Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Rescued by a Moose!

I'm in the process of consolidating some of my writings over the years and from various places into one location.  "Swirlings" is the chosen illustrious clearing house.  :)

Also on my list for the upcoming year:  a dedicated business blog for Sharmiessence.

For now, I hope you will enjoy reading about how I was once rescued by a moose.  I actually thought I had previously transferred this particular post over to "Swirlings"; but since I couldn't find it, I'll make it today's post.  I must admit . . . it still is one of my favorites!

Originally written on June 14, 2008 . . . 
I absolutely love animals . . . four-legged, winged, amphibious . . . you name it; I love 'em! (and yeah, I know that technically, fowl and sea creatures are not animals, but I hope you know what I mean when I include them with animals).

I've always loved animals; in fact, I'm sure if I investigated it, I would find my ancestry directly descended from Dr. Doolittle.

And quite thankfully, animals love me.

But I most especially love wildlife . . . true wildlife that roam and soar and swim free in their natural habitats.

And apparently (and thankfully), wildlife seem to return the love towards me.

. . . Which brings me to the subject of this particular post.

I arrived in Jackson, WY in 2000 . . . I had been living in Alabama, and had answered an ad in a local newspaper in which Jackson Lake Lodge (in Grand Teton National Park) was seeking temporary (summer) secretarial help.  Having wanted, for the previous 18 years prior to that, to go see the Tetons, I jumped on the opportunity and headed off for an adventure.

While working for the Lodge, I stayed in employee housing, on site.  I enjoyed a 10-minute walk to (and from) work everyday, wandering through nature and marveling at the beauty that my eyes beheld.

I've long since forgotten his name, but there was a bull moose that was the Lodge's unofficial mascot.  He had been hanging out around the Lodge for years.  I'm not sure if he's still alive, but I like to think he is . . . watching over his domain (and non-observant females of the human variety).

Now.  Before I continue on, please allow me to take this opportunity to tell y'all that wild animals are, well, wild.  They're not domesticated, nor should they be.  If ya want a pet, may I suggest a dog, bird, cat, fish or even lizard - if that's your thing.  Trust me when I tell y'all that moose, antelope and buffalo are not tame and will definitely not make good pets.

Respect wildlife.  Please honor the fact that they're wild; that's how they were created to be.

To further this bit of a rabbit trail (pardon the pun), a friend and I were talking about wildlife recently.  She's had the privilege of helping to produce some wonderful wildlife documentary films (Hey Mandy!).  She has told me stories of people trying to hand their babies over to bears in hopes of getting a picture of mama bear holding human baby.  OR, of parents encouraging their kids to go up to a moose or a buffalo and try to pose for a picture with their arms around the animal's neck.  PLEASE DON'T DO THIS . . . not if you care for the safety of your baby or child . . . or even yourself.

Anyway, back to Jackson Lake Lodge in 2000 . . . so this wonderful MooseMascot was usually somewhere in my visual on my walks to and from work.  Sometimes he was so close, I could reach out and pet him, if I were so inclined.  However, going back to respecting wildlife, I never attempted such an activity.  I like to think it was a smart decision on my part.  I would, however, smile at him, wave and say hey.  Sometimes if I felt he was particularly chatty on any given day, I'd ask him how his day was going and tell him how much I was enjoying his home.  (Yes, I really did do this.)

Of course, he never answered my questions; he just kept munching on leaves and such and sometimes staring at me as if he thought perhaps I had eaten one too many unidentifiable wildflowers when I was younger.  Trust me, I know that look.

There were 2 trails that I could take that would lead me to work, and I often alternated which way I went.  One morning while on my way to work (probably about 3 weeks after I had come to Jackson and after 3 weeks of daily and sometimes twice-daily conversations with MooseMascot), I apparently took the wrong trail.

BTW, momma moose are probably one of the most fiercely protective of their babies.  They keep them for 2 years before leaving them on their own.  In those 2 years, though, don't even think about approaching a momma moose if she has a baby with her.  Really.  Don't do it.  Especially, if the calf is newly or recently borne.  Please consider yourself duly warned.

So . . . that particular morning, I walked past a thicket of trees . . . in which I didn't even realize that anyone was using it as their temporary abode . . . the trees were probably about 30-40 feet away from me.

The next thing I remember is hearing a loud, angry snort.  I turned around and there, in all her raging glory, was MommaMoose charging after me.  And man, was she angry!

I threw my purse and stuff up in the air, cried out, "Oh God!  Please help me!" and started running.

But hey, let's get real for a moment, shall we?  I am not a runner; never have been and don't have the desire to ever be.  However, I will concede that running is certainly beneficial to one in certain circumstances . . . say, perhaps, when one has gotten too close to a baby moose and the momma is not pleased about it.

But having not had practice in the fine art of running, I'm sure I wasn't setting any world records or anything.  Plus, MommaMoose had a definite advantage over me . . . her legs were as long as my total height (well, almost . . . if I remember correctly, her legs came all the way up to at least my shoulders).  Plus, she had lots of practice in this talent called running; she probably went to some kind of moose-running school, I'm quite sure.

Did I mention there was a fence between her and me (about 4 feet high)?  Did I also mention that she cleared that fence as if it were a stepping stone?

So . . . now, she's on the same side of the fence as I am; and quite frankly, she is gaining ground at a rather truly alarming rate.

I wanted to sit down and have a good cry about the whole thing, but Wisdom told me that the smarter choice was to hustle my, uhm, rear end as quickly as I could.

About that time, she was probably about 2 feet from me; and as she was yelling at me and probably cussing me out in her own special way, I was now envisioning people in Heaven laughing at me as I told them how I had met my demise.

That's when both she and I heard it . . . a very loud, long roar.  We both froze and stood their staring at each other - me looking up into those very cold, hard angry eyes and she looking down towards me stomping one of her front hooves and rather effusively snorting, well, uhm, moose stuff, through her nose and all over me.  I thought that last part was a bit rude and overboard.  I mean, really.  I wasn't expectorating all over her.  Sheesh.

. . . And thankfully and miraculously, neither had I lost any bodily fluids . . . although I must say that if there were ever a time to wet one's pants, that would have been a quite very valid time.

The noise we both heard?  Why, none other than MooseMascot, himself . . . coming to rescue ME; not her, but ME!  Whatever he had said in Mooseese, he meant it.  MommaMoose wasn't moving a muscle (and quite frankly, neither was I; I had frozen into a 5'4" block of total fear).

From probably about 80 feet away, MooseMascot had seen the ruckus and had literally called a halt to it.

That part was great.  What I would have scripted differently for this unusual wildlife drama was the speed in which he was utilizing in reaching us . . . or rather the lack of speed.

Y'all think I can ramble?!!  Lemme tell y'all; I don't have nothing on MooseMascot in that regard.  He took his own sweet time just walking along; why, he hadn't even cleared the fence yet!

Finally (after what seemed like several lifetimes, but in reality was probably only a few minutes), he joined the little spontaneous tea party his missus and I were having . . . Moose nose-drippings, anyone?

He scolded her sharply (once again, in Mooseese) . . . and then, to my complete and utter amazement (as if this whole thing wasn't astonishing enough), he bit her on her rear end!  Not hard enough to draw blood, but hard enough to mean business.

He then turned and started to walk away.  She stood her ground and just glared at me.  Me?  I was still trying to figure out how not to be the laughing stock of Heaven of which I was sure I was going to enter during the next ensuing minutes.

When she didn't immediately follow him, MooseMascot let out another one of his very stern bellows. This time, MommaMoose dropped her head and turned around and followed him . . . but  not before she snorted yet another layer of Moose goop all over my face and top.  How very rude.

I suddenly looked at MooseMascot, he and I made eye contact, he kinda swirled his head and then led MommaMoose away.

I was left standing there trying to process what all had just happened when suddenly my brain recovered and yelled at me, 'RUN!"  Which I did . . . in fact, it was probably the fastest I have ever run in my entire life.

I finally arrived at work and told them bits and pieces of what happened.  Amazingly enough, they believed me.  I like to think they believed me because they could see my character of truthfulness shining through and knew I wouldn't make up something like that for being late to work.  But, reality tells me that they probably believed me because my hair was matted with Moose ick and my face and top were covered in it as well.  Having never shown up to work before being similarly decorated, I'm guessing they realized I wasn't trying out the latest fad in weird expressions of uniqueness.

Strange.  For some reason, they thought I had been through enough for one day and gave me the day off.

A couple of days later, I saw MooseMascot on my way home from work and I thanked him for saving my life.  He just kept right on munching on his leaves . . . but somehow, I just know he heard and understood me.  Afterall, there was now a special bond between the two of us, doncha know.

After that incident, I made sure to not get anywhere close to any tree thickets.  I'm sure MooseMascot had a conversation with MotherMoose about how to improve her manners, but I still didn't want to take any chances.

And yes, this really is a true story.

Thanks for reading; be blessed!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Customer Privacy

This is more of a business post focusing on an aspect of what I consider to be part of customer service.

I've noticed a trend lately in my Facebook newsfeed of various self-employed people posting the specifics of who bought what from them; usually conveyed in one of the following two phrases:  "Thanks so much, (insert customer's full name) for purchasing (insert product purchased)! -OR- "Shipping (insert product purchased) to (insert customer's full name) today!"

I believe I understand the concept and even the intent behind both phrases.  With the first phrase, I think the business owners are wanting to thank their customers for their business; and with the second phrase, they are probably just wanting to keep their customer up-to-date on the status of the order.

Both of these are very good things! 


I cringe whenever I see these posts, and I'll tell you why.

Customer Privacy Invasion.

Perhaps, Mrs. So-and-So does not want the web of world wideness to know the specifics of her purchases.  Perhaps the item she just purchased was to be a surprise for one of her FB friends; and now the surprise just might not be very surprise-y, afterall.

I realize that part of my hesitation regarding this trend might stem from my legal secretarial training - client confidentiality is of upmost importance in the legal field.  It's one of the things I prided myself on when I owned and operated my office support business for 25 years.  It's one of the things on which I still place high priority, even regarding my friends and family and non-business issues. 

Too, client and customer confidentiality aside, bringing it down to a personal level - for me, I am simply *not* comfortable with having my purchasing transactions made public.  There's nothing nefarious going on regarding what I buy . . . but what I choose to buy and whom I choose to tell is my prerogative; not that of the business owner.


I didn't know if I was alone in this thinking or not.  I do tend to happily dance to my own tune.  BTW, everyone should have their own tune, doncha think?  I sure think so!

Still, I wanted to find out what other people thought about this trend of publicizing one's customers'  purchases.  So!  I created a one-question survey over at Survey Monkey.  My first survey, btw - Yay!

As of right now, the survey has been up for 2 days and 14 hours.

Here's the question I asked on the survey:
After purchasing something from a small business, how do you feel about having that purchase publicized via that business' Facebook page, Twitter page and/or other Social Media accounts? (examples: "Thank you Jane Doe for purchasing (insert product here)!" -or- "Shipping (insert product here) to Jane Doe; thanks, Jane!"

I posted links to the survey in 3 different places over at Facebook:  on my personal wall, on my business page and within a women's business group to which I belong.

So far, I've had 29 responses to the survey.  The answers I created for people to choose are:
- I like it very much.
- It doesn't matter either way.
- I do not like it.

Here are the results so far:
- 1 person (3.45%) selected, "I like it very much."
- 8 people (27.59%) selected, "It doesn't matter either way."
- 20 people (68.97%) selected, "I do not like it."

Over the majority of the people have indicated that they do not like this trend of business owners announcing customer purchases.  Additionally, several of the comments that I have received in the 3 places where I posted the survey links discuss how the posters feel it is an invasion of their privacy to have their purchases announced in social media.

Posters' suggestions were also made that in lieu of using the customer's full name that either their first name or simply their state be used.  This is a good suggestion; one that I've even used.  I also fully understand one of the other reasons why small business owners are apt to announce their sales:  it's a great way to advertise one's business.  Afterall, if people are buying and other people know about it, then it stands to reason that more people will want to buy, as well.  But, this type of fun advertising *can* be accomplished without violating our customers' privacy.  Aside from being the thoughtful thing to do, it's also smart  . . . 'twould be a shame to lose a customer because they thought their privacy was being ignored.

Regarding keeping your customers informed of the status of their orders, it might be best to stick to PMs, emails and even phone calls.

Regarding thanking your customers for their purchases (which really is a MUST), this can also be accomplished via private electronic communication.  However . . . nothing can beat a hand-written old-fashioned snail mail thank you note!  AND!  For that extra special touch, consider contacting Sharmiessence to have the envelope addressed in calligraphy:

Thanks for reading y'all.
Here's to the success of your business!

UPDATE:  12/6/13; 11:39am
The stats have changed somewhat; still going in the same direction though.  Here are the current results:

- 1 person (3.33%) selected, "I like it very much."
- 8 people (26.67%) selected, "It doesn't matter either way."
- 21 people (70%) selected, "I do not like it."