Making Things Convenient
Oct 11 2008

How important is it to make things convenient for your customer, your friend, your boss, your co-worker, your employees, your spouse, your family?  Do people even think about that?  Do people wake up every day and think to themselves, “How can I make life easier for someone else?” I know that I don’t wake up every day thinking that, but I have seen the positive results when I accidentally or on purpose try to make others lives just a bit easier and fight some of their battles for them so that they don’t have to. 

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Sometimes people notice and other times people do not.  Sometimes they say ‘thank you‘ and sometimes they say nothing leaving you wondering if they noticed or not.  I’m probably guilty of not noticing what people might be doing for me because sometimes I get too caught up in moving from one thing to the next to appreciate the little things.  The busier we get sometimes the harder it is to notice except for when your expectations are exceeded. 

I recently had my expectations exceeded (nay blown away) and by a government entity no less.  It almost made up for my traffic court tribulations!  I recently received the annual mailing about renewing my car registration.  I’m already grateful that I can pay $1.00 extra to do this by mail.  This time I saw that there was a notice on the renewal form that said something like “You need to order new plates.”  It was in all capital letters but no where on the notice could I find instructions on how and when I needed to get them. 

First, I wondered why the heck I needed new plates even though my current ones were 7 years old.  I guess I haven’t owned a car for 7 years before and it didn’t (and still doesn’t) make sense why I needed to replace perfectly good plates.  I groaned inside thinking that now I’ll have to figure out how to get new plates.  I decided not to think about it and mailed in my check.  I figured I’d deal with the bureaucratic mess of calling and/or going to multiple government/city offices to get these new plates sometime in the not so distant future. 

To my absolute amazement and utter surprise, I received in the mail from the County Tax Collector – Travis County, Nelda Wells Spears, two new plates!  I almost fell over with excitement because I was now relieved of having to figure out how to get them.  I could literally feel a small weight being lifted off my mind.  I can only hope that whoever wins the next US presidential election, they wake up every day thinking about out how they can make all of our lives just a little bit easier!

As a busy, working-mom, when someone makes my life easier I am ever so grateful.  I don’t know how to personally thank the Tax Collector’s office so I’ll thank them with this blog post.  Maybe Nelda has a Google Alert set-up for her name, and she’ll see this post. :-)

So if you have nothing better to do or even if you do, go try to make someone else’s life just a little more convenient…even if they don’t say anything, I bet they smile a little inside.

Author: | Filed under: FYI, random stuff, working mom, working mother | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments »

Traveling With Children – Know Your Rights and Limitations
Sep 1 2008

And now for a fabulous guest post from the ex-general counsel at Expedia, Mark Britton.  I wish I had known about his site, Avvo, before I experienced my Traffic Court Tribulations

Being the ex-general counsel at Expedia and now running Avvo and its free legal advice Q&A forum, I get a lot of questions about travel-particularly travelers’ rights and responsibilities.  As a parent of three rambunctious little boys, I offer this post to help traveling parents everywhere.  On that note, I am reminded of one of Expedia’s great early ads which said something like, “Whoever said getting there is half the fun has never gotten there with a screaming two year old.”  

So, in that spirit, here are some nuggets of knowledge for your next child-laden trip: 

1.  Traveling with kids doesn’t give you special legal rights.  A lot of people assume that because they are traveling with kids they have special rights and preferences granted by the Federal Aviation Administration or some higher authority.  The reality is that your rights-with or without children-are largely whatever the airline chooses to give you.  Don’t think you can be involuntarily bumped with children?  Oh yes, you can.  Outraged that the airline denied you early boarding with your pokey young children? Tough beans.  Not able to avoid your child’s tantrums by letting her run up and down the airline aisle? It’s the flight staff’s call. 

2.  Add 30-60 minutes to get to your gate.  Let’s face it, kids take their time.  That dead cockroach en route to your gate may be disgusting to you, but it absolutely requires closer inspection by a five-year-old.  I learned long ago that rather than trying to whip your kids into an adult pace, allowing more time to get to your gate preserves family harmony.  Just going through security is stressful for a kid-take it slow and make it fun. 

3.  Reserve the allowed seats for your kids.  One place that the feds do get involved is where your children may sit on a plane.  They may not sit in an exit row, and if they are in a car seat, they must sit by the window.  So don’t think you will book your young child in an exit row and the airline will have to live with it-they won’t.  The flight attendants will move you-I see it happen all the time.  Also, don’t book two aisle seats-one for you and your car-seated kid.  Just take it for granted that your child will be sitting by the window and you will be sitting in the middle by the big hairy guy who hogs the armrest. 

4.  No need to smuggle your baby food.  Keep in mind that while you are not allowed to take liquids on a plane, you may take liquid-based baby food.  Many people don’t know this, and so they attempt to come up with creative ways to smuggle on formula or the always-popular peas and carrots.  Stow your criminal tendencies, and simply declare the baby food.  You can take up to one-day’s supply on board, but I have found that TSA personnel are always very sympathetic and accommodating when it comes to food for your infant.  

5.  Kids can get the boot too.  Finally, keep in mind that an airline can deny you boarding-or even ask you to deplane-if your kids are disorderly, abusive or violent.  This goes for adults too, but people are always surprised that it pertains to kids. 

I could go on and on (bring a DVD player with headphones, seat your child behind a parent, etc.).  However, I think I have already exceeded my word limit.  Of course, if you have any more legally related travel questions, we are always here to answer all of your questions.  You can go directly to our free legal advice Q&A forum to ask your personal legal questions- anonymously if desired-and real attorneys will answer them. 

Travel sanely. 

Mark Britton
Founder & CEO
Avvo, Inc.

Accredited Online
If you are interested in the law and your rights and want to interrupt the status quo, consider earning a law degree online. Taking courses online allows you to set your pace and live your life as you choose.

Author: | Filed under: baby tips, father, FYI, parenting, toddler tips, travel, working father | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »