…like a needle…

It seems as though we have a need to go looking for that proverbial “needle in the haystack.” Or perhaps we have this organic desire to thread a needle through that smallest of holes. The recent election attests to our heightened fixation on doing just that.

Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton showed us exactly who they are. Many,  Republicans and Democrats alike, preferred to pursue a scavenger hunt mindset in search of the “real truth.” The media, with CNN at the forefront, happily led the charge.

At some point in the year-long campaign leading up to November 8th, I decided to read several books about the candidates. Rather than be spoon-fed constantly regurgitated “pablum” by the media, I wanted to learn the facts for myself in order to make up my own mind about both Trump and Clinton.

I’m no more of an expert on either person than the media or the political parties to which they belong. Neither am I judging others on their decision-making process; I’m merely offering my views on the matter.

Trump himself has shown us that he embodies the dual personalities of Jekyll and Hyde. The construction of Trump Tower is a sad example of Hyde overtaking Jekyll.

“Instead of hiring an experienced demolition contractor, Trump chose Kaszycki & Sons Contractors, a window washing business owned by a Polish émigré. Upward of two hundred men began demolishing the building in midwinter 1980. The men worked without hard hats. They lacked facemasks, even though asbestos–known to cause incurable cancers–swirled all around them. They didn’t have goggles to protect their eyes from the bits of concrete and steel that sometimes flew through the air like bullets. The men didn’t have power tools either; they brought down the twelve-story building with sledgehammers.

Trump kept an eye on the project, not just when visiting the site (where photographs show him smiling under a hard hat), but from an office he rented directly across Fifth Avenue, which offered him an unobstructed view.

The demolition workers were not American citizens, but ‘had recently arrived from Poland,’ a federal court later determined. The court also found that ‘they were undocumented and worked ‘off the books.’ No payroll records were kept, no Social Security or other taxes were withheld and they were not paid in accordance with wage laws. They were told they would be paid $4.00 or in some cases $5.00 an hour for working 12 hour shifts seven days a week. In fact, they were paid irregularly and incompletely.’

Many members of the demolition crew, which became known as the Polish Brigade, lived at the work site, sleeping through the bitter cold on bare concrete floors. The crew numbered about thirty or forty in the daytime, but swelled to as many as two hundred at night, when few people would be around the tony business district to observe the demolition work.

Fed up that their paychecks kept bouncing, some of the workers corralled Thomas Macari, Trump’s personal representative. They showed him to the edge of one of the higher floors and asked if he would like them to hang him over the side. The workers, likely hungry, demanded their pay. Otherwise, no work.

When Macari told his boss what had happened, Trump placed a panicked telephone call to Daniel Sullivan–a labor fixer, FBI informant, suspect in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, and Trump’s personal negotiator for the Grand Hyatt contract with the hotel workers’ union.

‘Donald told me he was having some difficulties,’ Sullivan later testified, ‘ and he admitted to me that–seeking my advice–he had some illegal Polish employees on the job. I reacted by saying to Donald that ‘I think you are nuts.’ I told him to fire them promptly if he had any brains.’

As Sullivan later told me, along with reporter Wayne Barrett and others, hiring Polish workers who were in the country illegally and then having them work without standard safety equipment was not just foolish, it was reckless. For all his dealings with Trump, Sullivan was repeatedly astonished by the businessman’s lack of prudence. He said that whenever Trump saw an opportunity to collect more money or to cut his costs by not paying people what they had earned, he did. ‘Common sense just never took hold’ when Trump had money on his mind, Sullivan told me several times.

To Sullivan, only greed and an utter lack of regard for human life could allow Trump to let the Polish Brigade work without hard hats or the facemasks they needed to keep asbestos from entering their lungs. ‘Men were stripping electric wires with their bare hands,’ Sullivan later testified.

There is no record of any federal, state, or city safety inspector filing a report during the demolition. In a 1990 Trenton restaurant interview, I asked Sullivan how a project of this size could have been erected in the heart of Manhattan without attracting government job safety inspectors. Sullivan just looked at me. When I widened my eyes to make clear that I wanted an explicit answer, he said, ‘You know why.’ When I persisted, anticipating that Sullivan might specify bribes to inspectors, he said that unions and concrete suppliers were not the only areas where Trump’s lawyer, Roy Cohn, had influence.

Shortly after Trump called Sullivan, a new demolition crew arrived on the site. They were officially members of Housewreckers Local 95, but there were only fifteen or so unionists among them. Normally, employing non-union workers (in this case, Kaszycki & Sons) at a union work site would prompt an immediate shutdown. But, as federal court documents would later show, the Housewreckers Union was firmly under the control of the mobsters whose consigliere was Roy Cohn. Trump’s mentor and lawyer. So the union went along with a scheme to employ non-union workers, cheat them out of their pay, and shortchange the union health and pension funds.

Several simple but clever techniques in filling out records ensured that the union received no written notice of the non-union workers. Not incidentally, those workers were nonetheless required to pay union initiation fees and had union dues deducted from their meager pay, even though (as a federal judge later concluded) they were never actually in the union. Macari, Trump’s overseer, testified that he reviewed and approved these documents before paying Kaszycki.

Six Polish workers went to a lawyer named John Szabo for help getting paid. In early April, Macari saw to it that the window washing company Trump hired for the demolition job gave the six men a total of almost $5,000 in back pay. More workers then sought out Szabo. By July, as summer temperatures soared, the unpaid wages came to almost $104,000, even though the rate of pay was under five dollars an hour with no overtime, despite a grueling eighty-four-hour workweek of heavy manual labor.

One day, to keep the workers swinging their sledgehammers, Macari showed up with a wad of cash. Instead of paying the men directly, court papers show, Macari gave the money to the foreman. Anyone who wanted their money had to kick back fifty bucks to the foreman, testimony showed. After that, Macari testified later, he handed cash directly to the Polish Brigade members at least twice.

After the building was taken down, a dissident member of the Housewreckers Union, Harry Diduck, took the brave step of suing the corrupt union. Trump, and an arm of Metropolitan Life Insurance (Trump’s financial partner in Trump Tower) for the wages and benefits the Polish Brigade members should have received. Trump insisted he owed nothing and filed motion after motion that delayed the proceedings, which his lawyers characterized as baseless and unfair.

When the trial finally made it to federal court, Trump testified that he had no knowledge that any workers were underpaid, or that the Polish workers lacked hard hats and other safety equipment. Judge Stewart, in a lengthy opinion found that Trump’s testimony lacked credibility. The judge said it would have been easy to identify the Polish workers–they were the only ones on the demolition site without hard hats.

Judge Stewart ruled that Trump had engaged in a conspiracy to cheat the workers of their pay. At the heart of this conspiracy was Trump’s violation of his duty of loyalty–also known as fiduciary duty–to the workers and to the union. This ‘breach involved fraud and the Trump defendants knowingly participated in this breach,’ Judge Stewart held.

The judge awarded damages of $325,000 plus interest. Trump, who has consistently maintained he acted lawfully, appealed. He later settled. The agreement was sealed, so the amount Trump paid remains unknown. Diduck’s dedication to his fellow workers showed amazing persistence–the sealed settlement took effect more than eighteen years after the demolition began.”

The Making of Donald Trump by David Cay Johnston, Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

…the real trump.

………hugmamma.Image result for images of trump as jekyll and hyde

Advertisements

the law is…the law

Kim Davis has refused to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. It goes against her religious beliefs, or so she says. She has her supporters. They who are on hand as she is released from prison having been incarcerated for 4 days for refusing to abide by federal law. Included among them are Governor Mike Huckabee and his wife.

How is it that Davis…a several times divorcee …with a child borne out of wedlock…can set herself apart from those who want to wed someone of the same gender?

“Those who live in glass houses…shouldn’t throw stones.”

Calling upon God when it’s convenient is one’s own business…except when one is paid to do a job, especially one that is mandated by law. If a person chooses to ignore that law, then she or he should seek employment elsewhere.

Laws are enacted to ensure all citizens work within their confines for the good of society. Until they were allowed to wed legally, gay couples sought other avenues to commit themselves to one another. They worked long and hard to have the law changed so that they now enjoy the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts. Opponents to the law should consider working just as hard and long to have it reversed. Until it is, the law allowing gay couples the right to wed should be honored.

It seems Davis will be allowed to return to her job as long as others on her staff issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Whenever possible,  compromise is a good solution. However Davis should be prepared to find herself back behind bars should circumstances revert back…and she once again refuses to…

…abide by the law.

………hugmamma.

nurturing thursdays: celebrating the goodness of people…

My husband’s 40+ years of dedicated service to the traveling public has come to an end.

What began as a summer job with Pan American World Airways in the mid-to-late 60s, followed by a stint with American Express as a travel agent in the early 70s, eventually flourished into a full-fledged career in the cruise industry.

I have never doubted my husband’s charisma and talent to do anything he wanted. Although his seeming shyness and humility had me wondering if he could ever climb the corporate ladder. I didn’t think he had the killer instinct required to get from one rung to the next. Last night’s retirement dinner confirmed the fact that he remained true to himself through all the twists and turns of a career that took him from airport ticket agent in Honolulu to Vice President of Human Resources in Seattle…via The Big Apple, New York City.

One of three executives who retired the beginning of this year, my husband listened as others spoke of their personal and professional experiences with him throughout the years.

The man who heads the entire brand has known my husband since their younger days working at another cruise line headquartered in NYC. That’s going back some 30+ years. My husband was then a reservations supervisor; the other, a purser on board one of the ships. I didn’t know him then. We only became acquainted about 6 years ago, when my husband moved out of Guest Programs into Human Resources and reported directly to his former colleague, now in charge of the whole operation here on the West Coast.

Small world. Even smaller when folks remain in one industry throughout their entire careers. Our daughter, the dancer, will confirm that.

It’s always deeply moving for me when others reiterate the same qualities I most admire in my husband…his compassion…his fairness…his trustworthiness…his calming influence. Once a prospect for the priesthood…before we met, obviously…he has never lost his Christianity. He continues to practice his faith in God and others…in all ways.

Last night some jokingly referred to him as a saint, including his boss.

During one of our first arguments as newlyweds 44 years ago, I asked if he knew how hard it was living with a saint. Genuinely hurt, he said that was the worst thing I could have said. Of course I never went there again. Nonetheless…it isn’t always easy trying to modify my behavior according to someone who is so uniquely wired.

I had worked for a number of corporations before opting out of the rat race for the best career ever handed me…motherhood. None has been more satisfying or rewarding. I got out what I put in. I couldn’t say that about the corporate jobs I’ve had. I always felt I put in more than I got out. It was always…”manana”…tomorrow. Do this today and you MIGHT see some payback tomorrow…or the next day…the next year… or the year after. I didn’t have that kind of patience. Still don’t. A little better, but not the same as my husband’s.

I’ve always felt, still do, that employees are a reflection of those for whom they work. They embody the corporation’s principles. The management style of the person at the top filters down throughout the entire workforce. Great employees are a credit to a great boss; on the flip side, a mediocre boss inevitably breeds mediocrity among his employees.

Having had access to the back story via what I saw for myself as well as what my husband confided in me, the corporation from which he recently retired was the best I’d seen in all my time in and around the business world. 

The man at the top, my husband’s boss, held to the same values as us…uncompromising integrity and family above all else. The leaders he chose to effect his agenda were men and women who demonstrated similar principles. I can attest to it because I met many of them, even getting to know some well. Talk of family, interest in our daughter’s dance career, was always part of the conversation. And, of course, we always asked after their children’s well-being and what they were doing.

My husband’s boss and his wife are the only executive couple with whom I have ever been able to speak freely and from the heart. So I guess it was no surprise to them, that when after all other speeches were made, including those by the retirees themselves…I asked if I could say a few words.

Speaking from the heart…as Hawaiians do so well…I explained the attachment I felt to my husband’s boss and his wife. Once, some time ago, at a social function I had said I would have loved being both their mothers. (They are good people. They would make any mother proud. Having met both sets of parents, I understand why they became who they are.)

I went on to explain to those gathered my own corporate career experience, and how I’d never witnessed the same familial environment apparent in my husband’s company. I credited that fact and my husband’s ability to thrive within such an atmosphere…to his boss’s management style. One that wasn’t only focused upon “the bottom line,” but also upon the coming together as…ohana…Hawaiian for “family.” 

In conclusion, I asked that those present…all in varying leadership positions within the company…”hang onto that feeling of ohana. That it is a rarity, as much now as in the past.

Hugging both the CEO of Holland America Group, Stein Cruse, and his wife Linda, I said I loved them. She and I shed tears as we hugged. Just like a daughter… And he stooped to embrace me in a bear hug, whispering that it was sweet of me. Just like a son…

Public speaking has never been my forte. My voice cracks. I ramble. I say things which might make most husbands and daughters cringe with embarrassment. Fortunately for me, mine “get” who I am. As my daughter explained…whatever I know might go public. She knows too that it’s only done out of love and compassion.

I have no filter when it comes to praising others. I say what I feel. Perhaps because I craved approval the better part of my life, and probably still do, I give it freely whenever I am afforded the opportunity.

Seeing others warmed by a few words of praise…blesses me.

And so I count my blessings…

…as often as i can.

………hugmamma.

Enjoy other inspirational words at
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2015/03/26/nurt-thurs-you-are/

 

 

living her best life…#37: wabi sabi

Wabi Sabi. A phrase I’ve now heard 3 times within the last couple of months. A phrase I’d never heard before.

Pat’s husband Brad first mentioned Wabi Sabi just about the time she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma and amyloidosis. Then Pat’s sister Mary spoke of it again in an email. I’d been meaning to bring it up in a post, but never did. And so…the “third time’s the charm.”

A Blog for Humans at   https://tomrains.wordpress.com/2015/02/19/sehnsucht/  defined Wabi Sabi as “a Japanese philosophy concerning the beauty of imperfection.”

The beauty of imperfection. 

Describes Pat’s life at the moment…at least insofar as how Pat is living her life…in light of her health issues.

Life really is as the Japanese perceive it…Wabi Sabi. 

Beautiful in its imperfection.

Following is an email from Pat updating her “imperfectly beautiful life.”

*****************************************************************************************************************************************

Hi [hugmamma…]

How is Sitka doing? I felt so sad reading your post about him. It was really hard when Lady died. It took a while but I’m finally ready for another dog, but the timing is just not right. And how is the renovation going? Smoothly, I hope! I’m not sure if my text messages from my phone are going through, so wanted to give you another update, as things are starting to move forward…

First things first, though. Had an enjoyable, busy weekend. Saturday was a bridal shower for John’s (my nephew) fiancee, Estee. Then we got together on Sunday at Johnny’s (my brother) because Carol and her family are in town for the week. Any time family’s together is a good time…

I’m still working 3 days a week and will start doing half days on most Thursdays. Basically, I’m running out of sick leave and vacation time! There’s a “shared leave” program at work where co-workers can donate leave. My boss says there’s a lot of interest from people at work who want to donate, so I’ve put in a request and hopefully will get some additional time. I’ve also put in for leave without pay for June – August. I will be able to keep my medical benefits as long as I pay my premiums, so I wanted to make sure to set that up.

We just got a letter from the Mayo Clinic scheduling my first appointment for May 11. Chemo is scheduled to end Wednesday, May 6, so the following Monday we’ll be in Minnesota. The Kaiser transplant coordinator told us Mayo said to plan on staying for 2-3 days. That doesn’t help us much so we are trying to get more details before we make our travel arrangements. I have 2 appointments the first day we’re there which look like a consultation and possibly a bone marrow biopsy. Kaiser has said all along that the Mayo Clinic will most likely want to do their own tests, etc. So there could be additional appointments while we’re there.

Brad and I still have so many questions, as well as a lot of preparation for the trip and beyond. 

Ethan will still be in school. Need to make arrangements for him to stay with Brad’s sister. Aiden is due to return home on May 10, so we’ll be crossing paths in the air. What’s unknown is how soon after this first trip we’ll be returning to the Mayo Clinic for the actual transplant. We’ve learned that they won’t want to wait too long from the time I end my chemotherapy before starting the transplant process. So we’re guessing we’ll fly home only to fly back soon after. Not so easy when traveling from Hawaii!

It’s still a little ways away, but I get anxious if I think about it too much. Just have to take it one day at a time, because…

…life goes on…things needing to be done this week…a meeting with our tax consultant…chemo treatments…

…and things to look forward to…John and Estee’s wedding in a couple of weeks…the annual Easter brunch at our house.

Maybe we can talk on Wednesday or Thursday morning? Chemo on Wednesday is at 1 p.m. 

Anyway, must be going. Trying to gather all our tax papers for tomorrow’s meeting.

Love to you and the family,

…and all my supporters…

…pat…and hugmamma.

 

living her best life…#26

As often happens in our lives, there can be hiccups along the way.

Recently, Pat had such a day…

News in Hawaii is that Kaiser-Hawaii employees are on strike!

My nurse had assured me that she would be here for me this week, and she was. Because Kaiser was short-staffed I had to wait a bit. In spite of that, Tara was as attentive as ever.

Additional blankets were ordered but because of shortages on all the floors, only a few were obtained. 

Brad said the cafeteria was closed.

I don’t know exactly who’s on strike but I guess it includes medical assistants, cafeteria workers, and lab techs/nurses who administer the blood tests…as well as the guys who do the laundry.

Some smaller clinics are closed altogether this week.

Supposedly, the strike should only last a week. However it might continue to occur intermittently thereafter.

 On Monday I had a blood test, and today I went in for chemotherapy treatment. Thankfully, I didn’t encounter any problems because of the strike.

I hope all other patients are getting the care they require. From what I could see while I was there for my treatment, everyone seemed to be receiving what they needed.

When I entered the room,  I sat next to a man who was already undergoing treatment. He was still there when I left.

On the other side of him was a woman who was in for her first treatment. She had family with her. I overheard the nurse explain what would take place, assuring the patient, as I had been, that she would be fine. Then the pharmacist, Richard, arrived to explain what drugs she would receive and how they would be administered. I remember how he’d done that for me on my first day.

Then there was another woman who was in for her last session. She sat and knitted while having her treatment. The nurses thanked her for the manapua…a bun filled with shredded, barbecued pork. A Chinese delicacy she’d brought them on previous occasions. The woman hugged them all when she left, saying she’d return to visit…but not to stay!

That woman inspired me even though it’s still early in my treatment. I wanted to reach out to reassure the woman who was just beginning…or perhaps her daughter.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to strike up a conversation with fellow patients.

Or maybe not.

It’s such a personal, anxious and scary thing for me. I’m sure it must be for the others as well.

While finishing up my treatment, Tara and I were laughing about something. The woman’s daughter…if, in fact, that’s who she was…glanced my way, smiling. I hope my conversation and laughter helped allay her fears…at least a little bit.

I’ll sign off now so I can go and eat something.

By the way…I gained 2 pounds! Yoohoo!!! Never thought I’d be celebrating that.

…we’ll talk again soon…

…love you all…always.

………pat.

 

 

an act of kindness…warms our family’s heart

My hormones were raging today, the downside of hormone replacement therapy treatment…Wiley Protocol in my case.

How do I know? My tear ducts were working overtime today. 

I think it began with An Affair to Remember with Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr. No matter how often I see this tear jerker, I always weep in all the same places. 

When Grant returns to his grandmother’s home after she’s died, remembering when he was last there, Kerr at his side. In the background, the haunting melody is playing which starts my tears. And then, of course, when Grant learns Kerr had been in a car accident and was, therefore, unable to meet him at the top of the Empire State Building. That’s when the flood gates burst, and I was a blithering idiot.

After gathering my wits about me, I went about my day.

In the evening I paused intermittently to listen to a couple of the singers on The Voice. When each of the 5 remaining contestants returned to their home towns to thunderous applause, again I choked up. How proud to be recognized by one’s own community, and to represent it on the national stage. How proud, indeed!

Then my daughter phoned. She has a way of making me sentimental mush. No, I didn’t cry…not then.

After filling me in on all she’s been up to since we last talked, she told me a story which had me choking back my tears once again.

An elderly gentleman stopped at a Discount Tire store to have a tire repaired. Upon looking it over, the young salesman informed the customer that, in fact, all of the tires on the old truck needed replacing. The man explained he only had enough money to make repairs, that he was doing it for his daughter. He paid the bill, indicating that she would return the next day to pick up her truck.

When the 17-year-old returned with her boyfriend, the salesman told her what he’d said to her father the day before. Again she reiterated that she had no money to buy new tires. She went on to say she had been accepted into veterinary school which took all the money her family had to spare.

The Discount Tire rep happened to be the Senior Assistant to the store manager. Making an executive decision, he authorized his technicians to replace all the tires with new ones. Noticing what they were doing through one of the store windows, the young woman was understandably upset and asked what they were doing. The young man, a 25-year-old, assured her that his concern was for her safety. He was probably also thinking about the safety of others she might encounter on the road, driving alongside her. She cried as he wished her a happy holiday season, inviting her father to make whatever payments he could…whenever he could…if he was so inclined. 

A Good Samaritan story for which I was not prepared. I cried when my daughter told it, and again when I retold it to my husband. It brought tears to his eyes as well.

The personal blessing for our family? The Good Samaritan is…

…our daughter’s boyfriend.

………hugmamma.

 

summertime…and the pickings are slim

Remember the first job you ever had? A paying job, I mean. Not some volunteer stint  in exchange for a pat on the back and a stellar recommendation to go along with it. Or as in my case, a couple of summers helping the nun in charge of the bookstore set up shop for students returning to school in the Fall. That got me a break in tuition and a discount on my books. My mom was forever indebted to the Marianist Sisters; I was grateful too…in a less religious way. I got to play “big shot” in front of my fellow school mates.

No. I’m talking about 8 hours work for 8 hours pay, and overtime when warranted.

On the Hawaiian Island of Maui where I grew up, the best most of us graduating from high school could get was a job at the Maui Pineapple Cannery. It had openings for hundreds on their assembly lines. We were literally…hired hands.

I was a pineapple packer making $1.25 an hour. That was a heap of money in 1966 for the youngest in a family of 9 who never got an allowance. Good luck trying to hire a teenager for that kind of money these days, unless you outsource to the Philippines or India.

Swelling like a proud peacock as I walked through the warehouse entrance those first several days, I embraced the scent of ripening fruit that surrounded me. How fortunate I felt to be part of the pineapple family. I was motivated to be the best employee ever hired to pack pineapple into cans.

There were female foremen who walked among us, correcting or praising as the situation warranted. Once-in-awhile they moved into position, demonstrating the proper way to do the job. 

I’m positive I got a little of both…complimented for doing good work, and lectured for wasting perfectly good fruit. When packing a pineapple, I had to decide whether or not all the slices were worthy of being sent along to the consumer. At 16, I had the power!!! Yeah, right.

Sometimes I substituted for a person cutting pineapples. I’m pretty sure I was petrified at the thought of slicing off a finger, or at the very least the tip of one. Developing lightning speed took time. I never occupied the position long enough to acquire that skill. I was always relieved when the regular cutter returned to her position. Phew! Talk about my relief…at being relieved.

It didn’t take long before I landed in the cannery’s infirmary. Nausea and the heat generated from the machinery made many of us sick to our stomachs. It didn’t help that the humidity outdoors made its way indoors. Thankfully, I eventually developed an armor-like constitution…along with an aversion…to pineapple.

To this day I welcome the occasional piece of pineapple-upside-down cake…or a piece of pineapple in my favorite recipe of island-style meatballs, or sweet-sour spareribs. But a bowlful of pineapple all by itself? I don’t think so. I’d sooner eat a serving of broccoli steamed with a sprinkling of lemon juice and parmesan cheese.

That’s saying a lot for someone who grew up eating canned veggies.

Without a doubt, working in the Maui Pineapple Cannery “grew hair on my chest.” I was ready to face the big, bad world as a college freshman in the big city, Honolulu, on the island of Oahu.

…no one dared mess with me!

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

hawaiian airlines…resolved???

In my previous post, Hawaiian Airlines bureaucracy, irksome…to say the least, I told of my recent dealings with several representatives of the airline as I tried to ascertain if my family was eligible for a reduction in airfare for reservations we’d booked prior to receiving an email touting a better rate.

Long story short, we could only apply if we cancelled our prior booking for which we’d have to pay a penalty, or watch for another email and call in again to see if we could get the better rate.

I can see you’re grimacing as I did, and others to whom I related this story. Duh??? Would you mind running that past me again?

Unfortunately, it’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but…

Feeling I’d hit a bureaucratic, brick wall, I did what any red-blooded American housewife would do under the circumstances…I wrote a six-page letter to the President and CEO of Hawaiian Airlines, Mr. Mark B. Dunkerley detailing my experience from start to finish, including the various emails sent me by the six or so employees with whom I’d been in contact. I copied the three executive vice presidents and sent the letters priority mail to ensure that they didn’t travel by way of the South Pole. I jest, of course. Although I did want them to receive my correspondence sooner, rather than later…or never.

I realized Mr. Dunkerley might never read the letter. Most likely his executive assistant would redirect it to whomever she felt should handle the matter. It’s probably rare that a company’s top man bothers with such matters, although my husband informed me that his company’s President/CEO always reads mail addressed to him. This doesn’t surprise me since I know the man, and he’s one-in-a-million. I’ve not yet met another high-ranking executive who is as concerned about people as he is.

My husband felt certain I’d hear back from a director…at least. But no. My concerns weren’t even warranted that level of handling. Instead I was referred back to the senior counselor in Consumer Affairs from whom I’d received the last email advising me to look for another email offering a lower rate.

The woman told me my letter to Mr. Dunkerley had been referred to her for handling. Talk about bypassing all the levels between the head honcho and a clerk. It’d be like free falling from the top of the World Trade Center to the ground floor.

Closing the lid on my case once and for all, I was informed that in our upcoming trip to Hawaii our family would be allowed one piece of checked luggage for free. Well, I guess that’s something.

Funny thing is, an apology for what I’d experienced in the way of poor customer service would have sufficed. Acknowledging that my family’s business, present and future, meant a great deal to Hawaiian Airlines would have gone a long way in securing our patronage. We would have applauded their efforts on setting the record straight to right a perceived wrong.

Upon reflection, our family agrees that the airline industry as a whole is totally immersed in the “bottom line.” Passengers are simply a means to that end. Management is too busy dreaming up ways to take our last dollar, while the lowest employees on the totem pole are charged with making sure we remain parted from our money.

So as I said to Mr. Dunkerley in closing…“Customer satisfaction is a relic of the past, it seems. As is passenger loyalty.”

…we all do…what we have to do…corporations and individuals, alike…

…sad, but true…

…hugmamma.

hawaiian airlines bureaucracy…irksome, to say the least

Forgive the rant, but tangling with airline bureaucracy is never a “walk in the park.” It’s more like treading water in the middle of the ocean…with no land in sight.

So why get involved with a dragon that breathes fire, while rearing its massive, unwieldy head? Or in this case…Methusala with her many heads, all of which do not converse with one another?

Well, I’ll tell you.

IMG_4514Our family is planning a visit to Hawaii to see relatives and enjoy some time together in the sun, sand, and blue waters. Normally my husband books the cheapest flights he can find. To the islands, it’s more than likely we’ll fly with Alaska Airlines. This time, however, I insisted we fly on Hawaiian Airlines, the unofficially crowned carrier of the islands where my husband and I were born.

Call it nostalgia. Call it hokey. But from what I recollect, the flight attendants pour on the famed Aloha Spirit the minute you step through the aircraft door. And it doesn’t stop until you touch down on a Hawaiian island runway.

At least that’s my expectation.

Unfortunately from what I’ve already experienced on the administrative end…methinks I smell a rotten on-board experience in the offing as well. Or at the very least, little sign of the so-called Aloha Spirit.

What started this rant? A seemingly innocuous email from Hawaiian Airlines.

Almost immediately after our flight was booked, I got an email touting a “Dream Fare” from Seattle to Honolulu for $538, round trip. Almost $200 cheaper than what we’d paid, I took the advice of a niece to call and see if we might take advantage of the lower rate.

Unbeknownst to me, when I called Reservations, I was actually dialing an offshore call center in the Philippines. I wondered as I spoke with the woman whose heavy accent was, at times, difficult to understand. I had to ask her to repeat herself several times.

After explaining my situation, she put me on hold while she went in search of an answer…a couple of times. When she returned the second time, she indicated that she’d be transferring me to another department for what I thought was a price adjustment.

I got Greg in Web Support, which I’ve since learned is also in the Philippines.

Repeating the reason for my call, Greg told me that the only way I could take advantage of the lower fare was to cancel my previous reservations for which I would pay a penalty.

Duh??? What brainiac at Hawaiian Airlines thought I was going to go through the hassle…to pay…to save? 

Having agreed to a survey beforehand, I blasted away with both barrels firing.

Evidently the Marketing Department dreamed up the “Dream Fare” email, ASSUMING the recipient would know not to call if he or she had already booked a flight. No, there was no mention of this in the email. With Hawaii being the destination and the fare being that low, who wouldn’t want to take advantage of the bargain?

As I told both offshore reps for Hawaiian Airlines, had the email specified that the offer did not apply to previously booked reservations I would have deleted it. End of story.

When I asked to speak with a supervisor, Greg directed me to the airline’s Consumer Advocate’s office. “Wow!” I thought.  “Hawaiian Airlines actually goes through the trouble of installing on-site advocacy for passengers?” Well, don’t expect too much. It’s more than likely also in the Philippines. And if it is in fact in Hawaii, it’s a last resort effort to be heard.

As of yet, I still hadn’t spoken with anyone from Hawaiian Airlines itself. It’s cheaper for them to have foreigners front the operation. Not something other corporations aren’t guilty of as well. More money in their pockets if labor costs originate in poorer countries whose folks are willing to work for pittance.

But the Aloha Spirit airlines skimping on…the ALOHA? OMG! What’s this world coming to?

At first I decided to end the charade and not call the consumer advocate. A glutton for punishment, I decided to take Hawaiian Airlines up on its offer to have someone take up my cause…before I took the matter into my own, very capable hands and went directly to the top of the pyramid.

I provided Hannah, the consumer advocate, with a thorough rundown of my conversations. She filled out a form for submission, agreeing that the email misled in its omission that booked passengers need not inquire. Hannah explained that I should receive feedback within 30 business days. I decided I would probably not hear back, but that I did what I could at this peripheral level of Hawaiian Airlines.

Almost immediately, I received an email from Nel/GBA of Web Support asking that I provide her with the fare I was seeking to re-book. I forwarded her the email I’d received to which came an instant email reply that no one was tending the site. Frustrated, I called the consumer advocate back for help. Wouldn’t you know it? I couldn’t speak to Hannah again because Olive was unable to transfer my call.

Okay. So I repeated my entire story to Olive. Of course I huffed and puffed my way through, explaining that this was only adding more fuel to the fire. Explaining that I had to attach the original Dream Fare email to my reply responding to the email I had just received, rather than forwarding it separately, was like telling a very old dog to do a trick he’d only ever done once before. Now, how did that trick go? Instead, Olive sent an email to Web Support on my behalf. Meanwhile, I simultaneously sent a reply telling Nel/GBA of Web Support indicating what the lower fare was.

The final outcome of this several act Hawaiian Airlines farce is that the following email was sent that has seemingly ratcheted up the ante.

…call Web Support at 1-866-586-9419…

We can actually do some price adjustment on your reservation, though when we tried repricing it, we were not able to get the same fare anymore, as it is possible that the fares advertised is already sold out.

We hope you can call us as soon as you can so we can see about possibly doing some price adjustments after assessment. We are open 24/7 so you can call at your convenience.

Feel free to contact us or reply back if you have any more inquiries. Web Support is open 24/7 to take in your web-related concerns.

Mahalo,

Nel/GBA
Hawaiian Airlines Web Support

I called early this morning and had to repeat my entire story for the fifth time to Jervis. Evidently Nel/GBA sends emails, but doesn’t do phone calls. Very matter-of-factly, Jervis told me that the lower fare was no longer available for my flight. Probably the allotted number of seats for $538 had been filled.

Jervis, Olive, Hannah, Greg, and the first rep I spoke with all apologized for any inconvenience caused me by Hawaiian Airlines.

Rather than doing another annoying, pre-programmed, so-called “short” survey at the end of my call with Jervis, I told him I’d be blogging about the long, bumpy road I’ve traveled in less than 24 hours with Hawaiian Airlines.

It all started with an email that came hot-on-the-heels of booking our reservations. Makes me think Hawaiian Airlines’ Marketing didn’t check beforehand to see that we already booked and, therefore, couldn’t claim the Dream Fare being advertised. Were they trying to play…GOTCHA? Or is it that they’re just dumb?

Check out our latest low fares to Hawaii and book your next flight on Hawaiian Airlines today! Enjoy complimentary meals served at appropriate mealtimes and our authentic Hawaiian hospitality as soon as you step on board.***
 Booking Period: Apr 29 – May 5, 2014
Travel Period: Jun 13 – Aug 11, 2014

My thoughts are that as well-intentioned as their consumer advocacy program might be, it is merely a fancy spin on an old ploy of…”dodging the bullet.” A lot of fancy footwork here, even rivaling that made famous by boxing notable Muhammad Ali, in his prime. Jervis indicated I’d hear from Nel/GBA. I think not. She’s probably some phantom embodiment for Hawaiian Airlines Web Support.

So our family will head for the distant shores of our ancestors enjoying whatever Aloha Spirit we find en route. With what I’ve experienced of them thus far, I’m no longer expecting Hawaiian Airlines to provide anything more in the way of on board service than I would find on Alaska Airlines or Delta Airlines, for that matter. And from now on, I’ll remember that age-old saying…

…if it sounds too good to be true…it probably is!

………hugmamma.IMG_4544

 

 

what’s wrong with…this picture?

Did you see the one where the guys in a boat headed straight into the tornado’s water spout…with boyish glee? And when interviewed, the boat owner said…he’d do it again, given the chance?

Did you see the congressmen who, when interviewed, swore they’d shut down the government…rather than allow millions of Americans the opportunity to sign up for health care insurance tomorrow?

Did you see the video in which a black SUV is chased down by a pack of motorcyclists who travel the road as if…they own it?

As we all know, there are two sides to every story. Whatever the arguments, certain facts are indisputable.

Had the boat overturned going through the water spout, the coast guard would’ve been called into action to rescue those numb skulls. And who would have footed the bill…us, the taxpayers, of course!

If the government shuts down, thousands of middle class folks will be furloughed, military families will cease to be paid, and the health care law will go into effect. So what will those idiot Tea Party reps have gained? Why…attention on the world stage, of course…at no cost to themselves since their salaries remain intact, regardless.

The pack mentality screams out…”One for all and all for one!” So when a gang of motorcyclists takes over the highway, surrounding a car on all sides and traveling as though they’re “rubbernecking,” what’s a car driver to do? Get out and walk?

Some days it’s difficult to believe what I’m seeing…

…ever have one of those days?,,,

The Gadsden flag

 

………hugmamma. 

a daughter…is a daughter

Laughter. Tears. Gossip. Advice. Stories.

Laughter...

More laughter. Always…more laughter. And stories. Stories galore.

These are the benefits I’ve enjoyed since my daughter returned to our empty nest. 

Because she spent her teen years totally devoted to training for a career in dance, I missed what most moms experience with their daughters. The conservatory she attended had no proms, no homecoming games. The handful of boys could not have met the social needs of the predominantly female private school.

As far as my husband was concerned, it was as though our daughter was safely tucked away in some convent. No guys…no problems.

I was fortunate enough to be with my daughter the first 2 1/2 years she spent training with Atlanta Ballet in Georgia. Having seen her in their summer program, she was encouraged to return to them during what would have been her senior year. It was a time of tumult…professionally and personally. Normalcy was at a premium. Everything revolved around dance.

Ballet Lift

Parenting a wannabe ballerina must closely resemble grooming an Olympic ice skater. You do what you can to help your child succeed. Even in the face of adversity and rejection, you remain positive, offering whatever support you can to help sustain the dream.

A career in the performing arts matures kids…fast. Not only must they deal with who they are becoming physically, but they must also be open to adapting their appearance to their job description. Even if they have to “read between the lines.” Because you know it’s not going to say…”You need to be a waif, or else.”

Beyond the physical, dance hopefuls must conduct themselves like adults. Be respectful. Be on time. Be prepared. Be responsive to correction. Be adept at learning choreography, and remembering roles learned in back-to-back rehearsals for a couple of different productions.  Be competitive…while being a team member. Be responsible for themselves…in all ways.

I know middle-aged adults who don’t have half the life skills my daughter has acquired during the 11 years she has been in the professional dance environment. At 27, she could conduct a class in…how to get the most out of life…with a whole lot of passion…and not a lot of money.

So you see, I’m learning how to strive while being contented, from my own personal YODA…my daughter…my hero…

…my bff…best friends forever…

Hawaiian ballerina in Spanish mode

Hawaiian ballerina in Spanish mode

 

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

my “black” brother

You think I jest? I wish I were.

My brother Ed was mistaken for a black man as he earned his keep with JOB CORPS, a federally funded government program for underprivileged youth. It didn’t help that his skin had turned its deepest shade of brown while digging ditches on the island of Kauai.

Entrance sign to the Red Rock Jobs Corps Cente...

Entrance sign to the Red Rock Jobs Corps Center in Colley Township, Sullivan County, Pennsylvania (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As he traveled on the mainland working temporary jobs during the 1960s, Ed was forced to sit in the back of the bus and use public restrooms designated…”blacks.”

Small wonder then, that my brother came to feel a strong kinship with African Americans. I don’t think he ever anticipated having to choose between the races, but since the choice was made for him, he embraced the black culture. And it embraced him right back.

Ed married into a black family, eventually fathering a daughter and a son. My husband and I witnessed first hand the loving warmth so readily offered by my brother’s extended family. They accepted us too as though we were…their own. I vividly recall…the laughter…the light-hearted teasing…the delicious aromas…the shared conversations of a family…not unlike the one in which I grew up. 

Some 40+ years after moving to the mainland, Ed remains loyal to folks who welcomed him with open arms, loving him as a son, brother, nephew, cousin, uncle and father.

People, no matter the color of their skin, want the same thing…a job, a home, a family, and a life free of suppression. And with each new dawn…hope is rekindled that all these are possible.

Ed served in Vietnam, an experience which more than likely compounded his distrust of the status quo. Can you blame him?

You can rest assured my brother is no shrinking violet. Having earned a black belt in karate, he is as steely on the inside as he is on the outside. Like fathers everywhere however, Ed’s soft spot is his children.

Growing up black in America remains a hurdle which must be navigated with adroitness. Knowing my brother as I do, Leilani and Chris have had a determined master lead them through the thickets of racial prejudice with stealth and imagination. 

My heart swells with pride when I recall all that Ed has had to overcome to own a small piece of the American dream. He may have gone the route less traveled, but he…

…let his heart lead the way…

………hugmamma. 

 

free to be…one man’s dream

English: Carnival Place, Carnival Corporation ...

English: Carnival Place, Carnival Corporation and Carnival Cruise Line headquarters in Doral, Florida. Photographed by user Coolcaesar on January 20, 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My husband works for a major player in the travel industry, Carnival. Under its corporate umbrella are not only Carnival Cruises, but also Cunard, Holland America, Princess, Seabourn, Costa, as well as others with which I’m not as familiar.

For several days, and nights, my husband has been preparing, along with others in management, to receive Carnival’s new CEO. 

I know nothing about the man except that he is…black.

Dr. Martin Luther King must be smiling down upon us from his heavenly perch. “Look at how far America has come”…he must be thinking…

…look at how far we have come…

………hugmamma.

Français : Le carnival fantasy

reality check…for college grads

Eleven years ago when my daughter decided not to pursue a college degree, opting instead to train for a career in ballet, I had to do some mighty fancy footwork of my own in order to convince my husband that she had the talent and passion to succeed. It helped…a little…that her conservatory high school instructors supported her decision. After all, ballet is for the young at heart…and bodyIMG_0442

The fact that our daughter was lauded for her potential in all the summer dance programs in which she participated was also very encouraging. Her first summer away from us…ever…at the age of 14 was to Banff, CanadaBeing awarded a scholarship to return  the following summer probably clinched the deal in my husband’s eyes. Wow! Even the Canadians recognized a rising star, or so we doting parents liked to think.

Instead of returning to dance in the Canadian Rockies, however, our budding ballerina decided to accept American Ballet Theatre‘s invitation to their summer intensive in The Big Apple. I mean what kid isn’t going to prefer…candy to rocks?…the rat race to mating elks?… Times Square to isolation?

Truth be told…my daughter wishes she’d gone back to Banff. The training was better…the ratio of dancers to teachers was better…and the cost was way less. But hey! You win some…you lose some. But you always…move forward.

In the grand scheme of things, however, our daughter’s won…big time!

An 11-year dance career (and counting) is no small feat!

As long as our daughter’s passion and body hold out…she’ll be dancing…until “the fat lady sings.”March 2011A 00095

Meanwhile, it’s ironic…and devastating…to learn that college grads are having difficulty finding jobs these days. The following Wall Street Journal editorial reminded me of their plight.

Sorry, College Grads, I Probably Won’t Hire You

by Kirk McDonald

Dear College graduates:

     The next month is going to be thrilling as you cross this major milestone in your education. Enjoy the pomp and circumstance, the congratulations, and the parties. But when it’s all over and you’re ready to go out into the world, you’d probably like to meet me, or others like me–I’m your next potential dream boss. I run a cool, rapidly growing company in the digital field, where the work is interesting and rewarding. But I’ve got to be honest about some unfortunate news: I’m probably not going to hire you.

     This isn’t because I don’t have positions that need filling. On the contrary, I’m constantly searching for talented new employees, and if someone with the right skills walked into my office, he or she would likely leave it with a very compelling offer. The problem is that the right skills are very hard to find. And I’m sorry to say it, dear graduates, but you probably don’t have them.

     In part, it’s not your fault. If you grew up and went to school in the United States, you were educated in a system that has eight times as many high-school football teams as high schools that teach advanced placement computer-science classes. Things are hardly better in the universities. According to one recent report, in the next decade American colleges will mint 40,000 graduates with a bachelor’s degree in computer science, though the U.S. economy is slated to create 120,000 computing jobs that require such degrees. You don’t have to be a math major to do the math: That’s three times as many jobs as we have people qualified to fill them.

     It’s time to start addressing this crisis. States should provide additional resources to train and employ teachers of science, technology, engineering and math, as well as increase access to the latest hardware and software for elementary and high-school students. Companies–particularly those like mine that depend heavily on information technology–need to join the effort by sponsoring programs that help schools better train graduates to work in a demanding industry. But there’s one more piece of the puzzle that’s missing, and it’s the one over which you have the most control: you.

     I realize that you’ve a lot going on, and that the pressures of finding gainful employment are immense.  But understand this, because your future might very well depend on it: If you want to survive in this economy, you’d be well-advised to learn how to speak computer code.

     I don’t mean that you need to become genius programmers, the kind who hack into NASA’s computers for fun. Coding at such a level is a very particular and rare skill, one that most of us–myself included–don’t possess, just as we don’t possess the athletic ability to play for the New York Knicks.

     What we nonexperts do possess is the ability to know enough about how these information systems work that we can be useful discussing them with others. Consider this example: Suppose you’re sitting in a meeting with clients, and someone asks you how long a certain digital project is slated to take.

     Unless you understand the fundamentals of what engineers and programmers do, unless you’re familiar enough with the principles and machinations of coding to know how the back end of the business works, any answer you give is a guess and therefore probably wrong. Even if your dream job is in marketing or sales or another department seemingly unregulated to programming, I’m not going to hire you unless you can at least understand the basic way my company works. And I’m not alone.

     If you want a job in media, technology or a related field, make learning basic computer language your goal this summer. There are plenty of services–some free and others affordable–that will set you on your way.

     Teach yourself just enough of the grammar and the logic of computer languages to be able to see the big picture. Get acquainted with APIs. Dabble in a bit of Python. For most employers, that would be more than enough. Once you can claim familiarity with at least two programming languages, start sending out those resumes.

     So congratulations again on your achievement–and good luck getting your real-world education.

Mr. McDonald is president of PubMatic, an ad tech company in Manhattan. Previously, he was president of digital for Time Inc.

Just the other night hubby and I were talking about his having to replace his administrative assistant who decided to leave to pursue other interests. The foremost requirement he cited in her replacement was…computer proficiency. Everything else is secondary.

Looks like I won’t be applying. Now if communicating were the priority…yeah, right!

My daughter’s love of dance motivates her to continue training during the summer months when her ballet company is on hiatus. (Most companies are off at this time.) Her feeling is…and I agree…that she needs to keep honing her skills…to keep challenging herself to be better.

How do you remain relevant in your career? Keep learning. Learn everything within one’s power so that you can do what you want…for as long as you want…and hopefully…

Four Financial Tips for College Grads

…get paid what you want…(oh well, two out of three ain’t bad)…

………hugmamma.

there are bosses…and then there are those who care…

As I walked through the automatic doors at our local QFC supermarket a couple of days ago, the first thing that caught my gaze was a brightly colored balloon that said “Happy Boss’s Day.”

“There’s a boss’s day?” I asked myself.

I was aware of  secretary’s day, or in more recent times…administrative assistant’s day. Not a boss’s day.

The moment passed quickly and I didn’t give it another thought. Until last night that is, when my daughter expressed deep admiration for her dad…as a boss.

When my husband left for work this morning, we exchanged our usual bear hugs. Kissing him goodbye, I told him what our daughter had said. I added that, indeed, he was a boss who cares very much about his employees…and always has.

In his usual, humble manner my husband said he hoped he could convince some uneasy workers of that today.

Recently, I had occasion to speak with a woman who had worked for my husband several years ago. She use to arrange our family’s travel, for which I was always very grateful.

It was nice catching up with Chris.

Before we hung up, she mentioned an incident that remains the most memorable of her career.

One day when the company’s owner and a couple of his top executives were visiting with my husband, they happened by Chris’s office. Instead of continuing on his way, my husband ushered the gentlemen inside to meet her. Explaining how valuable she was to the operation, my husband turned the spotlight on Chris.

Years later, she has never forgotten that incident.

As Chris explained it…hierarchy didn’t matter to my husband. Without reservations, he introduced his supervisor to the company’s Owner and Chairman of the Board, and Chief Financial Officer.

My husband is a man of tremendous integrity.

Early in his career, a very grateful client sent my husband a Christmas card containing a check for $500. I immediately set about spending the money, figuring we could buy this, that, and the other. My fantasy evaporated seconds later, when my husband explained that he couldn’t accept monetary gifts for what he’d done as part of his job.

These days we get Omaha Steaks delivered to us…from another, satisfied client. I can’t recollect the last time I bought red meat.

A corporate man, my husband was inclined to vote for Governor Romney as the next President. But as the campaign unfolded, and Romney showed himself to be a man easily persuaded to retrofit his principles to fit his audience, my husband began rethinking his choice. And with Right-Wing attitudes about social issues playing over and over again in the media, my husband is even more convinced that he will re-elect President Obama.

…a boss with principles…who cares about his employees…let’s celebrate them…

………on boss’s day………