Texans are tough. And independent. But that may not be enough to win the war against the coronavirus.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We were born and raised in New York, so although we both now live in Texas (Black got here with the oil and gas industry in the late 70s, whereas Red arrived in 2001 as her husband has a career that relocated them around the world), we sometimes struggle to understand the Texas way of doing things.
Case in point … trying to figure out Governor Greg Abbott's recent decision to end statewide mask mandates and allow all businesses to operate at full capacity. Red's first and foremost a mom, so it's not surprising she prefers a protective and overly cautious approach focused on keeping everyone safe, even if that means being inconvenienced for a little longer. And while she appreciated that the vaccines are now becoming more readily available, so few people have been vaccinated, which to her way of thinking is even more reason to "stay the course". Why rush into anything right now? And why not err on the side of caution?
Black, given her corporate background, combined with her pragmatism, has looked at the pandemic from a very different perspective, although she gets to the same conclusion. And she believes Red's "safety first" approach has important business implications as consumers will only go where they feel safe. And what was her reaction to the Governor's announcement? It initially featured some "colorful language" but was soon followed by one of her analogies, that while amusing Red, also made perfect sense to her,
I was just starting to feel better about going out into the world (masked, of course) but may continue to hide away as Texas is returning to its roots of the wild, wild, West. But instead of cowboys and masked bandits … we have unmasked, well, you decide what to call them.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends that people wear masks to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and its variants. And many of Texas' largest cities have already announced they will keep requiring masks in municipal buildings after the mandate ends. So, Texas businesses, school districts, and individuals will have to decide for themselves what to do. And at the end of the day, all we can do is hope that everyone will make the right decisions.
As voters, should we care whether people on the ballot are mentally capable of holding the job?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: It's probably safe to say that most of us, including Red, think of old age and its implications in a very personal way, either in terms of ourselves or loved ones. But not Black, who often says, "Aging beats the alternative," and looked at retirement from a business perspective, but now sees how it impacts all of us in terms of elected officials.
Recently, Bill Cassidy, a physician and senator (Republican from Louisiana), stated how he "favors cognition tests for aging leaders of all three branches of government," explaining that it has nothing to do with politics or partisanship, or even any specific individuals. It's simply because once you reach your 80s, there can be rapid decline in your cognitive abilities. It's just a fact of life.
Red, the lover of history, understood the point, especially as it seems that many elections, and certainly presidential ones, have tried to make age an issue. Of course, the stated arguments are a function of whether you're the older candidate or the younger one. And although she's always thought it was a question of the specific person, not the date on their birth certificate, Red felt no one summed it up better than Ronald Reagan (73) when running against Walter Mondale (56),
I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience.
In all seriousness, although we have very different perspectives (especially as Red's the one dealing with our 93-year-old mom), it does come down to the individual. There's no "right" or "wrong" age for retirement, and many of us know "older" people who can run, sometimes quite literally, circles around "younger" people. Age is a mindset as much as it's a number.
But when it comes to government leaders, shouldn't we be confident they're physically and mentally capable of the job? Mandatory cognitive tests for aging leaders make perfect sense. They're clinical and non-emotional gauges and are no different from medical tests recommended for people as they age. Except these leaders are making decisions that impact us all, and as Black sees it,
In Washington D.C., the Department of Motor Vehicle's drivers' license renewal process requires drivers over 70 to have their physician certify their physical and mental competence. So, it would seem that would be a reasonable requirement for leaders who decide the direction of our country.
How do you look back at the "good 'ole days" if they happened before you were even born?
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We read the same Axios story about "TikTok's nostalgia economy," and although the focus was "media trends" due to younger people using social media to both make fun of older people and also to flashback nostalgically, of course, we focused on very different aspects of the story.
Red smiled at the idea of Gen Z (she knew they were "much younger" than us, but until she asked Black didn't realize they were born between mid-to-late 1990s and early 2010s), looking backward toward brands she actually recognized, like The Gap for something as basic as hoodies and Abercrombie & Fitch for jeans out of the 1990s. Which made her laugh as some Gen Zs hadn't yet even been born! But what gave her a warm feeling was the idea of them wanting slower, less chaotic times. And maybe even less technology, something she could totally relate to.
Black, meanwhile, was fascinated by how TikTok algorithms work and how it makes it easy for flashback items to "reappear" and then quickly go viral. But she was also relieved to see John Della Volpe, director of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, tweet that over 50% of Gen Z (and over 60% of all) polled thought life was better without social media. So, maybe there's hope of returning to a simpler time.
Which makes us both nostalgic (not something Black typically experiences), but also makes us realize that whether fashion (and the resurgence of thrift stores) or even music, at some point, "everything old is new again." And can be traced back to the Bible …although Red prefers this entertaining scene from "All That Jazz," an award-winning musical from 1979.
Want good customer service? Good behavior is a good start.
BANTER BITE BACKSTORY: We grew up hearing the expression "the customer is always right," and Red certainly agreed with it; and while Black understood the customer service aspect of it, she did question its impact on employees (why would you "automatically" side with a customer over an employee without knowing the details). And that was before the pandemic changed everything, but especially customer behavior.
Until recently, Red didn't think much about why the customer was "always right," but it reminded her of years ago when Black shared her amusing (or, at least, to Red) version of the Golden Rule, "He who has the gold, rules. "So, wouldn't that also apply to customers? Wouldn't a happy customer be a loyal customer?
As much as Black wanted to get into all the reasons why the cliché of the customer always being right didn't make sense, or even that the concept evolved into focusing on positive customer experiences (the pandemic has resulted in some positive changes and trends), she realized that customers' combative behavior is hurting us all, so what needs to be said is,
I get it. Everyone, myself included, is tired of the pandemic and the associated "politics". Emotions are running high, and tolerance and patience are running low. However, none of that is an excuse for rude or aggressive behavior. The customer is not only not always right. But, can be flat-out wrong. Full stop.
Of course, Red, although not trying to minimize the impact of Black's statement, couldn't help but think of a scene in a movie (a car-related one, no less),
One of my favorite scenes from "Ford vs. Ferrari" is when a rather rude and obnoxious customer tells Christian Bale's character (who's British) that "in this country, the customer is always right" and Bale replies, "yeah, bunch of nonsense."