Many years ago I was fortunate enough to be given an opportunity for a massive career change. I had spent a lot of years working a business that was financially very rewarding and allowed me to travel and see new things however it was hard work and very challenging so along came this new venture and I embarked on something I truly knew nothing about. I was to slip into my hi-vis, steel caps and hard hat and learn how to operate a steel slitting line. I am not going to go into what that is here – if you are interested head to google. Anyhoo I had many trainers in my new role however one was a stand out and taught me more on how to work in this new environment that anyone else and he did it with only one word – listen. Yep, that was it. Just listen. This was a noisy bit of gear but his advice could prevent major fuck ups that would take hours to fix. By simply listening to how the machine was working, how the slits were running and how the many different parts of the machine were interacting you could hear how well it was running or not.
I think about that a lot. The power of listening. We spend a lot of our time thinking we are great listeners when we are probably just listening in order to respond. How many times are you responding to the odd “how are you?” when the person who enquired as to your well-being starts telling you about how shit their morning was too. You didn’t even have to ask them….they asked you how you were and here you are listening to them bang on.
So fast forward many years and I am back at work full-time in a great role that challenges me and working with a diverse group of people who I find easy to like. And I love listening to them. They all have a story and each of those is unique and special and I feel truly grateful for every one of those that I get to hear – even the ones that are heartbreaking, confronting and hard to comprehend – so thankful for the sharing.
Some of my best times at work happen at the coffee machine – my boss jokingly calls me Jabber Jaws and to be honest at first it really got to me – because that’s my kryptonite, throw away comments said in jest that my broad shoulders look like they can handle. I see it as a massive compliment now – whether he does or not, jury is still out. I look at the amount of people I know in such a short time, the relationships I have started and the conversations I have had are all invaluable to me. My role requires me to be able to speak to people – if I can’t do that then I am ineffective. So I will continue to take the time for a jib jab and be genuinely interested in what people have to tell me. And if I listen well, like I was taught by the great Ross McDougall, I will also be able to tell if those people are running well or if they are about to unravel. Maybe we all need to carry a big Emergency Stop button just in case.
Many years ago I worked in the family business and my Dad would always recite the five P’s….
Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance….yes, yes it does. So it was with his words ringing in my ears that I asked for a refund on my coffee as I didn’t have the 15-20 minutes to “be patient” while they caught up.
It was Fathers Day last Sunday and my Dad loves to tell anyone who will listen that he’ll probably get the same gift he got last year – that would be nothing – and then he will regale the listener with woeful tales of how his kids never buy him anything for Fathers Day blah blah blah. I call bullshit cause I get him a bag of chocolate bullets – from Darrell Lea – every year and he eats them all, no sharing. So I am at the shops early on Sunday to get his bullets and to see if any of the other usual Fathers Day suspects have been marked down and I decide to grab myself a long black before heading round to remind Dad that my brother is still probably waiting for his wife to remind him to call. So I order my coffee and stand aside to wait for them to call my name….about four minutes in a man approaches the baristas and asks if it’s going to be much longer on his takeaway coffee…uh oh.
Then a women standing near me heads up and asks the same question….she’s been waiting longer than him. And I have a four-year old, who doesn’t drink coffee, whining about wanting to goooo. Both of the baristas gave the same excuse – we’re really busy.
Yep – it’s Fathers Day. And you forgot your first three P’s and you are now only left with Poor Performance. I was done after that so I went to ask for a refund as miss whinger pants had stepped it up a notch. While I was waiting for the people in front of me to order I heard one of the baristas tell a customer – you just have to be patient – then it was my turn to ask for my money and the cashier doesn’t know how to do refunds…so the barista says “we’ll just make it for you now” ahhh no you won’t….I would like my money back please. So they open the till and give me my $5.30 and say “sorry we’ve just been busy” to which I said “yeah, it’s Fathers Day”
So this really grinds my gears….if you own a cafe or restaurant or outlet selling food don’t you want to be busy? Isn’t that your goal? And if you do have one of these businesses don’t you also track historical data from previous years so that you can understand and project how busy you might be on any given day – let alone an event day such as it was? I would really like to see a change in the language that staff and managers and owners of these businesses use when they are struggling to meet the demand. Try saying we’re really sorry, we’re unprepared or we really didn’t expect this, please bear with us. At least that puts the onus back onto the business and takes it off the customer – cause saying to me “sorry we’ve been really busy” makes me think you should also say “and you just made us more busy with your order so now you’ll have to wait”.
Anyhoo I finally got round to see my Dad and give him his bullets and make myself a coffee and it seemed fitting that most of my morning had been spent with my Dad at the forefront of my mind.
A note to anyone who may follow along from the USA – I did not give my Dad actual bullets for Fathers Day – they are called chocolate bullets and they are small sticks of licorice covered in chocolate, delicious!
so the weather is starting to get a bit cooler in the evenings and early mornings here and we are in need of some warmer clothing to wear around the house…see last year we almost had to take a second mortgage to pay the gas bill so this year we are opting for a much smaller outlay of cash at Big W for track pants and hoodies. off we went on saturday afternoon to pick out some fine new house outfits – what a treat. now I am a huge fan of the self-serve checkout, but given that I don’t know what has a security tag and what doesn’t I just merrily scan away and stuff items into bags. I soon find out, though, that I am carrying items with security devices still intact when I wheel the trolley through the exit and set off every alarm in the place…a bit extreme for a few $30 pairs of pants but hey, I guess they add up. in we wheel again to get the girl manning the self-serve area to remove the tags…my jumper, my track pants…the end. hang on a minute….what about Mr B Badger.com? his stuff is not too bad and I am sure it would be worthy of stealing so why no tag on his stuff? in actual fact he had a pair of track pants in the same brand as mine, as it turns out us girls are more likely to try on and not take off thus creating the need for the security tag on women’s apparel. men, on the other hand, are less likely to try on at all and rarely carry a bag so it stands to reason that we find ourselves the target of a bit of gender discrimination. yeah okay that’s a bit extreme. I have to be honest, if I was going to steal anything it would be food. the cost of living in perth is completely ridiculous and I wonder how some people cope. I went to woollies last week and there was a small punnet with five plums in it and the sign above said plums $4.98 kilo…there were no other plums in store so I picked up a punnet and when I got to self check the machine said to put the item aside until the end when the staff would help me. so at the end the lady comes over and tries to find the item, she asks me if I remember how much they were and I say $4.98 kilo…I must look dodgy cause she ended up calling the fruit and vege guy who said they were $4.98 a punnet…so I say “that’s $1 a plum..” and she says “yeah but they’re organic” and I say “organic or not I am not paying $1 per plum”. ohhh she wasn’t very happy with me because after all her efforts she had to void the item from my transaction. I think she was hoping I would just take them but given that they were for little boss and she may or may not like them I was not prepared to pay that much. a couple of weeks back they were charging $3.98 for a lettuce – not gourmet or fancy just straight out boring old iceberg lettuce. at the spud shed they were charging just 0.99 cents for a head of lettuce…what the?? how can that be right…it’s mostly water anyway. it’s easy to see why people opt for the deals offered by the fast food chains to feed their family when it costs more to buy good food…we cant do the fast food thing anymore since I am still working my way towards only having one arse in my $30 track pants so looks like we will be shopping around for the best grocery deals in town….
so today I was on my way to hang out with my mother in law and had to drive through a local school zone….so down the speed goes until I reach the 40kph I am allowed to do. there was a dude in front of me doing his 40kph as well so all was going according to plan when for some bizarre reason he just turned right, without warning or indication, and mounted the kerb. I thought this was a bit of a random act considering that directly in front of him were some kiddies on their way to school and even they stopped to see what he was up to. turns out he was just parking his car…on the sidewalk. now I work in an extremely safety conscious industry so when I see people doing crazy stuff like this I really want to harm them. not literally of course. this kind of behaviour outside schools has not bothered me in the past but now that we have little boss I am starting to see a whole range of issues that do blow my hair back. parking on the kerb really gets me going…especially when I have to wheel little boss onto the road to get around a car. people blocking our driveway…that gets my goat to. I guess having all this time off has given me cause to think about a few things – pondering what sort of behaviours I want to instill into little boss. Mr B Badger.com would say what I need to do is stop belching like a truckie….and he’s right, of course. unless I get offered a part in a hangover style movie there is really no need for me to let it rip like I am burping for australia. what I am thinking about is more like the park on the kerb type of stuff…thinking about how my actions might impact on another human being. maybe I am just getting soft – the amount of crying at random stuff would definitely indicate this is the case – or maybe I am just hoping that in some karmic way that by altering my behaviours it will have an impact on the things that affect me….for example if I stop burping like a bum crack exposing tradie maybe Mr B Badger.com will start saying three, throw and through instead of free, frow and frough….he wont be happy to read that but seriously what sort of english do they teach in england?? my theory on giving compliments rather than complaints seems to be working….now whenever I visit my local coffee shop they already know what I want and have started preparing before I order so I don’t have to wait and the service is always friendly so lets see if I can get the wheels in motion to change some other stuff…
this year I decided that rather than moan about poor service I am going to praise good service. kind of you get back what you project kind of thing…if I am constantly bemoaning the lack of customer service then I will continue to get poor service. on the other hand if I go in expecting good service and get it then I am going to let those people know. so today I walked to the local market place to get some food and decided to have a coffee before walking home. so I ordered my long black with hazelnut syrup at The Coffee Club, sat down and started feeding little boss. my coffee was delivered and for the first time ever I was told that if there wasn’t enough syrup to please let them know and they would fix it. anyhoo it was spot on which pleased me. little boss finished her bottle and then got a bit grizzly which I thought was just due to her being in the pram so I got her out and she did a big burp followed by the biggest projectile vomit I have experienced to date. it was well bad. about 200ml of formula, some half digested banana and some oat cereal all over me and the floor – but mostly on me….lovely. so I called the lady over who had delivered my coffee and she was just delightful, offering me a cloth or some paper towel and getting a dude with a mop and bucket to clean up – even warning me that the floor would be slippery. then after she had cleaned it up she told me how cute little boss was and asked her name…so sweet of her and this made it a little easier on me sitting there in my clothes soaked with the contents of little boss’ stomach. so I thanked them at the store and have sent feedback on to their franchise owner. you might read this and think, so they should provide service like this, especially if you live in the states. but since our staff in this country don’t work for tips you roll the dice with customer service. well I will be interested to see if my experiment with positive feedback as opposed to negative goes – I anticipate more good news stories…I just hope I don’t have to wear little boss’ breakfast to get them..
so the law of attraction is this theory that “like attracts like” and that if you focus on positive thoughts you will bring positivity to your life and likewise if you focus on negative…you get the picture. so a couple of things that have occurred either to me or around me in the last week have caused me to ponder this theory and to think if things had been done differently would the outcome have been the same…so saturday morning I pack kenzi into the car and off to the shops we go. the weather has started to warn up and most of the clothes we have for our little bundle of joy are for much cooler weather, add to this the fact that she more than takes after her father and is extremely hot-blooded so summer is going to be a fun time at our place. anyhoo so off we go to get some outfits that are more suited to her constitution than the actual season. all good we are in and out of target in record time and I join the queue at a coffee shop to get a giant-sized – not american giant-sized I still needed one hand to push the pram – coffee and a muffin to take home. so I order and then stand to the side to wait for my name to be called. while I am waiting a woman approaches the counter with a half full – she would say half empty no doubt – giant size coffee and without waiting for anyone to ask her if they could help she thrust it in front of the barista and said “you need to make that again” nothing else, no please, no reason, no manners, just do it! so the barista asks what the problem is and the woman says “I asked for three-quarter strength and it’s too strong” so the barista topped it up with hot milk. this seemed to make the woman lose her rag a bit so she says…” no, I want you to make it again. I asked for 3/4 strength and it was too strong so my husband put several sweeteners in it to make it palatable and it is disgusting so make it again.” now I have always worked on the theory that you catch more bee’s with honey than you do with vinegar – it’s a real saying from back in the day, look it up – and since this woman, who was now quite red in the face, had so far not even asked for the coffee to be remade let alone said please I was waiting for the backlash from the staff. see “back in the day” the customer was always right even if they were wrong. anyhoo so the barista made her a fresh coffee 3/4 strength and as a parting gesture the woman said “I am a manager in hospitality and the way you handled this was disgraceful” so the manager of the coffee place gave it back and told her that if she had approached them with a less aggressive attitude things may have been different. obviously she didn’t agree and stormed off with her husbands coffee…two things here why did she have to do his bidding? and who in their right mind wants 3/4 strength coffee?? seriously the stronger the better and her man probably needs to grow a pair and stop using “sweetener”. surely though if she had of returned to the counter, asked nicely, explained the situation and said please she would have received a more welcome reception. my coffee was the next one up and the barista apologised to me for the delay to which I replied “that’s okay I was enjoying the show”…
so I have been experimenting with online grocery ordering and delivery and its over. this week I selected the 7am – 10am delivery window and was ready to go at 7am. so at 10.20am when I still had not received my groceries I called the customer service number and after listening to 11 minutes of the woolies jingle in one ear and the screaming of a colicky baby in the other they hung up on me….so I waited until K Doggy had burped like a man a few times and then called back. when I finally got answered it was 10.50am and the girl I spoke to said she would call the driver to see where he was…wherever he was he wasnt answering his phone so she said she would keep trying him and call me back. while I was on this call another one beeped in my ear but I don’t know how to do call waiting so I let it slide through to the keeper. so when I checked my messages it was woolies letting me know that the driver was running 30 minutes late. no he is not. if he were running 30 mins late he would have been knocking on my door at 10.30 and as it had now clock 11.15 I was starting to feel the hostility creep in…anyway so the delivery arrives at 11.25am. I have the door propped open and the dog locked away so all he has to do is pop the bags inside the front door. so he puts the crates down and gets me to sign for the delivery and then we stand and stare at each other for a while until he says “I need the crates” to which I reply “well you better take the groceries out of them then” he probably thought I was incredibly rude but really I had a very low care factor at that point. the first time I had my groceries delivered the delivery woman bought them into the kitchen and popped the bags on the bench for me. that was a once off obviously. anyway it’s over, I am done. I was toying with the idea of trying out the competition but I think I will just head back to my local IGA and battle it out with everyone else on their L Plates for trolley driving.
the mailman has just delivered our mail so testing the theory of the laws of attraction I am going to think positive and say that there will be a cheque in todays mail…
well actually anywhere between 1am and 4am is pretty on trend now at my place. seems that these are the hours to par-tay when you are only nine weeks old and don’t really care if anyone gets any sleep. lucky for us we live in western australia which means we don’t really get winter so being up at this time does not involve the wearing of scarves and beanies to keep warm. even still it’s not all that cute when a kicking smiling baby is staring at you wide-eyed at 3am and showing no signs of slowing down but I can’t have it all…yesterday I met my husband after he had played golf and we had a lovely lunch and some fine NZ Sav Blanc – yes do gooders I had expressed a feed earlier – and our little girl stayed asleep for the entire time so I got to enjoy the lunch almost as much as I would have BB – that’s before baby, remember?. I say almost as much because lunch BB would have involved more Sav Blanc followed by more of something similar at home or at a pub – yesterday it was a couple of glasses followed by water, peppermint tea and a sprite zero go hard girl. so I realise I can’t have it all…cant sit and enjoy a quiet lunch with my sleeping baby and expect to be able to sleep through the night and since her disturbance at night only affects scotty and I not an entire restaurant full of people I know what I would prefer. still its hard to have that realisation as I walk zombie like through a dark house in the wee hours of the morning…
so since our little bundle arrived we have looked at our house and discussed some of the changes that we will need to make in order to make it a safe and fun environment for us all. one of these changes is to provide some shade over our pool which in summer gets the full sun and all its power. not good for our skin let alone that of a newbie. so I put out some online enquiries to see if I could get some people out to quote us for shade sails…that was two weeks ago and I still had not heard from any of them so yesterday I sent some more enquiries and this morning received an email….this company can provide a quote. all I have to do is send off a site plan, photos of the area, description of what is required and dimensions…now call me crazy but isn’t that what they are supposed to do when providing a quote?? should I respond with “how about you send me your labour cost per hour, materials cost to the customer and estimated hours to complete the job and I will provide myself with a quote” what a liberty! consequently the other company that called me this morning and is sending a guy out this afternoon to measure up and provide a quote will probably get the job if the price is close to right. seriously though where has service gone? are people making that much money that they don’t give a rats about word of mouth advertising? is it just a western australian thing or is customer service indifference an epidemic sweeping our nation? I am not sure if it would bother me as much if stuff was cheaper…maybe it would just annoy me slightly rather than make my blood pressure rise…obviously I have issues.