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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Hidden bottles, magical thinking and the part-time parent

Sometimes, I wonder if I am impacting anyone by my thoughts, my musings about human nature?I'd like to think that one day someone will say, yeah, this did help me out.  But, in the meantime, I will write for that time... So, last Saturday (May 27, 2017),  I went to a family wedding without my daughter.  It had a nice outdoor area that was very kid friendly.  Family relatives of her age were playing there.  I couldn't help but to think that she would have loved to play too.  My wife felt the same thing too.  While I enjoyed the wedding and am happy for the couple, there was a bittersweet nature to the situation without my daughter there.

Anyone who has the short end of a custody agreement can related to this: Short of a close death in the family, one of the hardest things I've had to face is limited time with my daughter and giving her up when I feel like I just got her again.   There's been times in which I've had to go the better part of a week or more without seeing her due to the custody schedule. Holidays/vacation when she's not with me can be rough too.  I think to myself, she should be there enjoying that time with us.  In some ways, it's bittersweet knowing that I have her now (when I have her), but tomorrow or in a day or two, I'll have to give her back to Mom.  When I drop her off for the better part of a week or so, my mood sometimes tanks.  I have forced myself to cry at that point by putting on the most melancholy music I know.  Doing so to me feels like I am bloodletting from a blood blister or removing the poison from my system.   I guess the overarching feeling is that I feel like I'm missing out on huge parts of her fleeting childhood.

Through her time with me, my wife indicated to me, she has a little bit better understanding of what parents who have lessor custody go through in that regard.  She said that she used to view all guys who walked away from their kid(s) as heartless, but now she believes that at least in some cases, it is a matter of the bittersweet nature of secondary custody being too hard on some.  I said to her, yeah, it's hard, but she--my daughter--needs me, so I have to deal.

Which brings me to a point.  In AA or Alcoholics Anonymous, people literally hide their alcohol or places that they get it from.  They call this "hidden bottles".  In other words, it is a secret place where they can get their fix without another knowing (or at least so they think).  How this applies to my situation with my daughter is this: I fought hard for my rights with her and I've been told I did well in that regard, but even so, I feel cheated out by the system.  So, there is a part of me that actively contemplates how to see her more.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, except that I focus too much on not having her and pondering 'my options for getting her more' rather than appreciating the time I do have with her.  While it isn't a bad thing to consider how I can maximize my time with her, I know I shouldn't let it consume me.  I shouldn't let dread of 'losing her again'  (for days at a time) interfere with my time with her.   On the outside, I 'accept' the current limitation, but like a hidden bottle in my mind, I reach for how can I change things or for indulging my dread in "losing her again".


(Mental) hidden bottles can be in their extreme, magical thinking.  I call them mental hidden bottles, because we know if we openly hold out hope or indulge them, we are likely to be judged and told that they are absurd.  To illustrate, I will give a few examples and comment a bit more: 
  • Believing you still have a chance to be with someone who broke up with you--especially if it wasn't a good breakup--if you just let them know how much you mean to them.  
    • Showing up unannounced for example aka ambushing them.
    • Getting them elaborate an expensive gifts, etc.
  • Having a close loved one pass away and waking up day after day, expecting to see them again in this life, though outwardly expressing to others you know they are gone.
    • A kid expecting to see a lost sibling,  parent, aunt/uncle.
    • A grown-up expecting to see their late spouse.
  • Believing that you if you buy hundreds of ticket after tickets, you will hit the right number.  Believing that if you keep dumping in dollar after dollar, the right slot machine will reward us with a big payout. Believing that if you wait long enough, the right rich distant (and likely unknown) relative who passes away, will leave you enough money that your troubles will go away.

I'd venture to guess by the time we are into adulthood, we've given up most if not all of the truly magical thinking.  I don't mean that we give up on our dreams or goals, but we give up on the things that are truly impossible or that which is so near to it (and destructive to focus on).  Anyway, we come to realize that reality doesn't change just because we don't like it.  Our late loved ones just don't come back to life after seeing them deceased.  While we may not believe in "magic", I think sometimes, we still indulge in holding onto our mental hidden bottles. That is thoughts, feelings and desired outcomes which get in the way of our living with the current reality.

In the case of missing my daughter, it's a fact that short of tragedy or bad circumstances, I will never see her everyday.  (At least until she is old enough to decide at the end of her childhood).  I don't like it, but I can't quietly focus on that like a mental hidden bottle.  I see there is room for me and her mom to split time a little more evenly (and we have), but I can't focus on my feelings of getting 'cheated' by the system.  The fact is that there are some parents who are (unfairly) kept from their kids though manipulation from vindictive ex-partner.  

I guess my takeaway from this is not to give up on goals, hopes, dreams or justice, but to keep things in perspective.  That is to say, do you what you can and should but at the end of the day realize that sometimes you have to turn it over the Almighty and trust that He will work towards what is best for you.  As this is a sinful, fallen world, we may not get what we want, but maybe we need to understand that the Almighty works for the best for those who follow Him.

I struggle with faith in matters of this sort, but I know that when I've tried to play God in my own life, I have fallen way short and need to learn better to let go.  I guess the advice that I'd give for others is to realize that while our Higher Power wants us to participate in the betterment of us and our situation, that He also wants us to lean on him and not just our own ways and understanding.

Just my 1/50th of a dollar,


Sunday, May 21, 2017

The insane voice, installment 8: Certifiably nuts

I think I realize why when people turn old and start 'losing their mind' they say what appears to be inappropriate or off the wall stuff.  I think they secretly always had the crazy thoughts just wanting to be said, but were too appropriate or proper to say them.  As we know dementia and senility tend to destroy those filters.   I figure why wait until I'm old and they slip out due to me losing my mind?

So, here goes.  Another establishment of the "The Insane Voice"

  1. I was listening to the radio when a "Test of the Emergency Broadcast System" came on.  There was the usual, disclaimer of "If this had been an actual emergency, instructions would have followed..." or something to that effect.  So, it occurred to me what if they express what actually happens in some emergencies: "If this had been an actual emergency, chaos, tragedy, fighting, screaming, crying and dying would have followed".  But then again, I thought that probably was too much truth in advertising.                                                                                                     
  2. After observing the family dog enjoying a coated "treat" left in the cat litter box a few times, I had an epiphany.   We not make and market this sort of thing for our dogs as rewards for good behavior.  It would be candy coated and I'd call it "Feces Pieces" in honor of the human version of it.  The jingle would go, "Imagine Rover's surprise when he realizes that that candy coating really has **** inside." I'd probably be sued by Hershey for copyright infringement, but what they heck...  Anyway, I'd make it in different flavor, dog doo flavor, coated kitty litter flavor,...                             **** = 'stuff' HA                                                                                                                     
  3. So, you know around the time the show "Malcolm in the Middle" was showing on TV, I remembered seeing a commercial for "Malcolm X" to be played on a TV network.  So, it occurred to me, "Why do those two have to be completely separate?"  A new show could take form, "Malcolm X in the Middle".  It could be Malcolm being an incendiary figure, fighting the establishment at night via the pulpit, the loud speaker, the news and through a hardcore following.  However, during the day he'd be a WASPY sarcastic genius in a dysfunctional family mocking and commenting on the goings on in his life.   The second variation of it could be Malcolm X and his WASP stepfamily planning Nation of Islam events and discussing Nation of Islam teaching all over a family formal dinner setting where it is intermixed with lighthearted discussion of the kids' day at school.                                                                            
  4. Anyone who knows me, knows that I love my Siamese cat.  I imagine him and another Siamese cat singing "We are Siamese" in the style portrayed in Lady and the Tramp.  I realize that will likely never happen.  But if I had three wishes that might be one of them.  But, alas, speaking of Simon.  I believe every beloved pet should have a theme song.  The one I tied to Simon, out of deference to his heritage, is "One Night in Bangkok" by Murray Head.   I imagine rewriting the lyrics to include: "One Night in Bangkok makes a hard cat humble".  Yes, pet owners, especially cat owners can be a strange breed.                                                                                  
  5. And last but not least.  I've been splitting time between two churches.  My daughter likes Wednesday kid's church at my longtime church.  But, she has not taken as well to Sunday services there with the change in staff.  So, I tend to attend my new church on Sundays when I do have her.  She seems to like it better and has a friend who attends as well.  But, to the point.  Today's sermon was a serious one that dealt with "Being a Neighbor" as it regards to dealing with people in today's society and how people identify sexually.  I'll leave that discussion for another day.  Anyway, having seen both Guardians of the Galaxy movies recently, I remembered "Hooked on a Feeling".  I thought, hmm, that'd be the perfect theme music for this sermon to start playing on my phone.  But, sigh, I let myself down again and let the moment pass.  But, next time I won't.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Follow the Leader: Thoughts on Leadership and Followership

One day recently I had a discussion with my daughter.  She was among a group of boys, some of whom were picking on a younger boy.  Long story short, she decided to chime in on the poking fun at the younger boy.  When I get wind of it, I let her know that wasn't acceptable behavior and that I'd better not get wind of that sort of behavior again.  Obviously, you appeal to her sense of consequences, but even more, I wanted to appeal to her pride and self-respect too.

I said to her, "When you followed the behavior of others who are making bad choices boys are you being a leader or a follower?"  She said, "A follower".   I then asked her, "If you stand up and said that the mocking behavior wasn't okay or had walked away and possibly told an adult, would you be a leader or follower?".  She said, "A leader".  So, then I said, which would you rather be?  She indicated she preferred being a leader.

So, I kind of of laid out to her my thoughts about being a leader, a follower, and both, especially as it relates to a kid.

  • Strives to do that which which her or she knows is right, for its own sake.
  • When confronted with pressure to do the wrong thing stands up to those pressuring him or her, walks away in protest and/or when necessary relay the problem to others in authority--except where they themselves are the authority to handle it.
  • Sets a positive example.  When a situation comes up which tempts them not to do the right thing, they resist that temptation.   
    • Making bad choices leads to the tendency to make other bad choices.
    • Even when you think no one is paying attention to your choices, often time they are or will find about them.
    • If you make bad choices, you make it easier for others to, especially those who by virtue of age or position you should be leading.
  • Even leaders have to answer to someone to.  
  • Good leaders become and stay good leaders when they realize that there is a time to follow the advice or example of others.

  • Not every one can be a leader or precisely, you cannot be a leader in every situation.  Some situations dictate only one leader at a time.  For example, there can only be one President at a time.
  • Sometimes you don't have the knowledge/training, experience or expertise to lead in a given situation.
    • For example, you need special training to be a police officer. 
    • For example, you need to be old enough and have been trained on the proper handling of fireworks (and depending on types or location, certified)
  • It is okay to be a follower when others in charge or others like you are setting a good example or doing the right thing.  When they aren't, it can be wrong or dangerous to be a follower.
  • Followers usually have a time in a place in which their leadership is necessary.
  • In some situations, by following the example of a good leader, you are actually leading others around you.
    • If you follow the advice & example of sports star who exhorts you to "complete your education" or "don't smoke" or a message like that you are setting a good example yourself.  Siblings and kids that look up to you, will see the positive example you set and be at least a little less likely to quit school or start smoking.
  • Almost without exception, most people who end up being good leaders had at least one person in their life whom they followed that set an example.

I guess the takeaway I hope to give from this post is the following:  Be a leader when you should, a follower when it is proper and realize that whether you see yourself as a leader or follower, you should always do your best and do the right thing regardless.   After all, it is very likely that you will have to play each role at some point (and sometimes at the same time).  So, doing your best and proper will help those who are leading you AND will set a good example for those whom you are leading.

- Cheers

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Please Don't Be a Pleaser: Diplomat, feeling uncertain or needing validation.

Recently I wrote a blog post called: Please Don't Be a Pleaser.  The upshot of it was that there are point(s) in your life which you realize you can't please everyone.   More specifically it went into the types of circumstances in which you can't please people and how to deal in those circumstances.  While I think this is a constructive angle to look at in the study of "people pleasing", essentially it is a sort of "I'm here" vs. a "How did I get here" perspective.  So, I will focus today's post on what's behind the tendency to people pleasing, that is to say what drives them.  As the title indicates, I believe there are (at least) three drivers for people pleasing.   They are in no particular order: the need for being a diplomat, feeling uncertain about self and needing validation.  People pleasers can have one or more of these personality types.

  • This person values peace and strive to find common ground.
    • It maybe that they feel they are just good at making others feel good or bring peace.
    • It may be that they have had to deal with dysfunction and fighting at some point in their life.  This drives them to defuse confrontation wherever they see it.
    • This person can serve as a go-between multiple two parties.  They work to positively massage the egos of each of multiple warring parties, all while softening the hard edge between what each party wants to communicate with each other.  They serve as the "happy face" for each side.
  • This person may get some sort of sense of value from being a 'peacemaker'. 
    • If he or she can bring different factions to a peaceful outcome, they have saved everyone from the destructive effects of conflict.
    • If he or she can bring different factions to a just (or 'everyone wins') outcome, they have advanced progress for everyone.
  • This person is probably considered having the most "noble" reason for being a pleaser. 
    • As long as he or she is considered fair and just, who doesn't appreciate the peacemaker?
    • While this type of pleaser likes to consider themselves fair and impartial, they may be more political than advertised.
    • Provided this person doesn't just another run all over him or her, some degree of wanting to be the diplomat or to help bring happiness to another isn't a bad thing in relationships.

  • This person may not have a well-developed sense of self. 
    • If you don't know who you are, it is hard to be centered.
    • The cliche 'if you don't stand for anything, you'll fall for everything' is appropriate here.
  • This person's sense of self may be reasonably developed, but they may fall into the trap of second guessing.
    • This can be a result of being stuck in a pit of shame, especially if they've had significant prior failures.
    • They may allow their better judgement to be overrode by the seeming certainty of others.  Someone with strong and unflinching 'certainty' can be intimidating to others who don't have such certainty and may cause one to second guess. 
    • Certainty, even if misguided, projected by another can be intoxicating, especially if all you have to do is just "buy into the program".  There can be some attractiveness of trying to go along with or please the alpha.
  • This person would probably be considered the "weakest" type of person/pleaser.

  • This person may be struggling with their sense of self and instead of looking within for approval may seek to be seek to be agreeable with others in an attempt to quench the hole in their soul that looks like it is the shape of approval.
  • This person may have a reasonably well-developed sense of self, but is still seeking approval for their own reasons.
    • They seek approval as a means to power.  By seeking the popular position or consensus they are looking to have the largest group of people support them.  In short, they find people that need to 'be heard' and agreed with and seek to 'please them' to gain their support.
    • They may be narcissists by nature, thinking highly of themselves for "understanding" the needs of others.  In other words, self-validation.  Hearing and 'schmoozing' (aka pleasing) others is really just means to an end.  That is to say they 'know' what is best for others and have at least pretend to listen. 
  • This person in some circumstances this person may be considered the most "cynical" type of pleaser. 
    • This type of pleaser may get into politics.  What better way to validate yourself than to convince others into selecting you.
    • This type of pleaser may get into other types of stages.
      • By choosing the theater in any form--movie, TV, Broadway, ect--they can validate themselves by capturing the minds, heart and the $$ of others, by playing a 'role' and bring happiness to their 'fans'.
      • By choosing other types of entertainment--such as sports and music--they also can validate themselves by capturing the minds, heart and the $$ of others, by bring happiness to their 'fans'.

I guess my takeaway on this post is this: If you are a people pleaser, what drives you?  Secondly, understanding what drives people to try to 'please' others may help you relate to them better.   Whatever drives us to please others, we won't truly be healthy emotionally and spiritually until we find a healthy way to 'please' ourselves.  That doesn't mean be selfish, but does mean to be at peace with ourselves and to peace with our Higher Power (God).

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Reel Life: What type of movie is your life?

As I mentioned in a previous post, Reel Life: Scenes from life's movie, sometimes I feel like life is a movie.  Specifically, I meant it is typically like a live showing of a movie at the theaters, where it keeps rolling and you only see the past in flashbacks (or prior frames).  Anyway, it occurred to me, if life is a movie, what type of movie is it?

There are many different genres of movies, just like there are many different types of people or personalities.   Just like a comedy usually has some serious moments, dramas have some lighter or comic moments, kids movies usually give a nod to grownups and such, our lives typically have more than one type of movie associated with it.  For example, even people whose life is built on created drama, have time of true drama or tragedy in their lives. That being said, let's stereotype a little.  

  • Biography - This type of movie represents those who are truth seekers.  It represents those who like see and say things straight.  Just like biographical movies, sometimes this type of person can be fascinating and refreshing, but sometimes can be 'too candid' and a killjoy.  After all, biographies don't just tell the good and interesting side of lives, but they also tell the not so good either. 
  • Comedy - The type of movie represents those who don't necessarily take life too seriously or too straight--whether it is due to a lightness of being or a darker more cynical perspective.
    • Laugh out loud comedy - This type of movie represents those who live life jovially.  While they have their moments, their moments don't keep them down for too long.  They try to look at the glass half full and they definitely try to find something to smile about.
    • Dark comedy - This type sees often deeper darker motives behind what is at play in life and society.  But instead of getting all would up about it, they sarcastically reflect on what they see.
    • Parody - They see life as a farce which they are privileged (or cursed) to see. As such, they take little at face value and tend to mock.  Dark comedy & parody have similar elements to them, but a dark comedy is still somewhat serious.
  • Science fiction - They are very creative and adventurous, but sometimes they are considered a little bit nerdy.  They tend to have something to believe in, even if it is not what everyone else does.
  • Western/war movie - People who these types of movies represent are very serious, no-nonsense types.  Like those in a biography, they tend to speak their mind.  Typically they don't care what other's think, but they live by their own code for justice and survival. 
  • Family movie  - These people live lives that would be labeled straight-laced or wholesome.  They try to speak, behave and live a clean, if not healthy life.  They may seem boring to some, but they are there to remind us of what is proper.
  • Musical - These people are the type who like to live large OR "put on a show".
    • Larger than life musical - These people like to live large, live loud and live flamboyant.  For them it is all about spectacle and the attention.  They just like the high or feeling of living big.  Really, it is a show they are putting on for their own entertainment.  The spectacle of their show often tends to make them fun to be around. 
    • Production value musical -These people live their life as a "show" they are putting on for themselves or others.   In their own personal show, they will do things to convince themselves they are "proper" thinking or behaving.  In other words, they live as they believe they should, rather than how they actually feel.  When they put on a 'performance' for others, they are trying to convince others of their inherent "betterness".  In a way, their actions or behavior has the feel of virtue signaling.
  • Drama - These people tend to live a life of excitement, adventure or trouble.  Sometimes, it is truly that way and sometimes it is overwrought.
    • A theatrical movie drama - They seen to get in and out of troubled circumstance and relationships.  Maybe it is to seek that elusive feeling of happiness and maybe it is just what they are comfortable with.
    • A "made for TV" movie drama - Typically their life has a feeling of being dull about it.  So, they feel the need to "create drama".  Usually, the drama has a feeling of being forced and avoidable, but it is their way of feeling relevant (at least to themselves).  Typically, others see through it, but sometimes when they run into someone in a similar circumstance, they have an audience for their "drama".
  • Tragedy - People with this type of life seem to have bad things happen to them or to those around them.  Really, I think you could say people who live a life of tragedy in a way are living a life of extreme drama.  People who live this life, if they are able to see around the destruction and sadness, can find a way to turn their life into a different movie, perhaps a biography.

Typically in life, we are given a script that we are expected to follow in our formative years.  That is the type of movie we are expected to live.  Sometimes, we are able to break away from that script at an early age and sometimes we never truly do break free from the script.  However, especially as we get older, we tend to have a greater ability to change the script or change "movie" we are living.   That being said, I do believe that although we have free will, it does seem like some people seem to be destined to follow a preordained script.  That may be true or it may just be a matter of how their 'movie' turned out.  That is to say, they lived a different script, but some event so altered their lives, they turned out to be a completely different person.  For example, Oprah Winfrey was born to a single mom, grew up in poverty, faced sexual abuse and was a teenage mom for a short period of time (to an infant son who died shortly after birth).  One could describe her early life's movie as a "tragedy".  But, due to her faith and her persistence, her life movie changes from a tragedy to a biography.  Hers is just one of many.

Anyway, what type of movie is your life or is it a combination of movie types?  Do you feel like your life's movie type has changed over time or due to events?  Just some questions to ponder as we live life's movie.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Art of the Apology: Saying sorry without meaning it.

I'm sure anyone who has been on the customer service side of a consumer complaint or the consumer side of a consumer complain has experienced an insincere apology by the business providing the good or service.  That is to say, just about anyone who is well in their adulthood.  I had an instance of this a couple days ago.

 A couple days ago I left a review of my January (2017) car buying experience.  Last time I bought a car was in 2014.   At that time, I was just happy to get a reliable car with any kind of financing (as I had to declare bankruptcy in 2012).  The previous few times my credit was good enough that I knew I could and would get an excellent rate.  Anyway, I'd repaired my credit somewhat since 2012 and I knew I could get a decent, but not eye-popping financing rate.  

So back to the car-buying experience. In January (2017), I had to buy another car abruptly as another driver destroyed my car and left me with a concussion and whiplash.  In any case, when I bought the car soon after the accident, I still was suffering from the effects of a concussion.  Despite this, I had enough clarity to do a pre-qualification to see what my improved circumstance would allow me to get.  Specifically, I new what I could get in terms of amount and rate of financing on a car.  I also researched price.  So, I came into the dealership knowing about what to offer and about what to expect in terms of  financing.  I did the usual haggling on price, took a test drive with the salesperson in back--which I found annoying, but not disqualifying.  Anyway, so I got to a price I could live with on the car.  So, now it was time to determine financing.  So, I get two hits to my credit report while waiting to be brought back to finance the car.  So, I know the finance guy has run it for at least a couple financiers.   So, he comes out and says "good news, we got financing".  I'm thinking 'and what else is new', but held my thought in check.  So, he brings me back and tells me that he ran my credit report twice so not to ding my credit scores too much.  Fine so far.  So, we start chitchatting a little back and forth and I mention that I'm feeling rough and I'm still recovering from a concussion and I'm glad to get this out of the way.  BIG MISTAKE.

Fiance guy proceeds to do the fast-talking "extra warranty packages" presentation.  You know the hard sell.  Now bear in mind I'm recovering from a concussion and he knows it as I told him.  So, he then doesn't mention the interest rate and says which one--warranty package--you want.  I'm wearing down as I still am injured and just want this over.  But, I had the presence of mind, even with a concussion, to remember what type of financing I prequalified for.  So, I look at the rate he chose and observe that it is with FMC (Ford Motor Credit) and it is higher than the range of rates I prequalifed for.  So, I'm getting agitated about said, my prequalification rates were all lower and you said you ran it for another financier.  Well, what do you know, magically out of nowhere another chart appears with the 1.5% lower rate.  So, I'm thinking so you were just going to stick me with the higher rate if I didn't have the presence of mind to realize you were screwing me so you'd get a nice kickback?  I was irritated, but accepted as reasonable the new rate and he continued the hard sell.  He continued this even after I mentioned to him I was getting tired and not feeling well because of my concussion.  Over the next week as my concussion clears up, I proceeded to drop the extra warranty packages that I wouldn't have selected if I was on my game..  However, this was not before the same finance guy tries to shame me into keeping them. 

So, I left a bad review on the dealer's Facebook site.  The customer service guy who responded wrote something to the effect of 

"Thank you Rich, for sharing your experience with us. We value your feedback and appreciate your business. Please know that we are working as a team to improve and we apologize for upsetting you. A great customer experience is our top priority."

I'm thinking, you apologize for upsetting me?  What kind of mumble jumble is that?   So, I wrote back,

"I'd prefer if you apologized for the finance guy's behavior, not for the fact that I was upset. Me being upset isn't the issue, it is the way I was treated. I hate when people say things like I'm sorry "for offending you" as if the 'sin' was being offended and not what was done to you that would have offended you."

So, this interaction gets me to thinking about a blog post and viola this blog post idea occurred.  How do people say I'm sorry without meaning it or actually admitting much if any liability?  Before I conclude with my list, I appreciate that much of the time the people who are doing the 'apology' are effectively doing the bidding for higher ups and often times have little freedom to deviate from a script.  Anyway, without further ado:


    • I'm sorry that you feel that way - This sorry means that even after you've laid out a legitimate case for why the other party is wrong, it is still 'your feeling' and not an actual offense that is the problem. To me this is them saying, "It is you not understanding us that is the problem and perhaps maybe we didn't represent ourselves or convey our position well enough."  It is often effectively a dismissal and delegitimization of your position by making it about "your feelings" and not your valid points.
    • I'm sorry if we offended you - The authors of this beauty are not taking ownership of a problem AND they are not even acknowledging that you are offended (or have a right to be), much less that you have a valid point.  It pretends to sound like they are owning up to something, without actually owning up to something. 
    • I understand where you are coming from - Depending on the circumstance this can really be condescending.  Sometimes this is a legitimate apology or empathy, but often times it is just words they are suppose to say.   If said without any support, it can just words to try to sound like they care, but not really 'caring' as a business.  This is especially insulting if there is no way they could personally understand and just are trying to humor you without taking an concrete steps to show contrition.
      • I got rid of my Cobalt and a couple weeks afterwords, I got notice from GM of a long overdue recall notice.  My car was powering down partially while I was driving.  All indications was that they knew about this problem for years and the fix was relatively minor, but they were trying to avoid having to admit to this fault with the vehicle as it was widespread and could cost millions to replace.  GM rep says to me, I understand where you are coming from.  I said, "Did you drive an unsafe vehicle from GM what would partially power down and which air bags were apt not to deploy properly because of it"?  She said "no" and I said, "Well you don't understand then that your company knowingly put me and my daughter in danger".  Suffice to say I was ticked off.
    • It was beyond our control or "we didn't anticipate" - Sometimes, it really is beyond their control such as weather related delays.  However, often times it is a lack of planning or lack of effective research or understanding of customer demand. This is actually an apology, but an apology with an excuse.  That is to say, "we are sorry, but..."

Now the last "Sorry" in the list I believe comes closest to the mark of sincerity or legitimacy.  However, the real proof of sincerity or legitimacy of an apology comes later.  That is to say, when they've made an effort to either make you whole again or at least not repeat the same problems that put them in a position to have to 'apologize' in the first place.  QT gas stations are one of the best I've seen at this.  For instance, there has been a few times they had a promotion going on with one of their kitchen products.  Anytime they don't supply properly for it and cannot deliver the product, they've tried to get me the closest alternative to it at the promotional price.  On top of that, each time that's happened, they've given me a coupon for a free cold or hot beverage from their fountain area.  Now to me that says they really value me.  Not only do they apologize for their failure in stocking the promotion effectively, they get as close as possible to duplicating the desired product and then on top of that give away something of value to note the inconvenience.  That's the type of less I could not teach any better to my daughter for when you fail someone else. I believe that is the perfect way to end this post.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Reel Life: Scenes from life's movie.

I'm sure this is a common feeling, especially among people as their years start to add up.  But, sometimes I feel like life's a movie.  Yes, I know I've heard "Life's a Dance", but with all due respect to John Michael Montgomery, I'm right, not him.  But, I digress.  Life's a movie that we are releasing scene by scene.  As we live out our life, the 'audience'--which includes us--is seeing that section of the movie for the first time.  Our memories and reflections effectively are scenes from previous parts of the movie.  We may be able to somewhat anticipate the next set of scenes in the movie just like we can plan and anticipate our future.  However, just as in a movie, life is full of unanticipated plot twists and unexpected turns.  Just like the protagonist in a movie, we are usually able to overcome or face the plot twists and turns.   However, just like sometimes protagonists in a movie don't always survive the plot twist and turns, sometimes we are not able to effectively overcome the blows life deals.

But just like a movie that is playing out at the theaters
  • We usually do not get to redo or 'correct' a scene that we don't like in the movie.
  • Rarely is the movie paused to allow us to fully digest the portions of it which have passed.
  • If we are distracted or have to take a "break", we risk missing important parts of the movie and ruining the experience.
  • If we focus too much on thinking about or discussing the scenes that have passed, we risk missing important parts of the movie and ruining the experience.
It's not that we can't consider life as it goes along or reflect upon certain points in it as we continue to move forward.  We can think about the past, we can reflect upon it and we can perhaps wish to experience certain "scenes" over again or to change certain them.  However, life doesn't usually afford us the opportunity to stay parked in the past without the risk of ruining or missing the future.  If we stay stuck and/or descend into a spiral downwards in our lives, we risk life's reel getting stuck and damaging the 'movie'.  In the worst case scenario, we risk life's reel getting completely destroyed or rendered unusable.  Sometimes if we don't like the 'scenes' that have played out so far or are not liking the direction it is taking, we may actually try to sabotage or destroy the movie, just like we try to do so in our life.

So, what do we do?

  • If we don't like the direction the movie is taking, we consider the possibility of an alternative story-line for the rest of the movie, rather than just going along a predictable story-line.
  • If we do like the story-line, we must understand that the story-line may look predictable, but be aware that it can change and not always by our choice.  In other words, we must be prepared to accept that the story-line may go in a different direction and adjust accordingly.
  • We must realize that no matter how far along we are in the movie, as long as the reel hasn't run its course, we still have time to change the remaining frames or scenes in the movie. In other words, as long as there are still frames to show, we can change the ending.
  • We must accept that the movie WILL end sometime, but be focused on making the best movie experience possible and not necessary the longest one.
  • We must be aware that our movie may spawn sequels or reboots.  i.e., progeny, proteges or followers.  Therefore, in the interest of quality sequels or reboots, we should make the best 'original' movie possible.  

A good movie like a good life, has the following elements:
- Moments of joy
- Moments of sadness
- Moments of somber reflection
- Moments of laughter
- A purpose and theme, hopefully a positive one.
- Lessons to be learned and passed on.

Though the opening scenes in life's movie may not be what we would have for, but we have some influence over the ending credits. So take the time and appreciate life's movie, but be aware that even if the movie doesn't start out well that if we put on the best movie possible, the ending credits will speak for themselves.