Hello Everyone,

October 2015

I love October, not just because it is my birthday month but because the air changes, the season changes, the time changes.

It is when we must embrace the fact that the time change will have us seeing the dark sooner. A time when the trees begin to let loose the leaves, orange, brown and yellow leaves flying about.

It is the time when the ghouls and horrors are seen in decorations, shows, movies and parties.

It is the time when we say farewell to the summer heat, smile toward the cooler weather and wonder of the winter to come.

Happy October! May there be light within you to shine upon the earlier darker hours. May the ghouls and gremlins that ring the door bell make you smile and partake in trick or treat.

May you embrace the change in season knowing... it will bring us back to Spring soon enough.

I have added a tab - Whisper my words, which is a link to my site where I post stories, poems, AndMore events and the Watcher's Journal. Take a peek and enjoy.



December 01, 2013

AndMore... Can you boil a Turkey...in an oven? Why Yes!

Yes you can!

My poor sister had to work Thanksgiving so I went to her house the night before prepared to help with the cooking.  She seasoned the larger then new born infant bird and I recommended she turn it breast side down over night so it could marinade well.  She was to turn the turkey over in the morning when she would put it in the oven before leaving for work.

I was appreciative to sleep a little late since I normally get up very early to tackle a lengthy commute to work.  When I woke and sat with my cup of coffee I thought to take a peek at the turkey.  She had put it in a plastic bag, one of those sold specifically for turkey.  Due to the marinade I could only see the outline.  It looked okay... I guess.

Sis works for Wal-Mart and their Black Friday was being held on Thanksgiving Thursday.  What a family company!  Keep the workers in on a day to feast and give thanks.

Her daughter works part time there as well when she is not in school.  That day she too was working, she got the worst hours too, 1pm to 10pm.  So much for dinner at all.  Three hours in she was already told to take her dinner break.  I will never understand retails regard for store personnel.  Some stores have gotten better about it, but some like Wal-Mart seem to get worse.

The turkey was being held hostage in the oven for a slow cook.  So, I figured at I would pick up sis.  Bring her home early enough for her to handle the stuffing (yuck) and mashed potatoes.  I had already taken care of the rice.

In the time it took to get there and watch the Black Friday horror (on a Thursday) and go back to her house, her husband had taken a nap, thus the rice burned.  The turkey was still doing fine. While pulling into the parking space sis asked... Did you turn the turkey around?

I wondered what the heck she was talking about.  Well, the turkey was cooking breast side down.  The question further confused me because SHE was the one that woke to put it in the oven.

The question at the start of this was - Can you boil a turkey?  In the oven?  The answer is a profound YES.  That bird fell off the bones.  Literally fell off while she was trying to put it on a platter.  It was also the most thoroughly seasoned turkey I had ever tasted.

I made more rice, this time it was not burned.  The potatoes came out nicely mashed without a hitch.  However the stuffing was forgotten.  Two boxes sat on the counter.  (Yuck)

After that mishap I wonder why anyone would cook a bird right side up. I mean, it takes the worries of dry turkey and not seasoned enough right out of ones mind.  Granted, you would have to break open that bag and let the top brown a bit, but if you put the oven high enough it could happen before the meat collapsed.

In a world where people are fighting, literally fist fighting on Black Friday store lines, clerks are told off by ranting customers, staff are working hours no one should and families are barely having the time to sit together... an upside down turkey doesn't even make the list of Oh Man! WTF?  It merely warranted giggles from sisters and a hushed conversation so the kids could not hear.

Just so I can write it on a blog and shake my head while typing.  Who needs a perfect turkey?  Not us, we did just fine drowning one in a day long medium set heated oven.  No stuffing (yuck), loads of mashed potato and rice.  I pat my tummy just remembering that feast.

Are you tapping yours?

November 09, 2013

Memory of Moments. Reel of Joy.

Memory of Moments

Through the years I have written of moments.  Over and over, writing of only experiencing moments of happiness, love and peace.  Complaints mostly of it not being more then just a moment here, a moment there.

I find that I am now so grateful for all those moments.  At times I can see them like a montage, a running film and not separate moments.  I breathe in deep as if I could inhale that montage and keep it going like life itself.

But... I can't.  Instead I have the accepting knowledge which I embrace, that more moments will just make for a longer montage.

Reel of Joy

I close my eyes and breathe in deep
exhale the pain, release
The joys of past I shall keep
anguish begins to cease

Vivid film in my minds eye
laughter and joy
Fast and slow, I sigh
this moment I enjoy

There is no good-bye, no hello
I am in the now
as my past will show
without a care as to how

2013 ~gcastro  (pen to hand... the writer writes, hiatus ends)

October 13, 2013

AndMore...Too much Customer Service?

Is there such a thing as too much Customer Service?  I didn't think so.  Until....

I learned Customer Service from the best, one of the top retail stores.  Back in the day when you started in their corporate office you had to spend two weeks in a store.  A very humbling experience but one that allowed corp employees to remember how difficult store personnel had it.  The same company took Customer Service very serious.  The classes always ongoing.  You can't walk into their store without a constant mantra of 'Hello', 'Do you need a carriage', 'May I help you with anything' to just name a few.

Customers go into that store and feel privileged, cared for and able to walk out with not just the purchase they needed but guarantees as well.

But how much is too much?  Is there too much?  With all the stores that neglect customers and/or treat them badly, can it be possible to have too much Customer Service?

My 10+ year old alarm clock sounds off lately only when it feels like it.  If it weren't for my phone as a back up I would never wake up in time.  A wonderful 20% coupon arrived in the mail for a favorite store, I went online and viewed the selection of alarm clocks, favoring one I decided to go and get it at the store.

It was a terrible day, a bird died and fell next to my car, right by the door, I had to hop into the car and maneuver a bit to avoid running over it's lifeless body.  That was just a start.  I went to the mall where I scheduled a massage, my knee was buckling (old injury) and my back was worse, the pain unbearable.  I was also having issue with my balance.  I almost toppled over but caught myself and just dropped my purse instead as I was getting up a very tall man was swinging along a back pack.  He swung it right into my hair as I was straightening up from picking up my purse when I felt a painful tug.  It took him, his girlfriend and their son to get my hair untangled from it.  The whole time I was praying the pain in my back would subside.

The massage did little to help, I was hungry so I went to my favorite restaurant.  The service was quick for being seated, ordering and receiving the food.  I asked the perky waitress for more napkins.  I never saw her again.  Luckily I had some wipes in my purse.  An hour later she arrived, apparently they sat me off in a corner hardly noticeable and was forgotten.

Needless to say the last thing I wanted was to go back out shopping but I really needed the alarm clock.  I put on one of those icy hot patches for my back and headed out to the store about 5 miles from home.  The ride was long since it seems everyone in Jersey was heading to that plaza.

The task was simple, get the alarm clock, go to the cashier give the the coupon and go home.

The alarm clock was in a locked case which amused me since it wasn't really a large purchase not in size or monetary value.  The store was busy and seemed lacking in staff.  There was one person at the 'clock' section and he was assisting another customer that was having a hard time choosing an alarm clock.  She wanted one she could plug her iPhone into without spending the iPhone type of expense (*giggle*).  Twenty minutes later I realized that not only was the customer just dilly dallying along the conversation, the sales person was ignoring the ever growing line behind me for his assistance.

An additional 15 minutes later I noticed the icy hot patch was no longer working, if I intended on getting the clock, paying and walking across the Plaza parking lot, I would have to leave while the pain was just beginning.

The woman was hemming and hawing about the conspiracy of manufacturers and retail stores when the sales person looked toward me.  I said 'Excuse me, could you just unlock that case, I want the alarm right there in front.'.  He put his finger up in the universal language of - hold on, you insignificant, I am busy - gesture.

When I turned around I realized that I was the only one that had the patience to stand there.  The line was gone.  I noticed some people just left and a couple others continued to shop.  I left.  By the time I got to my car, I was in tears from the pain, frustration and the hatred for Extreme Customer Service.

The next day I went to another store to pick up an item I ordered and had arrived, imagine my surprise when I went to the clock section and saw they only had ONE of the model clock I wanted from the other store.  Unlocked, on a shelf and practically calling out to me.  I hobbled over with a smile that came from deep inside.  I grabbed that clock and when I went to Customer Service to pick up the ordered item I began to just tell the poor cashier the events of the other store.  She asked me what price it was at the other store and it was $4.00 cheaper without the coupon then the one in my hand.  But it was worth it after all.  The girl called the manager and related the events.  I ended up getting the clock at the price of the other store, with a 20% discount and I was able to use a 15% discount birthday certificate this particular store had sent to me (I could use it all month long, love those cards).

I hobbled to my car thinking, that was some great customer service.  Might I mention the cashier also took care of two others while I inspected my order, waited for the manager and whenever there was a pause, she would ask someone walking by 'are you finding everything ok?'.

Perhaps it isn't extreme customer service, perhaps it is a lack of multi-tasking for that particular sales person the day before.

Whatever the case is... I'm glad I got my clock, it's a shame that store missed a sale and I'm grateful in the end it worked out for the best.  But I find that I still wonder... is there such a thing as too much Customer Service?

September 29, 2013

What's your management style?

What's your management style?

In my career I have had quite a few different types of managers.  Some have left a great mark and others a great scar.  Let's break it down...

The Tyrant
This was not decades ago, but much more recent.  Which in and of itself surprises me.  You see, most would like to believe that there are laws and companies follow them.  Need I mention Enron?  The tyrant has usually been around for a while, has the ear and smile of the higher up or owner.  They don't outright abuse, they have mastered the skill and therefor the staff is left with he said/she said.  The tyrant has tenure and also usually the company fears them.

The Passive Aggressive
This person doesn't care who likes them and who doesn't, that's not the reason for their nilly willy ways.  Rather, they enjoy the passive aggressive game.  These managers have deeper issues then just being mean.  It is near impossible to have a real conversation with a passive aggressive manager let alone do anything they will approve of and if they do, they won't approve consistently.  These managers usually like the infighting and may just even provoke it.

The Micromanaging Willow tree
These managers stay until they die.  No storm will unroot them and knowing this makes them lazy.  They usually come into work and simply exist.  On occasion they will take an interest and micromanage any situation to the minute detail.  Most want them out and yet most pity them too much to get them out.

The Emperor
These managers take their title way too serious and in some cases mistake manager for emperor.  They will dictate, take over and pressure anyone throughout a project.  They want to know your personal life as well, usually to use it against you.  Unfortunately, there are lot of emperors around.

The Sloth
These are a dime a dozen.  Their title happened in a rhetoric pay increase scale.  Basically, every few years to justify a raise a title is given.  They don't want to manage and therefor do as little of it as possible.  They avoid conflict which leaves their staff open to attacks.  Their purpose is to collect a check and a title...period.

The Ex Military
This manager runs a tight ship.  Everything runs the same each day and at the same hour.  Change is seen as the enemy and so progress is also the enemy.  Usually pretty fun managers as long as all the work is done exactly how it was laid it out to be completed.  Open forum is not allowed, there is a hierarchy and not following it is treason.

I have worked for each of the above at one time or another.  On a brighter note, I have also worked for some pretty good managers.

The Andy Griffith
This type is usually the Opie type, clean cut and raised with so much morals it shows in their smile.  They have that Andy type simpleness in which they explain something and you would have to be a complete ASS not to understand.  You always learn from this type of manager.  They plow through and adapt to change, they show you how but they don't hold your hand to do it.  Usually mistaken for kiss asses, they just know how to handle all kinds of people.  Very little bothers them and holding a grudge seems pointless to them.  Not to be mistaken for a wuss, they will do what it takes to get the job done.

The Die Hard
This type usually looks like they've been through hell and back.  The stress has deteriorated them.  They believe in people and they fight for their staff.  In the process pissing off their higher ups.  These Die Hards never make it to VP or a CO.  They are appreciated for their effectiveness and ability to get their staff trust and loyalty, however they're usually seen as a maverick.

The Home Depot
These types really take serious The Home Depot book and see their people as ducks that need to be kept in a row.  They have a vision and progress is always on their mind.  They understand the ant colony and find it amusing that others don't.  If listened to, they usually make sense and one needs to strap in and get ready for a fast and bumpy ride to progress.

What type of manager are you?  What lessons have you learned that made you a better manager?  Have you taken the time to learn some lessons along the way?  More importantly... are you sharing that knowledge?