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I don’t do late, and neither should you

Of our many assets, time is undoubtedly the most valuable. Unlike material things, it cannot be duplicated or replaced and should be respected as such. Disrespecting time—mine and yours—is the ultimate insult, and should never be an option.

I am still fuming from a recent situation, but rather than simply vent I decided to use it as a lesson for all. I had a 9:00 AM spa appointment. It’s not my usual spa, but a friend introduced me to the place in an effort to help his friend, who is the owner. I have been a couple of times; not overly impressed, but it was workable. On this morning, I arrived at 8:35 AM, and sat in my car out front answering emails and text messages. The therapist arrived at 8:40 AM, only to learn that the receptionist or person responsible for opening the spa had not yet arrived.

Now, their on-line scheduling allows for the selection of appointments and service providers, and then follows the appointment with several confirmation and reminder emails. Perhaps one should have been sent to the receptionist or person charged with opening the doors. By 9:00AM, no one had arrived, and I left. The therapist was apologetic, but it wasn’t their fault.

At 9:12AM, I get a call on my cell with the cheerful comment, “Ms. Dumas? This is ____ from ___ . We just missed you!” I responded, “No, you didn’t miss me; you were not there on time.” While she apologized, she said “We usually are here at 9” to which I told her “What you usually do has no bearing on what you didn’t do today.” She also said that it was “Still around 9.” To that, I said “I have a lot of watches and none of them say ‘around’ anything.” I proceeded to tell her that this not how a business is operated, and that there is not an excuse for being late. If she had encountered an emergency, there should have been a back-up plan and person, and the therapist at least should have been notified.

With the endless means of communicating with each other, there is absolutely no reason for anyone not to be given the courtesy if someone is running late. More importantly, if the person has planned properly, there is no reason to be late. I have a standing practice: I arrive 15 minutes early for my appointments, and refuse to wait longer than 15 minutes for someone who is late and has not called or notified me of their delayed arrival. I am responsive to calls, emails and texts and expect the same in return.

With increased competition for business at every level, it is imperative that a viable attraction and retention strategy be implemented, the basis of which is built upon being on time, responsive and delivering quality service. If you can’t do that, then take down the shingle.

My comments must have been too much, because she hung up on me. Two days later, I got an email apologizing and offering me a free massage. No thank you. I don’t want free services; I simply want the service I pay for to be delivered on time. And, I apologize if that is too much to ask.

Men Matter

As we celebrate Father’s Day, men will take a bow at center stage. Yet, it shouldn’t be just one day, but instead every day that we recognize and respect the importance and impact of men in our lives, family and community.

I recently had the opportunity to interview several men who participate in the Flip the Script program at Goodwill Industries. It’s a program headed by Keith Bennett that helps to redirect the lives of those who may have or are considering the wrong road in life. A phenomenal program, this opportunity allowed me a peek inside the lives of those who champion the benefit of having a supportive and nurturing environment and team. One common denominator of these gentlemen was that they all had issues with their fathers.

While fathers appear to socially disregarded and held nowhere near the level it seems that mothers are, their importance is slowly being recognized and rightfully respected. Their absence leaves a void that cannot be filled, and either becomes a negative template for future fathers or an example of what not to duplicate.

Leaving which option men choose is not being left to chance for Bill Middlebrooks. Rather than wait to see which path men choose, he like Bennett is offering a more positive and productive road for men to travel. In a soon to be announced partnership with the 100 Black Men of Greater Detroit and Focus:HOPE, men will be provided the tools and lessons by which they can be the fathers they are capable of becoming, in most cases better than their fathers were to them.

This is how the trend and tide are changed. There are many men in the African-American community that step up to the challenge of fatherhood. They defy the statistics and stay in the lives of their children, regardless of the relationship with the mother. A few of these men were profiled in a book published last year by Middlebrooks and journalist Leslie Gordon. “Extraordinary Fathers” highlights dads of the famous and unknown, and shows that the difference between being ordinary is simply the willingness to go the “extra” step.

There are also those men, like Bennett and Middlebooks, who have made it their life’s mission to touch and engage as many others as possible to positively impact the perception and reality of the black male and fatherhood. You don’t hear or read about them often, but they are there.

On this Father’s Day, know that there are those rooting for the men who are trying to do better, and resources for those who want to do better but just don’t know how. Don’t believe the hype that all men ignore their families and communities; sure, there are some who do but there are far more who do not. We celebrate fathers…because they matter.

For more information on Flip the Script, visit http://goodwilldetroit.org/programs/flip-the-script/; and visit https://www.extraordinaryfathers.com/  for information on the book, partnership and other fatherhood-focused resources.

Happy Father’s Day!

Sterling: Sad, but true

Two days ago, Donald Sterling was the longest standing owner in the NBA, was scheduled to receive his second Lifetime Achievement Award from the NAACP, and looked forward to cheering his LA Clippers in the playoffs.  Today, everyone from President Barack Obama to NBA players—past and present, seek to make sense of recorded statements of Sterling that paint him as…honest.

The recorded conversation allegedly between the married 79-year old Sterling and his 21 year old girlfriend, V. Stiviano—who is African-American and Mexican, by the way—has Sterling reprimanding Stiviano for taking and posting to Instagram, a picture with NBA legend, Earvin “Magic” Johnson. His concern is that Stiviano is “broadcasting” her association with African-Americans, whom Sterling clearly has issues with…publicly. Listen to the extended conversation here: http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2014/4/27/5658286/donald-sterling-second-recording-racist-holocaust

It has justifiably created conversation and concern that a league owner—who undeniably makes his money from the talents of African-American players (76% of whom in the NBA are African-American), coaches and fans—embraces “plantation politics.” For Sterling personally, he has had his run in for racially discriminatory issues before, resulting in a $2.7 million dollar Department of Justice payout for unfair housing practices towards African-Americans and Latinos. He was also sued by Elgin Baylor for racial discrimination, as well as had earlier issues with a woman he admitted to paying for sex.

How he feels about minorities is clearly no secret; at least it isn’t now. But, if this is how he feels, who should be mad? Some have come out to denounce his comments, while others do the politically correct dance as not to damage their relationship with him or those who support or even think like him.  Clippers’ players turned their jerseys inside out (to hide the logo) as they prepared for their playoff game. Yet, they still played.

Unlike decades ago, racial discrimination is not public or legal, and is instead confined to the privacy of homes and conversations (until they are taped and leaked) and the comment sections of web posts. Even as the KKK seeks to re-brand itself, if this is how a person really feels, shouldn’t or wouldn’t we want to know?

We as a nation don’t talk about race candidly or enough, choosing instead to pretend we are in a post-racial society where we all get along as a result of unconditional acceptance. Or, that economic control continues right where it left off post-slavery. When African-Americans speak of discriminatory encounters, they are accused of playing the race card. To avoid such, many stay quiet and pretend those acts don’t exist. Whites (publicly, and some sincerely) take themselves out of the equation of intentionally or even inadvertently contributing to any preferential practices. Yet, they happen.

But, while discrimination and hate are hurtful to those on the receiving end, so are lies, social cloaks and pre-packaged images that are cover ups for reality. Many have known or suspected Sterling’s discriminatory feelings about minorities for longer than this tape has been public. He joins the ranks of many others and an ever growing list of public figures whose true feelings are outted by technology.

I don’t support or condone discrimination against anyone or anything on any level; And, I cringe when I think about unknowingly contributing to the economic success of those who are prejudice. But, while we will talk, criticize and lambaste those who have been exposed, we should more seriously wonder about those who haven’t been.