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  • October 12, 2023

    Retail Suicide

    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

     If you would like to subscribe to our work, you may contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com 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.

  • July 30, 2023



    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 http://WaitButWhy.com

    – George Lee Cunningham

     If you would like to subscribe to our work, you may contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com 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.

  • July 3, 2023



    I don’t think of myself as a outlaw although I suppose I am – at least officially.

    It’s not just being anti-social, although sometimes I am. And it’s not being dishonest, although sometimes – officially – I am that as well. It’s like seeing the law as it’s written as being a sort of helpful guideline to how we should all behave.

    During the pandemic when most places were shut down, Carmela and I traveled across country more than once, stopping at truck stops for gas and food, and when there was no other choice, doing our business by the side of the road.

    There are people we know, many of whom we love and like, who hid at home during the pandemic, obeying authority and wearing masks when they went for a walk down deserted streets and while driving in their cars.

    Meanwhile the bums by the side of roads and highways roamed freely because they had no home in which to be confined. And while some people were banned from going to church during the pandemic, other people could riot in the street with no masks, because they were doing important “social justice work.”

    It’s silliness. During that crazy time, we drove across the California state line to the relatively free states of Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and Texas, living life and not bothering anybody else.

    When we got to the free state of Florida, masks were not required, although some service people wore them to keep the tourists happy.

    So much of wearing masks was a psychological thing. If everybody else was wearing masks, people thought they should wear masks too just so they wouldn’t be outsiders.

    It was just the opposite in Florida. When the tourists arrived all masked up and the locals were going around enjoying life without masks, pretty soon the tourists took their masks off as well. There are lessons to be learned there about human nature and the eagerness to fit in.

    And then there were the doctor visits.

    I hate going to the doctor, but my wife insists that I do. So I go, both to keep peace in the family and because my wife loves me. But during the pandemic, Kaiser only wanted to admit the patient, nobody else – unless the patient was a child or required physical or emotional assistance.

    Since Carmela wants to ask the doctor a lot of questions that I would never ask, she wants to go in to see the doctor with me. Fine by me.

    So when we checked in, Carmela would take me by the elbow and lead me in, while I gazed absentmindedly at the ceiling and people passing by. No kindly personnel ever spoke to me. They addressed all their questions to my “caretaker.”

    Once we were checked in, Carmela would sometimes forget our ruse and walk away, expecting me to walk with her. I would stand there, slack-jawed, until she would sigh and come back and grab me by the arm to take me along. It was sort of a fun pantomime, and we got really good at it during the lock-down.

    Maybe I like breaking the rules because I come from the South and there is a rebel spirit still alive there in both the lifestyle and the music. Country songs are often about life outside the rules of polite and lawful society.

    It’s not about doing evil things. It’s about living free. About being your own person and not looking to the the government or anybody else to set down arbitrary rules about how you should behave.

    To be honest, I have my own rule and I think it’s a good one.

    Be nice, be respectful of others, and live a happy life.

    – George Lee Cunningham

     If you would like to subscribe to our work, you may contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com 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.

  • June 3, 2023

    Spring Has Sprung, Summer’s Coming On


    It’s that time of year in Southern California. Trees that were mostly bare during the winter months are now full of leaves and life.

    The coyotes are busy teaching their new cubs how to hunt for their dinner. People are keeping a sharp and protective eye on their small dogs and cats, and even their smaller children, as the evening grows near and the nightly hunt begins.

    The crows and other feathered predators are busy raiding the nests of smaller birds looking for tender chicks.

    The bunnies and rodents, whose main purpose is to provide food for carnivores, are scurrying through the undergrowth in a bid to survive long enough to produce a new generation.

    It’s the circle of life and it’s happening all around us.

    – George Lee Cunningham

    If you would like to subscribe to our work, you may contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com 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. You can also find past stories at: www.georgeleecunningham.com

  • May 26, 2023



    It’s strange how all these years I still take pride in my military service.

    Vietnam was a stupid war, waged by a stupid and corrupt President, backed by a brain trust of arrogant “intellectuals” who squandered the lives of young American patriots with little regard for the human cost.

    It doesn’t matter. I didn’t do it for the politicians or the bureaucrats. I did it for my country and for myself.

    War is the most manly of pursuits. It is baked into our genes. Defend and protect the homeland. It has been the story of the world since we climbed down from the trees, lost the tail, and started wearing clothes and making weapons.

    I don’t need to go to a Memorial Day observance, with a stage full of politicians all wanting to make a speech and pay lip service to the sacrifices made by young men who died in service to their country.

    Most regular Americans will take the occasion to fire up the barbeque, toss on some burgers or hot dogs, and enjoy the company of friends and neighbors. And that’s OK – in fact, that’s just fine. That’s exactly what those young men from years ago fought and died to protect.

    I served in Vietnam, and I witnessed some of those young men take their last breaths. That was early in the war and we moved around the country, wherever there was a need to combat the enemy – D-Zone, the Iron Triangle, the Plain of Reeds, the Central Highlands.

    My brother, Charles Kenneth Cunningham, was stationed in support of a Special Forces unit in the Mekong Delta region. The Americans were not officially allowed to torture prisoners, so that task was outsourced to the Vietnamese, but my brother, who was eighteen at the time could hear their screams in the night.

    So he stole pain pills from the medical supplies and would smuggle them to prisoners. It was a stupid thing to do. Giving prisoners pills for the pain did little to improve their long-term prospects, and he could have been court martialed and punished if he had been caught.

    Five years later, he was killed in a construction accident. My mother was presented an American flag all neatly folded at his funeral. I still have the flag. I am not sentimental, but for some reason I cannot give it up.

    Military service used to be a common experience shared by most American men, whether they picked up a rifle, flew an airplane, or peeled potatoes in the mess hall.

    It’s different now. I went to the funeral of my wife’s uncle at Arlington Cemetery in Riverside a few weeks back and the mourners were directed during the salute to the flag to place their hands over their hearts. Veterans were directed to salute.

    There was a time when almost every man in attendance would have saluted. That was then. I only saw two mourners who saluted – an active duty Marine, the husband of my niece, and myself. There may have been others that I didn’t see, but most stood silently, with their right hand over their hearts.

    That certainly doesn’t make them bad people. Many are people I love and respect. It’s just different than it used to be.

    Service to one’s country changes the way one thinks about what it means to be an American. Sadly, as each day goes by, it seems to mean less and less.

    So when you join your friends and family to celebrate the holiday, you are doing exactly that for which those warriors fought and died.

    Enjoy your holiday, but if you think about it, take just a moment to say a little thank-you prayer or at least send out a kind thought for those young men and women who would be doing exactly what you are doing if they could.

    – George Lee Cunningham

    If you would like to subscribe to our work, you may contact me at george@georgeleecunningham.com 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. You can also find past stories at: www.georgeleecunningham.com