(parenthetically speaking)

a random gal’s random thoughts about nothing and everything in general

I Only Do It for Money Anymore July 11, 2009

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Hey, baby, what'll it be?

When I first started this blog, I was obsessed by the number of hits I got. I’d check the stats several times a day, and actually battled my brother—who started his blog, jonwbecker.wordpress.com, at about the same time—to see who would rule the Internet. (On about his fifth post, he got more than 1,000 hits, while I’ve just now reached 1,243 hits total, so he obviously KO’ed me in the first round.)

These days, I don’t bother to check how many hits I’ve gotten. In fact, it’s been exactly 66 days since I even added a new post.

What happened? I get paid to write now, that’s what happened. You see, when I got laid off from my editor job back in February, I started freelancing full-time, which means that people actually pay me to write for various magazines, websites, etc. So the simple truth of the matter is that I’m not really motivated anymore to sit down at my computer and write something unless there’s the promise of a paycheck in it for me.

Does this make me a writing whore? I guess so. But I prefer to think of it as the cobbler’s wife who went without shoes. That I’ve used all my energy and creativity in writing the stuff I’m hired to do, that I don’t have much else left when it comes to writing for the sheer joy of it.

But writing for pleasure does help keep one’s professional writing fresh and inspired, so paycheck or not, I’m going to try and add a new entry here every now and again. So stay tuned. In the meantime, if you’d like to check out the stuff I get paid to do, log on to my website (www.mediabistro.com/jillbecker) for copies of recent stories or check out my Examiner.com column (www.examiner.com/x-7514-Atlanta-Hotels-Examiner). You can also follow me on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jillbecker.

Maybe you even have something you want to pay me to write. If so, just leave a comment for me here with your contact info and I’ll be in touch.

 

When Good Service Goes Bad January 9, 2009

In my head, I’m always bitching about bad service. Maybe a cashier didn’t say thank you when she finished ringing me up or the guy at the drive-through forgot to give me a straw, or — my personal favorite! — the person behind the counter didn’t even bother to get off their cellphone while they were helping me with my transaction. I’m a HUGE believer in good customer service and feel strongly that it can literally make or break a business.

Through no skill of my own, but rather through my job, I’ve been lucky enough to have been hosted at some pretty swanky hotels, restaurants, spas, and even on a private jet once, and as such, have been treated to some examples of personal service and attention like you can’t believe. But is there a point at which good service turns bad? My brother Jon — who just happens to be the smartest guy I know — thinks so.

2729979786_de6147988c_m4My brother and his wife were dining at a semi-posh Atlanta restaurant recently and they could barely take a sip of their wine without a waiter refilling it or could hardly start a new sentence without someone popping by to ask how they were doing. As a couple with two small children (as precious as they may be), they look forward to an evening out as a way to escape all the chatter and chaos and want nothing more than to be able to sit back and relax for a while. But apparently this dinner was anything but relaxing. “I hate good service!” my brother told me afterward.

There does seem to be a fine line between good service and service that’s just a little too good. But I’d rather have annoyingly good service versus annoyingly bad service any day!

Which reminds of an incident last week, went I went to the AT&T store to buy my new iPhone. The woman helping me was knowledgeable and helpful and everything was going along perfectly well until we were wrapping up the transaction and she let me know that someone might be calling me and asking me about how I was treated that day. At this point, she looked me straight in the eye, reminded me of her name, and said, “Be sure and give me a 5. A 5 is what I need. A 5 will give me a great rating. Remember, when they call you, to give me a 5.” Not “Please give me a 5” or “I’d be flattered if you gave me a 5,” but rather a “Give me a 5 or else!” I wanted to say something back to her like, “Don’t push it, beeaatttcch!” but I just smiled and walked out the door. She should know, though, that when AT&T does come calling, I’ll be making up my own damn mind about what score to give her, and it certainly won’t be a 5. I guess good customers can sometimes go bad, too!