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by Steven D. Johnson
Racine, Wisconsin


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Did You Miss Anyone On The Gift List?


Click on any picture to see a larger version.

By the time you read this it will be 2014 and the busy "gifting" season is over for another year, excepting, of course, the odd birthday, anniversary, or house-warming gift. But did you miss anyone when you were making out your holiday list? I'm betting you did…

There are few individuals more important to today's woodworkers than our garbage collector and our UPS or Fedex delivery person. Unless you are the world's greatest recycler and live within walking distance of a woodworking store, a hardware store, and a lumberyard, these three folks are probably pretty important to you.

My "trash guy" is a prince. My neighbor routinely gets the dreaded fluorescent "orange sticker" indicating that his trash was not picked up because it was too big, too heavy, or improperly bundled. I have never once gotten the "orange sticker," even though my trash is often too big, too heavy, and is never properly bundled. One "trash day" my neighbor left a largish cardboard box by the street and at the end of the day it was still there, with a bright orange sticker admonishing him for not cutting the cardboard into 2 X 2 foot squares and bundling it together with string for easy pickup. The three boxes I left roadside were all gone… as was all manner of noxious finishing rags, some old 2 X 4s, and several large hunks of plywood. Why the leniency? Probably because every year I leave an envelope taped to a trashcan with a "Happy New Year" card, a Dunkin Donuts gift card and a twenty-dollar bill.

Likewise, for my UPS guy and my Fedex gal, I leave a card outside when I am expecting my first-of-the-new-year shipment, with a small token of my appreciation inside for their exemplary service. And great service it is…

The lady that delivers Fedex in my neighborhood is the quintessential customer service professional. One day a delivery required a signature and when she came to my shop door, I was elbow deep in finish, my hands were covered in rubber gloves, and I was wearing a respirator. Seeing my dilemma, she grabbed a paper towel, wrapped it around the stylus, held it out and said "Just do your best, I know it's you." Wow, she is great. My UPS guy knows me so well that he looks in the shop and if he sees I am busy, he just opens the door and yells "Hi Steve" and sets the package on my workbench.

Coincidentally, I have (knock on wood) never received a crushed, broken, or otherwise violated package. A little appreciation and recognition goes a long way!

And speaking of "knock on wood," do you have any particular "shop superstitions?" Sadly, and strangely, I do. Next month, in addition to proceeding with the installation of my new dust collection system, we will also explore the subject of "shop superstitions," as illogical as they might be.


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Steven Johnson is retired from an almost 30-year career selling medical equipment and supplies, and now enjoys improving his shop, his skills, and his designs on a full time basis (although he says home improvement projects and furniture building have been hobbies for most of his adult life).

Steven can be reached directly via email at downtoearthwoodworks@me.com.



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