Get Your Hands Off Of Me

People are upset with United Airlines for dragging a customer up the aisle to evict him, but we’re “dragged up the aisle” every day by banks that are charging nickel and dime nuisance fees, airlines charging for baggage (they made $4 billion on this last year, a charge that didn’t exist several years ago), and health care copays. Why are we only upset when it’s egregious? Dragging is dragging….


Client Service 601

We’ve all been exposed to what I call Client Service 101, an amateurish training provided by inexpensive firms to equip phone representatives to better deal with outraged customers, that outrage being caused by deficient products, services, and/or delivery procedures. It goes like this: • I know how frustrated you must feel. • This must be very difficult for you. • I’ve experienced this in my dealings with companies myself. • I don’t blame you for being so upset. It’s like …


I’m Crossing My Arms Here

The Boston Globe reported this morning that they’ve consulted with “body language experts” to decipher the meeting between Trump and Putin. I’m looking forward to their piece on “astrology experts” followed by “Loch Ness Monster experts.” Whenever someone says they’re reading my body language, I cross my arms. I understand that a body language profanity, right? (Trigger warning, this article may upset you. Oops, was that supposed to be at the top?)


Providence: The Incompetence of Small Numbers

Rhode Island has well under a million adults. Providence, the capital, is by far the largest city and the Greater Providence Area probably has about 400,000 people. But the state has almost 20 geopolitical jurisdictions, so it needs 20 chiefs of police, fire chiefs, head librarians, superintendents of schools, mayors/city managers, and so on. Almost every week it seems as if a member of the state legislature or Providence city council is charged, indicted, and/or convicted of crimes, from not …


Why AI Isn’t Taking Over

There is a man in these parts who has $30 million in the bank. He takes no salary, but finances his life on disbursements and interest. When he tried to buy a house for his kids, he was told that his lack of income was a problem given the cost of the house! The bank’s computer programs—its algorithms—wouldn’t allow the purchase. Finally, some humans who worked in the bank put their heads together and determined the guy was a decent …


You’re Being Judgmental!

The most vapid epithet I know is: “You’re being too judgmental!” We make judgments every day, about how to work with others, if we’ve been treated correctly, how to raise our children, what to do in crises. We praise people with “good judgment” and malign those with “poor judgment.” If you don’t agree with me, fine, it doesn’t affect my self-worth, but charging someone with being judgmental is like charging them with thinking. The point of being sentient creatures is …


Things I Hate (All Right, Really Dislike)

“Not a problem.” Phone calls in public restrooms. Megyn Kelly. (Much ado about nothing.) The smugness of the comics (Jon Stuart, Bill Maher) who attack people who are not present to defend themselves. The fiction that Hillary Clinton lost the election because she’s a woman. (The Democrats were arrogant and she’s highly unlikeable.) The fiction that Elon Musk is a genius when Tesla is hemorrhaging money. (It will be purchased, which I suspect was always his Plan B.) Servers who …


Yes, But We Want More

I’m looking around my garage. Among the features on the various cars are: • Vibrating steering wheel when you cross a highway line without signaling first. • Self-correction and braking when you drive onto the shoulder without signaling. • Self-contained wifi. • Self-closing doors. • Remote opening trunks. • GPS. • Online contacts for navigation, emergencies, local dining suggestions, etc. • Alarm systems that disconnect the ignition. • Onboard diagnostics with monthly computer reports. • Indicators of service due. • …


The Personal Trainer University Course Curriculum

Course number and subject matter: 101: Counting to 15 by one. 103: Counting to 15 backwards by one. 201: Counting to 15 just using every third number. 205: Counting to 15 silently and just announcing the final three counts. 304: Behaving as if you’re spotting the exercise while actually wondering about the hottie you met at the bar last night. 308: Saying “Nice job” enthusiastically even though you don’t mean it. 406: Helping with the weights instead of saying, “Lose …


Overdone Smug Conceited Arrogant Revolting: OSCAR

I’ve been watching the Academy Awards since I was a kid on black and white television, with Bob Hope hosting. I was always in awe of the glamour and good humor. After we were married, my wife and I made it an annual ritual and I tried not to travel on that Sunday. Last night’s Oscar ceremony was a self-congratulatory excess of self-importance. It starts with the absurd Red Carpet and lasts for about seven hours. Women in loaned dresses …