The fashionable heel, 2010

I got my new issue of Lucky magazine recently and combed it cover to cover in hopes of finding that fashion designers had finally come to their senses and were showing classic, comfortable shoes again.

Sigh, it wasn’t to be.

Check these accidents-waiting-to-happen:

Spiky high heels

Yikes!

My niece is twenty-something and swears by this kind of high heel. It makes her look taller, she says.

I refuse to argue, but if I wanted to look that tall, I’d carry around a ladder with me!

Besides, after having crammed her feet into such high fashion shoes for the past several years, she’s now complaining about foot pain, bunions, and all the other ailments that go with mindless beauty.

Oh, sure, I used to wear high heels, too — back when I was young and mindless.

I had a pair of at-least-three-inch-pumps in every possible color — navy, black, maroon, beige, you-name-it. They were comfortable, they made me look taller and feel more confident, they immediately proclaimed me “off limits” to too-short men, and they were necessary so I didn’t have to re-hem my slacks.

But don’t expect me to wear those things now!

I picked up a pair yesterday at a department store, casually wondering how women get their feet inside, and had not one but two other women volunteer they’d never again wear such spike heels!

“I’d break my neck,” one said.

“My back already hurts,” added another.

The fashionistas are trying to convince us to shed our summertime flip-flops and sneakers, replacing them with more fall-like colors and styles. I understand that. It’s been a tough economy for everybody, and shoe manufacturers aren’t exempt.

But seeing these styles, I can’t help but fall to my knees and thank God I work for myself and don’t have to wear shoes at all if I don’t want to!

Lamination gone bad

I’m so mad I could spit!!

My favorite Domer and I took several of his dorm room posters to a local copy shop this morning for laminating. He said they last much longer with that plasticky stuff front and back.

We picked them up and paid for them (close to $30), then went home. When we gave them a closer inspection, we were appalled to realize the ink had bled through. The backs were almost as printed as the fronts. The lines and letters were fuzzy, the colors were blurry, and the edges had all kinds of icky ink bumps on them.

I called the shop manager, explained our “disappointment” (in a nice way, mind you), and was told we “must not have noticed” the ink was bad when we dropped them off.

Huh?

That doesn’t fly, because we had looked them over very carefully beforehand.

I tried to tell her this, but she got all huffy and told me she isn’t to blame for laminating that goes wrong.

Really?

As a small business person myself, I understand how difficult it is to have to re-do a job. It’s time-consuming and you can’t simply re-bill for that time.

But oh how much worse it would be NOT to “make it right”!

One bad customer with an axe to grind can truly ruin your entire basket of business!

Most business people know this.

Take Wal-Mart, for example. If you’re not satisfied with a purchase, simply return it — they’ll credit the card you used for the purchase, give you cash for your return, or let you exchange it for something else.

Simple. And effective.

That’s why folks love Wally-world!

Why should a copy shop be any different?

Sure, they have a monopoly — especially in a small town — but does that excuse them from Basic Business Ethics 101??

We went back to the shop to show the manager what we meant. MFD insisted I wait in the car — at 19, he’s certainly old enough to register his own complaints!

He was back within minutes, steaming. The manager, he said, refused to do anything. Since his posters are obviously ruined, he asked if she would reprint the posters from his flash drive, then try the lamination again. No deal.

She was sticking to her guns and that was that.

Now he’s out the initial money to print the posters AND the money for the ruined lamination job!

This, on a college kid’s “allowance.”

Of course I checked her business out online, hoping to register a complaint there. She’s not accredited by the Better Business Bureau, nor is she a member of our city’s Chamber of Commerce.

Short of writing a scathing Letter to the Editor of our newspaper, I’m at a loss.

It makes my hackles rise that one puny excuse of a business owner can set such a sorry example for our youth!

And you can bet we won’t step foot inside her shop again!

Thinking about Accents

After I got home from the Mississippi Gulf Coast, I was on the phone with one of my clients, who observed, “I can tell you went south for your vacation. You’re dropping “g’s” all over the place!”

Yes, I am.

It doesn’t take long for me to pick up a Southern accent!

Blame it on the fact that I was reared by two Southerners and was saying “y’all” before I even went off to kindergarten. I also went to college in the south and lived and worked in Mississippi and Texas for a number of years.

The whole thing’s even more prominent when I have a cold.

I make no apologies for my accent, and I’m pretty sure my client wasn’t poking fun at it. We all have to be from some place, and the majority of us pick up the accents we’re around the most.

Accents help us “categorize” each other. If you’ve got a halfway decent ear and a bit of experience, you can pinpoint at least the region a person hails from by his accent.

Most of the time.

Early in my career, I worked for a woman from Mississippi who admitted she’d taken elocution lessons and spent countless dollars to rid herself of a southern accent. It sounded rednecky, she told me.

How sad.

Just because a person’s from Hicksville doesn’t mean he’s a hick. By the same token, simply having a British accent does not confer the monarchy on you!

For years, a “flat, Midwestern accent” was considered the ideal when it came to TV anchors and other readers of the news (think Walter Cronkite). Everybody, it seemed, wanted to hear vowels and consonants pronounced the same way.

But even across the Midwest, there are many varieties of accent. A person from southern Illinois certainly speaks differently than a resident of Minnesota, for example, and “city folk” use different expressions than rural residents.

Because our society is so mobile today, I suspect even more shifting of accents will occur over time.

Still, isn’t it fascinating to talk to strangers and really listen to not only what they say but how they say it?

Of Tar balls and Heat

Now that I’ve just about caught up from being on vacation, I can write about my experiences.

We traveled to Gulfport, MS. That’s all the way down south to the Gulf of Mexico.

Right there where BP’s tar balls were coming ashore.

No, I didn’t see any. In fact, what I saw were pristine, sandy beaches, with brand-new palm trees, piers, roadways, and new construction.

The Coast has come a long way from the state it was in five years ago after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the place.

Oh, sure, there’s much to be done — like getting the residents back, getting the businesses back, getting the hope and joy and spirit of fun back.

But, fellow travelers, don’t expect to see slime all over the beaches.

It ain’t there.

Don’t expect to find a wealth of homes and businesses sprouting up waterside, either.

The Mississippi Coast used to boast fabulous antebellum homes with sprawling lawns, profuse flowers, immense live oaks, and splendid views of the water. Home after home lined Highway 90, from the eastern state line to the west.

No more.

Katrina took care of that.

The owners of such “mansions” either moved farther inland or abandoned the area entirely.

What’s there now pales in comparison.

“Homes on stilts” or “hurricane-proof” structures are the wave of the present, thanks to more stringent construction laws.

Which were needed.

But it’s still sad to see.

Many of the restaurants and other businesses, too, relocated, meaning you have to work a bit harder and drive a bit farther to find your favorite places. But, as I was told, there’s no recession on the Coast when it comes to food — everybody, it seems, is eating out and enjoying it!

What I wasn’t prepared for was the heat and humidity.

You expect July to be hot. It’s hot in Central Illinois; it’s hot out East; shoot, it’s hot in Russia!

But this was beastly heat, the kind that sucks the energy right out of you, the kind that’s flat-out dangerous to be in.

So I stayed inside. With the air conditioning. And felt sorry for those who had to be out in the heat.