Saturday, August 27, 2011

Badge of Honor

I put in my first 12-hour day at the not-so-new job.  It was the first time I had left work when it was dark outside (which I realize will soon become a normal occurrence with the time change).  I saw the janitors show up.

It felt oddly comforting.  Something about knowing I can still work hard.  I joke with friends that I now only work 40-45 hours/week, and it feels like a part-time job, but there is a ring of truth to that for me.  I feel guilty leaving at 5:15 for karate on Tuesday and Thursdays.  While I don't arrive until 8:30/9, I don't take a lunch break usually.  Some people leave by 5, others stay until 6ish, rarely until 7.  But I still feel like I'm establishing my reputation.

But simultaneously, I have begun to feel more and more like this is my new normal.  Not just a new audit I'm on that I'll leave soon, but that I really am here until I deliberately resign and take another position.  We had some bank auditors come this week, and it was my job to prepare for them.  I did pretty well, and I think being the experienced one conveying information about our company did a lot for making me feel more settled here.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Pastor of My Home

I gave the lesson this morning in my Sunday School class (adults, not a class I work in for kids).

We're going through the Psalms, and our regular leader Darryl asked each man in the class to take one Psalm and give the lesson on it that Sunday.  I ended up picking Psalm 90.

I'm ashamed to admit I procrastinated a lot in preparing for this lesson.  I read through the Psalm several times in the weeks leading up to today, but I didn't start looking up commentaries until last night.

Psalm 90 is the oldest Psalm of all 150, and the only one written by Moses.  It contrasts God and His infallible, omnipotent, permanent nature with our existence being only to serve Him.  One commentator I read, Matthew Henry, proposed that Moses wrote this Psalm right after the nation of Israel had been sentenced to wander the desert for 40 years.  It puts a different spin on to think of hearing this after you've been told you've messed up one too many times, and you've now lost out on a dream you've been eagerly anticipating.

I picked this Psalm because of verse 12.  How ironic that I procrastinated on a lesson on Scripture that challenges us to maintain good time management.

I took a little bit of class time to also share the memory verse system that my youth pastor Ron shared with me back in high school.  Our Sunday School class has been talking about the importance of memorizing Scripture, so I wanted to share this method that worked so well for me.  Granted, I fell off the wagon with it due to all my traveling at D&T, but I had over 300 verses memorized at one point.  I need to do better at this now that I'm consistently at home every night.

I was frustrated that I ran out of time and that we as a class didn't get to fully discuss the Psalm, but I heard once that it was better to just wrap it up when time is exhausted.  Better to leave your audience wishing you had had time to say more than wishing you had stopped earlier (and probably missing the point of your message in the process).  We had our annual Ministry Fair in between services this morning, so both services were sliced a little to accommodate it.

I spoke to Darryl briefly after class.  He thanked me for speaking and gave me some insight on why he had the men in the class each take a class session.  I had thought it was him just wanting a break since finishing Colossians.  He said that at some point, when you have a family, every man becomes a pastor of his own home.  He felt this was a good practice environment for all of us.  That really struck me.  I know that if God is calling me to marry and have kids, I need to be a spiritual leader and lead family devotions, etc.  But I hadn't actively connected it into doing advance prep when I do those things.  It shouldn't be me looking at our family devotions at the same time as I share them, I will need to put in the extra time to familiarize myself with the lesson ahead of time.  That's how important the dad job is.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Planter Boxes

My friend Garry wanted to build some planter boxes at his new house for his wife Jenny to use for gardening.  Another friend in our church, Jon, is very handy and has made three such planter boxes.  So Jon volunteered to help Garry build one and I volunteered to help so I could learn how to do this as well.  It's something I'd be interested in doing at my house one day.  It was actually very easy to construct the frame, but the treated wood is really expensive.  Then there's the process of getting dirt, which Jon and I didn't help with.  :-)

Cool to hang out with some fellow Christian guys on a Saturday morning and learn how to do something new.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Campus Coastal Challenge #27

I've only been attending for three years, but last weekend was the 27th annual bike trip my church takes to Monterey for every second weekend in August.  We tent camp at an RV campground from Friday night to Sunday morning, and do a bike ride of ~28 miles along the Monterey Peninsula Trail.  This year, we have about 75 people I think.

Because of my insomnia, I usually only stay Friday night and then drive home late Saturday.  But Jon, the trip organizer, really wanted me to be able to stay the whole weekend this year.  He offered to let me sleep in the back of one of the vans.  I sleep in my car because I find it so cumbersome and impractical to set up a tent for one person for one or two nights, and even on an air mattress, I'm no more comfortable than being in my car.  But having a flat surface in the back of the van did help.  I slept decently (not great) Friday night, and well enough that I acquiesced to staying Saturday night.  I slept miserably that night and came home on the verge of getting sick.

I only did half the ride.  My friend Amy only wanted to do half, and I was ambivalent, so this was a way to get all the bikes there and back.  Amy was pulling her youngest daughter Aislynn in a tag-along, and didn't realize that it didn't fit her bike, so we attached the tag-along to mine.  Amy did the ride out, and I rode it back, but Aislynn went in a sag vehicle back with Amy, and we were able to ditch the tag-along, too (although I did get to pull another kid, Josh, in it for a two-mile stretch).

I think my favorite part of the weekend was really getting to play with the kids.  Some of the families I feel the closest to were there, and I got to give lot of rides on my shoulders and back, hold them upside down, and just hang out with them.  My seven-year-old buddy Cole learned to knit from his aunt recently, but had forgotten the purl stitch, so we took some time for me to teach it to him.  The scarf he was making looked like it had been through a war, and it just made me so proud remembering how similar my first knitting projects looked.  I started a cable stitch piece to wow him with, and he was duly impressed.

My friends Todd and Alicia came with their four-year-old boys Griffin and Derek.  Alicia and I used to work together, and it was cool to have them along on the trip with my church friends.  They skipped the ride because of the boys' ages but hung out with the group the rest of the time at the campground.

I stupidly skipped sunscreen and came back with some mild burns.  I know better than to skip it, especially when it's overcast, but I rationalized that since I was only doing half the ride, that I might not need it.  Lesson learned...again.

It was a rough drive home.  I was so wiped that I had to pull off for a power nap 20 miles into the 150-mile trip home.  Chewing gum kept me going the rest of the way.  It was nice to get out of the August heat of Fresno for a weekend, which isn't saying much this year because it's been so mild.  I think we're hitting a record for the fewest triple-digit days in July and August.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What's the Lesson This Time?

I started having heel pain in my right foot on Sunday but didn't really pay attention to it until yesterday.  Now I think I may have done something to my Achilles tendon.  It may have happened during my heavy sprint workout on Saturday.  And driving for five hours on Sunday and running five miles Monday morning probably didn't help it.  So I may need to take a break from running, just as I was gearing up for my next marathon.  Ugh.

Okay, God, what's the lesson in this for me?  How do you want to grow me next?  Help me to be humble enough to trust that you know a little more than I do about the big picture.  But please be patient with me, I tend to be a little slow in this department.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Feedback Works

I have long held the belief that filling out customer service surveys can be an effective means of creating change. I tend to be very thorough in my responses, trying carefully not to "fly off the handle," but rather drive home the hole in their customer service and suggest a remedy. My good friend Matt has always found my feedback hilarious, so I thought it time to share with the masses, or at least the two followers of this blog. I wrote the following to Jiffy Lube on June 27:

“I got an oil change yesterday and felt that the customer service was so bad, I had to write. I arrived and stopped in front of the only open bay, and a guy who had a creepy in-your-face (not aggressive, just too close for personal bubble) demeanor told me to turn off my engine. Then he had me turn it back on and move it behind a bay that had a car in it. I have no idea why and really don't care, but the presentation made it look as though I was being pushed back in the line as though the open bay was being held for someone else more important.

“I went inside and sat down. The T.V. was obnoxiously loud, but there was rarely anyone inside to ask that it be turned down a little. The angle of the T.V. also caught such a glare from the outside light that the screen was barely visible anyway even if I had wanted to watch the movie.

“I understand your process of bringing me out and showing me my air filter, etc., most of that I appreciate. But the guy who was there doing this today was an extremely fast talker, and everything he mentioned felt like a sales pitch. I don’t think a lot of the services you offer are necessary for my car, and I am sick of having to tell your team no every time I come in. Can’t you put in my profile not to even bring them up anymore? It was very uncomfortable, and now I wish I had gone somewhere else.

“Then the topic of discounts came up. He offered me some promotional $10 off deal based off the type of oil I chose, but then had to rescind it because it couldn’t be combined with the 50% deal I had available to me. There was another $10 mail-in rebate, but your guy then told me I wouldn’t get a receipt if I had them mail it in. Part of it was my annoyance over the inconvenience over all the loopholes in your “discounts,” but he was talking so fast that I felt like I was being fed a line.

“When I was talking over the high-mileage oil change I’d picked and the timeline for returning, he seemed to be disclaiming any responsibility for the quality of my oil change and when I needed to come back in. Everything was made to be my choice, and I was bearing all the risk. It was very annoying not to get a straight answer out of him.

“The two things done right on my visit were 1) the first guy, even though he had a creepy demeanor, he told me how long the wait time was without my having to ask, and 2) you have recent finance magazines. I enjoy reading those (but don’t want my house cluttered with magazines, so I don’t subscribe to them), so I really don’t care how long the whole process takes because I reserve a big chunk of time for it and just get to read. And as much as I just wanted to get out of there, I do like seeing your team check the caps on everything with me watching before I drive off.

“It’s probably not even worth having you contact me about this miserable experience, because any “I’m sorry” discount you give me will have some catch on it that will make it completely pointless when I get to the register. I foresee it being some % off discount of my next service that won’t be any better than my AAA discount, and you won’t compound them. If you are willing to do something about this to keep my business, feel free to reply.

“And why do you make all these fields like my address and car info required on your website survey form? It just makes more of an inconvenience for me when it has no bearing on the feedback I'm giving.

“I tried submitting the above on your website, but kept getting server errors. I called today, was on hold for 13 minutes, and finally got to a person who gave me this e-mail address. Put some hold music on so I don't have to constantly check to make sure the call wasn't dropped. And don't repeat that "Due to to heavy call volume, you may experience wait times in excess of 5 minutes" SO OFTEN. Very annoying.”

Well, Jiffy Lube customer service called me on Friday. The guy I spoke with apologized for my visit and was very grateful for all the feedback I gave, pointing out the many areas they had to improve upon. He offered to refund my $66 service charge (not just the oil change part, but also including the windshield chip repair I had done), and send me a $25 gift card off my next visit (should I choose to continue giving them my business), resolving the issue of some other promotion/discount not qualifying. Looks like Jiffy Lube will keep my business awhile longer.