Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Daily Victories: It Takes Neighbors

This week, we got the bad guy. 

A patron reported to one of our managers there was a suspicious person looking in car windows in our lot.  It's a big lot--close to 3,000 spaces.  So, you can imagine that a lot of people might wander around a bit after they've misplaced their car.  Still, we checked it out.  Sure enough, this young man was weaving through aisles, peaking in windows, ducking down for a minute or two and walking quickly in the other direction when he saw us watching him. 

He moved his car one aisle over, driving about two miles an hour...slow enough that it catches your attention even in a parking lot.  He probably figured that I couldn't see him...magic cloak of invisibility once he got in his car.

We called the police department, which I'd like to say that our PD is awesome.  They're always polite, professional and respond to problems in a reasonable amount of time, considering the size of the city. 

Mr. I'm Not Acting Weird bolted a few seconds before the cruiser arrived.  But they did notice his little red car careening out of the lot and wandered off to stop him after getting a few details from me and my manager.

The next day, the officers stopped by to tell me the perp ran away.  But they got the car.  And they got a purse that he had stolen from a car he broke into.  The patron got her purse back.  The perp lost his car.  And we've got all the info to nail him with when he reappears on the radar...and he probably will.

It all started with a concerned citizen, a manager who acted on the information and a police department that took the time to investigate a suspicious person.  We can make a difference and we can help each other to keep our world a little safer.

Until next time! Have a great day.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Daily Victories: Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

You know, when you leave your swim suit hanging out to dry, I can imagine if it went missing you might not want to say anything. A little embarrassing, don't you think?  But what if you know who snagged it off the line?  Then what? It seems it's time to face off with the burglar...

And so the residents of a California neighborhood have.  Except they're not ticked off.  Not really.  Because it's funny more than tragic.  When Dusty the kleptomaniac kitty goes on his nightly prowl, he just can't resist bringing home any little, medium or even surprisingly hefty object that his neighbors leave in their yards.

You'll love the night vision shots at the end of the video as he brings in his nightly haul.  Smile!  And I hope all of life's little challenges are as benign as Dusty's neighbors.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Daily Victories: Listen Well

Sail Boston R.J. Grady
I love listening to people talk. Having grown up with parents who hail from two different parts of the US, living in more regions besides those and listening to Monty Python from an early age, my own accent is something of a mutt.  Little bits from different places hang around in there.  It does cause raised eyebrows from time to time.  As such, I relate to anybody who is struggling to work their mouth around a new sound.

But sometimes, those sounds do make you smile.  You can't help it.

Today I visited a store where the clerk, a middle-aged gentleman who hailed from Barcelona, I think, was struggling with his printer.  Very polite.  Made every effort to ensure I understood exactly the terms of the contract.  Waved his hands a bit.  And then when the contract refused to print he began mumbling, "Paper yam.  It has a paper yam." 

There was picking up the tray, turning it upside down, crumpling paper, pushing of buttons, turning around, asking the customer that entered the store, "Un momento, please. S'okay? I am having a paper yam," and other bits of dancing behind the counter.  There was putting the phone on speaker while he waited for another patron to come back on the line...canned music filled the air.

Had it been another day, I might have eyed the circus with dread, knowing the receipt would never print.  But you know, Javier made it worth the wait.  Eventually he won the battle with the recalcitrant printer, we shook hands and I continued on with my day.

I would never trade the world we live in with another.  It's too full of intriguing people, with and without accents.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Consistently Changing the Rules: An Obsession NASCAR Needs to Stop

If you didn't read your Frontstretch Newsletter this morning, feel free to enjoy my column by clicking on the link:

And a big thank you to Mellissa Monk for reading :) 

Monday, February 07, 2011

The Frontstretch Returns Full Time for 2011

The 2011 NASCAR season is getting ready to go green!  And my other obsession besides writing romance has returned for another year of news and commentary about my favorite sport:

The Frontstretch

Today we're examining the changes made to the Chase and the Points System.

Also, if you like NASCAR coming to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter:

Frontstretch Newsletter Sign Up

Tomorrow my weekly commentary, Sittin' In the Stands, will appear in the newsletter.

Until then, have a great day.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Daily Victories: Small Kindnesses

Life is like a box of chocolates...literally.

You never know what to expect.  It's a sad truth in retail life that you make very few friends.  You might have many customers, even familiar faces that you exchange smiles with, but that personal connection is often lost amidst the throngs.  Thus, when somebody leaves you a small box of valentines candy, it makes your entire day.

My valentine is simply a gentleman who had a couple trying experiences and I spent a few minutes talking to him about it.  We came to an understanding.  I hoped he would still come back.  And he did...with that box of chocolates.  This came on the heels of a neighbor plowing our driveway during the latest snowstorm.

It's at moments like this that I am reminded that we all are part of a neighborhood, no matter how large the city we live in.  Or even how seldom we actually speak to those around us.  Yet, we are all human and I can vouch most of us have kind hearts.  Each of us looks to our neighbors for reassurance that we live in a good world and it is our personal responsibility to live up to that obligation.  It's not hard.  It just takes small kindnesses to help keep the fabric of life whole.

A smile.  A thank you.  A gesture of good will.  And the strength to Pass It Forward when you have the chance. 

Who would you like to thank?  Have you?

Have a great day.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Daily Victories: The Sun Does Shine

Two days and more than a foot of snow MORE later...the sun came out.  It does that, you know.  Blue skies.  White piles all around.  Really pretty.  And to top it off, I spotted two bald eagles this morning fishing over the Merrimack River. Fantastic!

While I grew up in the Merrimack Valley, wildlife really wasn't part of the daily life.  The river was off limits back then to just about everything.  Filled with trash and pollution, it boggled the mind how it could even be a water source for communities along its banks.

But things have changed.  Those eagles are proof.  They aren't plants.  Nobody put them here.  They came back.  We have a few nesting pairs, but the Merrimack is also host to a wintering colony that fly south from Canada.  Apparently snow drifts and frozen rivers are balmy for these guys.

But you know, after you've been shoveling and shoveling and laugh while your neighbors curse the skies at the now freezing rain that's falling, it is a glorious thing to drive around and see that massive bird with its white head and tail hovering over some open water. 

Things do change.  Our water ways are cleaner.  The fish stocks are larger.  And the eagles are returning.  It makes one believe Spring might arrive one of these days.

Better times are ahead.  Have a good day.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Daily Victories: Give Yourself Credit

Atlanta Botanical Gardens

 If cleanliness is next to godliness, I'm no saint.

This winter, I've been working on tossing out those piles of boxes and doo-dads you accumulate over time.  You know...the "it might be useful" someday stuff.  And I must be imaginative, because most of this stuff ain't ever gonna be of use to anybody.

This last week I made the big step of calling a junk guy to haul off the big stuff...bikes, mattresses--the ones you wouldn't want the cat to sleep on, TV's, etc. etc.  After he departed I walked around the house and realized that although there's still a goodly pile of stuff nobody will ever want or use, I can actually make use of three rooms in my house I couldn't three months ago.

This wasn't an overnight success.  It happened a little bit every day...or every other day, depending on the rest of life.  It happened because I kept repeating to myself, "Hey! You got those bottles returned!" or, "See? You can open the china cupboard, now."  Not that I'm serving a fancy dinner soon, but still.

I poked my head into the sun porch and realized that the piano was accessible...I can call the tuners! Ah! Not yet.

You see, the really big goal is to finish the living room.  So, piano tunings and china cupboards aside, there's still a lot of trash and donations to be cleared.  But I'm getting there.  Honestly getting there.  And it's happening because you just gotta keep saying, "I completed a little tiny something today that wasn't done yesterday."

When you look back after a week or two, it's pleasing to see, or not see in my case, just how much can be accomplished with persistence, and giving yourself a pat on the back for achieving one small extra goal a day.

Maybe I'm the little train that could...maybe that's a childhood story we should all revisit when we're feeling like life is impossible.

'Til next time, keep smiling!