Customer Service The Right Way

I have been going to write about customer service for a long time now. Typically what drives me to do so (almost!) is a bad experience, or service that says to me, the customer, something like "Can't you see we're busy, go away! No, I can't help you, even though it's perfectly obvious that I can and should! I won't! Go away!"

Somehow and somewhere along the way the notion of providing customers with the service they expect in an efficient, courteous manner got jettisoned. Many times these days, if you ask for a little service, a little this or another that, the employee will look at you like you just hit his truck.

Not so at Culver's in Springfield on Wednesday evening! I had gone to pick up my bride from work and we were headed to church. Typically that means we grab something quick to eat on the way. Culver's is on the same street as her office so I stopped for a Pot Roast Sandwich Value Basket and the roast was delicious, I might add, and I headed to her office.

I got there, parked in front to observe her emergence from the building. While waiting I reached for some fries and WHAT! NO FRIES! They forgot the fries! C'mon! It's a Value Basket! Sandwich! Fries! Drink! The fried and carbonated triumvirate that rules ALL FASTFOODOM! How can you NOT get those 3 pieces together?!

My bride alighted from the office and got in the car. I told her what happened and we drove back to the restaurant. I was sure they would give us the fries, I was just there. But I expected to be treated as if it were my fault somehow. Sorry, that's just what I expected.

I couldn't have been more wrong. The young man was very sorry and said he would get our fries right away. The shift manager stuck her head out the window, apologized, and asked if she could get us some custard for our trouble! "Yes, please," we answered. When she brought the custard, I told them, in far fewer sentences, what I've just told you, that they had just performed customer service the way it should be done and that very few others do it any more!

And honestly, being able to praise their efforts made us happier than getting the custard!

Way to go, Culver's!

Fun On Thursday

The Onion News Network provides readers and viewers with what appears to be hard-hitting news reporting, except it's a joke. The network gets a little racy for my blood sometimes, so generally I only wind up there by following someone else's link.

I did that today and I suggest you do, too.


I Love It When You Talk Cubs Failure To Me

High-priced outfielder Alfonso Soriano of the Team That Shall Not Be Named in today's Chicago Tribune: "It's very disappointing, how we did on this road trip. There are a lot of games left, so I hope we have a good September, combined with St. Louis having a bad September, and see what happens. I think that's the only chance we have."

Chicago's north-siders trail the Cardinals by 8 games in the standings.

Slim and none.

Great Catch, Even If It Was A Cub

Loathe as I am to give credit to the baseball team that lurks on the north side of Chicago, I must call to your attention this defensive gem from over the weekend. I am a sucker for great outfield plays and this is remarkable. The fielder is Sam Fuld.

The kid is a gamer and if they had a roster of players with those kind of hearts, the Cardinals would not be enjoying an eight game lead right now.

I Like Dogs. Really.

I was tooling around town the other day and saw a bumper sticker that read, "My Daschund Is Smarter Than Your Honor Student." I remember when these bumper stickers first appeared. It seems like a long time ago. IT WAS A LONG TIME AGO!

I'd like to visit with this daschund that is so smart. I'm sure he or she has many interesting opinions about the current political scene, what to do about energy, the war on terror, and why the recession is lingering. I'd like to know who the daschund voted for, if he could reach the table. And if he could read the ballot. And if he can make the mark on the ballot with the stylus using his little pads.

I'd like to know where the daschund is employed and how much he makes and what he contributes to the economy. Surely a dog smarter than an honor student has some gainful employment.

Does he follow sports? How 'bout those Cardinals, eh? And is Missouri going to be strong again this year? And will the Royals ever turn it around? A dog as smart as he is surely has some ideas here.

Oh, and I'd also like to ask him who's befouling the yard and leaving the smear marks on the windows in the car.

I'll bet it's not the honor student.


Friday Night Fun

As I write, there are two lady guests of my wife's in the other room and the three of them are preparing name tags for a ladies function at church next week. The frequent laughter erupting from the dining room is enough to make a man curious. However, the Natural Order of Things says I will keep my distance. It wouldn't be a problem to go in there, but it would be, ah, . . . different.

While we are on the topic of guests of the lady persuasion, my lovely bride hosted 10 or so last Tuesday for Bible study. While they held their confab in the living room, I took the opportunity to have the oil changed. In our car. I'm not sure what the topic was the women were discussing, but when I returned, trying ever so hard to not make a disturbance, they all rose in unison when I walked in the door. I will say the notion of being in the wrong house crossed my mind. But no, they cooked up the little display for fun!

For the last thirty years, or so, I have harbored the idea that learning guitar would be a neat thing to do. And these many years later, it remains a harbored idea. There were a couple of times I nearly set sail, but alas. A few days ago I came across this video of a young man which causes me to think about starting to learn AND abandoning the idea all at once! I trust you will understand my meaning when you watch.

And, this one is amazing.

Happy Friday!


What Liberals Do

"Now that George Bush is no longer President, opposing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has dropped to dead last on the priorities of American leftists, like those who gathered for "netroots nation" last week. It is telling that only a few cranks, like Cindy Sheehan, haven't gotten the message that, now that Barack Obama is President, war is OK. We can all ponder, I guess, what this tells us about the Left."

From Powerline.

Backdoor Nationalization

"The White House has suggested it would settle for health care cooperatives instead of the public option. Don't drink the Kool-Aid. This arrangement will be nothing more than the public option in disguise."

You can read the whole thing.

And, no, don't drink the Ko-Op Kool-Aid.


Thank God for Expository Preaching

My favorite pastor who is not my pastor, John Piper, on expository preaching:

"It is astonishing to me how many pastors apparently don’t believe in pursuing the joy of their people in this way. Evidently they think it doesn’t work. I’m sure there are many reasons for this abandonment of biblical exposition.

"God’s truth followed by faithful, Spirit-anointed exposition, leads to great joy, which is the strength of God’s people. So give the sense, brothers. Give the sense!"

I am thankful to God for my pastor, Doug Shivers, and his commitment to 'giving the sense' through expository preaching.

Yes, It's Still Too Early

I began handicapping the GOP presidential field a few months ago based on my personal preference and the likelihood (in my view) that the candidate will run. I update it when a candidate does or says something that may change my perception of them.

I have mentioned before that I have been anticipating supporting Newt Gingrich in the next presidential campaign. He’s smart, he’s experienced, he’s conservative. I wouldn't have any qualms about supporting him and would be pleased to cast a vote for him.

But, even at this embryonic stage in a presidential campaign, there is a guy that is making waves and he may soon change my mind. It is Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota. Pawlenty has governed a liberal state quite successfully as a conservative. He’s smart, he knows the issues and talks about them plainly. And, having watched him twice on CSPAN, he’s got some charisma, a little more pep than Gingrich (and a lot more than Romney), and that’s important.

Here's a couple of thoughts on health care from an article in Politico:

“Medicaid is essentially bankrupt, Medicare is essentially bankrupt, why the heck would we give the federal government another entitlement program to manage?” asked Pawlenty.

“We had people, leaders in the Republican Party and conservative movement, saying we couldn’t talk about health care,” the Republican governor said. “Are you kidding me? There is no other pocket book issue that directly affects people as much as this.”

Smart, clear-eyed, plain-spoken. Keep your eye on Pawlenty.


Friday Night Coffee Break

Have you noticed all the coffee shops? Well, sure you have! And, not only that, you have a thought about coffee. I know you do because, these days, it seems, no one is permitted to be coffee neutral.

Apparently, it’s important to choose sides and offerings such as “I like coffee”, “I love coffee!”, or “COFFEE!!!” are examples of opinion on one side. On the other side are declarations like, “I don’t care for coffee”, “I can’t STAND coffee”, and, an oldie but a goodie, “I don’t like coffee, but I like the way it smells”. The two sides generally do not come to blows, but declaring which group you identify with is expected in polite company.

Here at Central Standard I have weighed in on the issue before and, in the interest of full disclosure, I am pro-coffee, but I don’t really drink it. I drink frozen (or iced) mochas. (All the hard-core coffeeheads just guffawed.) Mochas are, essentially, chocolate milk with a little coffee added to tamp down the sweetness a bit. Edgy Chocolate Milk, you might say.

Well you can imagine my interest in an article I found called, “Iced Coffee? No Sweat”. As it turns out, it’s not about mochas at all, but coffee – specifically iced coffee. Interesting. The article touts the joys of iced coffee brewed cold, not hot, and goes on to explain how one can prepare it, and it really is easy. The author tells of learning about cold-brewed coffee from a man who, while on vacation in the Caribbean, refused to drink iced coffee brewed hot. It’s a fun story.

Also catching my eye was this item by Owen Strachan via Justin Taylor. Strachan skewers some of his evangelical/reformed brethren over their coffee pretensions. He describes his peers as “youngish, theologically oriented, book-loving, culturally plugged in, ironically inclined”.

He continues,
“What you find on many websites is some kind of description like this: “I love reformed theology, U2, anything by Steven Soderbergh, and a fresh cup of joe. . . Here’s the thing about this situation: there’s nothing ironic or unique about liking coffee. We all like coffee. Coffee is good. Made well, it’s really good. It’s kind of like saying you like bread. “Anything by Piper, Band of Horses, and Pepperidge Farm rocks my world.” Everyone likes bread. And everyone likes coffee."
He does not stop:
"So, reformed hipster/progressive/student/master-of-irony, next time you consider charting your particular coffee-related beverage of choice, next time you wear it as a distinctive identity marker, remember: everyone else likes coffee. Work harder on the goatee pattern, find another brand of undiscovered denim, dig even deeper in the alternative music shop to lay hands on the truly avant-garde musical act, because your love for coffee–it ain’t getting you there.”

Funny I think.


Editorial Note

Recently I had posted a photo of our president that had been altered to make him look like Heath Ledger’s Joker from the movie The Dark Knight. I removed the image after someone I am close to was offended by it. This friend reminded me that I have a responsibility as a Christian to act in a manner which is appropriate. And while I still believe that Obama’s agenda is destructive and should be opposed by all; and that satire is an effective weapon, particularly when the object thinks so highly of himself, I probably crossed the line. I am sorry.

So I took the photo down and replaced it with the chastised puppy.

A good post in a similar vein from Justin Taylor’s Between Two Worlds.


True, But For Whom?

While waiting to find out if I would participate in our participatory form of government today, I was plowing through a book I brought along. As it turns out, there was less waiting and more participating than I had anticipated, but I did get the chance to note an interesting bit from the book.

The book is Tony Dungy's "Uncommon" which was given to me at Father's Day. Dungy begins Chapter 10 with a quote from William Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Now, I readily admit that, when it comes to Shakespeare, I am an ignoramus. I recognize some quotes that I hear from time to time, but not because I am actually familiar with the work. I recognize them because many have become part of the cultural fabric. Cultural Fabric, incidentally, can be purchased by the yard and is much cheaper in places like Miami, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Atlantic City and Austin, TX.

(Yes, the guy who knows nothing of Shakespeare IS making jokes about others lacking culture. But just ask yourself, where else are you going to find this kind of breath-taking irony at such low prices?)

The quote is this:

This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

When I read this, I was flabbergasted. A little bit, anyway. Here, as I already mentioned, is a quote that I've heard before. That is, I've heard the "to thine own self be true" part. Usually on a TV show or in a movie is where I hear it and is usually deployed to justify some self-centered act. In other words, "you won't be happy unless you look out for Number One." But what I saw here, for the first time, was that the familiar part was nestled in a larger thought, roughly, be honest with yourself and you will be honest with others. At least that's how I understand it.

It is such a stark difference in meaning! "To thine own self be true", standing alone is an end in itself; "to thy own self be true" as a part of the larger quote is a means to an end. The former has self as its focus and latter has others as the focus.

The two meanings could not be more different.

Note: I have confessed my ignorance about Shakespeare and so I may have misunderstood him here. I'm willing to be corrected, if I have missed it. Let me know in Comments.


Get More Jewelry With the Tickets

I read Dave Barry every week.

If you don't know (heavens! who doesn't know?) Barry is a columnist for the Miami Herald and he writes humor. In my view he is must reading. He is what I want to be when I grow up.

His column this week concerned the travails of brides-to-be during the run-up to the wedding. This amounts to planning and planning and planning with the intent being to have a day that is not "RUINED, RUINED, RUINED!" And it all has to be done by the bride, of course.

"Well, what about the groom?", you ask. Helpfully, Barry explains:

And don't tell me that the groom can help. Please. The groom is useless. Statistically speaking, something like 92 percent of all grooms are male. If you let males plan weddings, you're going to wind up with Skee Ball at the reception.

My first reaction, "What a GREAT idea!!! Man! What a blast!" And I thought that any man who read that column had basically the same reaction. "Who wouldn't go for Skee Ball at the reception?"

Actually, I think we know who.


Card Index is Down

I always thought the Index Card was one of man’s great achievements. That and the Bic pen, crystal, blue, medium point, but I digress.

The index card is a great size, three inches by five inches. We call them 3 by 5 cards. One slips into your pocket because of it’s handy size. Yet it’s sturdy enough to survive a day’s work - in the pocket, out of the pocket, back in, now out.

There’s enough room to write a To Do List, or a grocery list, or an outline of a short presentation. Longer presentation? No problem, add a card. Or two. Jot a note to yourself, or to someone else. Or draw something.

You can file them. They make boxes just for that, for filing. You can preserve your lists, notes, drawings and whatnot. What a great invention, that sturdy little card.

Or it was.

Have you seen what they’ve done to index cards? They are ruined! They aren’t card stock anymore, at least not that I’ve found! They are like paper! Thin, rough, BAD PAPER!! I came across these so-called index cards a few weeks ago and I hate them! So I returned to the store to find better ones. I searched for some indication of the weight or thickness of the stock, but I couldn’t find any. And you just can’t tell how good they are in the wrapper, they are bundled up so tight. They look good, but it’s deceptive.

I found some in a two-pack from Oxford and I bought them. I thought, “They are from Oxford, a reputable brand in the office supply world. They’re probably OK!” But, NO! They are terrible! Thin, papery, lousy slips of paper with lines. Call them lined scraps of 3 by 5 paper. They are not worthy of the name, “Index Card.”

I am bereft.

So, I'm appealing for help. If you know of a manufacturer still making Index Cards worthy of the name, please tell me.


Double Take

"You know, Fay, in every baseball game I see something I've never seen before." - Roger Craig

I am not sure if I know if this is true for me, but I am closer to believing it than I've ever been. More often than not I will notice something in a ballgame I've never noticed before.

Did you see the double play in the Royals game last night? The one "started" by Sidney Ponson? I will give you the link, but first, the description.

The Rays had runners at first and third. The Rays batter, Zobrist, scorched a line drive that hit Ponson and went to the Royals second baseman on the fly, one out. Both runners had left their bases when the ball was hit, so Callaspo tried to double off the runner at first, but the throw hit him in the back as he retreated to first base. First baseman picks up the ball and throws across the diamond to get the runner from third who had actually crossed the plate and couldn't get back in time, completing the double play. Two hit players, two outs. Crazy.

I had never seen anything like this before. Take a look.

The quote at the top is from former player and manager, Roger Craig, from a book by former baseball commissioner Fay Vincent. The book is entitled, "The Last Commissioner."