Tag Archives: Business

More Time Here than at Home

I often here this phrase — more time here than at home — at work. Usually it is nested in some variant form of an extended Joe Workforce maxim:

Best to keep a good attitude at work and do what you can to make things pleasant. After all, we spend more time here than at home.

I’ve even said it myself.

And I usually nod if someone else says it, offer verbal consent, or in some other way affirm the validity of it. But of late I have started thinking about it and have come to realize it is not only wrong-minded but perverse.

Oh, not the making things pleasant part. Such an attempt should be made in any situation, work or otherwise, as life on its own can already be quite difficult for all concerned without heaping unnecessary conflict upon it.

I mean the more time here than at home part.

People recite this disturbing line in a matter-of-fact fashion, take it as a given, and otherwise accept it as being the way of the world. But if it is the way of the world, it seems to be a strange one indeed if family is as important a value as people often claim it is.

I mean it is strange one where we are not horrified at such a thought.

Think of it another way. Say 100,000 heartbeats were left In your life. That’s about a day, maybe less. Would that last beat sound out joy at having spent 90,000 of them filing documents in the right place or making sure all phone calls were returned in a “timely” manner?

And yeah, I know about having a strong work ethic. I have a strong one myself, so don’t even go there. For If you go there, you’re totally missing the point. And yeah, yeah, I know work has to be done for a society to function, so don’t go there either as that’s missing the point too.

We have this false, somewhat iconic image of the hard-working “high-level” executive who is so swamped with work that they miss Bobby’s little league game or Susie’s dance recital. Such an image stays in our subconscious so we dogmatically accept faulty notions of “job-creators” and how the wealthy deserve what they have because of all their industrious sacrifice to society.

But the truth is, if you really are powerful and wealthy, you have the ability to flex your schedule so you can attend whatever function you choose. You have the resources to base your decisions on personal values rather than need. You have the luxury of spending — or not spending — more of your time with family.

Do you think people like Mitt Romney fret about whether they can get time off for a PTA meeting or worry about not being able to get it up for their spouses because work has left them so exhausted?

Hell, Don Marsh had so much of all three — ability, resources and luxury — he had enough to squander it on whores he had strewn across the country.

The people who truly miss out on spending time with family are the time-clock punchers funding the Don Marshes and the Mitt Romneys of the world.

They are the 99% who have such little ability to make their own family-prioritizing schedules that they have to make due with an obscene work model dressed up as a work ethic. I know this because I am one of those 99% and I am currently making due.

But as I grow older and ever closer to that last heartbeat, the absurdity of this twisted way of life gets to me.

Especially as I can hear the 1% laughing.

Can’t you?

So It Goes with Don Pablo’s

Gary and I rarely eat out.

This includes fast food. I brown bag to work and on days I don’t work I just don’t bother with a bag. Money is scarce at the moment and it usually doesn’t seem right to pay for something to eat when there is some other something in the cabinet that can be boiled, baked, fried, heated or otherwise cooked.

But we try to make exceptions for special occasions, and our 17 year anniversary (March 9, 1996 — dig up an old issue of Nuvo and see a picture of our wedding along with my column about it!) seemed like a good time for such an exception.

We had eaten at Don Pablo’s before. It had been quite a while, with the word quite adding quite a lot of time to that while. But we had eaten there before and the experience of that before was surprisingly exceptional.

Literally surprising.

For during that already rare-for-us venturing to eat out, we originally had been traveling to another Mexican place, found their menu lacking, left without ordering, and stopped at Don Pablo’s on the nearly disappointing return drive home.

The selection, the food, the service!  An all around good experience that time around.

That time of apparently Long Ago, as the Short Ago offered us all around blech.

New menus were the first red flag, where I could not locate the entree I remembered ordering before. I found a form of nachos and ordered that for our appetizer and, for lack of being able to lock on anything striking, ordered the same thing as Gary.

The Cantalina Nachos being thrown on the table was a second flag. I felt like I had been handed a baton and should have proceded to pass the plate on to another table as quickly as I could. Instead of going with that chagrined notion, though, I thought I might at least move it more towards the center of the table.

The hotness of the plate foiled me, though — burned me actually — so I used a napkin to safely move it off of its edge perch. That is, used a napkin after I had one after I had asked for one. Evidently being giving napkins and being giving food are viewed as vastly separate tasks with no rhyme or reason to the sequencing of their occurrences.

I will say the main server herself did do a decent enough job. She refilled things and delivered other things and in general did what was expected. The food being delivered though was not what we expected and threw up the second flag.

Gary had ordered the same thing he had gotten last time — veggie fajitas. Only it wasn’t quite the same thing, as somewhere between Long Ago and Short Ago they had overhauled their mixture of veggies.

There were a lot of them. That could be said.

But also what could be said, among their changes, was that they had all but eliminated the expected mixture of bell peppers and seemed to have slipped in a whole gourd of squash in its place along with zucchini. I like all three, but peppers go in there better and also I couldn’t help thinking the mixture was driven by (their, i.e. company) cost more than (our, i.e. consumer) taste.

And this was really the truly game changing flag (and you can see how it clearly is by all those dirty little “ly” words in my sentence.)

I get so annoyed with companies cutting their costs while pretending they are not cutting quality. The general business model anymore doesn’t seem to be simply “can you do it as well for less” but rather “can you get away with doing it for less?”

That is, how far can you cut your cost and still herd the masses through your doors?

How much can you lower standards and still earn profits enough to keep that all so vital-to-the-economy CEO standard of living intact?

Olive Garden also used to be in our few choice places to eat. But last time we went, it was clear they had switched cheese on us, going for a subgrade line that congealed on the pasta like a fungus rather than melted.

So many other places have fallen off our list for the same reason: cutting their cost at the sacrifice of quality. And yeah, I know, it’s expensive to run a business. But it is also expensive to support one.

And so here’s one more I no longer will.

Not Enough Compasses

We have too many laws and not enough compasses.

I was going to write about Mr. Marsh of Marsh Supermarkets and his curious claim that he was unaware of being under a code of conduct during his employment.  I have strong opinions about morality versus law (or code or policy or commandment).

Obeying or not obeying some edict or other has little to do with being moral. Many religions drive me crazy with their specious claims to morality. If you are only doing or not doing something for fear of punishment by the Big G in the sky, the policeman down the street, or your mum and dad, you may be curbing behavior but you are certainly not automatically being moral.

Instead, you are just a dog not pissing on the carpet for fear of the master’s lash.

I thought I would write on this and segue into Boy Scouts territory with a deconstruction of “morally straight” in their oath. I would talk about the shallow absurdity of believing that straight refers to “put your penis there but not there.”

But I think I might write about a dead raccoon instead.

Living in the city, I do not see a decent variety of wildlife. But my husband and I have started feeding the stray cats that come by and that has attracted other creatures, like birds and dogs and squirrels. And, until now, the raccoon.

He loved our house. After eating, he would shimmy up the wooden beams on our porch and hang out on our roof.

Last night I came home from the SGI Buddhist Center. As I parked in the street I saw him about fifteen feet in front of me. Dead.

Ran-over. Killed. Murdered.

He was so beautiful up there on our roof; a beautiful that will be no more.

Today I sent a service request to the Mayor’s Action Center. It’s an efficient site. I just picked the correct options from drop down boxes: dead animal — raccoon — location.  There are laws governing such things and I did my part, my civic duty, by reporting it.

But such action on my part wasn’t moral. It was functional,  behavioral, and responsible, but not moral. Morality can certainly include those three things, but those things can also be separate.

Instead, morality is the feeling I get when I contribute to the beautiful, whether on the rooftop or elsewhere in the world. It is the pit I feel in my stomach, like it’s been hollowed out, when I see the once beautiful now just so much discarded meat in the road.

Morality requires action, but it also requires a feeling; an emotional pull on the needle of your personal moral compass that keeps you heading in the right direction.

Passing laws or policies has little to do with instilling people with their own moral compasses. But the good news is that compasses come pre-installed. There just aren’t enough compasses being used as we too often settle on the ease — and empty morality — of simply obeying the rules.

It is time for us to move beyond canine obedience into human compassion.

Think Progress.

For the Love of Libraries

Tonight the West Indianapolis Library — my closest branch — had the pleasure of hosting an informal chat with Indianapolis Public Library CEO Jackie Nytes. She brought along with her Collections Director Deb Lambert. It was one stop of many they will make this month, which will see them visiting each and every branch for similar chats.

Some of the main points of discussion were:

  • The composition of the collection
  • Print versus electronic materials usage
  • Dissemination of what the library has to offer
  • Community needs and habits

Although diverse in topics, the underlying theme — and ultimate purpose for her chats — is  envisioning the public library of the future… and taking steps now towards making it a reality.

A decent public library is one of the hallmarks of a great nation. For it is a welcomed equalizer in a world that is often lopsided in distribution of wealth, resources, and good circumstances. It does this by granting power equaling knowledge to anyone who wants it, regardless of their current situation.

Vive la bibliothèque!