Saturday, March 22, 2008

What Brown Does for Me


Meet Tony. He's our UPS man and he's the best, bar none.

Tony should be the poster boy for excellent service. UPS has no idea what a glittering diamond they found when they hired Tony some years ago. It's because of Tony that my wife and I would never even consider using another shipping service. Besides being the nicest guy in Queens, Tony actually cares about his customers. We have several elderly shut-ins within our apartment building and Tony never hesitates to bring deliveries directly to their apartment doors after waiting what must seem endless hours for them to answer his rap at their doors.

FedEx? DHL?
Forgettaboutit. In our vestibule hangs 4 Fedex delivery notices. Why? Because Fedex once left a package without a signature on a windowsill in our lobby without telling anyone. The package contained valuables and cash and was stolen.The recipient blamed our super for stealing the package which, was not true. So, with good reason our super refuses to accept packages from Fedex. If Fedex drivers actually cared about their customers the way Tony does people in our building would be getting their deliveries on time. And DHL? All I can say is, how the hell DHL is still in business is a mystery to me.

Don't tell UPS but Tony has my cell phone number and I his. If I have a last minute package to ship I can ring him up and he's usually at my front door by the time I hang up the phone. He's like the character Radar on the T.V. show M*A*S*H. When I input a delivery pick-up on the UPS web site, once again Tony rings our bell seconds after I click, "confirm pickup". How the heck does he do it?

Last year Tony stopped coming around. His replacement was a nice enough guy but he wasn't our Tony. We asked what happened to Tony and was told that he was out sick with a bad back or something. Weeks then months went by and finally one spring day Tony rang our bell with a delivery. "Come on up Tony!" I said excitedly through the intercom. When I opened the door I didn't recognize the man before me. Tony was changed. His face was different. He gained a lot of weight but what hadn't changed was Tony's spirit: vibrant and energized. "Tony, where you been man?" I asked. "I was real sick Bruce, real sick. I went through endless rounds of
Chemotherapy and doctor's visits. But everything is going to be all right. I'm back, I'm driving, I'm free!"

It's been about a year since Tony's recovery and he's healthy and in great spirits. We see him more often too, as my wife has scheduled daily pick-ups for her hat business. When we don't have a pick-up for Tony I usually see him all over the neighborhood when I'm on my training runs. "Hey Tony! How's it going?" I yell to him. Tony honks his horn, steps out of his brown truck with a tower of packages and says, "Hey Bruce! How's it going? Am I gonna' see you and Terry later? Have a good one."

Doing business doesn't mean that we do not have to care or be interested in those that we transact with. I care about Tony and I like to think that tony cares about my wife and myself. In fact, I know that he does. Nobody can be that sincere and not mean it. I like to think of Tony as a spiritual guide in a brown uniform. He demonstrates that it's not what you do for a living but how you do it. Driving for UPS is a good job so I hear. It must be, their drivers all seem so happy. And the longer you're with the company the more money you get paid. But I have an inclination that Tony would be Tony and would deliver excellent service with that 100 watt smile of his, even if he never received a pay raise. You see, Tony has a natural propensity for kindness and that kindness comes from deep within. And no matter the weather, the weight of his packages or the his physical condition, Tony will always be kind.

Thank you Tony. Whatever UPS is paying you it's not enough.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

The King's Pants Are Down

Former New York State Governor, Elliot Spitzer was caught with his pants down. He along with his entire family are paying the price for Mr. Spitzer's impulses and possible addiction.

People who love to condemn hypocrites are having a field day over Mr. Spitzer money laundering and the hiring of a 23 year old prostitute for which he spent around $80,000. This, from a man who sounded like the opening voice-over to the 50's Superman t.v. show: "For truth, justice and the American way." Mr. Spitzer relentlessly hounded and prosecuted 'wrong-doers' including some on Wall Street. In fact, I heard a collective, Hurray! emanate from Wall Street and then rumble up Broadway the day the news broke of Mr. Spitzer's terrible mistakes. And now, he's just one of 'us'.

Should he be prosecuted? Yes. Should he have resigned from office? Yes. Should his three young daughters and his wife have to pay for the sin of the father? Absolutely not. But they will and this is the saddest part of the tragedy. Especially for his children. What will they use to measure and test their own morales and ethics? Will Mrs. Spitzer be able to guide them and at the same time keep her sanity while the flashbulbs blind her on a daily basis?

On an NPR radio show today the host suggested that Mr. Spitzer go to synagogue this Saturday to get right. I still find it amazing that the United States is the most "church" going nation in the world and yet, many of us seem to leave our morales and ethics behind when it comes to operating our personal and business lives outside of the church,
synagogue or mosque. Has religion failed to act as a morale guide for its parishioners? What happened to Mr. Spitzer's morales and ethics when he became lonely one late night in Washington, DC? Why does the teacher's teachings fly out the window when it comes to doing the 'right' thing?

I know for certain that I have no right to judge Mr. Spitzer's actions. I look at them and weigh them against my own beliefs about right and wrong. And no matter how lonely I may become, I believe that I would not take the same actions as the former
Governor had taken. He must have had such an overpowering well of desire that ran over the rim that caused him to choose the actions he did.

Choices, decisions, consequences. It's the same for everyone. We're faced with a choice then we make a decision and out of every decision comes a
consequence. Payment for Mr. Spitzer's must now seem utterly ridiculous to him compared to the life that he left behind has Governor. If ends up doing time in jail I'm sure he will have wished that he made a different decision.

I hope that the
Spitzers' get the help and guidance that they will need as they attempt to move forward if, that's what they decide to do. Until then, I also hope that my sense of right and wrong stays intact and that my elected officials will keep their pants on, even when their desires start bubbling over.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Fall Down - Get Up

The greatest fall of Heather Dorniden's racing career happened during last weekend's 600 meter Big Ten Championships. The accidental trip that caused Heather to fall most likely created her greatest triumph.

After being tripped, Heather quickly picked herself up off the indoor track surface and sprinted back to the pack and unbelievably won the race. Heather's performance gave me a huge amount of inspiration and confirmed the old adage: "never give up."

You can
watch (30 seconds from start of the video clip) Heather Dorniden's dramatic win and see for herself what determination, skill, strength and fortitude can do.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Warning: Do Not Overload


I read "Warning: Do Not Overload" every time I get into our apartment building's elevator. I must have read it hundreds of times over the nine years that I've lived in the building. Yesterday, for some reason the statement took on a different meaning. It reminded that we usually take on more than we can handle. Warning: Do Not Overload the Mind and Body is a good mantra for today's over anxious and over achieving world of ours.


When we overload mentally and physically we pay a price, usually in the form of illness. A cold develops and then lingers. Heartburn, headaches, sleeplessness and other symptoms of overload come unwanted. When the mind is upset, so too becomes the body and vice-versa. Make sure to stress-less by saying "no" whenever you can. Delegate responsibilities and tasks to others. Ask for help. The goal should be interdependence not independence.

Don't tempt the elevator's weight capacity. It might just crash from being overloaded.