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Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
"No, really!"

My Favorite Bit of Paper Cup Philosophy

The Way I See It #76

The irony of commitment is that it's deeply liberating - in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likes to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Things That Make You Go Hmmm

Imponderables. Headscratchers. Baffling things. Elusive concepts. Things that make you go hmmmm . . .

I can easily work up a big old donkey laugh about many things appropriate and inappropriate, raunchy, clever, funny only to me or just simply silly. I do humor pretty well, even when I'm the only one who understands it. In our company's infancy, we gave some business to every advertising salesperson who came our way. We did direct mail and door hangers, coupons, YellowBook, Yellow Pages and on seat cushions used in the bleachers at high school football games. Our vans have excellent, expensive signage and we had magnets made that we can place on the refrigerator at every home or business we enter. We plunged into craigslist and the mysteries of Yahoo and Google at which David quickly became a wizard ~ one wants to cheer out loud for his brilliance. From the first job we booked, part of our script has been to ask, "How did you hear about our company?" It's not rocket science. We were trying to learn which of our advertising dollars were paying off. In less than a year we knew exactly what we should stick with and we eliminated everything else as unnecessary expense. At least in our community, 99% of our business come from four sources plus the technicians' repeat business gained by the good work they perform. I have now spoken with about 4 bazillion people in the big city and there is a behavior among certain of them that I don't get. When I present the question to someone who found us on the internet, the answer is quick and short: "Googled you!" or "I found you online." OK, easy enough. Write that down and move on. However, when the caller's reply is "In the Yellow Pages, " it is followed nearly 100% of the time by an ascending trill of laughter or a giggle. It's not that this annoys me. I don't care. I just need the information. But I muse on why so many people find locating a business in the Yellow Pages so amusing they have to laugh out loud.

Blogger baffles me, not infrequently. It's got little twitches and hiccups that annoy me, mainly because I don't fully understand why they occur. I am very detail-oriented. When I write a post, I'm scrupulous about the words I select, the layout of the post, the presentation of illustrations, the unveiling of what is in my ears right now and something that charmed me. None of which is meant to imply that there is anything special about my blog except that I know what I want it to look like. Imagine my surprise when I take a look at a post that's been up for awhile and the photos are all askew! Huh? How did that happen? Who's been in my blog and monkeyed up the works? I do not like lots of pink air space in the blog's appearance. I edit in html vigilantly to make sure there is no excess. So where has it come from when I sometimes look in a few days later? Who's blowing air into my blog, and will they please discontinue from doing so? But the worst . . . oh the worst! I had been blogging for a short while and I had my hard-earned first four or five followers. That feels pretty heady, and all you other bloggers know it. One values the followers, whether "declared" (publicly following) or simply showing support by appearing and commenting from time to time. I logged on, only to find that all of my followers were gone. Not one. All. I will admit to spending a bit of time feeling very uncomfortable, wondering what I could have written or illustrated that would make everyone run off at the same time. And, of course, soon enough, whoops! There they were again.

My phone script is designed to get enough information from the customer to understand the scope of services we might provide. Part of that includes getting a list of rooms to be cleaned and that is a tall order for some people. In reply to my statement, "I need to get a list of rooms you'd like us to clean", I get such recitals as "Well, it's 1,800 sq. ft." No, please. I don't need the square footage. Just a list of rooms. "The carpet isn't very dirty." Please, tell me the rooms. "It's all the rooms in the house." Yes, but I don't know your home, do I? So I developed a little verbal assist - I talk to far too many people to go through this continually. Now I say, "I need to get a list of rooms you'd like us to clean, like living room, dining room, bedroom . . . " That really works for most of the women! They usually begin a quick, orderly, accurate listing of the rooms that compose their home. An astonishing number of men, even the ones who now understand what I'm asking for, begin to sputter quizzically. They simply can't tell me what rooms are in their homes. Some mutter, some express frustration with me, some say, "I'll have to call you back." I'm not male-bashing, reader. I'm simply observing that a startling percentage of men can't relate simple details about their homes. A smart-ass on the other end of the phone might be tempted to ask, "Well, do ya live there?" Both men and women make me grin with this: about half of the homes we clean include a staircase. Nearly 100% of the time, the caller tells me in exactly this way, "Oh, and we have stairs going up." Now this is a thing that makes me go hmmmmm. Don't those stairs go down, as well? Do I need to be concerned about 50% of the denizens of Las Vegas ascending their stairs and being trapped on the upper floor because the stairs only go up?

A rose by any other name . . . . When I learned that I was going to give birth to a daughter, I gave her name a great deal of thought. Ex and I consulted frequently about it and landed on a name we considered perfect. For we wanted that child to have a euphonious appellation. I figured it would be the same for any parent. Oh, maybe others would be compelled to give a traditional family name, or a name to honor something in nature. My point is that I thought any parent would consider naming a child an important piece of business. David had answered the phone and sold the carpet repair job. He hollered out to ask me to book it. I began my list of questions and soon learned the woman's first name is Lady. Her real first name. The one her mother gave her. OK, home girl. Whatever. The next day we got an online booking from a man who is a little tightly wound. I know this about him because he was so anxious about having two rooms of carpet cleaned, he felt compelled to exchange about 10 e-mails with me. I noticed that he seemed pretty proud of being a doctor, because I never was privy to his first name. Just Dr. Jones. Every time. After the homes cleaned his carpet, the work order and a check were turned in. Imprinted on the check: Doctor Jones. I furrowed my brow. "That's his name, Les. I asked him. That's what his parents named him." OK, well why not a Doctor in the same week I booked a Lady? I couldn't believe it when I saw the online booking come in. What the hell? A customer put Mister as his first name. Mister was also part of his e-mail address. Come on! Because he booked online, I never had a conversation with the man, but I was now so name hinky I put a sticky note on the work order. "Homes, ask him if that's really his name and then let me know!" I watched Joseph and Mike on GPS as they pulled up to the job. I waited while they inspected and got a signature for services. My BlackBerry chirped. "That's his name, Les, given to him by his mother and father." OK, well why not a Mister in the same week I booked a Lady and a Doctor?

In my ears right now: What else?

Something that charmed me: I dispatched a team of two to a customer's home on Plaid Cactus Court today. This made me go hmmmm. For I am a woman who has spent a lot of time in a number of desert areas. And I don't think such a thing exists. Although I have seen a lizard with so many colors and patterns it looked like it had been made of spare parts from other lizards. But a plaid cactus? Nah!


  1. Speaking of blogger boo boos, I don't know html, except to mess around with it and try to take out lines. I get something all typed out in 'compose,' then when I post it, it has huge spaces and suddenly goes double space on me. Then I notice that some of my followers faces are starting to to disintegrate. What's with that?

    It's good you can keep a sense of humor about the people on the other end of the phone. It does make you go Hmmmm. Great video.

  2. @ Kass ~ Girlie, if I didn't spend much of life cackling, I'd have to go jump off the deck!

    I wish we could spend an hour together over html. That's where all the attention-to-detail work is done and where "Compose's" mischief is undone. It would take such a short time to unlock the mysteries of the ages and you'd be a quick study. It's simply about understanding the code - what the different characters and symbols control. I'm not sure why we sometimes have to manipulate our posts twice (one of my complaints about Blogger), but I'm glad I know how to do it. I can't hazard a guess at the disintegrating face of the follower. I hope my face doesn't disintegrate! Or deteriorate!

  3. It happened to me once, the list of followers disappeared. But as it did for you, it came back soon after.

    Yesterday we were discussing the costs of downloading material on the internet, particiularly the cost of upgrading certain applications. And my son in law made the point that there are those who are scrupulous about making sure we consumers do nothing to breach copy write, get permission for almost every online action imaginable etc, but the powers that be, whoever they be, behind the scenes can do all manner of things behind our backs and not bother to ask our permission. Such is life I suppose.

    A wonderful post here, Les, as ever. I just love to read your stories of life with the Homes.

  4. @ Elisabeth ~ It's a mystery to me, sometimes,when Blogger does some of its nonsense. Partly this is due to the fact that I don't understand it. But I know I'm not the only one. I know a very computer-literate man who once couldn't figure out what Blogger was doing to him and he e-mailed me to say, "Can you drop in a comment so I can try to analyze what's going on?" He didn't know that all the rest of us were having the same problem he was experiencing, even though I'd figured that out already.I think we all get a little "tetchy" about it.

    Your son-in-law is spot on, in my opinion. The corporations/powerful ones "do". The human beings are "done unto".

    Welcome to my small world, Elisabeth. I am glad to know you. I am honored that you visit here.

  5. I offer two possible explanations as to why people giggle when they mention that they found you in the yellow pages.

    First possibility: They have an exaggerated notion as to how MANY people use the internet, and are embarrased that they're only ones relying on the yellow pages. They're probably blushing as they giggle.

    Second possibility: They have an exaggerated notion as to how FEW people use the internet, and find it funny that you should even ask. They're probably rolling their eyes as they giggle.

    If they don't giggle, they're not sure how many people use the internet.

    Oh, and the next time the followers disappear, check the "dashboard" page. I bet you can still find them there

  6. Blogger is slowly driving me insane! So many little things...

    Plaid Cactus Court - I love how it sounds so regal...like a Scottish King who wandered off and got lost in the desert and thought "sod it, I'll set up a new court here"!

  7. @ Kirk ~ I think you're onto something here! If I had to make an educated guess, I'd say you're right in your first possibility scenario. There are certain demographics associated with the Yellow Pages users, what you suggest makes sense.

    I know the followers are actually still there, Kirk, but the first time they all seemed to have legged it away from my blog, it was pretty startling to me.

  8. @ Rachel ~ I am a fairly impatient person about things that don't work properly. I am frequently heard to mutter, "I like things that WORK!" It seems that in Blogger, I have to re-do too many things or figure out how to skirt around something IT wants to do with my presentation. :~{ I'LL handle this, Blogger. It's my blog.

    VERY good re: Plaid Cactus Court! Very fanciful and creative. Thank you.

  9. yep, had all my followers disappear too. i wondered how i had managed to piss off so many people so quickly! how efficient of me!

    and i truly don't like things that don't work as i think they should (there's the trap), and know they can, even when i know why they don't.
    did that make sense? was it even english?

  10. "How did I piss you off THIS time,Baby?" occurs to me. One of Ex'sfavorite quotes.

    You're perfectly logical to me ~ I understand you and your efficiency and your expectations. We are alike in that way.