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Thankful, 2018

It’s the time of year to stop and reflect on the things for which we’re thankful – and I have so very many.  Too many, in fact, to list here…. although I’ll try to hit a few highlights….

  • I’m thankful for a loving God who never leaves me and who shows me in so many ways that He’s always there.
  • I’m thankful I live in a country where I’m free to pursue my happiness, earn a living, and complain about the government without fear.
  • I’m thankful for my husband of 34 years.  Richard is truly my other half, and when we’re apart, I feel like something is missing.  He’s been loving and faithful through the ups and downs of our time together.  I love you more each day, baby.
  • I’m thankful for my friend Debbie.  When we met nearly 25 years ago, you couldn’t find two people with less in common other than cross stitching.  She was a stay at home mom, and I was a fairly driven career woman.  Over the years we’ve gotten closer, and now she’s an integral part of my small business.  I would have a very hard time making things work without her.  Thank you, Deb, for all you do for me!
  • I’m thankful for all my besties, both near and far. You’ve stood by me through the illnesses and deaths of both parents, through difficulties with my businesses, and you never wavered.  You make me laugh, and you love me when I’m less than loveable.
  • I’m thankful for my church family.  If I truly I have a “safe space”, it’s within the walls of Covenant Presbyterian with everyone there.  Gathering with the choir and bell groups is always a highlight of the week… and even when I don’t want to go to practice, I always feel better after I’ve been. Thank you for the fellowship and the laughter.
  • I’m thankful for my clients.  Without them, I wouldn’t have a business.
  • I’m thankful for my involvement with organizations such as Family Promise of Cobb County.  In addition to being able to help people, I realize a thousand times over how truly blessed I am.
  • I’m thankful for my involvement with Darlington School.  While most people graduate from high school and never give it a second thought, Darlington has always held a special place in my heart, and I’m happy to be able to help support the school as it gives more generations the same great start in life that I had.

I could keep going… but I won’t bore you any more.  If you’re reading this, I wish you a blessed and Happy Thanksgiving.

A good day to be self employed

I have a client who has been coming to see me for about five years now.  Last year he was 80.  He’s a delightful man and I’ve enjoyed every minute of talking with him and getting to know him.

Today he had an appointment with me at 2.  Now, he’s never late – as a matter of fact, he usually well ahead of schedule.  I sensed something was amiss when it was shortly after 2 and he hadn’t shown.  The phone rang and it was him… he said he was running late and was having a couple of problems, but he’d be there shortly.

10 minutes later, the phone rang again. He thought he turned the wrong way.  Could I tell him the building number again.

Another 10 minutes pass, and the phone rang again.  He was waaaay on the other end of the road away from my office – several miles out of the way.  I told him to turn around, drive straight, and look for the Chick Fil A (which is near my office) then call me again.  I was planning on going to get him.

Another 10 minutes pass.  I was starting to get concerned, because he’d had plenty of time to get to the rendezvous point.  He called, and he’d overshot the Chick Fil A and was at a drug store at the intersection of a major road.  “I don’t know what’s wrong with me” he kept repeating.   I pleaded with him to stay put and let me come to him, then I jumped in the truck and drove as quickly as I could to the drug store.  I found him sitting in his truck, very confused.

I took his tax work (just to get that off his mind), and he said his daughter would come get him, then he said he’d drive to his daughter’s house.  I told him I needed to follow him, because I’d feel really badly if something happened to him on the way.  He didn’t want to be any trouble, you see… but I told him this was for me, not him.  So he took off and I sped to keep up.  From what I saw, he really doesn’t need to be back behind the wheel.

We managed to get to his daughter’s house, and she was waiting in the yard. I got out of the truck and gave him a big hug and thanked him for letting me follow him. “I just don’t know what’s wrong with me”, he kept repeating.  His daughter said he had good days and bad… evidently this was a bad one, and it was sadly reminiscent of my mom’s battle with the onset of dementia.

My pastor preached a sermon several years ago about being the hands of God here on earth.  We hear a lot these days about taking care of your neighbor.  I’d like to think I was able to do a little of both today — because it was a good day to be self employed and have the freedom to do so.

Please keep Jack and his family in your prayers.  I’m sure they would appreciate it.

How has it been 9 years?

2008-02-24 22.46.39

How has it been 9 years since my precious little Oscar went to the Rainbow Bridge?

I remember that horrible day just like it was yesterday. We did absolutely everything we could for him. His little body was just tired, and we had to let him go.

I was angry at God about it…. Jesus had my dad, and then He took my dog.  It’s taken me a long time to get over that.

I’ve lost both of my parents, and I’ve grieved for them, but I didn’t know I could grieve so much for a dog.  Oscar was my little soul mate – he just **got** me.  He was that once in a lifetime dog that you’re so blessed to have… but it’s so hard to say goodbye.

I swear sometimes at night I still feel him curling up by my leg, the way he used to under the covers….

I still miss you Little Man.  Take care of Mom & Dad.  I love you always.

Thankful, 2017

Another circuit of the sun… another day of Thanksgiving… and I feel compelled to list some of my many blessings…

  • I am blessed to be the child of a God who loves me so much that He sent His Son to redeem me from my many sins.  I am reminded of His presence in my life daily.
  • I am blessed to have a husband who is my true partner… he laughs, cries, loves, and supports me unconditionally.
  • I am blessed that my parents loved me and gave me a wonderful life. They continue to bless me from Heaven.
  • I am blessed to have a close group of friends who I consider to be family.  They have been by my side through the struggles life has thrown at me over the last several years and have stood steadfastly by me.
  • I am blessed to have a wonderful church family whom I love.
  • I am blessed to have known the friends that have gone to the next life before me during this year.  I think of them often, and I’m thankful they were in my life.
  • I am blessed to live in a country where I have the opportunity to build a successful business.
  • I am blessed to have wonderful clients who appreciate and understand me and are willing to work with a harried sole practitioner.
  • I am blessed to have the opportunity to serve several organizations to return the blessings I have been given.
  • I am blessed with the gift of music that I enjoy through my wonderful church choir and handbell groups.
  • I am blessed to be able to help some rescue organizations that help homeless dogs.
  • I am blessed to have a warm home, enough to eat, and a happy life.

I wish all of you a happy Thanksgiving and many blessings in the year to come.

Why I won’t be renewing my Talladega tickets….

Update: My email made it all the way to the CFO of International Speedway Corporation, parent of the Talladega track. It came back down with instructions to “handle this, now”, so a VP from the ticket office at Talladega contacted me with profuse apologies.  He also let me know that mine was not the only problem in that suite yesterday, so they definitely have a personnel problem.
He complimented me on a well written letter and told me that I had their attention when I admitted to losing my temper and using language I probably shouldn’t have. That’s what made it stand out. He said that calling the law was unwarranted, and that it should have been handled much differently (well, yeah).
I also told him that I omitted from my letter that the rep in the suite denied asking me to move when confronted by the sheriffs when he had done so and there were witnesses to that fact. I sense that Mr. Lyons is a crispy critter.
He said they’re now looking at assigned seating in the suites.  I told him we wouldn’t be coming back until that happened and we could be assured we wouldn’t be relegated to sitting at the bar for $1200 worth of tickets. He gave me his name and number and told me to call him for the Spring race to see what was happening if we changed our minds. 

I think the only way I can adequately describe this experience is to copy and paste the email I sent to Talladega Speedway, my ticket rep there, and International Speedway Corporation this morning after the race yesterday. 

While the racing at Talladega yesterday was the excellent package I’ve come to expect, the suite experience, sadly, was not.

My husband and I have had tickets to your suites for several years now and have been well pleased until yesterday.  We were in Suite 7.

Important to this story is the fact that, when we arrived each time at the suite for previous races, a program was at the seat we chose.
We arrived about 10 and found two seats together on the first row of the suite.  We settled in, chatted with people around us, and generally enjoyed the experience, even though the breakfast foods had been taken up earlier than advertised in the brochure we had received in the mail.  No worries – lunch would soon follow.  We looked through the programs that had been left for us at the seats we had chosen.
About 12:30, your employee, Gregory Lyons II, who was “in charge” of the suite, came to inform us we were sitting in someone’s place.
When we got to the seats, there was nothing but a program and a small American flag; there was nothing to us to indicate that someone had “claimed” those places.
Mr. Lyons informed us that we’d have to sit at the bar and we needed to move.  He was surprised when I reacted in anger after we had been sitting in those seats for 2 1/2 hours at that point.
I asked to speak to someone in charge at Talladega.  Mr. Lyons informed me that he was in charge.  I asked to speak to his boss as I got up to move. My husband remained in place.
Mr. Lyons asked me to step outside because I was too loud. I do admit I raise my voice when agitated, which I was in this situation.  I used the word “bulls_t” at one point, which I regret.
Waiting for me outside were two sheriff’s deputies and one female security personnel, because I was an “unruly fan”.  Excuse me, I had just been asked to leave seats that I believed were rightfully mine!!!
Another Talladega rep appeared.  Mr. Lyons then informed me that the seats at the bar are considered seats in the suite and I could watch the action on the track on on the screen.  I told him that if I wanted to watch the TV I could do so on the comfort of my sofa in Atlanta.
More Talladega reps were consulted via radio.  The two men who claimed our seats were brought outside.  They said they had been there earlier and Mr. Lyons had handed them a program when they came in, and they left it on the table then went for on-track activities.  Note that when we entered the suite, Mr. Lyons did not offer us a program.  He did so much later in the 2 1/2 hours we were seated in those seats when he encountered me after I had passed him after I used the restroom – at which point I told him I had one (because I did – the one that had been left for me at the seat!)
I informed the Talladega reps that I either wanted my seats or a refund – immediately.  More consultation ensued.  I overheard Mr. Lyons telling them it was his first time running the suite and he had told everyone the procedures on Saturday… evidently not realizing there could be a completely different crowd on Sunday.
The resolution was that because the men who claimed to have had our seats left, they forfeited their claim to the seats, and we were allowed to go back and sit there.  This resolution was arrived at by supervisors communicating over the radio – Mr. Lyons was in no way involved.  The supervisors stated that if you leave your seats, your seats are then available for anyone to sit in. After finding this out, we were afraid to leave our seats during the race for fear anyone could come and claim them while we were gone.
Why are we unlikely to renew??
1.  At no point were we ever told that seats at the bar were “equivalent” seats in the suite.  They most certainly are not.  We purchase suite tickets for Sunday only; we give away the tickets for the other days, so in essence we’re paying $1200 for one day of racing.  I didn’t appreciate being told that I could sit at the bar and watch a screen for $1200.
2. I realize the seats are “first come, first served”, but based on this experience, evidently anyone can claim they had a seat and ask you to be removed.  I find this completely unacceptable.
3. Your employee, Mr. Lyons, was grossly incompetent and allowed a situation to escalate quickly.  He should have checked with his management on how to handle it and he should have known the protocol before the situation got out of hand.  If he believed those seats were occupied he had 2 1/2 hours to tell us. And a 5’2″, sober woman is not a “threat” worthy of two sheriffs deputies.
4. I don’t know if Mr. Lyons took it upon himself to change the protocol of placing programs at the seats or if Talladega management did it, but it was a poor move for those of us who were repeat customers.  And I’ve been coming to the races for years, and frankly, I don’t see a lot of familiar faces in those suites, so I question the number of repeat customers in them.
5. The food was not the quality we’ve come to expect, and it certainly didn’t match the elevated description in the flyer we received with our tickets.
6. Traffic leaving the track this time was more of a nightmare than usual.  The track does such an excellent job of getting people in, yet when it’s time to leave, it’s every man for himself.  It took us an hour and a half just to get off the property.  This makes us extremely unlikely to return, period.
I hope you will take this story and these point as suggestions on how you can improve the fan experience.  Until yesterday, we had been extremely pleased with the product at Talladega.  It’s amazing how one day, and one person, can destroy all of that.
An extremely disappointed fan,
Jean Early

 

My own personal Junior Nation

The fall Talladega race is in a few days.  This particular one is Dale Earnhardt Jr’s last race at the track that is undoubtedly the capital of Earnhardt Nation.

I was a fan of Dale Sr; when he passed, I switched my allegiance to his son.  It seemed only fitting…. Dale passed in 2001, and at the end of that very same year, I lost my own father.  Seemed like it bonded Junior and me together, even though he’s completely unaware of it.

We’ll say that my mom tolerated my NASCAR fandom.  She always associated it with a bunch of rough characters and rednecks, and I think she was mortified that the child she raised to be more refined than that chose that particular sport to follow.  But after awhile, she came to at least follow it enough to know whether or not Junior had won the race.

On the weekends when he’d lose (and there were many in the 2000s), I’d hear “Well, your man lost again.  What’s wrong with him?”  On the occasions he won, I heard “It’s about time your man won.”  Always an element of teasing in it.  She never truly “got it”, but she accepted it.

Mom passed away on January 26, 2014, right before the start of the NASCAR season in February and before the biggest race of the year, the Daytona 500.  In my mind, the following interaction happened in Heaven:

A small, very determined angel found the angel with a large “3” on his back.

“Dale?”  “Yes, ma’am.  Have we met?”

“No, but my daughter is your son’s biggest fan.  She’s a little upset right now because I left her and I need a favor.  Frankly, your boy needs a favor too.  I’ve seen the way he drives.”

“Now, ma’am… there’s nothing wrong with the way my boy…”

“I’m not taking no for an answer, Dale.  You and I are gonna push his car across that finish line first.  For both of our kids.”

Angel Dale just looked at her…. “Yes ma’am.  Let’s go.”

And with that, two angels pushed that 88 across the finish line and Junior won the 500 on February 23.

I’m thinking another such interaction occurred in the Spring of 2015 when I was at Talladega and Junior won the race when I was there to see him.  What a wonderful moment and a wonderful memory.

So I’m hoping that Mom and Dale have one more in them… because I think it would do a lot of people good to see that 88 win on Sunday.

In which I terrorize a cashier at the dog food store…

So… I popped into our local gourmet dog food/dog treat store to snag some of Penny’s favorite treats.  We needed to stock up, and since I hadn’t been able to locate them online at a more favorable price, it was time to bite the bullet and go in.

I located the treats, and grabbed 5 bags so I wouldn’t have to go in again any time soon.  I proceeded to the cash register where the young woman started ringing them up.  She let me know that I owed $27 and some change.  I put my credit card in the chip reader, and then it hit me… I had five bags of dog treats at $10.99 a bag (yes, my dog is spoiled… hang on while I go get her some brie…).  $27 plus change wasn’t nearly enough.  I pointed this out to the cashier.

“Oh.”

Oh?  Hon, I coulda just walked out of here with 30 bucks of hot dog treats, and that’s all you have to allow??

“You need to void that sale and charge me the proper amount.”

“Hmmm.  Looks like I charged you the individual stick price for the other bags.” (She starts counting the number of sticks in each bag… then punches numbers on the register.)  “That’ll be $61 (and change – I’m rounding here for the most part).”

“Uh, no.  I owe you $58.25.  Five times $10.99 plus six percent tax.  I want to pay you what I owe you and no more.”

“Oh that’s what you owe.  I charged you for the rest of the individual sticks”

“How much are the sticks?”

“$1.29 each.”

At this point, I’m realizing we have a clear failure of the public education system.  “Sweetie, how much is 10 times $1.29?”  She just stared at me.  “I’ll tell you – it’s $12.90.  Now, why would I pay $12.90 for a bag of treats when it’s marked for $10.99?”

Clearly exasperated, she calls her coworker to the other register: “Would you ring up these five bags and tell this lady what she owes?”

“I owe you $58.25 total.”

The second girl rang it up, looked at the first girl and meekly said “$58.25”.

I subtracted the $27 and change from the $58.25 total.  I owed a little over $30 for the remainder.

The math wizard started pounding on the register.  Heaven help the person who has to balance that thing at the end of the day.  She finally came up with the same amount I had and hissed “Is that alright with you?”

“Yes, because it’s correct.”

She took my card, gave me the signature slip, then ran to the back.  Her coworker gave me the first slip (for the $27 and change which I asked to sign since I never had) and all of my receipts, and apologized.

Basic math, people.  It works.  Has for years.  Still does.

I’m really glad I don’t have to go back for awhile.  I’m pretty sure they are too.