Month: November 2013

What Ethnic Background Do You Subscribe To?

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When I was a student  at Rutger’s College, there was a girl that asked me, “What Ethnic Background Do you Subscribe To?”

I asked, “Huh, what did you just say?”, as I laughed incredibly hard.

I honestly can not recall if she explained her response to me the following way or if this is my mind’s molded  interpretation. She explained that it was no longer politically correct to ask someone where they were from, since most people were from the United States, and they would reply with the states location they were from.  If you wanted to know where their  family came here from, you asked her question her way.  For me, with the mixing and dipping from culture to culture, how truly clever was her way of asking?  

What ethnic background do I subscribe to? Well, that’s a loaded question.  My mother is Guatemalan, my father Peruvian.  My mom remarried when I was young, to my Cuban step dad so there’s a Cuban infusion I cannot deny. While I look incredibly ethnic, at least in my eyes, I am also very American.  I was born and raised in Jersey.  I grew up in Plainfield, and as a child, the population in our Queens city, felt like 70% African American 15% White, 10% Hispanic and 5% all others.  In pre school I was the only Latina in the school! Can you imagine?  I asked my mom, why I didn’t have the same beautiful chocolate skin my friends had.  In Kindergarten there were a few other Latino children.

I grew up listening to Rap and the then newly invented Hip Hop.  My best friends were African American and all through Elementary school, I was a minority within an already minority group.  Many times, I felt I didn’t fit in, an outcast in a pool of culture.  Some of my Guatemalan family members, made fun of my Peruvian Side and yet I never felt fully accepted by my Peruvian side.  African Americans and White’s alike, looked at me as the “Spanish” girl who was shy and reserved.  I didn’t fit in anywhere.

It wasn’t until middle school that I made my first real Latina friend and I also befriended a Phillipina.  It was at that time I was exposed to other cultures other than what I had been surrounded with at home and at school.  I was in love with the Dominican culture from the food to the music.  During high school, the Latin and Asian population grew a bit.  I met Colombians,  Salvadorians, Mexicans, Ecuadorians and a few Vietnamese people.  I realized we are all so many different peas in one pod.   I ended up marrying an Ecuadorian, and while that culture is extremely similar to Peruvians, its still another ethnicity on its own.  So my kids have all kinds of infusions and boy what a mix!

So when people ask me now, “where are you from?”, because it is still a common question, I usually respond, I am half Guatemalan, half Peruvian, raised with a Cuban, Born in Jersey.  Sometimes I may just say I’m from Jersey.   Other times I smile and begin my story.



Customer Service is a Dying Art Form

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How many times do you walk into a store and immediately think to yourself, “ILK, these workers are rude.”  Some places truly know how to make you feel welcomed into their retail space while others leave you feeling that they truly do not care about your dollar or loyalty.  There are certain stores that I frequent.  I’d say I have 5 top places that I do my usual shopping at for clothes, food and misc supplies.  If one person that works there makes a real connection with you, with a simple honest ” Hello, how can I help you?” or a short conversation about your needs that day, this can make you return time and time again.  There are places that I refuse to go to because the customer service simply sucks!

Some big retail stores take customer service very seriously, because these companies understand that this dying art form is the key to their success.  Take Bed Bath and Beyond for example, their associates will bend over backwards to keep you as a customer.  At least here in South West Florida they do.  They treat customers like royalty and provide you with a pleasant shopping experience.

I do recognize that there are nasty shoppers/customers out there who make it difficult for some people to provide wonderful customer service, but that’s another topic for another time.

Tip to employees working in retail:  Remember that the bottom line of the business is to make a profit, you make more profit by keeping customers and making new loyal ones.  Yes you do deal with a lot of BS at times, but don’t let one mean customer sway you from the art form of Customer Service, let’s keep it alive!



The Skeletons in my Closet

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They hung around for more than 30 days.  They made passerbys wonder who lived in our house.  What kind of crazies are they?  The ritual to spook up our home for fun, done and gone.  And just like that, the time has come to put our witches, goblins and skeletons back in the closet.  Our favorite holiday was enjoyed to the max.  Our 4 and 6 year olds had partnered up with us to place items in the most frightful location.   This lovely October, we enjoyed a zombie fest with our little ones, a very small Halloween gathering and a frightfully fun Halloween night, in which we spent most of our time scaring the less than 10 trick or treaters we received 🙂   We make the best of it every year.  My kids asked me why I love Halloween so much.  I can still remember as a child the moment that my passion for Halloween begun. I was about 9 and it was a weekend at my dads place, where I got the chance to hang out with my older half siblings.  THEY had the wildest imaginations, and one year, they went to the basement and made their very own haunted house. I was their first guest, I was in awe, amazed at what they created with just junk and items they found down there.  In retrospect, it was like something from Disney… and maybe it really wasn’t but I remember being impacted by that.  From that, their little seed implanted into my brain grew and boom, my passion for Halloween continues to grow over the years.  I share this love with my littles and my husband and I can see the twinkle in their eyes when we unpack our skeletons from the closet.  During the sales after the big day, we stock up in preparation for the next Halloween.  We can’t wait until September of next year so we can start preparing for our frightful delight.