Showing posts with label COVID-19. Show all posts
Showing posts with label COVID-19. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The Long and Short of Haircut Gratuities

The familiar barber shop pole with its red, white, and blue stripes is easily recognizable as a place for a haircut and other services. As in other places, a man in the old West could stop in for a haircut and shave, and finish with some bay rum after shave. Many years ago, barbers also performed surgeries, hence the red and white stripes on the pole. Eventually, they only medically-related practices they performed were tooth extractions and the barbaric practice of bloodletting.

Gratuities are expected in many services. This includes barbers and hair stylists. The amount varies, but when we feel cheated, we find someone else.
Credit: Pexels / cottonbro

On a side note, by ignoring Leviticus 17:11, bloodletting contributed to the demise of President George Washington. There were many factors in his illness, but since the life is in the blood, he may have survived it if they had left more of it in him. But we can't expect doctors (and barbers) in 1799 to know modern medicine — and people in medical science are still learning.

Traditional barber shops have become a rarity. Today, barbers are men and women that often work in multi-purpose facilities. They do basic haircuts as well as elaborate styling on both men and women. They must pay for their education and their own supplies, even in the large establishments — where they often rent workspace. Hair cuttery as a whole brings in a passel of revenue. Like many services today, a gratuity is expected.

A gratuity (fancy word for tip) was originally a gift for excellent service, but it is now a part of their wages and must be declared for income tax purposes. How much do you tip? There are guidelines, but not exactly clear cut (see what I did there?) and have other factors to consider. Someone who wants an elaborate style will not only pay more, but it takes time, so a larger tip should be given if the service is good. If the customer is a problem child by being demanding or less than pleasant, it's another reason for him or her to give a larger tip.

I want something simple: make it shorter. The barber can crank out my basic conservative haircut in just a few minutes and then move on to the next cut-stomer. Sure, I can grouse over how it's unfair and I shouldn't have to pay not only for the haircut but the barber's wages, but that's just how things are. Indeed, I still give a reasonable tip and mayhaps some extra because I like the barber. Recently, I've felt cheated.

Before the lockdowns and restrictions because the election year virus (conveniently supplied from Wuhan, China) has been used to control the populace, I had no problem getting the short hair I wanted. There were times in recent weeks where I came home and my wife remarked that my hair wasn't much shorter. Is it reasonable to assume that some of these places are trying to make up for lost revenue (due to forced closures) by leaving the hair longer so people have to go back sooner? In fact, the Number Four attachment and the clippers I usually experienced went unused — it was scissors-only.

More frequent visits may generate more revenue for them, but we are also expected to give tips more often, and for less-than-satisfactory service. I believe in paying a reasonable price for good products and services, but when I feel that I am not getting what I pay for, I go elsewhere. This applies to hair services and others. Things may get better later on. The next time I go to a professional instead of having my wife hack it away with the clippers I bought (which I refer to as the hedge trimmer), I'm going to be adamant about having them make it short.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Coronavirus and the Resurrection

There have been disasters, wars, famines, diseases, and all sorts of disasters that can be traced back to the first sin in Eden. This is not to downplay the suffering and death associated with COVID-19. Why is this Coronavirus such an important matter, and what does Easter have to do with it? 

The COVID-19 Coronavirus as well as other issues related to suffering and death will ultimately be removed. Death was defeated at the bodily Resurrection of Jesus.
Christ Appearing to His Disciples After the Resurrection by William Blake
Some events were sudden and then over, such as tsunamis or volcanic eruptions. Others, such as the Black Death of the 1340s, lingered on and killed millions. It is natural for people to wonder how their lives will change if they live through the circumstance. COVID-19 is something new in some ways (but the people during the Black Death probably thought the same thing), and we have had to alter our lifestyles. We do not know how long we will deal with the changes, and if there will ever be a semblance of normalcy again.

It may be hard to believe at first glance, but this is not something that God cannot handle. (It is interesting to me that people use bad things in the world as an excuse to reject God, but they never use these as evidence for the existence of Satan. Just a thought.) Actually, this virus has already been defeated. Jesus died for our sins and those who repent can have eternal life. He also defeated death at the Resurrection. If you skip ahead to the end of the Book, there were be no more pain, sickness, and death.
Sickness, death, natural disasters, and human tragedy—everywhere we look, we see death and suffering. It is part of the human condition. There is no escaping it. And during this current COVID-19 pandemic, we are hearing about it every day. As we watch the news or read online updates about coronavirus/COVID-19, we see that the infection numbers and the death counts are rising daily. Current numbers show almost 1.5 million reported cases and over 80,000 deaths. This situation is a tragedy.

The question often asked is obvious: If God is truly all-powerful and loving, why doesn’t he put an end to death and suffering? Some even ask if he is incapable, questioning his power. Others ask if he is unwilling, questioning his goodness. But both of these questions are based on a false dichotomy: goodness cannot exist apart from justice. Would we call a judge “good” if he let violent criminals go free, with no consequences? Of course not!
To read the entire article, click on "Death, Suffering, and Coronavirus".

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Outlaw Bob, or The Covid Cowboy

This is actually a funny series of inspirations. First of all, we are fine, no wicked viruses here mate.

Desperate for exercise (I work at home now), I wanted to walk to store and get some things. This is New York and the media panicporn is in high gear, so I didn't know if I would be walking into a police state atmosphere or terrified people. But I don't have a mask.

Okay, saw a video about making your own with a bandana, two rubber bands, and tucking it in. Didn't work they way it was designed (as a square), so I rotated it so the points were like a compass, due north was up, etc., and folded it that way. Then I tied it in the back, put on my hat, grabbed a shootin' iron, and had my wife take a picture. She was disappointed that shooting me was only with a camera, but oh well.

When I got to the shop, I was the only one wearing a mask. Social distancing as much as is reasonable in the small place. (Some were getting milk shakes...essential services...) It was a bit of an experiment anyway.

A guy I was working in the business establishment called me The Outlaw. Nah. If I changed my handle, I would be The Creation Cowboy. Anyway, my mind wandered. Outlaw...makeshift covid mask...I was given a wanted poster graphic recently...thinking, "Like a Covid Cowboy, riding out on a horse in a medical rodeo"...just having fun letting thought fragments cascade around. Finally, I went to PhotoFunia and made a graphic.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Business Decisions and Home Quarantine

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen, do not blame me for font and spacing weirdness Blogger/Google often does this.
Edited 4-02-2020

While working for The Company, I wondered about "Work From Home" (WfH, which is known by similar names) and was told that it was a mite difficult. Difficulties had been solved and The Company began rolling out the program on a test basis with a select few who had stellar production and quality.

In a rushed sequence of events, many of us in a cubicle farm were sent to work at home. The Company is unaware of important things that are happening, including adjustments to COVID-19.
Credit: Unsplash / Annie Spratt
A bit later, they began to send people home a few at a time. Suddenly, The Company saw fit to remove people from the cube farm and send us away — probably because of COVID-19. That's fine from my perspective because I have a heart thing, diabetes, and I hit the six decades mark. Okay, now I have been up and running for a week.

Truth is still truth if even if someone dislikes it. I'll say some things my superiors will not like, but their names are not in this. (Besides, people don't need to know that my primary job is venomous snake wrangling and data entry at Universal Widgets.) Essentially, The Company is profoundly cheap. 

When President Trump signed the tax cut bill, other companies were giving their employees raises and large bonuses. We had fundraisers to pay for our own perks. The IT people would foul something up and then refuse to fix it unless forced, telling us to use time-consuming workarounds. (Do they work for Facebook, too?) Maybe I'll give you the Department of Labor case number where they were caught and penalized for cheating employees out of their wages, but not today.

There are many other examples that I may provide in subsequent articles, but in this case, we are expected to provide our own internet connection while other companies provided separate cable connections for their WfH employees. (Gotta pinch them rupees until Mahatma Gandhi screams in pain, don'tcha know.) Take note that I have many reasons to believe that this cable-sharing arrangement is definitely not a risk to secure data.

Providing Equipment

My own computer is a tower than runs Windows 7, and it has a bay for peripherals as well as a DVD-ROM. Don't be knocking my eMachine, it's been a workhorse for several years. I may have to get a new computer soon. The computer I received startled me because at first because it's the size of a modem. That is the size of the work computer, but without the other stuff that isn't necessary for this activity anyway. Had to plug in a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. I used my own shorter ethernet cable because the one they provided would have been far too long. Okay, this cowboy was ready to saddle up.

In the Environment

No, y'ain't going to see a picture, sorry. I used some desk space and had to figure out how to set up the system in this one-bedroom apartment. (Remember, this was a hurried thing and I didn't know what to expect.) Safe enough, we're on the second floor and nobody can see anything from outside. No cameras and telecommuting, so nothing important will be overheard. I had to use a laptop table that was conveniently available — well, my wife had to relocate the slow cooker — for the keyboard and mouse. Plus some adjusting of my chair and the chair mat on the carpet. That's all set.

Aside from a few differences logging in and signing on, the same desktop and applications appeared. This part was identical to working in the cube farm, which is nice because I didn't need to learning something new there. Although The Company is impinging on the internet connection that I pay for which is also used for my own computer's after-work activities, our Roku device, and so on, there doesn't seem to be a lag in connecting time for devices or processing the work. (Well, not everything is running at the same time, so maybe I'm ahead of myself on this point.) I was concerned that the cable company might give problems with data caps and such, but I don't foresee that happening.

Storm Clouds

Before I continue, I need to say that The Company is very large with multiple locations around the world. Dozens of others and I from this location are at the bottom of the food chain. We have team leads and so forth, followed by a supervisor, a manager above the supervisor, someone in charge of this location, and then even more "important" people farther away that probably could not do this work to save their lives. They are important according to The Company and worldly standards, but I, too, am created in God's image.

I have sympathy and respect for team leads, the supervisor, and the next manager up. While most of them care about us, they also have to deal with the "I'm rich and in charge, make me richer" mentality. If production standards aren't good enough or The Company made too many promises they couldn't keep, these folks have to be whip crackers. Then they have to look the people they depend on in the eye, including me when I have anxieties and issues. That management role is not the kind of position I want to be in.

Time Away from the Desk

The manager sent out a message on the instant messaging platform that over the past few days that uptime has dropped. Yes, we have to adjust, but get to work, no excuses. A day or two later, a very angry message came from the manager about a significant number of errors, which sounded like all of us are fouling up. That second message can be a separate post, so I will deal with the first one.

Uptime is a strange word that strikes me as counter-intuitive. It is a negative thing, and I have to think of it as up time, time that workers are up and away from their computers. Like most companies, we have two paid fifteen-minute breaks as well as a longer lunch break (ours is unpaid). The Company also allows some additional time for trips to the restroom, go to the coffee machine, quick phone calls, or whatever. But Comrade Worker, you must keep up the standards.

"Get with the program, Cowboy Bob! Corporations are all greedy and squeeze their employees until they have nothing left, then replace them. It's the way of the business world."

Might doesn't make right, old son. There are higher principles that these people reject in their love of money and worldly things. By the way, didn't Lee Iacocca say that if give your employees your best, they'll give you their best? Not happening from the bean counters at the top of the food chain, nosiree.

As an aside, because I am diabetic, I make frequent short trips to the restroom. My uptime should have improved because I do not have to make that long trek like before.

Consider all the Facts

Sure, I ride for the brand and try to meet the corporate standards. In fact, employers, I don't work for you. Yes, you sign the paycheck, but my Employer is above all y'all, and I want to glorify him most of all.

Although I have knowledge and life experience, it was made clear to me years ago that I am unworthy to express or even have ideas on how to make improvements. But we are the people that you depend on who work in the trenches. We know some things. So I'll ask questions and make my thoughts known here.

How were the production standards developed? I had asked a similar question of a previous manager ("he has decided to seek employment elsewhere", but we all know what that means) and what sample size was used, but he didn't know. Were the standards arbitrary, or were they based on actual production people? For that matter, which production people? Some know shortcuts (and even "cheats" better than others). Were the standards based on the best of the best? Everyone should have been included in serious testing conditions.

This is the same cheap company that used unreliable software (which I had distrusted since I began this job) to cheat us out of our wages. The same company, same IT department, says people aren't working. Why should I trust that? Why should any manager trust that

Since we are using our existing internet connections that are usually through the cable company, there are variations in connectivity and speed. I had to reboot my modem and router twice because they need it on occasion. In addition, the servers we use have to connect with the servers of The Company, and there are interruptions. I suspect we may appear to be not working while the system is reconnecting. Part of that may be Wuhan Quarantine Internet Clogging (a term I made up, hope you like it). Many people are home and going online. Someone skilled in the nuts and bolts part of IT can correct me if I'm wrong about the internet overload.

There are times we have to wait for team leads to check on certain issues because providers often have no idea how to fill out the forms, so they slap some mighty strange stuff in there. Send the code to the team lead, let him or her check it out and get back to us. The line from The Company is, "We take that into account". Yeah, sure. Corporate excuse that I don't accept.

Related to that and to the issue of productivity is when we have to study the forms. Did Skippy write a 7, 9, 0, 6, or what? After some indecision, we call it illegible. But it took time.

In this kind of work, you have people of many ages and in varying degrees of heath. Several of us have medical conditions (one had chronic heart problems and died at home from a heart attack a couple of weeks ago). I have said that The Company has a revolving door. People get hired and trained, then they find different jobs quick-like. Someone might way, "They didn't want to work!" Meadow muffins! That's an appeal to motive fallacy. Also upper management protects and attitude of, "The Company is a wonderful place to work. Don't you know who we are?" Yes, we do know who you are. Smell yourselves, drop your presuppositions, and see why you are losing good people.

But we are really units, automatons, right? Gotta count them beans and pinch them rupees, never mind that even robots need maintenance. Yes, I'm resentful because people should be treated like people. No, not coddled, don't be disunderstanding me. We do want to work and be productive except for a few sluggards. Some of the immediate supervisors, those I deal with, have compassion, which is a rare commodity. Folks at the top of the food chain know about money but are unskilled in dealing with people.

The whole world is adjusting to the novel virus now called SARS-CoV-2. Understanding, diagnosing, treating, testing (don't use faulty made-in-China tests and their ineffective face masks!), quarantines, lock-downs, and more. The Company sent people home, and most of the population of New York is at home, too. This includes frustrated and bored schoolkids. I had no time to plan for my own set-up (partly because I made inaccurate assumptions about what we would be using). Other people had to make drastic adjustments in a mighty big hurry. No wonder the uptime is somewhat lacking. It should improve, but don't be commencing with the forty lashes so soon.

As you can guess, this article has been building up for a while and current events are applicable. If I write more about this employer, this will be foundational. I expect that should someone from The Company happen on this, my concerns and observations will be rejected out of hand. Then I'll be fired out of retaliation. I'm just a cowboy that does the work and wants to not only glorify God but also please those who sign the paychecks. My sense of right and wrong are inapplicable to worldly people who consider us cogs in the wheel. Don't take the mark.
Maybe this missive will help other people learn how to treat employees.