How NOT to get repeat business

Monday I dropped my expensive dress shoes off at a shoe repair shop. I made sure I talked with the cobbler to let him know how much those shoes meant to me. I have had them for 8 years and I would not mind having them another 8 years, or more. I was wanting the man to realize that I prized the shoes and having them repaired well was more important to me than what it cost to repair them (within reason).

I needed a couple of busted seams to be re-stitched. Through the years both shoes have had to have some re-stitching. The last time they were done by a different repair shop, the cobbler did not do a very good job of cleaning up his extra thread. What did not break over time started to look ratty. I wanted the new guy to clean up the mess and re-stitch some parts of the shoes. While he was at it, even though I probably had another 3 or 4 months worth of sole left on them, I wanted him to re-sole the shoes.My nice shoes

All of this was agreed to be done by 10:00 Wednesday morning (today) for $15. Yes, soles are much cheaper here in Mexico than they are in the US. I emphasized to him that I really needed the shoes Wednesday morning at the agreed upon time because I had to have them that afternoon. He said he understood and that they would be ready.

The odd thing about this cobbler is that he wanted some money up front. While that is common practice here in town, especially where goods are involved, I have never had to pay for my shoe repair up front. I want to know that the job is done well before handing over my cash. I had no cash with me because I did not anticipate this.

I went in this morning at 11:00 to pick up my shoes. They were not done yet. He had not even started working on them. He said they would be ready at 5:00 this afternoon. He said that it would cost $16 and I needed to pay him up front. I argued with him about the price and the time. While $1 is nothing in comparison to what I was having done, it was not the agreed upon price. Furthermore, the agreed upon time was 11:00 am not 5:00 pm.

He finally said that he could have the shoes ready by 1:00 for $15. And if not, I would pay nothing. I did give him $10 at that point and promised that I would be there near 1:00.

I was not able to arrive as close to 1:00 as I hoped, but I was there shortly before 2:00. My shoes were ready and I paid him the final $5. Then I added that I would never be back in his shop and that I would tell my friends to avoid his business based on the fact that he had wanted to change the price and that the shoes were not ready on time. I did consent to him that I understood that sometimes things happen to prevent deadlines from being met, but there is never an excuse for changing the price.

I am not asking for special treatment in any way. But, I think the cobbler could have seen an opportunity and seized it.

While I am not rich, I am richer than most people who would be in this man’s shop. His normal clientèle would be people who are too poor to buy a new $30 pair of shoes so they have him replace the soles for $10 or less. I walked in with a story of having had these shoes for many years and that they were precious to me. I wanted the best treatment I could get for them. I happened to be dressed that day in nice clothes. As a person conducting a business, I think I would have looked at a customer like myself and realized that this could be a very good repeat customer. The cobbler never saw that. Not until I made plain to him that he would never see me again in his shop did he start to think that he should care for the customer and their needs more.

Directly across the street from this cobbler is the jeweler that I have been taking my watches to for the last year. I have been unusually harsh on my watches lately and they have had to be in the shop too often. This jeweler immediately saw me as a potentially good customer. Just recently he did an easy job for me that required $9 worth of parts. He charged me $9. He knows that maybe losing a little bit of money on labor now, will cause me to look to him when I want to buy a new watch. I have already recommended him to a couple of friends. He is a man who knows how to grow a business.

If you work in the service industry you have to remember that your business is people, not shoes.

Got worked up Friday

Though I have mentioned a few close encounters with vehicles while running, I don’t mention all of them for fear of scaring my mom to death. I have worked out pretty good techniques for letting people know I don’t approve of their stupidity. I never resort to rude gestures nor cursing though. My preferred method is pure violence. I prefer to just put dents in cars when possible.

Friday I was running on the left side of the road (opposite traffic) and had to step around a parked vehicle. There were no cars coming in front of me and no cars to the right. I heard a truck coming from behind me, but it should not have been an issue since he had plenty of room to drive in his lane.

I stepped around the side of the parked truck and was running beside it when the truck from behind came up beside me. But he did not simply drive by. He drove over into my lane pinning me between him and the parked truck. He was so close to me, I am not sure how he kept from hitting me with his mirror.

When these kinds of things have happened in the past I have had room to move away from the vehicle. In this case I was pinned between the two. I had no place to go.

I was so startled and shaken by it, I did not have time to give his truck a good beating.

I was running over to meet my running partner Jeff. It took me some time to regain my composure and continue going though. I know the guy in the truck was just trying to scare me, and he did an excellent job. I almost stopped at that point and went back home. But I continued on to Jeff’s place.

Jeff and I took off for our run, but I was still shaken from the close call. We only ran about 2.5 miles and I called it quits. We happened to be running near my house so we walked on over to my place and he ran home from there.

After that any time a car came up behind me I was careful to look over my shoulder.

Ever go to bed feeling really good?

Last night I started thinking that I was feeling great and could do a good run this morning. There was no race scheduled, but I really felt like I could probably set a 5K PR. My previous PR was 26:09. I was disappointed as to how that race ended and I needed to redeem myself.

This morning I got up still feeling like today could be my day. I did not run yesterday because of an incident on Friday that scared me a bit silly. I will share that later.

I went out for a short warm up run this morning of about 5:00. That is not really long enough, but I felt ready. I stretched a bit and psyched myself up to go.

The goal was to run 5:06 for each Km, which is what my goal a few weeks ago at the race was. This time though I was determined to not fade in the end. This would give me a finishing time of 25:30. Quite a big leap from my previous PR.

The first Km went without too much incident. I did have to pause briefly for a car to pass. I was thinking that that is one thing you don’t have to deal with in a race since traffic is stopped for you. I was afraid that if I got too many cars at intersections they could put my PR run in jeopardy. Fortunately there is not too much traffic at 8:00 on a Sunday morning.

While it is good to see you ran a Km 15 seconds faster than your planned pace, it is not good to see it so early on. I was afraid that I would be in trouble at the end. I had one other intersection/car to deal with in this Km.

Though it was fast, it was nice to be feeling so well while being over half way to my goal. I had not thought about how many seconds I was ahead of schedule. I did not want to use the extra time to allow myself to slow down in the end. But, I also knew that even if I was not feeling well at the end, I had a little extra time in the bank.

I had decided before the 4th Km mark that if I was under 5 minutes for that Km, then I would take a very short walk break. I had not decided on how long until I saw my time. I allowed myself a 10 second walk break with plans to keep the final Km strong.

Even with the walk break I did not fall off my pace. In fact, with all the splits under my goal, I felt really good.

What a great time! I was 1:30 faster than my previous PR and 51 seconds faster than my goal.

As much as I hate to admit it, I know that this faster time is due to running with my friend Jeff. He has not learned how to slow down. He has no sense of pace. When we run together I constantly have to reign him back. But, even at that, we are running about 1:20 faster per mile than I would normally run on my own. He has forced me to run faster–something that I was not doing by myself. I have helped him slow down and he has helped me speed up.

This was a great run and it feels good to get that monkey off my back. I have had a few races where I totally missed my goal. That last race really bothered me to know I faded at the end. Mostly it bothered me because I did not feel like I was fading. I thought I was doing well. I lost my sense of pace that day. But not today!

Today I conquered!

Review: Making Comics

We bought Making Comics for our son upon recommendation from The Geek Dads. It was a Christmas gift for him.

The book is written by Scott McCloud. I was previously unaware of him. Apparently he has been a long time guru in the comics industry. He has two other books out, Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics. Those two seem to have been big successes. If they are anything like Making Comics, I understand why.

I am not an expert on comics theory or philosophy, but I will say that McCloud is a genius. His ability to explain the philosophy of comics in such a basic way is incredible. This is not a book about how to draw, but it is a book about drawing comics. He also deals with lettering philosophy and finding your own genre and niche.

He boils down for the reader what makes a comic readable and why things are done in the way they are. He points out some sacred cows–one of which he calls “flow”–but then also tells you how to go against the norm to find your own style in other aspects.

He gives many examples and is very encouraging for the new comics artist/writer. He shows that there are many styles out there that have been successful, but then he also points out why they are successful. It is not just one style of art that will make a comic be accepted. Nor is it one type of story. There are many factors involved and he tries to point those out. But, he also admits that there is no magic formula. Some of it is just trial and error.

I was disappointed by one thing in the book. There are some language and pictures that just are not appropriate for a 10 year old. I am disgusted with myself for assuming the book was written for all ages. It is not. I took Geek Dad’s recommendation with the thinking that it would be good for children since that is the tone of their blog and podcast. I did not have a Sharpie(tm) handy when I read the book the first time. I guess that means I have to read it again with Sharpie or white out in hand.

I understood the book as a whole. But I am not sure I completely got my head around Chapter 6 Section 3: Understanding Comics Culture. Maybe the second time through it will make more sense to me.

I really did buy this book for my son. He has read it twice or three times in the two weeks we have had it. But it was a good read for me as well. I have no interest in becoming a comics artist, but I am a communicator. I love reading books on communication and particularly philosophy of communication. This book was right up my alley. The subtitle is: Storytelling secrets of comics, manga, and graphic novels. It really is all about how to communicate a story from one person to another.

Absolutely highly recommended. If you have younger children, maybe below the age of 14, then you may want to read through the book first to make sure it is acceptable. If not, there are only a few places where the pen of censorship needs to be applied.

Making Comics: Storytelling Secrets of Comics, Manga and Graphic Novels, Scott McCloud, Harper, 2006, 264 pages.

Review: Running Through the Wall

One of the books I received for my birthday was Running Through the Wall: Personal Encounters With the Ultramarathon by Neal Jamison. It is a compilation of stories written by people who have run ultramarathons (any distance over 26.2 miles). Most of the stories are in the form of a race report on a particular race. Some are more in the form of “my-life-as-an-ultramarathoner.”

Because the book is written by several authors, the style is not consistent. Also the quality of the stories is not consistent. Some are, without doubt, better stories than others.

I have read about many of the races mentioned in the book, but not all of them. Some were new venues for me and I enjoyed learning about them. Most stories are between 4 and 8 pages long.

This is not a teaching book. You aren’t going to learn how to run a 100 mile race from this book. That said, you can learn a lot from other people’s experiences. You also learn how crazy some people can be.

I really enjoyed the book and think that it will be one of the very rare books that I go back and read from in the future. I probably will never read the whole book again. I will just pick and choose my favorite stories. I marked a few that were particularly enjoyable to make my future reading through the book easier.

One thing I would have loved to see in the book is that the editors had included in the author summary which race they were writing about. There were a couple of stories that were not clear to me as to which race or year was the subject. There were several runners who talked about the exact same race and year, but unless you flipped back through the stories, you would not have known they were talking about a shared experience.

I don’t know how appealing this book would be to new runners. But, it is very enjoyable for those who like reading race reports and for people who have actually considered ultra distances.

Running Through the Wall: Personal Encounters With the Ultramarathon, Neal Jamison, Breakaway Books, 2003, 304 pages.