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Whatever rings Mel's bells

Posts Tagged ‘respect’

Sale Fail

Have you ever had a marvelous idea?  Have you ever implemented said marvelous idea, and been on the eve of pushing the button to make it happen – only to realize IT CAN’T?

Yeah.  Turns out I’ve screwed the proverbial pooch on the fancy Grand Opening of my shiny new Zibbet store, The Bead and Bean.  The sale was to be BOGO free over the weekend, plus free or discounted shipping rates.  Then Monday it would go to 30% off the whole store, and be that way all next week.

Unfortunately…  Zibbet’s sale function doesn’t accommodate BOGO sales.  And while I can do free shipping, I can’t unless I do a percentage-off sale.  So I changed my welcome message to explain why I’ll have to credit back those amounts via PayPal after the sale, and prepared to go through a lot of hassle.

Then I looked at it from the customer’s perspective.  And immediately decided that as much hassle as it was for me, it’d be more for them!  (Or, perhaps, for you…?)  So I said, screw it, I’m just going to do 50% off the whole store with discounted shipping.  And if I get a bunch of people who each buy one item for 50c and I have to pay $3 to ship them out…  Well, maybe they’ll be happy enough to come back later and buy again.

More importantly, I’ll sleep well tonight knowing I’m not making my customers jump through hoops in an attempt to get them to give me more of their money.  Because, pardon the language, but f&@k that.

Why yes, I do say “Happy Holidays”

Sure, I celebrate Christmas.  But I’m aware that quite a few people around me don’t.  In fact, It’s happened more than once that I’ve inquired about people’s Christmas plans, or how their Christmas went, then felt a bit chagrined when they reminded me that they were Jewish or pagan, and celebrated something else.

Understand, I have never once had someone think I was rude for doing that.  I mean, when you look at the demographics, it is a pretty safe assumption that most of the people you’re gonna run into in Kitsap County do celebrate Christmas.  So some people think I’m silly for catering to everyone and saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas.”

What they don’t get is that it’s more for me than for anyone else.  I won’t have to feel embarrassment for forgetting which religion that particular friend or acquaintance lives.

What I don’t get about the whole mess is why they think it’s okay to be rude to people who are just being friendly.  I mean, really?  When did it become okay, when a person greeted you with good tidings of cheer, to throw it back in their face because they didn’t shine a proverbial spotlight on your personal beliefs?  What the hell, people?  That person was being nice!  Show a little bit of freaking grace and smile!  Wish them a Merry Christmas back, but don’t go around like the greeting police trying to make them all say what you want them to!

I knew we were losing our sights of common manners and decency when it became socially acceptable to ignore the people right in front of you (cashier in the middle of a transaction, friend trying to converse with you, significant other when you’re on a date) in favor of cell phone conversations, Facebook, and Words With Friends.  And this is reinforcing that marked lack of expectation.

As we get closer together through artificial means like Twitter and Skype, we simultaneously are becoming more and more distant from each other in real life.  I know it’s nothing new; this was a concern with TV, with wireless phones, probably with radio, maybe even with newspapers.  I don’t know how many connectivity inventions have prompted this concern, but I know it’s been around for a long time.  In fact, that’s why the Amish don’t have phones in their homes.  Not because phones are evil, but because having them in the home would prove a disruption to a good family life.  So they have a central phone for the whole village, and you go to the phone if you want to use it.  That’s right, you stop what you’re doing, and go do one thing at a time.

I guess my point is that we’re becoming a rude society.  Not just a society where people are rude, but one where rudeness is accepted, even expected.  A society where there’s no reason to be polite.

And that, more than any other social ill I can think of, frightens me.  If we don’t have even the most basic of concern for each other that we can even look each other in the eye, how can we ever form communities?  How can we ever have good relationships?  How can we ever trust each other to uphold the social fabric?

Maybe I can’t trust my neighbor to give two shits about watching my property for potential burglars while I’m out of town.  Maybe I can’t trust my kids’ teachers not to molest them.  Maybe I can’t trust my clergy member to teach me truth.  Maybe I can’t trust my elected representatives to make decisions with the public’s interest in mind.

Oh wait…  We can’t.

Does anybody else see the big picture connection of rudeness and disrespect?  Religious right-wingers would have you believe that the only way we can save society from complete breakdown is to get on our knees and beg “God” to take over.  (Not that the massive financial gain affects their reasoning…)  Because their knowledge of good and evil comes out of a book (and because they think they have a monopoly on moral knowledge), they refuse to see that morality – knowledge of right and wrong and behavior according to an accepted code – can exist without their special book.

I’ve really gone down a rabbit track here, I know.  This whole post took a much deeper twist than I intended it to.  But can you still see my basic point?  When somebody says something nice to you (defined by them meaning it in a nice way and also by it following an acceptable social format), it is inexcusably rude for you to tell them to be exclusionary and selective.

So get off my back.  I say “Happy Holidays,” and I’m not stopping any time soon.

The “other” Mel Dalton

For various reasons, I chose several years ago to adopt a stage name for my music activities, which is Mel Dalton.  It’s short, easy to spell, good for country music, and not in the phone book, so the drunk guys at the bar can’t stalk me as easily.

I just found a YouTube video of a gentleman named Mel Dalton who played jazz saxophone in West Michigan for 45 years.  He passed in April of 2008 of cancer, in Grand Rapids.  What irony!  I spent eight years in that town as a music major, maybe twenty miles from a jazz legend who played with the likes of Bobby Darin and the Everly Brothers – and I never knew he existed until tonight.

There’s some vague recollection in the back of my brain of doing an internet search of the name and finding some old guy…  But I didn’t think much of it at the time.  WHY didn’t I check that out?!?  Sure, I don’t so jazz, and he apparently didn’t do country.  But wouldn’t it have been cool to meet him, to hear him in person?

Read this article archived from the Grand Rapids Press, then watch this YouTube video and tell me he didn’t kick ass.  I really wish I could have met him, he sounds like a heck of a guy.  Makes me wonder, though; if I had met him, would I have still picked the name?

Arron’s Retirement

I had the immense honor of being asked to sing at my friend Arron Sterling’s navy retirement yesterday.  Not only did he hire Tuck and I to sing for his reception, but he asked me to sing the national anthem for the actual ceremony!

Now, I always love to sing the national anthem.  Every time I do, I feel like I’m part of something much bigger than myself.  It’s kind of like my own little form of national service.  Silly, I know, but there you have it.

And it was so flattering that he asked me!  The man’s a Lieutenant Commander, for heaven’s sake, he probably knows a dozen people who could do it.  He asked me.  Damn!  Did that make me blush?  Oh yes, it made me blush.  Right down to the tips of my toes.

So I cleared my calendar for the day, got all gussied up in something appropriate to the occasion, even shaved my legs, and took a nice leisurely drive up to Indian Island.  And it was a fantastic day for a drive.  Took one wrong turn because I didn’t read the directions carefully enough, but I recognized my mistake right away, flipped Rizzo back around, and got headed the right direction.  Got there with plenty of time to spare.

I do love military retirements.  I’ve attended several, and I gotta tell you, I cry every time at two points.  First, there’s a ceremony called “Old Glory.”  Several servicemembers stand in a line, representing the ranks previously held by the retiree.  The lowest ranking person holds an American flag, and they pass the flag from one person to the next, all along the line.  Each person moves slowly and deliberately, saluting before receiving the flag, then saluting again after passing the flag to the next person; it’s a very regimented and precise sequence.  The retiree him or herself is the last person in line, and when he or she takes the flag, he or she can then present it to a parent or spouse, or someone else very special to them.  The entire time the flag is being passed, the following poem is read:

I am the flag of the United States of America
My name is Old Glory.

I fly atop the world’s tallest buildings.
I stand watch in America’s halls of justice.
I fly majestically over great institutes of learning.
I stand guard with the greatest military power in the world.
Look up! And see me!

I stand for peace, honor, truth, and justice.
I stand for freedom.
I am confident . . . I am arrogant.
I am proud.

When I am flown with my fellow banners,
my head is a little higher,
my colors a little truer.

I bow to no one.
I am recognized all over the world.
I am worshipped.
I am saluted.
I am respected.
I am revered. I am loved.
And I am feared.

I have fought every battle of every war for more than 200 years…
Gettysburg, Shilo, Appomatox, San Juan Hill, the trenches of France,
the Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome, the beaches of Normandy,
the deserts of Africa, the cane fields of the Philippines,
the rice paddies and jungles of Guam, Okinawa, Japan, Korea, Vietnam,
and a score of places long forgotten by all but those who were with me.

I was there!

I led my soldiers.
I followed them.
I watched over them…
They loved me.

I was on a small hill in Iwo Jima.
I was dirty, battle-worn and tired,
but my soldiers cheered me,
and I was proud.

I have been soiled, burned, torn and trampled on the streets of countries
I have helped set free.
It does not hurt . . . for I am invincible.
I have been soiled, burned, torn and trampled on the streets of my country,
and when it is by those with whom I have served in battle . . . it hurts.
But I shall overcome . . . for I am strong.

I have slipped the bonds of Earth
and stand watch over the uncharted new frontiers of space
from my vantage point on the moon.

I have been a silent witness to all of America’s finest hours.
But my finest hour comes
when I am torn into strips to be used for bandages
for my wounded comrades on the field of battle.
when I fly at half mast to honor my soldiers…
and when I lie in the trembling arms
of a grieving mother at the graveside of her fallen son.

I am proud.
My name is Old Glory.

Dear God . . . Long may I wave!

I read recently that this was written in 1983, which I found surprising because I always thought it was a much older tradition.  All I know is that I cry every time I hear it.  (Well, I cry when it’s done well.  I’ve heard MCs who didn’t know what they were doing, and a butchered reading doesn’t always bring up tears.)  The other part that always gets me is when they read “The Watch.”  Again, visualize me weeping like a baby.  A sad, angry baby.  (For those of you who aren’t Firefly fans, that’s a quote.)

Aye mates,
For many years, this Sailor stood the watch …
While some of us lay about our bunks at night,
This Sailor stood the watch.

While others of us were attending schools,
This Sailor stood the watch.

And yes, even before many of us were born,
This Sailor stood the watch.

As our families watched the storm clouds of war,
brewing on the horizons of history,
He stood the watch.

This Sailor looked ashore and saw his family …
Often needing his guidance but he knew he must stay,
Because he had the watch.

For many years he has stood the watch,
So that we and our countrymen could sleep soundly, in safety,
knowing that a Sailor would stand the watch.

Today, we are here to say “Shipmate, the watch stands relieved.
Relieved by those you have led, trained and guided.
Shipmate, you now stand relieved, We have the watch.”

Again, with the right person reading it, this is a huge tearjerker for me.  Yes, I get sappy when I think of everything that is given by those who serve.  It’s not just the lives they lay down, it’s not just the ones who died on our behalf.  (Though how the word “just” could ever be applied to that kind of sacrifice, I don’t know.)  Like anything else one does, the willingness to give over a long period of time is just as significant a sacrifice – holding fast, day in and day out, while all the little costs add up.

A life given in service to the military is just that – a life given in service.  I’m too selfish to do that.  I freely admit it.  I want to do my own thing with my life.  I don’t even want to work for a corporation, or anybody else for that matter, because I’d rather be accountable to myself.  I enjoy self-employment, because I can make all the decisions myself.  I am amazed and wonderstruck and incredulous at the many men and women I know, and the many more I’ll never know, who have given five or ten or twenty – or in Arron’s case, 28 – years of their lives to defend us.

And then, after all that, they don’t even get the national anthem at their ceremony.  Yep, that’s right folks, the sad, sorry truth is that when the time came yesterday for the MC to announce me, he skipped a line and went right past.  Poor Arron, I felt so bad for him.  I felt pissed for myself too, you understand, but really, for me it was an opportunity to be there for a friend, and to honor the nation that is my home and those who ensure its (and my) safety.  For Arron, it was the culmination of his entire career, the ending point of his life as it’s been and the beginning of his life as it will be.  He deserved fewer glitches, IMHO.

But of course, at the end of the day, he was still retired, and we had an awesome party later on.  At which, of course, he let me sing the anthem.

It wasn’t fairy-tale quality, but it was still a happy ending.