Even though the December 2010 Horse Sense was to be my sign off, while we work on the site, I decided to give one last shot at an opinion on something. I didn't want to do this, but after 33 years in business for myself, I do believe I have figured out what's wrong with the economics of this great country of ours....so here goes...
When we built the new shop, we decided to go with all flourescent bulbs, because even though much more expensive, they were supposed to save energy, be green, and last for 6-8 years. I have replaced more bulbs after 3 days to 2 weeks than I care to mention, and all "Big" name brands. What does that say about quality control, and the theory of doing the right thing.
I ordered a 6 foot 8 inch Fischer plow for my truck so I didn't have to rely on anyone to plow out the shop, and was handed a 7 foot 4 inch plow with the explanation that "so what" it's the same price. By the way, the plow lights are 3 weeks back ordered so the lights that were installed, even though crooked, and the wrong shape will get you through. Also, the temperature guage that worked flawlessly for 11 years, now does not work after said install...coincidence or karma...you tell me.
Home heating oil deliverd last month at $334.9, up from $299.9, now at $354.9, while every other company has a COD price of from $289.9, to $309.9, and this is after being a customer of my oil company for 23 years. Trying to cancel the account, they decided to cap my price at $315.9, but with a $125.00 cap fee, bringing the price back to $240.9...duh, let me get out my algebra text book to figure out I'm getting screwed again, only nicer!
Finally bought a high definition TV after my old Sony Wega got fried when lightening hit my house, and contacted Time Warner for the High Def box. Since day one, the remote control, and box are fighting the tv tooth and nail. I am at the point where we have re-programmed the remote a dozen times, and it won't turn the tv on, off, or raise the volume. At least it changes channels. Upon recording my phone complaint for quality control, the attendant scheduled us for a technician visit 10 days out. Doesn't really matter at this point since the Giants were eliminated by a Green Bay win, and the Jets will probably get killed by Eli's brother...what's his name?
In bike news, Sram came out with a lower price 10 speed group to save everyone money and give the big "S" a run for its money, and promptly recalled the first run of derailleurs, and shifters, because they ceased to work, like immediately. Like we don't have enough work to keep us busy, and enough angst from those that really, really want to ride...alot!
Paid a guy alot of money to re-side my house 3 years ago, and have been nailing up the siding everytime the wind blows over 20 miles an hour...talk about something blowing!!! Contractor couldn't understand what my problem was since these things happen...is siding 101 right behind genetics and organic chemistry, or perhaps is this guy just mentally challenged, and stoopid???????
Had my front brakes done, and the mechanic forgot to tighten the bolts that hold the caliper on...don't worry about the clunking as long as your truck stops...get it back when you have a chance. And I changed your wiper blades, even though they're shorter than the originals, they should work fine.
The sink in the bathroom at the new shop is level except when you put a bar of soap on the porcelin soap holder, it slides into the sink. When accosting the plumber, the answer is to check with the concrete guys because they probably poured the floor crooked...concrete usually settles at an angle as anyone with half a brain knows!!!
I think I have made my point. All of us are experiencing the same scenarios everyday with tradesmen, retailers, and utility companies. I don't feel sorry for any business that fails when such horrendous service, and poor justification for horrendous service is thrust upon us with moronic rationale like we're all stoopid. If you screwed up, tell me, and tell me you'll make it right. Don't make a jerk of me, because I am not. I wouldn't do that to you, and even though there are others to take your place, there's a good chance they are no better than you are.
I have not slept a good night's sleep in 33 years worrying that I take care of those that rely on me, and if you don't believe me, ask my wife. The couch in the family room has a pretty definitive ass print of me for all the sleepless hours I've spent there. I am not sure this is the answer for success in business, but I can rest easy that any service I've done for anyone was done with the highest standards imaginable.
The very fact that I am able to type this column can be credited to the purchase of a new flourescent bulb, picked up in my truck, with a repaired caliper, free of an oversized plow, showing 64 degrees in January, all the while deciding if I should over pay for a cord of wood, or just burn my oil bill and leftover vinyl siding, while drinking milk that I bought 4 days over the sell by date. Just call me "Ben Dover!"
"Yours in finality, and meaning it" George
There's no denying what time of year it is...the lights, the sounds, the smells, the overall commotion, and of course the stress.
With the passing of Thanksgiving, our psyche switches into high gear with the constant inundation of reminders that there's only so many days left to get that special gift for that precious someone. While being the most wonderful time of the year, I'm thinking that hidden under the menagerie of 50% off signs, and the offer of free shipping, now and forever, the true meaning of what we're celebrating has been overshadowed by the promise of discounted materail gain. While hustling from mall to mall, and trying to avoid the deafening toll of so many thousands of ringing bells, have we grown so distant of what we were actually meant to celebrate?
Briefly removing the religious aspect, and yes I know for some that's just totally blasphemous, the holidays were meant more for celebrating our families, and the great fortune for being able to live in such a wonderful country. Just think how pleasant it would be if we could live here and totally eliminate the government...my goodness, we might actually be able to re-cultivate that extinct commodity..."Disposable income!"
If not for the media, I would not be as aware as I am just how important, Black Friday, Local Saturday, and Cyber Monday have become to my financial survival. Whoever fabricated those three myths should be taken out and forced to drink a gallon of leftover turkey gravy! Or better yet, be forced to wear a five pound fruitcake around their neck for the entire holidy season, while listening to a monthlong stream of Alvin and the Chipmunks on a three year old I-pod...
I make it a point to avoid holiday parties. It's not that I don't enjoy seeing everyone and being jolly, but my pants have a nasty habit of shrinking behind my back without me over indulging on foods and drinks I normally would never eat otherwise.
The shopping experience at the mall is pure sensory overload. How many versions of "Jingle Bell" rock should we be forced to endure, and how did they get all those dogs to bark out "Jingle Bells" anyway? Tinsel, mistletoe, glittering balls suspended from everything that OSHA approves, and the infinitesmal collage of sweatpant wearing, and warmup suited shoppers, just leaves this shopper humbled. Point me to the exit closet to Starbucks, or Dunkin Donuts...whichever is less crowded.
Honking horns, crying snotty children, ashen faced spouses not speaking, half eaten candy canes stuck to my shoes (actually this is good for traction on sidewalks that have convienently been left unshoveled), and Ho-Ho-Ho echoeing inside my head, will all take it's toll before a mummified Dick Clark ushers in an entirely new and better year. And then....it's over...almost!
January's tactics are to keep the driveway shoveled so I am able to sneak up on the mail box, hoping if I approach it slowly, and casually enough, the credit card bill will never arrive. Perhaps through devine intervention, my name and number have been deleted from the list of a bazillion debters, never to be found again. Unfortunately, it will arrive right underneath the oil bill, cell phone, cable, car payment, tuition statement, and most importantly, the Town tax bill! Oh January, thou art a cruel mistress!!!
Actually, at this stage of my life, I view the holidays and what follows as a cleansing experience. The previous year allows us to be stoopid, and make mistakes, and since it now is being jettisoned into history, doesn't really matter anyway. Now it's time to step back and say "Whew...I won't ever do that again!" And yes we all know that's until the next time...
Maybe I'm just bitter because I haven't gotten around to shopping just yet, or because as my children are grown, I don't get to go to any Holiday pageants, in an over crowded, chilly, sticky grammer school cafeteria...gotta love em.
Seeing everything on tv dressed as Santa from cheeseburgers, to snowtires, has a tendency to take the edge off of my enthusiasm. And this year in particular, I was rooting for Charlie Brown to finally wisen up after about 35 years, and buy a real tree rather than be hustled again by one of those shrewd street venders.
I will get out to shop, and I will persevere. It will make me stronger. If I could afford to buy my wife a diamond to have it say "I love you", I would. Instead a new pair of fleece slippers will have to make the same proclamation, or maybe I'll break tradition and just tell her myself...we'll see what she gives me, then I'll decide.
For now, the only present I really, really want is that we as a human race step back, and realize that all this good feeling, and generous humanity does not have to be confined to just this time of year. String it out...make the holidays last all year. Go back to basics try to remember the real reason for the holidays. And if you are unfortunate enough to catch a glimpse of "Snookie" being lowered by a ten ton crane from some building in Manhatten on New Year's Eve, count your blessings that you can change the channel, there's always next year, and you don't live in New Jersey!
"Yours in not so silent night" George
P.S. After the holidays we will be working on the website, and I'm not certain that Horse Sense will be returning. After writing a monthly column for 8 years, it has gotten to be quite difficult to maintain the humor and sincerety of my articles, and I was never one to disappoint. I plan on doing a lot of riding and a lot of thinking, and we'll see what the year brings. I have always been humbled, and flattered by the dedicated following of those that read what I have to say, and I hope I have given you all pause to think about what's really important in life. Stay warm, stay healthy, and tell some one you love exactly that...Good night!
In December of 1978, I was a 25 year old 1/3 partner in Eager Beaver car wash in Lodi New Jersey. My 2 partners were my father, and my uncle so I pretty much had my way. I had real money in my pockets, was single, had a full head of hair, and a brand new 1978 4 door Chrysler Lebaron. Man, I loved that car. It was dove grey with a maroon velour interior, with am/fm cassette stereo, and a sweet 318 8 cylinder engine. I could go anywhere I wanted, and at that time loved driving.
I was an avid skiier back then and my buddy Roger who grew up with me from infancy was a pretty good skiier as well. He was single and at that time we were both devout Budweiser drinkers...imagine that! He suggested a Saturday trip to Killington Vermont to ski, and Lebaron at the ready, off we went. Early morning departure, full day on the slopes, a short trip to the lounge, and onto the Thruway for the trip home.
Roger's brother Roy owned and operated the concession stand at Sterling Forest Ski Center, and Roger suggested that since we were practically going right past Sterling, why not stop in where we could eat and drink for free. Made perfectfully good sense to me, plus it was Budweiser night where "Bud Man" was scheduled to ski down the mountain followed by an entourage of skiiers, in the dark, all carrying flares. I had to see this!
We parked the car and made our way to the bar which looked out over the slopes. While waiting for "Bud Man" to appear, we worked our charm on Roger's brother who begrudgingly fed us free Bud. No big deal since once "Bud Man" appeared the beer was free anyway!
Around 6 o'clock, a group of girls walked in to enjoy the show, most of which were ski area employees. One in particular, with a head of hair mimicking a lion's mane, made my heart jump. I had never felt that sensation before, and whether it was love or lust at first sight, I had been smitten. I had to meet her.
After they sat down, I casually, and self assured, shuffled over to the empty stool next to her, sat down, and worked which without a doubt, were the most clumsy and lame moves ever. Being somewhat under the influence, I thought I was being pretty smooth. Anyway, for the next 2 hours we talked, and laughed, and just before she left, we agreed to meet at the bar the next night to go on a date.
I got there on Sunday a few minutes early, and just when I was settling in, her girlfriend walked in to tell me she couldn't make it and she had to go home. I was both angry and embarassed, and retreated to the security of my Chrysler for the trip back to my apartment...alone!
Fast forward to March of 1979. Picture me and Roger returning home from another day trip to Killington, in said Lebaron, with a belly full of bud, and hops induced good intentions. The plan was to stop at Sterling, again, to eat and drink for free. This was just the opportunity I needed to go in and tell this girl off. After practicing my speech on Roger for 2 hours, I was ready.
Roger headed to the bar, where I told him to wait for me. If I wasn't there in 10 minutes, he was to come and get me as I was probably going to be arrested for harassment.
Off I went to the ticket office, and when I walked in and she saw me, I couldn't figure out if I wanted to kick her or hug her...she had the same effect on me as before. She apologized stating some lame excuse about her father wanting her home, and asked what she could do to make it up to me. I caved in and stated I would still like to take her out, and go out we did!
We have been married for 30 years this month. We grew up together, a then 25 year old trying to figure out a 22 year old. We lived throught the death of both our fathers, the premature birth of both our children, and the joy of respecting each other as much as 2 people possibly can.
After a year of dating, we planned on moving in together, and when I told my mother our plans she was pretty disagreeable, using tainted morals as her argument. So, out of respect for her, we got married instead.
In front of the Chester town justice, with immediate family, and Roger standing up for me of course, we promised to honor and cherish each other, and I think we did a darn good job at just that.
We've both changed, but that's to be expected. I no longer ski, and thankfully have discoverd that micro brews far outweigh the joys of Budweiser. Our respect for each other has grown, while still allowing each other to be an individual, and I honestly believe that this is a major consideration for staying together all these years. We asked of each other only to be there till the end, and to honor the vows we made on November 22nd 1980 in front of all the people in the world we loved.
I don't have to ask my wife if she still loves me...all I need do is look in her eyes and I know that the little girl who I met on a bar stool has chosen to ride her life out with me and I'm glad.
Sterling Forest Ski center, our fathers, my Chrysler, and our youth have gone with time. What will last forever are our memories, and this column which is a written testimonial to how happy I've been all these years, and I can only wish this joy on anyone who cares to hear this story, and I swear it happened just as I told it...I only wonder what would have been if she was off the day I returned...damn!!!
"Yours in eternal bliss" George
If ever there was a season for me, the fall is it. Not too cold, and heat and bugs usually are but a distant memory. The vibrant color of the leaves, coupled with the crisp air conjure up images of pumpkins, turkeys, last minute mad dash holiday shopping excursions, and least enjoyable...home projects. My wife reasons since the days are shorter light wise, and the night air too damp to really enjoy, why not fix something improving the house????
I can't say I totally disagree with her logic, but over the last 30 years, I have gotten pretty good at avoiding what normal people tell me are my "husbandly" duties. Why all this responsibility fell on me, I don't know, but it's usually equated with that old caveman, hunter, gathering rationale we keep hearing about. Somehow I find it hard to believe when the cavemen were not securing meat for their families, they were out at the local home improvement center trying to find just the right color paint for the cave to match their wives wooly mammoth rug!
What brought this subject closer to home this year was the completion of the new shop. It really is beautiful, and everyone who has come in tells us so. I have remarked that my wife wanted to sell our house and move in there because it's nicer than my house. Thinking more on the subject, it actually isn't nicer, only newer. It smells newer, it looks newer, the layout is totally different thus novel, and so far the toilet hasn't developed that annoying rust ring that's impossible to get rid of!
What it doesn't have that my house does is memories, at least not yet. I won't make the mistake of confusing the words dirty and worn, rather than lived in regarding my house. After 24 years of living here, raising 2 children, 3 cats, 2 dogs, dozens of injured birds, baby rabbits, and carnival goldfish, the place should feel more comfortable than clean.
In the living room we have a custom shade in the picture window with a mangled slat from our dog Barney who used to jump in the window to see the kids walking down the street after getting off the bus. After that one time we would open the shade for him only to have his nails dig into the pine trim as he pulled himself along to get a better look. Barney is gone now, put to sleep in the same living room that he used to sun himself in, but leaving a lifelong memory for my family.
Then there's the indentation in the hall sheetrock from my son's head from when I jumped out of the bathroom to scare him, with the end result of him almost receiving a concussion...I just don't have the heart to spackle that spot.
Our furnace room with the concrete floor is forever stained with cat puke circles from Simba, Cleo, and Neko whom we just recently lost. I hated all three cats because of that, but would gladly clean up after them once again to have them back.
My wife is constantly after me to seed and hay where our above ground pool stood for 20 years. Nature is reclaiming the spot with weeds, but that's fine because I can still see the pool's outline, and if I close my eyes and listen, I can still hear my daughter and her girlfriends squealing because someone pooped in the pool!
The oak stairs that I so lovingly stained and polyurethaned a dozen times are pock marked with what looks suspiciously like the outline of Shiman SPD cleats from some idiot walking up and down the stairs while on the phone with their mother...guilty as charged. No amount of sanding got rid of the marks, but that's fine, because it will forever be testament to my priorities. Besides, the scratch marks from the cat's claws from chasing each other up and down the stairs, compliment my markings just fine.
Eventually, I may get to some of these projects, but they are not top priority. I need to get in a lawn at the shop, and start planting trees and shrubs, and concentrate on business to re-coup some of my finances to buy improvement supplies for my house. In the meantime, I will cherish the blemishes in my house, and enjoy them for the memories of my life there, which take priority over popped nails, and cobwebs in the garage.
As I shuffle out of my house over stained and cracked hardwood floors, past the scratched kithcen counter with the threadbare runner in front of the sink, I can smile and be proud that for my family, I allowed my house to be their home, but thankfull none the less that I have a nice clean, and very new shop to spend my day in...at least new for now until I throw that first wrench, or phone through the sheetrock not in anger, but in honoor of forging a memory...right?
"Yours with brush in hand" George