Saturday, January 31, 2009

How Can A Worker Protect Themselves From A Bad Employee?

There seems to be insurance for almost any disaster imaginable. But I wonder if there is a policy that employees can take out on their companies, a policy that would pay out in cases of mismanagement, greed or acts of incompetency by their employers. No doubt such a service would be expensive. But when the insurance agency evaluates the company for this form of business insurance, the employee will get an idea of how stable their employers really are. It would be a great rating system that is visible to all, unlike those mysterious financial statements that troubled employers tend to keep hidden from their workers.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Thoughts On Clerkless Checkout Lines

Is there any good reason to use the self checkout lines at the stores? You would think that the store would give you a discount when they don't have to pay an employee to check out your shopping items. But, no!

So the only advantage I can find in using a clerk-less register is when you buy items that you rather nobody else know about. For us older guys, that's usually hair dye, Beano, diet pills, alcohol and the latest copy of Maxim magazine. Is there anything worse than that condescending look from some judgmental cashier as she scans your precious purchases? Yes, there is!

If the register has problems identifying an item, you're back to those embarrassing pages for price checks ... which is what happened to me when I went to pick up feminine hygiene products for my girlfriend. As a clerk gave me a smirk while reaching for her malicious microphone, I said, "I'm sorry. I picked up the wrong thing. I thought I had got 'Break Pads for Men'." She stopped in mid-grab and her smirk changed to a quizzical expression. So I added, "You know that product for men that has the motto 'When skid marks aren't just for the road.'" Sometimes stunned bafflement is all you need to quickly pay for your purchases and leave. Unfortunately my girlfriend wasn't impressed when I arrived home with an unpadded grocery bill.

Friday, January 23, 2009

REcover verses reCOVER

I can follow directions. If they're clear, I can usually reach the goal of those informative steps.

Yesterday, I slipped one of those "Freezer Queen" family entrees into the microwave and set the timer for the prescribed minutes. After the microwave dinged, I salivated (my appliance has me well trained) and read the next instruction, "peel back film, stir and recover."

For a few seconds, I had a senior moment. Recover? Recover from what? Then I had a slap-of-the-forehead moment. Oh! "Put the film back over the meal" recover. Duh!

So I began tugging on the film that was attached to the container with what must have been surgical glue. Finally, with a pull that would have made King Arthur proud, the film snapped away from its death grip on the container, flinging hot, boiling gravy (there's hot, then boiling, then hot boiling, just under a tad less than nuclear) on my hand, arm, and face. After shouting something that translates to "Golly Gee, that was hot!", I quickly dashed to the sink for a bath in freezing water ... and recovered.

I was right the first time.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Battle of the Hot Water

My water heater works very well for the care and maintenance of a single guy. But my family is about to increase four fold in a few months. While I'll boil some water for their cups of coffee, I'm not interested in boiling pots of water for everyone's bath.

So off to the local hardware store I went. There, I was greeted by an overly eager sales rep who also a solder from Fort Bragg's tank command. Today he was working part time to make end's meet for his family.

Let me tell you this was not your average sales guy --- everything was in terms of his military job. "Now, sir, you need something that will attack your cold water as quickly and as forcefully as possible. Just like a unstoppable tank, it has to soundly defeat its objective. Now, here's a water heater that reminds me of a Panther tank -- sleek, German engineering, persistent until the job is done. Of course, I prefer American-made myself. This one here is like the Sherman tank of the industry -- attacks on the coldness of water until it is absolutely boiling with fury! It's truly deadly" Deadly? I'm hoping that he was referring to germs and not my delicate skin.

And so his spiel went on for 30 minutes as he tried to storm the heights of my resolve not to buy anything just yet. I understand the need for a sale. But I'm a simple man. I just wanted learn about what is available to warm the gentle water quietly flowing through the pipes in my humble home ... not kill it. A tankless water heater will do just fine.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Another Marketing Idea Goes To The Dogs

You're probably aware of the fashionable practice that removes part of a Doberman Pinscher's tail when it's a puppy. I guess this is to give the dog its vicious, tough-guy look when it reaches full maturity. If there's nothing to wag, you can't tell if the dog is happy to see you as a friend or as a snack.

My friend views this practice as animal mutilation and has decided to do something about it. He wants to open a chain of businesses from coast to coast that specialize in reattaching tails on Doberman Pinschers. My dog-loving friend plans to do this operation at cost and believes his wholesale retail franchises will be very successful. We'll see. I've taken a few business courses on retailing. I don't think this is what they meant, doggone it.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Step 102: How Not To Run A Business

A nuclear explosion takes place when the most insignificant of particles creates an escalating chain reaction that quickly becomes an OMG BOOM! Of course, by the time you think of the acronym OMG, the boom has already reduced you to more insignificant particles.

So this past Monday, yet another employee (insignificant in the eyes of the powers-that-be) turned in her notice and unintentionally started what may become a nuclear explosion within our company. I'll give you time to read my post about her actions. Okay, done? Well then, let me post about the today's next action in this chain of disastrous business decisions as our Director of human resources showed herself to be Catbert's role model.

She strolled about the plant handing out her restrictive policy (highly approved by the CFO and Pres) on employee vacation time. What she didn't expect were the angry questions and comments as she went from production cell to production cell. She might as well have been poking a large bear with a stick. She reacted to one employee who has been there 37 years by asking sarcastically, "Do you really believe that you deserve 20 days off a year?" After years of simmering employee frustration over greedy business policies, you can imagine how this attitude by our wonderful HR and the impromptu rule change has pushed the workers to a boiling point. Shortly after she finished her walk through the plant, we received notice that there would be an employee meeting about the new vacation protocol and "other important matters".

Our guess at this moment is that "other important matters" means stopping 401(k) matching or, to appease the natives who are now considering a sitdown strike, pay raises that are six years overdue. We'll find out tomorrow if this chain reaction destroys what could have been a great company.

Jan. 8th: Update

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Children As A Mirror

I have often heard that children tend to be small versions of their parents. I think I proved that axiom when I was in the mall the other day.

In between two toy kiosks, I watched a spoiled little girl dressed in the latest catimini fashion throw a tremendous tantrum about not being able to buy a toy. Just a few feet away stood her mother dressed in a similar outfit and yelling at the child about not being able to go shopping at the jewelry store because of her child's tantrum. I'm not sure which was more embarrassing -- the whining child, her screaming mother, or me yelling at them to shut up.