Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Hot Day, An Army of Racoons, and a Broken Van

Been a long time since I've blogged last. [Sorry for the delay]. Last week, I went on the EDGE Men's trip to the Buffalo River. I will attempt to chronicle this great adventure below.

We left on Wednesday (June 17) at 8 in the morning. I [very wisely] chose to ride in the huge white bus--which now has a small narrative of its own, but that's for later. The air worked like 10x better than the A/C on the silver bullet. Had a great time texting Josh and Josh (Acker and Sims) about everything...from indoor plumbing to what if GW was still prez. Played on Josh A.'s iPod Touch. He has the dumbest, and yet oddly fun, apps possible.

Stopped in Hamilton, AL for a rest break (took Robert a while to figure this one out, despite the HUGE water tower). Saw a great advertisement at the Gas Station for "Dipped Ice Cream." [yumm] Resisted the urge to buy those great chicken fingers and massive potato wedges. Back on the road.

Stopped in Olive Branch, MS--home of former UA player Jimmy Johns--for lunch at Chic-fil-a. Took over driving for Pastor Mike for what would seem like several days. The A/C became decreasingly effective the hotter the day got. Drove around Memphis. Not nearly as impressive as I thought. The Pyramid and the Old School iron bridge over the mighty Mississippi were cool though. I've never seen so many 18-wheelers in one place in my entire life. Guess Memphis really is the shipping capital of the US.

Crossed into Arkansas for the first time in my life. Must say that it lived up to expectations--which weren't much (in defense of Hog Nation, I didn't visit any major cities, like Little Rock. Plus, Jonesboro was nice). In the southern part of the state, nothing but flatness and rice fields. In the north nothing but mountains and towns with populations hovering around the 600 mark (which even by Vincent/New Brockton standards is tiny!)

Asked for Jason and Terry, who were in the lead van, to pull over for a water break. They insisted that we were almost there. Two hours and 10 towns later, we arrived in Mountain Home, AR...population 10,000. Went to Wal-Mart where everyone in that town + us decided at the SAME EXACT TIME to buy a fishing license (which was a complete waste of $11 for me). Josh A convinced a sales associate that he really believed we were in Canada. Somewhere Tim Abbott is still laughing.

Left and went to the Ramada Inn and Convention Center, which from the outside looked like a roach motel, but once inside we found nice, large rooms that were all built around a ballroom and the biggest hotel pool I've ever seen. You could even dive in (well you weren't supposed to, but it was 9 ft. deep).

Tried to get dinner at Western Sizzlin' at 8:05pm. Unfortunately, we forgot how far away from civilization we were, as the restaurant had closed at 8:00. Let that sink in. Crossed the parking lot to Pizza Hut. Enjoyed a great Meat Lovers'. Then it was back to the room to get a good night's sleep before the trek down the Buffalo. Started missing Amanda and the baby...a lot. Didn't sleep real well. be continued...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Well, it's been a couple of days since my last post, for which I apologize. My computer at the church bit the dust (yes, it was a PC). Making matters worse is that my hard drive was completely shot, meaning I lost ALL of my files (I know, I'm stupid for not having everything backed up). I miss my iTunes the most.

I was hoping that maybe this was my chance to upgrade to a Mac, or at least get a pc laptop, but unfortunately Geek Squad can fix my computer (excluding the files, of course) for less than a new computer.

So, my posts may be a little sporadic over the next couple of days until I can get my computer running smoothly again.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Lessons from a Rant...

As promised, here is the rest of my rant (you can read the first post here):

I believe there are a lot of things we (churches) can learn from businesses--both from their successes and, in this case, their screw-ups. Here are some points I learned from this whole experience:

1) Make sure you have enough room for people. It can be intimidating and frustrating to enter an unfamiliar place and feel like you are in the way. I've been in churches where I always felt like I was in someone's way. Make sure that you have plenty of space for people to mingle and for relationships to be forged.

2) Perception is reality. The reality of both of the restaurants I attended was that they were successful. The Taco Bell had several plaques awarding their accomplishments over the past consecutive years. However, my experience outweighed any good that they were doing. My thoughts and emotions are what formed my opinion, not how successful the restaurant may have been. We have to remember that no matter how successful we may consider ourselves, no matter how many great pastors we've had, or how much we've given to missions...people are going to form an opinion based on what they experience--whether that is just a perception or actual reality.

3) Make sure you let people know that you want them there. Don't be phony or plasticky, but do what you can to let people know that you care about them and want them to be in your church. Make sure the carpet and bathrooms are clean. Leave out some peppermints for people to grab. Have greeters and ushers and parking attendants to show people where to go. And most importantly, teach your people to be friendly and loving and full of grace to EVERYONE who enters your church.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Rant Against the Restaurants of Dothan

[bends over to look under table]

[pulls out soapbox]

[stands on soapbox and begins to speak]

I have something to say.

The restaurants in Dothan, Alabama are terrible! It is absurd at how miserable a job these places run their "organization" (hard to call it that because I saw little of anything resembling organized). Visiting my father the past two days, who was in the hospital with chest pains--he's ok by the way, no heart problems--I had to eat twice (well sort of 3 times) at food establishments in Dothan. With the exception of McDonald's (which is odd because usually McD's usually has awful service), who did a fantastic job (my food arrived quick and correct) all of the restaurants failed me miserably.

Here's some of my complaints:

1) Make sure you get the order right. If you don't give people what they want, especially when they've invested the time and money to get to your place, you are failing as a business. Of the 5 items (excluding drinks) that we ordered at Taco Bell, 4 of them were wrong. Captain D's did little better, forgetting my extra fries and that I ordered with a coupon. Now, Taco Bell saved a little face be replacing my whole order for free (and much quicker than the first order came up).

2) If you expect large volumes of people, have space for them. I've never been diagnosed as a claustrophobic, and I've never noticed myself having a problem with small spaces--until this weekend. Apparently if I'm in a tight space with a lot of people around me talking loudly and moving back and forth, I get a little frazzled. I would have never known this, however, if only TB and CD offered a little more space to wait on your food.

3) Restaurants are the face of the city they are in. Oftentimes, a restaurant is the first impression a person has of a city. Now, I've been to Dothan a lot in my life, and I would never take a vacation there because of how close I grew up to it, but I thought to myself in those crowded, poor service restaurants how I would never want to visit this city based on the impression I got in the restaurant. It's amazing. It's not like the Visitor's Bureau of Dothan runs the restaurants (maybe they should). But I unfairly (but matter-of-factly) have a negative impression of Dothan because of two restaurants!

4) Customer service is HUGE. If you want people to hang around you, or your business, you need to treat them like royalty. At the new Waffle House in Harpersville, they open the door for you and welcome you to a fully-staffed, fully clean restaurant (granted, it is new, but still). Even though I'd rather have the steak and eggs at Huddle House, the experience at Waffle House is enough to draw me back. Conversely, the experience I had at CD's and TB in Dothan made me never want to go to those two stores ever again.

Now, maybe you've noticed or not, this has a correlation with churches, but you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see what...