Dealing with Angry Customers

It doesn’t take much to set people off. In just a short time of waiting at my eye doctor’s office, I saw some pretty incredible behavior. A mom acknowledged she was late for the appointment with her daughter, then couldn’t find her insurance card and that somehow translated into the daughter’s fault because she didn’t eat breakfast or something like that and then the mom turned her anger to the staff person. The drama kept going while the staff person did her best to get the mom checked in for the appointment.

Meanwhile, next to me was a gentleman with his wife and the word gentle needs to be in quotes because there was nothing gentle about the man. The glasses his wife ordered were not the ones he thought she should have ordered and somehow this became the fault of the staff person who did her best to demonstrate the process of ordering glasses while noticing the wife agreed with her – not the husband. And on it went.

Finally, I was waited on and I took the kind approach of asking how the staff person’s day was going – I knew, of course – but curious if she wanted to share. What unfolded was one of the best experiences I have had at an eye doctor’s office because the staff person appreciated being noticed, feeling valued.

Customer anger may be the root of our of hiring shortages. We can do better. We can stop being angry customers. We can choose kindness. We can wait patiently.

Here are some tips if you dealing with an angry customer:

  1. Be mindful of nonverbal communication as much as your verbal ones.
  2. Speak more calmly and with genuine politeness.
  3. Admit shortfalls in service by stating the reality of how you are short-staffed or maybe had a setback because of something else.
  4. Identify with the upset by saying something like, “I’d be frustrated too if I had to wait this long. Your time is valuable and we will get you back on track soon.”

Figuring out how to help de-escalate a difficult situation is a great skill that requires as much compassion and tact as you can create. It’s possible, that by helping someone regain their composure, you can prevent a situation that you or they may regret.

And be kind, always. You never know what’s going on is someone’s life and your kindness can be just the thing to turn a bad day into a good one.

Book Review: Sweet Potato or Pumpkin Pie: Conversations with My White Friends about Race by William T. Lewis Sr., MSW, PhD

I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Lewis, diversity and inclusion consultant and author of Sweet Potato or Pumpkin Pie, last month at the Evolve Juneteenth panel held at the Crossnore Communities for Children. After hearing about Lewis’s work, I wanted to read his book.

One of the thoughts that comes back to me is “we must talk with each other before the crisis, so that we can hear each other during the crisis, which will help us to heal each other after the crisis.” And what a great way to start talking to others by discussing their favorite pie. But don’t let the conversations stop with pie. We need to begin having authentic conversations. We need to move away from the idea of being “color-blind” to becoming color conscious. “A color-blind worldview is misguided and, in fact, dangerous as it replicates the system of oppression.”

A way to begin conversations according to Lewis is to consider where you fall along the “Ally Continuum” that describes how you can move from ally to accomplice to coconspirator.

Becoming an “ally” or “woke” doesn’t happen overnight. Lewis describes this as a process that includes having conversations about racism, reading books, watching movies and moving to a place where you aren’t a bystander observing racism in America.

The coconspirator is at the end of the continuum, but doesn’t mean the journey is over. “The coconspirator will call people out and call people in…action and sacrifice are common threads woven throughout the entire ally continuum.”

We all have a responsibility in creating a more perfect world. I encourage you to read Lewis’s book and to further your journey. Each chapter includes questions at the end to jumpstart conversations.

Free event with Dr. Lewis and his wife on Monday, July 25 from 4 to 5 p.m. Register here:

You can purchase your copy of the book here:

Books and movies to consider:

NC Author Showcase at Bond Brothers Brew Company

We’ve gathered the top summer books written by NC Authors for you at the Bond Brothers NC Author Showcase on June 2nd from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at 202 E. Cedar St. in Cary, N.C.

The Summer Author Showcase features WRAL’s Amanda Lamb‘s book launch for “No Wake Zone,” her third book in the Maddie Arnette Mystery series. Amanda will have her books for sale with a special “No Wake Zone” reading at 7 p.m.

About “No Wake Zone” After a near brush with death, Maddie Arnette heads to the charming coastal town of Cape Mayson, North Carolina, to heal. She temporarily trades in her microphone for a paddleboard. But when she finds a dead man floating in the water, her sabbatical turns into a quest for the truth.

Amanda Lamb is a veteran television crime reporter with three decades of experience. She works for an award-winning NBC affiliate in the southeast. She also appears on a regular basis on national news magazine programs and networks which feature crime stories. She has recently taken on a new role as the host and producer of a true crime podcast called Follow the Truth, which features in-depth investigation into high-profile cases.

Summer NC Authors Showcase:

Sheila Ogle, author of “The Pink House.” One of Cary’ NCs Top Ten Places to Visit Tells Town Secrets. Cary philanthropist and entrepreneur Sheila Ogle masterfully weaves the story of the beautiful Victorian Mansion located in the heart of downtown Cary in her book “The Pink House.”

Allison Forrester, author of “A Special Light,” is perfect for preschool and early elementary kids. The story is about Ella, the egret, and her new friend as they spend time on the Bogue Sound shoreline. This delightful Christian children’s book includes illustrations from award winning artist Cinzia Battistel.  

Holly Richard, author of “One Hundred Twenty-Six Days: The Unthinkable Journey.” This deeply emotional, nonfiction account by Richard is about her son Derek Lemieux and how life can radically change in the blink of an eye. The book puts you onto an unthinkable path as the family is thrown onto the cancer battlefield. What follows is nothing anyone could ever imagine.

Richard’s book also includes resources to support families who are on a similar journey and need help. A portion of the proceeds goes toward the D-Rex Defenders effort that is used to help find a cure for brain cancer.

Whether you prefer to read our top picks for the summer in print, Audible or Kindle, they’re all available at affordable prices so that you can stock up on several! Grab yourself a refreshing glass of your favorite Bond Brothers beer, pop on your sunglasses (and sunscreen, of course!) and prepare to get lost in the best summer reads of all time.

Other Features of the NC Authors Showcase

Rub of the Warrior is the feature nonprofit for The Joint Special Operations Association with seasoning samples and sales.

The NC Author Showcase is a production of FRS Communications and hosted by Bond Brothers. “Summer is meant for sitting out in the sun by the pool or at the beach, with a book in hand and bottle of your favorite Bond Brothers beer by your side,” said Liza Weidle, CEO of FRS Communications.

Pink House Post Ribbon Cutting

Please join Sheila Ogle and the Cary Pink House for a ribbon cutting for the Pink House Post on Saturday, April 2nd from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 215 S. Academy Street in Cary.

The Pink House Post is a memory mailbox that will be installed near the Cary Pink House sidewalk. Inside the box will be a journal for friends to write a note of inspiration, a memory, a poem, a wish for the future or whatever would be honoring of our community. You can also drop off messages in the box.

We will have greetings from friends including our State Auditor Beth Wood, the pink ribbon cutting at noon, and then a chance for Cary Pink House fans to write journal entries.

Adding the memory box to Sheila Ogle’s Pink House is a part of her vision that downtown Cary can be something special. “I want to leave Cary when I am done on this earth with a legacy.” said Ogle. “I want to help Cary, especially downtown continue to grow – to become a center of activity.

About the Pink House Post

After April 2, the Pink House Post will be self-service with community friends able to open the box for the journal they can write in or leave a note for the Pink House. We hope to share some of the notes and journal entries left in our Pink House Post on our Facebook and Instagram pages. The captured messages may be published in a book.

The memory mailbox is with the creative team to have her name and designs added and will be installed in the days to come. Until then, be thinking about what you want to write in the journal.

The inspiration for the Cary Pink House mailbox comes from “Every Breath” by Nicholas Sparks that tells the story about the Kindred Spirit mailbox at Sunset Beach.

About the Cary Pink House

The historic Guess-White-Ogle House is located in downtown Cary, NC at 215 S. Academy Street. The home was built in 1830, on the national historical registry and received an Anthemion Award for its restoration in 2002.

Although known locally as the Cary Pink House, this home has had many owners throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. In 1880, railroad “roadmaster” Captain Harrison P. Guess and his wife, Aurelia, purchased the land to build the original home from Allison Francis “Frank” Page, Cary’s founder and local businessman.

John White, a local Baptist minister, bought the house from the Guess’ in 1896 and substantially remodeled and expanded it. He transformed the house into a Queen Anne structure by adding a three-story tower to the façade, a front bay window and much decorative woodwork.

Carroll and Sheila Ogle bought the property in 1997 and renovated it, adding onto the house, building the outside steps and repainting the exterior.

In 2019, Sheila Ogle published “The Pink House” to not only tell the story of the renovation but also her memories of living there with her late husband Carroll.

“The book is a little bit about Cary history, but very personal and talks about the process of renovating the house,” Ogle said.

When Ogle writes about her experiences and memories, the Guess-White-Ogle House becomes a character on its own, as “The Pink House” describes in third person how the house felt when Sheila and Carroll first came there and how it felt during events such as Thanksgiving parties.

“I based her on my personality. She speaks and she tells stories,” Ogle said. “The words just came through the house and feels as if you are talking together.”

Copies of “The Pink House” will be available at the April 2nd event for $20.

The Cary Pink House is Ogle’s personal home and not open to the public.

Step Back in Time with a Staycation in Warrenton, N.C.

Enjoy stepping back in time when you visit Warrenton, N.C. My husband and I went to the area partly to take a stroll on the trails at our timber farm a few miles down the road and partly to experience the growing downtown district of Warrenton.

We started with lunch at the Hardware Cafe, a restored 1907 hardware store listed in the National Register. After studying the menu, I wanted to skip straight to a dessert. I opted first for the Nuts and Bolts sandwich, a delicious BLT nestled between three slices of bread, and then we shared a slice of spice cake.

The Locorum Distillery has a full selection of distilled spirits

The charming shops along downtown beaconed us after lunch. My favorite is Friends Two   located at 126 S. Main St., Warrenton. Betty Rollinson and Deborah Robertson are the longtime friends who share a love of crafting especially knitting and quilting projects. This unique gift shop has a little something for everyone and the best feature, they will gift wrap your purchases! 

Our next stop was to visit Locōrum Distillery at 144 S Main St, Warrenton. Their selections of homemade spirits are unmatched. We especially enjoyed the samples of coffee-infused rum! Our next visit will be at night so we can enjoy the local bands and food trucks.

The Ivy’s front porch was made for sipping tea!

If you are looking for a taste of New England, you need to book a visit to The Ivy Bed and Breakfast, 331 N Main Street, Warrenton, North Carolina. Each of the rooms at The Ivy is individually decorated with vintage and antique items along with personal history of owners Karen and Mike Kelley. The best part comes in the morning with a full English breakfast!

One of the new features for The Ivy is a Tea Club. You won’t want to miss the launch of Easter Sunday afternoon. Register now for the event on April 17th that runs from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. You will be able to sample an English Tea while listening to the sounds of High Clouds. Space is limited. Tickets are just $10. For more details, visit this page =>

It was a wonderful getaway for us. We enjoyed making new friends and are already planning a return visit to Warrenton soon!  

How to Spot Fake News

How are you doing with spotting fake news? I was suckered in years ago by a young lady who said she had been bullied. Things didn’t quite add up in her story and I am thankful my editor pulled the plug on my column before it ran. Since that time, I have relied on credible sources who have a policy and practice of correcting mistakes.

Our schools are starting to take steps by teaching media-literacy to students. It might be time to start a remedial course for adults.

Until then, here three tips: rely on multiple sources, check accountability of sources, cross-check facts across sources.

What are the ways you spot fake news? Please share your reliable news sources in the comment section below.

A Charming Staycation in Fuquay-Varina

Of all the surprises on this year’s Anniversary getaway, the biggest one came at the end when we learned that Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe babysat our host. I am getting a little ahead of the story that happened on February 28, 2022. While this was an ordinary day for most, for my husband Bert and I, February 28th marks our 35th Wedding Anniversary and we wanted an adventure.

After watching marriages crumble around me, starting with my parents when I was 19-years-old, I want to celebrate each year of my marriage to Bert. We started with a getaway the first year to the Poconos. For our 25th wedding anniversary, we took the family, including my mother-in-law, on a Caribbean cruise. Some years we’ve stayed closer to home and explored North Carolina Bed and Breakfasts or just celebrated with a dinner out.

Beautiful time of year to walk in Fuquay-Varina

Bert wanted this year’s Anniversary Adventure to be a surprise and he only told me that it was about an hour away and we would be staying overnight. I haven’t driven southbound on HWY 55 in a long time and was amazed at how much the area in Apex and Holly Springs has grown. We drove just a little farther to Fuquay-Varina. I was excited about this destination because I have great memories of working on a senior task force with Police Chief Laura L. Fahnestock and Mayor John W. Byrne. Both of these incredible Fuquay-Varina leaders retired this year and I wanted to see the impact their work had on the community.

Lunch at Vicious Fishes

We started with lunch at the Vicious Fishes. I had the homemade broccoli and cheese soup with a notorious BLT – delicious – and enjoyed the Here Be Dragons IPA. Bert had the fish and chips – best ever – and Into the Abyss Brown Ale. Following the meal, we wobbled – I mean walked – to the first downtown district area and discovered lovely shops while we studied menus of other restaurants to figure out the best spot for dinner.

The extra surprise on the walk was going into Ashworth’s Clothing and talking about the family connection to Ashworth Drugs in Cary.  I didn’t realize our friend Ralph Ashworth was one of 9 kids and that his business savvy is a family trait. Ashworth’s Clothing first opened in September of 1937 by Rufus and Cornelia Ashworth and the store has been in the family for three generations. From men’s t-shirts to tuxedos and everything in-between, Ashworth’s is worth the drive from Cary as they are having a 70% off sale!

Fuquay Mineral Spring Inn & Garden

The big reveal was having a room in The Fuquay Inn. This Colonial Revival Inn with Carriage House & Garden is a local historic landmark and situated across the street from the Historic Fuquay Mineral Spring Park. After we checked into the Carriage House that has incredible artwork including ones painted by June Carey, we had champagne on the patio area. To my delight, there are two B & B cats that happily hung out in the sunshine with us.

We then had an amazing massage from Mary Teal, owner of Heart and Hand Massage. Mary filled me in on more of the details on the Fuquay Inn and its owner, former F-V Mayor John W. Byrne. That little detail explained the memorabilia in the room of the New York Yankees. John’s father is Tommy Byrne, a starting pitcher for the Yankees and three other American League teams. Fun fact about Tommy Byrne is that he also served as the Mayor of Wake Forest, North Carolina from 1973 to 1987 and his wife, Mary Susan Nichols Byrne, was a Wake County School board member for 10 years.

Cultivate Coffee is Bill Fletcher’s new spot for coffee chats.

All the background helped me to re-meet our gracious Inn host John W. Byrne who told us more about Fuquay-Varina and then made dinner reservations for us at Garibaldi. The next morning, we were treated to a delicious breakfast with fresh fruits and then went on another walkabout that took us to Cultivate Coffee and the chance to see Bill Fletcher, a sweet friend who recently moved from Cary.

Portrait of Joe DiMaggio and Marilyn Monroe that is signed by DiMaggio that is one of several incredible artwork that featured in the Fuquay Inn.

At the end of our staycation, John gave us a tour of the Fuquay Inn and that was when I learned that Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio once babysat John. Hearing the stories of what it was like growing up with a father on the New York Yankees was entertaining.

Our visit to Fuquay-Varina was a delight. We enjoyed getting to know Patty, John’s wife, who teaches English at Campbell University. John is a natural born story-teller and I won’t spoil the other surprises in store for you when you book a weekend at The Fuquay Inn.

About John W. Byrne

When John Byrne moved in 1973 to Fuquay-Varina with his wife Patty, most of the storefronts on main street were empty. In 2000, Byrne was elected to Mayor and served for 20 years. His leadership and attention to detail has successfully grown the downtown area and beyond to becoming a destination spot.  “I believe a mayor needs to be engaged in the community.” One of the ways Byrne gets involved with the community is by walking 5 miles a day and stopping to talk with the people he meets along the way.

Byrne stepped down as Mayor of Fuquay-Varina in 2021. Under his leadership the town saw unprecedented growth and success.

  • Population grew from 8,000 to 40,000
  • Two thriving downtown districts.
  • $50 Million in grants for projects like park development and transportation
  • AAA bond rating for Fuquay-Varina

About Fuquay-Varina

This area seems to grow by twos; two communities and two downtown areas.

Fuquay Springs and Varina, joined in 1963 to form one municipality to become Fuquay-Varina. The little dash that connects the two names is now the logo for the town that is a dash more of the unexpected in town that offers something extra-special.

Two downtown areas offer a mix of shops, breweries, and restaurants. It’s a little tricky to walk to the two sections, but well worth it with Aviator Brewery offering up the best on tap and in the smokehouse in the section just beyond the railroad tracks. The area closer to the Fuquay Inn offers more restaurants and unique shops including Ashworth’s Clothing.  

Do You See What I See?

Take a moment to look around you. Can you see the uptick in people asking for a handout? Can you see the homeless camps popping up faster than spring flowers? Are you present to the world in front of you?

I try to look the other way. I think I need to wait. Truth is, there is no better time to be numbered among those who give now. This is your moment. According to Elaine Marshall, our NC Secretary of State, North Carolina charitable donations are down by about $10.8 million. Will you lean in and give?

The Cary Women’s Giving Network helps me ensure that the money I give goes to groups in the Cary area who are making an impact. We meet regularly to hear the needs of nonprofits and then open up the grant applications to organizations who need support. I am proud to be serve as the co- chair of this year’s committee who will be reviewing the applicants and making recommendations to our group.

Over the years, the Giving Network has given more than $150,000 to nonprofits including many of the ones listed below. Applications open March 4 and close at noon on April 5, 2022.

Let me know if you want to join the Cary Women’s Giving Network and be a part of this group that will distribute funds in June. If you want to help now, consider one of these wonderful nonprofits.

If you have a worthy organization to add to this list, please put in the comment section below.

North Carolina Nonprofits


Durham Rescue Mission serves men, women, and children of Durham, Chapel Hill, and Raleigh offering solution to homelessness and addiction that goes beyond just meeting basic needs.

Families Together helps families in Wake County and surrounding areas find stable housing and connects to community resources.

Green Chair Project offers gently used home furnishings for families recovering from homelessness, crisis, or disaster.

Habitat for Humanity partners with the community to build safe, affordable homes with local families.

Haven House operates 11 youth programs, including Wrenn House, the only  emergency shelter for youth ages 1- to 17 in the Triangle.

Note-In The Pocket helps homeless and poor children have the clothes they need.

Raleigh Rescue Mission  serves those experiencing homelessness in our community through the love of Christ with a focus on assisting those who are ready to make a commitment to transforming their life, and working to overcome the negative factors that led to homelessness.

Carying Place “Our goal is to help working homeless families achieve independent living through mentoring of volunteers providing weekly guidance in managing personal finances, seeking permanent affordable housing, and maintaining a job – breaking the cycle of poverty they have experienced.”

Food Insecurity

A Place at the Table  provides community and good food for all regardless of means.

Dorcas provides a pantry where people in need can shop for groceries at no cost.

Food Bank of Eastern and Central North Carolina collects donations, dry and shelf-stable foods.

Inter-Faith Food Shuttle feeds our neighbors, teaches self-sufficiency, grows healthy foods, and cultivates innovative approaches to end hunger.

Meals on Wheels serves meals to homebound older adults and people with disabilities.

North Raleigh Ministries provides a pantry where people in need can shop for groceries at no cost.

Shepherd’s Table Soup Kitchen provides food obtained by donation and served by volunteers.

TABLE provides hunger relief and nutrition education services to children living in Orange County, North Carolina.

Nonprofits who offer emergency service

Activate Good helps recruit and connect volunteers to fulfill volunteer needs with hundreds of Community Partners around the Triangle.

Antioch Builds Community offers a wide variety of programs to help identify needs in the Durham community and respond with compassion through collaboration, support, and education.

Bridge the Gap dedicated to improving the quality of life for low-income and disadvantaged individuals and families by helping to provide for their immediate needs.

Dorcas provides Cary residents emergency assistance including shelter, clothing, food, fuel, transportation, medical care, childcare and education.

Lutheran Family Services helps refugees and immigrants with housing, health screenings, and school enrollment.

SAFEchild is working to increase child safety, prevent child abuse, bullying, and interpersonal violence.

Urban Ministries of Wake and Durham County serves neighbors experiencing crisis or poverty with food, healthcare, medicine and shelter.

Salvation Army has served Wake County since 1887. We provide food for the hungry, companionship to the elderly and ill, clothing and shelter to the homeless, opportunities for underprivileged children, relief for disaster victims, assistance for the disabled, and many more services to those in need.

The Politics of Work

My favorite co-worker greeted me warmly every morning, liked to go for walks at lunch, and often took naps in the afternoon. She also had a tail and four legs. When this adorably puppy stopped coming to work, the atmosphere of the office shifted and I started to notice more politics.

While, it may not be easy to add a dog to your workplace, you can make changes.  A good book to help is the “Millennials’ Guide to Workplace Politics: What No One Ever Told You About Power and Influence” by Mira Brancu and Jennifer Wisdom.

The book is broken into proactive strategies with tools to build a network of support and reactive strategies to try before you make a move. Often, the grass is not greener at another workplace – it’s just different players in the field.

If you are ready for a change. Start with yourself. Here are some of the basic rules to consider:

  1. Never say anything bad about anyone at work to anyone at work. Save your venting when you are at home or with friends.
  2. Write emails and messages as if they will be shared on social media or forwarded to others including the person you are talking about.
  3. Be honest with everyone, including yourself.
  4. Be patient. There may be times a person is working or your behalf to make things better and you don’t even know about it.
  5. Be curious about your abilities and look for opportunities to improve.
  6. Remember to be kind always. You don’t know what someone else is going through.
  7. Practice healthy skepticism. Not everything can be taken at face-value.
  8. Stop judging. Observe and clarify your own boundaries, not others.

You can do this. Be a force for good. Find your strength, find your people, and make it happen! Got tips to share? Please add them to the comment section below.

The Creep at Work

No, not the kind of “creep” at work that needs to be reported to the police. This is the creep that happens on Mondays when a conversation between your work life and your home life gets blurry.

You can restore the boundaries when you visualize your time as a garden that needs to be nurtured and protected. Gardens have physical boundaries that stop the creep of weeds. You can do the same at work. Consider these tips:

  1. Ensure meetings have agendas. There should be a beginning and end time with key speakers and topics noted. Appoint a timekeeper who gives a signal when the meeting is 10 minutes from being over. This allows time for final thoughts and takeaways.
  2. Along with an agenda, there should be an overarching goal or project-base for the meetings. You can do away with “status” meeting with emails. If something on the project is going off-track, then you can call a meeting to redefine goals.
  3. Set clear responsibilities in the group. Know what your job is and do it. Turn down requests that aren’t in your scope.
  4. Take control of emails by scheduling a time to respond to them and be sure to unsubscribe from email list servers that aren’t productive.
  5. Unplug from work. This may mean setting the time aside to check-in if there’s a big project brewing and letting the rest go to when you are back “on” at the office.
  6. Don’t overdo the overtime. Prioritize projects by learning the ebb and flow of your industry.

Mental and emotional boundaries are a little more complicated to set. Consider the following ideas to protect yourself from burn out or finding yourself in an uncomfortable situation:

  1. Focus on the person in front of you. You can save time by listening to what they want and responding. In return, you can expect them to respect your time in the same way.
  2. Take a break. This can look like a walk around the block or can be a vacation where you can completely unplug.
  3. Don’t blur lines between professional relationships and friendships. It helps to keep the conversation work-based and may mean redirecting a conversation that edges off-topic or in the weeds with gossip.
  4. Be respectful, but resolute. If you aren’t comfortable with handshakes and hugs, offer a smile and elbow tap.
  5. Value your time. Think of what your hourly rate is – or should be – and then ask for that when others demand your time in the off-hours.

Boundaries establish who are and, in some cases, where you begin and others end. They don’t have to be concrete walls. Our boundaries can be permeable enough to allow the good in, while protecting us from the danger of burn-out or damage to our overall wellbeing.

What are your ideas to stop the creep at work? Please add them to the comment section.