger so that our successes will be even greater. Whether it is Brian Williams or Hillary Clinton under fire or homophobic pizza shop owners worried about a deluge of gay wedding catering opportunities, Americans have decided that we are under attack.
And if we really are under attack, if our values, our system, our very way of life is endangered, then we need to be defended. Americans tend to take things their illogical extreme. Thus even if it is the government that is supposedly attacking us, we still want the government to defend us.
There are people, even mainstream political candidates, who think that the Second Amendment allows them to amass store houses of weapons to use in some future battle with the government! And because the Supreme Court has begun the process to recognize the validity of same sex marriages, we have the Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.
Talk to a videographer or a florist about your upcoming wedding. As they are discussing the services that they will be providing and the charges for their time and efforts, they make it clear that they are an integral part of your ceremony. We want pictures, flowers, and cake. They want an acknowledgement that it really isn’t a wedding without them. So now some, a precious few, are saying that they can’t sell their services in certain situations because it would make them complicit with something they find sinful. Crap. They have inflated their value to such a point that they are shocked when so few people care what they think.
Providing the flowers at a wedding is no different than providing the flowers to a funeral. Does the presence of your bouquets mean that you are positive that the deceased is heaven-bound? Did the family review the deceased’s charitable activities and church attendance with you prior to your acceptance of the order? Was the same information shared with the caterer?
There are now businesses advertising on Facebook, etc… that they will not be serving members of the LGBT community. I will not provide links. I do not promote hate or stupidity. These business people are luxuriating in their victimhood. They want everyone to know how brave they are, how firm they are in their convictions, and how quickly you can donate to their gofundme site.
But what about the other victims. Not the baker. Not the photographer. Not even the 70 year old florist in Colorado, so dug in on her position that she may end up losing her business due to her stubbornness and the people egging her on. No, what about the other victims, the gay couple. It is a shame that in 2015 you can never find anyone to sell you flowers, take your picture, or make a cake. It is so hard, since there is no way to order anything online or from another service provider down the street, that the moment you pick a service provider they had better buy in on everything you want to do.
I expect everyone to accept me, or else!
Well no one is universally accepted. Not you and certainly not me. And there are any number of reasons for someone to not like me or who they may think I am. And in the past I have chosen to withhold my services from those who didn’t meet my standards.
I was sitting in the client’s Mayfield Hts. home. It was about 20 – 25 years ago, at a time when every case helped to pay for dinner. I had worked hard to get the couple issued at a reasonable rate. The negotiations were difficult and I was proud of the results. The woman looked at me and said, “That’s pretty good David. Thank you. Do you think you could Jew them down a little further?” I said that I thought that this was the best deal that they could get but that it would be up to them and their next agent to discuss that. She must have realized that I had just fired her as a client as I began to pack up my papers. She told me that she didn’t realize that I was Jewish and apologized if she had offended me. I thanked her for the apology, but let my decision stand. I never talked to her or her husband again.
Is that legal under the Indiana law? Can I make a decision to not do business with someone due to my religious conviction (Assholes aren’t Kosher!)? I don’t know. I never considered myself a victim. I just took action. Now Melissa (remember Melissa?) might think that I, too, had a chip on my shoulder. I don’t think so. I simply stood up for myself when the need arose.
The solution, as is so often the case, is simply respect. Respect to honor our differences. Respect to accept that others see, believe, and feel differently than us and that we don’t have to change our perspective, we just need to acknowledge the validity of theirs. Just a little respect…
Pizza is the first casualty of a low carb diet. I have been on this diet, this lifestyle change, for almost twelve years. I have no regrets. None. Since my goal has been to not eat any unnecessary carbohydrates, I still indulge in a beer now and then, an occasional breaded chicken, and even ONE slice of pizza once or twice a year. I’m disciplined and careful. You won’t see me at Geraci’s grabbing a beer and a pizza any time soon.
This recipe comes to you through the miracle of Facebook. A friend (Deb Cowher) of a friend (Paul Kelly) posted a picture of her low carb pizza. It looked delicious. I told her that I had tried the cauliflower version. Her crust was made with cheese and eggs. She graciously shared her recipe and a few tips. And, she sent a lot of support and encouragement.
This is my take. It reflects my tastes, my need to make it Kosher, and what I happened to have in the refrigerator. Please use this as a jumping off point. Be creative. And don’t forget to share.
Pizza for Two
Preheat the oven to 450
Line a medium cookie sheet with parchment paper
1 ½ C Mozzarella
½ C Colby/Monterey Jack
2 T Grated Parmesan
A few shakes of garlic powder, basil, and oregano
Whatever you’d like!
½ small onion, sliced
2 mushrooms, sliced
½ C sauce
½ C ground fake burger (Morningstar)
A little roasted red pepper, sliced
- Mix the crust ingredients together and pour onto to the pan. Form into a crust. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Gently sauté the onion, mushrooms, and meat.
- Pull the crust from the oven, cover with sauce, the balance of the cheese, and the other ingredients.
- Bake for another 10 minutes.
- Let rest for 5 – 10 minutes prior to cutting. Serve with a tossed salad.
We were able to pick up the pieces. No fork required!
I guess that I should start with a disclaimer. I have a bet with my friend Danny that Hillary Clinton won’t be the Democratic Party’s nominee in 2016. It is for our usual amount – $1, but I would hate for anyone to think that my wager might color my opinion.
Clinton fatigue is sweeping the nation. Don’t get me wrong. I voted for Bill Clinton in both 1992 and 1996. I worked on both campaigns. And I voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary. But this isn’t 2008 and, in truth, this doesn’t even feel like a Democratic Party issue. It has been the Republicans who have nominated tired politicians, long past their sell-by date, simply because it was their turn. Think 2008. Think 2012.
Why would the Democrats trip down this same path?
Experience? Mrs. Clinton has that in spades. She is the first First Lady to be elected to the U.S. Senate. She is the first to serve as Secretary of State. It is one Hell of a resume. But, there are the unending list of scandals, near-scandals, and worst of all, unforced errors that make any serious Clinton candidacy, much less another presidency, exhausting.
“1993 was the first year of the Clinton Crises Administration. Every issue, budget, NAFTA, etc… will supposedly make or break the presidency. So far he has won each fight, so thank G-d, the United States continues. But, either these people like to walk on the edge of cliffs or someone is crying wolf.”
The above was part of the annual letter I sent my clients in 1993. Twenty-one years later and nothing has changed. We’re always moments away from the next battle royal. And the Clintons, always just within the letter of the law but well outside the spirit of the law, win the battles as we lose the war.
Emails? Please. I’m already tired.
I was sitting inside the airport in Punta Cana, feet up on top of my carry-on, smoking a Cuban cigar. A tarmac worker had accidentally damaged our plane and we were waiting for Frontier to get a replacement to us from Florida. We were already a full day into the delay. I was taking a mental health break.
Some of our fellow passengers were totally detached, almost victim-like, waiting to be told when and how they would get to go home. Some used technology to track the new plane as well as Frontier’s public statements. And then there were the travelers who felt compelled to exemplify every stereotype of the Ugly American. Loud. Pushy. Aggressive. Bigger, taller, and older than the Dominican workers, they spent most of the last 24 hours berating, bullying, and demanding answers to questions that couldn’t be answered.
Me? I was privately thanked for diffusing some of the tension and relaying info when available.
Don’t get me wrong, I am still very much the type A that I’ve always been. But today, as I turn 60, I would like to believe that I have found a way to use my assertiveness more constructively.
One of the benefits of decades of published articles is the ability to check previous milestones. In print at forty, I was spitting fire and taking no prisoners. At fifty I was still searching for a smoother path, but there was an underlying sense of hope and optimism. Even the run up to today, last year’s birthday post, is available to prove or disprove any argument for personal growth.
The last ten years have been my best. Sure the travel was incredible. I visited Israel (twice!), Australia, China, and vacationed in the Caribbean almost a dozen times. But changing my travel partner had significantly more impact than where I went. Sally is positive. She has neither the sense of entitlement nor the dark clouds that had for so long taken up additional space in my home. Freed of that negativity we were allowed to have good experiences that seemed great and exceptional experiences that became phenomenal. Where you start can have a huge impact on where you finish.
I did learn something from racing – Pole Position Matters.
Some of you may be quick to point out that 2005 and 2006 were pretty bumpy. Those were transitional years. I learned to say NO in my 50’s and I finally learned the value of eliminating toxic people from my life. As a natural problem solver and fixer, I have, metaphorically, jumped into the water to save people all of my life. But how many times did the saved immediately choose to play in traffic? It took a while, and I have had a set-back or two, but I slowly shed the unpleasant and the self-destructive.
My 50’s allowed me to pursue one of my ideals, transparency. As I worked to eliminate any personal secrets, I accidently disarmed those whose weapon of choice is the whisper. I’d like to claim that it was all part of a grand plan. It wasn’t, just a happy accident. It became increasingly easier to stare down bogus moral authorities and the rulers of miniature fiefdoms once they lost the power of rumor and innuendo.
I learned in my 50’s that it is perfectly alright to have only one common interest with someone. It is OK to be art show friends or to only agree on the CAVS. I became better focused on where lives and interests intersected and less concerned about divergent paths. I don’t really care if you are a Strenuously Conservative Evangelical or a Liberal Atheist as long as you are under no illusions that I can be sold your belief system. Stay in your lane and we can share our common interests, even if the only interest is in the fun of a good philosophical conversation. Fail to respect my personal space and you’ll be forced to find a new sparring partner.
I discovered that I no longer had the time to make excuses for ANYONE.
I enter my sixties surprisingly calm with the hope of health for myself, my family, and my readers. I have good friends, wonderful children, and a business partner that keeps me grounded. CUNIX Version 6.0 could be the best one yet.
Is She Really Going Out With Him was ubiquitous in the early 1980’s. I liked it, but what was not to like? It was catchy, self-effacing, pure pop magic with just enough edge to hint at being something more. Joe Jackson’s appearance on Saturday Night Live was far more interesting, both from a musical standpoint and, as was so relevant at that moment, for his attitude. But I was not convinced.
My first real Joe Jackson moment came with the video for Steppin’ Out. The words and piano came together for me. There was a melancholy, a world-weariness that didn’t feel feigned, but endured. There was also an optimism that everything would work itself out that wasn’t Pollyannaish, but that of a survivor able to share a hard-earned truth. And I still kept my hands in my pocket, my money in my wallet.
I found the album Laughter and Lust at the library in the summer of 1992. What did I hear? Maybe it was The Other Me. Perhaps it was Drowning. I can’t say. I returned the CD to the library and quickly purchased a copy at the store, a luxury at the time. I played it endlessly, shared it evangelically, and enjoy it to this day.
My son, Phillip, purchased the double CD, Joe Jackson Live 1980-1986, for my following birthday. I rediscovered the original songs and purchased all of the previous CD’s. I have been fortunate to have been able to acquire all of the subsequent albums, often receiving an email from Joe Jackson’s website prior to their release.
Have I loved all of them? Of course not! Even if he had had a twin he wouldn’t have that kind of mindless fan. Some days the Night Music CD is my favorite. And there are days, much to my surprise, that what I really want to hear is Be My Number Two meld into Breaking Us In Two from the live CD.
I have about 9,500 songs on the computer on my desk. I listen to ALL of them. These songs were not downloaded. I purchased the CD’s and meticulously added them to my collection. And each song, whether it is I Don’t Wanna Know from Dr. John’s Anutha Zone or Rock N Roll covered by Mitch Ryder and Detroit (with Steve Hunter on guitar!) or the most recent release from Joe Bonamassa is greeted as a long lost friend. Each represents a piece of a puzzle I don’t pretend to understand in an art form I am incapable of participation.
My beach book this vacation was Joe Jackson’s A Cure For Gravity. Even after twenty plus years of seriously listening to his music, I was taken aback by the connection this book created. I cannot sing. I cannot play any instrument. But I see myself as a writer and as a writer I felt a kinship with him that I had for so long sensed. The fact that we are roughly the same age and had many of the same cultural references helped. But it was the Why, not the How, that made the difference for me.
A Cure For Gravity was written by a self-aware man in his mid-forties. It details the compromises he was willing to make and those he fought. Moments of short-lived success and those victories that may be savored for a lifetime. He was generous to his friends, even-handed to his antagonists, and merciful to his naïve younger self. Without turning preachy he clearly showed how access to music and music education altered the trajectory of his life.
And why should we care? Because every banker, every roofer, and yes, every insurance agent has had the opportunity to make compromises – some we were willing to make and, perhaps, some we fought. We have all had our share of small victories and major moments. And if we are lucky, we may even have had the chance to thank the people who helped us along the way and forgive those who seemed to impede our progress.
The weather in Punta Cana was wonderful. The beach book was better. I strongly recommend A Cure For Gravity.
One of the great joys of taking a COSTA cruise was the international flavor of passengers. All of the ship-board announcements were made in five languages – Italian, French, Spanish, German, and English. My last time aboard a COSTA ship was in February 2008. There were a few more Americans than I had seen previously and there was a large group from France, approximately 300 people. The French lived down to all of the usual stereotypes. They were rude. They were pushy. And even though they spoke and understood English, they often forced the crew and other passengers to speak to them in only French. You know, the usual. It also turns out that they were Jewish. They had arranged separate, Kosher, dining and I attended services with them on Saturday morning.
There is a gunman in a Kosher meat market in Paris as I type this. Shots have been fired. Hostages have been taken. These things seldom end well. And I thought of my fellow passengers. On the ship they were just French, not Americans or British, just French. But in Paris, at this moment, they aren’t French. They are Jews. And today it is dangerous to be Jewish in Paris.
And not just Paris. We have seen another uptick in violence. We have seen armed gunmen invade a synagogue in Jerusalem and murder men at prayer. We had a knife wielding man in Chabad World Headquarters in Crown Heights last month. And other attacks around the world.
We are getting used to being under siege. It is not unusual to have bomb-sniffing dogs visit our synagogues prior to major holidays. There is a policeman on duty every Saturday morning outside our Solon building. And now we lock the doors during our 7 AM morning services.
The attack in Jerusalem, guns, knives, and hatchets, against men wearing Tefillin was particularly shocking. I think that we all know how vulnerable we are while wrapped in Tefillin and a Tallis. But the doors were never locked and we entered and left as we wished. Now guys take turns watching the door to make sure stragglers like me can access the building.
I know that a lot of my readers aren’t Jewish. And I know that many of you feel that we (Americans, society, the civilized world) are way past such old issues as anti-Semitism and racism. WE ARE NOT.
The guys watching the door don’t think that anti-Semitism is old news. And those people being held hostage in a Paris Kosher market know how real the danger still is.
Today is the last day of Hanukkah and, coincidentally, the day before Christmas. Many of my friends are either completing their annual family celebrations or just about to start. Some, like my friend George, will observe Christmas, per the Greek Orthodox Church, on January 7th. But in truth, there are any number of other reasons to celebrate with friends and family in December whether you are a Believer or not. So to all of you of any Faith or of no Faith at all, Happy December. Enjoy your time with your loved ones.
I had dinner last night with my daughter. At 33 she is an articulate woman, successful businesswoman, and all-around good person. I’m a big fan. I would want her as a friend if I wasn’t already lucky enough to have her as my daughter. And I thought that what I should do for today is to post something particularly family-friendly, something appropriate for today. Below is an article that was first published in February 1991.
The Ideal Macaroni Company
Ideal Macaroni Company
6001 Richmond Road
Bedford Hts., Ohio 44146
January 4, 1991
I purchased a package of your “Choo Choo Wheel” pasta several months ago at my local Acme grocery store. It was on sale. Sometimes I buy your product. Sometimes I buy the store brand. As I placed the box in the cart, I noticed a coloring contest on the back of the package. It occurred to me that one of my children might color the picture.
My daughter Jennifer noticed the picture while I was cooking dinner. I had forgotten about it. She read the instructions and asked if she could color the picture and enter it in the contest. I said “why not” and she excitedly began. She got a little done that night and I figured that by the next day it would be forgotten, but I was wrong. As she had time that week, after school, that Saturday, Jenny completed your picture. She agonized over the color selection. She cleared the final colors with her older brother and sisters. “There’s not too much brown is there? Could this be blue, too?” She was very serious, the way only a nine year old can really be. And when it was done, it was excellent. She is not the neatest of children. She is not the neatest of my children. But there it was. One super picture. I wanted to save it, but she wouldn’t hear of it. This was for the Ideal Macaroni Company. This was HER entry. We prepared the envelope together. And I mailed it the next day.
The UPS man arrived at my house today at 4:45. I wasn’t expecting anything. I looked at the label and told my son to have Jenny come into the living room. She dragged herself away from Mario 3 and came upstairs. I told her the box was for her. She didn’t understand until she saw that it had come from the Ideal Macaroni Company. We removed the packing tape together and then she opened the box. “I WON. I WON. I FINALLY WON SOMETHING!” She was so excited. She knew that a trip for four to Washington D.C. wasn’t packed in this box, but… Inside the box was a little brown bear. A stuffed animal with soft huggable fur. No notes. No letters. A bear. It was perfect.
I don’t know if my daughter has won first prize for December’s entries or a consolation prize, or what. It really doesn’t matter today. What’s important is how good my Jenny feels tonight. We all try as parents to give our children all of the love and support they will ever need, and yet it’s not enough. Sometimes it is the outside validation and recognition that means the most. Whether it is their peers, their teachers, or some contest judge in Bedford Heights doesn’t matter. What is important is that someone has found their work to be good and wants to reward their effort.
Long after her picture becomes frayed and faded, my daughter will remember the day she opened the brown box and removed her bear. The kids are still trying to determine whether she’s still in the running for the Grand Prize. I think she already got it. Thank you.
Relationships, born of hope and faith, flourish, thrive, and sometimes seem to live forever. But many such connections have a very specific beginning, middle, and, ultimately, an ending. Such is my relationship with my Blackberry. The end is near.
I was walking around the Freedom Tower in New York City. I took a picture or two with my phone and set off to see the Memorial. It is breathtaking. Subtle. Dramatic. Tasteful. I’d share a picture with you had my Blackberry not failed. Even though it had been on the charger overnight, two pictures zapped the battery and I was stuck with an expensive paper weight in my pocket.
I had not brought a charger with me. I began walking up Broadway. There had to be a T-Mobile store where I could get my phone resurrected. I had plenty of time. Dinner was more than six hours and 55 blocks away. We are so used to being accessible that I found this experience of being disconnected disconcerting. I couldn’t contact my office. I was alone in the City and I couldn’t find a T-Mobile.
I wandered into a Verizon store in SOHO. I detailed my predicament to one of the employees who explained why they couldn’t help. They weren’t allowed to risk someone claiming that their phone became damaged by the store’s equipment. Then with a wink she directed me to a display where I could disconnect a speaker and charge my phone. None of my readers will be surprised to learn that I disconnected the wrong plug and set off the store’s alarm. The store’s manager quickly assessed the situation and decided to offer assistance. It took 40 minutes to get the phone sufficiently charged. I left Verizon in 2006 after a minor service issue. My current contract ends in February. I will take a serious look at Verizon this next time around. If I lived in New York, I know where I’d go for my next phone and contract.
I bumped into a T-Mobile store about an hour later. The employees had no interest in helping me, but they were the exception. My trip to New York, like all such trips, was marked by witnessing people at their best and meeting interesting characters.
I was sitting on a bench at the entrance to Central Park enjoying an excellent cigar. Ten feet away from me was a guy, on blocks, dressed as the Statue of Liberty. All green. Green face point. Plastic torch. He stood there, his tip box by his feet, and waited for tourists and children. Lots of people took his picture. Some posed for pictures with him. He mugged for the cameras and put his arms around a gaggle of Japanese tourists. The children were captivated by him. I wish that I could have taken pictures of the little kids who squealed with delight when they first focused on him in the dim early dusk. The Statue-guy was incredibly patient and generous, even when the tips weren’t forthcoming. I finished my cigar, put some money in his box, and said, “Nice job with the kids”. He smiled and waved as I walked away.
The flight home was on Southwest. There were no assigned seats. We were advised that it was a sold-out flight. I boarded the plane in search of an aisle seat. Half way back was a young African-American woman seated by the window. The other two seats were empty. She was wearing a surgical mask. I verified that the aisle seat was empty and sat down. No one ever sat between us. We introduced ourselves once the plane achieved cruising altitude. We celebrated the extra room. She laughed at the fear some must have had of catching Ebola or some other dread disease had they sat in our middle seat. In truth, she was the one at risk. She was on her second liver. We had a lovely conversation and my common sense was rewarded by the opportunity to meet an interesting person.
I believe that it was Sigmund Freud who once observed that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.