Thursday, December 30, 2004
A Bloo Christmas
Back in May of 2004 our Black Lab mix had to be put down. She was about 14 years old, according to the vet, her systems had shut down and she was very sick. We didn't know her exact age because she came to us on a Thursday afternoon September 7th, 2000. The Lad, 4 at the time, and I were outside clearing ivy out of the side yard and working fast to beat an oncoming storm. There were occasional thunder rumbles and the wind was picking up. Our next door neighbor, Karen, spotted her first. She was scurrying down the sidewalk with her tail between her legs, very upset and afraid of the thunder. Karen asked us if we knew who's dog it was. The Lad immediately called out to her and she sheepishly came toward us and laid down, shaking like a leaf. No tags. The Lad put his hand on her head, looked up at me and said, "Can we call her Belle?"
Just like that. In less than 2 seconds the dog was his. I told him we can call her Belle until her owners come and get her. So we sat out in the front yard with Belle waiting for her owner to drive by looking for her. A day later we put signs up on all the telephone poles in every intersection within a mile of the house and notified the shelters. Two weeks later we took all those signs down and put up "Lost Dog" signs when she escaped from our back yard. We got her back. Soon after that she wore tags with her name and our phone number. In the next year we had met most of our neighbors within a mile of the house when we went to retrieve Belle from her many unauthorized sojourns. So we put her name and our address on her tags. Most people who found Belle doing laps in their pool brought her back without calling. We'll never know how often that occurred.
She slept on the Lad's bed until she couldn't get up there anymore, and despite her deteriorating health she chased a ball into the pool for one last swim the day before I drove her to the vet to end her suffering. What a horrible drive.
The Lad took it pretty hard. When Belle died she had been a part of his life for half of it. Sticks, balls, the pool and the creek. Always willing, always able, and always his.
We waited until now to replace Belle because we wanted the Lad to respect her passing and linger on her memory. One of the most important lessons a pet can give to a child is it's passing. Beyond the responsibility of feeding and caring for a pet, it's passing provides an opportunity to confront the loss of a loved one. Something real and living in their world is gone forever. The experience will hopefully be of great value when he becomes an adult.
At 5:45 AM this Christmas morning I drove to the breeder's house to pick up Bloo. He's 45 pounds of four month old pure Black Lab. We brought him into the Lad's bedroom to wake him up. As we sat on his bed and stirred him awake, Bloo was sniffing about the room, paws thumping and collar tag jingling. He caught a glimpse of something black and fury in the closet door mirror and sat up in his bed with an expression we'll never forget. "A DOG!!! I HAVE A PUPPY!!!"
The giggles and fun haven't stopped. Immediate brothers possessing the same level of maturity and attention spans.
Ten years from now he'll be 19 and Bloo will be 10. Over half his life will have been spent with Bloo at his side. I hope he remembers what Belle taught him, and I hope we're there to recall the Christmas morning when Bloo woke him up. -Wb
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
Why Do I Give?
(World Vision's web is impossible to utilize right now due to heavy traffic. Use 1 800 777 5777.)
Why do I give? I don't really know.
Why do I vote?
Why do I voice an opinion on a talk show?
Why do I write a letter to the editor?
Why do I give up my seat to an elder or a lady?
Why do I pick up a piece of trash in the parking lot?
Why do I coach a little league team?
Why do I send money to a congressional seat in another state?
Why do I string my in-law's Christmas tree every year?
I'm an American and I feel lucky and blessed to hold that title. Giving is what most Americans do as a way of life as they do breath, eat and sleep. My little $50 donation will do little up against a death toll number that will likely reach into the hundreds of thousands. But the hundreds of thousands of Americans like me will make a big difference. And we'll all go about our days tomorrow and next month, picking up litter, giving up a seat for an old man and voting for somebody we trust.
That's why. -Wb
Later in the evening while watching the news I heard of the comment from the smarmy U.N. official who deemed the U.S. aid effort "stingy". Stingy? He's got nerve, not to mention a complete and total ignorance of the centuries old benevolence of the American people and their government. He belongs in the U.N.
More and more I'm thankful that that organization exists to give him and people like him a place to showcase their inaptitude and failed policies. This day and age of high speed and widespread information distribution exposes the U.N. and other destructive forces in this world for what they are... part of the problem.
And here's Jonah Goldberg's take about the U.N. and the U.S. stinginess at Townhall; http://www.townhall.com/columnists/jonahgoldberg/jg20041229.shtml
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
The New Hires
I work in a $50 million per year retail department store. This time of year we need to hire extra people to work throughout the store. Lots of extra people. And the pickin's have been slim and disappointing.
You can't teach decent behavior to people over five. If your mother and father didn't give you adequate food, shelter, clothes, some good spankings and a lot love then you were screwed in the "friendly" skills by the time you reached kindergarten. Anyone who works in a retail environment needs first to be friendly as there are these critters roaming about the store giving us money called customers. Customers appreciate authentic friendliness. All other skills and attributes follow a salesperson's ability to be friendly. Any one who's tied their own shoes can be taught how to work a cash register, where the time clock is located and what the difference is between a pair of Levis and a toaster. But you can't teach them genuine friendliness, or decent character.
If you know of a young person out looking for a job you'll do them a huge favor by letting them know a few basic rules about getting hired, regardless of their formal education or work experience.
The first impression.
You're there to impress a business not yourself or your friends. What are the decision makers wearing?
Dress appropriately. Conservatively. In today's style. Wear business attire, even if the job being applied for doesn't require it. Shave. Brush your hair. Wear nice shoes.
Guys, don't show up in any office with pants on that are four sizes too big hanging below your ass and folded down your legs like empty duffel bags. No hats. No jewelry.You look stupid to the executive office staff who, you'll notice, are all in business attire and wondering why you're scrounging around your knees for your wallet. Girls, as nice as that tattoo is for your discerning boyfriend, it looks pretty trashy to the people your asking for employment. We also don't care for your toe rings, ankle bracelets, navel bars, nose rings, or tongue decorations. No bellies, backs, arm pits or bare legs, either. You're looking for a job, not a frat house.
Leave the kids, and boy friends at home or in the car.
Don't give the employer a reason to pass on you before you ask for the application.
It's another first impression. The person you hand your application to won't be the only one who reads your life story. (Unless, of course, you've dressed like a clown as discussed above... in which case you'll be politely turned away). Take your time, check the spelling, make sure everything is filled out accurately. If you can, take the application home and bring it back in perfect condition.
Make yourself available. "Open", "Anytime", "Open to close" are all music to an employers ears. Use them. In retail, "Nights and weekends" are even lovelier words. If you're in school, be very specific about your class schedule and the time you'll need to study. Monday through Friday 9 to 5 doesn't exist. Businesses are open on most holidays. You're willing and able to work them all. Once on board with a business the quickest way to get thrown overboard is to limit your availability or alter it so it doesn't suit what the employer requires.
I've never hired anyone I wouldn't want at my dinner table or in my car for a 1 hour trip. Hiring an employee is like getting a room-mate. Be honest, upbeat, interested, charming and polite. Sit up straight, hold eye contact and speak clearly. Offer a firm handshake not a dead fish. The employer is making a decision whether or not to trust you with their business. Their money. Their merchandise. Their customers. Their reputation. They've got about 15 minutes to make the decision. Should they trust you? Can they trust you?
Now go get a job! -Wb