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How much does customer service matter?

August 18, 2009

Yesterday I spent an hour cooling my heels at a local business office (which shall remain nameless). The sad thing about the waiting was that I had already been there once, waited around until I couldn’t wait any longer and then left. I came back hoping things would be moving more quickly,but they weren’t. By the time I finally got what I needed I was more than a tad upset. When it comes to patience with others I do fairly well unless I can see that there isn’t any reason for the delay. The only reason they kept me waiting is because they were slower than molasses, slower than the seven year itch, slower than Grandma Moses….well, you get the picture.

Even though that’s aggravating I can top that story. My son went in a store the other day and the person waiting on him was texting someone on his cell phone while talking to my son! Can you believe it? And they wonder why they are losing customers.

A few months ago if you walked into a car dealership sales people would trip over themselves getting to you. This past weekend my husband and I walked into one and couldn’t find anyone to talk to us. It seems the “Cash for Clunkers” program is working so well they were all worn out! When we finally found them they were all in one office talking, laughing and generally goofing off. In fairness to them when we failed to get their attention and walked back to our car someone did follow us with a brochure and hand it to us in case we wanted to come back when they got some new models in. They were completely cleaned out of the model we inquired about.

I realize that sometimes we have to wait for things and sometimes things happen that keep us from giving good customer service but it seems to me that a business that really cares about its customers will let you know they care.

This morning I got a phone call from someone who worked for a corporation up north. I am a grant writer (one of my many hats) and I couldn’t get the link to work on their web site. She impressed me for several reasons. First of all, when I emailed her about the link I must have typed in my email address incorrectly, it kept bouncing back. She was determined to find me so she decided to call. Low and behold I had left the area code off my number. She figured out that it was Kentucky and then tried different area codes until she got me. Now that’s what I call good customer service! Not only did she get me the information I needed, she proved to me that it mattered to her what I thought about her company. You can bet that the next time I buy paint (paint supplier) it will be her brand.

Thank you Lord for people who care about people and about doing a good job!

Why you should eat more ice cream

August 4, 2009

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         Years ago I read an essay by Robert Hastings called The Station. It made such an impression on me that last week when I made this picture of my granddaughter, I thought about the essay and decided to re-read it. It was every bit as good as I rememered. Basically it compares life to being on a train and says that often we get so busy trying to reach our destinations (goals) that we lose sight of the joy of our journey. Here’s a short excerpt. 

    “Yes, when we reach the Station, that will be it!” we promise ourselves. “When we’re eighteen. . . win that promotion. . . put the last kid through college. . . buy that 450SL Mercedes-Benz. . . have a nest egg for retirement!”    From that day on we will all live happily ever after.    Sooner or later, however, we must realize there is no Station in this life, no one earthly place to arrive at once and for all. The journey is the joy. The Station is an illusion–it constantly outdistances us. Yesterday’s a memory, tomorrow’s a dream. Yesterday belongs to a history, tomorrow belongs to God. Yesterday’s a fading sunset, tomorrow’s a faint sunrise. Only today is there light enough to love and live.So stop pacing the aisles and counting the miles. Instead, swim more rivers, climb more mountains, kiss more babies, count more stars. Laugh more and cry less. Go barefoot oftener. Eat more ice cream. Ride more merry-go-rounds. Watch more sunsets. Life must be lived as we go along. The Station will come soon enough.
 

 Are you enjoying your journey? Are you relishing the moments? I try to, but often find myself feeling more like I’m in a race than on a journey.

Today I am not going to run; I’m going to stroll leisurely. I’m going to smell the roses (in someone else’s rose garden-I can only grow weeds) and I am going to give thanks for my journey and to my father in heaven from whom all blessings flow!

   

The End of Summer Fun

July 28, 2009

summer-fun.jpgThis morning my seventeen year old twins and their best buddy, Jessie, went to get their high school class schedules. They came home discussing the joys of learning, how much they hoped their classes challenged them, how they couldn’t wait to eat delicious school lunches and what fun it is to get up at six thirty every morning (okay, I’m lying). The truth is the ONLY thing they are thrilled about is they were able to get in advanced P.E. class. Oh well, that’s one of the joys of boys.

Of course I know not all boys are like mine. I have two nephews who love to read, make straight A’s and will probably grow up to be brain surgeons. I love them dearly, but my boys are just not geared that way. They had rather be outside than in a classroom. Had rather be moving as opposed to sitting still. And when it comes to reading, if it’s not Sports Illustrated, forget it.

When they were little I always took them school shopping. Now they prefer to order anything they need online and spend their last moments of freedom on the golf course. This morning when they asked to go golfing I gave them a list of things to do to earn the money. They cleaned the whole upstairs in less time than it takes me to load the dishwasher. Of course they probably threw stuff in closets and under the bed….but I’m not going to look.

I remember my high school years like it was yesterday. It wasn’t yesterday, but at times it feels that way. There are so many things about being young that have stayed imprinted on my mind as clearly as my granddaughter’s handprints on my computer screen. Things like…the heady feeling of freedom when school is over in the spring. The possibilities of a whole string of endless summer days just waiting to be filled with summer fun. The trepidation of knowing those days are coming to an end.

I remember and I’m thankful for all the memories, but I don’t want to be seventeen again. I lived through it once and that was enough. So as I watch my boys load their clubs and take off down the road to the golf course I find myself thinking about the fact that in the blink of an eye my babies will be graduating and moving on.

Have I told you “thank you” today Lord for my boys? If I haven’t, I’m saying it now. I love them dearly. Thank you for the joy, the mess and the stress that’s part of raising boys!

Chocolate on my cheesecake

February 9, 2009

scarlett.jpgIf I plan to wear shorts at all this spring I’ve got to get off this cheesecake binge I’ve been on. Maybe I have a vitamin deficiency and there is some essential nutrient found only in cheesecake that I’m craving. Tonight I ate supper with my daughter and son-in-law at a local restaurant. When the waitress asked if I wanted dessert I decided to get a slice of turtle cheesecake (my favorite) to take home. I didn’t look in the little box and when I went to get in the van I tipped the dessert sideways; not a good thing. Chocolate sauce ran out the side. I got it all over my hands, the steering wheel and yes, I even managed to sit it in it. Thankgoodness I was on my way home because I looked like I’d fallen in a mud puddle.

Of course I had to talk on my cell phone as I was driving home, so now it’s covered with chocolate. I pulled in the garage and before I even got out of the van I’d made another mess. I heard something pop and got out to look. I’d run over a paint can full of off white paint. My boys came out in the garage to see if they needed to help me carry anything in. Imagine there surprise when they see me looking like I’d been dipped in chocolate and white paint all over the garage floor!

Thankfully I am now in bed. I’ve washed all the chocolate off, brushed my teeth and so far I’m not sticking to the sheets. I haven’t cleaned up the mess in the garage yet. I’m too tired and besides, the way I’m going I’d probably find something else to spill or turn over.

Tonight I’m thankful for soap and water and as Scarlett O’Hara was so fond of saying, “I’ll think about the mess in the garage tomorrow because tomorrow is another day!”

Well, maybe that’s not exactly what she said but it was something like that!

Top Five Things I am Thankful for….

January 13, 2009

Jesus/faith/God/Holy Spirit- I know this is more than one thing but it’s impossible for me to seperate these. They are all so connected that really it is ONE thing-God!

Bible-This allows God to speak to me. It tells me stories of faith, courage and love. It is God’s holy inspired word and my guide from earth to heaven.

Family -I can’t imagine life without them. They are precious to me and a wonderful blessing!

Home-So many people in the world don’t even have a roof over their heads and I am blessed beyond measure to have a house that is warm, dry and comfortable.

Friends-The icing on the cake! And oh how I love the icing! They add joy in good times and share my burdens in hard times.

All blessings (and there are thousands…not just five) come from above. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

2008

December 27, 2008

gjk33.jpgThis morning I’m talking on a Barbie walkie talkie, eating pancakes (my hubby cooked!) and watching Horton Hears a Who.  My three year old grandaughter spent the night and we’ve been looking for one of Tinkerbell’s shoes in between our bites of pancake and sausage. The house looks like a tornado touched down and there’s three kinds of left over cake sitting on my counter and left over ice cream cake in the freezer. The ice cream cake was birthday cake for our twin boys who just turned 17 on December 26th. What a stinky day to have a birthday, huh?

I can’t believe my six foot seven babies are seventeen. It seems like just yesterday that Bill wheeled me into the delivery room doing 90 miles an hour while nurses screamed at me not to push. I have vague memories of the room being filled with nurses and doctors. The boys were six weeks early and Grant was breech. (picture above is of Grant-proof that being breech did not phase him). All the worry was for naught, as both boys weighed over six pounds. If they’d waited another six weeks I definitely would have exploded.

The house is a mess. Abby thinks Horton is hysterical. The twin giants are still asleep and my husband is having a sneezing fit. Life is good, oh so good. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

Remembering the ice storm of 93

December 15, 2008

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ice-storm.jpgWe are under a winter storm warning tonight. The local weatherman predicts a mixture of snow, ice and sleet. As I watched the weather tonight and saw all the folks up north who already received an ice storm I can’t help but wish that the ice would go somewhere else. We had an ice storm in 93 and as far as I’m concerned once in a lifetime is enough. The twins were in diapers then and our other children were still very young. When the tree limbs started breaking off during the night the popping noise sounded like gun fire. Before the night was over we were without power and all five kids were in the bed with us. “There’s no lights!” they said. We pointed out that you don’t need lights to sleep, but they assured us they did.

The next day we awoke to a winter wonderland of glittery, glassy ice. A tree branch broke and landed on top of Bill’s car. We had no water, no heat but that didn’t bother the five kids…at least not until they discovered no electricity meant no television or nintendo! No matter how many times I told them that the television wasn’t going to work until the power lines were fixed they didn’t believe me. Every few minutes we’d go through the ritual of trying to turn it on, disapointment and them begging me to fix it.

My sister-in-law and nephew came over and we built a huge fire in the fireplace and snuggled up. We ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and drank cokes that we stashed outside the window (it was colder there than in the frig by then). Whenever the kids complained I tried to convince them (and myself) that it was an adventure. That we were living like my grandparents had before lights and electricity but it didn’t take long for the “adventure” to turn into a nightmare. For one thing without water we couldn’t flush the toilets and the twins were still in diapers. I’ll spare you the details but things got really gross really fast.

By the time we’d gone without power for three days dirty laundry was piled up to the sky, dirty dishes were every where and there was NO spirit of adventure anywhere.  Thankfully we got power late that day. Lots of folks weren’t so lucky. They didn’t get their electricity turned back on for four more days.

So tonight I’m glued to the weather channel. I’m remembering 1993 and giving thanks that I have electricity and running water…at least for a few more hours.

Veteran’s Day

November 11, 2008

arlington.jpgMy dad was in the Air Force and my uncles served in the Marines and the Army. That was before I was born but I was always proud of the fact that they had served their country. This past year we visited Arlington for the first time and today on Veteran’s Day I’d like to share with you an article I wrote for Kentucky Living magazine about the experience.

Kindred Spirits

Blood, sweat, and tears of sacrifice
by: Teresa Bell Kindred


This year I visited Washington, D. C., for the first time. We took a trolley tour at dusk to view the monuments. The night air was chilly, but standing in front of the Lincoln Memorial—literally at Abe’s feet—was awe-inspiring. Walking along the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and touching the names with my fingertips brought tears to my eyes. Seeing Franklin D. Roosevelt in his wheelchair reminded me that the word “handicap” should only apply to golfers. Visiting Mount Vernon and strolling on the estate where our very first president, George Washington, once lived was a humbling experience.

If I could sum up the trip in one word it would be “sacrifice.” Being in our nation’s capital made me appreciate the men and women who sacrificed their time, their personal lives, and, in many cases, their lives to establish our country. No other place reminded me of this like Arlington National Cemetery. We walked to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and watched the changing of the guard. There were hundreds of tourists from all over the world watching with us, and the silence was so complete you could have heard a pin drop. As we were walking back down the hill to catch the bus, I heard something that really gave me pause. In the distance was a bugle playing Taps. It was a clear, cold sunny day. A gentle breeze was blowing through the cherry trees. Everywhere I looked there were white tombstones, rows and rows of them as far as I could see.

Is there any way for us to really understand the blood, sweat, and tears that have taken our nation this far? Can schoolchildren understand the meaning of the word sacrifice in terms of the history of our country? Are there words to express our appreciation to veterans and families who have lost sons and daughters in battle?

I don’t know. But I do know this: on the 4th of July, when the fireworks go off and the patriotic music plays, my mind will be at Arlington. My heart will swell with pride and love for this great nation and for others who love it like I do. And the tears I shed when I hear someone sing our National Anthem will be for those families who truly understand the meaning of the word sacrifice.

Teresa Bell Kindred is a wife, mom, and teacher. Her latest book is Mom:PHD: Leadership Skills for Moms. Visit her online at www.teresakindred.com

The Right to Vote

November 3, 2008

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flag.jpgI just don’t understand people who don’t bother to go vote. I want to get in their personal space and shout, “It’s a privilege, people! Your ancestors fought and died to protect the right to vote. There are countries where people literally put their lives on the line to vote!”

And if you are a woman you should REALLY should go vote. After all, it was a long hard fight and we didn’t get the right to vote until 1920. When I say long, hard fight I don’t think most young girls today realize what our ancestors went through. When one of the suffrage leaders, Alice Paul, embarked on a hunger strike, they tied her to a chair, forced a tube down her throat and poured liquid into her until she vomited. She was tortured like this for weeks until word was smuggled out to the press. Other women were thrown in jail with her and also participated in the hunger strike. This earned them the nickname, “The Iron Jawed Angels.” (There’s an HBO movie about it by the same name).

Another brave woman was Dora Lewis. She was thrown into a dark cell, smashed her head against an iron bed and knocked her out cold. Her cellmate, Alice Cosu, thought Lewis was dead and suffered a heart attack.

Additional affidavits describe the guards grabbing, dragging, beating, choking, slamming, pinching, twisting and kicking the women.

This took place on Nov. 15, 1917, when the warden at the Occoquan Workhouse in Virginia ordered his guards to teach a lesson to the suffragists imprisoned there because they dared to picket Woodrow Wilson’s White House for the right to vote.

For weeks, the women’s only water came from an open pail. Their food–all of it colorless slop–was infested with worms. Their courage and actions inspired the nation and eventually helped earn you and I the right to vote.

Like most women I wear a whole host of hats. I cram more living into a day than I probably should. Tomorrow I will start early and go full speed until late in the day but you can bet your bottom dollar that I will make time to go vote. I don’t care if the line is two miles long and it’s pouring rain (well, allright, I’ll care but I’ll still stand in line). Too many sacrifices have been made by others and I am forever in their debt. The least I can do to honor their memory is exercise my right to vote.

(see my other blog about voting at www.akindredheart.com)

Sucker sticks in my carpet

October 28, 2008

I bet every mom and grandmother knew by just reading my title what I’m thankful for today. At our bank when we go through the drive-thru every child gets a sucker. Over the years my five children probably ate a van full of suckers and when they were finished did they hand me the sticks and say “please throw away.” Of course not! (at least not until they were much older) They dropped them on the floor and they embedded in my van carpet (I am so excited I got to say the word “embedded.” I’ve been waiting to say that one for years and never could think of a way to use it in a sentence!) Anyway, at one point when all five were eating suckers there were so many sticks in the carpet that when the school had a car wash and I asked one of my students to take my van and clean it he brought it back and said, “Ms. K we cleaned it for you but if we hadn’t liked you so much we would have charged double for all the sucker sticks in it.”

The other day I took my granddaughter Abby to the bank and later I found her sucker stick stuck to my carpet. It brought back so many memories. Having a large family has been difficult at times but I wouldn’t trade a minute of it. Not even for all the suckers at the bank!

Thank you Lord for the blessing of children and grandchildren. Help me to appreciate all the joys they bring and help them to always remember how much I love them and how much You love them too. Amen