Published on: March 23, 2015
Had a piece last week about how public libraries are trying to compete in the digital age, a time when many local coffee shops have replaced libraries as community centers.
MNB reader Linda Yordy wrote:It’s not just the public libraries . . . I teach a business communication course as an adjunct at the local university. I require my students to research a topic and give a presentation at the end of the semester. Last week, I assigned them to collect their sources and create a bibliography. One of the sources had to be a real book – I wanted them to actually walk into the library. I had to explain that the large building in the center of campus contained more than a Starbucks. They argued that they could download any book they needed. You would have thought I had told them there was no Santa when I explained that not every resource is digital.
MNB reader Glenn J. Rosati wrote:Given your penchant for tying in movies with business lessons, I was surprised that you didn’t mention Desk Set, especially in light of Audrey Hepburn’s character, Bunny Watson, the ultimate incarnation of an “information retrieval specialist”.
On the subject of the sandwich chain, Which Wich, that makes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the needy (an effort that was on display at last week's IGA Global Summit), MNB user Steve Pivec wrote:Kevin, thanks for sharing your thoughts concerning the making and sharing of the thousands of PB&J sandwiches. As I ponder my own blessings on the past almost 42 years as a Broker, I remember the days of eating these same sandwiches although my stories shared with my own family were of baloney and cheese on white bread.
I can’t help but think of the teaching lesson these families had in doing this event together and what those children will tell their children. Teaching by example is a powerful tool and is everlasting.
From another reader:Your article about making pb&js for homeless people reminded me that in my neck of the woods, the front-end employees can be from those exact circumstances. I suspect that is true in many places, since entry-level supermarket jobs are low-pay and often one of the few employment alternatives for unskilled young people. I remember recently chatting with a cashier while she was checking out my stuff. She asked me how I was, and that day I think I said something like, "It hasn't been a great day." Then she said, "I know what you mean. My foster mother committed suicide last week, and I've been feeling bad." Wow! I was very concerned for her, and asked if she had any kind of support system. It didn't seem like she had much, especially if she was telling me -- a complete stranger -- about it. I mentioned it to the manager at the Service Desk, so they would keep an eye on her, and the manager thanked me and said she had had no idea.
We had a piece last week about Kevin Westley, a man on Long Island who, feeling that local Walmarts were selling St. Patrick's Day-themed t-shirts that stereotyped the Irish as drinkers, went out and bought hundreds of the shirts, only to return them the day after the holiday - his way of protesting and taking at least some of the products off the market.
One MNB user wrote:I found the comments on the stereotyping of the Irish to be right on target. I have observed that some people think it is clearly inappropriate to make comments about some groups but perfectly fine to make comments about others. How often do we see the media portray the bumbling white father in a way that would never be tolerated if he were a different color? How many times have we seen disparaging comments about company leadership or political groups being “old white guys” and no one speaks up? I am also not trying to be humorless but let’s all work on being respectful to everyone, as I know you are.
Don't give me too much credit. I've taken my share of shots at old white guys.
I also got an email from Kevin Westley, who started the whole discussion:I have been working with AOH National Anti-Defamation Chairman Neil Cosgrove this year. He found out last week: "During the 2014 Halloween season, Cosgrave noted Walmart was "very proactive in addressing the concerns of Muslim Americans regarding their distasteful Pashtun (Afghan) Papa and Arab Sheik costumes. At that time Walmart pulled these offensive items immediately and Senior Director of Walmart Corporate Communications Brooke Buchanan issued an apology."
Pax et bonum...
I do want to be clear about something. I am not humorless about this kind of stuff ... I sort of think that we ought to be able to make fun of most things without fear of politically correct blowback.
That said, it doesn't seem fair that certain kinds of ethnic stereotyping are considered okay, and others are not. It is just something of which we should be aware.
I may be of Irish heritage, but the last day on which I'd make a big deal of it is March 17. That's for amateurs and wannabes. And in general, I try to behave in a way that doesn't reinforce stereotypes, which seems to me to be the best response to this kind of stuff.
Finally, last Friday we had a story about how A&P is testing a relationship with Instacart, which led me to comment:Wow. A&P is taking orders online? I'd heard they'd just taken their first delivery on a shipment of fax machines....
One MNB user wrote:In this case, stereotypes can keep someone from filling an open position at A&P…….
(Not that I would go to work there, but at a very lighthearted level, you picked on A&P as those shirts picked on the Irish…..)
But another reader wrote:Some people may call you snarky….but this is the type pf humor I love seeing from you. LOL.