Monday, April 25, 1994

Movin On

Regular readers of this newsletter undoubtedly know at the very least two things: that no issue is too small to be covered in these pages and that the editor often can be described as someone "whose elevator doesn't always go to the top floor..." That said, one of the major issues I'm grappling with these days is the controversial, no one wants to talk about it but everyone does it, let's look away and let the other guy deal with it, problem of elevator etiquette.

Granted, it isn't a problem in our stores yet, but you gotta figure with all our new stores opening, all the expansion being planned, the next step for the Cheapo/Applause empire will be upwards. And having moved downtown myself, I have had a rude awakening on the lessons of how to deal with being stuck in a moving box with complete strangers. So, this week, we examine how to deal with this delicate issue. If we can save but one person from the humiliation of committing an elevator faux pas, then all this will be worth it.

I arrive in downtown St. Paul shortly before 7:00 am. At that early hour, the building security doesn't allow the elevators to go above the fourth floor. Typical of my life, it is an inconvenience to me, since I have to get up to the fifth floor. So I have two options: I either have to go to the fourth floor and climb one flight of stairs, through a musty, smelly stairwell with air so thick you can actually see the swirling asbestos particles; or I have to go down to the surly security fellow and have him bring me upstairs. This guy has to be the only person in Minnesota who doesn't want a state employee to get a head start on their work. Lethal exercise, or riding up with and evil empowered sorry he didn't qualify for the police force, gunless, seal of a human?

At 8:15 am, I go to Executive Coffee and Tea, for my morning iced cappuccino. The dilemma comes after I have my beverage and wander back to the office from the skyway. If I see someone from the office in the skyway, do I hold the elevator for them? What if they are going to continue walking and don't want to go up with me? What if it is someone I don't know, do I hold the elevator for them too? What is the length of time you keep the doors open? Usually I try to get them to shut as quickly as possible and if I hear someone, I'll say my hands were full. It's too darn early in the morning to have to face those decisions.

At 1:00pm I go to lunch. This of course is a busy time of day, so the elevator is usually tied up or busy. While getting on a crowded elevator is it appropriate to talk? I usually give my name and floor destination, thus avoiding getting stuck at the back of the elevator while my floor passes by. The etiquette for getting on with just one person is different. It is a necessity for both people to avoid eye contact. The best way for this to occur is to keep your eyes peeled on the floor numbers above the doors. Another problem with the busy lunch hour is having to wait for an elevator. If one arrives but is going down, do you get on for the extra ride or do you wait for another, sometimes the same one, to arrive that is going up?

There are certain things in life I'll never understand. What's the deal with caffeine free Mountain Dew? Alcoholess beer? Smokeless tobacco? Glass elevators that make you nauseous like riding some lightening fast amusement park ride? Sure I'm claustrophobic, but sometimes it's better not to see where you're going and certainly how fast you are hurling. I consider myself more of a step guy, or an escalator fellow (some day I'll share with you the time my sister got a shoelace caught in an Otis and nearly lost her leg...) and giving in to the elevator experience is but one compromise I've made as I get sucked up the corporate elevator shaft. I've had a lot of fond memories on the stairwells of life. The sweet farewells, the footsteps following, the exciting chases, the tumbles. I've climbed a long way with many of my favorite people. But as is often the case with technology, the convenience replaces the camaraderie. You climb so far only to find there is an easier way to go.

Monday, April 18, 1994

Esteem More than a Dream

(Editor's Note: After reading the analysis, the eulogies about the greater meaning of the act, it became clear that Kurt Cobain's death triggered a myriad of generational self doubt issues, learning how to cope, concerns. With that in mind we present the following.)

Today's teens are suffering from an epidemic of low self esteem, an expert on human psyche recently reported.

"Teens are more apt to have lower self-esteem these days, because expectations and pressures on American kids are higher than ten years ago," Elissa Benedek, professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor said. "And those expectations keep going up every year."

A rapidly changing society is causing many parents to become perplexed at how to communicate with today's youth. Yesterday's twelve step methods are leading many into a swampy quagmire of angst, as negative thoughts prevail like the mighty but tiring oak facing the stiff spring breeze while its bark peels from within from gnawing insects.

"Good parents spend as much time working on their own self-esteem as they do trying to build their kids'," Dr. Ron Taffel said.

Dr. Taffel is the director of Family and Couples treatment, Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy, in New York City. "The topic of how parental self-esteem affects children is, frankly, one that makes me nervous. Theoretically parents are supposed to have rock solid self-esteem to raise healthy kids. But in fact, no one I know, feels one hundred percent secure."

Even the healthiest are having a hard time coping with day to day activities. Take for example a typical warehouse employee, who recently had his feelings hurt by an off the cuff remark from a small child. This employee was busy pricing green tag records when the child waddled up to him, spit at his feet and said, "You butt ugly."

Thus Generation X'ers are facing attack from both sides of the spectrum. "Often times its the upcoming generation that causes an equal amount of stress. It's hard to compete with youth, and out of the mouth of babes sometimes the truth falls." Dr. E.D. Adeam, director of the Institute for the Societal Dysfunctional and Emotionally Ravaged said. "But self pity, self confidence, self esteem, they all come from the self, from within. You can let others influence that part of you, but the self ultimately decides."

Meanwhile teens themselves say that stressing the positive helps promote healthy self esteem. "Even if a kid isn't the best in school or sports, pick out something else they're good in," said Kathy, an 18 year old. "It might even be that your kid is easy to talk with."

"Get us involved in activities," said 17 year old John. "It'll help us determine what we're good at, which always helps you feel good."

Dr. Adeam said that in the face of distress, plugging away is often the best way to cope. "Being called butt ugly hurts, but what's the point in letting it ruin your day? A healthy person would ask themselves do I believe the statement? And if so, why do I give merit to a toddler's opinion? An unhealthy individual might slam his foot down, stomp off and find himself in some strip joint at the end of the day."

Monday, April 4, 1994

Free as a Bird

Who was it that said changes in the weather are the most powerful memory reminder of all? With so much going on this time of year, I for one, find that to be true. Spring puts me in a wistful, reflective mood, summer makes me loggie, fall restless, winter sleepy. So as my mutual fund sinks faster than Hillary's cattle story credibility, it's time to ponder things that were, and things still ahead (did you remember to set those clocks ahead? Seems with all the lost hours I have somehow managed to misplace a whole year from my life.) All I can say is I hope this Beatle reunion is as magical as the last one, all those years ago. Welcome all you new employees! And a hearty howdy to all you grizzled veterans. You are reading the only employee driven newsletter where the driver is asleep at the wheel. Auto snooze. So, it's up to all of you to keep this thing on the road. Open the hood and make sure the mixture of fuels is proportionate. Hit the brakes until they squeal. Spin your wheels twice as fast to get half as far; and what's behind is further than what's ahead. Running on fumes? One thing we learned is for this highly tuned mechanism to run right the valves have to be tight, leak free. Drip drip drip. All the parts working in synchronicity. "If some of my homes had been more like my cars, I probably wouldn't have traveled this far." That is why, boys and girls, we need you. The newsletter is constantly seeking your voice, your well written, funny and informative article. Just send it in. We really want to hear from all of you! Deadline is Saturday at 6:00pm, but we can work out other arrangements. Keep the chrome polished and the tires inflated. EXPRESS YOURSELF! (C'mon girls, do you believe in love? Cause I've got something to say about it and it goes something like this:) Did you all see Madonna on Dave (so to speak)? She began by giving him a pair of her panties and it sort of went down hill from there. Did you know pee fights athlete's foot? She muttered an all too used obscenity fourteen times and agitated the host and an elderly couple in the audience. (And Mom and Dad and myself might go see the show next fall?) She wanted him, desperately tried to get him to break out of the formulas, the routine. Dave's response? "We hope Madonna comes by again...April Fools!" Been a busy week. I developed a formula that calculates and scales the size of a cat's feet in human terms. Max the Cat wears a nine and a half. Drove around on errands, signed up for softball, deposited ten old paychecks (I've found taxes aren't as fun when you're paying as when you're getting a refund) and when I found myself in the area, I stopped in at the newly renovated St. Paul Applause that I've read so much about in these pages. Man, maybe it was the fumes of the wood, but darn it, I was impressed. Thinking in my mind what the ideal CD shop would look like, I saw in front of me a fair representation. The fixtures were cool, they had the Neil Sedaka disc I came in for, and the sales help was friendly and even pointed out I brought up to the counter a CD with a broken case and quickly remedied the situation. Maybe it was the wood, but my mind was set right after the visit. Reminded me of my favorite job out of the many I've done for this company: building fixtures. All right, I didn't really build them but I did get to T-Nose my share. And those counters at Groovemonster? Yup, those were mine. Such sweet memories of such a sweet holiday. It used to be our favorite of the year, now it's just a reminder of a jumpy rodent gnawing at the heartstrings, leaving chocolate droppings hidden behind. Yum, malted milk chocolate lip stick. But what better time to fight the traffic in a badly laid out city, climb indoors in a blue plastic studio, and watch the locals suffer through another difficult season? Pulido and Mahomes and pray for collapsing domes. PLAY BALL!