Friday, June 11, 2010


If you woke up tomorrow and discovered it was still today, what would you do differently today?

Would you merely say, “Thank you,” to the taxi driver you slandered with vulgarity and racial epithets?

Would you get back from lunch on time instead of lying to your manager about why you were a half-hour late?

Would you decide to pick up your own dry cleaning and instead tell your wife how much you love her and appreciate her?

If you woke up tomorrow and realized one of your children was missing, what would you do differently today?

Would you wish you had played catch with your son instead of telling him you were “too tired” or “too busy?”

Would you have taken that half-day off from work when it was offered to you, and gone to your daughter’s third grade production of “The mouse and the stone” instead of trying to impress your boss with your “dedication”?

Would you have walked with your children to your neighborhood DQ® for some ice cream cones, instead of driving to the liquor store and buying yet another bottle of Jack Daniels?

If you woke up tomorrow and realized you were blind, what would you do differently today?

Would you pat your dog on the head and tell him he was “a good boy” instead of kicking him out of the way?

Would you notice the sadness in your husband’s eyes and give him an encouraging word instead of wondering why he seems not to see the sadness in your own eyes?

Would you have gone to that two-and-a-half-hour love story at the theater instead of insisting you watch, for the third time, the 90-minute slasher flick that made her sick to her stomach?

If you woke up tomorrow and realized you could live your life differently, better, selflessly, would you?

Why don’t you?

Thursday, June 10, 2010


There are days when I like lemonade and there are days when I tolerate it. It usually has to do whether it is well made or not. Homemade is, of course, the very best. Especially raspberry lemonade.

And there are days when I enthusiastically support a kid’s lemonade stand and there are days when I begrudgingly support it. And usually it has to do with the quality of their lemonade and the service with which they sell it. But even when their product is kind of crappy, like today’s drink was, I still support their efforts. When it’s good stuff, I’ll buy two or three drinks. When it’s bad, only one.

I always ask the kids, “Is it good?” and they always assure me it is. Obviously their standard of what is good or bad varies greatly from mine.

Take for example, today’s young boy at the corner near the library. He had brightly colored pendants drawing your attention to his lemonade stand. He had a colorful tablecloth, colorful cups (with a Christmas tree design) and the temperature was in the mid-eighties. He had a good location, good signage and good packaging.

Then there was his personality. Or rather, the lack of it. No smile, no pizzazz, not much of anything. But what the heck, this is young capitalism and worthy of my support.

Then there was his product. First, it wasn’t lemonade, even though he said it was. It was, I think, watermelon-ade. The water was barely cool. The “ade” was short on sweetness and short on taste in general. I’m guessing he took a 1-quart package and made a 2-quart product.

Not only would he only get one purchase from me, when my neighbors would ask about it, he wouldn’t get a very good recommendation.

A few blocks later, there was another lemonade stand. No pendants, but a nice sign. No colorful tablecloth or cups, but a clean table and sturdy Styrofoam cups. The lemonade pitcher was made of glass, was mostly full and colorful with ice cubes made of the lemonade they were selling.

Personality? Out of their ears. Smiles. Joy. Enthusiasm. These kids understood the value of good salesmanship.

And Product? Simply outstanding. This was real homemade pink lemonade. Real lemons. Real raspberries. Real sugar. Filtered water. And if my taste buds are not mistaken, a shot or two of real grenadine.

I bought one and drank it immediately. Cool and refreshing, I bought another one to take with me. At only fifty cents a cup, it was well worth the buck. I complimented them on their excellent lemonade and their service. They thanked me enthusiastically.

About a half hour later, done with my errands, I made a point of driving by their stand one more time. I bought two more cups and gave them a four-dollar tip. Yes, I know, that was too much tip. But as I said earlier, this is young capitalism and worthy of my support. I hope they’re out there often this summer. Maybe I can even convince them to give me the recipe for their lemonade.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


In the booth next to mine was a rather intense discussion about money. I joined it (which means I was overhearing their discussion) already in progress.

“Man I hate those people,” Twiddle-Dumb said. “It’s only about profits. They’re so /#ck!ng greedy. I just hate them, you know? It’s like they say, ‘Money’s the root of all evil,’ and those mother/#ck3rs are absolutely evil.”

“I’m with you bro,” said Twiddle-Dumber. “Greed and profits, man, that’s all corporations are concerned with. They’re all a bunch of money-grabbing ba&t*rds. And now they’re not only screwing the people, they’re destroying the planet too. But as long as the money keeps rolling in, they’re happy.”

They of course went on for another fifteen minutes or so, their rants just dripping with hate and ignorance, laced with profanities completely out of place in a family restaurant, and utterly void of solutions or alternatives. Just venomous vitriol that oozed out of their hearts, filled their minds and poisoned not only their moods but the moods of those sitting in the same section.

Just as a side note: Twiddle-Dumb was wearing a Dallas Cowboys jersey while Twiddle-Dumber was wearing a Washington Redskins jersey. Coincidentally, those NFL franchises are two of the wealthiest sports franchises in the world, both members of the Billion Dollar Plus Club when it comes to revenue.

A few points of clarification need to be made.

First, money is not the root of all evil. The Bible, from whence this saying originates, actually says, “For the love of money is a root of all [kinds of] evil ...” (1 Timothy 6:10 NKJV) So it isn’t money alone. How could it be? Money is just the representation of value that the world has placed on something. It is the motive behind the pursuit of it and/or the charity of it, that may display evil.

Some of the world’s wealthiest men, women and corporations are also some of its most charitable. And it should also be said that some of the world’s poorest men, women and corporations are also some of its most stingy and ungiving.

It’s not what’s in the wallet that matters, but what’s in the heart.

Second, profits are not inherently bad. Profits are merely what, if any, money you have left after all expenses and taxes are paid. If you’re against profit, the only thing left to be for is either breakeven or bankruptcy, and neither one is a good model of a successful business.

Third, a family restaurant is not the place for language better left in an adult environment. Look around next time. If you see small kids in the booth or table within earshot of your conversation, show some consideration. You do not live in a vacuum.

Fourth, your words are like seeds being planted in the garden of life. What you sow is what you reap. Sow hate and guess what you reap.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


“Are you happy?”

For a few moments I thought about his question, then answered, “Hey, did you hear about the dangers of wearing flip-flops?”

“What? No,” he said. “Not flip-flops. Are you happy?”

Again, I pretended I was seriously considering his question, then answered, “I’m sorry. Did I say flip-flops? I meant to say cement shoes. Did you hear about the dangers of wearing cement shoes? Apparently they’re bad for your back or something. I’m not sure because I just scanned the headings and didn’t really read the article. But yeah, I’m sure that wearing cement shoes is dangerous, don’t you think?”

“You’re avoiding the question, you know. So I’ll ask one more time. Are you happy?”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure they’re bad for your back, so definitely don’t wear cement shoes. Besides, who the heck sells them anyway?”

“Fables Footwear and Silly Stockings Store. Over on 35th and North, I think.”

“What?” I said.

“Fables Footwear over on 35th and North. You asked who sells cement shoes, right?”

“Are you?” I asked.

“Am I what?”

“Are you happy?”

Monday, June 7, 2010


There he sits in the waiting area, hoping he gets the job that he’ll be interviewing for in a few minutes.

He’s done his homework on the company, prepared some intelligent questions about the company to ask the interviewer and knows better than most how to present himself as a real asset to the company.

He’s wearing his best suit, just dry cleaned, and a lightly starched white shirt with a green and blue silk tie. He knows the company prefers their managers in white shirt and tie, and also knows that the interviewer’s alma mater colors are blue and green. His shoes are polished, his teeth are clean and white, his facial hair is neatly trimmed. By all outward appearances and interview preparation, this is the guy to hire.

He is invited in the office for his interview. He walks in with great posture and a confident stride. He offers his hand and gives a gentleman’s firm handshake.

For twenty minutes, he answers the questions as though he had a cheat sheet. He didn’t but he had done an excellent job of preparation. His resume was flawless and had everything the company was looking for.

He walked out thinking he had not only aced the interview but the job as well. He went home to wait until the good news phone call he would receive the next day.

Except it didn’t come. Not then. Not the day after that. Not the week after that.

He called his interviewer to express his thanks for the interview and wondered if the company had made their decision yet.

He was told they had and that they would not be hiring him.

He hung up thinking they couldn’t have hired someone else. He was perfect for the job. His resume was stellar. He aced the interview.

So why didn’t he get it?

Simple: Blackberry-itis.

While he made sure to put his phone on mute, he held the phone in his hand throughout the interview. And every time it vibrated, he looked to see what was happening. Phone call? Voice mail? Text? E-mail? Whatever it was, and there was a lot, he had to check it.

The interviewer told me that except for that one glaring fault, he had the job.

So permit me to offer some sage advice. Whenever you’re meeting someone who is important enough to impress, turn off your phone. Completely, turn it off. Not just muted, not just on vibrate, turned off completely. Trust me, you will survive those twenty or thirty minutes, and your future may just end up a little brighter.

Some other considerations:

Out on your first date? Turn it off.

Meeting your girlfriend’s (or boyfriend’s) parents for dinner? Turn it off.

Pleading your case before a judge? Turn it off.

Watching a movie in the theater? TURN IT OFF.

At the altar on your wedding day, about to say, “I do” ? Turn it off.

You get the picture.