Not A Morning Person

As I awoke today to a recently absent sun (I did get up before sunrise, but all indications were it was coming), I was thrilled to see the blue near-cloudless sky.  It made it easy to believe the weatherman was succumbing to the pressure of those in DFW not familiar with multiple back-to-back cloudy days.  His forecast seemed to be anticipating the reality that would be my day–SUN!!

I fired up the school “bus” and dropped the girls off to school.  Even though the temperature was still in the 30’s the blue skies and the emerging sun seemed to add at least 10 degrees to the temperature.  As the sun continued his ascension, I needed to run a mid-morning errand.  It was hard not to wear a smile and bask in the gift of the temperature-rising orb that finally accepted our daily invitation to visit.  My final errand was going to Sprout’s for a couple of bulk items and vegetables.

As I was preparing to check out, the register operator seemed less than enthusiastic to be there.  She had a stud on her upper lip, and her whole body hinted (actually, it screamed), “I am not a morning person.”  We maintained a simple dialogue.

She asked, “Did you find everything?”
I replied, trying to contrast her rather low volume, low interest voice, “When the sun came out today, everything else was a bonus!”
“Your total is $12.76.”, she said as she continued to replay the mental script all good cashiers are trained on.
“The card is swiped.  Not enough to sign for.  Looks like I am all set.”, I continued with a slightly upbeat tone.  I didn’t want my tone to be too glaringly cheerful and hurt her apparently overwhelmed head.
She forced a smile as she handed me my receipt. “Thank you. Enjoy the rest of your day.”
“I will.  You enjoy yours, too.”, I replied as I anticipated seeing the sun and feeling the sunlight again in a few moments.

Maybe I am too old to be so cheered by the sun.  And, maybe I just need to do the self-checkout so I don’t force anyone to engage in dialogue with a “happy” person.  If the purpose of some of my errands is to pull a small smile from a slightly bored employee, I am okay with that.  And, if I encounter a cashier who is a morning person, then the “good feelings” from the conversation can be banked for the next time I find someone who is not a morning person….sometimes I am not one either.

My Son, The Network Marketer

My son gave me a call yesterday afternoon.  He let me know he would be late coming home.  He was going with his friend to an “opportunity meeting” of a particular network marketing company.  He assured me he would not “get in”, and we left it at that.

A few hours later, right before the meeting was going to start (I can only guess his friend was really talking up this opportunity before the meeting), we had a text conversation that went something like this:

Son: I think I am going to sign up. I can make my money back quick.
Me: Please don’t!
Son: Why not?
Me: It is your money, but I will not support you unless we talk about it first. Your
friend makes money when you get in. I discourage this highly!

He then went “dark” for a couple of hours.  He had signed up for this “great” opportunity.  Unfortunately, he seemed to be following in my footsteps:

  • In my early 20s, I did join Amway. (My brother joined first.  I just followed him along to the meetings and the events.) It was a social outlet.  I didn’t have the conviction to sell the product.  I bought a few items, but always seemed to be buying things I didn’t need to keep up my “points”.  I used the excuse I was too young when it came to contacting “successful” people. I did sponsor a few, but either I was not very good at it, OR they were not really that interested.  If I had the chance to talk to my son first, I would have told him about this.  Maybe it would have changed his actions.
  • In my 30s, a friend joined Shaklee.  He was really sold on a couple products they had available.  (I believe they were for air filtration.)  I made no effort to build a Shaklee business by getting my friends in.  I advertised in the local “suburban” newspapers and tried to sell the product.  I forgot how long I did this, but I don’t believe I got one phone call.  If my son wanted some of my thoughts on network marketing, I would let him know that despite any claims he may have heard or who endorses the company, the product does NOT sell itself.
  • In my 40s, I signed up with Ignite.  They sell energy and gas in a few southern and north eastern states.  They started in Texas (where I live now).  So, although Texas is a big state, there are many companies that resell electricity in Texas.  Although I believe Ignite/Stream has a quality product, there are other choices.  If you are shopping price only, they are probably not your cheapest choice.  But, they will be there tomorrow.  Within the next couple of months, Ignite will also offer cellular services.  They are not the only company or the first company to provide wireless service through a network marketing organization.  If someone buys a service “product” from me, it is either because I was first to ask OR they are related to me.  Selling a utility is more than just the product-you are also depending on their customer service and support.  Many people are hesitant to switch providers for services/utilities they rely on.  Some will, but some will refuse.  Since my sons new network marketing company sells services, I would have been happy to explain this to him before he paid his substantial membership fee.

Will his money be wasted?  I doubt it.  I hope he can develop a business and be successful at it.  (I am NOT negative network marketing, but I am aware of the statistics and facts.)  If he does not have the success he thought he signed up for, then losing a little money in pursuit of a dream-no matter how sincere-is not such a bad thing.  We can hope our kids will come to us and seek our feedback on many thing ESPECIALLY things we have already gone through.  We can also hope they attend college for 4 years with straight A’s and get the perfect degree before marrying their perfect spouse and before having their perfect little house full of kids.

If raising kids had a formula that guaranteed each kid would clear life hurdles perfectly when the equation was completed, the government would legislate it.  (Of course, this would guarantee the perfect formula would still fail.) Despite my excessive blabberings/encouragements/rants/stale-jokes and sermonettes,  I continue to have a number of experiences my kids haven’t brushed up against yet.  When I am not volunteering “guidance”, I am listening for a dad’s favorite question, “What do you think, dad?”




Assistant Phys Ed Coach – Sorta

Still attempting to break in my new shoes.  I am very grateful the new shoes came to me broken…

As I nearly reached the halfway point of my oval, 1-mile, walking path, the connected Christian school was conducting PE class.  The days objective was the 1-mile run.  As the runners lined up and took off on on their teachers “Go”, I was about 200 yards behind the “enthusiastic” runners.  The runners didn’t go for much more than 200 yards before they went behind a bathroom/picnic building.  On the other side of the building (bathroom and picnic tables) where the path emerged, the runners were transformed into very slow walkers.

As I passed their phys ed coach, I asked her, “Is it okay if try to motivate them a little if I pass them?

“Sure”,  she said.  “They often go pretty slow on the back of the course.”

I took this as my license to try and encourage them in my best coaches voice as I passed the kids.  Out of the 10-12 that started, it appeared 1/3 of the kids ran the mile per instructions, and 1/3 was a group of guys walking slightly faster than the group of girls bringing up the tail.  Although my feet may have been working a little extra hard due to the thrill of a challenge, the girls were pretty easily vanquished.  Because the girls were so involved in their conversation, my heavy foot falls right next to them made them jump a bit when I began my passing move.

“Your teacher said I should remind you to keep running.” I said somewhat encouragingly–I know I was smiling big when I said it.

As I kept walking, the girls continued to get farther in my rearview mirror.  Now, I could focus on the boys in front of me.  They were spanning the whole width of the sidewalk.  As were their female classmates, they revealed in no outer way they were aware of me about to pass them. Because they were boys, I am pretty sure my encouragement was more like what a football coach might say.

“Your teacher wanted me to remind you not to walk.  She knows how you guys always use it as social time.”, I preached-a sneering smile likely adorned my face.

My sermon did have some brief success.  The boys grunted before picking up their pace (in fact they ran) for a couple of hundred yard.  When they resumed their previous slow walking speed, I knew we would meet again.  “Ditto” was all I needed to say as I passed them the second time.  They laughed a little bit, but based on the reaction of their feet, they were not very interested in anything that would interfere with their social time.

As I came to the part of the path where my non-responsive high school friends had started their lap, I did have to give their teacher an update.

“In the boys defense, I did have to pass them twice.”, I proclaimed.

I believe she understood the ramifications of the comment.  At least, it gave her something to chew on.  As I continued my walk, I heard her raising her voice to get the slackers over the “finish” line.  It appeared the two groups had merged as they came into the final stretch.  I am not sure how the boys slowed up enough to let that happen!  If I get the chance to coach again, I will need to crank the encouragement up a few notches!

Whether the teacher admitted to the license she granted me or not, I hope the kids I interacted with do remember me.  Whether I am the weird guy who spoke to them or, if the encounter was slightly humorous, the guy who walks really fast, I hope I am not some phantom they hide in their brain only to be brought back to life under deep hypnosis.  I believe it is our obligation to stretch ourselves forward a generation or two.  (The older we get, the harder it is to stretch forward.  The older we get, the more we hope others are willing to stretch from ahead back to us.)  The more the next generations sees others noticing them, the more value they assign to themselves. (I have not done studies…it just makes sense to me.  And, since much of what I do has a spiritual “side” to it, I think the kids need more “good” people [I may not be good, but I am not dangerious ;-)] in their lives.  If you are not a mentor of a particular kid, exhibit a quality that is one worth emulating, like walking fast or whatever.)  If the world wants to devolve into chaos, our influence may lessen the impact of the chaos in our communities.  Touch a life today.  Make them smile, and see who smiles bigger-you or them!