I Have a Gripe

July 8, 2014

The American Dream & Happiness

Filed under: company interaction,Economy — alvb1227 @ 12:24 am
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I plugged in my headset at the gym today at lunch and listened to a section of Outnumbered on Fox News. The topic? A USA Today study that has determined a salary of $130,000 is required to live the “American dream.”

The discussion jumped around in an attempt to answer the question “why.” Topics included tax policy, student loans, social engineering, a lack of free markets, and housing prices. What really got my attention was when Harris Faulkner, a favorite of mine, tied in the concept of happiness, citing studies that once a person reaches a $70,000 salary, their level of happiness doesn’t change. She was able to turn the entire discussion to happiness and what makes an individual happy as far as their own personal American dream.

The discussion turned again to jobs and what makes a person happy in their work. A point was made that people often focus on their job as their source of income instead of a way of making themselves happy. This is a subject that has always fascinated, and frustrated, me.

In recent years, whenever this topic comes up, the standard answer is “just be happy you have a job.” Yes, I completely understand in this harsh economic market anyone who has a job should just be happy and keep quiet. However, year after year, as this rotten economy goes on, when are we as a society allowed to say “yes, I want to be happy in my work as well as make money?”

Think about it. A full time employee spends on average 40 to 45 hours a week (minimum) at their place of employment. That equates to approximately 25% of your time during the week (including sleeping hours) at your job. You generally spend more time with your co-workers than your family. Why shouldn’t we strive to be happy at work?

Now I  can go down a rabbit hole here and ask why employers choose to treat their employees poorly, especially in a bad economy, but I won’t.

I simply ask this – at what point in our working lives are we allowed to want more than just a salary?

March 27, 2011

Customer Service and Verizon

So, in case you haven’t noticed, I haven’t done a post in a while. This is for good reason. Verizon left me without a phone or DSL for exactly one week. Now, I would like to say this is an isolated incident, but it is unfortunately just another round in the joy of being a Verizon customer.

About every eight months, we loose our phone and internet service. And every time it takes a week to get it resolved. The funny thing is that it is the same issue each time. I call, tell them it is a problem on the pole. They dispatch someone to come three or four days later. They check the house and the basement and determine that yes, it is a problem on the pole.  They dispatch a “splicer.” He doesn’t show for two or three days. I pitch a fit and then it is resolved right before the end of the day on a Friday or Saturday. The resolution (according to Verizon)? They needed to create a new splice. Big freakin’ shock.

Where we live we only have copper, so there is no Fios in our future. Here is the biggest joke. As I ask others about their service with companies like Comcast and Cablevision, they have similar thoughts I have about Verizon. “The service is great, but their customer service sucks.”

Customer Service. Let’s think about this term. Service to and for the customer. These large companies call it “customer service” and have “customer service departments,” but do they really care? Honestly, I doubt it.

I remember as a kid, my mother going to East Orange to the “phone company” (in the good ‘ol days of Ma Bell) to pay a bill, resolve an issue or exchange a piece of equipment. You know the people who worked there and they knew you. They were your  neighbors and members of the community. Now? You have no idea where you are calling and more than half the time, it is on the other side of the world.

Small businesses understand that a big part of their business’ success directly relates to their service to the customer. As small businesses become major companies, customer service seems to fall by the wayside.

Companies like Orvis, LL Bean, Starbucks and Cabela’s are a few exceptions that come to mind. These companies never forgot what customer service is all about. Why? They have a passion for what they do and that passion shines through each and every day to their customers.

How much money is wasted by big businesses managing customer complains and screw-ups? Companies like Verizon should consider taking a page or two from the playbooks of Cabela’s and the like. Ultimately, they would have better customer loyalty and a more satisfied customer base.

February 14, 2011

Teacher Suspended for Blogging About Students – A Different Perspective

Filed under: Education — alvb1227 @ 12:36 pm
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Last week, a Philly teacher was suspended for blogging about her “rude, disengaged, lazy whiners” of a classroom full of students. Of course, everyone is quick to beat up on the teacher. Now in the interest of fairness, I don’t know about her exact situation fully, but I thought I would provide a different perspective.

Many expect schools to provide both education and parenting. With schools providing in some cases three meals a day, after school care, full day kindergarten and more, I can understand how teachers can get easily frustrated. Parents expect the schools to do more and more…that is, until the schools attempts to reprimand students or correct poor or unacceptable behavior. Then they often step in.

From what I heard in an interview this morning, the teacher did not user her real name and did not use student names while blogging. Out of the 80-something entries over two years, about 20 were related to her job.

What really burns me about this whole story is that you have widely used websites like RateMyTeacher.com where students blog and openly complain about their teachers with no questions asked.

I hate to sound like one of those people, but when I was a student and came home to complain about a teacher, my parents would say “well, what did you do?” Now it is “what did the teacher do to upset you?” The roles have reversed and not always for the better.

Are there bad teachers? Of course. Just like there are bad accountants, police officers and office workers. Should those bad teachers be dealt with? Absolutely. But I ask where do the parents step in and, well…parent?

On Friday I saw an interview with a former student saying “she didn’t respect us.” Well my young man, respect goes both ways and is earned. It doesn’t sound like you and your classmates respected your teacher.

October 21, 2010

NPR Shows Their True Colors

On Wednesday, 10-year commentator at NPR (National Public Radio), Juan Williams, was terminated from NPR due to comments said on “The O’Reilly Factor” the previous evening.

Now I will say I disagree with close to 90 percent of what Mr. Williams says, however, to me, this shows NPR’s true colors. In my humble opinion, NPR is a left-leaning media outlet. Now I would normally not have a problem with that, however, NPR is funded by our tax dollars. This, is a problem to me.

According to statements from NPR today, his termination had more to do with a history of comments giving his opinion as opposed to reporting on news, which clashes with their focus on hard news and his most recent comments were somewhat like the straw that broke the camel’s back. They are now backtracking slightly regarding how they handled the situation. NPR CEO Vivian Schiller just released this statement: “I spoke hastily and I apologize to Juan and others for my thoughtless remark.”

Fox News Analysts have come to Mr. Williams’ defense, including former Governor Mike Huckabee who has said he will no longer accept interviews on NPR.

Now we all know that if Fox News fired a pundit that is left-leaning due to comments said on another station, the uproar would be huge. There is a political correctness that has taken over this country that is not only shameful, but dangerous. I, for one, will not be a part of it.

I personally agree with Mr. Williams’ thoughts. I have been on a plane only once since 9-11 and I was so nervous and upset about it, I wrote out a will-like document on a legal pad and needed a tranquilizer from my doctor just to get on the plane. If I see someone who has not really assimilated to the American culture getting on a plane, and yes, this includes Muslims in traditional garb, you are damn right I am going to notice. To me, this is no different from me being more aware when I am getting on an elevator and there are several men and no women. What does that make me? Anti-men? Just like Mr. Williams, I also agree that we need to move past that fear and there are a number of steps that need to happen to get to that point, on both sides.

So I say shame on NPR for their ridiculous decision. I will be personally writing NPR and my Congressman regarding their ongoing support to the radio station. I will also be writing Fox News to applaud them for supporting him and should expand his “Wednesdays with Juan” segment into a full show. I encourage everyone who reads this to do the same.

December 7, 2009

The Many Meanings of “Aggressive”

Filed under: General Annoyances,Manipulation — alvb1227 @ 12:32 pm
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What do you think of when you hear the word “aggressive?”

It may sound like a simple question, but it is one that has bugged me for years. Aggressive can mean words like focused, assertive, contentious, bold, dynamic…and my personal favorite…bitchy.

When you look up aggressive on Thesaurus.com, you find such words as cocky, combative, quarrelsome and intruding. The first entry on the site at the time was: “pit bulls can be naturally aggressive.”

Obviously, words can have many meanings. Aggressive, however, is one that really annoys me. I don’t want to sound like I am getting on my femi-nazi soap  box, but I always found it fascinating that when men are aggressive at work, it is expected and even celebrated. Words used synonymously can include assertive, focused, aspiring and go-getter.  However, when a woman is aggressive at work, she is labeled as bitchy, pushy, combative and disruptive. Is it because men still dominate the workplace and don’t like the competition? Or is it that women are still considered an annoyance in the workplace?

I have to be honest…I don’t know the answer to this one, but I’d love to find out.

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