Are We in the Jerk Store?

The only customer in the shop, I stood waiting for the nice lady behind the counter to fill my meager order: one white creme-filled donut and two glazed cinnamon twists.

Behind me, the donut shop’s front door swung open with a resounding “ding” and in stepped a graying man, sharply dressed, with two small children flanking him.  Also wearing their Sunday best, they rushed passed him, straight for the counter.  Their dress shoes skidded across the slick vinyl floor.

“Now, remember, one dollar each,” he called after them.

Read more

Remembering AJ

In August of 2012 I found myself in a CVS Pharmacy restroom in Conway, Arkansas, changing from casual clothes into a black suit. I was fortunate that it was a clean men’s room.

A few days before that, through the modern device of online social media I found out that a college friend had passed away. He was nearly 10 years my senior, but still not what I generally consider “old enough” to die.

IchthusA trucker by trade, AJ was licensed to drive large groups. Many times we all crammed ourselves into a 13-passenger van and AJ safely guided the vehicle to our destination — sometimes more than 1000 miles roundtrip. I don’t know whether he knew it, but he missed out on some of the camaraderie by being up there behind the wheel.

(click any image to enlarge)

Read more

DishNetwork Getting More Like Cable Companies

We have been very happy with our DishNetwork service for all the 10-plus years we have been customers.

For the first time, they are moving toward a system that’s eerily similar to that used by cable companies. By that, I mean that with the new Hopper and Joey system, they require not only a receiver for your main television (the Hopper), but also additional units (Joeys) attached to any television you wish to use with the system. Dish always has charged a monthly for the main package and the receiver, but now there’s a new wrinkle.

While there are pros and cons of staying with the old system, versus going with the new, I’m starting to wish I had kept our previous receiver rather than upgrading to the new Hopper system — for now.

Quick Tip:
If you are a DishNetwork dual-tuner DVR user who has not yet “upgraded” to the Hopper, and storage space is your primary concern, consider buying an external hard drive for your existing DVR and being happy with what you have. It will save you money after the initial fee of adding a hard drive.

Now, to the full story, for the “why” of it all.

Read more

Just a Simple Procedure

He made it sound so simple that it seemed too good to be true. To be fair, the trip to the ER had nothing to do with his work.

He was going to perform the procedure without a needle and without a scalpel. Just a few high-pressure sprays of local anesthetic, reminiscent of the hypo spray Bones used on Star Trek, and then a small puncture into which he would insert his tools and work his magic. Then he would clamp on a few titanium clips and cauterize the severed ends of the reproductive tunnels he had closed.

I read about it on my own, and found it was first developed in China to help men curb their fears of, you guessed it, vasectomy. The new way invented is needle-free, scalpel-free. Not in the original Chinese procedure, however, was my wife’s sheer panic and that pesky ambulance ride.

Read more

Beating the Dead Horse Called Customer Service

Customer service truly is a dying art. In some places, it’s dead and being beaten.

My nine-year-old son and I ventured to our city’s historic downtown district on Sunday afternoon. Our goals were simple: enjoy the 80-degree weather in December and find something for him at the Star Wars toy store. For five dollars.

On the drive there he and I grabbed some fast food, because our cupboard had been bare, and buying food downtown was not in our budget. For that I used all but one dollar of the cash I had brought with me. The boy had the cash he needed, and I didn’t intend to buy anything, so I wasn’t concerned.

Read more