Bureaucrat Beat: Tough Shoppers, Postal Time Warp, and Hugs

When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping – the saying goes, and so as the Bureaucrat Beat staff pondered the holiday season the first phenomenon on our list – shopping. We have two tales of buying today.

First, did you know that some call the first Monday after Thanksgiving “Cyber Monday”? That’s the first we’d heard of it. Of course, in a newsroom that still uses manual typewriters, cyber may seem more like a type of sword. Anyway, seems that U.S. online shoppers spent a record $733 million in a single day on Cyber Monday, the start of the online holiday shopping season via internet.

This is the new competition for small, local businesses to some extent. It’s competition for the big guys, too. According to some sources, the number of online bjuyers rose 38% from a year ago who the average dollar spent per buy went down.

Reports said that 60% of the money spent on Cyber Monday came from work computers, where employees were shopping, not working.

Shopping Story Number Two comes from military Moms who found out something worth repeating about Sears stores. One of the Moms, Marilyn Nicholson, asked us if we would pass the word that Sears has kept a commitment to our soldiers. She said that by law, companies are required to hold the jobs of those called up to military duty but nothing more. Usually, she said, people take a big pay cut and lose benefits when they go to military duty.

Seems that Sears has gone much further. Nicholson said the company is “voluntarily paying the difference in salaries and maintaining all benefits, including medical insurance and bonus programs, on all called up reservist employees for up to two years.”

Nicholson said, “I submit that Sears is an exemplary corporate citizen and should be recognized for its contribution.” We ditto that.

As you might imagine, we in the Bureaucrat Beat newsroom, curmudgeons that we are, say “BaHumbug!” a lot during the season. But, even we are now in search of ways we can contribute to the holiday season in a serious way. Got any ideas out there who needs help and attention this time of year? We could give gifts to each other, but we really don’t need anything.

We await your suggestions.

As often happens, we must bring up the post office today. We have heard from three local people, disturbed by postal trends. First, seems that a CD of the Doug Bennett Show which airs right here on KSRW was mailed in Mammoth Lakes on November 19th, priority mail. The show airing was scheduled for Friday, November 23rd. Plenty of time, one might say, to zip through the postal process 40 miles from Mammoth Lakes to Bishop, priority mail style. Nope.

For whatever reason, Doug’s show did not roll in to the Sierra Wave until Friday – 5 days later. Just in the nick of time to get it on the air. That’s way too close for comfort and prompted major eyebrow raising. Why?

Seems the Mammoth Lakes Post Office graciously places mail headed to Bishop in a special bin, which, logically, goes to Bishop. Then, why did Doug’s show end up in the Bakersfield postal center for processing? Did it go to Bishop, as planned, and then for some crazy reason travel on to Bakersfield? Then, back to Bishop 4 days later? Yikes. We will investigate further.

And, a post script on the trees in Independence, threatened by a Caltrans highway widening project. You may have seen the Los Angeles Times story on that. We heard that the L.A. Times has received plenty of emails on that story. Emails in support of saving the trees.

People have lately come to see how great trees are in the neighborhood, although seems some people prefer concrete. How could you hug a sidewalk?


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