A Reality Check

Poor fragile snowflakes endlessly complaining that they are being harshly targeted and derided, their fragile egos suffering, unfortunately much of the criticism is absolutely real.

We recently contracted the services of a company, and were told, in no uncertain terms, that we not only had to leave a substantial deposit but that we had to pay IN FULL at least one week prior to someone coming to do the work. WHAT??!!??

After demanding a proper explanation, as we had never experienced this before, the Manager was brought into the office to explain the reasoning behind this. We have both owned homes for a very long time, in my case, I totally restored, not renovated, every inch of a 100 year old house in Westmount. Never, had I been told to pay first.

The Manager was extremely polite and explained the progression of their business practices, and how the business world has changed, just within his short career, and he is, admittedly, a millennial himself.

No longer the ability to do business with a handshake,
No longer having clients respect the contracts they sign.

It is every man for himself.

He explained that most of his friends live lives that grotesquely exceed their incomes. Big fancy homes, pools, fancy cars, posh vacations, ALL on credit. Many have 5-6 credit cards, ALL maxed out, yet they continue to live well above their means, and zero cash in their pockets, no consideration whatsoever what will happen if their lose their jobs, or how they will ever repay their escalating debts. As many have not lived through a recession, they live like it can’t ever happen to them.

When he first started working in this company, he found himself doing phone collections as he is even tempered, and bilingual. He was utterly shocked at the names and addresses of those he had to chase. Over the next couple of years, the volume multiplied exponentially, prompting him to seriously review his own behaviour towards credit, as well as participating in creating new policies and procedures for his employer. He discovered that their cost of collections was rapidly exceeding the profit margins on some of their contracts. Obviously, like everything else, there are some millennials who are hardworking and fiscally responsible, and I certainly know many of them. They are living well within their means, not eating in posh restaurants, wearing flashy designer clothes, instead they are concentrating on their careers and their futures over the immediate 10 second gratification of a selfie!! Their view is long term, with certain goals to be met along the way.

However, walk down any main street, look into fancy restaurants, high end designer shops, art galleries, and see people more focused on the phones in their hands than their surroundings. Image, for them, is everything, and it is managed practically down to the nanosecond. As discussed in previous blogs, one has to wonder as to how long term friendships can possibly be made, as everything is superficial and only about the instant image. How many ‘friendships’ will endure the endless hardships and mishaps that come with life?? From job loss, health issues, family problems…….financial problems…….who will remain??

What started as a polite explanation of their business practices evolved into a 40 minute discussion of millennials and their extraordinary sense of entitlement. Feeling that it is acceptable not paying others for their time and services, at the same time as over valuing their own contributions.

In our business, we unfortunately encounter this arrogance on a daily basis, the extraordinary lack of courtesy and respect. Like every industry, there are individuals and companies who have made it difficult through their bad behaviour, however, new trends like ghosting employers, brings bad behaviour to a new level, never before seen. Not responding to phone calls or emails, they have not yet learned that people running business actually do speak to one another, and names of offenders are shared, sometimes even between competitors.

Call someone with over 20 years of experience, you usually get a call back within a short period of time, if some time elapses, one usually receives an apology for the delay. Call the President of a Fortune 500 company, they usually call back within an hour. Call someone with under 10 years of experience, expect utter silence, or total condescension and incredible arrogance… I frankly have a hard time with some of the things I have heard over the phone…….from strangers, who have no clue who they are speaking to, but feel that they are superior,and untouchable. My contact lists are exploding with notes against people’s names describing their rudeness, and whatever the industry, the behaviour is a constant. Having friends and acquaintances in every possible industry imaginable, it is a common theme.

SO, return calls, return emails, be gracious, you never know who is watching, or more importantly, what you could be missing. Some of the people I have called have missed out on opportunities where they could DOUBLE their salaries and work for extraordinary companies. They will never know. I will NEVER contact them again, EVER. From shops to galleries, restaurants, their names are increasingly on lists, and increasingly, they are being shared. There is never an excuse for seriously bad behaviour.

Whatever Happened to Discretion??

There was a time when people of a certain class were proud to keep their private lives out of the public eye. Your name was in the newspaper at birth, marriage and at death, and every effort was made to keep it out for the balance of their lives.

Today, with Social Media, you are considered a loser if you don’t have thousands or even millions of followers on Facebook , Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin filled with endless selfies, delivered almost every millisecond to ensure maximum exposure.

Bragging has become the lexicon for success and visibility. Life is measured and appraised by following the so-called ‘influencers’ on Instagram, snapping images of every facet of their lives, ostensibly to deliver instantaneous views, the rhetoric defining their lives, questionable, as to whether all this actually delivers quantifiable results beyond ego enhancement.

It is a pernicious, dangerous path, for when life and one’s popularity are measured in micro-moments, how can you develop real, honest, and not simply imagined friends??

Is it a real life or a fictitious, staged existence for a fickle, imagined audience, living vicariously through the imagined lives of the various individuals they follow?? Poses in luxurious surroundings, shows of extravagance, beautiful possessions, often staged in shops or in borrowed clothes and homes of friends or acquaintances for long enough to take a selfie.
These same people, dropped equally fast when someone new and more fabulous emerges into view.

Whatever happened to NOT bragging about one’s wealth, popularity or success?? About being gracious, discreet, elegant, kind??

Some people have hundreds of birthday greetings with gushing adoration from their followers, yet spend the actual day totally alone.

Certain individuals have their PR Maven’s on speed-dial racing to ring up newspapers or posting endlessly on Social Media the staged fabulousness of their clients, be it their so-called social lives or business successes.
Appearances at cocktails, balls, gallery openings, conferences, meticulously posted with the requisite photograph to promote their fabulousness. But what do they truly have to offer beyond their staged, fake lives?? Are they educated?? Travelled?? Sophisticated?? Elegant?? Interesting?? Well Spoken?? Have they actually done ANYTHING beyond actually showing up?? Can one actually have an interesting conversation about something other than themselves??

It is extremely unfortunate that in today’s world, being on Social Media is no longer a choice but a necessity, driven by the impression that with no media presence either you or your company do not exist. That most of the most extraordinary websites are for companies that barely exist, and many of the truly successful ones, barely have a social presence. They actually provide a product or service which is in demand within their industry, and do not wish to be inundated with spam.

People do business with people. People make friends with people. People DO NOT do business with Social Media. Some people actually value discretion.

It’s in the CLOUD!!!

Do you really know where your data is??

Open a magazine, TV, You Tube Hosted news, and see endless advertisements from large companies professing their professionalism and boasting about their ability to host and manage your data in the cloud.

Very few people actually even know what that means. Speak to most people particularly those who are not from the technology sector, and they will actually point to the sky and show you a fluffy cloud, amusing, yes, but frightfully inaccurate. Many Senior Executives in huge corporations are equally naïve, even though slick salesmen are offering them spectacular deals if they put their systems on their particular ‘cloud’.

But WHAT IS the cloud??

Remember outsourcing?? Service bureau’s?? Cloud is the latest, greatest new buzzword to describe putting your business’s critical information on SOMEONE ELSE’s COMPUTERS!!

NOW are you paying attention??

The financial wizards in large corporations, always quick to embrace a new scheme to reduce costs are jumping on the bandwagon as the cost of hosting your own data and managing your OWN off site back up facility have escalated due to the increased costs of real estate and highly technically competent individuals to run it. But at what long term cost??

Being a skeptic at the best of times, I have serious issues with the fact that an unknown third party is hosting all my financial or personal data without either my approval or knowledge, not to mention the fact that it may be hosted in another country with lax privacy controls or legislation. Most companies brag endlessly about their enhanced IT Security, but the truth is, if you speak to the truly Senior Security Specialists in the industry, most will laugh at the pathetic controls of most Fortune 500 corporations.

We have been working in the Security and Privacy field for more years than I will attest to, and have interviewed and worked with endless individuals who are ethical hackers, individuals with high level Security Clearance working in the Government or large corporations, and very few believe that most companies have a fraction of the controls which are necessary. Security may be tight going through the front door, but who is watching the back door?? Yes, it is expensive, but so is being hacked, and losing control of EVERYTHING.

SO, Financial Companies, Healthcare, Legal, Insurance, Government, Transportation, all state unequivocally that your personal information is secure with them, only to turn around and host everything on a third party computer, over the internet, often in a foreign country.

So, what is cloud computing??

It is the practice of using a network of remote servers over the internet to store, manage and process data.

Please pay particular attention to the above. Read it twice, thrice, and PAY ATTENTION.

You DO NOT KNOW where your data resides, or who truly has access. All the promises of security are of absolutely NO VALUE if a junior network technician in the hosting facility clones your data.

Furthermore, to be very clear, Canada, the USA, and other countries have very different levels of legislation to manage the privacy of data.

The next issue, which no one ever wants to address or acknowledge, if what exactly happens if the systems go down, you have absolutely no way of resolving the problem, and lastly, my absolute favourite, is what exactly happens if your provider goes bankrupt or is sold?? Non of which are within your purvue.

SO, to summarize, your business processses are at risk, your confidential data is at risk your technical publications are at risk, your R & D is at risk, your client’s confidential information is at risk, your financial information is at risk………

Are we paying attention yet???

Perceptions…

Why is it that some people are attracted to someone and will sing their praises regardless of being shown something totally contrary to their beliefs, and someone else will absolutely despise the object of their praises??

There are a variety of reasons which can contribute to this, including, but not limited to the following:

SITUATIONAL

Someone you know and respect introduces you to someone and exclaims how fabulous, kind, generous, considerate and otherwise wonderful they are, and how you would be well suited to befriend them.

RELIGIOUS

Many people join religious groups, willingly, or unwillingly, due to societal or parental pressure, and make the incumbent feel non-worthy if they are not part of the group, or even totally shunned by their community.

POLITICAL

See religious

HAVING A BAD DAY

If you are feeling sad or unwell, being told how you MUST like someone may actually anger you and change your feelings towards the innocent person, as you would rather be elsewhere, and not forced into a fake smile and an unwanted conversation. The unfortunate object of your feelings being totally innocent.

REFERRED BY SOMEONE YOU RESPECT

With flowery but not so subtle pressure to adhere to the group. Ergo, we all think this person is, fill in the blanks, wonderful, special, generous, one of us…..or in the case of a business referral, it could be their friend, boss, mentor, foe, or simply an honest referral out of generosity.

PRAISED BY SOMEONE YOU DESPISE

How many times have you been in a business or social situation where someone is presented to the group as a ‘person of value’ by someone you do not respect?? Society dictates that you smile graciously and extend your hand in friendship and acceptance, and try to put your personal feelings behind you. Unfortunately many people believe that their ‘first impressions’ are accurate, and they are NOT. Just because you do not like the person making the introduction does not mean the object of their introduction bears any resemblance to them and is not actually wonderful.

PHYSICAL

Illogical physical revulsion to someone for no apparent reason.

SOCIETAL

Some individuals adhere to strict societal rules and norms and are afraid to venture outside the limits of who and what they are told to approve. This is extremely unfortunate, as they miss out on the immense joy of meeting people from all walks of life and extraordinary experiences.

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE

Like it or not, our makeup drives a physical revulsion or in the case of extreme good looks, acceptance. But just because someone is either very pleasant or unpleasant on the eyes does not make them less of a person. Are you able to step back and look into the soul of someone and establish who they really are simply based upon appearance?? Usually the unattractive one is the most interesting, as they have had to work harder at being accepted.

LIFE EXPERIENCES

We all have totally different life experiences which guide us in many of the choices we make, willingly or unwillingly. If you come from a fairly socially isolated community, your views on other races or nationalities, as well as socio-economic vagaries , will be inaccurate based upon sheer ignorance. Someone who has travelled extensively will be much more open minded and accepting of others than someone who has neither travelled nor integrated within other communities.

SOCIO-ECONOMIC

Some people do not venture outside of whatever they perceive to be their socio-economic group, as they consider people who are poorer to be somehow inferior. How many interviews have you heard of arrogant music or movie stars speaking about how they can only socialize with their peers as ‘no one understands them’. They have forgotten where they come from, usually poor. The extremely wealthy often only socialize with other very wealthy people, as they are afraid that everyone else is out to profit from them, the joke is, we regularly hear of poseurs giving themselves titles and English accents and being invited as ‘entertaining guests’, one was recently exposed on television……and yes, it was hysterical.
But there are also social climbers who are so intent on climbing that invisible ladder that they will insult and snub anyone they do not deem important enough, and this is VERY dangerous. Often the most wealthy people are the least obvious, and believe me, they are paying attention, and they DO NOT CARE. They know who they are.

But life plays funny tricks and judgement is often totally flawed. How many times have I heard some social climber discuss how they need to associate with ‘people like us’, yet the reality is that they are pretentious frauds, their actual childhoods totally contrary to the glorious image they are trying to convey.
How many people have built huge empires only to lose them, and turn around and build something more successful than ever before?? So, if you meet them on the way down, are they losers, or is it simply bad timing?? And who is really the loser?? The poseur or the person who fell on hard times??

Due to the nature of our business as well as intensive travel, I have learned over the years NOT to judge anything on first impressions, as they are wildly inaccurate. The well dressed, well coiffed individual with the ‘right’ car, ‘right address’, may be hugely in debt, but the person in the older clothes, driving a 10 year old car, living in a smaller house in a modest neighbourhood may be incredibly wealthy. Think Warren Buffet of Berkshire Hathaway. Billionaire. Old car, bad clothes, small, modest house.

For years we have been told endlessly that ‘clothes make the man/woman” but too flashy often denotes insecurity and poverty. If you are truly successful, you do not require your clothes to make a statement for you.

MORAL JUDGEMENT

People are often judged by their jobs, like it or not. Taxi driver, janitor, …. How many lawyers have put themselves through law school working as strippers or waitresses?? At the time, they are judged by those who ‘hold their noses in moral judgement’ and are treated as prostitutes, whether or not they are actually performing the service. But, who is more honest?? The woman who only sleeps with fabulously wealthy men in order to secure her financial future or the stripper?? ( if you think you may be reading between the lines, think of a highly publicized US stripper…..just saying!!!)) sorry, I actually vote for the stripper.

UNPLEASANT COUNTENANCE

Someone is introduced to you with a snarl on their face. Are they actually unpleasant or just being forced into an unwanted situation??

BIG COSMOPOLITAN CITIES

Yes, I actually have to include this. People who travel extensively and live in large cosmopolitan cities tend to be more open minded and inclusive than those from small isolated towns where everyone is the same and have known each other since they were born….

SOMETHING TO GAIN

Unfortunately, some individuals show many different faces, and this issue is huge. The premise being their innate kindness and generosity which is given only to those they consider to be of ‘value’, anyone they judge to be socially inferior or competition to whatever their cause, are dispensed with in an utterly ruthless fashion. Do NOT attempt to explain this phenomenon to the recipient of their largess, as not only will it fall on very deaf ears, but you will come off as the ‘bad guy. How could this marvelous person ever do something nasty?? They are so…..add adjective….. but to others, they are NOT.

SO, what is the point of all this??

Depending on our life experiences, narrow or open mindedness, our perceptions can be skewered.
Are you having a bad day?? Good day?
Feeling unwell?
Happy?
Sad?
Take a step backwards in your head, appraise the situation , your feelings, logical or not, and evaluate.

If I perceive that any of the above are a likelihood, I actually do something unique. I REFERENCE my subject, and as women are extremely harsh on one another, I try to do a cross section, men and women, and people who have no reason but to give their honest opinion.
The responses have been unexpected and extraordinary. Some wildly entertaining, some horrifying.

Remember, FIRST IMPRESSIONS are wrong…….

WHO are you??

Perception is everything, or is it??
Do you really know who someone truly is??

Some people are awesome at self-promotion, to the extent that they will engage the services of a PR to develop their ‘brand’ or public personae, and it is amazing just who pays for it. There are innumerable socialites and business people who pay for the proper introductions, and invitations to sparkly events so they can meet the ‘right’ people.

Different people may perceive the same person in totally different ways, one may be excited to be their ‘friend’ , in newspeak, ‘honoured’ to be their acquaintance, when another may see them as a total fraud. Who is right??
Obviously, there is context, as well as personal experience and judgement.
Add to that, the fact that some view the world through pink lenses, and always believe what they are told. So, if they were introduced to someone and told the individual is super successful, the new associate will obviously identify with them in a positive manner.
Issues include context, social, business, timing, physical chemistry, jealousy, as well as something as simple as having a good or bad day. Some people are gullible, and are totally swayed by those who are able self promoters, they truly WANT to believe. The art of self-aggrandizement, particularly today with the volume and nature of social media, as well as many people feeling socially inferior, are apt to grasp on to the person who appears to have a large, fabulous life, as they hope that, by extension, they will be a part of it.
The question which must be asked is, how much is real?? Are you a follower, a believer or a doubter??
Admittedly, I am a doubter, If something or someone appears too good to be true, and I have never either heard of them, or been under a totally different perception, I tend to investigate to establish whether my perceptions and at times physical reaction to someone is accurate.
I know for a fact that I am the epitome of the wrong first impression, most women who judge me and know nothing about me are virtually ALWAYS wrong, and I mean TOTALLY wrong, not just a little, and this is the basis point for this discussion.

The younger generation are obsessed with following movie stars and bloggers and their perceived ‘fabulous lives’, but how much is true?? We know that you can actually BUY friends and ‘clicks’ today, so, do they really have 1 million followers, or is it really 50,000 and a lot of buying power??
If you are trying to associate with someone simply because you believe them to be successful, shouldn’t you ask the question as to why they would actually want to associate with YOU??? What is it they are seeking? Friends?? Sycophants?? Or is it more of the façade……? Do they feel so insecure that they need to have someone with them at all times??

Actions speak louder than words, so follow the actions and not the rhetoric. The reality may be far from what you perceive……….

Happiness

Does it exist anymore??
Do people still understand joy?
Uncontrollable laughter?
Doing things which are kind, positive, generous, with no expectations?
Being nonsensical?

Today’s political correctness enables a terrible fear to express joy and imagination.

In England, being ‘eccentric’ is virtually a badge of honour, it defines an individual free of social binds, and a willingness to follow one’s own path.
Walk on any major street in London, or go to the street markets, and see the most incredible outfits, exhibited with utter freedom.
Go to the Royal Enclosure at Ascot on Ladies’ Day, and witness the most extraordinary hats and a spectacular fashion parade. Photographers from all over the world congregate to photograph the spectacle, and the fun people are having.
Total freedom from criticism and judgement. Freedom to be creative and happy and act it out.

When did you last experience true bliss??

Go to a trendy restaurant, a social event, look around and see how many people are actually having fun, laughing, being free. Having actual conversations, looking at one another, giggling , but not at the expense of others.

Everyone takes life so seriously, they forgotten the concept of happiness, laughter, joy. Everything is all about image, prestige, power, or the perception of same, instead of actually going to an event to enjoy the experience and the company of those around them, actually enjoying the moment.

When is the last time you did something to give joy to another person?
To make them laugh?
Feel important?
Smiled at a stranger?
Did something kind for a stranger and not expecting anything in return, or expecting bragging rights?
Had a conversation with someone and made THEM feel important?
Not being cruel, selfish.

Try and make someone happy today. It is extremely contagious.

George Orwell’s 1984 has arrived with a vengeance

Let me begin by saying that I have spent most of my career working within the Advanced Technology Industry, with some of the most gifted individuals in the industry.
It has been extraordinarily exciting to see the development of new ground-breaking technologies, but at the same time, the utter erosion of our privacy is extremely concerning, and most people blindly GIVE everything away, with absolutely NO thought as to their actions.

If you continually provide your confidential information willingly, and sign your rights away, as well as your ability to pursue legal action, do not be surprised to know that the government has more information on you and your movements than ever before.

NSA monitors over 20 BILLION conversations and messages every 24 hours.

Airport Security is increasingly demanding both IRIS scans and Fingerprints depending upon your country of origin.

Facebook sold the confidential information of 87 MILLION users to Cambridge Analytica, as well as that of their contacts, without their knowledge or consent.
Equifax lost the confidential credit information on over 15 MILLION people, and have the audacity to aggressively promote online credit scoring and verification, FOR A FEE, as if they could possibly be trusted.
Saks, Lord & Taylor just lost credit data on 5 MILLION clients.
TJX lost 45.7 MILLION
UBER lost 57 MILLION.
And the list goes on and on…….

Today nearly all mobile phones contain GPS, as well as the majority of new vehicles.

Should I go on???

There is a company advertising endlessly that you should send them your credit information and they will choose the best credit cards for your needs.
‘Send us your DNA” to check your ancestry
“send us your DNA’ to check if you have colon cancer…

Submit your income tax returns online using our software…..
Send us your confidential financial information so that we can source the best mortgage, home re-financing, student loan re-financing, life insurance, health insurance, investment opportunities……..the list goes on and on……
All I can say, is DO NOT DO IT.

You have NO IDEA WHATSOEVER who is receiving your confidential information, or what they are actually doing with it. So, when your identity is lost, where do you look??…. by providing the information willingly, and agreeing to the terms of use, you have signed away all your rights. YOU are the product, and you have given these companies free reign to do as they wish with your data.

The latest scam is companies offering to do a ‘dark web scan’ for a fee, seriously??? … it is laughable, as there is NO SUCH THING. The dark web is not indexed, so it is a fraudulent offer…….

Are you afraid yet?? Every time you do a quiz or survey on line you are giving away more of your information.

Consider the increasing use of facial recognition in airports, parking lots, on the street, stores, and businesses. It is being used to follow people, watch their behaviour, and increasingly target them for store offers……
There are an increasing number of companies monitoring the phone calls and emails of their employees, some with knowledge and approval, others not.

Most people have never considered privacy or encryption, or the retention of their private information.

It is YOURS, it is worth guarding. Be vigil.

Social Media Re- Think

Over the last few weeks, I have repeatedly been told that if our Company has no digital presence, and the fact that I absolutely REFUSE to share my contacts on Linkedin, then I have been told that we are not in business and can’t possibly be credible. Seriously??

I find it is terrifying to think that the younger generation are so incredibly brainwashed by what they see on Social Media, that they have never even considered the concept of either Privacy or Confidentiality.

Their lives on Social Media are a constant bombardment of alerts from Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and filled with Selfie’s and other self-congratulatory postings. If one does not have at least 5000 Linkedin ‘contacts’ or Facebook ‘friends’ then you must be a loser. There is a fear of not being part of the crowd, being popular, being seen, being followed. The false sense of success and popularity actually is a major source of depression for many millennials, not understanding why no one is following their ‘staged’ popularity and success. The irony to this perception and the insane amount of information being provided gratis to the world, contributes to the current crisis with Facebook having shared the confidential information of 87 MILLION individuals without their consent or knowledge, as well as the confidential information of many of their contacts to Cambridge Analytica.

Google actively collects and sells information, by using their product, you are consenting to the sale of your information. Then of course come the endless quizzes and surveys, and requests to share your contact information. It provides a FREE GOLDMINE of information to mine not only your but the information of your contacts, virtually ALWAYS WITHOUT their consent.

It is easy today with AI to build a profile of someone based upon their GPS locations as well as that of their friends., as well as ‘likes’ and the level of education of one’s associates.

One sees streams of little girls going into expensive shops to take selfies, pretending to the world that they can actually afford high end designer clothes.

The never ending proliferation of fakes, particularly Louis Vuitton, are seen on the arms of individuals living in the poorest neighbourhoods, and obviously fake, but nonetheless, they strut holding the handbags in such a way as to say’ look at me’.

We see seriously impressive websites for companies which did not exist last week, proclaiming to have extraordinary experience and references.

It is ALL make believe.

The most famous and most successful people in the world are not on Social Media. They know who they are.

We prefer to be in obscurity, and not have to deal with the endless solicitation by companies and unsolicited resumes. We prefer to be away from the noise and self congratulatory websites by people who do not have any of the skills they proclaim.

 

Try actually thinking about the issues of privacy and confidentiality.

Do you really want to GIVE AWAY all your contacts to your competition on Social Media??

Utter insanity.

Customer Appreciation

If you are a regular reader of this BLOG, you will know that I tend to be all over the place, and visit an astounding cross section of shops and restaurants from some of the most exquisite in the world to absolute dumps, and everything in between, including Hawker Stalls where one stands in public to eat. Absolutely NOT what I was brought up to do, however in between an abundance of Chinese friends and a Japanese husband, one enhances one’s life experiences appropriately, and obviously with a sense of adventure.

YES, I have eaten in some incredibly exquisite places, the most notable being in a Restaurant in a Private Home in Japan. It was a massive traditional Japanese structure dating back over 500 years, obviously Tatami, where the entire second floor of the house has actually been a restaurant for over 500 years. This is one of the many secrets one discovers travelling throughout Asia, as there is no way an outsider could know this exists. No advertising, ever. Simply upon personal recommendation.

The huge antique lacquer table was incredible, the lacquer hand rubbed to a brilliant gloss. The art work in the alcove and throughout, of museum quality, and as is traditional with fine Japanese dining, the dishes were all antique, appropriate to the season, as was the food which was presented. Each changed with each of the 18??? Courses which were served over a period of several hours. Everything was absolutely delicious. A total feast for all the senses.

It was difficult to be elegant and discreet however, when my brother in law started peeling off 100, 000 Yen notes endlessly, I absolutely shudder to think what this cost, but it was in the thousands of dollars. An opportunity of a lifetime. It was an amazing experience from start to finish.

From London to Paris, Amsterdam to Monte Carlo, Tokyo and Hong Kong, I have been fortunate in my life to experience some of the best dining there is to be had. Concurrently, eating in Asian Restaurants where the majority of my white friends would not EVER set foot.

The best Hawker Stalls, undoubtedly in Singapore. Government regulated, no worry about the possibility of getting sick, and the choices are endless. Singapore is a wonderfully diverse place, so there is everything from Thai to Indonesian, Chinese, Indian, and more. ….incredible fresh fruit treats from the tastiest freshest fruits ever, smoothies and freshly made ice creams, and fabulous Asian desserts…….

With the New Year, comes the closing of several well known shops and restaurants. One of which was extraordinarily disappointing as I have known the owner since he arrived from Japan. No notice whatsoever to any regular customers or friends. Just a public notice to announce that they have closed, and thank you. It would have been fitting to contact people such as myself who brought them a constant stream of new clients to advise us so that we could come one or two more times before it closed, but it was not to be.
A Chinese Restaurant in Chinatown which used to be my ‘go to’ spot, gone, but admittedly I have not gone there for years as the waiters became rude and arrogant, as they say, familiarity breeds contempt.
A bakery which was part of Westmount’s landscape, and a meeting place, closed surreptitiously, not surprisingly however, as the staff were arrogant and refused to speak English to the clients. The store across the street increasingly stocking a cornucopia of breads and cakes for significantly less cost, and slowly rendering them redundant.

With the closing of my favourite Dim Sum Restaurant in Chinatown a few years ago, I was excited to learn about a new restaurant, so I visited a new Dim Sum Restaurant in Chinatown this week, touted as typical Hong Kong, and it was certainly not the case. Having stuffed my face all over Hong Kong and Kowloon, it fell seriously short in presentation and taste. The food was served luke warm, mediocre in taste, and it was not overly friendly.The head waitress made 2 condescending remarks to me which were highly inappropriate. The first was to bring me tea and make a point of stressing that it is free in Chinese Restaurants. Then, after seeing me eat using Chopsticks and a bowl, NOT A FORK AND PLATE, stopped by to make another condescending comment about whether or not this was the first time I was eating Dim Sum. Seriously??? I have been eating real Chinese Food for twice as long as her, and arguably in more Chinese Restaurants in Chinatowns all over the world.
To make matters worse, they have been spamming me endlessly on Facebook, and none of the dishes even vaguely resembled what they presented on line.
NO, I will not go back.

Several other major closings of restaurants and shops which have been around for a while and quietly disappeared just after the holidays. Is it that the new generation are fickle?? Well, that is one explanation, as they tend to follow whatever trend or spot which is trending on social media, or is it simply that NONE of them have the vaguest concept of CUSTOMER RECOGNITION??

During the same period I visited a high end shop mid week to look for a very particular new belt. I was seeking a particular shade of pink. Sorry to disappoint, but every year or so it is obvious that I am a chick!!! And Pink it is!! I have been chasing this elusive belt for a few years, and had hard cash in my pocket. Do you know how HARD it is to spend your money?? In 3 high end boutiques I was totally ignored while the staff pretended to be busy. Did I mention I was the ONLY client??? Yes. Just moi. So in each case, I looked around and walked out. In the most expensive of the group I was actually acknowledged by the Assistant Manager who told me he continues to seek a pink or purple belt for me, but so far, no joy. Only boring, traditional colours, brown, black……

So, out of frustration, I returned to one of the other boutiques where I had been ignored to be finally served, and advised that the belt on the counter was the only one in my size. The lady actually went into the back-store to check, and let me know there was nothing. They were waiting for the new shipment. So, this elegant,, polite, French (read from France) lady made a sale. The original shop clerk who had ignored me hovered in the background. Did she EVER acknowledge me during my first visit?? Absolutely not.

It is easy to blame technology and the disruption it is causing in a rapidly evolving world, but whatever happened to doing something simple like actually THANKING your long term customers and show some sign of appreciation?? The ones which survive have learned that you can’t always just take, take, take, and sometimes just a small token of appreciation goes a long way.
If you NEVER thank people for being faithful long term clients, at some point they will take their custom and drift away, no advanced technology required. Just 2 words:

THANK YOU.

On Cruelty

We live in strange times, this has been said repeatedly over the centuries, unfortunately we appear to have reached the apex in disgraceful behaviour.

Gone are the days of civility, or any soupcon of decency, just pure unadulterated arrogance and utter cruelty. The concepts of consideration and good manners are treated with contempt. Those who are mind-numbingly rude and pushy, and constantly bragging about themselves are treated with awe, they must be truly AMAZING to be able to behave like that.

When bad manners are given nomenclatures such as ‘ghosting’ you know there is a serious problem in society.
Total strangers post cruel cutting comments on Facebook, insulting those opinions which vary from their own.
Bullying both on line and in person have reached absolutely catastrophic levels, as has the levels of youth suicide.

People decide to humiliate and insult others thinking they are somehow the ‘cool kids’ regardless of the pain they may cause others, but worse, they actually brag about it. The sad thing, is they usually know absolutely NOTHING about the person they are humiliating.

Clearly I grew up in a gentler more civil environment. Good manners and respect for others being forefront in one’s comportment.

Making a large number of friends within the Asian Community brought a further understanding of such concepts as ‘Honour’ and ‘Face’, simply and extension of previous learnings.

On Friday I was in a grocery store in the north end of the city, and asked a gentleman for assistance. He turned to look at me, and I saw his face was severely disfigured, probably from fire. He was extraordinarily shy. He explained he would have to go into the basement of the store to find my mushrooms, and it could take 5 minutes, and I assured him I would not move from my current spot. Several minutes later he emerged with an enormous box of fresh Portobello mushrooms, newly wrapped and boxed. I thanked him and wished him a wonderful New Year. He grasped my hand and wished me the same, with a huge smile on his face, and clearly wanting to continue speaking with me, so I chatted with him for a couple of minutes, then paid and left. It was only while I was driving away that I realized I was probably the only person who had treated him with dignity.

People cut each other off on the road in dangerous conditions for no apparent reason than being utterly inconsiderate of the lives and safety of others. They cut into lines, treat servers in stores and restaurants like trash – no wonder it is so difficult to be served politely – when people feel a sense of entitlement and rage at everyone within earshot for no apparent reason.

The arrogance, self-aggrandising and just plain nastiness abounds, and it is inflicted upon anyone close by who have absolutely NO IDEA why they are being targeted. Unfortunately this creates an angry society, where it becomes ‘ every man for himself ‘ . Gestures of generosity must be public not private as well, with the appropriate ‘look at me, I am generous and giving back’ whatever that is supposed to mean, as all they ever do is take.
The number of people they destroy along the way is inconsequential. Ironically, some of those so-called generous people are not giving of their own wealth, but that of others. There are numerous events where the so-called organizers and fame seekers are actually earning as much as 15% of the money they raise, then seeking public acknowledgement of their generosity.
Unknowingly, all the volunteers work for free, pay for their own tickets to the events, and are contributing to the pockets and fame of the person who is gaining the most.

I can not comprehend the level of cruelty that some individuals are bestowing upon others, and the fact that it somehow gives them some sense of power. If the person they have harmed is a total stranger, I fail to understand how they can bask in all this perceived sense of power, when all they did is offend and damage a total stranger for no apparent reason.

Perhaps the concept of humility is missing from their DNA.
How many suicides will it take for parents to discipline their children against bullying?? It is currently at crisis level… Men are teaching their sons to be ‘MEN’ and women are teaching their daughters to be ‘LEADERS’, however this sense of entitlement is being translated into cruelty, as they are not teaching the concept of decency and consideration of others.

Teachers are allowing students to call them by their first names, further eroding their position of authority, so how can they teach them respect for others??

Clerks in shops are being allowed to treat customers with utter disrespect because no one is monitoring their bad behaviour.

We need to go back to basics and teach respect, manners and consideration of others.

Living one’s life with decency and dignity is..

NOT shaming others
NOT being cruel
NOT being a liar
NOT taking amusement from the pain and suffering of others
NOT speaking down or shouting down of others when they voice an opinion
NOT interrupting others

Look around you, how many people do you actually know who are living by these rules??

Do you consider them weak or polite??

Think hard about the answer……..it says a lot about who you are………

Trying to get perspective