Thursday, July 29, 2010

Support Your Local Sales Clerk

In retail, sales associates are the bottom of the food chain; without us the entire system falls apart but we're always the ones who get the most grief. Since most people will need to interact with a sales associate at some point in the near future, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your sales associate experience.
Tip #1 - Everything that you pick up in a store and do not return to its original position will have to be put back by a sales associate. "But isn't that part of their job?" you justify as you leave the box two aisles away from where you found it. "Only because of customers like you," is the answer. Most companies do not have team members whose only job it is to recover (fancy word for clean up your mess). Things only get put away, cleaned and straightened when a sales associate can escape from whatever job they are actually assigned to for short periods of time, or after the store has closed. Companies often under-schedule hours at close of business leaving little time for putting things away. So if the store looks neat and tidy when you walk in, compliment the sales team. It will make their day. If it looks like a tornado ripped through it, remember that they wish a tornado would come through because it would make for an easier clean up job than the one they have looming over them. And if you change your mind and need to put an item back, find the nearest sales associate and ask them nicely where to return it to. Most likely, they will be so deliriously happy that you care that they will offer to put it back for you. Win, win!
Tip #2 - If you want others to respect your time, please respect their's. Most places have common closing times and post their hours. If you enter a store at 8:45, please be sure that you will be able to collect what you need and exit the store at 9:00, when the doors are locked. Keeping the sales team past closing for your convenience is akin to you showing up before the store opens and being angry that you can't get in or receive service.
Tip #3 - If you bring children with you, please continue to be their parent as you shop. If the baby cries and can't be quickly consoled, exit the building, If your toddler throws a tantrum, please do not ignore them or yell at them. Again, leave the building. If one of your children needs to use the bathroom and the others refuse to tag along, please do not announce to them that the lady putting the stock away next the the bathroom will be babysitting them while you are gone. She is not paid to watch your children. If you suddenly remember that the one thing you almost forgot is just an aisle away, please do not leave your infant in the shopping basket while you run to get it. It only takes seconds for something awful to happen. Running is not allowed, just like at the pool. Playing hide and seek is not an appropriate activity. And please, please, please, do not allow your child to stand in a shopping cart. About four children in every state die each year from accidents caused by improper restraint use in shopping carts. It takes very little to tip a cart. Trust me, even a ten pound baby can do it without much effort.
Tip #4 - Remember that when there is a long line, it is not the sales associates' fault. They did not make the schedule and they are as eager as you are to get you through and out the door. In the same vein, if what you want is not available, please do not blame the sales associate. They did not buy up all the product, they are not in charge of ordering it, and they can't make it suddenly appear out of thin air. Also, complaining about the price of an item or not being able to use your coupon because the item is on sale will do little good. The sales associate does not set the prices, decide on the sales, or issue the terms on your coupon. Instead, make the sales associate your best friend. If you treat them with a little kindness, they may be able to find what you need, or something similar that will do, at another nearby store or tell you how you can special order it while still getting the best sale price.
Tip #5 - It is NEVER appropriate to yell at, embarrass, or demean a sales associate. Most of us are working for minimum wage with the promise of a fifteen cent yearly raise, no health insurance or paid sick or vacation time. We are lucky if we get to take our legally required break and/or lunch. Many of us work another job or two and still can't make it from month to month. Some are also attending school, some trying to raise a family. And in this economy, don't be surprised if the sales associate behind the counter has more education than you do. Plenty of recent graduates from college and graduate degree programs are working in retail again because the jobs they went back to school to get out of retail for are now in short supply. If you feel like you have been treated poorly or not received the service you deserved, you can ask to speak to a manager. But remember that for every poor comment an employee receives, about 30 comments praising that employee never make it to a manager's ears. And the sales associate may not be at fault. Take into account how busy it is in the store, how many employees are available, if there are store policies in play that the sales associates must follow, no matter how ridiculous they seem to you and even to them. Also, when you speak poorly to an associate, everyone IS looking at you and thinking that you're crazy. When you leave the store, they will talk about how unnecessarily awful you were and try to make the associate feel better at your expense. Take a breath and remember, sales people are people too, only with less power to make anything happen than just about anyone else.
These five tips should get you started on the road to a happy and successful retail experience. Remember, your attitude affects how an employee will respond, so try to be positive and understanding. The nicer you are to your sales associates, the more likely they are to go the extra mile for you, even though they certainly aren't being paid to do so. Above all, when you receive good service, helpful information, or interact with an employee who is knowledgeable and cheerful, be sure to praise that employee and make an effort to let the manager on duty know of their hard work. Not only will it make their day, it will leave you smiling as well.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Words Matter, Or the Case Against Original Intent

With the impending appointment of a new justice to the Supreme Court and mid-term elections around the country, a lot of talk these days seems to center around what the “original intent” of the Constitution is and how it should be interpreted in making law and policy. From talk show pundits to local newspaper editorials, everyone seems to have an opinion about how our founding fathers intended the Constitution to guide our country from the eighteenth into the twenty first century and beyond.
I have a different question.
Is it even possible to know what the “original intent” of these great men was when they crafted the document that would be the basis for our government? Sure, there are writings such as the Federalist Papers and the occasional attributed quote or philosophy that might shed some light. But ultimately, these writings are the opinions of singular men who, by necessity, came together in compromise to form a more perfect union. Not all the delegates to the convention agreed with each other or every word set out in the Constitution they were writing. Some had such differing viewpoints on the document that legitimizes our country that they would be life-long enemies. By all accounts, the delegates argued over every point and disagreed in almost every way before cooler heads and the hot July weather prevailed. They even argued over how future generations of Americans would use the Constitution to interpret laws and policies that they could not foresee.
Some argue that the Constitution specifically did not address the idea of a “static” or “living” document because the founding fathers knew that the document would have to evolve as the union did. After all, it’s a lot different governing a country of 13 verses 50 states. Others argue the opposite; that these great men were so firm in their beliefs and commitment to a new form of government that its original wording should be tampered with only at great peril.
But let’s get real for a moment. Those who cry, “Original Intent!” every time lawmakers or the courts violate their idea of what’s right and what’s wrong for this country, they tread a fine line. After all, African-Americans would be considered as 3/5ths of a person if the American people hadn’t decided that the Constitution needed to do the right thing and evolve with the times. I’m sure some of the founding fathers thought the possibility of free black men and women to be inevitable given time, but others decried it to their dying day, possibly after.
Changes to the Constitution are allowed for in the very document itself. These men were wise enough to conceive that with amendments, things they could not consider in their time might be addressed by the people in another. Under the nineteenth amendment, I, and all other woman, am specifically given the right to vote, something we did not enjoy until 1920. That’s 150 years after Washington, Franklin, Madison, Adams, Jefferson, and their fellow patriots crafted their “original intent” into the Constitution.
Original intent is ridiculous to call foul with. Unless you can have a conversation with our founding fathers and ask them to explain their thinking behind each article of the Constitution, original intent can’t truly be known. I’d also bet that many of them would be hesitant to discuss their original intent without hearing what you raised them from the dead to ask them about.
Take the second amendment, for example. If the NRA held a séance and asked for clarification of the right to bare arms, does anyone honestly believe that one of these great men wouldn’t want to know why they were asking the question? “What has transpired between then and now that it’s become such a contentious issue?” I imagine someone saying. After all, a rifle in the home in case of invasion by hostile forces, a bear, or robbers when the nearest neighbor is acres away, doesn’t seem that unreasonable. But watch their ghostly faces as weapons like bazookas and automatic machine guns, weapons they could not have conceived of in the eighteenth century, are described in our homes and on our streets with very little oversight. I doubt many of them would immediately jump to defend the right to bare all arms. After all, people who arm themselves with large caches of guns in an effort to overthrow corrupt governments were called state militias in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Today, unless you’re wearing a National Guard uniform, it’s likely that the FBI and the ATF is camped outside your compound because of those very weapons, and you are considered a cult.
Yes, there are many important and moral issues that our country could use clear, Constitutional guidance on. But until the founding fathers themselves can tell us what they meant when they wrote that, “Excessive bail shall not be required,” in Article 8 (Excessive in amount? In proportion to the crime? Is the same bail set for Lindsay Lohan excessive when compared to a school teacher accused of the same crimes?) we can’t know the true original intent.
So let’s be careful with the words that we use. Asking a nominee to the Supreme Court if she intends to follow the original intent of the law as set out in the Constitution is a somewhat insulting question. She can’t possibly know what the original intent was. Perhaps you need to rephrase the question. Try replacing the word “original” with the word “literal.” Hmm . . . If that word doesn’t sit as well, I don’t blame you. Literal interpretation would mean a lot of things that we consider moral and right under the Constitution may not be so moral or right. Certainly, original and literal aren’t interchangeable. But tell me, if we can’t know original intent, and literal intent is not something we’re completely comfortable surrendering ourselves to, what word should we use?
Maybe the answer isn’t in the thesaurus. Maybe the answer lies with reconsidering the motives behind the question. If you truly believe that you know the founding fathers’ original intent towards legalizing gay marriage, or whether they would agree that climate change is a legitimate concern, or that corporations larger than empires that existed in their day should have unlimited ability to influence elections, or even if they would believe that what you say in a blog on the internet is protected by privacy laws, then no one will ever be able to convince you otherwise. Perhaps not even the founding fathers themselves.
Let us choose our words, and our reasons for speaking them, more carefully, lest even more words lose their original intent.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Forward New Horizons

My grandfather, Carl S. Hawkins, died this past week. In the joyful reunion he is having with his wife and sweetheart, my grandmother Nelma, his family, and I, his granddaughter, have discovered a new and joyful reunion with a side of him we barely knew.
Among his historical photos, clippings, and family biographies, there is a scrapbook composited in a simple notebook. Written in August of 1943 by his mother, Wilma Stolworthy Hawkins, it includes her thoughts on his birth and childhood, numerous stories of his accomplishments, tidbits of insight into his personality, mention of his father and brothers and sister, photos, programs, and much more. At the very end of this scrapbook, there is a speech which my grandfather wrote and delivered at the Provo High School Girls Assembly, March 19, 1943. He was seventeen and about to face his final year of high school without his two best friends, who were leaving to serve in WWII. Accompanied by music performed by those friends and my grandmother, this young man who would go on to accomplish such remarkable achievements for his country, his profession, his church, and his family, spoke words so touching and thought-provoking that they could easily be spoken today with the same meaning for a different time. Recognized with a War Bond and much praise then, I can only hope that by sharing it with you, you may find your own great reward in his words, his thoughts, and his insights.

Forward New Horizon
By Carl S. Hawkins, March, 1943

As I look toward New Horizons, I see before me the kind of world I want to live in following the war. But I see more than visions of a glorious future, dreams of a rosy utopia, and aspirations for clear sailing ahead. More immediately I see a world of chaos, of perplexing problems, and complex situations. It is to the cause of these more immediate problems that I dedicate my subject matter.
You may wonder what kind of a world I want. Without philosophizing I can express my opinion in one sentence: The world I desire is one in which the forces making for peace and the enrichment of human life prevail over those that lead to conflict and destruction – an ideal, I admit, extremely difficult of achievement. But an ideal which I am sure every thinking American will conform to. Differ as we may on details we find common ground in this one basic desire.
Then the fundamental problem is not what kind of world do we want to live in, but upon what basis are we to achieve this ideal. We look to the war with Christian-like aspirations, hoping that out of the havoc and anguish of destruction, there shall emerge a new order which somehow will solve the problems of nationalistic rivalries and insure peace and well being to succeeding generations. This cannot be.
The elements of peace are not found in war. War is not a magical prelude to spontaneous peace; rather is it the embryo of future strife. Therefore, we cannot be satisfied that this war shall end in consequent peace. The only insurance of such peace is material preparation now.
How then would I have us prepare for peace? First, expressing only my humble opinion as an American youth, I would have us rededicate our purpose. Instead of looking at that which is bad and trying to found a just system by covering up these evils, I would have us look for that which is good in man, that which is basic and normal; and with these principles we must rebuild society upon a natural foundation. In my estimation there are four of these basic principles upon which any system that is to foster a just and lasting peace must depend.
The first of these basic principles I have called “the equality of man.” This fundamental incorporates all the essentials of democracy which we so passionately defend. When men live in a world which guarantees equality we need no longer fear the forces of intolerance and prejudices, for with equal rights and equal life, equal understanding is the inevitable. With equality of men there can be no “have” and “have-not” nations; there will be equal opportunity and equal access to the world’s resources. Thus by basing post-war reconstruction on this first principle, the recognition of the equality of man, we shall overcome countless conditions which breed war.
The second principle is closely allied with the first. This basic principle upon which any ideal world must rest is the recognition of “the dignity of man.” To give man equality is not sufficient for then we have only a standard of quality and not a standard of culture; neither is it enough to recognize his dignity, for dignity may be recognized under tyranny. But make a society of individuals who enjoy both equality and dignity and their standards of living and culture shall reach such noble aspirations that war shall become an outdated barbarism.
The third basis of a just and free society I shall call “the virtue of human emotion.” This philosophy sustains the belief that the fundamental human emotions are natural and good. We have not always recognized this fact. Even now we hear orators proclaiming to the high heavens that the emotions of jealously, enthusiastic patriotism, and nationalism have caused the war and consequently must be ruthlessly eradicated from the souls of man if there is to be peace. How negative, how narrow is the thinking of these men. It is natural that man should love, that man should love his country and consequently become nationalistic and patriotic. As it is also natural that he should be jealous of that which is his own and fight for that which he is deprived of. But these human emotions need not be causes of war; they may just as well be bearers of peace. Divert the course of man’s natural love to devotion for a world federation and his fellow world citizens, and we shall have overcome the energetic force of nationalism by utilizing its potential power to insure a constructive peace. As man is naturally jealous, his jealousy need not guard only his own rights. But he can be made to realize that the existence of his own rights is dependant upon mutual defense of the rights of all his fellow man, and he will then defend with equal and fervent jealousy the rights of his neighbor. As such the emotion of jealousy ceases to be a cause of war but rather a guarantee of human rights. The inborn emotions of man, as endowed in him by his creator, are natural and good and are the primary foundation of a just and peaceful life.
While the preceding three principles are idealistic, the fourth is an attempt to make a foundation for our more common problems of economics and life together. This principle which I have called “the reciprocal self-sufficiency of man,” is the fundamental basis of economic society. It is based upon the ideal that each man possesses sufficient productive energy to meet his own needs. Why should man go unemployed and starving when he possesses the ability to produce those necessities of life. Further develop this principle and put the productive energy of each man to work in specialized channels for the good of society as a whole and in return each man shall receive that which he needs and more. Build a society upon the recognition of this principle and unemployment shall disappear. Under such a system there can be neither extremely rich nor extremely poor but all men shall enjoy a higher standard of living than hitherto achieved in the annals of human history.
There you have the New Horizon toward which I aspire: a world which offers me equality – equality of rights and of opportunity; a world which recognizes the dignity of man, which believes in me because it is founded upon the principles that I aspire toward. Culture, dignity, and whole ideals; a society which is founded upon belief in the common man, which recognizes my emotions as natural and virtuous and accepts them as guarantees of a better life. And finally a world in which I am guaranteed the right to work in happiness and live in wholesome comfort without fear of war.
But how would I attain this ideal? How in the midst of turmoil and destruction can we build a society based upon these natural principles? I say to you let us begin at home. Let us prove that such an ideal is practical by making it work now, on our own shores. Then shall we be prepared to carry it abroad. This is where we as Americans have failed so pitifully. I should like to prove this point by quoting a letter from a typical draftee to his father.
“Dear Dad,
I’ve read your letters with interest and followed the newspapers with hope, yet nowhere do I see a sign of the spirit I hope to see this war bearing out.
Dad, even you seem to overlook one factor. You ask me for ideas on what you might do.
I wish I spoke for every soldier now- I pray I speak for a few. Here’s what you, and every American, can do. You can give me a living thing to fight for. You can mend Democracy behind the lines while we defend it from the fore. You can give me and every thinking man with a gun, whose only excuse for killing is the defense of his country, of his home, and his government, a real government to defend. And you can give us something to come back to besides a mélange of poverty and plenty, with the accent on the former.
I don’t want free cigarettes on a carte blanche to a heroic suicide. I want a real democracy to return to, not an ideal behind which hide forty-million under-privileged citizens, a host of crooked politicians and a mass of factions each striving to cut the other’s throat. I have often wondered what the sharecropper or the Negro in the South had to fight for. His plight might be worse, but how much worse could it be?
Don’t show me the spinning machinery of a hundred thousand factories, for behind each wheel I see a sweatshop. Don’t remind me of Valley Forge, Gettysburg, the Maine, the Alamo. Democracy lives on tomorrow, not yesterday. Don’t tell the sharecropper to forget his rickets, his debts, the blank future, and be happy because one hundred years ago Old Ironsides won a battle in the Mediterranean.
Too many men have died for an ideal that never was. I don’t want to join their ranks!”
And that ends the letter.
Americans, it is our solemn duty to see that such young soldiers have more to fight for than the shallow glories of a futile victory. Yes, let us mend democracy from behind the lines while they defend it from the fore. Let us build a society which guarantees “the equality of man” and “the dignity of man”; which recognizes “the virtue of human emotions” and “the right to reciprocal self sufficiency.” When this is done, then shall America stand as the bulwark of eternal peace and the hope of free men every where. The challenge is ours!

I wish I could ask my grandfather now, after serving in the war and being among the generation that built a new America and a new world, what he sees in his words now. I can hear him chuckle at some of the more naive, and humble graciously at the skilled prose of such a young man. I would ask him what he would write now if he were of my generation, facing wars and conflicts without end and the terrorizing of democracy from within my own country by its own citizens. But part of the legacy that he left me with is the ability and opportunity to answer these questions in my own words. And so I will search to find my own new horizon, sure in the knowledge that Grandpa is in the sunset behind me and the dawn before me.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Pride & Patience

If all had gone as planned this week, I would be in Haiti tonight with a wonderful group of doctors, health professionals, linguists, construction workers, and engineers. But in a natural disaster the size and scope of Haiti, nothing goes according to plan.

It all started a week ago when a doctor and return LDS missionary who built the Healing Hands for Haiti Clinic sent out a call for volunteers with specific skills. I'm an EMT Intermediate, I speak some French, and I've lived and done public health work in a developing nation in the Caribbean. I had always dreamed of being able to go to Haiti one day, and though the circumstances were dire, or perhaps because of that, I rushed to answer the call. After two and half days and 850 applicants, I got word that I was selected to be in the first 150 to leave for the ravaged nation.

I raced to gather supplies and get the final inoculation I needed. My parents were supportive, excited, and a little scared, and so was I. I knew the conditions would be extreme and the work difficult but I knew I could do it. The thing that worried me most was not the injured patients, dead bodies, or aftershocks. Those I had been trained to deal with. I worried most about the camping aspect. I'm not a camper. I like my bed and my shower but I was willing to put them aside for this amazing opportunity. I felt prepared, anxious, but ready.

And then Wednesday night, hours before departure, a mandatory meeting was held that would change everything, at least once every ten minuets. We were told they had to cut the number of us who could go because of weight issues. The plane had to be able to take off, get to Haiti, have enough fuel to circle for 4 hours, land, take off again, and return to Florida with 80 or so orphans. My heart fell. We began the process of triaging amongst ourselves who should go. In the middle of this, we received word that our camp at the NGO compound at the airport had no water. In order to accomplish our mission, we had to be self-sustaining. Now water needed to be on the plane.

People headed to the warehouses to try and cut back on the medical and construction supplies we had been ready to load in hopes of getting water on board and keeping as many of us as possible on the plane. The UN and USAID have a desperate need for fluent Creole and French speakers. Among those in our group, there were 70. I fell into another dozen or so who could speak it well enough to do some good. I made the first cut. We reprioritized according to conditions on the ground. Doctors and nurses, medical support, engineers and construction. At ten that night, we had yet to make the final cuts. We didn't know what the final weight of the plane would be and so we were asked to go home and really search for the answer to whether or not we should volunteer to stay behind.

My first thought had always been that if it were between me and the supplies, it was the supplies that were going. They can do more good than I can at this point. But others encouraged me to remain and I began to feel my soul being torn apart with the decision that was before me. Returning home in tears, uncertain and anxious, I spoke with my parents. My father gave me a blessing. (Those of you who know me know that while church attendance is a struggle for me, my relationship with my Heavenly Father is a strong and personal. I needed to have faith that the blessing would give me answers, or at least calm my mind enough to stop it from spinning in circles.)

Reassured and much more calm, I took the next hour to think. I sat for a while, I even got up and began my final preparations. I felt more and more confident that I would be able to handle the difficult conditions but the surety that I was meant to go wavered. I wondered if my desire and even need to be of help to these people was causing the anxiety I felt. Just as my father had told me earlier that there was no one pivotal moment that would propel my life on it's course to some great Hollywood happiness, I realized that the mission's success did not turn on me being there. I had been assured that if I had patience, whether it was now or later, I would be able to go and serve and be of help.

I typed the most anxious email I had sent in my life. I told the logistics coordinator that if they felt they needed me, and the water and food to sustain me, more than the space and weight for supplies that would be critical, I would see them in a matter of hours. But if there were equally or more qualified people who they were struggling with cutting, then I would give up my chance and my seat.

The next 5 minuets were filled with uncertainty, hope, sadness, and every emotion in between. When the response was a heart-felt thank you for staying behind, I knew the decision was made.

Since then, the adrenaline and mental stamina that had been building since I first heard of this chance has yet to leave my system. I remain anxious. Even though I know I have made the right choice, a large part of me is dissapointed and angry. Angry at not being able to go and angry with myself for being angry. I'm exhausted but can't sleep. I read or turn on HGTV until my body gives up and slips into rest. I wake earlier than usual and can't nap. My body is still in disaster prep mode. I've been told it will take time for it to subside, that my sleep and my emotions will continue to be a roller coaster for a little while, but in time, I'll be fine.

In time. Patience. If I can hold onto patience the way the people of Haiti hold on to hope . . .

The second or the fiftieth wave of assistance is as important as the first, all for different reasons. My pride threatens to make me miserable at times, and then I remember the clearest word I heard that agonizing night and return to patience.

Pride and patience. I'm rooting for patience.

Please visit the Utah Hospital Task Force at

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Date

Recently I met a man who has mastered the art of the perfect date. No, sadly, these dates are not with me. He is a married man who has taken the one night a week or month that he and his wife get a babysitter and go out for some romance and fun, to new heights. Take notes.

While working behind the counter of my local fabric store one Saturday evening (we can discuss why I have a Master's in Public Health and work at a fabric store later), a couple came in dressed to the nines. Making conversation while measuring and cutting, I discovered they had just been to a fancy restaurant and the date was now continuing here, at my fabric store. This mother of three had been completely shocked to discover that the after-dinner show was a visit to the one place her husband hated to go more than the dentist.

As we talked, I watched this man roam about the store, not with the absent look that so often accompanies husbands in a fabric store, but with a strange glee. He was giving his opinion on whether fleece or flannel would be better, if green and yellow were gender-neutral baby colors, if the stretch or the costume satin felt better, and if they might get a quarter of a yard more to be safe on this bolt but less on that one. Actively engaged with his wife, he began to comment and assist other fabric shoppers as well. He retrieved a high up bolt of fleece for the lady in the next isle, offered to look for the same pattern in another color for another woman, chatted about projects people were working on with their purchases, and went hunting for the perfect trim when the lace wasn't stretchy.

All of the girls behind the cut counter that evening were jealous and amazed. His wife was so delighted that she told every guest in the store how much her husband hated to go to fabric stores just to see them stare at her in disbelief at the most wonderful, well-spirited gentleman in the city that evening. His surprise gift of dinner and an eager, pleasant evening at the fabric store was the best date she had ever had, and many of the women in line wished for equally generous husbands.

As they left, he with a stack of fabric and she with an arm hooked under his, all of us agreed that this had to be the best date idea ever, regardless of whether it's a fabric, shoe, or sporting goods store. He had charmed us all with his enthusiasm and sincerity for his wife and the things she so enjoyed. And certainly, we concluded, his generosity would be repaid in full.

Just as soon as the babysitter was safely home.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Perfect Gift Every Time

My best friend and I have a sure thing going in the gift-giving department. We've known each other for twenty years and never once has it failed to deliver to us the best gift for any occasion from the other person. And in the spirit of the holidays, I'm going to share it with you.

Every year, every birthday, every Christmas, any gift-giving occasion, my best friend has given me you the best gift of all, and I've given her the best one as well. Even when I was unemployed or she was living on student loans, the best present every time comes from the other. Here's how.

First, you enjoy opening the gifts that others have generously outfitted you with. Second, you do a quick calculation of the cash and checks that others have sent you in lieu of a gift-wrapped box, which they think in impersonal but we all know is the bomb. Third, say or write a quick thank you. (Good manners mean as much as any gift.) Four, take the money you received and add or subtract what ever amount your bank account can afford, then buy the one thing you really wanted but didn't get. (Works for every budget.) Fifth, final, and most fun, call your best friend and tell them all about the fabulous gift they gave you that no one else thought to and you were dying to have. Praise them for their exquisite taste and for knowing you so well that they get you the perfect gift every time. Your best friend repeats the sequence. Soon you'll get your own phone call telling you what an amazing gift you got them that only you could think of.

Hence, you have given the best gift every time with out any of the stress over what to buy, budget, shipping, etc. My best friend has given me books and entire seasons of television shows, concert tickets, even a car payment. And every time I walk into her place she points out the fabulous new anime item or rich fabric I've given her that she's creating an amazing piece with.

So if you're interested in being the best gift giver ever, check out Caiti and Christy's Guaranteed Best-Gift-Ever system. Give the best, get the best, from the best. Twenty years of satisfaction and many more to come.

I wonder what fabulous gift I'll get her this Christmas? I'll wait for the call!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Terms of Endearment

We need a new colloquialism.

I do not feel my "Biological Clock" ticking. What I feel as a 31 year-old single woman who hasn't dated in . . . Never mind. I don't want a baby right now. I do want the opportunity to have a healthy baby in the, hopefully, near future. But every year that goes by, my eggs get a little less healthy, a little less reliable, and a little less prolific. I know women have healthy babies into their 40's and now 50's, but statistically, my chances of conception and a healthy baby are better the younger I am.

What we need is a term that describes a woman's biological concern for the option of having a baby if she isn't yet in a relationship or financial situation to allow her to responsibly fulfill the desire to, some day, have a child. Ideally, I'd be married to my best friend who would provide that essential father and co-parent role that study after study shows is so important. I have to admit, though, that were I financially and professionally secure, I might make a go of it on my own.

I've always wanted to adopt, and that's certainly one thing I plan to pursue when I'm ready, though adoptions to single women who aren't celebrities are more rare than you might think. Again, my desire to some day have a child, biological or adopted, is dependant on a man and/or money. Money isn't something you get a Master's in Public Health for and men can reproduce with healthy sperm long past the point of no return that women face.

So let's come up with a new way of conveying the desire for the option of having a healthy baby that doesn't imply it must happen immediately. Me and my fellow 30-something women who, like me, are having little success with men and money, would appreciate not being associated with an explosive device in our ovaries.