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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.


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.