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Monday, November 26, 2012

This city needs street smarts!

What's wrong with people? All of a sudden nobody knows how to drive.  Especially when they get to Stravanger - Aberdeen Drives.

Every time I drive by a collision in that shopping area I just shake my head. Traffic is always a mess there but what rots me the most is, it is so easy to fix!
Dennis O'Keefe! Here's some free advice that will get you elected again and again for the next fifty years!

See easy.

I hear what you're saying, "People will do it anyway and cause accidents!" I know. You make it idiot proof and the world makes better idiots. So put in a concrete barrier to stop people from turning left. I am sure the insurance companies will pay for it. Look at all the money they'll save instead of having to pay out thousands for fender-benders and whip-lash.
Oh I know what you're thinking, "I need to go to Costco so I have to turn left when I leave Tim Horton's." No you don't. Turn right. Turn left at the lights by Boston Pizza follow Stravanger Drive around the loop and you'll end up next to Walmart. You don't need to turn left.  Even better, other cities have  U-turn lanes at intersections.

Also, put service road connections between the stores. So when I leave Reitmans I can drive across the parking lot and go to Dominion. I shouldn't have to drive onto Stravanger and join the grid-lock there.  Service roads! They're cheap and easy to install.
While I am at it. Let me fix Torbay Road for you too.

If you hit Torbay Road between Major's Path and Stravanger during morning rush, lunch time or at five o'clock, you're in for a good twenty minute wait. Unless there is a fender-bender then you can cancel your plans for the day.
Once again, easy solution.

The traffic lights at the Torbay Road - Major's Path intersection are not in sync with the traffic lights at the Torbay Road - Stravanger Drive intersection. So even if the light is green by Major's Path, you can't move because traffic is backed up due to the red light at Stravanger Drive.
If one car comes down Major's Path, the lights turn red at that intersection and five hundred cars on Torbay Road are grid-locked.

Here's the solution. The traffic lights at Major's Path and Stravanger Drive have to be in sync. The lights should stay green for a full ten minutes to let the traffic flow to Torbay and Stravanger Drive. By that time there will be a line up on Major's Path  turning left. Then they can go through when their light turns green.
I can hear your protests. "So what about when I drive by at ten o'clock at night? I'll have to wait for ten minutes for the light to change!"

No you don't!
The traffic lights can be put on a timer. The ten minute lights will only happen between 7:00 - 9:00 AM, 11:00 - 2:00 PM and 4:00 - 6:00 PM. The rest of the day they will operate as normal.

These are simple solutions that cost next to nothing and will save a lot of frustration for people. The city of St. John's needs some street smarts.
It just makes sense.

I've had a lot of time to think about it. I wrote this entire blog sitting in Tim Horton's parking lot waiting for the idiot in front of me to turn left on a Saturday afternoon.  I hope when he gets to Costco he finds out Tim's gave him my coffee with one sweetner and two milk because I just realized I have his coffee with four sugar and four cream!
Tim Horton's, I feel another blog coming on!!!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

I am going to step on your humbug

So Shopper's Drug Mart stopped playing Christmas music because customers complained it was too early. Really? Didn't they care about the customers who loved it?

I play Christmas music all year 'round. I have, I guess what would be considered an antique stereo system. It has a turn-table. It also hold five CDs. It has held the same five CDs for a few years now: David Foster - The Christmas Album, Josh Groban - Noel, Andrea Bocelli - My Christmas, Country Christmas featuring various Country artists and of course, Elvis Presley - Christmas Duets.
When I turn the stereo on it automatically goes to the CD player. So in July when I start cleaning the house on a Saturday morning the first thing I do is turn on the stereo for background music and it's instantly Christmas! All my Angels are heard on high.

I am vacuuming to Elvis's Blue Christmas, dusting to Andrea Bochelli's Jingle Bells and folding laundry to Josh Groban's Silent Night. 
How can you get sick of Christmas music? What kind of cold-hearted, sick person are you?  You're suppose to have your Christmas spirit all year round.

When I hear people say "Oh no Walmart has Christmas decorations out!" Or "The neighbours have the tree up already." I just want to kick them right in the jingle balls.
My tree went up last weekend. I love putting the tree up. Every ornament on our tree has a special meaning: Our First Christmas together bulb, Baby's First Christmas silver boots, Baby Girl's first Christmas pink rattle. Ever where we travel we find a Christmas ornament to hang on our tree. I have a gold-plated Graceland ornament, Grand-Ole Opry bulb, even a piranha wearing a Christmas hat from Roatan in Honduras! The tree is full to the brim with twenty years of memories.

Putting up the tree is not about getting an early start on Christmas for me. It's about re-living Christmases past. I don't have three ghosts to show me how my life could have turned out. I have a tree full of ghosts telling me how lucky I am.
The kids love decorating the tree with me. They get so excited  going through the box of ornaments finding the ones they picked out over the years and the ones about their lives. My son is finishing high-school this year and plans to go to the Air Force to be a pilot. He will be moving to Kingston to start his Engineering degree in September.  Which means this will probably be the last Christmas that he'll decorate the tree with me. I had a hard time holding back the tears when he found all his Star Wars ornaments and lined them up together on the tree like he's done since he was seven.

What's wrong with people? Don't we need a little Christmas all year long?
I love Christmas. I love the parties, the decorating, the lights, the chocolate coconut-balls that everybody buys at Costco and pretends they made from scratch.

I love hiding the presents, wrapping the presents, opening the presents. I love going to Church to see the Christmas pageant especially when the kids were in it.
I love a White Christmas. I love dancing to Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree and I really love it when I am the Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.

How is it possible to hate Christmas music? Don't you feel the tears swell when Bob Seger sings Little Drummer Boy? Don't your heart swell when you hear John Lennon's Happy Christmas War is Over?
I remember being a Holy Heart cheerleader and dancing to Jingle Bell Rock from the Confederation Building to the Avalon Mall wearing three pairs on nylons to stay warm. Who doesn't do the actions to Madonna's Santa Baby? I always laugh when my BFF hears Feliz Navidad and changes the words to "Please marry Dot." It never gets old.

How do you not sing out loud to Frosty the Snowman. The words are tattooed on your brain for God's sake and like you don't imitate Alvin during the Chipmunk song.
What about driving in the van singing "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer Had a very shiny nose" and the kids in the back singing out "Like a light bulb!"

Like you're not marching around the store when Snoopy's Christmas comes on.
Hubby loves  Jim Reeves - Old Christmas Card. He sings it whenever it comes on and I love it when he does. I have kept every Christmas card he ever gave me because of that song. 

I love Christmas music all year round because it brings back such happy memories for me. Every song makes me smile, laugh, dance or cry. Even the VOCM Christmas song makes me cry.
I don't like people who don't like Christmas music.

Eight-year-old Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York's Sun in September  1897.
She wrote:

DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

The Editor of the Sun published his much loved letter. Ending it with "No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood."
So Humbug to you people who say Christmas comes too early each year. It should be Christmas all year round. Turn up the music Shopper's Drug Mart. I'll dance in your aisles.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I'll tell 10 friends

Remember the days when the worst thing an irate customer could do was tell ten friends?

If you did a customer service or business courses over the past fifty years you have heard a professor say "Every irate customer who complains tells ten friends and influences their buying decisions."  Or "For every customer who complains there are ten more unhappy customer s behind him who won't take the time to complain. They just stop doing business with you." Likewise for happy customers, they also tell ten friends how happy they are.
Fast forward to 2012 and social media. The power of social media has killed that theory. Businesses no longer worry about irate or happy customers telling ten friends. Now it's more like telling ten thousand  friends and destroying your company on the internet.

Recently my 12-year-old daughter and her friend when to McDonalds on Torbay Road for lunch during her school day. The ATM machines at BMO went down and her card was declined. She didn't have any money on her and didn't know what to do. It was the first time her card had been declined.
I am sure as adults we all know what it's like to stand in front of the cashier praying that "Approved" comes up on the machine but to a tween-aged girl it is the ultimate embarrassment. One that may stop her from ever returning to a McDonalds again. After the card was declined for the second time the server behind the counter said, "Your lunch is free" and pushed her tray towards her.

My daughter didn't know what to do but the server simply said, "The food is cooked. Go ahead and take it. Today lunch is on us." My daughter and her friend walked away giggling like they had won the lottery.
A very important lesson was learned here. That server could have taken the tray away or made a big fuss to embarrass her and my daughter could have walked away humiliated and hungry. The server made an executive decision that sent a social media wave of good comments throughout the world without knowing it.

There's nothing more important to me than my kids. When someone shows them kindness it touches my heart. When my daughter told me what happened. I put it on my Facebook and Twitter pages and instead of telling "ten" friends, I told about 1500 friends! Three of my Twitter followers retweeted it to their followers, reaching about three thousand. A dozen or so people "Liked" it on my Facebook page, which meant all their friends saw their "Like" and who knows how many read it and smiled.
Here's the thing. My daughter has only been to McDonalds three times since the school year started. So she's not a "Valued" customer. McDonalds is not going to go under if she doesn't come back to spend $5.00 on lunch. As a footnote, McDonalds is cheaper than the school cafeteria.

My son had the same dilemma at the same time with the BMO debit machines down. He is in grade 12 at Holy Heart. Every lunch time for the past three years he has walked to Sobey's on Merrymeeting Road to buy lunch. The servers behind the counter recognize him and make small talk with him. They say "Hi" as soon as he comes in. On Friday, he was at Sobey's buying his lunch when the ATM machines went down. He called me to say his card had been declined twice and the ATM machine in the lobby wouldn't work.  He also didn't have cash on him.
I asked "Can they give you your lunch and let you pay for it tomorrow?" He said "No." So he went without lunch and walked back to school hungry.

My son is a "Valued" customer. He buys his lunch at Sobey's every day. Yet they showed him no good-will. That upsets me. Would Sobey's have gone under if the server had given him the$8.00 lunch for free or let him pay for it the next day. I don't think so.
Take a look at the top of this page. The number of people who read this blog is well over 24,500! I am not telling ten friends how pissed I am at Sobey's, I am telling 24,500!

Social media has not only changed the playing field. It is the playing field!
Remember Rod Stewart's song "You're in my heart?" Well that's considered an "Oldie but goodie" now. Today's version would go like this: "You're in my blog, you're on my social media role, you'll be in there till we grow old."

Every time someone Googles "McDonalds" or " Sobey's" my blog will show up. Every time someone reads my blog and "Shares" it with a friend the story gets told again. They'll tell 1000 people and they'll tell 1000 people and they'll tell 1000 people.
There's an old saying that "Character is doing the right thing when nobody's looking."

I agree. McDonald you did the right thing when nobody was looking. Sobey's you failed.