Donating Items To Goodwill or Salvation Army

Over the past several weeks, my sister and I have been putting items in bags and boxes that we wanted to donate to charity. We normally donate items of that type to the Goodwill facility in Culpeper, and the friendly (and helpful) employees give us a receipt for the items, which we can use as proof of donation at tax-time, should we need proof. They also give us a coupon for a percentage off of the items in their store. The drawback (in my mind) to donating the items to Goodwill, is all of the bad press that Goodwill has gotten for how their executive makes a huge amount of money, while the employees are paid very little money. In contrast, the Salvation Army has a better reputation. So, this time we decided to donate my items to the Salvation Army, which has a location in Warrenton. We go to Warrenton more often than Culpeper, so we thought that donating items to the Salvation Army would work out just fine.

The process started out as a challenge. Although we already knew how to get to the Salvation Army location, we thought I’d use my smartphone’s Google Maps app to guide us there. I was thinking that maybe Google Maps would have a creative way to get us there faster, or with shorter distance involved. With my sister driving, we were following the Google Maps directions, zigzagging through town (instead of a direct route that we normally would have taken) up until it told us to turn the wrong way down a one-way street. At the time that it told us to turn, we immediately realized that Google Maps was taking us the wrong way, and we didn’t turn. But, that was rather a scary thought that we might have blindly turned down that road if we didn’t already have a good idea of the roads in town!

So, we ignored the Google Maps directions at that point, and continued on the way we already knew how to get there. Upon arrival at the Salvation Army’s location where they accept donations, we saw a very small loading dock, with the words “employees only” painted on the edge of the dock. On the walls beside the loading dock we saw a lot of “No Dumping” signs. There were several items on the ground beside the walls, and in front of the loading dock, and some items on the loading dock. We could see some employees inside the facility, but they did not seem to realize we were there. We could not see any kind of buzzer, or bell to activate to get their attention, but we decided to start unloading the car.

I put a few items on top of the loading dock, and my sister put a few boxes on the ground in front of the loading dock. Before we were finished unloading the car, a lady came out of the facility and before we could even say “Good Morning,” she started to scold us for putting items on the ground. She told us that there was “No Dumping” allowed. We told her that we were not “Dumping,” we were “Donating.” Continuing her scolding, she pointed to the “No Dumping” signs on the side of the walls, and told us that any item not placed on the loading dock itself was considered “Dumping” and that the employees were not allowed to touch anything that was not left on the loading platform. She said anything left beside the walls would simply be hauled away to the dump!

We said “oh, we had no idea, but the loading dock was full and there is no room for the items we wish to donate, so we were leaving the items on the ground in front of the loading dock.” At that point, a couple of more employees walked up behind us and started to move items off of the loading dock, making room for our items. My sister picked the boxes off of the ground and put them on the loading dock. My sister encouraged the employees to take care with putting their hands in one of the boxes, as there were some sharp kitchen knives in the box, and she did not want them to cut themselves. These employees simply said “OK” and started to remove our items from the platform.

None of the employees (volunteers?) at any point, smiled, or said “hello” or “good morning” or “thank you” or offered a receipt. They were all quite abrupt. This was very off-putting. About four hours later, we found ourselves driving past the facility again, and say a huge amount of black trash bags and items of furniture lined up against the wall, under the “No Dumping” signs. We wondered if the people that left those bags and items there realized that the Salvation Army would not even touch any of those items. How many people have been taking their items to the Salvation Army, thinking that they are doing a good deed, leaving them beside the tiny loading dock platform, expecting the Salvation Army will put those donations to good use?

Next time we decide to donate items, I think it will be somewhere else. I’d at least like to see a smiling face when I am donating items!

Thankful For a Mild Snowstorm but Aggravated at Doctor Office

The weatherman was predicting a huge snowstorm to come bearing down on our house last night. The snow started in the afternoon, but it seemed to be a lighter storm than predicted. The weatherman was predicting 8 – 12 inches. After all was said and done, we only got three inches. I am grateful for the smaller amount. To be honest, I was worried that we would lose our electricity, and even though we can survive a few days without it, we have been spoiled by our easy access to electronic entertainment!

Thinking we would lose our electricity while sleeping, we cranked the heat up, so the house would stay warmer longer, and we put several large buckets in the bathtubs and filled them with water for flushing needs. Better to be prepared and not need it than the other way around!

This morning I was scheduled to have a medical appointment for injections to treat my migraines in DC at 11am. It takes about two hours to get there from where I live. Seeing that almost every business and government and school in DC (and surrounding areas) was cancelled, Metro being shut down, and a state of emergency declared, it would be reasonable to assume that the doctor’s office would not be open. In order to get to my appointment, I need to leave by 9am – if the roads are good. About 8:30 I started trying to contact the doctor’s office to find out if they are open and seeing patients. At first I got the automated message telling me to leave a message and they would call me back in 48 hours. That was not going to do the trick, so I called back and hit a different option. Same thing. Third call, I finally got a live person who assured me that they were, in fact, open. I indicated that I would like to reschedule my appointment for later in the day if that was possible, asking if they had any cancellations I could take. The lady got rather nasty with me and told me that if my appointment was for 11, then I had better by there by 11! She then told me to hold on while she checked for cancellations. After being on “hold” for about five minutes, I was disconnected. So I called back again, explained again what I needed, and put on hold again for about five minutes. Then someone else came on the line and told me that the doctor had called in and said that she was not coming in to work today because of the weather and bad roads, that they would call me in 48 hours to reschedule my appointment for another day.

On the one hand, I was grateful that I did not have to make the trip – the roads are probably slippery and with a ban on street parking in DC because of the snow, it would probably have been a real nightmare going in! However, I did not appreciate the less than stellar customer service I was given by the folks at the doctor’s office when I was trying to figure out if I had to hit the road to go in and brave the bad roads, only to find out after about thirty minutes of aggravation that the doctor had called in to say that all appointments needed to be rescheduled!

Travel Tips for a Summer Getaway in Hawaii

Travel Tips for a Summer Getaway in Hawaii
Image Source: www.legacyfamilytree.com

 

Known as one of the most beautiful states in the country, Hawaii is a tropical paradise. Start planning your summer itinerary, beginning with these six travel tips:

1. Vacation Home

When it comes to visiting Hawaii, there are a myriad of places you can stay. Hawaii has some of the most luxurious resorts available that offer amenities like ocean front views, waterfall pools, and shuttles to any local area of interest. If spending a great deal of time in Hawaii, look into renting out vacation homes or timeshares. In the long run, it will probably be less expensive, for instead of spending money on every meal, you can cook within the property’s kitchen. Plus, you can spend evenings relaxing inside of a space that feels like home.

And, if you enjoy your time in Hawaii, look into investing in a timeshare instead of just renting one. The space is available to you whenever you want to getaway and can be rented out for a nice profit. Plus, sites like direct2tv.com/direct-tv/Hawaii/Honolulu offer great deals on exclusive amenities you can add to your timeshare.

2. Pearl Harbor

If you want to see Pearl Harbor, reserve your tickets in advance. As a major attraction, tours often sell out quickly, especially in the peak months of tourist season.

3. Waikiki and Honolulu

Some of the island’s best attractions are located in the tourist zone of Waikiki Beach and Honolulu. Though crowded, the sites are well worth it. Spend a day snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, a protected nature preserve on Oahu’s coast, or go for a drive up the windward coast on Kalanianaole Highway, where you’ll be able to see a dormant volcano and sharp cliffs overlooking a turquoise ocean.

Spend a day at Lanikai Beach, which has been consistently voted Hawaii’s number one beach. It’s a little off the beaten path, making it usually free from tourists. Or, visit Oahu’s North Shore to check out the Polynesian Cultural Center. It is a lot like Disney’s EPCOT, for it represents every culture from Samoa, Tahiti, Tonga, Fiji, Hawaii, to several others islands in order to showcase their culture, food, music, and other traditions.

4. Food Specialties

While in Hawaii, experience the local cuisine like dinner at Duke’s Waikiki or Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck. For a little legendary shaved ice, give Matsumoto Shave Ice in the historic Haleiwa a try. Matsumoto is known for its unique flavors like tangerine, green tea, and creamsicle.

5. Maui

Maui is full of picturesque beach options that range from large and crowded to small and peacefully unknown. Whalers Village is a typical shopping destination while Mt. Haleakala is an impressive volcano site most tourists hitch a ride to see. Lahaina Harbor is known for its whale-watching tours, especially during December-April. Maui hosts plenty of luaus that tourists can attend to experience a traditional Hawaiian night full of hula dancing, Hawaiian food, and music.

6. Before You Leave…

Make sure to toss a flower lei into the ocean before you leave. It’s a traditional symbol that you’ll be back to paradise someday.

 

 

An essay about the booster seats of yesteryear

I can remember as a child, there were several times that I had a question about something and for some crazy reason I would call the telephone operator and ask her for the answer to my question. I guess I thought that the telephone operator was the smartest lady in the world! And you know something? The telephone operator always was very pleasant and had the answer I was looking for! Boy, those were the good ol’ days!

Do you remember the old days when a young child wanted to sit at the table to eat, the parents (or grandparents) would put a big, fat, telephone directory on the seat of one of the adult’s dining room chairs so the child could sit there? Growing up in an urban area, I was used to seeing really fat telephone directories. I had a strange kind of fascination with them. I have no idea why, really. I just can remember whenever we would travel to a different city, when we would check into a motel I would go look for the local telephone directory and flip through the yellow pages. I always felt that was the best way to get a really good idea of what the area was like.

Now small business marketing involves much more than a listing in the White Pages and an advertisement in the Yellow Pages of the telephone directory. The Internet has done its part to revolutionize local listings. I still use the telephone directory for a lot of things, but usually it is only when I don’t have access to the Internet. I am always sure to keep a current telephone directory near the hard-wired phone at home, and usually last year’s copy of the telephone directory in my car.

Whenever possible, however, I will generate a local search on my computer. Doing that is often faster than using the paper version of the telephone directory. It is definitely time to stop using the telephone directory as a booster seat – I think it is an endangered species. Besides, the town that I live in, the telephone directory is so small it wouldn’t do a lot of boosting!

Apple pie for breakfast

Bar Harbor town (free clip art)
Bar Harbor town (free clip art)
One of the things that I really enjoyed when I had the opportunity to stay at a Bed & Breakfast place in Bar Harbor was how sweetly the bedrooms were decorated. Fluffy down comforters beckoned from the king sized beds, and every bedroom had a working fireplace that burned real wood. Some of the bedrooms had their own private bathroom with a spa tub in it. (I’d consider that the honeymoon suite!) Most bedrooms had to share a bathroom with other guests. (I didn’t like that part nearly as much!)

Even better, when the hosts served breakfast in the mornings, we had the chance to eat some great food! The last time I stayed at a Bed & Breakfast we were served french toast with honey and apple pie. I’d never had apple pie for breakfast before! I liked that a LOT!

apple pie (free clip art)
apple pie (free clip art)

My favorite part of staying in a Bed & Breakfast, though, was the opportunity to visit with the other guests, and the hosts. If we had stayed in a regular chain hotel, we would not have even considered striking up a conversation with other guest there. I enjoyed asking the hosts about daily life there in Bar Harbor, and where they would eat supper if they were going to eat out. Finding out where the best “non-tourist” places to eat are; where you could actually get the feeling of the “real” town were a good way to make us feel less like intrusive gawkers, and more like welcome guests. And those local restaurants usually have the best food, at decent prices too. You’re not stuck with the rubber or frozen meals from a national franchise, or the hugely overpriced lobster dinners served down on the pier.