Thursday, March 26, 2009

Cell Phone Etiquette 101

It seems the more time I spend in public place, the less tolerant I become of cell phones. Cell phones have become a real source of annoyance for me even though I find myself relying on their use more frequently with each passing day.

Cell phones annoy me because my peace and quiet is frequently interrupted by a person talking loudly on a cell phone. I don’t know what it is about cell phones that make people talk at levels only the hard of hearing or highly intoxicated communicate at. Maybe we think talking louder will help us hear better.

Cell phones annoy me because I’ve almost been killed by someone driving while holding a cell phone up to their ear.

Cell phones annoy me because they have caused people to be less considerate of others and I’m afraid we’re creating generations of social retards that won’t know how to communicate face-to-face.

I could go on and on listing my annoyances, but I won’t. Maybe there should be an etiquette test people should be required to take before they purchase their first cell phone.

Below are ten cell phone common sense etiquette suggestions that I generally try to keep. Now mind you, I've been guilty of breaking all of these suggestions at one time or another.

1. Talk in a normal tone of voice when there are people sitting or standing anywhere near you. If you can’t do that, then move to a location where your phone call won’t disturb those around you. If that’s not possible, then call the person back when you have more privacy.

2. Put the phone in vibrate mode or turn the ringer volume way down or off in public places. It’s really irritating to hear a cell phone ringer go off when in a library, church, restaurant, movie theater, etc. It’s even worse when the same person’s cell phone goes off repeatedly and they didn’t think to turn the volume down after the first call.

3. Finish your phone call or don’t answer the phone when in a check out line. Not only is it rude to the check out person, but it’s also rude to the people waiting in line. They don’t enjoy waiting any more than you do, so don’t make them wait longer while you juggle your cell phone and try to pay your bill at the same time.

4. Don’t discuss your personal affairs in public. I don’t want to hear about the intimate details of your date or your financial or health condition.

5. Use a hands free device while driving. If you ‘re not good at multi-tasking, this is an especially important suggestion for you.

6. Don’t text and drive. Texting while driving is even more dangerous than not following suggestion #5.

7. Call the person if you have a lengthy text message or have to text more than twice to get your message across. I don’t understand why people spend more time sending texts back and forth when a simple phone call would suffice. This doesn’t apply if you’re just playing around.

8. Let the person you’re currently talking to know ahead of time that you’re expecting a phone call before you rudely answer your cell phone in the middle of your conversation with them. There’s nothing worse than trying to have a conversation with someone who is constantly being interrupted by cell phone calls. Likewise, do the same if you have to make an urgent call. Notice I said urgent.

9. Don’t talk on your cell phone while going potty in a public restroom. People in the stall next to you don’t necessarily want to listen to your conversation. Not to mention it’s just gross because most public restrooms are disgusting.

10. Learn to ignore your cell phone ringer if you are busy. Not everything is urgent. See suggestions 1 through 9 for reasons on why you may not want to answer your call or check your text messages immediately.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lost in Translation?

I was in a shopping mall in Dallas, Texas Monday afternoon and I noticed a store called Japanese Weekend Maternity. I thought what a bizarre name for a store. Maybe I’m just not getting it, but the picture that entered my mind was a bunch of Japanese women that are pregnant only on weekends. My next thought was maybe the person who named the store was one of those people who translates Japanese instructions into English but hadn’t quite mastered the English language yet. Or maybe the saying makes perfect sense in Japanese but when translated into English something gets lost along the way. For the life of me, I really don’t understand the name of this store. It is a store for maternity clothing but the Japanese Weekend thing is seriously throwing me off.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Southwest, For the Experience

As someone who flies several times a year, mostly for pleasure, I have to say that Southwest Airlines has become one of my favorite airlines to fly for short to mid-range trips. For all you critics out there who think that SWA is too cheap to fly or not high class enough, I disagree. If you’re accustomed to only flying first or business class, then this doesn’t apply to you anyways. But, if you just want to get from point A to point B and have a good experience then hear me out.

I agree that SWA might not be the most convenient if you’re used to assigned seating, however the boarding process is quick and very organized. Personally, I'd rather be a little inconvenienced before the flight than during the flight. In a time when airlines are low-balling the ticket prices to get you to fly them and then turning around and charging you for water and checked luggage, it’s refreshing to fly an airline that still cares about the customer more than the customer’s money.

As I was thinking about my travel experience with them today, I realized that when I fly SWA it’s always an experience. What makes it an experience are the people who work for SWA. They’re happy and they love people. They genuinely want to make your flying experience enjoyable because they take pride in their company.

I think you would agree that flying isn’t what it used to be, but it’s good to know that traveling can still be fun. Whether it’s meeting an owner of a popular barbeque restaurant chain, chatting with a country music band or hearing a bizarre story of a woman getting knocked unconscious by an umbrella during a Nor’easter, I’ve always had a memorable time flying SWA. Today was no exception.

On the last leg of my travel, Captain Al greeted all the passengers as they boarded the plane. Shortly after I found my seat I heard this horrible loud music blasting through the plane. I thought to myself, who the heck has their ipod on full blast and what is that awful music they’re listening to? As I looked around the plane, I realized it was Captain Al playing the harmonica over the PA system. After he finished his song, he introduced himself and assured us that his first mate was taking care of things in the cockpit while he was out talking to us. He also told us that he was a much better pilot than a harmonica player and that he has been a pilot a lot longer than he’s been playing the harmonica…thank goodness. He also had great accolades for the flight crew as he informed us that of over the 50,000 flight attendants working for SWA, the 3 members we had on our flight were nominated as the best crewmembers for the entire airline. After we applauded the crewmembers, Captain Al broke the news to us that they didn’t win.

Like I said, it’s the people that make SWA great. Why would you want to fly on an airline where the staff is cranky, the planes are dirty and they ask you for more money after you get to the airport? Believe me, I ask myself that question every time I fly a different airline. Given the choice, I prefer Southwest.

BTW, Captain Al really is a great pilot. He landed the plane so smoothly I didn’t even realize we were on the ground until we pulled up to the gate.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Procrastination – The Key to a Stress Filled Life

I’ve been meaning to blog about this for quite some time now, but you can guess by the title as to why it’s taken me so long. Several months ago I was in the library thinking about all the things I had to do. I was putting off doing some unpleasant task because I really didn’t feel like doing it. Rather than just doing the task, I began thinking about why certain things never seem to get done and wondering why tomorrow always seems to be the busiest day of the week for me. Tomorrow is always busy because all the things that I don’t get done today, I plan on doing tomorrow. Inevitably tomorrow comes and I end up deciding again to do that unpleasant task ‘tomorrow’ and before you know it I have a list of things that don’t ever seem to get done and tomorrow gets busier and busier.

While I was in the library contemplating tomorrow’s busy schedule, I decided to see if I could find a book on the why people procrastinate. I found a book titled “Living Without Procrastination: How to Stop Postponing Your Life” and decided to check it out. Eager to learn about the subject, I went home and immediately started reading. I took the quiz listed in the beginning of the book to determine whether or not I had a problem with procrastination. Apparently, according to the results of my quiz, I have a huge problem with procrastination. Honestly, I was surprised by the results because I never considered myself as lazy or as someone who frequently waits until the last minute to do something. But, I was curious about why there are certain things that just don’t ever seem to get done in a timely manner.

Like so many other things, my excitement and curiosity wore off and I ended up putting the book aside for another 3 weeks and ended finishing it the night before it was due back to the library. Then I started wondering whether or not anyone ever finished this book. After all, if you’re a procrastinator, wouldn’t this be the perfect book for you not to finish or even start for that matter? Wouldn’t a procrastinator procrastinate in using the techniques discussed in this book and never get around to postponing their life?

Personally, I found book interesting, but I never got around to implementing any of the suggested techniques. I know, that’s a surprise, isn’t it?! But the book did confirm that a big source of anxiety is due to procrastination. Whoever came up with the Nike slogan “Just Do It” was obviously not a procrastinator. I’ll bet that person doesn’t struggle with anxiety nearly as much as the average person.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Hazards of Winter

Since moving to New England I’ve had to reacquaint myself with some of the hazards of winter that I’ve long since forgotten. Some hazards I became aware of by trial and error, others by near misses. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.

1. Ice is very slippery. Always hold onto the railing no matter how coordinated you think you might be. A few near wipeouts have utterly convinced me that you can never be too careful. Never try to run on ice...enough said.

2. Icicles are weapons. Beware of falling ice spears that tend to break lose from rooftops unannounced. I’ve almost been decapitated by a few while entering and exiting my apartment. Recently my neighbor got speared by one, leaving a bloody hole on the top of his head.

3. Snow piles obstruct vision. If you thought parking lots were dangerous places to drive in, try driving in them with 10-foot high piles of snow blocking your vision.

4. Slush can ruin good shoes or clothing. There really isn’t any good way to get around slush. Since you have to deal with it, don’t wear pants that are too nice or light colored when you know you have to walk through it. You’ll end up with little brown spots all over the back of your legs.

5. Wet shoes are slippery. Snow is wet and walking in it will make your shoes wet. Doormats are there for a reason. Use them so you don’t end up falling on your tush because your shoes are wet and the floor is tiled.

6. Weather changes frequently. Failing to be aware of approaching snowstorms can leave you unprepared or stranded, not to mention very cold if you didn’t dress accordingly. It’s better to wear too much clothing than not enough. You can be wearing a t-shirt one day and thermals the next, or on the same day for that matter.

7. Snow plows are both fascinating and scary. I’m still not sure if it’s better to be in front of the plow or behind the plow. If you’re in front you don’t have the benefit of the road being plowed. If you’re behind, then you risk having debris hit you as it comes off the plow. Either way, getting too close to the metal monster can’t be all that good.

8. The Internet is a good source of information. I’m still trying to get into the habit of checking for cancellations or delays. Sometimes events are actually cancelled prior to a storm in anticipation of hazardous driving conditions.

9. Cars with snow on them will attack you. Don’t follow too closely behind cars with lots of snow on them. The debris falling off the cars can do damage to your car not to mention scare the daylights out of you.

10. Snow travels. Snow can be picked up from a snow bank by a gust of wind and smack you right in the face. Likewise, it can fall off tree limbs and rooftops and land on your head catching you completely by surprise.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Snow Queen

I was all set to welcome in spring as I saw the tree limbs starting to bud, the grass was finally visible after weeks of being covered with snow and the temperatures seemed to be gradually warming. Just when I thought spring was about to come, we were blasted by yet another snowstorm. I have to admit, the snow is beautiful and all, but after months of cold weather and being cooped up inside more than I have been in a very long time, I’m ready for Spring to come.

While out shoveling a path, I stumbled upon the secret force responsible for today’s mega storm that’s extended our winter season. Hidden nestled beneath an evergreen tree I spied the Snow Queen. Dressed in her snowflake tiara, I could tell she was quietly working her snow magic while no one was paying attention.

How can I be sure that she’s responsible for this latest attack you might ask? Well, in my opinion it seems like a more plausible explanation than blaming my move to New England as the reason for this year’s increase in snowfall.