book reviews, business

Repost: Mary Kay Ash’s story…

Here’s a repost of a review I wrote for Epinions.com in 2007, when I was living on a military installation. I also reposted it on the original OH blog in 2015. It appears here as/is.

Comments from 2015

I am inspired to repost this book review because someone on the Recovery from Mormonism Web site compared the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to being a “Red Jacket” for Mary Kay cosmetics…  If the thought of that intrigues you, I encourage clicking the link and having a look at the thread.  It’s very interesting. 

Incidentally, Bill’s TBM ex wife used to sell Mary Kay.  She bought a shitload of products and started off like gangbusters, but then lost interest at a time when they were seriously low on cash.  They ended up taking a loss, which probably contributed heavily to the sorry financial state Bill was in when we first met.  Not surprisingly, Mary Kay cosmetics, while often decent products, is sort of a cult-like organization.  I have often found multi-level marketing schemes interesting.  Perhaps I will repost a few more book reviews on the subject. 

I wasn’t all that fond of Mary Kay’s writing, but figured I might as well repost the review anyway…

Original review from 2007

Mary Kay cosmetics are everywhere when you live on a military installation. As I drive around Fort Belvoir, I frequently see cars with bumper stickers advertising Mary Kay. Sometimes, I see a home with a sign that indicates that the resident sells the stuff. I’ve never used Mary Kay cosmetics myself, but I have heard about the company from former colleagues and my husband, whose ex wife used to sell Mary Kay. I had heard interesting things about the way the company is run and, I have to admit, I’m fascinated by businesses that use the multi-level marketing model. I also like biographies. All of those factors, plus the fact that Mary Kay Ash’s autobiography, Mary Kay, was priced at a dollar at the thrift shop, led me to read about the lady who started Mary Kay cosmetics and put countless women to work for themselves.

On my copy of Mary Kay, there’s a picture of Mary Kay on the cover. She looks disturbingly like Dolly Parton with perfectly coiffed, big hair, a flawlessly painted face, a beaded gown and rhinestone earrings, and a serene countenance. This book was originally published in 1981, but I have a copy from the third printing in 1994. The picture must be from that time. Mary Kay Ash is no spring chicken, but she looks very pretty and confident in the picture. That makes perfect sense, given the book’s subject matter. Mary Kay Ash has made a big name for herself by promoting a good self-image, high self-esteem, an enthusiastic attitude, and dogged persistence. That’s why the picture on the cover should matter to those who will read this book. In this case, you can judge this book, at least in part, by its cover. 

I suspect that Ash’s audience mostly consists of Mary Kay consultants. Ash’s writing pretty much boils over with bubbly enthusiasm for her company and the products it offers. She starts at the beginning, explaining how she went from being a housewife to an extremely successful businessperson. She explains some of her business practices and how some of her more popular products were developed. All the while, she keeps her message overwhelmingly positive and inspirational. Her message to her readers seems to be that they can accomplish anything. Judging by Mary Kay’s success, lots of beauty consultants have gotten that message loud and clear.

To be totally honest, though, I found this book a bit irritating. Maybe it’s because I’m a pessimist. I just found the high energy, overly effervescent, extremely positive tone in this book hard to take after awhile. I appreciate the fact that Mary Kay Ash made her dream a reality and I agree that a good attitude can carry a person far in life. However, while I think dreams are a wonderful thing, I also think they should be grounded in reality. The truth is, not everyone can cut it in sales. Not everyone has the appropriate personality to deal with people and deliver good customer service all the time. Despite Mary Kay’s overwhelmingly positive message, not everyone who tries to sell her products will be a great success… in fact, not everyone has it in them to be a great success in life. If everyone in life were a great success, people like Mary Kay Ash would be just average folks. 

I don’t know how available this book is nowadays. I would guess that the most likely place to find it is from a Mary Kay consultant or a used book outlet. Mary Kay Ash’s story is inspirational and reasonably well written, but the tone was a bit too chirpy for my taste. I recommend it to people who like very positive stories… otherwise, skip it. 

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book reviews, business

Repost: a review of Freeman Hall’s Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store– Confessions of a Tortured Sales Associate

Here’s a book review I wrote for Epinions in January 2010. I am reposting it as/is.

I once had a stint working as a retail sales associate. Luckily, I worked in a mens’ shirt store, where the customers didn’t tend to be too demanding. I spent about seven months doing that job until I was blessedly delivered from retail hell by a stint in the Peace Corps. I think my little taste of working retail was enough to last me the rest of my life.

Freeman Hall
, author of Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store– Confessions of a Tortured Sales Associate (2009), did not have as much luck as I did breaking away from retail slavery. Hall, who is very much an out of the closet homosexual, writes that he loves stylish clothes. Working in retail was one good way to be able to afford them. After all, the one fabulous perk of working retail is an employee discount. Of course, Freeman Hall never planned to spend years working in retail. His real ambition is to be a screenwriter. But he still has to pay the bills and he wants to look good doing it.

Hall goes to hell

So Freeman Hall heads over to the personnel office of a big department store he refers to as “The Big Fancy”. He is hoping for a job in housewares or maybe men’s clothing. He gets a job selling handbags. Not purses, mind you– Hall explains that the “p-word” is akin to the filthiest expletive at The Big Fancy– but handbags, very expensive designer handbags made by Kate Spade, Coach, and Marc Jacobs, among other big names. These are the kinds of bags that run hundreds or even thousands of dollars. And Freeman, who is the only male sales associate in handbags, gets a commission for every single one he sells.

But– in order to make his commissions, Freeman Hall must deliver excellent customer service to every one of the many different types of strange and difficult people retail stores attract. Hall has all sorts of irreverent names for these people, all of whom are women and regular shoppers at The Big Fancy. There’s the Nasty @$$ Thief, the Snot Monster, Picky B*tch, Discount Rat, and, of course, Shoposaurus Carnotaurus, just to name a few.

Hall must deal with some very distasteful and somewhat shockingly bizarre scenarios, as well as obnoxious co-workers. In one disturbing chapter, he writes about covering someone in the swimwear department while she went on her lunch break. While Freeman and another woman were in swimwear, they were visited by a skinny woman who had taken six swimsuits into a fitting room to try on. Later, the woman came out of the fitting room without her swimsuits. Freeman and his colleague were annoyed, thinking she’d left the suits in a pile on the floor. If only the pile she’d left had been that simple to clean up…

Hall also writes about about the store management’s many wacky ways to keep the associates sales pumping. For instance, Hall explains the eight flights of stairs he and his colleagues must climb and descend before and after every single shift. The eight flights of stairs were a feature at most of The Big Fancy stores in the United States because the store’s founder wanted sales associates to get their exercise. Sometimes management would decorate the stairwell or pipe obnoxious music in it to help the associates gain enthusiasm. They would also hold ridiculous pep rallies in an attempt to boost sales along with attitudes. Apparently, their efforts to boost spirits fell far short of their goals.

My thoughts

I’m of a mixed mind about this book. First off, having once worked retail, I had an inkling about Hall’s experiences, although his were much more bizarre than mine ever were. Some of Freeman Hall’s stories are hilarious and he does have a delightfully snarky way of expressing himself.

On the other hand, some of his descriptions of his customers and co-workers came across to me as very mean spirited. After awhile, that aspect of this book grated on my nerves. Now… don’t get me wrong… I have worked retail and been a waitress. I know how hard it can be to work in a service oriented job, particularly when it involves spending money on luxuries. People can be brutal to sales associates, treating them like slaves and talking to them as if they’re less than human. Oftentimes, managers and co-workers can be just as bad as the customers, making an already stressful work environment even worse.

But there must have been something else attractive about that job besides the employee discounts, because Hall stuck around for a number of years, collecting his anecdotes for this book. He never really explains what it was, besides paying his bills and buying designer clothes, that made him sell handbags for as long as he did. I guess, in a way, this book is sort of like the ultimate payback for the way Hall was treated as a retail slave. I guess I can’t really blame him for writing this book, which is sort of a retail version of Waiter Rant a book I recently read by Steve Dublanica.

I predict that a lot of people who have worked retail will relate to this book and laugh out loud reading it. I also predict some people will get tired of the endless carping jokes and wish for a little more humanity. After all, while a lot of us have worked in retail, almost all of us have shopped retail. As I read this book, I sort of cringed, wondering if I had ever inspired a retail worker to come up with a mean spirited nickname for me. I also wondered, in the wake of Hall’s often very snarky rants, why I should feel sorry for him, especially given the fact that so many Americans would love to have a job… any job.  And lots of people in retail would love to have a customer… any customer.

Overall

I did like this book, but I can’t say I loved it. Maybe I’m just getting too old to read stuff like this. I probably would have loved reading this when I was still in my 20s. Freeman Hall has a gift for storytelling and some of his descriptions are hilarious. I could practically hear him talking through his very colorful words and vivid depictions. But in the end, I think I was overcome by the constant crassness, which is why this book gets four stars instead of five. My mother would be so proud to finally see this day come.

And here is a link to Retail Hell Underground, a place where there are many hellish stories about life working in retail.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on items purchased through my site.

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business, complaints, money

It’s really not that simple, cuz– or, my husband invested in me and it paid off.

Yesterday, I ran across the below political cartoon. It was shared by my very conservative cousin from Georgia. Actually, he’s from Virginia like I am, but he’s lived in Georgia for decades. Anyway…

This is a rather simplistic cartoon. I was tempted to leave him a comment, but decided not to, since his sister is being memorialized today.

Full disclosure. I have actually paid off my student loans. They were paid off about nine years early, back in 2018. I was originally scheduled to be finished to be finished paying in 2027. I made paying the student loans off a priority, and I am fortunate enough to be married to an extremely kind, generous, and cooperative man who was alright with helping me (a whole lot) in my quest to lose this obligation that hung over my head for so many years.

My mother had saved some money for me to attend Longwood University (then Longwood College), and I also worked during the summers. I still left my undergraduate career with Stafford loans, some subsidized and some unsubsidized. I think I borrowed about $10-$12K, but I’m not altogether sure of the total amount. I remember my parents were thrilled when I got the financial aid during my junior year. It was, and still is, a state supported school, but the price of attending rose significantly when I was attending in the 1990s. That school is also in a rural part of Virginia, where jobs in town were relatively scarce, and employers didn’t want to hire people who weren’t staying there year round. I didn’t qualify for enough work study to make that a viable option for me at the college.

Nevertheless, when it was time to graduate, I attended the mandatory video session during which I was reminded that I had taken out loans and they would need to be repaid. And after graduation, I paid every month on time and in full, although again, it was with help from others that I was able to do that. I was lucky enough to be living at home rent free.

After my first year post graduation, I joined the Peace Corps. In those days, it was possible to defer student loans. I did defer, but also arranged to send $30 per month of my readjustment allowance (then about $200 a month, I think) to defray the cost of interest on the unsubsidized loans. When I finished my service, I worked for a couple of years and paid on my loans– I think it was about $125 a month.

Two years after I came home from Armenia, I decided to attend graduate school. Because I would be going to graduate school, I was again able to defer my student loans. I was also able to take out more loans, which I did. Although I attended the University of South Carolina, which was out of state for me, after my first semester, I was able to land a job as a graduate assistant at South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC). That gig didn’t pay well, but it did reduce my tuition to about 20% of the IN STATE rate– a HUGE savings. I also had a part time job on weekends and some evenings. Still, I needed loans, and when all was said and done, I graduated with two more degrees and five figures of debt, courtesy of my Stafford and Perkins loans.

About two months after I graduated from the University of South Carolina, I decided to consolidate my loans. Doing that took me out of my “grace” period, but locked in a 3.75% interest rate. I’m not sure what today’s rates are, but I bet they aren’t that low. I’ll also bet that today’s students, particularly during the pandemic, don’t have as much ease in finding well paying jobs, which even twenty years ago wasn’t that easy. Anyway, when all was said and done, I had borrowed $57,000 for all of my education– that’s for all three degrees. Even in the early 00s, that wasn’t too bad for all I managed to get. But it was still a lot of money for me. I wasn’t sure how I would repay it, even though I had fully intended and expected to find a good job.

Well… as you can see, I didn’t set any records on fire in the employment world. As I mentioned in the previous paragraphs, I was very fortunate in that I met and married Bill, who is an unusually empathetic and cooperative person. And once we were married, he was willing to help me pay for my loans. I started off paying $180 a month, which pretty much only covered interest and a tiny amount of the principal. At the time, we didn’t have much extra money because Bill was paying child support for three children and recovering from the financial disasters wrought during his first marriage. I was also trying to find work, but was unsuccessful.

I paid that same paltry amount for five years, until Bill went to Iraq and got a temporary salary boost. While he was deployed to Iraq, I used the extra money to pay off his credit cards in full. I also started paying extra toward my student loans. It wasn’t much at first– just $20 a month. Within six months, I was a full payment ahead. Slowly but surely, I added more money to the extra I was paying. It got to the point at which I started getting letters from my creditor telling me I didn’t need to pay. But I kept paying more and more until I was years ahead of schedule. And in 2018, when I was down to owing about $2000, I paid it off in one fell swoop. Put this in perspective– even after years of paying more toward my loans than I had to, when we moved to Germany in 2014, I still owed $40,000 on my student loans. By 2018, I owed nothing.

It seems crazy that I was able to do this. Looking back on it, it seems highly unlikely that I could have, if things had been any different than they were. If I hadn’t married Bill (who had a pretty checkered financial history– common sense should have told me not to marry him– in this case, I’m glad my heart won over my brain)… If I had had children (expensive even if they’re completely healthy)… If we had gone through infertility treatment or pursued adoption… If my parents hadn’t been self-sufficient… If we hadn’t stayed healthy… If Bill hadn’t been able to stay well-employed… If we’d had huge legal fees due to Bill’s ex wife and kids… If we had bought a home… If I had gone to a more expensive school… If I had dropped out or took longer than scheduled… If I had had a higher interest rate… If I had borrowed from private lenders… I also made a determination that I would pay off those student loans first, because they can’t be discharged in a bankruptcy and I didn’t want to have them hanging over my head if disaster struck.

Everybody’s situation is different. Yes, paying back loans is an obligation. However, I think today’s students have gotten a pretty raw deal. For one thing, even if a person chooses to attend a state supported college, states are not contributing as much money to higher education as they once did. That’s been the case for years. I remember one year when I was still at UofSC, tuition went up 15% because the state didn’t contribute as much. Tuition never seems to go down, either. For another thing, college has been vastly oversold, making degrees less valuable than they might have been. Not everyone should attend college. Some people aren’t ready to go. Some people aren’t academically inclined and should pursue a field that is more technical. But college should not just be reserved for the privileged who are lucky enough to be able to afford it due to the circumstances of their birth. It should be a place where academically talented people can go to build their skills in whatever field they want to pursue.

One of the comments I noticed on my cousin’s post was about how some degrees are “worthless”. It always bothers me when people scoff at any academic field. Maybe you don’t think a degree in women’s studies is useful, but it’s useful enough that people who have studied it have been able to get jobs teaching it, researching it, writing books about it, or even making fun of it. I know many people think the arts are “worthless” pursuits. I heartily disagree with that. I was friends with many music majors when I was in school. They were among some of the most talented, hardworking people I knew in college. They had to be hard workers, since they took so many one credit courses that met three times a week. Moreover, the arts make the world a better place to be. And ditto to those who think English is a worthless degree. Being able to write, think critically, read carefully, and speak the language coherently are vital skills that are lacking in many people. If you don’t believe me, hang out on social media for awhile.

I also think people should be careful when they dismiss the pursuit of certain occupations as a waste of time. Everyone is unique, and we all have different skills and talents. One could argue with me that I should have studied accounting because it’s a well-paying field. But I am not good with numbers and I’m not particularly detail oriented. I would have struggled in an accounting degree program and probably would have hated the job. That would have made me a mediocre and probably unsuccessful accountant. And that would also make me a lot less employable. I am, however, really good at music and writing. I would stand a much better chance of being gainfully and successfully employed in jobs that use those skills and talents, even if there aren’t as many lucrative jobs. The world doesn’t need any more shitty accountants. And maybe the world doesn’t any more writers or singers… but at least I do those things reasonably well and enjoy the work. Those skills and the personal qualities affiliated with them can also transfer to other jobs.

I will agree, however, that too many people choose to go to college when it’s not a suitable choice for them. And there are cheaper ways to get a degree, too. A lot of people are overly concerned about going to “prestigious” schools, when a state supported school or even community college would suit them fine. Lots of people get college education through the military. That’s what Bill did– all three of his degrees came from private schools and were mostly paid for through scholarships and his G.I. Bill. He even has some money left of his G.I. Bill. These are topics that are worth discussing, especially with people still in high school. BUT– I also think the government should take steps to reduce the cost of college and relieve some of the debt burdens on young people.

I am 48 years old. I finished paying student loans in 2018. I expected to be paying until I was in my 50s. I don’t have any children. One of my parents is dead, but the other is in her 80s. She is, thankfully, reasonably healthy and very self-sufficient, and I also have sisters. But what if I was having to pay my loans, support children, and pay for a nursing home for my mom? What if I also had a mortgage to pay? What if I also had a chronic health issue that wasn’t covered by health insurance? What if I didn’t have health insurance? Or… what if I had a financial setback that led to being late on a bunch of bills? When Bill and I first got married, he was recovering from foreclosure and bankruptcy brought on by his ex wife’s irresponsible spending and his failure to take control of his finances. It took years of effort to climb out of that hole. It took a lot of work. Fortunately, we weren’t distracted by the misfortunes that befall so many people. We were VERY lucky. I was especially lucky. I hit the husband lottery.

Anyway, what I’m saying is that it’s not as simple as borrowing money and paying it back. Yes, I agree that repaying loans is a responsibility. But the cost of education should not be so heavy that young people are saddled with debts that make it difficult or impossible for them to ever get out from under the burden. And we need to do a better job of teaching young people about alternatives to college and encouraging them to take them. There should be no stigma toward those who choose a different path.

This morning, as Bill and I were talking about this, I looked at our investments, which I started doing on a very small scale back in 2012. I think I initially invested about $1000. Well, that amount has grown almost 50 times– before long, we will have investments that will total in value as much as that initial consolidated loan was in 2002. Without me, Bill wouldn’t have that money, because it never occurred to him to invest. He knew nothing about it and had neither the time nor inclination to learn. So I like to think of that as paying him back somehow… although he says that having me around is payment enough. See? I hit the husband jackpot! 😉 Perhaps I should think of it as Bill investing in me and getting a return.

P.S.– I made another song…

This is dedicated to the three relatives who are gone… and those who have been kind enough to help us grieve.

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business, condescending twatbags, healthcare, Trump

The businessman’s COVID-19 lament…

I could write about a couple of topics this morning. I might even do just that, since it’s a rainy Sunday and I can’t think of anything I’d like to do today outside of the house. I spent a good portion of yesterday working on my latest jigsaw puzzle, which will probably be finished faster than the last two I’ve done. For some reason, it’s not as hard as the others have been, even though it’s 1000 pieces.

Anyway… I know people are probably tired of COVID-19 and politics, but I’m going to go there again today, mainly because I read a sad story in the Washington Post this morning. It was a businessman’s lament. The article, entitled ‘It’s like Trump said: The cure has been worse than the disease.’ kind of gave me more of an insight as to why so many people think Trump is “good” for them, despite all of his obvious shortcomings as a human being.

Mike Fratantuono is the manager of Sunset Restaurant in Glen Burnie, Maryland. He says that before COVID-19 struck, the restaurant was going to celebrate 60 years in business. Sixty years in business is a big deal, and that business has sustained four generations. But come September 30, 2020, it will cease to operate, mainly because it couldn’t survive COVID-19.

I know what a lot of people are thinking about the businessman’s lament. They’ve clearly expressed it in self-righteous and snarky tones in the comment section on Facebook. Lots of people have dismissed Mike’s sadness about losing the business, reminding him that people are dying and a restaurant is not worth more than a single human life.

I guess I see this situation differently, though, because my parents were small business owners. My dad ran a custom picture framing shop and an art gallery out of our home. My mom sold knitting and needlework supplies and she taught countless people how to do needle crafts (although she never taught me). They were valued contributors to the community. I grew up with so many people coming into our house to buy yarn or look at the latest print by local artists John Barber or P. Buckley Moss.

My parents worked very hard to run that business for over 25 years. Along with my dad’s Air Force retirement pay and my mom’s organist money, that business sustained them and me, when I was still a minor. In fact, I am a rare individual in that I grew up with total access to BOTH of my parents. They worked out of our home every day, so I was never a latchkey kid. I didn’t always appreciate having so much access to my parents, especially since they weren’t really all that into being parents. But it was a unique way to grow up. They were always there, and unlike a lot of my peers, I didn’t have any stepparents , step-siblings, or half-siblings. My parents were married for 56 years. My mom sold the business to a woman who went to work for my dad in 1989, and now she’s continuing the legacy, albeit without Mom’s needlework and knitting shop.

It’s true that businesses can be rebuilt, but if you’ve never built one and watched it flourish, you might not have any idea of how much it hurts to helplessly watch it fail, especially when it’s due to something completely beyond your control. Maybe some readers think Mike Fratantuono is “callous” for being so upset about losing the family business. But I think people should listen to him, because his words illustrate why so many folks are still voting for Donald Trump, despite the fact that Trump is an obvious sleaze. Trump gives businesspeople hope that their dreams, along with the hard work and money it takes to make them come to fruition, won’t be dashed. Trump’s words soothe their fears about the future. Maybe most of what Trump says is factually wrong or outright lies, but his words give business owners hope.

Now… personally, I am much more concerned about human rights and decency than I am the economy, and that is why I would never vote for Donald Trump. But I’m not blind to the concerns of people who are worried about business and the economy. Unfortunately, people still have to make ends meet, even if there is a pandemic going on. Bills have to be paid, even if a business isn’t allowed to operate because of a pandemic.

When a business like the Sunset Restaurant fails, it’s not just a tragedy for the people who built it. It also affects the many people who work there or supply goods and services to the restaurant. It affects the community, because without that business, there will be fewer taxes paid. And there will be people who need help to survive. Every time a business dies, more people will need help. They become food insecure, unable to purchase medicines, seek medical care, or pay their mortgages. They can’t afford things like the Internet, so their kids can attend school at home… if they still manage to keep their homes.

It’s easy to tell these folks to “buck up” and rebuild. It’s hard for them to do it. They deserve empathy, too.

Trump has done precious little to help people weather the storm of the pandemic. There was a $1200 stimulus check and some temporary aid. Other than that, zilch. I wish Trump supporters would see that they should be getting more help from the government, especially since the pandemic is no one’s fault. Sometimes people do need help, and our government should be providing it, to some extent. It’s not just to help individuals; it’s to help the country survive. Many times, people end up in bad situations through no fault of their own. The pandemic is one such situation that was not caused by anyone in particular, but it affects everyone.

I do think it’s too bad that people who are commenting on Mike’s plight apparently have no regard for what he and his family have lost. I think people on both sides of the political spectrum are seriously lacking in empathy. Of course it’s terrible to lose friends and family members to COVID-19. But it’s also terrible to lose them for other reasons, like untreated diseases for want of the money to pay for doctors and medications, or suicide due to the despair of losing one’s livelihood. Moreover, COVID-19 has had a terrible effect on the quality of life for a lot of people, and those who are indignantly calling out Mike for his businessman’s lament should stop and think about that. Not everyone can weather COVID-19 with friends and family, living in a comfortable home. Some people can barely stand to be at home, even if it’s a comfortable place to be. We all have different ways of coping with the pandemic and some of us are more successful at coping than others are.

It’s not lost on me that Bill and I have been very lucky. His work hasn’t yet been threatened, and we live in a country where there are safety nets for people who need assistance. Medical care is not extremely expensive here, as it is in the United States, and people have maintained a reasonable and respectful attitude about containing COVID-19. In the United States, I’m seeing a lot of polarization, and not too many people in the happy medium. Or, if they do exist, they aren’t speaking up.

We have people who think it’s reasonable for a woman to be tased for not wearing a face mask while she was sitting outside, distanced from other people at her son’s football game. And we have people who insist that COVID-19 is a hoax brought about entirely for political reasons, to topple Trump’s re-election. We have people saying that we should all quit practicing any precautions against the virus because it’s ruining businesses and spoiling everyone’s fun. And we have people who think those who are legitimately depressed because they’ve lost their jobs or watched their businesses crumble should just get over themselves and stop complaining because at least no one died (yet).

I think it’s completely reasonable for businesspeople to lament right now. It’s as reasonable for them to be upset as it is for family and friends of someone to mourn death caused by COVID-19. It affects everyone, doesn’t discriminate, and has changed everything in less than a year. That’s a lot for anyone to handle. We should all have more compassion and empathy for each other, and we should then work together and be understanding as we all try to navigate dealing with the virus… and Trump’s “leadership”.

Anyway… I hope Mike and his co-workers and family members can recover after this great setback. Sixty years in business is an amazing achievement. I have empathy for them, because losing a business is a difficult thing. For some people, it’s every bit as traumatic as losing a loved one is. Hell, I felt a great loss last year when I moved my blog and basically started over… however, I will admit that I think the new blog is better for a lot of reasons. At least now, most of the people who read and comment are here because they’re genuinely interested.

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