Releasing My Inner Dragnet

You know the person I’m about to describe.

The one who enjoys talking even when there’s nothing left to talk about.

The one who repeats what there’s nothing left to talk about so they can speak longer about nothing.

The one who sits in a meeting of any type and asks questions that were already answered just so they can feel important and attempt to suck up to whomever in the room has some degree of influence.

The one who goes to a back to school function and asks the teacher a meaningless question because they have a need to introduce and ingratiate themselves to that person and the entire class of parents who just want to move on and get home after a long day.

The one who can turn a thirty-second story into a five-minute ordeal.

The one who doesn’t understand the definition or advantages of brevity.

The one who talks and asks questions during movies.

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I’m a pretty patient person but this type of person gives new meaning to the words cruel and unusual punishment.

If I ask you what time it is, I don’t need to know how the clock or watch was made. I just want the time.

Some people don’t get that simple concept. They begin to tell a story and start taking side trips along the way. So instead of a two-minute journey, we have to endure a ten minute odyssey. By the time they get done, I usually forget what the original story was supposed to be about.

This might sound sacrilegious but I feel the same way in church. We have priests that will use the pulpit as a stage and go on for 20-25 minutes, repeating what they already said in different ways. Do they think I’m oblivious to that little trick?
The flip side to this practice are priests that are very effective and to the point in less than ten minutes.

The same holds true in day-to-day life. I am a strong believer in the concept that less is almost always more. 

Whenever I’ve been in meetings where there were more than 3-4 people present, very little got accomplished. Primarily because everyone had their own agenda, no one stayed on topic and I usually walked away thinking I Just wasted an hour, or more, of my day.

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The old saying is that God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason.

If there is something that needs to be said, by all means get to the point as quickly as possible before I tune you out completely and think about whether continuing to listen to you or sliding bamboo shoots under my nails is a better alternative.

As legendary Detective Sergeant Joe Friday of Dragnet fame said, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

 

 

Is This Hell? No, It’s A Car Buying Experience

True story…

A few years ago I walked into an auto dealership to test drive a new vehicle intending to lease. I was met by a gentleman who took me for the drive. When we got back to the dealership he spoke with me for a short time and when he realized we weren’t close on price he excused himself and within a few minutes an attractive young lady, (I’m being kind), approached me. She was wearing a short skin-tight dress that was cut much too low in the front. My guess is, she was the greaser. For the next few minutes she smiled, leaned over and explained to me the benefits of the vehicle I was thinking about leasing. When I didn’t move on the price, she excused herself and out came her sales manger, a rather slick-looking gentleman who was obviously in love with himself and wanted me to feel the same way. At this point I was somewhere between amused and feeling like I needed a shower. He tried to educate me on the car buying experience; what I should expect, how the money factor works, how little dealerships make on each car and how much I’m going to enjoy having my car serviced there because they’re all one big happy family.
The dealership was five minutes from my home. I ended up traveling forty minutes to get the car from another dealership because I didn’t want to feel like I was entering a brothel every time I walked in there to get my car serviced.

The process of buying or leasing a car is draining. Even when I try to have fun with it and smile at the sales people and their obvious attempts of insulting your intelligence, it’s usually a train wreck.

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So last week I walked into a dealership to lease. I gave them my specs and they gave me a price but I usually shop around so I contacted an internet sales person  at another dealership who gave me a price that was less. The next day I went in expecting the bait and switch routine, however I underestimated their ranking on the sleazy meter. When they presented the price to me it was 165.00 a month more than what they quoted on the phone. I Just looked at them and asked if they were kidding. After only a two or three minutes of shaking my head and telling them how unprofessional I thought they were, the sales manager “recalculated” the numbers and dropped the price 120.00.

In just a few minutes.

Really?

How can I possibly take this place seriously?

I walked out, responded to a followup note the car salesman sent me and told them what I thought. It wasn’t pretty.

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Why does buying or leasing a car have to be some damn difficult? I learned a long time ago in business negotiation that you should never be the one to take the last dollar off the table. The best deals are when everyone wins and walks away happy. But car buying seems to fly in the face of that logic.

Some years ago Saturn decided that there would be no haggling over price. They developed a one price policy for their line of cars. When you walked in to the showroom, you knew what you were going to pay.  I didn’t like the styling of Saturn’s but for those who did, it seemed like a great idea.

Then they went out of business.

Don’t even say what you’re thinking.

My Hero Of The Week

Polish discus thrower, Piotr Malachowski, won a Silver Medal recently at the games in Rio. But it’s not what he did at the games that mattered, it’s what he did when he returned home.

Piotr heard about a three-year old boy suffering from a rare form of eye cancer called retinoblastoma. The little boy needed surgery that could possibly save his life, but it cost 126,000.  Piotr immediately put his Silver Medal up for auction in hopes it would raise 84,000 for the surgery. A third of the money had already been raised by the Polish Foundation, Siepomaga.

The price of the medal had reached 19,000 when Piotr removed it. It seems two Polish billionaires, Dominika and Sebastian Kulczyk agreed to purchase the medal for the remaining cost of the surgery.

I don’t know of a more important medal that was won at Rio and I don’t know of a more worthy participant.

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Let’s pray Piotr’s compassion and the generosity of everyone involved results in a happy and healthy life for this little boy.

God Bless them all.

 

No Complaining Here

“What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it. Don’t complain.”
― Maya Angelou, Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now

This has nothing to do with the point of this post but whenever I heard Maya Angelou speak, I always imagined that’s how God would sound. She had such a commanding voice, one that could admonish you while gently holding you in her arms at the same time. She deserved a mountaintop. It’s a rare gift.

Anyway, back to what I intended to write before I was distracted with the voice in my head.

I don’t like being around complainers. (Apparently Maya didn’t either). They wear on me. They bring me down. They make me lose my appetite for sweets and that’s a really hard thing to do.

We all know these people, right? They’re all around us, especially in the workplace. Those people who complain about everyone and everything. They hate the company, they don’t like their supervisor, they don’t get paid enough, they’re not appreciated, the company picnic sucked, why is there a dress code, their co-worker annoys them, management doesn’t know what they’re doing, no one knows what their doing.

It’s exhausting.

These are the same people who carry over their bubbly personalities to their private lives. You know who they are. They live in a world where cynicism reigns supreme, where every statement or conversation begins and ends with some form of negativity. There are no positive aspects of their lives which they choose to focus on, Instead they beat you over the head with the direness of their existence.

Now let me be clear, there is a difference between endlessly complaining and sharing your problems with loved ones/friends. There is a difference between deciding to live in the quicksand you’re stuck in and searching for a way out. My issue is with those people who get off on the negativity, who choose to remain in the job they have without even making an attempt to find another one, who keep telling us how difficult it is to do something, without ever really making an attempt to resolve the issue facing them.

In my mind, most people have two choices. You either change your situation or you stop complaining about it. Don’t remind me every time I see you how miserable you are and then do nothing to try to correct it.  Again, I realize that not everything is that simple and some people have extenuating circumstances that may prevent them from making that choice but that’s not what, or who, this is about.

I’m reminded of the story about a guy who sits down with his friend at lunch and as he takes out his food, complains that everyday he has the same boring bologna sandwich. His friend tells him that he should ask his wife to make him something else, to which the guy replies, “I make my own sandwiches.”

Maya would have liked the bologna story.

Loneliness

There was a sad, yet heartwarming story that came out of Rome yesterday. Police responded to a call after someone reported crying and shouting coming from an apartment. When police arrived they were met by a couple, Jole who is 84 and her husband Michele who is 94. They have been married for 70 years.
The couple was not upset because a crime had been committed, but because they were overcome by loneliness and the depressing news they had been watching on television. Apparently they had not been visited by anyone in a while since much of the city empties out during the summer months and neighbors were on holiday.
In an attempt to make them feel better, the police stayed with them, cooked them a simple spaghetti meal and spent the evening listening to stories of their lives.

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Loneliness affects millions of people, especially the elderly who are homebound and unable to participate in society the way they once did. A recent study claims that while only 18% of the elderly live alone, 43% felt lonely. That’s a difficult statistic to read.
Whether someone has lost a spouse or has grown old together, the way this Italian couple has, advanced age can take a toll on your life, even if you are relatively healthy. We all know people in the 80’s and 90’s who remain very active but the majority of those who have lived that long have lost most, if not all of their friends, and what remains is a time in their lives that most people don’t remember.

While age alone does not corner the market on loneliness, there is an isolation for many older people which doesn’t offer them an opportunity to alter their lives. Phone calls and visits certainly help but much of their day involves little or no human contact. The difficult truth or realization for many is that life has moved on without them. They are no longer part of a working society, have given up their cars, and rarely leave their homes except for medical visits. The independence of living alone that many elderly people prefer to have, comes with a cost that most of us can’t imagine or prefer not to think about. Day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. What they know and see is confined to the walls of the rooms that surround them and like this couple in Italy, those walls seem to get closer each day.

We celebrate age with parties and photos in the newspapers of people who have turned 90 or 100 and it is quite an accomplishment. The experts tell us that advances in the field of medicine will allow people to live longer. But there is a difference between living and being alive. All of these people were alive once. They lived active and full lives; had families, jobs, hobbies, and were most likely surrounded by people on a daily basis. I don’t think they ever thought about loneliness.

We all know people like Jole and Michele. Sometimes we see them out somewhere or sitting on a porch or at a window, watching life go by as we pass. Sometimes a wave turns into a smile, sometimes a smile into voice.

At the end of the day, we all need to believe that our lives have a voice.

 

Why?

My wife and I were having a late lunch outdoors at a casual restaurant the other day. Small groups of women sat at two of the tables, one table had two men and two tables were occupied by professional looking, well dressed couples. One couple looked to be in their 30’s the other in their mid 40’s. I’m not sure if they were married but since they were both directly in front of me, I could tell by their conversation that they were much more than friends. They seemed to have a pleasant lunch, laughed several times, conversed easily and when the bill was presented, the guy paid. A short time later the 30’s couple left and about five minutes after that, the 40’s couple did the same.

But it was how they left that really bothered me and almost caused me to leave my seat.

In both cases, the guy stood up and began walking to the parking lot before the woman was even out of her seat. In both cases, the guy opened his car door and got in while the woman was still navigating her way out of the patio dining area. In both cases the guy started the car as the woman was walking through the parking lot. The woman who was in her 40’s looked over at me as she passed by and gave me an embarrassed smile before looking away.

There aren’t many things that really get under my skin but disrespect is at the very top of my list. The problem is, I don’t know who I was more upset with, the guys for being disrespectful or the women for tolerating it. Because I would bet the ranch this isn’t the first time this happened. This is their relationship. This is how these men treat these women and this is what these women accept. The question is why?

I’ve always believed that you can’t force someone to respect you but you sure as hell can refuse to be disrespected. If someone allows it to happen, it is guaranteed to continue. I realize this works both ways; that both men and women are responsible for this type of behavior toward the other but I believe women share the brunt of this type of boorish behavior.

If you don’t respect the person you’re in a relationship with, then why are you there? If you’re not respected by the person you are in a relationship with, then why do you stay?

I don’t understand.