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Mr. (Not) Right

Welcome to Team Henneke, where everybody not only wants to be right, but needs to be right.

No way will we give into the other person because that would be — wrong.

We have to be right about everything, it seems. Including the exact date when dad first reached puberty, the number of times he posts on Facebook each day, who did the last load of towels and the proper location for toothpaste on the bathroom counter. mr-right

At our house, folks exercise their right to be right in practically any instance. It could be during a blessing on the food, during a football game or in a room full of VIPs.

As for me, I can’t say here if I am right or not, because somebody might take issue with it. Because it’s my blog, just pretend that I speak the truth for the next 30 seconds.

It doesn’t matter to me as much if I win a debate. I don’t care to defend any allegations that somebody does more housework than me. Or that nobody believes me when I deny any responsibility for using the milk jug as a doorstop.

Actually, it’s quite entertaining to purposely mess with those who have to be right. It shakes them up, makes them question the very reason for their existence.

The key is to calmly state any of the retorts listed below and walk away.

1. The sun won’t come up tomorrow.

2. I don’t owe you any money. If it’s not on Facebook, it didn’t happen.

3. Yes, I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you. I’m not at my best under general anesthesia.

4. I firmly believe Congress will do the right thing.

5. Nobody has shown any conclusive evidence that leaving mayo out for six hours can be harmful to you.

6. That Billy character on Family Circus should do stand-up. He’s that funny.

Now that I know my place, I don’t always need to have the last word. Unless you disagree with me, then I will have speak up.

Because, let’s be honest. It’s the right thing to do.

Dear Journal: I guess I did need you

She held up the beautiful brand new journal and asked if I wanted it.

My first thought was to say no, because journals take too much work. Honestly journals are pretty useless, seeing how I hardly write on paper anymore. If you’re hankering to know, you can find my legacy on Facebook and Twitter.

Journals are so yesterday. They’re for presidents to make up material for their memoirs. Sisters battle over them, lawyers subpoena them or they gather dust under a bed.

But I looked at the pristine, embossed brown cover with detailed stitching and was touched by her generosity. I gratefully accepted her gift.

The next morning, I was exercising while listening to a church talk from Richard G. Scott. Figured it would do me more good than an “Everybody Loves Raymond” rerun. That’s something else my good friend and boss taught me.

Elder Scott spoke on how spiritual guidance can help us solve life challenges.

While I ran on the treadmill, Elder Scott described attending a church lesson from a member in Mexico who was struggling to teach. Suddenly, some very clear spiritual impressions came to Elder Scott’s mind. The following excerpt describes what he did next.

As each impression came, I carefully wrote it down. In the process, I was given precious truths that I greatly needed in order to be a more effective servant of the Lord. (Emphasis added.)


Tears came to my eyes and I paused the treadmill. This was meant specifically for me. I knew that I needed to write down the impressions that came to me.

I texted my friend and reminded her about the journal. “Coincidence? I think not,” I concluded.

About 30 seconds later, this was her reply:

Haha!! I was gong to send it to Taylor (serving an LDS church mission) but felt to take it out of my bag and ask you. You are so watched over.

I was stunned by her sacrifice and knew without a doubt that I was watched over. I vowed to treasure the journal, to not let her gift be given for naught.

Except that’s not the end of the story.

This Sunday morning, I read about Gideon from the Old Testament, how the Lord asked him to go save Israel from the Midianites. He doubted himself and needed reassurance from the Lord.

I was reading one of the verses in Judges, when I felt a strong feeling of warmth and peace. A definite impression came to my head that I knew was from God to me.

I waited to compose myself and looked at the brown journal sitting next to my laptop.

Thankfully I knew just where to write it down.


Why I don’t care if you read this (for now)

You 10 readers used to keep me up at night.

I used to pour over the blog stats fretting about who showed up on my blog and how they got there. What if I added the wrong keywords or (heaven forbid) give enough back links?

For a long time, you came to the blog in droves, and it was fun living my alter ego as a two-bit blog celebrity. I tried to act nonchalant when my kids reported more comments to them about my blog.

Now I’ve reached a point where I hope to write more and care less. It’s taken a long time, but I think I’m finally there. I’ll still share on Facebook and Twitter, and still be grateful when you visit. But letting go of the numbers, a process many months in the making, has been extremely therapeutic.

If you still come to visit me here, glad to have you.

Who knows what you’ll find when you get here. The writing most likely won’t be gooder than other writers. But it will have honesty, maybe make you smile or identify with a lesson that I learned. And like always, I never write longer than my attention span. These days, that’s usually not longer than success as a GOP frontrunner.

This whole discovering who I am is taking longer than I thought. Some day, I’ll finish the idea I had for a children’s book. I might even compile of these essays into book form. I’ll keep reading powerful writing, such as this this eulogy on Steve Jobs.

But for now, I’ll just keep writing. Judging by how often I look at these pics on my desk, I’ll have plenty of inspiration.

Lacey, Lindsey and the dog inspire me just as well. You're just on the opposite side of the desk.


Chasing the perfect ending

I wanted my last Saturday as the Sunday editor for the Democrat-Herald to be picture perfect, something that would make filmmaker Ken Burns beg me to tell my story.

It certainly started out that way, before the night imploded. Two co-workers brought pie, I finished my final column for the Sunday paper and we got word of a great story involving a 60-year-old surfer dude saving the day near a Newport jetty.

Tracking him down for an interview usually takes an old priest and a young priest, a rabid guinea pig and 20 phone calls to friends on Facebook.

Not this time. He actually called me back in less than 10 minutes. It was so easy, Publisher Mike McInally advised me to embellish how I reached him. So as far as you know, I called in a favor to my soothsayer bookie in Tibet.

Not only did we land a very good story with a great photo by Jesse Skoubo, I would still had pie left to eat out of the carton after everybody else left for the night.

Maybe they would make a statue of me for the front of the paper. Future tours would include stops at Mike Henneke’s desk and bow down in reverence where they tiny toilet used to sit. This means I better make time for Matt Lauer.

What’s this? Have to remake a page before deadline because a story was three days old. There’s two more blunders in the Lifestyles section that needs to be fixed. And there’s a glaring error by me on the top of A1.

Suddenly my picturesque little woodland scenario has turned into the beach scene from “Saving Private Ryan.”

My Walt Disney ending turned into something like this.

What a way to go. Suddenly I can picture myself getting escorted from the building and the company tearing up my last paycheck.

Today I came home I came home to find my wife and youngest son reading my column at the kitchen table. I walked back into the bedroom, in preparation for my traditional Sunday nap.

Before I went to sleep, Spencer walked into the room, carrying the section with my column on the front. He had it folded over where I could see my picture on the front.

“Could I keep this?” he asked. “I want to show it to my teacher.”

I looked at him and smiled big. Maybe I found my perfect ending after all.








Press 1 to read this post

Instead of wading through phone tree hell, pressing zero will usually take you to a live customer service rep.

Only one problem with the smoothie she handed me at the drive-thru. It wasn’t filled up all the way.

Of all the customer service nightmares I’ve experienced, this definitely belonged in the kiddie section. Still I had been shorted, and I thought I would bring it up.

I held up the drink to her with a smile and asked her why it wasn’t filled all the way.

At that point, she had two choices: Either empathize with me, value my concern or blow me off. Unfortunately for her, she chose poorly.

In so many words, she told that’s all I would get. Even though she was still smiling, but her body language said, “deal with it.”

“Really?” I responded, raising my eyebrows, but smiling a little less.

She shrugged her shoulders and immediately began to shut the drive-thru window, effectively dismissing me.

By now, most of you will accuse me of making a mountain out of a smoothie. So it’s a little short. Deal with it and move on, Henneke.

It wasn’t so much about the smoothie, as her lack of caring toward my concern. Had the employee at least apologized, I would have driven away only mildly miffed. But her lack of a response was enough to make me park and go inside to speak with the manager.

The manager instantly apologized, reaffirmed the validity of my concern and immediately offered to make it right. I thanked her, complimented this McDonald’s for its usual high standards for customer service and promised to return.

As companies look for ways to increase revenue and cut costs, employees are expected to do more work with less. Sometimes it’s easy for customer service to be sacrificed, and even easier for us to accept it as a reality.

Not so. Whether you’re piloting through phone-tree hell over a major warranty issue or getting your fast food order correct, there are some tips that can boost your chances for customer satisfaction.

1. Keep receipts and other important paperwork to minimize refund hassles. Nothing diminishes your case more when you can’t produce proof of your purchase. It’s too much to expect stores to take your word on buying the big screen there. We keep all important papers in a file cabinet and important receipts in a separate container.

2. Research your problem. A recent new cell phone began heating up on me as soon as I bought it, so much so, it was almost too hot to the touch. A quick Google search revealed a significant number of other people with the same issue. I returned the phone the next morning for a completely different model.

3. The customer service agent is your friend. Despite your frustration, this isn’t the time for profanity or name-calling. Try to establish a bond with them. Find out their first name or make them laugh. Establish that you’ve been a long-time customer and you hope to continue your loyalty with them. Be persistent but polite.

4. Don’t let the phone tree win: Sites such as GetHuman or ContactHelp are great tools to help you locate the right numbers to call and the average wait time expected for each company.

5. Take your case to social media. Most companies have reps who monitor its presence on Facebook or Twitter. One company gave me a bill credit after I alleged a rep had misled me about me about a promotion. Post a brief case of your problem on their Facebook page, with what it will take to keep your loyalty.

5. Point out good examples of customer service: Take time to fill out a comment card for an employee who got it right. Take time to list the store or employee by name. Most good companies still have incentive programs for employees who receive positive feedback from customers.

6. Don’t be afraid to start over: If you’re dealing with an incompetent customer service agent, end the conversation and call back. There’s a good chance the next person will be more helpful.

7. Accept the fact that you won’t always win: Sometimes it will seem like they don’t care, even if you go all the way to the top. Once I spent several weeks speaking with corporate representatives from Staples over a major shipping gaffe. In the end, I received a check for $25.

 Phone keypad photo from here.