My Experiences Archive

Heavy Metal & Yucky Fiberglass

Posted October 4, 2013 By tjflynn

My current passion / project / money vacuum is a sailboat. I’ve had a few power boats this big, but never a sailboat. I am new to sailing. I am new to sailboat nomenclature. Consequently, I’m learning an entirely new vocabulary and slowing my MoJo from throttle-down, fuel-buying, wave hopping, lets go. To full displacement hulled, cutting through the water at turtle-like speeds, smelling the roses and everything else along the way.

With a literal heap of heavy not working stuff, it was a small mental and physical jump to consider changing diesel to electric back-up power. Eight thousand to rebuild the old Yanmar…considerably less (I’m hoping) to change to electric. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA So, I just takes the old diesel drinker out. Viola! And now I has room to put in the Flux Capacitor. no motor

I’m meeting an entirely new group of service providers. Most of them providing services that I didn’t suspect existed before I became a sailor. Holy crap! I just realized something when I wrote that. I am a United States Marine, describing myself as a sailor just doesn’t fit somehow. I’m a lean-mean-fighting machine, not a rust scraping, deck swabbing, gray paint sloshing, sissy, wearing a white cape and a bowl on my head. I take that back. I am not a sailor. I am a Marine operating (working on) a sailboat. That is something completely different. If I want to scrape rust, swab decks and paint something gray, I’ll damn well do it.

I will tell you guys more about these service providers as we go along. For now, I can tell you that hauling then cleaning then painting the hull of a sailboat is normal on a recurring basis. Usually every year. I never knew this. That’s a lot of work every year. That’s a lot of money every year.

Between Jacksonville and Stuart there are lots of people who do this work. I’ve spoken to several of them. Thinking back over the conversations and venues was an interesting exercise.

I’ve met several of these people on the phone. All of those on the phone were not men. All of those people, who were not men, on the phone had to call me back with estimates. I suspect that those people, who were not men, who had to call me back with estimates, had to talk to a man before they called me back. Maybe not. I still suspect yes, though.

Of those who were not women, one took me into an office that could have been used in an old movie. It was complete with ships charts, brass portholes and all such accoutrement as one would envision to be in a retired admiral’s private study. This place was clean, tidy, shiny and made the hair on the back of my neck stand up the whole time I was sitting there looking at vinyl-covered price sheets in leather binders. The old salt was uppity, befitting his surroundings, but his prices were not that bad.

My favorite place and provider, and where I’ll have P-4’s nasty bottom wiped and powdered is near where the boat lives now. In case you missed it, P-4 is her name. She lives in the Trout River. She doesn’t like it there, but that’s for another post as well.

Bronson and Tommy, at the St. Johns Boat Company, were impressive in their knowledge, friendliness and apparent willingness to work with customers fairly. They understand the basics of service. I think that even I can learn something from them about service.

The other provider for today has nothing to do with bottoms or paint or fiberglass. He is Don at Precision Cycle in Orlando. I found him on the internet. He’s machining and welding a doo-hickie that is the marriage of an old splined transmission coupling and a new keyed shaft sprocket holder. This metal thing will primarily serve to allow the motor to turn the prop. AND allow the prop to turn the motor.

I get goosebumps contemplating how cool electric motorizing is. See, when the electric motor is turning the prop, it


battery power but when the boat is under sail, the motor is off, but the prop turns the motor now and it acts as a


of battery power. How cool is that?

Anyway, Don hasn’t done the thing yet. But, I can tell from talking to him, (1) it will be done when he promised, (2) it won’t break or fail (3) it will carry the pride of his craftsmanship and bear out his reputation

Don knows a thing or two about service.

These guys are the kind of guys that you guys want to do business with. Finding guys like these guys is what keeps this guy from writing negative comments about guys that should not even be mentioned in the same breath as guys that provide good service.

I’ll Take Goodwill over Salvation (Army)

Posted October 2, 2013 By tjflynn

It feels like I’ve been moving for years. Moving from one floor to another. One house to another. One state to another. I just moved again.

Through all of these moves, Goodwill has been my re-purpose facility of choice. If a particular item was a duplicate, or had the stigma (smell) of a former wife, or for some other reason did not make the cut of items packed-I found the nearest Goodwill to shelter it.

I believe the TV ads that say donating to Goodwill provides good things for people. I hope that a lot of my trash has been another man’s (or woman’s) treasure. To complete the cycle, when I’m not donating stuff to Goodwill, I’m scouring every one that I pass looking for antiques and bargains. It’s the ‘circle of junk’, similar to the circle of life except inanimate things don’t die, rot and provide nourishment for other inanimate things. It just seems as if they do when you go to Goodwill all the time.

Other than someone working for Goodwill, there may not be a person alive that has been in more of them than me. Let’s further qualify ‘being in’ them as dropping off or picking up stuff there. The 2nd Ex has probably been in as many as me, but in terms of sheer mass, has not moved the pounds that I have in and out of them. Dammit, there’s another useless distinction to add to my list.

Yea Goodwill. I know what to expect when I go there.

Okay, so I went to a Salvation Army store to drop off some stuff a few weeks ago and their business model is completely different. Instead of friendly people helping you to unload your crap and giving you a receipt, there is a gestapo-like sergeant (armed with Wyatt Earp’s 12″ barrel colt revolver I think) standing at the door. Once you proudly motion towards, scan and verbally list your valued possessions that need new homes, he yells out, “We’ll take the silver bars and the perfect furniture, get the rest of this useless crap off of my lot. You have 8 seconds. One…” KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

If you’re like me, you will still be in a mouth open, glazed eye state of shock when you think that you hear the unmistakeable snap of the leather strap holding the hog-leg in it’s holster being loosed and the reverberating staccato of the hammer being pulled back. I would not be far afield to say that my son-in-law soiled himself during this interaction, to which he was only peripherally involved.

Friends, frogs and knuckleheads, I won’t go back to a Salvation Army…ever…for any reason.

The person that your customers interact with is the face of your business.


Posted September 24, 2013 By tjflynn

I never give 5 stars. But I would if I were asked. At that place. At that time. Given the concept and operating parameters. The only thing missing was the odor of apple pies and the voices of angels.

I had a great experience in the Metrowest Five Guys restaurant and told my friends ‘Director’, ‘Managing’ and ‘Operating’ the good news. The place was clean. The people were super friendly. The food was good. The fries were fresh and done just right. The condiment and drink areas were tidy and organized. The restroom was clean. I was excited and proud to be a consultant for the franchise. Hell, I was happy to be a customer.

I suspect that it was a fluke. Some karmic reward for something good I did in a past life. It was a gift for my blog on SERVICE. I know that. That excitement lasted for days until I realized that, (1) nobody but me cared, or (2) somebody cared, but not enough to share it with me.

Euphoria to depression in 3 easy moves, anyone?

Yes, I manage construction for a local Five Guys Franchisee. Yes, I managed construction on today’s subject. Yes, I spend a lot of time in Five Guys’ restaurants. Yes, I have more than one vested interest in the success of Five Guys in Central Florida. Yes, I often eat for free in the restaurants that I build.

However, I suppose that I’m just the “construction turd” to the operators. My random comments (good or bad) on operations are taken more like a dose of salts than as constructive observations. Instead of hearing an old salt’s pearls of wisdom-they hear an old fart’s musings. Rather than taking them with a grain of salt-they act like salt is being rubbed into a festered wound.

I’m reminded of my years in retail real estate development companies where there was always a chasm between the “real estate turds” and the “construction turds”. The real estate guys thought that the construction guys just sat around and made up reasons not to do projects and blamed them on some state or local jurisdictional authority. The construction guys thought that the real estate guys were too busy getting manicures and buying $1,200 suits (that remark will indicate my age) to find the right site and the right tenants for it.

Company parties were like middle school dances. Those with spit-polished John Lobb’s on their feet and Mercedes under their seat sitting on one side, and those who had on Timberlands that would never even get close to polish thinking about the valet looking for low-low and trying to climb an 85 degree berm as a short-cut to the parking garage.

The only thing that I find different about restaurant development is that a 3rd group of people with their own idiosyncrasies, are thrown into the mix…”operations turds”. Company parties are exactly the same. Shiny shoes on one side of the room. Scuffed on the other. Wherever the food and drinks are…you got it…the non-slip sole crowd.

I’ve spent my entire career trying to erase the unmistakeable aura that says, “I started out as a carpenter”. I got my first real estate license in 1974 and my first building contractor’s license in 1980. My closet has both shiny and scuffed footwear. At parties, I seamlessly drift between real estate and construction turdoms with ease and deftness. I don’t like admitting it, but I just can’t seem to break into the operators’ group. I don’t speak their language. I don’t know what temperature is required to magically transform white lardy Crisco into a clear liquid.

I have been involved in over a hundred restaurant openings. I have my very own ServeSafe card. My knowledge of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation / Division of Hotels and Restaurant pre-opening checklist is, well, nudging absolute.

But, I can’t:
1. Consume my own weight in any given food category.
2. Make a gourmet meal with nothing but a toothpick and a candle.
3. Drink beer, wine and hard alcohol until the wee hours and find an all-night restaurant around 4:30 am for ‘pre breakfast snacks’.
4. Go to the same building to work everyday (THE SAME PLACE EVERYDAY for goodness’ sake)

And, I am not skinny by any means, but I am not hefty enough to be in operations. Have you ever seen a skinny operator? Those odds are the same as finding an honest used car salesman or a good lawyer.

I’m too emotionally drained at this point to make a point about today’s blog. I experienced that one moment in time when all the tumblers dropped into place, when the stage was perfectly set, when there was no other possible outcome than a wonderful service experience.

I had it.

It was at a restaurant that I built.

I know the people who are responsible.

It was beautiful.

Perhaps you, my faithful readers, will share in my excitement. I can only wish that you, too, experience that pristine excitement of pure and unadulterated Superior Service that some of us aspire to and all of us seek.

Pizza Hut Would Not Take US Currency

Posted September 11, 2013 By tjflynn

Quick internet research reveals that Pizza Hut’s average ticket price is between 17 and 50 bucks. How come, then, the unit in Altamonte Springs will not take a hundred dollar bill for payment?

I am experiencing new-found energy and weight loss from a diet that excludes pizza-of any kind. However, I backslide once in a while. Yes, readers, I am human. I do have some of the normal frailties of the species. So, a few days ago when my mother suggested it, I found myself in the Altamonte Springs Pizza Hut ordering a large Pepperoni Pan Pizza to take out. Everything about the experience was the universe’s unique way of telling me…don’t do it, numbskull!

1. It was early in the afternoon but I thought I’d rather warm up the pizza than go home and back out later.
2. As I turned off of 436 onto Boston, there was a line of cars in the turn lane which blocked my access into the parking lot as well as impatient people behind me who would have been safer without the rear of their cars hanging half out onto the busy highway.
3. Once I did get into the parking lot, all of the convenient parking spaces were taken or side-parked. This is when one car takes up more than one parking space by parking sidewards.
4. Without enough thought, I wheeled into a compact car space and side-parked my own vehicle which would more precisely be called a “land yacht” than a “compact”.
5. As I disembarked, the seat cover stuck to my britches and jumped out with me and the seatbelt wrapped around the little thingie that holds the door shut so when I slammed the door, it bounced back at me as if to say, “move the damn seatbelt, Herky-Jerky”.
6. As I made towards the door, a lady was walking in the same direction, so I had the usual mental battle (ie. hurry up to be first to the door then hold it for her and let her get in front of me, go in first and ignore her, hold the door and trip her or let her get to the door first and have the dilemma. Thankfully, she went in the shop next door.
7. Finally, I’m safe and cool inside the restaurant where the over-worked and under-paid Mensa reject was more interested in the technician working on a ladder near the counter than acknowledging a customer standing at the counter.
8. When he finally did make eye contact for a split second before looking at the cash register, I asked, “can I order a large pepperoni pan pizza” and he responded, “did you order online?” At this point, my brain raced for a response that was nothing like, “if I ordered it online, I would not ask to order it again here, would I?” But all that came out of my mouth was a weak “no”. So when he asked what crust, my mind raced again for a response that was not, “what part of large pepperoni pan pizza do you not understand?” And, all that came out of my mouth that time was a weak “pan”.
9. Up to this point, it was a pretty normal experience at any service-related business in Central Florida. Where the training manuals emphasize get-em-in and get-em-out over offering any semblance of service. There will be a new tourist there before you know it.
10. But when I reached out with cash, the fellow that later identified himself as “one of the managers” curtly and loudly retorted, “we don’t take hundreds.”

If you know me, you can guess what happened next. I asked to see a manager then walked out mumbling and in a snit. Or was it a huff?

Most of this incident is funny. It usually is when the universe talks to you and you just don’t listen. But the service, or lack thereof, ain’t funny at all. It’s pitiful.

Horse-whipping purveyors of poor service should never have been re-classified from a deterrent to an act of violence. I would be willing to take my punishment if I treated someone as I was treated at the Pizza Hut in Altamonte Springs. Is a little personal responsibility too much to ask?

What’s the service principle here? If you don’t plan on providing superior service to your customers, please don’t take a service job.

Ronald McDonald Would Have A Frowny Face

Posted July 27, 2013 By tjflynn

I’ve done it dozens, if not hundreds, of times-get off at a random interstate exit for a large unsweet tea under the golden arches. Readers, friends and aliens, don’t do it in Jacksonville, Florida off of I-95. If you do, you may have a real (interpret bad) experience like I did.

Honestly, McDonalds’ employee training program could stand improvement in a lot of areas. But, I’ve been in them, in many states, with passable service. Not in Jacksonville, Florida off of I-95. Holy schmoly, those 5 eggheads behind the counter could not have avoided eye contact with me any longer without exploding or passing out. Adding to my discomfort of suspecting that I had become totally invisible between the van and the service counter, the oriental gentleman speaking in broken English, trying to bitch about the service he was not getting made the entire experience surreal.

The old oriental guy was standing outside, on the sidewalk by the drive-thru, when I drove up. He was holding a normal sized ticket in his hand and looking like he’d lost his favorite shih tzu puppy. What I think he was trying to tell me while I was being ignored by the entirety of people working in that McDonalds in Jacksonville, Florida off of I-95, is that someone got his order wrong and he was waiting for them to remake his food. I wonder if the concept of “fast food” has escaped those employees. If the old oriental guy, or me for that matter, wanted to hang around 20 minutes for food, we’d go somewhere with fewer bad physical and medical consequences.

One can’t argue that the food is bad for you. So without the “fast” there’s no reason to visit. Period. End of sentence. End of paragraph.

Those of you who are curious about outcomes…when the counter person said to me, “I can take your order now”, in the same voice that I’d use to cut, berate, belittle or piss off someone, I replied with, “I don’t think so, your service sucks and I’ll go somewhere where my patronage and my money is appreciated”.

I make no apologies for my actions to him, his manager, McDonalds’ district manager, McDonalds’ training manager, anyone from McDonalds corporate and anyone who drives a yellow Jeep. In fact, I urge each of you, in your own way, to refuse terrible service where ever you find it. Take the time to drive down the road to a competitor and spend your money there.

The moral of this story is twofold. (1) Bad service should not be tolerated, (2) I might possibly communicate better on paper than I do in person.

Take the time to figuratively spit on bad service-you might change the world.


Posted July 16, 2013 By tjflynn

It is not good blog protocol (I suspect) to write stories about the same thing so close together. However, I have another automobile experience to share.

Those few readers who know me really well know that I’m…uh, frugal when it comes to cars and trucks. Having wasted untold dollars trading cars every couple of years, I now tend to run the wheels off of everything that I purchase. Many years ago, my friend John Weeks, shared a story about the principal at his high school saying that a Caddy is really a poor man’s car because they were so well built that the cost of ownership-over time was extremely low. I’ve proved this concept to be true with several Ford trucks and vans as well.

Please don’t tell Carl Edwards or any other of my Fanatic Ford Friends, but my current work van is a Chevy. She’s 23 and has almost 230,000 miles on her. But, bless her heart,still gets up every day and goes where ever I go. She has a little rust and her paint is fading. But, she still goes with me. She needs touching in difficult places to reach sometimes. Most recently inside her gas tank. But, she still goes with me. She loves gas stations and craves oil and water sometimes. But she still goes with me. Her middle seats are in another state. She is burdened with tools of my trade and beach essentials. I often forget to unload things that she should not be carrying. I used to let her sit in my parking lot in Kentucky, covered in snow and ice, for weeks at a time. Then jump in to drive a thousand miles to work. She happily went.

Over time, her power windows stopped working and stayed that way until it became too inconvenient (translated HOT) for me to bear. As things happen, I was lamenting the heat and wishing that the windows worked when I passed one of those orange cars on US 1 that advertise window repairs. I called. Agreed to $175 each window for new motors and the labor to install. He came the same day and did the work.

Fast forward to less than a week later and the passenger window rolls down and not back up. I was busy that week. It rained much that week. My old girl was very embarassed honkin’ down the road with a plastic trash bag on one of her wings like she belonged to Jethro Bodeen or the Joad family. It rained the next week and the next.

The repairman had warned me of some rusty pieces that could cause the window to stop working. Thinking that this was the issue and he had done what he promised, I operated on my girl and, to my surprise found a well-worn and old window motor still in her wing. It was at this point that I knew that I had wasted some or all of the $360 I’d spent and that I’d been taken advantage of.

Angry and frustrated, I fixed her window in the up position and put her back together. During this process, I lost the clip that holds the door handle on. So, each time the door is shut, the handle falls off. I also broke the electric thingie that operates the window. So, the hole where it was is covered with tape. Dammit!

Not one to walk away from a fight, I called the repairman. His response was to call me “bone lip” and hang up. I must admit that I’ve been called many things worse than “bone lip”, and that “bone lip” was funny until I thought it must be a reference to being gay-which I ain’t.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Giving the devil his due, the repairman did call back, apologize and ask to make a repair. Unfortunately, at that point I was in a prudent business be damned, this guy has taken advantage of me and disparaged me (I think) with the bone lip thing, hung up the phone on me, and I don’t want him anywhere near my sweetie mode and told him to go you-know-what himself.

Over time, I’ll fix the handle and get a new switch cover. I can live with just one window rolling up and down. Meanwhile, my unnamed sweetie will still get up and go with me where ever I go.

Over time, the repairman will still take advantage of people, call them bad names, and live with the bad karma he’s putting out into the world.

I sorta wish that my make up was such that would have allowed me to let the guy fix his mistake. But, then again, that person would be someone else…not me!

The lesson in service? Don’t trust a guy that comes to your house to work on your vehicle and asks you to drive up on the sidewalk under the shade of a tree. I guess.

Vultures, Slugs and the Stupodic

Posted May 23, 2013 By tjflynn

Most people know what a vulture is. We, in the south, call them buzzards.
Most people also know that slugs wear too much hair grease and leave little trails of it behind them.
Through the magic of copy and paste (from Urban Dictionary), I’m teaching y’all a new word today-stupodic.

stupid-idiot(ic) (n or adj); this can refer to a person or an act;
the complete opposite of genius
That guy is stupodic.
The war in Iraq is stupodic.
Although Albert Einstein was a genius to most people, when it came to basic math, he was stupodic.”

This word just rolls off of my tongue and will, from this day forth, be my favorite word. When I’m driving, I’ll call people stupodic instead of the things that my grandchildren say are “bad words, Pappy”. When a particular subcontractor, supplier or consultant does not meet a deadline, it’ll sound much better to say stupodic than what I usually say. This word has more than 4 letters. Ergo, it is socially acceptable in most circumstances. Yep…I like it.

My big question is, “How in Sam Hell did we let new car dealerships get in the control of aliens from the planet Coo Coo”?

Why were there no less than 20 buzzards in white shirts on the lot where an innocent couple pulled off the road to look at new cars in the comfort of their broke-down POS? Why was the buzzard that jumped on the hood of Ole Yeller flailing his arms and yelling, “how may I assist you fine folks today” with Bob Marley’s accent? Why was his butt so high off the ground that it didn’t match the top half of his body? Why was his shirt collar sized for Mike Tyson when his neck was the same measurement as a Great Blue Heron’s? As if that wasn’t spooky enough, why did he lift his feet straight up above his knees when he walked like Boris Karloff on that old black and white movie? What do the buzzards do when there ain’t nobody on the lot? How many buzzards does it take to flag down one couple? Okay, I’ll admit it…that last one was rhetorical.

Why did the only normal person there talk about his Corvette the whole time we were looking at a 50 MPG box?

Why did that guy and the slugs trade heiroglyphics and get all animated when they talked while we were inside resting?heiroglyphics How did those slugs get past homeland security and the airport xray when they came here from Coo Coo? Where do the slugs go when they aren’t in the cage in the middle of the showroom? Why was the tallest slug the boss of them all and of the salesman?

And, how did the slugs get so stupodic?

I ain’t too proud to admit that my algebra skills are sorely lacking and that I never attempted trigonometry. But, the stupodic slugs from Coo Coo can’t do simple math and I can. Mrs Loving Beauty sat there with her mouth open and her eyes slightly rolled in the back of her head when the salesman came back with the first “offer” from the slugs as well. She can count too.

Who in tarnation would ever trade and get taken just because they could afford the payment? Evidently everyone that ever goes to that dealership except me and Mrs Loving Beauty because that’s what the slug kept asking, “can you afford that payment”. And every time that I piped up to say something like, “you dumb alien slug, that ain’t got nothing to do with the price of that car”, I got a kick and the stink eye from Loving. And everybody that walked by couldn’t believe that the slug was standing there holding a piece of paper and an eighty dollar pen and I wasn’t signing nothing.

Why do the aliens try to confuse you with crap like, black book value, blue book value, secondary market, wholesale, retail and auctions? If you are looking for a fair trade, why do they talk about payments? How can they look straight in your eyes and talk Coo Coo? Why do they always answer a question with a question?

Why did the stupodic slug think that I’d stay there another ten minutes after I’d heard him spewing senseless terms and numbers for the last hour?

I heard a radio commercial from the country station in Orlando today that was hollering about a car dealership over there that’ll let you buy a car on the internet. I believe that I’ll check up on that and stay away from being right in the same room with stupodic slugs.

You never know. Stupodic slugism from the planet Coo Coo may be contagious.

Markets vs Grocery Stores

Posted May 19, 2013 By tjflynn

I went through a period in my youth where I considered going to law school. In those days, Sociology was an acceptable undergraduate degree to have as a prerequisite. So, I ‘double-majored’ in business and sociology. It’s is no surprise, then, when I have random thoughts about why as a society we gravitate toward certain things. Things like becoming Publix Snobs.

At the end of March, I was fortunate enough to be in a group of 17 friends from the Indialantic/Indian Harbour Beach area to vacation in the Florida Keys. We rented 3 houses in the same neighborhood and inhabited them by family group, with each family being responsible to provide the dinner repast for the entire herd, at least once. It was during a grocery shopping trip for one of these feasts that I accused friend Derrian of being a Publix Snob. To which she freely admitted-to no one’s surprise!

Friends, frequent readers, freaks and fossils, we all have become grocery shopping snobs of some sort. We’ve had to for various reasons. There is a Winn-Dixie, Publix, Aldi, Wal-Mart, Target, or other regional/national grocery store in every 4-mile radius. Our peers shop at these stores. Smaller stores are ethnic, have the mom-and-pop syndrome, aren’t as modern, are not as convenient, or? In short smaller stores, markets, have no snob appeal to the majority of the populace.

As I look back on my shopping habit history, there are distinct periods of evolution and regression. Let me explain. When I was a carefree boy at home, most of my shopping was candy and soda at Pop Malloy’s or the Davis Grocery. Both of these wood buildings sold kerosene and gasoline in addition to groceries and were owned by local families. These were the precursors to 7-11 stores. At that time, Mama shopped at the corner produce market and Winn-Dixie downtown. Then, a Publix was built close to home and Mama and Daddy shopped there for convenience. When my wife started shopping for our family, I was building Winn-Dixies for a living and the choice for buying groceries was simple. Spend your money where you make it. With slight deviations, concentrating on Piggly-Wiggly, Wal-Mart, Kroger, Save-a-Lot, or Publix, that remained my habit until recently.

Fast forward to the beginning of May when Angela and I changed our diet to exclude all processed foods, all grains, etc. to concentrate on lean meats, fresh fruits and fresh vegetables. We are back at local markets for the freshness and cost savings.Photo of groceries in the fridge

So far, we have found 2 fantastic markets where food is fresher, prices are considerably lower than snobby stores and ethnicity is evident but not oppressive in any way. One of these markets offers two free glasses of beer while you shop! By comparison, we should get a 6-pack at the bigger, more expensive stores. I’m not talking about roadside markets, rather well established stores with carts, parking lots, and lots staple items.

Please stop here and re-read the paragraph above. Need I say more than “food is fresher, prices are considerably lower”? Okay, here’s the numbers for those who need me to say more. We spent less than $60 last week and less than $50 this week for all of the fresh vegetables and fruit we can eat. I’ve even bought extra fruit and vegetables to dehydrate for snacks in these numbers.

Do we drive a little further? Yes.
Do we need to keep an eye behind us for the mad shoppers and choo-choos in the smaller aisles who know what they want and will run over anyone in their way? Yes.
Are the stores a little less modern? Yes
Is it worth the freshness and savings? Hell Yes.

My common sense and my sense of adventure says that shopping at markets is smart and fun. Now if I can just find a meat market that’s affordable. I’ll be able to pass all of those big box stores and my peers in them who are paying more and getting less.

Griffin Industries renews my faith in service

Posted April 26, 2013 By tjflynn

Following up on my recent bad experience with an online company and the Griffin Survivor iPhone 4s case arriving damaged and without the belt clip, I set about to find a clip. What I found looked to be of dubious quality, not original and probably not worth the price of shipping.

So, I decided to use my friend Jeff Bass’ approach and buy at full retail. This seems to work for him.

During my thought process I remembered what I’d heard Jim Rohn say on a motivational recording, “things are not priced too high, you just don’t have enough money to buy them.” Mr. Rohn was making the point that the only way to get a raise is to make yourself more valuable to your employer. When you’re more important to your employer, you make more money, and those things that you thought were overpriced are now more affordable.

I went directly to Griffin, chose the orange soft stuff, the green hard stuff and the black belt clip. No kidding…those are sort of my company colors except the black clip which was limited by what might look okay with the blue case I bought from the brigands. During checkout, I was surprised to get a 15% off coupon for new online purchasers. There was serious hesitation on my part to take advantage of this discount given Jeff and Jim’s advice. Saving the 7 and a half bucks won me over, though and I scarfed up the discount like it was food in Tebow’s bowl. Tebow is my grandchildren’s “rescue hound” that is at a clumsy age where his legs and tail just won’t go where he aims them, and his only speed is “breakneck”.

The rest of my story continues with the sound track from Polyanna playing softly in the background on sunny-but-not-too-hot days until my Survivor Case arrived A DAY EARLY in perfect condition. As I opened the well-insulated box to find the object of my obsession lying there begging to be loved, I heard at least 3 different birds singing and two squirrels squeaking the sounds of joyous and playful squirrel laughter.

It’s funny how I value the orange-green pearl caressing and protecting the phone on my hip much more than I did the scruffy blue one that I had to shove in an undersized pocket or carry in my hand. Judging from the differences in the plastic cases, I now believe the first one was a knock off. A knock off, damaged, incomplete, arriving in a manilla envelope. Sputtooie on cheapies!

I’m going to InterNACHI’s website to take a continuing education course in the hopes of becoming more valuable so I can always afford to buy at full retail. Thank’s for the example, Jeff.

I’m playing with homonyms or homophones or something like that-trying to make a connection with the “N”s at the end of Griffin and Flynn. I think it’s going to take a little while to harden into something that I can write about. In the meanwhile, Griffin Industries get’s a proper USMC salute and tip of the ball cap for promising LESS than they provided. That kind of service gives me goosebumps.

Petty Tyrants and Service

Posted April 26, 2013 By tjflynn

Several weeks ago, I contacted a local consultant to establish a relationship where I would recommend his company during the normal course of my inspections business. We connected well, his company was a member of the local Chamber of Commerce, and I was very comfortable when the time came to say, “I can coordinate the WDO inspection for you with a very experienced consultant, working for a substantial company. Their fee is just $75.00”.

From that point forward, it was as if I were in Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone.

For the sake of accurate and unbiased information, it’s best for me to list the things that happened next.

-I called the consultant’s office to schedule the inspection (as I had been instructed earlier. The lady on the other end of the phone, let’s call her “M”, asked me to call him directly to schedule.
-I called him to schedule the inspection and he told me that he could not schedule himself that I needed to call the office back.
-I called his office back and spoke to “M”. She transferred me to another lady, we’ll call her “D”, who told me that she’d email a form to be filled out, and schedule the consultant for 9:30 Friday morning.

-I called the client for information to use on the form and was told that the transaction was amongst friends, there were no real estate agents, attorneys, etc involved-only a mortgage company. Her preference was to fill out the form the morning of the inspection and have it ready for the insector when he arrived at the inspection location.

-9:00 I arrived at the inspection, had the client fill our the form for the consultant and set about my work.
-10:00 The client told me that she had an appointment, needed to leave and asked me to check on the WDO consultant.
-10:10 I called the consultant’s office and talked to “D” who advised me in the most forceful way that I had not sent her the form so she had redirected the consultant. I replied that I had the form for him to hold when he got to the site. There were some lost minutes during this conversation where most of what I said was some derivation of “you are a hard company to give work to” and most of what she said was a derivation of “don’t try to drag me under the bus with you, we have rules and regulations.”
-10:20 Seeing no options, I left the inspection site for a local Five Guys restaurant where I could use the fax machine to send “D” the form. I confirmed receipt of the form with “D” and rescheduled the WDO for 1:00
-11:10 I got back to the site and restarted my building inspection.
-12:35 I noticed a missed call from “D” on my cell phone and returned the call to find out that she had again redirected the consultant because the form was not totally filled out. When I told her that the entire section on real estate agents was truly ‘not applicable’ because there were none involved in the transaction she rescheduled him for ‘as soon as he could get there”.
-2:00 he arrived. I paid him in cash, reminded him that the completed report should be emailed to me, and went on about my business after being at the site for 5 hours for a 3 hour inspection.

-I had an appointment to deliver both reports (mine and the WDO) to the client at noon and had not received the WDO report, so I rescheduled for Monday with the client.

-9:30ish I emailed the WDO company (“D” and the inspector) letting them know that I had an appointment to hand deliver the reports at noon, because the client couldn’t print reports from her computer, and needed to leave my office by 11 to make that timeframe.
-11:00 I called “D” because she had not sent me the report and got a snotty attitude, but the report came in a few minutes.

Shame on me for not realizing that the infamous “form” was an integral part of their routine.
Shame on me for reacting badly to the inspector being redirected the first time.

Shame on “D” for allowing her tyrannical personality to influence her business decisions.
Shame on the WDO company for allowing a person with an ego larger than mine to be the only voice most people hear when dealing with them.

As one who has employed hundreds of people in the past, it’s easy for me to understand that people with “D”s personality make good employees because they get things done…by the book. On the other hand, they drive clients/customers away.

My common sense says that “D” could have maintained her standards and kept me as a customer, but chose not to when she decided to re-direct the inspector the very first time, without a courtesy call to me explaining the form’s importance to their system. Given our respective personalities, everything else that happened was inevitable.