Customer Service, You Gotta Love It

She comes into the store and waltzes over to the print shop like she owns the place. She is a new manager at the store next door. She tells my store manager she wants a poster-sized black and white print. My manager calls me over and says to her that I will take care of it. I ask her what size she wants the poster.

“Oh, that size,” she says, pointing at one of the signs.

“24 X 36?” I ask. (That is a standard size: 24 inches X 36 inches.)

“If it’s that size,” she answers.

“Do you have a digital file or a printout?” I am on my best behavior.

“I’ll email the file.” And she doesn’t.

Thirty minutes later I get a phone call.

“When will my poster be ready?”

I tell her I didn’t get her email. She reads out the email addy she sent the file to. It’s not ours.

Five minutes later I receive the email and a phone call. “When can I pick up my poster?”

“By 5:30.” That’s two hours away and I have two customers standing across the counter from me. But I figure I’ll get it printed by that time.

Thirty minutes later I open up her attachment. It’s a Word file, letter size. The borders for the calendar she sent in the email are way too soft. So I make the borders for the days and the calendar nice and bold along with the names of the days of the week. I pdf the file and open my software for the engineering printer. I make the file 24 X 36, then I print that sucker out, proud of going the extra mile to make her print stand out with my bold lines. The poster prints and I laminate it, then I make the phone call.

She waltzes into the store. She looks at the poster and her eyebrows do those kind of things that eyebrows do when their displeased.

“It’s not big enough,” she says.

“How big would you like it?” I ask, trying to be helpful.

“Bigger,” she says.

“How much bigger?”

“I don’t know. Bigger,” she says the word again as if I can read her mind.

“You want it 36 X 48, ma’am?”

“I just want it bigger. If you can’t do it, I’ll go somewhere else.”

“I can do it. But I do need a size. Could you show me?”

“I’ll know it when I see it. I’m going somewhere else. They’ll know what I mean.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Now I’m thinking wherever she goes they’ll need a mind reader to figure out the “bigger” she wants.

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Hamlet, Shakespeare and Santa Claus

“He was not of an age but for all time.” Ben Jonson, Shakespeare’s fellow playwright and rival.

Shakespeare is a literary person’s Santa Claus. And an actor’s too. For an actor, it’s not like Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney saying, “Let’s put on a show.” Well, it kinda is, but it is still Shakespeare. You say, “You do Shakespeare really well,” and the actor’s in hog heaven. Of course, there’s one of Ol’ Will’s plays on every actor’s bucket list. Jim Carey’s been wanting to do Puck for centuries.

Like Santa Claus, you don’t even have to say The Bard’s first name. By the way, Santa’s first name is Will. Just like Will was Shakespeare’s. Guess that is how we ended up with where there is a Will, there is a way.

Once you get hooked on Shakespeare, you’ve got Christmas 365 days a year. There’s so many presents under that Christmas tree. It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Only the Bible competes. And Johann Sebastian Bach.

For instance, there’s the Sonnets. One hundred and fifty of them. Like the Psalms. Each of the Sonnets has something to say. It’s like sticking a shell against your ear. One day you hear a symphony. The next day it’s a sonata or a nocturne. You could read Sonnet 18 everyday for a year and you would get something different for each day. Now how many things in life can bring you that much pleasure?

As an actor, an actress or a scholar, you can build an entire career on one of The Bard’s plays. “King Lear” or “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, “The Tempest” or “Hamlet”, “Othello” or “As You Like It”. An actor can play Romeo early in his career, then move on to Hamlet and Macbeth and Richard III and Henry V. This is how Olivier became Olivier. At the end of days, there’s King Lear. For a an actress, you’ve got Juliet, Desdemona, Ophelia, Gertrude, or Rosalind, and Prospera and Hamlet.

Then there’s the villains. Shakespeare had some villains that would make the Wicked Witch of the West or Lex Luthor look like a Barbie Doll. I am speaking of Iago, Lady Macbeth and Richard III, and Hamlet’s Uncle Claudius. Now those were some real villains who put the capital e into Evil.

And nobody does it better when it comes to a lovable character. Falstaff is as unique as Don Quixote and a lot more fun.

HAMLET

“Hamlet” is a roller coaster ride of a play and nearly four thousand lines long. This Moby Dick of a play is a good four hours, Shakespeare’s longest. Only Kenneth Branagh has tackled the complete text on film.

It is the ultimate Cain and Abel story. It is about the consequences. How the families of the murdered and the murderer are affected.

By the end of the play, there are eight corpses. Only Horatio, Hamlet’s friend, escapes alive. And Hamlet requests that he retell his story. Which means that every time the play is performed, Hamlet asks that it be performed again. And again. And again. Ad infinitum. For those who don’t know Latin, that’s forever.

Nothing in the play is black or white. It is all gray. It leaves us with more questions than answers.The questions it leaves us go to the core of who we are. And what it means to be a human being.

For the actor, this is the Mount Everest of roles. Many of the best actors have embraced it on the theatrical stage. Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton, John Gielgud, Ralph Fiennes, even Sarah Bernhardt. The actor becomes Hamlet, Hamlet becomes the actor.

The role takes all sorts of courage for it is as scary as hell. It completely strips an actor naked, requiring him to give everything of himself, and more. One might even say that it us the ultimately long day’s journey into night. But for an actor, who is up to the role, not to take the role is even scarier. One thing is for sure. Only those who are willing to give everything can do Hamlet justice.

Opening up “Hamlet” is that Box of Chocolates Forrest Gump talked about. Maybe his mama had read Shakespeare. So come along with Uncle Bardie this year and taste some of the chocolates you will find in “Hamlet”. They may not be good for you, but they’re not fattening either.

Do you have a favorite Shakespeare play?

Let me sing the praises…

of a root beer float. After a long hard day of this and that and the other, what a better way to relax than go into the kitchen, dump several scoops of vanilla ice cream into a glass and pour some root beer over it. Then go into the living room, sit in the big arm chair, put my feet up on the foot stool, click on the TV and the blu ray and watch a movie. The cat crawls up on my lap and lays there quietly. Now that’s living.

of cornbread. I got to tell you this is the food of the gods. When I die and meet St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, he’s going to have a big plate of cornbread waiting for me. If I am to be let in, that is.

One of the fondest memories of my childhood was this. I would spend my summers staying at a farm owned by some friends of my mother. These folks had fourteen kids. So another mouth to feed was no big deal. The big meal of the day was a midday dinner. In the evening we kids had leftover cornbread.

We would heat up a piece of that cornbread and slop some butter on it. We were in hog heaven. Either that or crumble up the cornbread in a glass of cold milk. I am telling you that there is nothing like it. Man, my mouth waters just thinking about that cornbread melting in my mouth.

Is there a food that brings back childhood memories to you?