Saturday, March 27, 2010

False Economy

As I watch Butler and Kansas State battle it out for a place in the final four, I thought I'd post today on the cost of our Walmart based economy.

The idea of cheap (not inexpensive but definitely CHEAP) Chinese imports dominating our domestic retail economy hit home once again today when I filled our Hummingbird feeder. Yes we did cheap out and buy the least expensive one at Lowe's and yes we knew there was a good possibility that Hummingbirds would be less attracted to it than other more costly ones. What we didn't count on was that it would leak.

After the first filling of the feeder and the resulting red stains on my patio, I moved the offending item to a tree a few feet into the yard. Now each time we fill it we must take precautions against the incessant leaks.

The awful truth about this is that even should we go back and buy a higher priced one, it may well leak as well, due to shoddy engineering, poor manufacturing and general cheapness.

There was a time in this country when we made things. Americans produced socks, shirts, pants, shoes, toasters, TVs, lamps, cameras, furniture, and thousands of other sundry items we use each day in our lives. While the highest quality items of domestic origin were pricey, there were still plenty of lower cost options made in the good Ole USA. Not so much now.

Have you tried to find a reasonably priced pair of shoes that wasn't made in China, Pakistan or WhereEvertheFuckistan lately?

The most heavily advertised and purchased brands like Nike, Sketchers and others are made everywhere but the US. The manufacturers say it's too expensive to make them here. What they don't say is that the profits made from using cheap foreign labor are just too tempting to pass up. That's the real bottom line.

The almighty buck, as witnessed by the recent bailout of the despicable financial sector, is all we've been about for since at least WWII and maybe waaaay longer than that. I yearn for the time when converse lowtops were made here and our Levi bluejeans were still a domestic product.

In my humble opinion the only thing that the advent of massive cheap imports has done for this country is burden our landfills with millions, perhaps billions of pounds of cheap crap hardly worth buying in the first place.

If and when I replace the defective feeder, I will force myself to attempt to find one made somewhere else than China. If I get lucky, I might even find one still being made in my own country.

Wish me luck.


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Old Dog, New Tricks

I got a job!

Believe it or not, it may be possible for an old dog to learn new tricks. I successfully completed my first week of training at my new company. This training week consisted of classes, computer use and a smidgen of role playing for handling incoming calls.

I was happy to score 100% on 4 of 5 incremental tests, with a score of 95% on a computer navigation segment (old dog, new tricks, right?) and on the final I got a 99%. Not bad for a guy who is perhaps the oldest employee at this location.


Next week the rubber meets the road. My class and I start our shifts (they vary in starting times and length) with mine being the 6:00 AM to 2:30 PM shift. I feel blessed to have a full time job with a great company (Safelite Autoglass) and the potential to grow with the new location.

My job is that of a Customer Service/Sales representative. The operation of which I am a part handles calls from all over the US and we are able to quote prices, schedule work and handle the logistics of service and install from a central location. The organization and attention to detail required to move thousands of pieces of auto glass around the nation on a daily basis is truly amazing. I admit to feeling pretty good about being a part of a company that is well run and efficient.

On top of all this my commute is short. I filled the Civic with gas on Saturday and calculated my daily commute costs at less than $2.75 a day. Sweet!

Now I just need to relax and do the work. Wish me luck.

Oh and to all you folks out there still looking for work; don't give up hope. If I can do it then you can too.