29 December 2017

Christmas, and 2017 Nears Its End

It was a busy Friday (22 December) and Saturday morning at the rental branch, with a lot of people renting vehicles for Christmas vacation journeys. It was quite a bit of extra work involved, but my colleagues and I were able to meet the challenge and keep our customers most satisfied. My manager Cory gave me my annual review on Friday--two days after my fifth anniversary with Enterprise (https://www.enterprise.com/en/home.html)--and he had nothing but high marks for me. Cory had little to say but to appreciate the great job I'm doing for the firm, and I had hardly anything to add.

Home after work that Saturday afternoon (23 December), I took care of the last presents to wrap up and put under the Christmas tree at home. Mom and I chilled out at home. I viewed the Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) presentation of "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians," which was the only way to see that awful film. Plenty of campy fun with this movie, as presented on MST3K. It was a good day to be inside: The morning before, we got about 2 inches (5 cm) of snow, to make this a White Christmas. (Cue Bing Crosby.)

I went to Sunday morning service on Christmas Eve at Calvary Presbyterian Church's sanctuary (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/), though it was actually a service conducted by Affton Presbyterian Church (http://afftonpc.org/), which began nesting with Calvary a few weeks ago. (Affton normally holds Sunday services in the Fellowship Hall.) It was nice and I stayed around in the Fellowship Hall afterward for refreshments.

After time at home, I took Mom back to Calvary for the Christmas Eve evening service. It was very nice, and Mom and I were called that night to help serve Communion, which we did. It ended with the sanctuary lights turned off and our individual candle lights (actually electric lights) on during the singing of "Silent Night, Holy Night," which made this more moving.

After the service, Mom and I came home and we each opened a present before retiring to bed.

The next morning, we opened the rest of the presents. I especially prize two pairs of shoes Mom gave me: a pair of black dress shoes (which I hope to wear to some job interviews in the coming months), and a pair of cross training shoes, to replace the worn pair I had. I also got a replica St. Louis Blues sweater, and a necktie from my Uncle Harold--Mom's brother. My brother Doug, teaming up with my brothers Rick and Brian, gave me the DVD of the recent PBS documentary series "The Vietnam War," along with its companion book and soundtrack album. Very nice items, indeed. Mom really enjoyed the necklace and matching earrings I gave her.

I basically chilled out at home the rest of the day.

Up early the next morning (26 December), I drove to work and had a long and very busy day with cleaning cars and picking up and dropping off customers. Mostly, these were customers coming off the holiday weekend. We got through the day fine. It was also the last day for my fellow car prep Jesse, who stepped down due to his arthritis. Sad to see someone go, but I can fully understand his situation.

Since I am working this Saturday morning, I flexed out Wednesday afternoon. That came after a long (distance and time) road trip to ferry a vehicle to our Washington, Missouri branch, then to ferry a passenger van to the Manchester branch, and finally getting a getting a ride back to the Ellisville branch.

That night, after getting dressed up with the new dress shoes and tie, I came to Double D Karaoke Bar (https://doubledstl.com/) in Brentwood for our area's Secret Santa party. After getting beer and appetizers, we received our presents. The person I was buying for wasn't there to get my gift card, but I received an Amazon gift card from my Secret Santa from another branch. I added that card to the one Brian gave me for Christmas. Looks like I'll be getting into my Amazon wish list in the New Year!

Off on Thursday, I headed to Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis to ice skate at Winterfest at the Arch (https://www.archwinterfest.com/). It had been at least two years since I last ice skated, but I did well in the hour I had at the rink. After that, I walked to a nearby Saint Louis Bread Co. (https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/home.html) for a cup of hot chocolate and a cookie.

It was another busy day at work today, but things went well. I got word that afternoon that I had been voted the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the branch for this week. That's an honor that usually goes to management personnel, so I was most pleasantly surprised to get the MVP Award. I must be doing something right at the branch!

See you next year!


21 December 2017

Christmas is Near, and Winter is Here

I joined with two others from the Single in the City Meetup Group (https://www.meetup.com/STLSingleInTheCity) for a tour of the Brewery Lights (http://brewerylights.com/) at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in south St. Louis Sunday night (17 December). It was my first time going through this display and the three of us had a wonderful time admiring the light displays, posing by one of the Budweiser Clydesdales (http://www.budweiser.com/en/clydesdales/history.html), and sampling beers along the way. Our wristbands had five numbered tabs that we would remove, one at a time, to redeem for a free cup of beer. It was nice trying out the various beers from the AB InBev (http://www.ab-inbev.com/) family. One of those I tried is Budweiser 1933 Repeal Reserve (http://www.budweiser.com/en/our-beers/1933-repeal-reserve.html), an amber lager brewed for a limited time and based on a recipe last used just prior to Prohibition (1920-1933). I really liked this beer. Overall, it was a very nice night.

It was back to work at the rental branch bright and early Monday morning, and it was one busy morning. Perhaps, the busiest in my time with Enterprise (https://www.enterprise.com/en/home.html). We had a line of customers in the lobby at times, waiting to either pick up or drop off their vehicles. It was a scramble, but we of the branch got it done and kept our customers most satisfied.

Great news came on my computer that night, as the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website (http://www.stltoday.com/) approved my press release and Julie Vaughn's photo from Friday morning's IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) check presentation to the Marine Corps Reserve in Fenton for this year's Toys for Tots (https://bridgeton-mo.toysfortots.org/local-coordinator-sites/lco-sites/default.aspx) campaign in Metro St. Louis (http://www.stltoday.com/pr/lifestyles/gateway-chapter-ipms-donates-to-toys-for-tots/article_e63d9d82-e28b-11e7-8cee-5cb9017bb5c0.html). I also posted the story on Mehlville Patch (https://patch.com/missouri/mehlville-oakville/gateway-chapter-ipms-donates-661-toys-tots) and on IPMS/USA's website (https://news.ipmsusa3.org/news/gateway-chapter-ipms-donates-661-toys-tots).

After another busy day Tuesday (19 December), it was off to Calvary Presbyterian Church (http://calvarypresbyterianchurch.org/) for this month's IPMS/Gateway meeting. It was a busy meeting, as we discussed the proposed revision to the Constitution and By-Laws (C&BL). After much debate, the members decided to not vote on approving the C&BL until the February 2018 meeting, to allow more time for members to study and discuss the changes. We did have elections for next year's executive board (eboard), and I was selected as Secretary by acclamation. (I was the only candidate left for the office. Members also voted for the Bob Stroup (Member of the Year) Award, which will be presented at next months' meeting. We then had our annual recognition contest, in which we had to guess the subjects of images projected on the wall. I got 15 of 25 correct, a low score by my standards. (I usually win or are in the top three finishers in this contest.) Finally, we had our big raffle of kits and some hobby knife holders. I had the last ticket drawn, so by default, I got one of the knife holders, made at home by our outgoing president, Bill Wagner.

Plenty of work yesterday at the branch, as we and our customers looked ahead to Christmas this weekend. Looks lie the same for tomorrow. Yesterday, by the way, was my fifth anniversary at Enterprise. During the week, I received brief congratulatory emails from two higher ups in the organization, which I was very honored to receive on this occasion.

Off work today--the Winter Solstice here in the Northern Hemisphere (Summer Solstice in the Southern Hemisphere)--I did my laundry, helped remove leaves from the front lawn, and made my last deliveries of newsletters and cookies to my colleagues. After delivery to the area office, I stopped by the Manchester car sales location to give its manager a newsletter. I now feel I have accomplished my mission of spreading holiday cheer among my colleagues. I then did a bit of Christmas shopping before coming home.


17 December 2017

Work, Parties, Futsal, and Spreading Cheer

After working at the rental branch a week ago yesterday morning (9 December), I headed to Hotshots Sports Bar & Grill in Webster Groves (https://www.hotshotsnet.com/locations/stlouisarea/webstergroves.aspx) for a MLS Cup Final Watch Party organized by Saint Louis FC (http://www.saintlouisfc.com/). I picked up my 2018 season ticket shirsey (shirt-jersey), as well as a team mug and Christmas ornament. I had lunch there, joined by quite a few St. Louligans (http://stlouligans.com/), watching the match on the TV screens. (Toronto FC defeated Seattle Sounders FC, 2-0, in the match.) It was fun.

Early the next morning, I was in St. Louis' Forest Park (https://www.forestparkforever.org/) to serve as a volunteer at this year's Hot Chocolate 15K/5K run (https://www.hotchocolate15k.com/stlouis). This pair of foot races--15 km (9.3 miles) and 5 km (3.1 miles)--is part of a serious held around the country, with proceeds going to Make-A-Wish (http://wish.org/#sm.001ij9rr41dizeirwab1b4g3brslt). I joined with other volunteers to help prepare and serve electrolyte refreshments to runners who have just finished the race. It was just below freezing when I arrived on the site around 5:30 am to check in, and it wasn't much warmer when I began helping pour electrolyte liquid into cups set up on the tables. Despite the cold temperatures, it was at least sunny and the runners--approximately 10,000 for the two runs--were in good spirits.

Just under 30 minutes after the run began at 7:30 am, the first 5k finishers arrived, and we got the cups out to offer to the competitors. We stayed until the last competitor crossed the finish line just over 3 hours after the start. Among those I offered electrolyte to were Maggie, a colleague from the Kirkwood Enterprise branch (https://www.enterprise.com/en/home.html), and Dina Croy, wife of a family friend. The runner were very happy to get the refreshments my colleagues and I offered, and a few even thanked me for helping. I thanked all the runners I met for taking part, and told them it was a pleasure to help.

After I was finished with my finish line work, I joined in the post-run treats of hot chocolate and a chocolate fondue. For the latter, I dunked a banana, marshmallows, mini pretzels, Rice Krispies bars, and biscuits. It was a most sweet reward for helping out at this event.

That night, I was at Creve Coeur Airport (http://crevecoeurairport.com/) for the Missouri Aviation Historical Society (https://moavhist.org/) member Christmas party. It was a nice, casual event for socializing with fellow members and their guests (usually significant others). We enjoyed a catered buffet dinner and a slide show of various pictures taken at or around St. Louis Lambert International Airport (https://www.flystl.com/).

Back to work Monday morning (11 December), it was a busy time, especially in the morning, but my colleagues and I got the job done well and satisfied our customers. We had long days, but we remained committed to the job.

At night, I assembled the December issue of The Arch Scaler News, the newsletter of IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/). It was completed Wednesday night, ready to send out the following day. Additionally, I finished the press release I would issue on behalf of the club regarding our donation to Toys for Tots (https://www.toysfortots.org/) that Friday.

Off work on Thursday (14 December), I continued my visits to my Enterprise colleagues, bearing newsletters for them and cookies for them and their colleagues. I began at Sikeston, chatting briefly with Lauren, who recently became branch manager. I stopped by Cape Girardeau next; manager Liz was away, but a colleague accepted the items for her. Finally, I stopped by Arnold and chatted briefly with manager Kelley.

That afternoon, I printed out a few copies of The Arch Scaler News and mailed them out to the few IPMS/Gateway members who needed their newsletter in that manner. I emailed the newsletter to the remaining people on our membership list.

Dressing for work Friday morning, I made sure to wear my ugly Christmas sweater under my coat. (Friday was National Ugly Sweater Day.) I made this garment a year ago and kept it on the rack until now. Two of my branch colleagues also wore their ugly sweaters. It was most interesting to see.

After getting word of IPMS/Gateway's donation of $661 to Toys for Tots--the presentation was made that morning at a toy drive in Fenton--I started getting the release and a photo taken of the presentation to local media.

I took it easy for much of yesterday morning. Early that afternoon, I was at Worldwide Technology Soccer Park (http://www.saintlouisfc.com/soccerpark), where the St. Louligans held a leadership meeting, in which the group's leaders talked about the past year and what could be done to improve matters going forward. Several members also aired their grievances with the group, and the leaders talked of what should be done to address their concerns.

I was off to Christian Academy of Greater St. Louis (http://public.cagsl.net/) that night to referee youth futsal matches. It was my first matches of the season, and my first since early this year, but fortunately all worked out well in the end. My partner and I had four matches and there were no serious issues.


08 December 2017

Amid Cold Days, Holiday Greetings for Colleagues

The week started off fine at work. A usual busy Monday morning, and much business during the rest of the day.

Right after work, I drove to Firehouse Bar & Grill (http://www.firehousebarandgrillstl.com/) in Mehlville, where the annual soccer referee Christmas party was held. I did not feel like partying, so I only stayed long enough to pick up the two referee long-sleeve shirts I ordered.

After working much of the day Tuesday (5 December), I flexed out in mid-afternoon as I will be working this Saturday morning. Before going home, though, I stopped by the three nearest branches: Ballwin, Manchester, and Kirkwood. At all three stops, I dropped off a can of cookies along with copies of my annual newsletter to people I know at those locations. At Ballwin, that would be manager Tessie, management trainees Melissa and William, and preps Steve and Wayne. Manager Billy and driver David received the newsletters at Manchester. I also dropped off cookies and a newsletter for Kory at Manchester Car Sales, co-located with Rent-a-Car. Finally, at Kirkwood, my newsletters went to manager Hannah and management trainees Maggie and Katy. I then came home to rest up, as I felt real tired.

I put in a full day of work on Wednesday, which went well, although temperatures fell that day to just below freezing early in the morning and not much above freezing that afternoon. At home that night, I made plans for the next day.

That Thursday, I got my hair cut at Great Clips (https://www.greatclips.com/), then treated myself to a hot drink and pastry at St. Louis Bread Co. (https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/home.html).

After that brief refreshment stop, it was on to seven locations to bring Holiday greetings to my colleagues. First, it was Creve Coeur, where I had newsletters for manager Cody, assistant manager Jacob (soon to be manager in Washington, Mo.), and management trainer Phillip. Then, manager Tim in Chesterfield garnered my visit. (The day before, a light plane crashed into a service station parking lot across the street, killing the pilot. The wreckage was being removed when I drove by there.)

I headed northwest to St. Charles rental to visit Derek, then nearby St. Charles Car Sales to greet Cayla and Anthony. I then went to Florissant, where I had cookies and a newsletter for manager Justin. Finally, it was to Glen Carbon rental, where assistant manager Leah greeted me and the cookies. I also had the same for assistant sales manager Dan at the co-located car sales location. (Dan recently arrived there from Manchester.) In all, a nice day to be out and about.

That night, Mom and I went out for Chinese dinner at Lemay Wok (https://www.yelp.com/biz/lemay-wok-saint-louis) in Mehlville, where I had the Sweet and Sour Pork. Back home, I remembered the 76th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor by playing the movie "Tora! Tora! Tora!" on my DVD player.

Today, it started below freezing, but warmed up a bit by sunset. We had a full day of work, including bringing in quite a few vehicles from our drop locations late in the day. Things look fine heading into tomorrow morning.


03 December 2017

Into December 2017

Last weekend was a calm one, after the excitement (such as it was) of Thanksgiving. It was just time to chill out at home.

Back to work on Monday (27 November), and it was a busy Monday morning as usual--a bit more so, coming off the holiday weekend. All of us at the Ellisville branch got through the day and this past week with professionalism and effort, and things went very well overall.

Right after work Wednesday night (29 November), I dashed off to World Wide Technology Soccer Park (http://www.saintlouisfc.com/soccerpark) for my annual soccer referee recertification clinic. The lecture portion of the clinic was under way when I arrived; it was covering areas of emphasis for us referees working youth matches. At the end, I received my 2018 referee patch, which I can now wear on my uniform while refereeing US Soccer Federation (https://www.ussoccer.com/) matches.

Off work Thursday, I got my laundry done and went to Office Max (https://www.officedepot.com/) to get some copies run off of my annual newsletter, as well as ink for my home computer printer. I also treated myself to coffee and pastry at the St. Louis Bread Co. (https://www.panerabread.com/en-us/home.html/) location near South County Center in Mehlvile.

That afternoon, I delivered newsletters and cookies to some of my colleagues. First, I went to the Enterprise Holdings, Inc. (https://www.enterpriseholdings.com/en/index.html) headquarters in Clayton to have my newsletter and two cans of cookies delivered to my friend Mel in Field Support. Then, I went to an Enterprise office in Overland to deliver my newsletter and cookies to my friend Kerry in Corporate Information Management (IM). Mel and Kerry later informed me how much they appreciated my gesture.

Friday morning (1 December), as usual, I brought doughnuts at Krispy Kreme (http://krispykreme.com/) in Fenton for my colleagues. The day started fairly quickly, then it got rather quiet much of the day until we had a most busy end of the work day. All was good at the end, though. I also drew the name of a colleague to play "Secret Santa" for, in a gift exchange to be made at a pre-Christmas area "happy hour."

The St. Louis Artists' Guild (http://www.stlouisartistsguild.org/new/) in Clayton was where I was yesterday morning for this month's Missouri Professional Communicators (MPC) (http://www.mpc-nfpw.org/cpsiteframepage.lasso?-token.lpuserref=113815.113118) meeting. This gathering featured a discussion, "How to Tell a Better Story," with tips on better storytelling for various audiences. The panelists were: Eli Chen, science editor of St. Louis Public Radio (http://news.stlpublicradio.org/) and producer of The Story Collider podcast (https://www.storycollider.org/); and Dr. Ken Haller, a Pediatrician at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital (http://www.ssmhealth.com/locations/cardinal-glennon-childrens-hospital), professor of pediatrics at Saint Louis University (http://www.slu.edu/), and an actor and cabaret performer. It was a most fascinating program, which included Chen and Haller answering questions from the audience. I was able to chat a bit with fellow MPC members before and after the program.

I did a bit of shopping yesterday afternoon; otherwise, I stayed at home this weekend. I did some prep work for this month's IPMS/Gateway (http://www.ipms-gateway.com/) newsletter, The Arch Scaler News.