Sunday, September 24, 2006

It's Not Rocket Surgery

In case it isn't clear in the picture, the shirt this grocery store cashier is wearing says:

"Stupiditys Not a Crime
Your Free To Go"

Were do we start? How about "Why on earth would an employer allow this guy to wear a shirt that is insulting to his customers?"

Next, we can move on to the spell-check portion of our program: There are two missing apostrophes and one mis-spelled contraction on the shirt. Now maybe it is supposed to mis-spelled as part of the joke. If so, then the joke is obviously on the buyer and wearer of the garment.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sax in the City?

I was looking over the Charleston Convention and Visitors Bureau website and saw this photograph. It struck me as odd, to say the least. First of all, I have lived in this town for forty years and I have never, I repeat, NEVER seen a saxaphone player playing along Capitol Street. On occasion I've seen a harmonica player and that guy who plays the squeeze box near the library, but never a scene like this. This looks like it is either 1) Photoshopped, or 2) Staged.

Either way it doesn't seem to be a photo that captures Charleston's essence. With so many authentic treasures in our little city it seems that the CVB could come up with a better image .

Friday, September 15, 2006

Customer Non-Service Week

I had two episodes this week that capture the essence of customer non-service.

1. Charleston Post Office - On Tuesday at 10:30 AM I walked into the main lobby of the post office to find that the only the window open for service was the one inside the stamp store. There were 15 people waiting in line, many of whom looked exasperated as they stood holding heavy boxes they intended to ship. But the real pièce de résistance was the perky girl postal worker who was asking questions of all the patrons for a survey on - get this - CUSTOMER SATISFACTION! It seemed like the management had decided to herd all the cattle into one chute so the survey would be easier to perform.

2. The picture above requires some explanation: Today at the Huntington Bank drive in bank on the corner of Leon Sullivan Way and Lee Street there were three drive through lanes open PLUS one inside walk-in window. When I was there at around 1:15 there was only one teller trying to keep up with all four windows. But as I waited for my turn at the drive through I noticed that there were two bank employees walking to the cars as they waited delivering cans of soft drinks and candy bars. Soon they came my way and I rolled down my window so I could talk to them. "Would you like a candy bar or a soft drink?" they asked politely. "What's the occassion?" I inquired. I was not prepared for the answer: "It's Customer Appreciation Day!" they replied cheerfully. I thanked them for their offer and told them that THIS customer would appreciate it if they would go inside and help out with the workload. They laughed and walked back to their table of goodies. I continued to wait in line and watch them greet other customers with their appreciation. My drive through bank visit took over 20 minutes to complete. I felt really bad for the lady inside the box but she remained cheerful and polite in spite of it all. I wish I could say the same for myself.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


This strikes me as odd.

A FedEx drop box outside the main post office, on post office property.

It's tantamount to having a WalMart kiosk inside the vestibule at Target. No wonder they keep raising the price of stamps.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Homeless People With Cell Phones

I frequently travel the circuit from Smith Street, near Capitol Market, to the main post office via Leon Sullivan Way. On this route I pass three facilities that serve Charleston's homeless population: The Roark-Sullivan Lifeway Center, Crossroads Shelter and Covenant house. Over the past few months I have noticed more and more folks that appear to be among the "homeless population" talking on cell phones. This intrigues me for many reasons.

First, just the practical logistics of buying a cell phone would seem to be insurmountable for a homeless person. How do they pay for it? Where is the bill sent? Of course there are pre-paid phones, like TracFone, that you can buy without an address or a credit card, but even these require you to add air time via land-line phone or internet. But according to a Raleigh, NC paper, "Cell phones are increasingly popular among the Triangle's homeless. With public pay phones quietly disappearing and prices on cell phones dropping, many homeless people say that it just makes sense."

OK, so it makes sense. But is seems to me that if someone who has no home and no address can figure out how to own a cell phone that they should definitely have the ability to find gainful employment and a permanent residence.

Which brings me to the second intriguing thought: Perhaps many of the people that we see on the streets downtown and we label as "homeless" aren't homeless at all. It's difficult to know, really. I remember years ago hearing a rumor that our own Bill Dunn (Aqualung) actually had a mansion on Kanawha Avenue in Kanawha City (the urban legend said that someone followed him for several days until, at last, he parked his shopping cart on the East End, walked across the 35th Street bridge and serruptitiously let himself into the house via the back door). I know of one man named Harry that lives in a group home in Dunbar. I see him walking all over the Kanawha Valley and he can often be found sitting and chatting with the "homeless" folks under the Leon Sullivan Way exit ramp. Most people think he is homeless, but he is most definitely not.

So where do I go from here? Perhaps we should ask people that are truly homeless to identify themselves as such. Perhaps a large red "H" affixed to their clothes would help.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

More Bizarre Cavalierisms

Tony Cavalier said last night that we would be entering a "Goldilocks weather pattern. Not to hot, not too cold, but just right."

An anonymous comment on last week's post reminded me of Tony's oft-used term "scat showers." Sheesh, can you imagine? I think I recall a Stephen King short story to that effect.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

The Shrinking Regatta

Perhaps a metaphor for the entire festival, the once GIANT video screen that flanked the stage at Sternwheel Regatta concerts has shrunk until it's roughly the size of a big screen TV. I recall concerts of the past, like The Beach Boys and Ray Charles, when I was unable to get a clear view of the stage at least I could be sure to see them on the huge video screens. Times, they are a changin'.

This picture was snapped on Sunday evening just before the Charlie Daniels concert, during "Rubber Soul's" performance (which, by the way, if you read about in the Charleston Gazette's review you would have thought was "Windjammer").

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Grand Entrance

This is the beautiful entrance to The Smallridge Building on Quarrier Street. My first job was working for the store that shared the building. The store's entrance was one door east. The store is still in business today in another location on the south side of the river. Anyone know the name of the store?