Sometimes It’s The Little Things

Every Thursday I pick up a free copy of the San Diego Reader.  No, it’s not for the marijuana ads in the back (which were all for escort services before pot was legalized!).  No, it’s not for the articles (which are actually pretty informative and entertaining).  And no, it’s not for the Suduku (Sudoku?  Sodoku?  Sdojdskwou?).

It’s for the crossword puzzle.  And if you’re a Reader fan, you know that although it’s nice they have a puzzle every week, it’s no NYT puzzle.  They often have answers in foreign languages (mostly spanish or french).  They do a lot of abbreviating (which always seems like cheating to me). HOWEVER, it’s free, they do it every week, and it’s always fun.  On top of that, they also make it a contest and the first handful of people who submit a completed puzzle win a hat or t-shirt (no, I’ve never won).

But none of that is why I like it.  Every Thursday I pick up the reader, take a picture of the crossword, and send it to my Mom in CT (I’m here in CA).  And each week we each do the puzzle then come together the following Wednesday, put our heads together and share the answers to see what we each missed.  It’s one of my favorite things to do each week (the first is volunteering at the library, so I’ll have to write about that one day too).

Today is Wednesday.  That means that I’m scrambling to finish off the clues that gave me the most trouble all week long before Mom and I trade answers this evening.  I’ll get a few more, but probably won’t finish it (I usually don’t, and have 3 or 4 answers missing at the end).  Ironically, it’s significantly MORE fun when I don’t finish it, because then we have answers to trade!

Dave: “I missed #27 down, what do you have for that?”
Mom: “I have Kerfluffle, that was a toughie!  What did you get for 42 across?”
Dave: “Kerfluffle, of course!  I had Fractals for 42 across.”
Mom: “FRACTALS!  DUH!  I had Antidisestablishmentarianism for 11 down, but I don’t think that’s right.”
Dave: “I had Aneurism, but I’m pretty sure I misspelled it and it also doesn’t fit so *shrug*.

See?  That’s lots of fun!  Otherwise the conversation goes like this:

Dave: “I finished it.”
Mom: “Me too.”
Dave: “Neat.”

And there you have it.  BOOOOOOOOORRRRRRRRIIIIIINNNNNGGGGGG.  But that’s okay.  Because (to bring us back around here), it’s the little things that count.  I tend to focus on them more than the big things, and it’s been bringing me down lately.  You can’t read anything online without seeing 50 things that are frustrating or depressing.  When out and about it’s easy to get upset about that jerk who cut you off or didn’t use their blinkers (#$%@#$%!), the elderly lady taking what seems like an eternity to put her groceries on the conveyer and then wants to pay by check (GROAN), or the fact that you dropped your keys on the ground when trying to unlock your front door (THE WORLD IS ENDING!  AAAAHHHH!).

The point is, the small negative things drive us crazy, but we ignore the small positive things.  So, I’ve been making an effort to identify and enjoy the little things.  Each week I’m going to try and identify one small thing that made me smile.  I’m also going to share one small change I made in my life to build in automatic smiles, like cross-country-crosswording with Mom (Love you!).  Next week, socks!

As always, thanks for reading and you’re welcome!

Living the Dream,

Humble Dave

The Quick Brown Fox Jumps Over The Lazy Dog

I have five “drafts” of blog posts pending right now.  The natural question following this statement could easily be, “Why aren’t you writing one of them instead of this nonsense?”  There’s an easy answer for that question, but I’ll be damned if I know it.

You see, I mostly write stream of consciousness style.  That means words fall right out of my head and onto the keys.  Sometimes they’re interesting, sometimes they’re clever, often they’re varying degrees of “why bother,” but they’re always honest.  My honest words, from honest thoughts.  When I write, I’m not “making up stories.”  I’m sharing a brief view into my head.  A brief, carefully filtered, view inside my head.  Unfiltered Dave is a more acquired taste, and you poor souls only get a small does of me when I’m motivated to write.

Still, you’ve received some gems over the years, that’s for sure.  The Way of Jello was pure gold (or pure jello!).  This post about idiot companies being stupid was a personal favorite.  I really appreciated the opportunity to call out the excellent service I received from Sharp Memorial Hospital before, during, and after my surgery last year.  And how could we forget my first post, back when this blog was primarily focused on reviewing products I bought on Amazon (PS I still love my inflatable lounger!)?

The point is, I have no idea if I was trying to make point.  That’s what this blog is all about.  Wandering through my mind in a semi-coherent way, stopping to look at any interesting sights along the way.  No, they won’t all be interesting to you.  No, for the most part there’s no coherent theme or order in which they’re presented.  And no…

I stopped here to check an email, and now I have no idea what I was talking about.

So anyway, no anything.  But there’s a lot yesses (yeses?  yeahs? Yarps, if you’re a Hot Fuzz fan) too!  Yes, I find all my posts interesting!  Yes, some of them will make a point accidentally, and some even on purpose.  Yes, I’m usually smiling when I’m writing, and hopefully that cheer comes through on the page.  Yes, I know most of you are reading this on a screen, but I’m allowed to call it a page because it’s my world and I rule here.

Maybe that’s what I like best about it.  For me, this is an extremely low pressure environment.  I had 5 ideas for blog posts and put them into drafts so I wouldn’t forget.  But today, now, I have no interest in writing about them. I COULD force myself to do it, but that would be stressful.  They are ideas that are obviously not ripe yet.  So they have to sit and wait for me to be in the right mood (the WRITE mood!  So punny) to ponder them.  They need to percolate.  But the fun bit, are you paying attention?  I’m coming to the fun bit.  The fun bit, however, is not writing about something that came to me yesterday, or 2+ days ago.  The fun bit is putting my fingers on the keyboard and watching what falls out of my head.  For me, THAT’S to fun of this blog.

I hope it’s fun for you, too!  As always, thanks for reading and you’re welcome!

Living the dream,

Humble Dave

P.S.  If any employers are reading this and are thinking about hiring me for a writing job, but are concerned I won’t be interested because it may not be fun:  MAKE ME AN OFFER!  I would LOVE to write for a living, and will happily trade my writing time for money and health insurance.  And if in turn I receive power and fame I promise to only use them for good.

Get to Know Your Neighbors!

So I was planning on writing this post in Feb 2018.  I know this because I saved it as a draft.  Since then, kind of a lot has happened!  I had surgery, separated with my wife (divorce pending), moved twice (once in with a VERY good friend for a couple months, and once into my own apartment), and have had a bunch of other ups and downs in my life.  Still, the theme is solid and carried over from my old place to the new.

I’ve met a grip (do people still use this slang?) of people here at my new apartment since I moved in September.  Most of them are nice enough, but haven’t been social enough to take a relationship past “saying hi in the hallways.”  However, I have met one couple who are awesome and we hang out at least once a week.  We’ll call them “Peter and Lindsey” (because those are their names).

P&L are great peeps, but this post is not about them.  It’s about me.  Because it’s my blog, and I make the rules.  And this blog is about having good neighbors.  And BEING a good neighbor.  But mostly having them.  But it’s wicked important to be a good neighbor too.  Because if you’re not a good neighbor, then you can’t be MY good neighbor, and now we’ve come full circle.

Anyway, having good neighbors makes living anywhere so much better.  There are people you can hang out with.  People who have pets that you can play with and not have to clean up after (the pets, not the people).   Here’s a short list of some of the great reasons to have (and be) a great neighbor.

  • Dog Sitters
  • Coffee and adult beverages
  • Playdates – Doggy and Kids
  • Block Parties
  • Safety and Security
  • Fresh Fruit from Neighborhood Trees
  • New Friends!
  • Borrowing household goodsSOmeoNe tO lEt YoU knoW iF yOu’rE caPitAliZing WoRDs sTrangeLy.
  • They can introduce you to their single friends (HEY PETER AND LINDSEY!  INTRODUCE ME TO YOUR SINGLE FRIENDS).

And innumerable other things that I won’t be numerating here.  There’s too many numers (spelling intentional).  But the SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT reason to have good neighbors is:

Sorry, I have no idea.  Sometimes I start a sentence hoping the answer will come to me but as you can see it doesn’t always work.  In this case, I think the reality is there are hundreds of good reasons to have and be a good neighbor, and none to not.  None to not sounds weird, but I like saying it so I’m leaving it.

In conclusion, don’t be a jerk.  ESPECIALLY don’t be a jerk to people who live in your neighborhood.  But ESPECIALLY especially just don’t be a jerk to people.  Or animals.  Follow the holy trinity of wholesomeness:

trinity of wholesomeness

Follow the advice of these 3 amazing people and we’ll all be a-okay.  As always, thanks for reading and you’re welcome!

Living the Dream,

Humble Dave

The Way of Jello

During a recent experience you can read about here I learned about the wonders of #Jello, a medicinal miracle, excellent not only for your body, but also your soul.  Although sometimes you must seek it out, it will occasionally appear when you need it most brought by a helpful stranger in colorful scrubs and comfortable shoes.  Accept this gift.  For Jello Is Love, Jello Is Life.

This recent experience got me to thinking, is there a deeper meaning to this miraculous substance?  Is it possible to put into words the lessons that were imparted to me, or must they be experienced to be truly understood?  And the answer, of course, is “Yes.”

And here it is.  I give you, “The Way of Jello“.

  1. One must be solid, but jiggly. Be viscous.  Immerse yourself in your environment, but don’t give up everything that makes you what you are.
  2. Let people see into, but not through you.  It’s important that you let people get to know you, but you don’t have to give away all your secrets.
  3. Explore a variety of shapes, colors, and flavors.  The world has so much to offer, don’t close yourself off simply because something appears different than what you’re used to.  Step outside of your comfort zone.
  4. Be delicious.  If someone gets close enough to put their mouth on you, make sure they enjoy the experience.
  5. Don’t be afraid to get a little mushy.  Sometimes getting a little emotional can be cathartic.
  6. It takes great change before we reach our full potential.  Like Jello, that strange powder which becomes an amazing treat full of life lessons and  awesomeness, if you’re feeling stuck don’t be afraid to make a dramatic change to shake things up.
  7. Subject yourself to a wide range of temperatures.  The proper application of both heat and cold is necessary to healing injuries to your body, as well as your soul.
  8. Step outside of your comfort zone. You must escape your little box to reach the next phase in your evolution.
  9. You make your strongest impact not on yourself, but on others.  Never underestimate how simply being yourself can affect those around you.  Like Jello, make it a positive experience for those with whom you come into contact.
  10. Always be prepared to perform at your best.  All times are your time to shine.

Remember: #JelloIsLove, #JelloIsLife

As always, thanks for reading, and you’re welcome.

Living the Dream,
Humble Dave

Tell People When They’re Awesome!

I know I say this all the time, but this one really WILL be a short post.  I think.  Sigh… we’ll see?  Here goes!

So often people only share a negative experience.  “The food was cold,” or “The service was terrible,” or “They didn’t have the size/color/etc I wanted.”  And I understand this.  You WANT people to know that you didn’t receive the level of service you expected, and often it was below the level the store promised.  It’s important to share these experiences so that, 1) Other people can use this info to manage their expectations, and 2) The store can use this feedback to improve their services.

But you know what?  Positive reviews and positive feedback can be MUCH more effective at accomplishing these same goals.  When you tell someone they’re awesome often enough they start to believe it.  Once that happens, they aren’t a regular person doing an awesome job, they’re an awesome person doing their regular job, which happens to be awesome.  They’ll be awesome at whatever they choose to do! That’s an amazing thing!  And each one of us can help everyone else achieve this state of awesomeness simply by sharing our positive experiences.

This is already longer than I wanted, so I’m going to wrap it up with a task for you.  And here it is:

Each day this week, starting from the moment you read this, I want to you tell someone they did an awesome job, and thank them for it.

I’m not talking about mumbling a “Thank you.”  Make eye contact with the bagger at the grocery store, “Thank you so much for putting the eggs on the top of the bag instead of the bottom.  I really appreciate it.” To the person you pulled behind at the gas station, “Thank you for pulling up enough for me to reach the pump!  I appreciate it.”  And smile.

Always remember to smile.  But that’s a topic for another post.  Go do it.  I think you’ll discover that you not only made their day, but improved yours as well.

As always, thanks for reading, and you’re welcome.

Living the Dream,
Humble Dave

An Open Letter To The Sharp Memorial Hospital Team

Dear Sharp Memorial Crew,

First off, let me say Thank You to everyone with whom I came into contact at your facility.  You were all smiles.  You cared, and it showed.  I was a 41 year old surgery virgin, and you were all gentle and sweet.  And also HILARIOUS!  I love you all.  Thank you.

It’s funny, but I thought this was going to be easy to write, but I find I’m having trouble finding the right words.  I guess I’ll defer to my usual style, which is organized chaos.

sharpexperience I thought I understood “The Sharp Experience.”  I was wrong.  You all completely blew my expectations out of the water, and made what could have been the most stressful experience of my life into an absolute pleasure.  No joke.  I spent about 29 hours with you all between Friday morning and Saturday afternoon, and you exceeded ALL of my expectations.  Everyone I met was friendly, smiling, and willing to help.  All completely professional, of course, but still willing to crack a joke and laugh with me.

Unfortunately, I can’t remember everyone’s name that I met.  I wish I could.  They all deserve individual credit, so feel free to contact me and we’ll track them down.  I can tell you that everyone was great.  Literally EVERYONE.  I don’t know anyone’s last name, so you’ll have to figure that out.  Here are a few standouts:

Cara in the SPA was SUPER friendly.  What a delight.  She really helped make the waiting bearable.

phlebotomistBlood-taker girl with tattoos who was also in the SPA – Only saw her twice I think, but both times she was great.  Memorably so.  Made me smile both times.  If she needs any more of my blood she knows where to find me.  With how gentle she was both times, she could be taking it right now and I wouldn’t even know.

MJ – Wow.  What can I say about MJ.  She was my RN the first night in the hospital.  Incredibly patient with me.  Was there every time I needed her.  We walked around the floor.  She got me jello after jello.  Helped me with all my meds.  Took me off the IV as soon as it was feasible (FREEDOM!).  Adjusting the bed.  MJ is awesome.  Special thanks to her.  I was so out of it during much of my time with her that I can’t remember a lot of the details.  What I do remember is an overwhelming sense that I was completely safe and cared for during this time. (EDIT:  So I was originally done and going to publish this letter, but upon re-reading it I wanted to write more nice things about MJ.  I know she was a former traveler who just recently started at Sharp Memorial full-time.  Sharp, you scored BIG TIME with this one.  MJ, just keep doing what you’re doing.  You’re awesome.  HOORAY FOR MJ!)

Dawit, my man.  Thanks for the stroll around the floor.  And for collecting and measuring my pee.  It smelled terrible, but you were a champ.

feast-2JUANITA!  OH JUANITA! Let me tell you a story.  It starts with a hungry boy, post throat and spine surgery.  It ends with custom meals handcrafted with love to ensure I could actually eat it.  Chicken cut up into tiny pieces.  SHE LITERALLY CUT UP A PIECE OF FRIED CHICKEN INTO TINY LITTLE SLIVERS OF AWESOMENESS so that my recently intubated and slit open throat could eat them.  Was that all?  OF COURSE NOT!  She then gave me a bowl of warm chicken broth so I could dip these chicken pieces and get them soggy enough to swallow.

She is freaking incredible.  Extra applesauce.  Apple juice.  Scrambled eggs cut up into tiny bite sized pieces.  Lactose free milk.  Hot cocoa.  Juanita went so far out of her way to make sure I was happy that I don’t even have the words to describe how big of a difference she made.  Thank you, Juanita.  I ate food besides jello solely because of you. (EDIT:  I am STILL telling people about Juanita 5 days after I left the hospital.  Woot!)

Renea.  My dear Renea.  Who wandered the halls and storage areas hunting for ever more jello for me (and finding it!).  I was already starting to feel better when we met, but you ensured my spirits remained high and I’d be ready to check out as soon as possible.  I say “check out” instead of discharged because I felt more like I was in a fancy hotel instead of a hospital. Renea, who never ONCE corrected me when I called her Renee.  I still think your shoes are cool.

anesthesiaObviously I’d like to thanks my anesthesiologist Dr. Fowler (I think I spelled that correctly?) who did an awesome job and didn’t leave me in that half-life you see in the movies where you can’t move during surgery but you’re still totally awake and able to see and feel everything that’s going on.  That would have been awful.  Instead I drifted gently off to sleep and woke up with no problems.  I have no memory of the recovery room following surgery.  Keep kicking butt, Doc!

nmc-logo-printDr. Ostrup.  My neurosurgeon.  The man who ripped out pieces of my spine with his bare hands, power tools, and force of will, then replaced it with robot parts.  BEEP BOOP THANK YOU FELLOW HUMAN.  Seriously though, Thanks for everything.  You took the time to answer all of my questions using small, simple words I could understand.  Like “Anterior Cervical Discectomy and Fusion” and “Coffee.”  Your calm demeanor and nonchalant attitude really helped me relax in the days leading up to the procedure.  I hope you carved your initials into one of my vertebrae.  You deserve it.

Day after surgery – still in hospital

There were so many others who deserve mention and I’ll blame a naturally poor memory mixed with a variety of pain medications on my forgetfulness, but we should be able to identify them here:  My three “shower girls” who came in and changed my sheets and towels, set up the bathroom for a hot shower, gave me instructions on how to do it without re-injuring myself, and were all smiles and happiness.  You all were great and had me constantly laughing and smiling.  My Occupational Therapist (Nancy?) who made sure I knew how to dress myself without falling on my face, and who shared some personal stories of success that made me feel better about my own situation.  My Physical Therapist who walked with me around the floor and was stunned by my mobility.  HAH!  Jokes on you.  MJ and I were walking around the floor all night long.  I couldn’t sleep anyway, might as well check some boxes off the board!  The two Charge Nurses (night and day) who stopped to chat and ask how I was doing during my walks around the floor.  Thanks for your concern!  All the nurses at the desks who smiled when I walked by.  Every smile is a bit of happiness you can share.  Carlos, thanks for the smooth wheelchair ride to the door when I was dischargedIf I forgot anyone, I’m sorry.  Your contribution was significant, and you too are appreciated.  And I suppose a special Thank You to someone I’ve never met but who had an equally important role to play: The Jello Stocker.  Thank you.  You brought more happiness to me during this experience than I can possibly express in words.  Jello is life.  Jello is love.

And what can I say about The Hotel Del Sharp Memorial.  They did everything right. Comfortable single rooms.  Comfortable beds.  Incredible food.  Super friendly everybody.  Awesome views.  This was a luxury experience.

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I have to keep coming back to the staff here.  Sharp clearly has incredible hiring practices.  This one deserves another mention.  Whoever is in charge of hiring the people with whom I interacted should be invited to the pizza party you’re going to throw for everyone on my floor.  I’m not joking.  Pizza Party.  Or, you know, whatever kind of awesomely catered food and party these people want.  Do it.  They deserve it.  Also, big raises, their own ponies, some kind of monogrammed scrubs that say BEST TEAM EVER, probably a tiara of some kind, and a series of crisp high-fives.

OH!  You know what? I thought of one critique.  One tiny space for improvement.  In the private bathroom in my private room, with my private view of the sunrise, the toilet paper rolls were a little low.  A bit hard to reach.  There.  That’s it.  Could you raise them up about a foot?  That would be awesome.  Thanks!

But the most important thing, to me, while in the hospital for what was my very first surgery (nearly 42 years old!) was this:  I never once felt afraid.  Nervous before the surgery, sure!  But I always felt safe, and surrounded by confident, knowledgeable people who could handle anything my broken down body could throw at them.  Except my jokes, which were apparently too painful to take. 🙂

Thank you all.

Kind Regards,
Humble Dave

American Airlines Saves The Day!

I’m an idiot.  I fully admit this.  I can occasionally do wondrous things, but like everything, they’re balanced with acts of such stupidity that it’s not impossible I’m the fulcrum on which the entire universe is balanced.

Anyway, Wife and I were supposed to go on an amazing family vacation last July.  16ish family members renting a giant house in Myrtle Beach (is it in or on Myrtle Beach?  Or at?  Meh, I’m going with in.), right on the beach.  My incredibly awesome parents bought tickets for wife and me.  That was very nice of them, but they’re very nice people so this makes sense.  We were REALLY looking forward to it.  Had boarding set up for the dog and everything.

So naturally we had to cancel because of my stupid neck.  We waited as long as we could.  Finally, it’s a few hours before the flight and I realize there’s no freaking way I could do it.  Moving was agony.  Sitting still was agony with the exception of ONE POSITION on my couch.  Seriously, I’m not even joking.  Sitting on the far right and leaning onto the armrest with my feet bent underneath me in a slightly uncomfortable manner but it doesn’t matter because temporary relief for my neck. So, yeah, the uber to the airport, walking through security, carrying a backpack, sitting on the plane, etc. etc.  Individually none of those things were possible.  Stacked together they were even more impossible.  If something could be more than impossible this was it.

I canceled online, then emailed American Airlines customer service and awesome CJ confirmed our cancellation and agreed to waive the rebooking fee for us.  He sent me an email confirming everything, and reminding me that I had to use the value of these tickets within 1 year of PURCHASE DATE, and fly within 1 year of the original trip date.  What a great guy.  This is customer service, people take note.

Now, please keep in mind that I’m in extreme pain, super disappointed that we won’t be going on this annual trip that’s been planned for a year, and very highly medicated.  Although this doesn’t absolve me for reasons that will become clear, I feel it’s worth considering in my defense.

Defense of what?  Be patient, people.  Dang.

My parents visited in October after I was starting to feel better.  Not great, but better.  My Dad, ever the pragmatist, suggested I should book flights for the next family vacation July 2018 to make sure I don’t run into problems with the voucher.  Did I thank him?  Did I bow to his years of wisdom and practice of the Six P’s to minimize the potential for error?  Nope.  I had PLENTY of time!  The trip wasn’t for 9 months!  I’m an idiot.

He mentioned it once or twice again during the week he was out, never pushing, but definitely emphasizing I should do it before something goes wrong.  Meh.  What could possibly go wrong?


They went home.  Over the next couple months Pop mentioned it a couple more times. “You should really use that voucher and book the flights.”  Ugh, I have PLENTY OF TIME!  I’ll take care of it soon.

Anyway, soon rolls around this week.  I think, “Maybe it’s time to book those flights with the voucher.  It’s about 5 months until the trip, that seems like a good lead-time.  So I booked the flights and everything went smoothly, right?

Oh man that would make a boring post.  I called AA (American Airlines, not to be confused with Alcoholics Anonymous.  JUST BECAUSE I LIKE WHISKEY DOESN’T MEAN I HAVE A PROBLEM!  Shut up.  YOU have a problem.) and the lovely lady on the phone kindly informed me that the vouchers expired.  Excuse me?  That can’t be right.  You see, if this is the case then I have several problems that can’t be ignored. 1) I just wasted over $1,000 of my parents kind gift. 2) I now have to pay for an expensive flight cross country. And 3) I HAVE TO TELL MY FATHER AND HE WAS RIGHT AND TOLD ME SO!  AH!  NO!  Actually, that 3rd one happens more often than I’d like to admit.  I really, really should listen more closely when he offers me advice.  Kind phone lady insists (politely) that unfortunately she can’t help me, but I can email AA customer support and maybe they can do something.  I am despondent.  And unconsolable.  Inconsolable?  Inconsolable, that’s what I am according to this.

But wait, there’s a glimmer of hope!  I might be able to find… wait… yes!  I still have CJ’s email and contact info!  I email him with my issue, my challenge, my gross stupidity.  I prostrate myself before his infinite goodness and beg the forgiveness of American Airlines and the gods of “people-who-don’t-listen-to-their-parents-and-pay-the-price.”

And I wait.  And wait.  And wait.  No, not because they were slow to respond or didn’t care.  But because it was President’s Day, and George “Wooden Choppers” Washington and Abraham “Awesome Beard” Lincoln deserve some respect.

But the next day I receive a response.  Awesome CJ works his awesome magic and sorts me out.  Why did he do it?  He didn’t have to.  Could have easily said, “Sorry Mr. Dave, but you’re an idiot and if there aren’t consequences you’ll never learn from your mistakes and grow, emotionally, as a productive member of society and, more importantly, as a human being.”  I would have walked away dejected, but understanding of their position.  After all, it was obviously all my fault, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all the years of making mistakes is to own it and move forward.  I rarely make the same mistake more than 5 or 6 times.


But NO!  CJ doesn’t play that!  He walked right into his boss’s office and said, “Boss, this guy Dave’s an idiot, but we’re going to help him anyway.  Why?  Because we can!” and his boss said, “Yes we can!  Because we’re American Airlines and we’re awesome!  You go right back to that idiot and sort him out properly.” (dramatization)


CJ took some extra time and provided the type of customer service that happens fairly often, but you rarely read about it.  CJ and American Airlines are awesome.  How can I properly thank him?  I did the online survey, obviously.  But that didn’t seem like enough.  So I sent this:

“CJ, thank you so much. I really appreciate this.  You’re a legend.  I’ll be writing about this in the next few days on my blog so you’re definitely going to be internet famous.  I have about 30 readers so you’ll probably have to wear a disguise when you leave the house to avoid being mobbed by fans.
If any of your supervisors are reading this: GIVE CJ A RAISE!  And a promotion.  I’m thinking c-suite.  Maybe Chief Customer Relations Officer.  $500,000/year salary plus bonuses (obviously) and use of a company private jet.  I’ll be keeping an eye out for the press release, American!
Seriously, you saved the day.  Thanks a whole bunch.  I’ve attached a picture of a happy dog for your viewing pleasure.”

CJ, if you’re reading this: I now have 36 followers, so you’ll need a better disguise than a fake mustache and glasses.  Actually, I just realized that since I have no idea what you look like you might have a real mustache and glasses.  Oh well, I leave the disguise up to you.

Anyway, the point is this: CJ is awesome, and American Airlines is also awesome.  The other point is that great customer service still lives, but you have to give companies the opportunity to provide it.  In the immortal words of Michael Scott:

you missMichael Scott, truly “The Great One.”

Thank you CJ, and thank you American Airlines.  You saved my butt.  I appreciate it.

Living the Dream,
Humble Dave


It’s Nice to be Nice

This isn’t some mushy blog post about how being nice to people makes you feel good (it does, btw).  It also isn’t some philosophical mumbo-jumbo about the nature of the Universe.  This is about complete and total self-interest, that also happens to help other people.  Being nice offers real, tangible benefits for you, as well as intangible benefits for others.  But since this post is about complete and total self-interest, we’re going to ignore the benefits to others (for now.  But really, if you’ve read any of my other blog posts you know that my style tends to be a bit…bouncy.  Just because I start somewhere doesn’t mean I end up where we’d expect).

So what the heck am I talking about, and how could being nice help me?  Tangibly (Huh.  I wasn’t entirely sure that was a word.  I’m always pleasantly surprised when an uncertain word comes back without the “red line” beneath it.  Today is going to be a good day! Where was I?  Right.  Tangibly.).  I need an MRI for my neck (why?), and scheduling of such a thing can take weeks and weeks.  Now, “weeks” when you’re in pain is a long time.  I don’t want to wait weeks.  So I call on Tuesday and talk to the scheduler (Carrie).  I am super nice and upbeat.  Cheery, even.  I schmoozed her.  But I’ve got to be honest: Carrie was awesome.   Sure, she started out gruff and all professional.  The old “Let’s get this done, I have a million other patients to deal with” attitude.  Can’t blame her!  I was on hold for 10 minutes waiting for help.  They’re ALWAYS busy.  But in the face of my cheery self she loosens up and finds me a date of March 1st.  No, sorry, there’s no cancellation list where they’ll call you if someone else cancels.  I should call back every morning to check.  No problem, Carrie, thanks so much for your help!  Seriously, a week and a half isn’t too bad! Not what I wanted, but C’est la vie.

And that’s where the benefits start kicking in.  Because you know what?  People WANT to help people who make them feel good.  Because that ALSO feels good (yup, already made the first sentence of this post into a lie.  Deal with it.).  So anyway, Carrie says, “You know what?  I’ll keep your name and number next to me here for the rest of the day and if someone cancels I’ll give you a call.”  Carrie’s the best.  We hang up and frankly, I’m not expecting any calls.  Come on, she’s busy!

smile loud

About 15 minutes later my phone rings.  It’s Carrie, laughing because literally the call right after mine was a cancellation, and do I want to come in on the 27th.  Heck yeah I do!  Lots of thanks and emphasis that she is appreciated.  Boom, I’m in 2 days earlier (remember, when you’re in pain every day is an eternity.  So technically, I’m 2 eternities better off!).  Life is good!  Also, she’s feeling great because her normally “standard” day is suddenly just a tiny bit different, and better.  I could hear the smile on her face.  It felt great.

Anyway, I’m going about my business when about an hour later my phone rings again.  It’s Carrie!  HI CARRIE!  She just had another cancellation and do I want it?  It’s for the 22nd, this Thursday (now today, as I’m writing this).  HECK YEAH I WANT IT!  THANKS CARRIE; YOU’RE THE BEST!  Bi-directional happiness ensues.

So what did we learn?  Being nice to people has tangible benefits.  I get my MRI a full week earlier, which means I can make my neurosurgery appointment earlier.  Which means we can solve my neck problems sooner.  Which would be so awesome.  So, so awesome.

And this isn’t my only story.  These go on and on.  In another soon-to-be- written post you’ll read about how being nice via email to customer service reps can help fix your gross stupidity in letting airline ticket vouchers expire a month before you tried to use them (Sorry Dad.  You were right, I was wrong.  You’re smart, and I’m dumb.  You’re very good looking, and I’m not good looking at all.  Fortunately, we’re all good now!).

I know some people are reading this and saying, “He’s only faking being nice to get something.”  To that I respond: That’s not true.  I’m a nice person most of the time.  But regardless, IT DOESN’T MATTER.  If you act nice, you are nice.  Nobody knows what’s in your head.  You could be thinking about horrible, terrible things.  Nobody is affected by what’s in your head; people only know you by the actions you take.  BE NICE.  If you won’t listen to me, listen to the late, great, Patrick Swayze.

be nice

How will you know when it’s time to not be nice?  You won’t, Dalton will tell you.  Also, if you don’t know this quote, then go watch Roadhouse.  That movie is amazing.  But seriously, just be nice all the time.  My mom has similar wisdom, “Kill them with kindness.”  Be nice.

Thanks for reading!  And since you’re all awesome, I know you’ll share that awesomeness with everyone else (see what I did there?  I was nice, and now you want to tell people about my blog!  Seriously, tell people about my blog.).

Living the Dream,
Humble Dave


Are you using Amazon Smile?

If you answered anything other than “Yes,” read on.  If you answered “No,” that’s something other than “Yes” so please read on.  Come on, keep up.

Amazon Smile is a program where 0.5% of each eligible purchase you make on Amazon is donated to the charity of your choice.  It doesn’t cost you anything.  Literally nothing.  Prices aren’t higher because of this.  If you’re a Prime member you still get free 2-day shipping.  The ONLY reason not to use this service is if you’re a terrible, hate-filled shell of a human being.  Seriously.  If you don’t do this because you’re lazy, I get it.  That makes sense to me.  I have a solution for you down below.  If you don’t do it because you don’t care, then SHAME!


Seriously though, I know you’re going to take advantage of this wonderful feature.  Read on…

This is super complicated, so you might want to take notes.  You know how when you shop online at Amazon you go to  Instead of doing that, now you’re going to type “” into your web browser.  That’s basically it.  The first time they’ll ask you what charity you want to support.  There, that’s it.  I’m not joking.  After you do this, nearly everything you buy will go to support the charity you chose.  Going forward Amazon will tell you exactly how much money you’ve sent to the charity.  It’s awesome.

Here’s the one challenge you’re going to run into, but don’t worry, I have a solution for you as well.  Anytime you google a product or something sends you to amazon, it’s going to send you to the regular site.  YOU, being “woke”, as the kids say, want to go to  Fortunately, a computer genius made a chrome extension which will automatically redirect you!  WHAT?  THAT’S CRAZY!  I know, but it’s try nonetheless.  Computer geniuses are awesome.  It’s called “Smile Always.”

smile always

I assume you know what a Chrome extension is, just as I assume you’re browsing the internet by using Chrome.  If not, you’re somebody else’s problem.  No, I shouldn’t be a negative nancy.  I’m fairly sure that Firefox has a similar extension you can download.

If you’re using Chrome, click any of the “Smile Always” links peppered throughout this post (there are two, I guess that’s not a lot of pepper).  It will take you to the chrome store where you can download the extension.  Once installed you’ll see a little box with “SA” to the right of you search bar.  It just rides along in the background.  Anytime anything tries to take you to, it redirects you to  It’s totally seamless and effortless.


It’s been a while since I set this up and I’m pretty sure I’m remembering this part correctly.  I THINK when you choose the charity they offer you a list of 4 or 5 to choose from.  You can actually type whatever charity you want into a box and if it’s available you’re good to go!  I am currently donating to “The Barking Lot,” the shelter where we rescued our pup, Cody.  If you can’t think of someplace you want to support, I recommend them! They rescue dogs from high-kill shelters, the streets of Tijuana, and the dog meat trade in Asia.  Seriously, they’re awesome.

Okay, so now you’ve been properly introduced to you can shop and justify it by saying you’re donating money to charity!  Hooray for everyone!

As always, you’re welcome. 🙂

Living the Dream,
Humble Dave