We received a holiday gift basket at the office recently. It was a nice gesture by the people that sent it to us but the contents highlight a symptom of why we are doomed. We’ve really lost all respect for ourselves and so we are very easily herded and manipulated by marketers possessing skills on par with those of the reality television geniuses.
Case in point:
“Biscuit croquants au chocolat” – which are advertised to be “riche et delicieux”
The Brand tag line reads “chocolat extraordinaire”
So this must be good – because it’s “French” - it’s so chic and uber cool because there is no “E” at the end of chocolate.
But then when you turn the box around, you’ll see that it is made in Indonesia (A.K.A. the Epicenter of French Baking). Now don't misunderstand, I'm not saying there is anything inherently wrong with French Food from Indonesia. It’s just not where I instinctively expected my French cookies to be made. Why French you ask?
Are they selling these to people in France? Who have a penchant for buying French cookies from California? And who also prefer foods actually made in Indonesia?
Seems unlikely, but you never know for sure.
The most likely answer: A distribution company from El Segundo California figured you wouldn't be impressed by chocolate cookies (sorry – croquants au chocolat) that seem just like all the other unhealthy crap made in America. They made it sound French, and it was transformed from empty calories to a mysterious foreign treat.
On the other hand, if you tell me these are primarily sold to French Canadians – then it all makes sense and you can ignore my rant. They would never know the difference.
Another box of cookies in the Gift Basket features cookies with the simple brand name: BETH’S.
Like me, I know you’re immediately picturing a cute freckle faced girl with a perpetual smile making cookies for you and your family. I imagine Beth's "back story" is that she did “ok” in school but she was always drawn towards baking so now she works 24 hours a day making cookies. The long hours are all worthwhile, because she is doing what she loves...
After 10 seconds of my Beth daydream, my cynical nature kicks in. Now back in reality, I know that when I turn over the box I will surely find that Beth’s cookies are also be made in Indonesia (or maybe India).
But dammit - I’m wrong... - There is allegedly a real Beth. (She is also in California – go figure).
I can’t tell if she has freckles but she does look a little frazzled – which could be because her website kinda sucks and has print which is so tiny that nobody could ever read it.
Poor Beth – she went from being a cute little girl with a creepy/sleepy doll to a fourth place finisher in an Annette Funicello look-alike contest. If she had only poofed her hair a tiny bit more, she might have taken second place. Her unnecessarily detailed yet mostly incomprehensible life story of world travel and endless job changes is making me cry. http://www.beths.com/welcome (See for yourself - I can't make up anything this funny)
So I say – enough with the "fake" French food and other glorified "fake" foreign crap. Give me the real deal from France or else sell me anything made by Beth...
If we just keep her busy by ordering lots of her cookies hopefully she will never have time to write again.
I’m of that age where I should get to have my Mid-Life Crisis. It’s a rite of passage just like getting a driver’s license or kissing the first person of a gender that interests you (damn I hate this new politically correct terminology!)
The “Mid-Life Crisis” is an expected part of our culture and I just wanted what I am “entitled” to like everyone else.
One woman is more than enough trouble, so I wasn’t going that route. Instead, I was thinking I’d go for the cars and toys route. I’m not a “bright red” Corvette kind of guy either, so I was kind of looking forward to something more subtle - like a dark charcoal-grey Porsche 911 Turbo (I’ve wanted one of those since I was 16).
However, I don’t know if you noticed, but over the last 4 years, we’ve had the shittiest economy since the Great Depression and that really pours some ice water on a Mid-Life Crisis.
What rotten, bullshit timing...
So now, I’m worried about college tuition, mortgages, new taxes and retirement savings. What kind of stupid Mid-Life Crisis is this?
I’m trying to keep my 130k miles 2002 Ford Explorer running when I should be recklessly flying through town at 90mph in a sports car getting tickets.
I should be buying $2000 Canali suits at Nordstrom but instead I got 20% off on new underwear at Kohl’s.
I should be hanging out in bars drinking too much expensive Scotch and “Living It Up” but instead, I’m... hanging out in bars drinking “sort of” expensive Scotch while trying to display a last semblance of dignity.
I really need someone/something to blame for this situation and it has to be: Congress and The Banks.
Between the two of them, they drove this country off the cliff and into the crapper and gypped me - hard.
If a guy was standing in front of me with a sign on his chest that said “Congress” or “The Banks” – I’d kick him in the balls.
That’s how mad I am.
Ok, enough bitching - back to work for me!
I guess I need to figure out how to fix the economy myself so I can pay for my crisis and not worry about it. I’ll probably be the only guy having a Mid-Life Crisis at 90 – but that’s life.
You cannot argue that people driving while using a cell phone has either caused, or in some way contributed to, SOME car accidents. So naturally, the elected ruling class in Evanston, IL decided that YOU cannot operate a car while talking on a cell phone – even if the phone is hands free.
But I say, why single out cell phones?
There are many other equally distracting obstacles that drivers encounter which draw their attention away from the road and surrounding vehicles. If these distractions were analyzed, we would conclude that they have caused a significant (maybe equal) number of accidents. The only logical conclusion, for driver safety, is that these should be banned in Evanston also.
Therefore, today I begin my petition requesting that the Evanston Elders work on laws to make all of the following Distractions to Drivers illegal:
Any Bright or Flashing Light (Including Red Light Cameras)
Any Writing, Logos or Pictures on Vehicles (Trucks)
Attractive People (Especially Hot Women)
Heavy Traffic (Actually an other Vehicles on the road)
Speeds beyond 20mph
Food or Drink (including Gum)
In fact when you consider all the facts driving isn't 100% safe, so consider Banning Driving altogether
If you think of anything I’ve missed, please add it to the list and then sign my petition.
Pass this on to everyone you know so we can finally make Evanston safe.
You use a public restroom. You wash your hands. You dry your hands. (pretty much)
And by pretty much, I mean how much drying can you do?
If you’re at home, it’s home base. You know the tactical situation, all available exits and the location of all useful materials for accomplishing your mission.
But when you’re at work, at a restaurant, at a neighbor’s house... you’re at the mercy of whatever you might find.
I've routinely had to deal with:
Damp community towels (what else is on this thing?)
A giant box dispensing an endless roll of some weird white cloth from the 1950s
Puffy/fluffy disintegrating decorative paper hand towels
Electric Hand dryers that take 14 hours to do minimal drying
Generic non-absorbent sheets that resemble sandpaper
Nothing at all
So, in most circumstances, you probably just alternately brush your hands up and down your sides and use your pants to dry your hands. At least you know how clean your clothes are. You think to yourself, “My hands will ‘air dry’ within a few minutes – this is fine.”
But then, inevitably, and usually within seconds, people descend on you like a SWAT team, dragging along a person that you absolutely MUST meet at this exact moment.
As the person extends a hand to shake, you’re partially mumbling some excuse about just coming from the bathroom and then you realize that story doesn’t sound good. Are your hands damp because you just washed them? – or because you just didn’t?
This is the awkward situation known as “Bathroom Hands”
You can try to quickly give your hands a few more passes up and down the sides of your pants – but you know they’re still going to be sufficiently damp. That moment of squishy hand contact is inevitable. You can only stall for so long.
If you try to explain the reason your hands are damp, you sound either like you are lying or like you are overcompensating (possibly unbalanced).
Bottom line - There is no easy way to get out of this.
So my newest recommendation is this: Don’t even try to dry your hands anymore. Come out of the bathroom/restroom with water dripping off your arms and hands like you're in the middle of fixing the plumbing in there and you just stepped out to take a break.
Then, go ahead and shake hands vigorously and proudly. Make it the other guy's problem to wonder about what just happened. And don't say a word about it.
I am officially calling for a ban on ANYONE introducing a story/comment by saying: "It's kind of funny..."
Before I get into it any farther, let's get to the bottom line: It is NOT funny.
It's not at all funny. It's nothing that Ricky Gervais would say, nothing that Chris Rock would say. In fact it's so "not funny" that you couldn't even get Judy Tenuta or Emo Phillips to say it.
"It's kind of funny... The other day I was waiting in line at McDonalds and this lady was screaming at her kids."
"It's kind of funny... Last week my friends and I were at a bar, and we just sat there for hours talking and never ordered any drinks"
"It's kind of funny... I usually forget to get gas in my car until I'm almost on empty."
See what I'm saying? No funny anywhere to be seen. Funny has left the building – TYVM.
So my suggestion/DEMAND is that everyone make the move towards accuracy. I must insist that you start your sentences and stories with something closer to the truth like these alternatives:
Speaking of things that are very uninteresting...
Something really boring happen recently...
I like to hear myself talk, would you mind listening?...
Now, next time you're speaking and the people you're talking to avoid eye contact, or groan/sigh or even spontaneously go into a coma, you'll understand what is "actually" happening.
When you preface your concept appropriately going forward – you're politely giving people the option of faking a sudden need to use the restroom or pretending to get an important text messages so they can back away and save face for everyone involved.
If I can leave you with one thought it would be: Don't oversell it.
Many retail stores and other types of business that deal with the public have been told by customer retention consultants and by various business books that they need to measure and constantly improve their customer service. Nowhere in the world is that more true than in the US where customers are very demanding of service and, sadly, service is becoming our primary business.
To accomplish these measurements of quality, you've probably been asked by a customer service employee to fill out some sort of form to "rate them." Some are bold enough to explain: We don't get any sort of commission but my bonus pay is entirely driven by these customer ratings so if you would please fill out a survey, I would appreciate it.
Now, that's all fine for a good employee and as long as it isn’t some giant pain in the ass questionnaire, I’ll fill it out. But lately, it seems like only the crappiest employees are giving me the full court press for these evaluation.
As I'm hearing the words come out of their mouth, I'm thinking: "You really must exist in another dimension on the other side of the universe. You're saying you actually want me to 'write down' what a terrible job you did? You ooze lack of interest in doing a good job. What good thing could you possibly expect me to say?"
And then for some stupid reason - I do nothing. Why do any of us feel bad complaining when we spend good money and get bad service? I think many of us have some weird sense of ultra-politeness that urges us to not saying anything unless we have something nice to say.
So going forward, I've decided that if they ask - I'm gonna oblige.
Remember service people, you asked me to do this for you. You asked of me a "favor" and in all fairness, you now "owe" me a favor in return - regardless of what I say.
I guarantee it will be a fair and true evaluation based on your performance. If by my assistance you end up needing to "locate" more suitable employment, then I think I did a favor for you in the long run.
Consider this my "public notice" of fair warning. Don’t ask unless you mean it.
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