Shopping Can Be Fun

Jaclyn Smith_StanJust reminiscing a little bit today about what we were doing a year ago and a few things I learned.

I am sure most of you have your own stories about shopping – good and bad. This is one shopping experience I was fortunate to participate in one year ago today and it was a good one (Understatement #1).

Shopping can be fun!

It started on November 23, 2012 when I entered a contest on the Sears/Kmart Shop Your Way Rewards web site. The contest said,

You could win a trip to LA and a shopping spree with Jaclyn Smith!

I enter contests regularly and often. I figure someone has to win these things and it might as well be me. Of course that doesn’t always happen but I have learned that I don’t win every contest I don’t enter.

No-Brainer

Of course I had been a fan of Jaclyn Smith for many years. I think I was in junior high school when Charlie’s Angels was one of the most popular shows on TV and I suspect most boys my age were fans. She is one of the most beautiful women in the world. It would be before Christmas and we did need to do some Christmas shopping,

It seemed like a no-brainer to me.

To say I was surprised when I received a phone call on November 27th telling me I had won would not be accurate. I was shocked! (Understatement #2) After talking with Sharin for about 2 minutes we decided we would go after we confirmed the details and this was really real. It was one of those moments when you think, “Is this really happening?” or “This is too good to be true. It can’t be happening to me.”

Alabama to LAX

Well, it was really real and on Monday, December 10th we flew from Alabama to LAX, drove to the Hilton Los Angeles Universal City, which is located at the entrance to Universal Studios. After checking in and getting settled we walked around Universal City Walk and had dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.

You might be thinking, “You were at Universal Studios. Why didn’t you go to the park?” Well, we had already planned to drive to Disneyland while we were there so we were saving our energy and our money. Our original thought was we would go on Monday after we arrived but we decided to wait until Tuesday, after our shopping spree, since we expected that would not last much longer than the allotted hour. That expectation proved to be false in the best sort of way.

Exceeded Expectations

Well, Tuesday arrived and we arrived at the Kmart a little before 10:00 as planned. Everything that happened after that was both surreal and real at the same time. Never having spent much time with a celebrity, (Understatement #3), we were not sure what to expect. We expected it would be an enjoyable once-in-a-lifetime experience, of course, but the time would be limited according to the itinerary. We were wrong. It was an amazing day, far beyond anything we could have expected. Here is a link to a short video Kmart created. We did get the Christmas tree mentioned in the video.

Jaclyn Smith Christmas Tree_2012-12-20 02.50.08

Once-In-A-Lifetime Experience

I know this was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for Jaclyn. I mean really, how often does she get to meet a couple from the other LA (Lower Alabama) and go Christmas shopping at the Burbank Kmart with them? I expect this was the first and last time, thus, the once-in-a-lifetime description fits. I am sure she would agree. She did say “it was a highlight of the season meeting the two of you.”

Shopping Couple from LA_IMG_1423 (2)

In case you were wondering, it was also a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us.

What Did I Learn?

I knew that Jaclyn Smith was a beautiful woman. I learned that Jaclyn Smith is a beautiful person.

I was reminded it takes a lot of people working behind the scenes to make an event like this work and look effortless for those participating. There are many that deserve thanks for this. Kim, Leah, Shana, Amanda, Rena, and Clarine – you all made us feel special and made our day special. Thank you all again. To the local Kmart folks – Mark and Victor – thank you again for your Southern (California) hospitality.

USA_JACLYN SMITH
The St. Jude Christmas Bear Ornament

While watching Brooke shop for the kids at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital I learned Kmart is their number one retail supporter. That was fun to watch too.

I learned that shopping can be fun, especially when you are pushing the buggy (shopping USA_JACLYN SMITHcart for anyone confused) for two of the most beautiful women in the world and they are doing what women do while shopping – talking, laughing and having fun. It was definitely a win-win for me.

I learned that Jaclyn Smith is a prophet. On the autographed photo she signed before we went shopping and shown above she said, “I know we will have fun today.” She was right!

After the shopping was done

Probably the coolest part was after the shopping was done – her commitment was complete – she invited us back to have lunch with her, Rena, and Clarine, her team. She did not have to do that. She could have just used the down time to relax but she chose to spend it with us. That was special and will not be forgotten.USA_JACLYN SMITH

We ate lunch and just talked for probably an hour or more about kids, pets, new cars, etc. – just life like most people talk about. She was concerned about her new car that her husband was driving that day. She is a breast cancer survivor so she talked about that and the importance of the annual exams. We talked about Sharin’s upcoming Disney Half-Marathon in January as well as the Ability First Stroll and Roll event she was planning to participate in to support children and adults with special needs.

I learned Jaclyn Smith is a very nice down to earth person, mother, wife and humanitarian in addition to being one of the most beautiful and gifted models and actresses in the world.

You don’t have to fly to Los Angeles and go shopping with Jaclyn Smith to have fun shopping. Although, if you do ever get this opportunity I highly recommend it (Understatement #4).

It is the Giving Season

When you are shopping and looking for that perfect gift enjoy the time with the person you are shopping with and imagine the joy you will receive when you see the recipient open that gift. When you receive a gift remember that joy you received and accept any gift you receive with gratitude and allow the gift giver to experience that joy as well.

I just saw a quote from Andy Andrews about giving that fits well here I believe,

“Giving is an unbelievable action that continues to produce returns that are unexpected in nature.”

Just a note

If you look at my profile picture and the smile on my face you now know why I was smiling so much. I was having a good time shopping!

 USA_JACLYN SMITH

And, just in case you were wondering, we did make it to Disneyland too.

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Until next time…Happy Shopping!

Originally published on Peculiar Perspective on 12/11/2013

 

 

Working From Home

Recent news from Yahoo and Best Buy about either banning or limiting telecommuting, the technical label for working from home, caught my attention.  I have read some of the reasons behind these changes and they seem valid to me.

Yahoo Banned All Telecommuting

Yahoo’s CEO checked the VPN logs, which shows how often employees log in from home, and found they were not logging in enough so, based on that, and I suspect their productivity for the jobs they were responsible for doing, determined it would be best for them, at this time, to ban all telecommuting and, I assume, either bring all of the telecommuters back into an office in Sunnyvale, California or let some of them go.  Bringing them back into any office will be an enormous expense to the company as office space, furniture, and equipment will have to be acquired unless they have an enormous unused space now.  I am sure they considered this before the decision was made and announced.

My personal opinion is this seems drastic to me but I do not have all the facts and know sometimes drastic changes are necessary in order to bring about the change a company needs so I do believe the CEO made the decision she thinks is needed for Yahoo at this time. I do wish her well and hope they do bring the results she is looking for.

Best Buy Requires Telecommuters to Have Manager’s Approval

Best Buy will allow some if it’s 4000 telecommuters to work from home if they discuss it with their manager and get their approval, which, apparently has not been a requirement to date.  That seem perfectly logical to me, a “duh” moment, as I would have expected this to have been happening all along.  It doesn’t make any sense to me why it wasn’t.

Why would I care?

You might ask yourself why these stories would interest me or why would I care. It’s simple really. I have been a telecommuter for the last 10 years so if these type decisions do become a trend it could affect me. I cannot speak with any first-hand knowledge about Yahoo or Best Buy’s telecommuters but I can speak about my experience. I don’t really think many, if any, other companies will make this type of change just because others have but this may prompt them to look at their own telecommuter productivity and monitor that, as they should, to see if any adjustment are warranted.

Advantages of Telecommuting

Advantages of telecommuting are many.  Some of these include less cost for the physical office, less sick time for the employees, more hours worked for employees who are not spending time commuting to an office, more productivity from the employee, and the employee theoretically, at least, can have a better life outside of work whether that be with family, friends, hobbies, or whatever interests they enjoy. For employees there is also less expense for clothes, fuel, food, and auto maintenance. In recent years with the cost of gasoline this advantage is huge for telecommuters. Some would consider a side benefit of this as being good for the environment as well.

Disadvantages of Telecommuting

Some jobs are best done with people meeting face to face in an office setting and some people need this interaction in order to reach their peak productivity level. If you are trying to climb the corporate ladder then you will probably need to be working in a physical office in order to get very far toward this goal.  For some people, telecommuting does not fit their personality.  They need the physical interaction with co-workers and that is hard to get over the phone.

My Story

For me, I can probably count on one hand the number of sick days I have taken over the past 10 years. There have been many days when I would not have gone into the office that I have been able to work from home. When I last drove to the office I had a one hour commute one way so two hours a day I was in the car not working and not spending time with my family. I had a co-worker in California who had a two hour commute one way on a good day so she regularly spent four hours in the car not working and not spending time with her family. If the company just got half of this commuting time back in hours worked it should mean a significant increase in productivity.

I have always tried to work more than I typically would have in the office just to eliminate any appearance that I was not carrying my weight and getting my job done working at home. I often go much too far overboard with this and it is hard to determine when work ends and when time off begins, one of the primary disadvantages of working from home.

I do not take this privilege for granted. I am thankful for my job as a Project Manager and developer and the challenges and rewards it provides. Based on my performance appraisals over these years my managers do believe I am doing a good job. If that changes I suspect my status as a telecommuter would be up for review as well.

However, these past two weeks I have seen my family much less than most traditional office workers likely would have as the project I am currently working on has required significant time above and beyond what would be considered as a normal work day.  I don’t call this overtime because it is just what is required to get the job done from time to time and usually comes and goes in cycles.

My family is very understanding (they often go overboard with their understanding) but it does begin to wear on all of us when it continues for extended periods of time as this current project has. I do know this is time I will never get back and that is the hardest reality for me.

I have had this topic as one I would like to write about for some time but these past two weeks have prompted me to write this today. This is also the reason I did not get another blog post out this week, which is really insignificant in the grand scheme of things to say the least.

No Single Answer for All

Any news regarding telecommuting is always on my radar. Telecommuting is not for everyone but for those who can be productive and do not need the physical interaction with others in an office it is a very productive arrangement for both the employer and employee. It has been a very good arrangement for me so far. However, it is not as easy as some might think. It should be an agreement first from the company to allow workers to work from home and then a discussion and agreement between the manager and employee. That is the only way I see it working.

That is my perspective, peculiar or maybe not, and will not change even though I know I could be working in an office at some point in the future if my situation changes.

I would love to hear your thoughts so please do leave a comment if you would like to share them.

Until next time…

Originally published on Peculiar Perspective on 03/30/2013