Tag Archives: corporations

Is Being Old A Liability?

I’m not actually talking about people getting old and the risk that comes with that.  You know there’s plenty of risks for old people, health, financial, mental, and on and on.  Everything is dangerous.  That’s not what I’m talking about.  I am talking about corporations.  Is it now a liability to be old?

Traditionally, it has been a great thing to have a business that’s been running for 50+ years.  Some running for over 100.  Amazing, isn’t it?  To be that ingrained the fabric of America, to have that sort of name recognition, to have seen it all and weathered everything that came along.  That last point: to have seen it all and weathered it.  That is the liability – to have been there.

This train of thought is fairly new for me and is obviously based on current events, but the idea I’m basing it on was actually born quite a while ago.  I was at a Dairy Queen, eating lunch one weekend.  Dairy Queen is one of those long-standing institutions I’m referring to.  I believe them to be generally well-loved, but every business has its detractors for some reason or another.  That’s not important for the moment.  What is important is having a history and being proud of it.

Yes, so Dairy Queen is an old company.  They are quite proud of their early beginnings and how they’ve grown to a massive corporation that is, if not the leader, then the most recognizable company in their field.  So, they want to highlight the humble beginnings of their company to, I don’t know, inspire others?  And I’m sitting there at lunch eating, and on the wall are old black and white photos of early Dairy Queens with the old cars and crowds of people lining up for ice cream.

And as I studied the pictures, my thought was, "That’s a whole lot of white people, there."

Now at the time, things weren’t as crazy as they are now, but race relations were growing tense.  They must have been for me to focus in on that aspect of the pictures.  And further studying showed, yes, no black people present.

Let’s not jump to conclusions here.  There’s lots of reasons why a bunch of photos just all happened to not show a single black person getting ice cream from an old Dairy Queen.  Local demographics is a perfectly valid reason.  BUT.  Racial tensions are not about reason, they are about emotion.  And anything that reinforces a perception… well, it’s not good, regardless of whether the perception can be explained or not.

To cut to the chase, I am wondering if it is worthy of consideration for a company that existed in the less-than-ideal era for black people to simply drop their company, drop their history, and start fresh with a new company.  Radical?  Yes.  Beneficial?  Maybe.  Harmful if not done?  Well, it is leaving an avenue of attack open.

I can foresee the arguments.  Attack?  That’s not fair.  This company did nothing to foster divide or hatred back then and that nonwithstanding, this company is a diverse, fresh, modern company that is committed to blah, blah, blah.  Right.  And you can see how effective a defense that is.  Compare that to:  This company was formed and created in 2020, the year of social change, established right from the beginning with equality, inclusiveness, and equal representation in every level of management and policy.  Blah blah blah.  Both are corporate non-speak, but one has the distinct advantage of no historical baggage.

A company that was around in the 50’s, even if they weren’t actively employing racist policies, was still operating in the norms of the time, which is to say, likely racist.  You would have to be considered extremely progressive, even radical, to have a company back then like companies are today.  If you want a real eye-opener, watch the old movie 9 to 5, from 1980.  At the climax of the movie, the old boss returns to the office and sees handicapped people working there and learns of many employee benefits that have been implemented in his absence.  He’s furious, of course, insisting he will undo everything right away.  Watching the movie now, those major advancements are like the bare minimum today.

So, if you were operating in the 50’s, you were a part of the problem.  Your only excuse is that the social norms at the time didn’t consider it a problem.  And that’s a problem for your company.  You can say how committed you are and how changed and all that happy stuff your company is, but your company has old bones.  And an old brain.  And memories, posted in black and white photos on your walls.  You can’t escape that past, without completely starting over.

It’s Never Been A Better Time To Buy…

…from someone other than Amazon.

It was about a year ago I had made a post about how I’ve wanted to try and reduce my dependency on Amazon.  For the most part, I feel like I’ve been successful.  Sure, there are still things I buy from the empire, usually quick-need things or small trinkets that they’ll ship free where other places couldn’t be bothered with such a small order.  Seriously, I’m buying an electrical wall plate for $2.50 and you’re going to drive it to my house, tomorrow, for free?!  That’s just dumb.  But I’m sure they’re getting it back somehow.

Anyway, since everyone is stuck at home, Amazon is the place for supplies now, right?  And everyone is also trying to scratch their consumer itches, too, so there’s Amazon, again.  But, if you do your research every time, you might just find that there are other options that are just as good and many times better than the empire.  Let me illustrate.

Example 1.  I’ve been without a microwave for quite some time now, maybe 8 months.  How I’ve survived without my dedicated popcorn maker, I don’t know.  But I figured enough is enough.  I want popcorn.  So I went on the hunt for a microwave that was simple and basic-duty.  The options: Amazon, Target, Sears, and Lowes.  Because I’m a brand whore, my preferred brands were Panasonic and Kenmore, which ended up excluding Target and Lowes.  But would you guess?  The winner was Sears.  Sears!  And get this – no free shipping!  But, even including the shipping (a whopping $15), the price was the same as Amazon and I still got it in two days.  Who says only Amazon can do that shit?

Example 2.  I’ve had some stereo speaker stands on my Amazon wish list for some time, just waiting for the right time to make that move.  Today, I decided to make that move.  The stands are made and sold by Monoprice, and sold through Amazon (as well as through their own website).  The stands on Amazon?  $76 each.  The stands on Monoprice?  $55.  Both with free shipping.  I work at a company that sells some product through Amazon and I know it’s not exactly a win-win to make a deal with the devil.  You may gain a lot of eyeballs, but your profit margin is going to suffer greatly from the cut they take. 

And that leads me to example 3.  eBay has become my primary Amazon alternative.  Just some simple hair product purchased today.  $18 at Ulta, $12 at Amazon, and $10 on eBay.  Ok, so I’ll get 3-day instead of 1-day delivery from eBay, but this isn’t a need-now product.  More importantly, I think it’s important to buy from eBay because it’s smaller retailers or even individuals doing a hustle.  You’re more likely to be helping people than a company.  And while eBay is a company and yes, they do take fees for their service, it’s not a egregious as the empire.  Plus there’s the whole flea-market atmosphere which has a slight appeal to me.  There’s less Ai involved, so when you find something you like and a great price, it’s because you’re smart, not because the empire’s computer knows everything (fucking EVERYTHING) about you and tossed you a biscuit.

And speaking of eBay, I need to go now and buy the stereo stand that is also in my Amazon wish list.  Same product, same price (actually 9 cents cheaper on eBay), free shipping.  Why not patronize the little guy?  Make them happy in these bleak days.  Amazon is going to do just fine.

Banks Still Gonna Bank

I’m personally sitting pretty well when it comes to my financial house.  I’ve mentioned changes I’ve made here and there and for quite some time, I’ve been satisfied with what I’ve got.  In summary, where I’m at right now is: Ally handles all my savings accounts needs.  They pay 1.6% interest (right now.  It’s been slowly dropping again.)  T-Mobile (through Customers Bank) handles my checking.  They pay 4% interest on up to $3k in my account and 1% on the rest.  That’s a pretty nice deal, especially as rates keep dropping elsewhere.  Looking at the interest rate history, we’re back where we were two years ago, after peaking in December, 2018.

So, it’s always good to be vigilant and keep an eye open for what may be better for you in your current situation.  Although this hasn’t affected me, it’s still an irrational issue for me that I don’t have a presence at a physical bank.  To repeat, I haven’t needed the services of a physical bank in many, many, years, but I still feel like I should have an account at one.  So every once in a while, I give it consideration.

An offer came in the mail from TD Bank, which opened a branch nearby me recently.  Recently – in bank years – is like in the last decade.  I’ve always been intrigued by them, and I do have a IRA account with TD Ameritrade (although I’m not sure they’re actually related), so when I saw the offer, I figured I’d investigate.  After all, they’re offering a signing bonus of $150 or $300, and who doesn’t want free money?

Let’s start with their top-tier account and see if I can get in.  No minimum deposit to open an account (I don’t even know what that means – how do you open an account with no funds?).  Monthly maintenance fee: $25.  in the old days,  that actually meant something, but now it just means you need to see if you can meet the criteria to get it waived.  It’s almost a pointless charge.  If you don’t meet the waiver criteria, you don’t get that account.  Duh.

So, to waive the fee, I need either: $5k in direct deposits a month.  Oh.  Well, that’s quite a number.  What else you got?  Keep a $2,500 daily balance.  Well, you know I had that at my last bank and it is doable, but are you going to pay me 4% interest on it like T-Mobile is?  Not likely.  Finally, I can have $25k in accounts with TD.  They didn’t mention TD Ameritrade, only loans and deposit accounts, so that could be my ticket in, if that’s the case.

I visited their "Contact" section and their immediate response options were limited to social media or calling.  I wasn’t going to call for a 5 second question, so I sucked it up and used Facebook Messenger to ping them for an answer.

While I wait, let’s see what benefits I get for my account.  No ATM fees, free money orders, cashiers checks, blah, blah.  It looks like I could have a free account…  And now "Marie" has messaged me back, with essentially a copy/paste of the text I already read.  So I have to be more specific in my question.  Is a brokerage account with TD Ameritrade considered a "deposit account"?  And the answer is: no.  TD Bank and TD Ameritrade are separate and their accounts don’t count towards each other.  So TD Bank is not for me.  And it didn’t offer anything compelling anyway.

But, let me jump back just a little bit.  When the TD Bank first opened in my area, I remember being impressed with their choice to have banking independent from investment.  I thought it was the proper thing to do, unlike what, say, Wells Fargo does (as if WF does anything properly).  I still do think that.  But, after looking into their service offerings, I’m just not their target audience.  There are better deals from online banks and the benefits of being physical just aren’t there.  And maybe, maybe… I could be convinced that having my banking under the same umbrella as my retirement investment account is a good thing, then maybe things would be different.  But right now, I think keeping things apart is best, especially in the growing swell of deregulation and financial insanity.

Class Action Pennies

A couple of years ago, I wrote about a class action lawsuit in which I was a participant.  The end result of that was me dropping out because I had to provide proof of my involvement, which I could have, but it was more effort than I wanted to expend for my “up to $900”, but realistically more like $5 award.

And now today, I get an email about the Yahoo security breach class action lawsuit.  Oh boy, this should be expensive.  Scanning the email quickly for numbers, I find that the settlement is for $117 million.  Nice.  Now, how many potential claimants?  Oh… 3 billion.

Quick, what’s the math on this?  About four cents per claimant.  Well, I guess that’s something.  And what, perchance, are the lawyers fees for the case?  $30 million, plus an extra $2.5 million for expenses (postage for 3 billion $.04 checks=$900 million, FYI).  Oh, and the expenses.  Some people endured a greater hardship to prove the culpability of Yahoo, and those people will get awards of $2,500, $5,000, or $7.500.  I did not see in a quick scan of the online documents how many people this award pertains to, but there are six plaintiffs.  When talking in millions of dollars, 4-figure awards are a rounding error.

So, let’s round down to the nearest million for the post-lawyer-payday settlement pool, which is now $84 million.  And now, each claimant is due at least 2.8 cents.  I would round that up to 3 cents, but that’s $6 million of rounding that we just don’t have the funds for.  Sorry about that.

FML

Fuck MyLife.

If you’ve ever taken a moment to search for your name on the Internet, then you know what I’m talking about.  There are plenty of websites that collect public data about people and aggregate it all together, then conveniently make it available to anyone that wants to search for your name.  MyLife is one of them.

A couple of days ago, I figured I would try and take control of my public information in 2020.  The first step I figured would be locking down these public profiles of me.  Should be easy, right?  Create an account, verify your identity, then set the account to private.  That’s how I thought it should work, anyway.

So the first site I went to was MyLife.  I searched myself, and on my profile page, I click the link that said something like “this is me”.  It brought me to the fake “searching for data” page, which I cancelled out of.  On a form that was displayed next, I provided my email address (as is my policy, a unique email address just for them) and clicked “Show background report”, which is a strange way of saying “create account”.

Immediately, at my “dashboard” (please note I never verified any of my info.  you can seemingly create an account for any name you want), I was shown a popup to enable or disable sections of my profile, with a button to “save changes”.  After clicking the button, I was taken to a screen showing different subscription options.  Yeah, no thanks, a free account is all I need.  But no, a free account is not what you need at all.  The “save changes” button does nothing.  Nothing unless you have a paid account, that is.  Fucking seriously?  So fine, these motherfuckers won’t let you lock down your account unless you pay them.  Fine.  You’re assholes, goddamn assholes.  But you are not getting my money.

But, ohhhhh, they have my email address now.  And now the emails have started.  Day 1: the welcome email, which reminds me if I upgrade to Premium, I can lock sections of my profile.  And in big type it says “Keep Your Info Private”.  Assholes.  Day 2: an email trying to warn me about how bad people are and how I need to be able to find out everything I can on everyone otherwise I or my family might get hurt.  Assholes.  Day 3: an email warning me that my online reputation affects my life.  Everyone is going to see my information online (after encouraging me to find everyone I know in the previous email).  ASSHOLES!  (post-publish update: 2 more emails came in on Day 3, one an ad for Experian Boost and another reminding me that there are other sites exposing my info.  I can’t stop them, but I can see who they are – for $$, of course.)

I have enough experience in web site development to have conversed with people who would create a website like MyLife.  They are scum.  There is absolutely nothing positive about the “service” they are offering.  It’s simple blackmail.  Just like those websites that supposedly list “cheaters” and make you pay to have your name taken off. 

Now, fortunately, my “reputation” on MyLife is just fine, but I know how they work.  If you have any entries on a municipalities Clerk Of Court website, you get whacked.  And it’s all the same.  Traffic ticket? Same as a DUI.  Do you want to know the difference?  Well, you’ll have to pay MyLife to see the details.  Unless you’re smart and go to the county Clerk of Court website and do the search yourself, then it’s free.

So MyLife ruins lives by making minor infractions seems like major red flags, then they won’t explain whether it’s a real problem unless you pay them.  And I guess that alone wasn’t scaring people enough, so what they started doing was listing your relatives in your profile and putting warnings if any of them had issues.  And I guess that wasn’t enough either, so they started listing neighbors in there and flagging them, too.

And while I’m definitely of the mindset that you will be known by the company you keep, this is completely ridiculous.  And it’s all in the goal of getting you into a subscription so you can hide that damaging information.  Fucking ASSHOLES.

Holding My Ground

I got another friendly visit from a Spectrum salesperson.  Wonderful.  This time, when I got the inevitable question about how much I’m paying for what services, I got a response of, “Wow.  You are paying WAYY too much!”  Well, thanks.  It’s always smart to suggest your potential customer is stupid.  When I was asked how long I’ve had Frontier, I said since they arrived in the neighborhood.  She replied, “Well, I guess you’re just really loyal.”  Uh huh. Don’t think I didn’t detect only the tiniest pause before “loyal”, as if she wanted to say something else.  Ok, then.  Let’s play.

Obviously, I’m not going to change my service.  I didn’t last time they came by and this time is no different.  But this rep was motivated.  Unfortunately, when you fail at establishing rapport and you just start to go off the rails, motivation can be a bad thing.

This time, I was prepared, because last time, I didn’t get the opportunity to explain that I wasn’t going to switch from a company that has been good to me for 15 years to a company I have no history with.  I told her so.  Her response was that Charter (Spectrum’s owner) had the highest customer satisfaction ratings.  Let’s check that.  According to BroadbandNow, yes, Charter has higher customer satisfaction than Frontier.

Next she made the claim that you can tell the strength of a company is through their stock price.  Let’s check that, too.  And yes, comparing the stock charts between the two is no contest.  Frontier is sinking like a stone and Charter is shooting upward.  So far, her information is accurate, even if I couldn’t verify it at the time.  But then, things started to turn dark.

Along with the claim that Frontier is fading, she said that Frontier is trying to sell FIOS, because they’re losing money on it.  Checking the news, this is true as well, although maybe overblown.  I was told that Charter had the chance to buy Frontier but they turned it down.  Why?  They’re just going to wait for Frontier to go out of business, then they’ll take the customers for free.  Then I was strangely lectured on the greatness of monopolies and how Charter had complete control over certain nearby towns.  It sounded mildly threatening, and I made the comment, “well, I guess I’m just delaying the inevitable, aren’t I?”

I reiterated that I wasn’t interested in switching until I was given a reason to.  Again, she went back to price.  She brought up that new customers are getting the same thing I’m getting for $30/mo and I’m paying $75/mo.  Well, yeah, it’s an introductory offer.  I know about that.  Obviously, a company can’t afford to always offer their service at that price. 

And as we closed our conversation, I got one last threat.  When Frontier goes out of business and Spectrum is the only service provider, there’s not going to be any special offers or introductory prices, because there won’t be any other options.  Yes, that’s right.  She did say that.  I did get to fire back, “Well, that’s just what a good company would do” and we parted ways.

There’s no shortage of words spent on the evils of monopolies, but I have always imagined that the evil was concentrated at the top of the organization.  I’ve never had the thought that the domination and control mindset extended right down into the culture of the company and reached the front lines where it became a threatening sales tactic.

The Mission

What are your thoughts when you read a company’s mission statement?  On first blush, it usually reads like bullshit.  It’s usually a bunch of feel-good words with a touch of fake humility and naïve optimism.  Mission statements are an easy target for people who want to attack a company for not fulfilling any promise they may or may not have explicitly made.

Who is the mission statement made for?  Cynics would say it’s for the owners and executives to make them feel like they’re changing the world.  Less cynical people would say it’s for the employees of the company to be inspired and motivated to do their best for the company – working for a higher good.  And then some people think it’s part of the company’s marketing strategy.

I was following a box truck for a company that had that particular viewpoint.  On the back of the truck, covering the entirety of the door, it read.

Our mission is to fulfill the specific needs of each customer by offering quality product, exceptional customer service and exemplifying Jesus Christ in every facet of business and life.

I have many issues with this.  First, I don’t believe a mission statement is a marketing statement.  Can you tell what business they are in?  No?  So, there’s your marketing success.  Then, the statement is so generic, it wouldn’t even inspire an employee or even an owner.  Every company wants to offer the best product and service, right?  Then, there’s the obvious.  You are putting your religious beliefs in your company’s mission statement.  Since there is nothing else differentiating your mission statement from any other company, and you are choosing to use your mission statement as marketing, your business proposition boils down to, “Do business with us because we are Christian.”  That’s about as compelling as saying, “Do business with us because we’re white.”  Oh wait a minute, that doesn’t make my point at all.

My primary point is that this is a dumb use of advertising space on your company vehicle, unless you feel the need to remind your employees of what they are working for every time they close the truck door.  What is their goal?  Be like Jesus.  No pressure, guys, just try to be the son of God while you’re on the clock.  And off the clock, too.  You did notice that little bit in our mission statement, didn’t you?

UberBastards

I just got a piece of spam mail, to my Uber email address.  I don’t recall saying I was ok with that.

The email is sketchy as fuck.  A company name of “Opinion Research”?  None of the proper CAN-SPAM hallmarks like indicating what email address this was sent to, or why it was sent.  Only because I use unique addresses for every account, do I know this came from my Uber signup.

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The survey is run by Qualtrics, which doesn’t mean much, since they’re just a survey platform, like SurveyMonkey.  This company has their own subdomain, opinionresearch.co1.qualtrics.com, so they’re at least somewhat legit (as legit as it looks so far).

As you see in the email screenshot, I did click to unsubscribe, which I thought would bring me to a page asking if I was sure.  It didn’t, it just took me off that list.  and it gave me another link to unsubscribe from all lists.  ALL lists?  How many have I been put on?

It’s really not a big deal.  If I see that my Uber address suddenly gets spammed, I’ll shut it off and create a new one.  But really, the point is, Uber has sold me out.  Those mother fuckers.

Then, I clicked on the privacy policy.  In bold type, in very simple to understand language:

image-1

No fucking thank you.  Recall what the original email said, “…will not be used to sell you anything.”  However, they will tailor the ads you see to the information you have given to them, then will ask you why they were or were not effective, so they can try harder next time.  What is this world coming to?

As a recent implementer of Pi-Hole (maybe a future post on that), this wouldn’t have worked at all for me anyway because my entire network is actively ad-blocked.  Suck my dick, Opinion Research!

Where To Go, What To Do?

https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/companies/amazon-to-unleash-a-long-feared-purge-of-small-suppliers/ar-AAC1xhQ

For me, it’s the growing dawn of a new realization.  It’s not really anything revelatory; it’s a topic that has been bantered around for years.  Essentially, the thought is, Amazon is getting too big and too powerful, much like Walmart was before.

It sure is easy to be addicted to quick shipping, which is what Amazon is very good at.  I was disappointed by an online order from Lowes that took a week to arrive, and an item I ordered on Ebay just the other day is going to take a week to arrive (shipped from Canada, so, ok…).  Some other things, I’ve ordered recently have also taken time to arrive, like a new kitchen sink, or lights, or CDs.

But notice something, all of these items were not purchased from Amazon.  That realization is somewhat important to me.  Amazon is not the one-stop, end-all, be-all shopping destination for me.  And, with recent news like this, I feel I should wean myself from Amazon’s grasp further.

It’s not all bad.  There’s a lot of things that don’t need to be received in a couple of days (and there are some that do).  There are times I’ll use Amazon’s no-rush shipping option, and never claim the little reward they offer for doing so.  Price-wise, other places can be competitive and sometimes even much better.  Home Depot beat out Amazon by almost 50% on one item I needed.  When it comes to selection, not even Amazon can match a specialized online store, especially when it comes to furniture and other home goods.  And in a lot of those cases, Amazon’s selection is only much broader because they have a massive selection of cheap import products.  If that’s ok with you, EBay can be just as fruitful.

I’ll admit, sometimes, I find what I’m looking for on another site and will check it against Amazon.  If Amazon is close in price, I’ll usually order it from Amazon.  This is solely because I don’t want to have to go through the hassle of creating a new account on a new site.  But, with my planned dependency-reduction, I may begin doing so to spread the wealth a bit further.  For some people, this might not be as feasible, because if you are reusing your email address on many sites, you are increasing your risk of having your email harvested for spam.  Since I use a different email address for every site, I don’t have this worry.

This reliance on Amazon for a lot of things is sort of a downward spiral.  As we buy more stuff online, stores make fewer items available to purchase in-store, which forces us to buy more online.  I wish there was a way we could reverse it.  Some places have an in-stock check, like Lowes, Home Depot, and Staples for example.  So you can check to see if an item is there before driving to the store.  And if it’s not in stock, well, would you order it from there to be shipped or held for pickup, or would you just return to Amazon to buy it?  I know I’m going to have to be more proactive in that choice.

Why can’t someone with more business connections than I have make a website that tracks who sells what.  This should be easy as hell.  Any store that has an electronic point of sale system must have a list of products they sell, and that list of products would contain a UPC.  It should be trivial to upload a list of UPCs to a website to indicate what products your store sells.  The website allows someone to search by product and a list of who sells that product is displayed.  It could work the other way too, where manufacturers upload a list of UPCs and the retailers they distribute to.  The data is there, it just needs aggregated.

Micro-Macro McDonalds Views

In an older post, in passing, I wrote about how I sometimes clean up a store where I enjoy shopping at, to make it nicer for me and for everyone else.  Tonight, I saw it being done by other people.

I was slumming it at McDonalds.  Not saying McD’s is a slum, but I was really dressed down – something I don’t really do when I go out, even for McDonalds.  But tonight, maybe more than usual (I don’t know since I hardly ever eat there anymore), the place was really a disaster.  I really shouldn’t be surprised.  I bitched about their new kiosks years ago and knew that it wasn’t going to change anything service-wise.

So of course, the place is understaffed, just as it should be.  One person at the counter who had to take orders, prep orders, deliver orders to tables, and also keep the whole dining area clean.  Fucking yeah.  What a load of crap.  So it’s no surprise after the dinner rush that all the trash cans were full.

But on top of that, it seems that the customers are… worse?  There was trash left on tables, food on tables, food and paper on the floor.  It’s something I just can’t get over in any environment.  How can someone come into a place, which is in a certain state of affairs and purposely leave it worse off than when you arrived?  Doesn’t matter if it’s a restaurant, store, house, park, or anything.  Ok, I understand accidents, like you drop your drink at a convenience store.  But even then, you should make an effort to clean it up until an employee tells you they will handle it.

And that’s kind of what happened tonight at McDonalds.  While I was waiting for my food, a woman walked up to the counter carrying a stack of trays.  One of the employees met her and seemed confused.  The woman said, “I packed down all the garbage cans as best I could, but they’re going to need changing.”  They employee replied, “We really appreciate that…” and seemed like he was going to say it was unnecessary, but the woman had to explain.  “We come here all the time and blah blah”.  I didn’t catch the rest, but I pretty much understood.  This was a place they enjoyed being in and they didn’t want it to be a shithole.  Yeah, I understand that.

When I did get my food and walked back to my table, out of the corner of my eye, I caught a glimpse of someone sweeping the floor and knew without looking further it was that woman’s husband.  The person working at the counter followed me out and confronted the man.  “Sir, our store doesn’t allow customers to do any employee work.”  The guy jokingly said, “I forgot my hat.”  She replied, “I’ll get it, thank you.”  The guy handed over the broom and the floor got a quick sweeping.

What a sad state of affairs, that businesses staff their stores so poorly that customers feel compelled to help out?  And maybe I would feel some compassion for the business because taxes and competition and it’s so rough being a small business owner today, but this place is a fucking gold mine.  There is rarely a time that I don’t see it busy, with drive-through lines out to the street.  This place isn’t hurting at all.

But, back to this old couple, and people like them.  It certainly does seem the world is in decline on many fronts.  And when that does happen, what do you do?  …  I was going to say, do you let it go or do you fight?  I quickly realized “fight” is not the right word, whereas, “help” is.  That word choice suddenly made a lot of things uncomfortable for me.  Because, as we know, there are a lot of people who see the world declining in different ways.  What is their choice of words for their solution, “fight” or “help”?

That’s something I don’t want to dwell on.