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October 12, 2023

The Rat Pack

We are at war. Fall has brought on an influx of mice and rats. We are all in favor of live and let live. Rats and mice are an important food source for birds, coyotes and other wildlife, but inside our house, we become an important food source for them. Not only do they chew away at our food and supplies, but they beget new generations of hungry mouths. The rodents must die. But if one is married to a soft-hearted woman – how you kill them matters. Quick and easy is the rule. So we are placing electric rodent killing traps at various locations. Zap! Goodbye you dirty rat.

You have to wonder sometimes if some big corporations are intent on committing suicide or if they are just so incompetent that it only seems that way.

As we get older, our clothing requirements are simple. We buy much of what we need either online or from superstores such as Costco. But once in a while, my wife Carmela likes to go to a big retail store and try on different outfits and see how they look and feel – something that is impossible online or at a large warehouse store.

So a couple weeks ago, off she goes to Macy’s – where over the years and through many iterations – she has shopped for more than 50 years. But this time the experience was different.

She went there to buy a leather handbag, but on the way to the handbag section, she passed though the women’s clothing section and found five items to try on. She decided to buy one of them – a pair of white slacks – and proceeded to the section with purses.

Little did she know that  the retail genii at Macy’s seem to have divided the store into sections. And although she’s really not certain, after the day’s experience, she has gotten the idea that shoppers are supposed to pay for each item in the particular section it’s chosen from and and if a shopper wishes to buy items from two or more sections, they have to stand in line two or more times and pay for the items at different registers. Now Carmela is not absolutely sure this is the situation, but the brouhaha that ensued with her planned purchase of slacks and a purse makes this seem likely.

It’s as though when you go to Home Depot you have to wait in line to pay for nails at one cash register, then go to another register to buy light bulbs, and wait again for a potted palm at yet a third register.

Macy’s – one of the first department stores – has been through many iterations, but in one form or another it has been around for 165 years. How much longer will it survive in an ever-competitive field?

Good question.

So my wife – a very clean-cut and friendly 68-year-old woman – went shopping unaware of the new rules that Macy’s seems to have implemented.

As she walked over to the handbag section with the as-yet unpurchased slacks on her arm, she heard a man on a two-way radio saying: Customer has left try-on area with unpaid merchandise on her arm. She’s moving toward handbags.

How weird, she thought.

Then she looked up to see three women security folks with walkie-talkies tracking her – one to the left, one to the right, and one stealthily moving in front of her. The disembodied voice then described Carmela and kept directing the three women to keep tracking her.

Realizing what was happening, Carmela approached the closest security woman and said, “excuse me, I think you’re talking about me.” The young woman quickly turned her back to Carmela and would not acknowledge her presence. She tried once more to talk to her with the same results. Then she tried one of the other two women. Same response.

Meanwhile the man on the walkie talkie kept tracking Carmela’s movements, describing her and his suspicion that she was a thief over the walkie-talkies so everyone in the area could hear.

At this point, another customer looked at Carmela and asked, “what’s going on?”

Carmela told her Macy’s security obviously thought she was stealing something, even though she was in the interior of the store, moving further inside the store, and nowhere near the exits – which she would have to use in order to actually steal something. The fellow shopper made a nasty comment about how lousy Macy’s has become.

Carmela obviously agreed.

Disgusted by the experience, Carmela put the slacks back in the slacks section and left. Then she came home, cut up her Macy’s charge card, and wrote an angry letter to Macy’s corporate headquarters, complaining about her experience.

Two weeks after sending the letter, Carmela was contacted by a woman from Macy’s corporate headquarters, who promised somebody would be in touch soon.

Three days later another person from Macy’s called. She rudely said there would be a “thorough investigation” into the situation, but “of course” they couldn’t tell Carmela anything about the investigation nor would they ever contact her again.

In corporate-talk: Screw you lady.

Fair enough.

When an organization is intent on suicide, there’s not a lot to do except remember them for what they used to be and take your business elsewhere. Online, perhaps.

– George Lee Cunningham

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July 30, 2023

Ego Tripping

Everybody may have a story to tell, but not everyone needs to tell it. The story for most folks is they were born, they lived, they worked, they loved, and they will at some point die. That’s nice, but by itself, it’s not a story that has a point. Just saying.

I’m going to die – just like everybody else – but I’m not going to stop living in the meantime. When folks retire, spending their golden years going on cruises and playing golf is fine, but if that’s all they do, it’s like having nothing but dessert. Work, however you define it, is and always has been, the main course.


Tim Urban, a very witty and smart fellow, recently tweeted about his wife’s theory on girl power and dominance. Here’s what he wrote:

“My wife has a theory that when two girls pass each other on the street, the hotter one just kind of has the right of way and everyone mostly abides by that. And that this creates awkward moments when two people think they’re equally hot. Is this true?”

Like so many things in life, I do think there is some truth in it and some important missing nuance. Yes, I think there are women who dominate because of their looks and desirability to men. But no – and this is a huge no – it is not nearly that simple.

In our white-bread, 21st Century society, a pretty woman may step aside and yield power to a beautiful woman. But there are a lot of exceptions. My wife and her sisters are half Sicilian and half Calabrese – two societies of pretty mean people.

In my wife’s culture – into which I have been welcomed – the meanest woman gets the right-of-way over the less mean woman. And if two woman both think they are the meanest – well it can get pretty ugly, even if the two women may love one another under normal circumstances.

So in my adopted-by-marriage world, the meanest woman has the right-of-way, no matter how pretty or ugly she may be. If a young and beautiful 21st Century girl thinks otherwise, she will soon learn her place.

Mean beats pretty every single time.

By the way, Tim Urban is a very interesting guy with a sometimes quirky and unconventional view on life. You can find some of Tim’s thoughts on life at

– George Lee Cunningham

 If you would like to subscribe to our work, you may contact me at and let me know and you will get an email reminder of blog postings. Your name will not be shared and you may cancel at any time.