Driving down the Highway in a BMW 330i

A little over two weeks ago, I was in South Carolina trying to get back to Albuquerque. Going by plane was the cheapest option. I also seemed the riskiest option. There was no direct flight. I had a choice of having a layover in Dallas or Denver. Not exactly airports one wants to hang out in during a pandemic.

Checking out the car rentals, even the cheapest car was twice the price of flying. The only real benefit was being around people who mostly were local to small towns when stopping for gas and food (if done wisely).

The day before I left, I checked one more time for a car rental. To my surprise Car Rental Companies are suffering like every other transportation industry, and most of their their business has evaporated. I booked a Hyundai Elantra or something like it for forty dollars a day and change, no long distance or high mileage fees. It wouldn’t be as nice as flying, but should be less risky from an exposure point of view.

When I picked up the car, they told me, they had a BMW for the same price and would that be okay? After spending a second or two for a polite pause, I said yes, a BMW would be fine, trying to keep the gloat off my face. I drove a BMW 330i off the lot.

Up until that moment, I thought a Volkswagen Jetta was the greatest long distance driving car out there. The Jetta has a 900 mile a day seat, handles well, and is a pleasure for a drivers over long distances.

The BMW 330i is an easy step up as a driving machine. For the first few hundred miles, it felt like the car an I were fighting each other, The rest of the two thousand mile drive was a dream!

The best long drive car I have had the pleasure of driving!

The BMW 330i has everything wanted for a long drive starting with the best speaker system I have ever heard in a car. The seat besides tilt, up down, forward and back has two more adjustments for your back, and two more for your legs. Plus if you have long legs, the bottom of the seat has a built in extension that moves the front seat length up to about three inches farther out.

Of course the few fast cars out there wanted a run, and all were disappointed afterwards. The BMW 330i may not be the fastest car out there, but it is a long ways from being a slouch (Wanna be’s take heed). You step on the gas and you move. Step on the gas harder and you move faster. Braking is superb too.

Handling is as crisp at thirty mph as it is three times that speed, or more. Also there were no rough roads sitting inside the 330i with one exception. I did hit a huge pothole in Nashville, TN. I thought the pothole was going to take the front wheel off. The pothole shook the car pretty hard, but all was well. I thought in a normal car, the wheel would have been ripped off. That pothole was a gross exception, and not the rule for rough roads.

If I had to drive long distances every day, I would seriously consider the BMW 330i, As a daily driver, I think it would be doing the car a disservice. The 330i is made to be driven, not idling to work at twenty miles an hour in traffic.

If you have the opportunity to drive a BMW 330i and you have the time for a very long drive, I think you will find you will have a really good time and appreciate the thinking, quality and skill that goes into building the BMW 330i.

If you want to drive a car only because it’s fast, I would rent something else. Like all things in life, after my drive it was time to turn in the BMW 330i so the next driver can appreciate all a BMW 330i has to offer.

Gangs, Forced Labor, and Slavery in America

There are an estimated 33,000 violent street gangs, motorcycle gangs, and prison gangs criminally active in the U.S. today. Most of these Gangs feed the prison system with new or repeating inmates.

Afraid your child may be falling under gang influence? Check out the parents guide to gangs. Once gang members and other criminals are behind bars, they are eligible to become forced labor, or Legal Slaves. Some may work for a tuppence which is minimal.

There are about 2,220,300 inmates in state and federal prisons. Many of these inmates, survive just like the prison movies…Forced labor in all weather conditions, and armed Watchers ensuring no one escapes alive.

While an argument may be tabled that some of these inmates are paid for their work, it isn’t the same as a real job. These jobs are jobs are not jobs anyone not in the prison system would want to do. Hours are long, and pay is short or not at all. Average pay is a couple of dollars a day, with no benefits. Hardly an amount anyone would willingly work for.

Then there are the chain gangs. Dangerous work using the forced labor of about 870.000 inmates. With little or no pay, basically Convicts are America’s Legal Slaves. Many of these inmates are in chain gangs. Just like the movies…forced labor, all weather conditions, and armed Watchers ensuring no one escapes.

As out of sight,  is human trafficking, or Slavery in America. Hard to believe, but the United States is far from the bottom of the list of countries with a Slave population.

The Federal Government does appropriate monies to combat slavery, but with forced inmate labor, and other issues, the monies are little more than a splash in the bucket.

From the Office on Trafficking Persons, yes there is such a place, we have a budget:

Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in the United States 2013-2017.

Fiscal Year     Programs for Foreign National Victims   Programs for Domestic Victims  Total

2018              $17,000,000                                         $6,755,000                  $23,755,000

So, does forced labor start with Gang Members and other Criminals feeding the system, or is forced labor inherent in America, being a part of the American System as long as America has been around?

Do Your Employees Stink?

Every business that meets face to face with it’s customers needs to concern itself with how its employees smell. The matter of basic hygiene where you probably expect your employees adhere to normal standards. At issue is each persons definition of normal hygiene standards.

Employee smell may be more involved than having taken a bath and using deodorant. Many people, and this is a more common trait in women, are especially sensitive to smells. For these people, a scent or fragrance that goes unnoticed by most of us, is noticed by these people.

Small business can not afford to lose customers because of an offensive smelling employee. If a new customer visits your business, and is turned off by the way the employee smells, you have lost a sale and a repeat customer. Customers are the most valuable asset a company has.

Depending on where your business is located, employee hygiene changes. However, it is not unreasonable to put in place general guidelines for your employees. Requesting how employees smell while at work is not unreasonable. With a little creativity, smell or lack of  could become part of your companies culture.

Customers prefer to smell food and not your employee!

Common smells that will turn off some first time and repeat customers are:

Body odor. Acceptable body odor varies from area to area, and country to country. No matter what the standard is, some people manage to go beyond what is acceptable.

Bad breath. Bad breath is a turn off for most people. If an employee is in a customer’s personal space and they haven’t brushed their teeth in a few days, or have eaten strong food such as garlic, the customer is not going to appreciate it.

Smoking, whether using tobacco products or electronic cigarettes leaves an odor on employees many customers can do without. You probably can not deem that your employees do not smoke or use electronic cigarettes, but you should be able to prohibit use of these products in and around the workplace. This is not an assault on people using tobacco products or electronic cigarettes, but creates an awareness for employees who work in close contact with their customer.

Laundry detergent, fabric softener and scented dryer sheets. Some of the individual scents each brings to our clothes may be okay. Mixed together these strong scents are sometimes too much.

Personal body soap, bar soap and shampoo are often contribute to how we smell to others. This is especially true for some shampoos targeted at women, though men are now being targeted too. Shampoo that has a strong exotic flower scent, or a trademark scent is great for a night out on the town, but may be a turnoff in the work environment.

Perfume and cologne can be a real problem too. An employee using either product, especially if they are younger or older, may not have a sense of the correct amount to use. Add a little warm air, and a strong scent becomes overpowering.

No one wants to see their food being prepared by someone whose hands look like they were cleaning engine parts earlier, gloves or not. No one wants to helped by someone whose personal smell makes them want to vomit.

Personal hygiene and cleanliness contribute to the success or failure of a customer oriented business. Your lost customer won’t bother telling you they won’t return because one your employees who assisted them stinks literally – to the customer.

There is no one size fits all standard for employee cleanliness. Each business is different and its needs are varied. However, business owners, managers and employees need to be aware of the effect their cleanliness habits or lack thereof have on the repeat customer base.

As uncomfortable as it may be, these situations are manageable during the interview process. Put your expectations out there for prospective employees to hear. Let them know before being hired what your employee hygiene expectations are. This way no one is surprised in a future moment.

Fear Monger No More

I think sharing a smile with a stranger is something most of us have been conditioned out of doing.

When we are little we had to watch out for the Man offering us candy.

As we grew older, we learned to be scared of looking at a stranger because they were probably crazy, a molester, a rapist, or a general purpose maniac.

As we get even older, we see robbers and murderers in every other person, even our neighbors.

We have been conditioned to fear strangers almost since we were old enough to talk.

Our world would be a much friendlier place, if we realize we do not need to live a fear based life.

Once each day smile at a stranger like you mean it, and say, “Good day”. You might even save someone with your smile. More has been done with less.

Smiles are free and make the world a warmer place to be

Smiles are free and make the world a warmer place to be

 

FTD Rainbow Cup and LBGT Community

What I thought as a surprising comment was made to me, and I am not sure what my reaction should be to the comment, if any. It all surrounds a coffee cup. Actually two coffee cups. Some years ago, the flower people, FTD came out with a rainbow cup. It is a white cup with a rainbow on each side of the cup.

This cup has become a symbol for the LBGT community

This cup has become a symbol for the LBGT community

My Mother purchased one of these cups and flowers(?) for her older sister. Her older sister reciprocated and bought one of the same cups for my Mother. These coffee cups were very special, and took Sister Bonding to the highest level ever. No idea why, but these cups did.

They would call each other, and in the conversation, one would either be drinking from their rainbow cup, or tell the other sister, they had used their earlier in the day. Each had several coffee cups and mugs in the cupboard, but their rainbow cups were very special to them.

Bottom of FTD Rainbow Cup

Bottom of FTD Rainbow Cup

My Mother died some years back, and I inherited her FTD Rainbow cup. Some years later, my Aunt died, and I was fortunate enough to also inherit her FTD Rainbow cup. I use one of them, and the other is put away. It brings them back in my memory, thinking warm and happy thoughts of them.

I was drinking a cup of tea the other day using one of the rainbow cups, when someone visiting observed, “You know that is an LGBT cup don’t you?” Someone else is going to see you drinking from it and assume you are Gay.” “Huh? Was my response.” I didn’t expect that one.

I become confused with ideas like this. Okay, I understand that Rainbows have been adopted as a symbol for the LBGT community. Good for them I suppose. Rainbows have been adopted by many people and groups over the years.

The oldest adopted Rainbow I am aware of is the sign of the new covenant in Christianity. The newest Rainbow I am aware of was the bond between my Mother and her Sister. Until in the conversation when I learned it is a LGBT symbol.

For me, the FTD Rainbow cups represents happy memories of times passed between my family members. I think this is the most important meaning for the two cups for me. Any thoughts one way or the other about the cups and the comment?