Thursday, February 15, 2018

Uber stories

So it's occurred to me that maybe I should start writing down some of my Uber "moments." You know, significant events, interesting riders, strange happenings and whatnot, while driving for Uber.

I signed up as a driver around the middle of November 2017, however it wasn't until the beginning of this year that I took it very seriously. And I use the term 'seriously' seriously loose. My present goal is to make at least $100 a week. I usually do that in 2-3 days of driving, mostly during the day. I would likely make more money if I drove on Friday and Saturday nights, but I'm not sure I'm ready to go there.

I had my 100th ride just last week. I was driving Friday night while Jane was at a church event. My last ride of the evening was for three young women going to the "gay bar." They were feeling no pain when I picked them up, and one in particular was trying to make it as obvious as possible she was a lesbian (um, and it was already fairly obvious). But this was not only my 100th fare, but what was more interesting was that the address they had was for where the gay bar USED to be. I drove to the abandoned building fitting the address they gave me, asked where it was they were wanting to do, and I was like, "Oh, well I know right where that is." Fort Wayne doesn't exactly have a lot of known gay bars, but they thought it was funny that the Uber driver knew where it was. Whatever. They were fun, and it was a memorable 100th ride.

I also had my 50th 5-Star ride last week. I've only had one rider that gave me less than five starts (four), and most - apparently about half - don't bother to give a rating at all. It's ironic because drivers have to rate every rider, but riders don't have to rate drivers. Whatever. I'm not sure what significance it carries, if any, but I'm sure it doesn't hurt to have a higher rating.

I would say the most interesting rider I've had (or at least most well-known) was probably the time I picked up one of the singers for Trans Siberian Orchestra. I believe it was Kayla Reeves. She/they were staying at a downtown hotel the day before their show in town, and I gave her a ride to a tanning salon. She did not look like she does in her pics - I think she had on sweats and her hair was pulled back - but she was very nice. The way I found out she was a singer was because when she got in the car she sounded somewhat hoarse, like she had a cold. I offered her a cough drop and she said her voice was always like that because she was a singer (plus she had just woke up). I asked who she sang with and she told me. She said she was known more as the "rocker" girl. Of course I messed something up on the app about halfway to her destination and it shut it off, so she got an extra cheap ride. I hadn't been driving very long at the time. Anyway, that's about the extent of it.

I suppose there have been a few quasi-interesting riders, but no one too our of the ordinary. Two of the more memorable ones were: The first night I drove late I got a request to pick a guy up in the Motel 6 parking lot (by the truck stop). I then dropped him off in the parking lot of the Rang Dong Asian grocery store. This was probably around midnight, so it just seemed a little strange.

The other 'character' I remember was the lady from Canada. She was staying with her son and for some reason decided she just needed to go to a hotel during the middle of the day. She couldn't remember the name of it, but my app took us to a Comfort Suites. She didn't think that was it, and they didn't have a reservation for her. So we went to another hotel and she didn't have a reservation there either but just booked a room. Then she tipped me with a $10 Canadian bill. She thought my grandkids would like it. It was very pretty, but it would cost me more to change it into usable money that it's worth, so it's basically just a piece of paper to me. She seemed a little on the eccentric and strange side.

I'm sure there have been more things I should have written down but they've been replaced in the memory banks already. Most of my pick-ups are either to or from the airport, people needing a ride to or from work, or the grocery store, or out to eat, and that sort of thing. Some sit in front, some in back, and it doesn't seem to matter if it's male or female, young or old.

So, that's about all I've got for now. I will try to do a better job of posting things as they occur in the future. Mostly it's pretty boring though.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Carwash crazy

It's not quite 'workin at the carwash'... but I signed up for one of those unlimited carwash deals the other day. It was a combination of things. For starters, what with all the salt and chemicals they put on the roads it is darn near impossible to keep a car clean right now. Car cleanliness is also fairly important for Uber drivers - if you care at all about your ratings and/or your riders. Plus, and this was maybe the kicker, a new carwash just opened and the first month of unlimited washes is only $15 (with a 3-month commitment).

So I signed up for the Premier package at The Tube Car Wash. This will get me as many washes as I want that includes:
Advanced Wash Technology PLUS:
Rain-X® Repellent
Tire Shine
Armor All® Clear Coat
Wheel Bright

I figured if I'm making this kind of investment (for no more than 3 months), I'm not going with the express package. And it was only $10 more over 3 months to add the tire shine and rain-x repellent to the deluxe package. They also have a really nice vacuum system for the inside that is free. The downside is they only have one location (W. Illinois Rd) compared to Mike's Carwash, but it's hard to beat that introductory special.

Once the weather clears up and the roads are no longer caked with salt I will likely go back to hand washing at home. Until then, though, I will probably take my car through The Tube 8-10 times a week. The first day I signed up I washed it twice!

I suppose this is an added benefit to driving for Uber: I make it a point to keep my car cleaner. Yet I am also a tad flummoxed that I've now become one of "those" people. Oh well. Call me crazy. Carwash crazy, that is!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Quotes for mindfulness

I finished reading through Carol Kelly-Gangi's nice little book "Quotes for Mindfulness: Timeless Wisdom For the Modern World." Though mindfulness is a practice rooted in Buddhism, it is not specific to it. The book contains quotes from a broad spectrum of people of faith - from Gandhi to Mother Teresa, the Pope, Oprah Winfrey, and even the Christian Bible.

Basically the book is a collection of quotes grouped into different categories. I liked using it as a devotional guide each morning, reading through one chapter of quotes on a specific topic each day. I always found at least one quote to center my thoughts around as a sort of guidepost for the day.

Below are some of the quotes I highlighted while reading, if for no other reason than to have them written down for later remembering. If you're reading here, feel free to contemplate and meditate upon them as well - though there are many more in the book that I did not include here.


"Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, no-judgmentally." ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn 
"Mindfulness is often spoken about as the heart of Buddhist meditation. It's not about Buddhism, but about paying attention. That's what all meditation is, no matter what tradition or particular technique is used." ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

"Nothing is worth more than this day." ~ Seneca

"Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; live the actual moment. Only this moment is life." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh 
"Living in the present moment creates the experience of eternity." ~ Deepak Chopra

"If you look into your own heart, and you find nothing wrong there, what is there to worry about? What is there to fear?" ~ Confucius 
"The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another." ~ William James 
"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves." ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

"Between stimulus and response there is a space, and in that space lies our power and our freedom." ~ Viktor E. Frankl 
"Silence is the universal refuge, the sequel to all dull discourses and all foolish acts, a balm to our every chagrin, as welcome after satiety as after disappointment." ~ Henry David Thoreau 
"If there is to be any peace it will come through being, not having." ~ Henry Miller 
"With all the demands places on our time and energy by the world around us, it might seem counterintuitive to think that seeking stillness, rather than picking up the pace, is the key to become better people, friends, citizens of the world, and business-people." ~ Russell Simmons 
"Meditation is not a way of making your mind quiet. It's a way of entering into the quiet that's already there - buried under the 50,000 thoughts the average person thinks every day." ~ Deepak Chopra 
"Meditation practice isn't about trying to throw ourselves away and become something better. It's about befriending who we are already." ~ Pema Chodron 
"Peace is joy at rest and joy is peace on its feet." ~ Anne Lamott

"I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind. I should not be ungrateful to these teachers." ~ Kahlil Gibran 
"When you discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough to make room for it in your life." ~ Jean Shinoda Bolen

"How many things are there which I do not want." ~ Socrates 
"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." ~ William Morris 
"How many things can I do without?" ~ Socrates 
"Besides the noble are of getting things done, there is the noble art of leaving things undone. The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of nonessentials." ~ Lin Yutang 
"Beware the barrenness of a busy life." ~ Socrates

"The supreme happiness of life is the conviction of being loved for yourself, or, more correctly speaking, loved in spite of yourself." ~ Victor Hugo 
"Love is not about possession. Love is about appreciation." ~ Osho 
"Love is how you stay alive, even after you are gone." ~ Mitch Albom 
"Perfect love means putting up with people's shortcomings, feeling no surprise at their weaknesses, finding encouragement even in the slightest of good qualities in them." ~ St. Therese of Lisieux 
"My feelings of love may be unbounded, but my capacity to be loving is limited. I therefore must choose the person on whom to focus my capacity to live, toward whom to direct my will to love. True love is not a feeling by which we are overwhelmed. It is a committed, thoughtful decision." ~ M. Scott Peck 
"The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them; that's the essence of inhumanity." ~ George Bernard Shaw 
"The little unremembered acts of kindness and love are the best parts of a person's life." ~ William Wordsworth 
"What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?" ~ George Eliot 
"One kind word can warm three winter months." ~ Japanese proverb
"Compassionate people are geniuses in the art of living, more necessary to the dignity, security, and joy of humanity than the discoverers of knowledge." ~ Albert Einstein 
"Let us not underestimate how hard it is to be compassionate. Compassion is hard because it requires the inner disposition to go with others to places where they are weak, vulnerable, lonely, and broken. But this is not our spontaneous response to suffering. What we desire most is to do away with suffering by fleeing from it or finding a quick cure for it." ~ Henri Nouwen 
"To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless." ~ G.K. Chesterton 
"Nothing I accept about myself can be used against me to diminish me." ~ Audre Lorde 
"Only by learning to live in harmony with your contradictions can you keep it all afloat." ~ Audre Lorde 
"The practice of forgiveness is our most important contribution to the healing of the world." ~ Marianne Williamson

"Do anything, but let it produce joy." ~ Walt Whitman 
"There is a very simple secret to being happy. Just cease your demand on this moment." ~ Buddha 
"Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing." ~ William Butler Yeats 
"You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life." ~ Albert Camus 
"The summit of happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is." ~ Erasmus 
"The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet." ~ James Oppenheim

"Parents must provide not only outer warmth for their child but also inner warmth. They must create an atmosphere with a sense of security in which the child feels love and acceptance." ~ Dalai Lama 
"Respect the child. Be not too much his parent. Trespass not on his solitude." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson 
"Don't smother each other. No one can grow in the shade." ~ Leo Buscaglia
"There's only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have for our children, for our families, for each other. The warmth of a small child's embrace, that is true." ~ Barack Obama 
"Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend." ~ Albert Camus

"My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure." ~ Abraham Lincoln 
"A man who has committed a mistake and doesn't correct it is committing another mistake." ~ Confucius 
"Inside of a ring or not, ain't nothing wrong with going down. It's staying down that's wrong." ~ Muhammad Ali

"When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That's the message he is sending." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh 
"If all misfortunes were laid in one common heap whence everyone must take an equal portion, most people would be contented to take their own and depart." ~ Socrates 
"The world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it." ~ Helen Keller 
"You are not your illness. You have an individual story to tell. You have a name, a history, a personality. Staying yourself is part of the battle." ~ Julian Seifter 
"I do not believe that sheer suffering teaches. If suffering alone taught, all the world would be wise, since everyone suffers. To suffering must be added mourning, understanding, patience, love, openness and the willingness to remain vulnerable." ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh 
"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I'll try again tomorrow." ~ Mary Anne Radmacher 
"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places." ~ Ernest Hemingway 
"It isn't for the moment you are stuck that you need courage, but for the long uphill climb back to sanity and faith and security." ~ Anne Morrow Lindbergh

"Abundance is not something we acquire. It is something we tune into." ~ Wayne Dyer 
"We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude." ~ Cynthia Ozick 
"The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don't wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope." ~ Barack Obama

"You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche 
"One of the first things to learn if you want to be a contemplative is to mind your own business. Nothing is more suspicious, in a man who seems holy, than an impatient desire to reform other men." ~ Thomas Merton 
"Whenever you're in conflict with someone, there is one factor that can make the difference between damaging your relationship and deepening it. That factor is attitude." ~ William James

"Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet." ~ Bob Marley 
"Truly, we live with mysteries too marvelous
to be understood...
Let me keep my distance, always from those
who think they have the answers.
Let me keep company always with those who say
"Look!" and laugh in astonishment,
and bow their heads." ~ Mary Oliver
"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." ~ Albert Einstein

"An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day." ~ Henry David Thoreau

"We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience." ~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin 
"That is the religious experience: the astonishment of meeting someone who is waiting for you." ~ Pope Francis 
"Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes." ~ Alan Watts 
"Faith does not contradict reason but transcends it." ~ Mahatma Gandhi 
"To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible." ~ St. Thomas Aquinas 
"Doubt isn't the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith." ~ Paul Tillich 
"Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step." ~ Martin Luther King Jr. 
"Praying is not asking. It is a longing of the soul." ~ Mahatma Gandhi 
"God speaks in the silence of the heart. Listening is the beginning of prayer." ~ Mother Teresa

"Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer." ~ Henry David Thoreau 
"Experience life in all possible ways - good/bad, bitter/sweet, dark/light, summer/winter. Experience all the dualities. Don't be afraid of experience, because the more experience you have, the more mature you become." ~ Osho 
"How can you know what you're capable of if you don't embrace the unknown?" Esmeralda Santiago 
"We do the best we can with what we have and when we know better, we do better." ~ Maya Angelou 
"Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself." ~ Rumi

"All of man's difficulties are caused by his inability to sit, quietly, in a room by himself." ~ Blaise Pascal 
"You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day -- unless you are too busy -- then you should sit for an hour." ~ Buddhist proverb 
"Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward." ~ Soren Kierkegaard 
"We do not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the short for a very long time." ~ Andre Gide 
"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." ~ Anne Frank 
"You don't get to choose how you're going to die. Or when. You can only decide how your'e going to live. Now." ~ Joan Baez 
"There is more to life than increasing its speed." ~ Mahatma Gandhi

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Customer service models: heart & learn

I picked up an Uber rider last night and they had apparently just had a job interview. She was on the phone with what sounded like her spouse or significant other and was sharing how it went. I wasn't really paying attention, but I did hear her mention that they used the customer service acronym L.E.A.R.N. and she was familiar with H.E.A.R.T. This sort of intrigued me so this morning I did a brief google wander.

I happened upon the Cleveland Metro Schools customer service department and found it quite interesting. They utilize this approach:

S.T.A.R.T. with Heart®

Upfront Customer Experience Model
mile and greet warmly
ell your name, role and what to expect
ctive listening and assist
apport and relationship building
hank the person 

Respond with H.E.A.R.T.

Experience Recovery Model
H ear
E mphatize
A pologize (some others use "Assess")
R espond
T hank the person

I like that. I dug a little deeper and found these two more detailed explanations:
Post this acronym by your office phones to remind employees how to effectively deal with customer complaints:
H ~ Hear the customer. Take time to really listen to his or her gripe. Many times, the customer just needs to vent. Sometimes, he or she will work out a solution in the telling of the tale. Jumping in with a solution or counterargument before your client has finished complaining makes him or her feel you have not listened and fully understood the problem.
E ~ Empathize. Famous psychologist Carl Rogers perfected the art of the “say back” technique in conflict. After listening carefully, “say back” what your client has told you in terms he or she will agree to, and offer your empathy or condolences. This affirms that you have listened carefully and that you take the customer’s feelings and frustrations seriously. Assure the client you want to remedy the situation. For example, “I understand, Mrs. Johnson, that you are upset because you ordered 12 gizmos and only 11 arrived. I agree, that is very frustrating. I assure you I’ll do everything possible to make this right for you.”
A ~ Agree on a solution. Stay calm and keep your vocal inflections positive and the customer will usually settle down and be ready to work out a solution. Besides remedying the current situation, offer a freebie, a do-over, a discount, or a credit towards another purchase. 70% of complaining customers will do business with you a second time when you deal with the problem and offer them some compensation for their trouble.
R ~ Relationship build by thanking and following up. Oftentimes, a negative experience that a customer has with your business can be salvaged and turned into an opportunity to win them over for life. Thank the client for drawing your attention to the problem, explaining that he or she has given you valuable insight into how to better serve all customers in the future. If appropriate, follow-up by phone or email within a few days to see how the solution is working out.
T ~ Think as a team. Don’t cease to talk about the complaint once you have hung up the phone with your client. Share the issue in team meetings and make changes or adjustments in company policies or customer service where needed. Learn from the experience, and improve!

H = Help and Hear - You are there to Help the customer. Plain and simple. And the first (and most important) thing you do is listen. Hear the customer fully before responding. This may be the toughest part of listening. We have to make the choice to listen, especially when we are busy, preoccupied, stressed, and distracted. When you focus on the Other, pay attention to What is being said, as well as What is not being said. This includes the non-verbal signs the person is displaying, plus their feelings and tone of voice.
E = Empathy - The customer has come to you with a need, a question, a problem. Empathize with their feelings and point of view. Empathy doesn't mean agreement. It means trying to see (and feel) what the Other Person is going through. 
A = Assess the situation - Analyze what the customer is saying. Ask questions to find out: What is the problem? What does he/she need from me? Apologize as necessary.
R = Respond - Once you get what the customer needs, Respond so they know the action you are going to take. Let them know what to expect next.
T = Take action - Do what you said you would do. Then, if the situation calls for it, follow up later to see where things stand.

In addition to H.E.A.R.T. I also like the L.E.A.R.N. model:
Listen – Listen to what the customer has to say identifying the problem. 
Empathize – Empathize with the situation. 
Apologize – Apologize. 
React by giving an efficient solution. 
Notify – Notify the rest of the team about the problem so that can follow-up with the customer.

I'm not sure why this interested me, nor why I took the time to look into it, but if you need a little customer service crash-course... there ya go!

Thursday, February 01, 2018

A whole 30 (without drinking)

Jane and I (and daughter Carrie) did the 'Whole 30 Program' during the month of January. Jane and Carrie were likely pretty strict about it. I basically just ate whatever Jane prepared for me, so mine was probably more of a "modified" version. I still put an occasional honey and milk in my tea and had some non-fat Greek yogurt now and then. The big thing for me, though, was NO DRINKING OF ALCOHOL for the entire month! And, actually, it's been over a month since I've had a beer (I was taking daily shot(s) of whisky around Christmas-New Years while I was sick).

As far as the food part, I think the Whole 30 is pretty good (tasty). There aren't many things we have to do without as part of our daily diet, and you can eat as much as you want. So my/our diet doesn't change that much. Jane is great at making a variety of great-tasting meals - many of which she found in the whole 30 cookbook - and there was never any deprivation food-wise. I'm a big fan of veggies anyway!

Again, the biggest difference for me/us, was alcohol. Not that it should take a special meal program for us to change our drinking habits..... but it certainly doesn't hurt. We actually gave up drinking for Lent last year, and Jane did a whole 30 late last year as well (I did the eating part but didn't give up the drinking).

So, not only did I lose some weight this month (I'm down to 160 - could stand to lose another 5-10 lbs), but I feel great mentally and physically as well. I like not drinking. Not that I don't also like having an occasional beer, glass of wine, or nightly nip, but my mind simply works better when it's clear and I have more energy. I also tend to like myself more as a sober person.

I could probably go without alcohol altogether if not for the occasional social encounter. However, being someone who struggles with addictive behaviors, even social drinking is sometimes difficult for me. So I'm going to play this by ear for awhile. As of right now I have no desire to drink whatsoever.

So, that's that. I don't really know what I weighed at the start. I'd guess I maybe lost not quite 10 lbs - and over the holidays even - so I'm happy about that. 160 actually feels pretty good on me. I had to switch back to my 30x30 jeans (when I actually wear something other than sweat pants). I could live at this weight, but I could also still stand to get rid of the remaining ripple of this spare tire around my midsection. 150 is ideal; 155 is probably a little more realistic. We will see.

I guess I would consider myself a fan of the Whole 30. It doesn't seem like a diet at all to me (and maybe it's not), and the food is actually really good. And that's about all I know...