Door to Door? Be Safe and Courteous!

So, you’re going door to door, are you? Well, whether it’s distributing fliers, selling items, handing out notices, getting sign-ups, and, whether it’s volunteer work, selling for a school or organization, a full or part-time job getting the word out, letting people know of an event or lost pet, or any other legitimate reason, etc., there are some things to know.

Go When You Can Be Seen

Firstly, do go when you can be seen, that is, during the day. Morning and early evening is ok, too, so long as there is sufficient light for someone to see what you look like. If it’s too dark to see what other people look like, then it’s too dark to be going door to door. For one, you might not see the potential assailant. And, for those whose homes you are going to, you’ll appear as just a dark menacing shape to them and, they may be extra suspicious of you, and for good reason. In some cases, their reaction may be extreme. Some years back, I heard of a guy getting shot as he and his group were knocking on doors, selling items to people. They had gone out late at night and one person, thinking it was a home invasion robbery about to start, shot one of the door to door salespeople.  Most people won’t react to that extreme, but they may not open the door, and probably won’t want to listen to what you have to say, and you won’t have a chance to get them the information or make the sale. During the daytime, those same people, seeing what you look like instead of some dark, menacing shape, will be much more likely to welcome you, as they are much less likely to feel threatened.

 

Go to the Front Door

Obviously, if your going door to door requires actual contact with the resident, you be going to the front door. But, even if you’re just distributing literature with no need to contact the resident directly, it’s still always a good idea to go to the front door. Even if there’s no adequate place to put the flier. If there really isn’t a place or way to put the flier in the front door area, then skip that house. If neighbors see you going to the garage, or especially, the back yard, they could rightly become suspicious and call the police on you. Always only go to the front door area!

Also, if you come up to a house and the front door is ajar or fully open and no one is there, skip that house. It’s most likely the owner just forgot to close the door and is probably inside, but, my feeling is that, if something in the house goes missing, you might be held liable and suspected of theft, even if you had nothing to do with it. It’s just a measure of self-protection that I believe in.

Finally, don’t place items you’re distributing in the resident’s mailbox or mail slot. I know in the United States, it is illegal to place non-postal or non-postage-paid items in any postal receptacle or slot, and this may be the case in other countries, too.

Respect “No Soliciting” Signs

I still distribute fliers and I do respect “No Soliciting” signs. While it’s most likely true that most people who put up those signs don’t want their doorbell rung or the knock on the door and wouldn’t mind the simple placing of a flier at their doorstep, it’s still a good idea to pay heed to those signs, regardless. When people see that you respect their wishes, they tend to respect you more. And, only if you are not selling something, if you see someone outside of a home with a “No Soliciting” sign, it’s ok to ask them if they want the flier. I’ve found that the resident will accept the flier much more often than not in these cases.

Sometimes, you will come across variations of the “No Soliciting” sign, such as “No Peddlers or Agents”, or simply a “No Trespassing” sign. Other wording, too, can tell you that they mean, “No Soliciting”, so do read and pay attention. In the case of the “No Trespassing” sign, if it is on a gate leading to the back yard and not in the front door area, then I’ll still go to that house, since they most likely mean, “Stay out of my back yard!”. But, if it’s on the front door or window, then I skip that house.

Sometimes you may by chance be at a house, then somehow spot a “No Soliciting” sign so small and obscure that an eagle would almost need glasses to read it! In these cases, unless you’ve made contact with the resident, it’s best to just skip that house. But, a word of advice to those of you who have put up a “No Soliciting” sign, please, don’t make it so small that it requires a magnifying glass close up to read, and don’t put it in an obscure place where someone is not likely to look. It keeps more of them from disturbing you and also allows them to skip your house and waste less of their time. Just a two-way courtesy where both sides win.

So, just pay attention to this advice and your door to door selling or distributing has a much better chance of going  without incident.

Happy distributing, selling and good luck!

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Let Them Know with a Thank You!

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In a conversation I recently had, one of the other people involved mentioned that they hadn’t received any acknowledgement from someone they’d sent a gift to, and remarked how people don’t write thank you notes any more.

This is a good point. I always acknowledge when someone gives me a gift, and, if it was something sent to me rather than given in person, I also let the other person know. It’s just common courtesy. And it doesn’t take long. But even if it does, as when you’ve had a major event, such as a big birthday, wedding, baby or wedding shower, etc., one should still take the time to send everyone who gave a gift or sent a gift, some kind of acknowledgement of thanks! It let’s the giver know that you appreciate the fact that they honored your milestone by giving a gift.

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When someone sends you a gift, especially if its money, do let them know that you received it. In addition to acknowledging their gift, you also let them know that the gift isn’t lost in the mail or that check they sent isn’t winding up in the wrong hands. You owe them that much, at least!

So, you may be thinking that writing thank you notes is old-fashioned and takes too much time. But remember, those who gave you gifts also took the time to get you that gift. And they had to think of what to get you, as well!

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However, while some people think that only a hand-written note is acceptable, I beg to disagree. It’s the acknowledgement of the gift and the thanking of the giver that’s important. An email, phone call, or even a text message at least lets the giver know that you’re acknowledging their gift.

Having said that, if you know that your closer or elder relatives or close family friends prefer the hand written thank you note, then it’s best to accommodate them. And, if you do leave a message, it’s still best to follow-up and thank them in person or over the phone.

But, in any event, do make the effort to thank those who send you gifts, and do it in a timely manner. Others will take positive note of your efforts and you’ll be glad you did.

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What’s Wrong with a Blue-Collar Career? Nothing!

Is that executive, college degree required, corner office position the only goal for a career? The answer is  a resounding “NO!” Though I’ve always known it, that fact was reinforced for me by a segment in the CBS show, “Sunday”, that I watched this morning.

 

Sure, those white-collar positions are important, but definitely not the only thing when it comes to careers. Unfortunately, too many think that only white-collar jobs and careers are important, and look down on blue-collar careers, and the people who have them.

Let’s take a look: White Collar Careers

Sure, those with white-collar careers are important. They make plans, meet with other high level decision makers on projects, decipher all the paperwork involved, and keep tabs on the corporate finances and business dealings.

But, they come at a price, and not all are high paying.

They often require a college degree, which can mean tons of student loan debt and years of school, which leads to the next fact. That college degree doesn’t automatically guarantee a high paying job. Some white-collar jobs start at minimum wage and one must stay there a good long time before they see a meaningful rise in pay. And, given how easily companies, especially large ones, will lay off workers, that can take a while with lot’s of derailment along the way.

But even if you get the high paying job, it can often come with a lot of stress in the forms of long hours, difficult bosses and co-workers, and company rules that oftentimes don’t make sense.

That’s not to say that the white-collar career path is not worthwhile, but, like anything else, there are pitfalls, and, if one is not cut out for this path, they’ll likely have problems.

Also, many white-collar positions, particularly lower level ones, can be, and often are, outsourced or automated.

And for those of you who think you’ll never have to get dirty in a white-collar job, that’s not always the case, depending on the field you’re in and company you work for.

Let’s take a look: Blue Collar Careers

Blue collar careers will more likely involve working with one’s hands and involve more physical work. And it can also mean getting dirty, and, if outside, as in construction work, it means working in all types or weather and temperatures. However, it’s not always the case, depending on the field you’re in and the company you work for. But, overall, you’ll be more likely to be working physically.

Many think that blue-collar work is automatically low-paying. Not always true, in fact, it can be very high paying. Mechanics, plumbers, and electricians often do very well, especially once they reach “Journeyman” level and above. Next time you call a plumber, or electrician, or take your car to the mechanic, and you gasp at the bill, you’ll see what the labor cost is. Oftentimes it’s the lion’s share of the bill, and that will tell you that the plumber, electrician, and mechanic make quite a bit more than minimum wage.

Getting prepared for a blue-collar career also often involves furthering one’s education, but trade schools and vocational schools are often cheaper than formal college. However, you’ll still have to study hard.

Another advantage, because of how people think of blue-collar vs white-collar careers, many blue-collar careers go begging, as do openings in trade and vocational schools and programs.

And, there’s another fact that can be really great. It’s that it’s really hard to outsource or automate most blue-collar jobs, and in many disaster situations, the blue-collar worker can often still find work. Puerto Rico, Florida, and Houston are all in need of builders, electricians, plumbers, and others in related trades for rebuilding. They’re not in need of executives, accountants, and sales managers.

And, you can’t outsource plumbers or delivery drivers. And it’ll be a very long time before these positions can be automated.

Final word: We Need Both

So, next time you’re wondering, take a look at your city or town, all the buildings, infrastructure, and the physical things you see being done every day. Yes, the executives were needed to make the plans and get the deals done, and the attorneys were needed to make sure everything was legal and spelled out.

 

But, it was the blue-collar workers, the builders, welders, electricians, plumbers, drivers, machine operators, food preparers and servers, and others, who all combined to make those plans reality.

So whatever career path you choose, know that it is important, worthwhile, and contributes to the well-being of society.

Good luck!

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The Big Cosmic Show – Total Eclipse 2017

Hi everyone! On August 21st, the solar eclipse took place and what a show it was. The path of totality, where one would see a total eclipse, crossed the U.S.A. from Oregon to South Carolina. I had heard the reports that there would be tremendous traffic in the areas around the path of totality, but, being within 100 miles of a total eclipse for the first time in my life, I decided to go for it. I’d never seen a total solar eclipse and felt it would be almost criminal for me to miss this one because of fears of heavy traffic. And, to get an idea of what to look for during a total eclipse, and also ways of making pinhole viewers, I checked out YouTube, which can be very helpful in finding out about lot’s of things.

The Trip There

I was prepared. Totality in Salem, Oregon would take place around 10:17am local time, so, I got up around 4am and left about 5:15am. I mapped out a back road route in advance and armed with my maps, gps, and a packed lunch, eclipse glasses, a home-made pinhole viewer, and my camera, I set out. Traffic going to Salem was much better than I expected and I arrived there in about an hour and 15 minutes, which is near normal. I realized, people had been arriving over the previous 4 to 5 days, so the influx was more gradual, and I figured this might be the case, but, being a possible once-in-a-lifetime event, I wasn’t taking any chances.

My Viewing Site

I didn’t go to one of the advertised venues, but instead opted for a supermarket parking lot on the east side of Salem. I found easy, and free, parking. The beautiful thing about an event like this is, you can view it from anywhere, it’s not like a greatly anticipated movie, rock concert, or sports event where you have to go to a specific place, this is visible across a wide path from anywhere in town or between towns for that matter.

There were a few others there, including someone with a telescope, using it to project an image of the sun and eclipse on a large white sheet of paper, and this was actually more effective and safer than the glasses, and more detailed than the pinhole viewer, though the pinhole viewer was definitely effective in showing the advancing eclipse.

Total Solar Eclipse 2017. Man with telescope using it to project image of eclipse on large white paper. Looks great! – 8/21/2017

Remember! – Never look at the sun without certified eclipse glasses or filters! Best and safest is to look indirectly using a projection on a surface or a pinhole viewer! Otherwise your eyes can be damaged instantly! Only during totality in an eclipse is it safe to look with the naked eye!

What I Saw

At first, when the eclipse started, you didn’t notice much darkening or lessening of the amount of light. What you could notice, as I had learned from YouTube, is that, the light coming through the leaves of a tree will actually show the crescent sun as the eclipse advances! I saw this for myself! And, this effect is visible whether or not the eclipse itself is total, partial, or annular. (Where the moon doesn’t quite cover the sun but leaves a full circle of light instead of totality.)

Total Solar Eclipse 2017. Crescent suns on the ground after totality as seen through the tree leaves. – 8/21/2017

There is another effect which is sometimes happens just before and after totality, called “shadow snakes”, in which these shimmering shadowy lines appear, but this is somewhat rare and I didn’t see this, but, in retrospect, I could see where it may have been close to happening.

As the light dims, which you do start to notice at around 85-90 percent totality, it looks different from the dimming of light when the sun sets normally or when clouds move in. And, you can “See” the moon’s shadow coming, as a darkening of the sky. It also looked to be changing to a darker blue, again, different from a normal sunset. And, the street and parking lot lights come on as well! Then, totality hits and it gets almost as dark as night much quicker than it would in a normal sunset. At this point, you can look at the sun without protection, with the naked ye, safely. And what a sight!

Total Solar Eclipse 2017. Sun in totality. Light from corona makes sun look like it is shining but in actuality, it is dark as it is covered by the moon, which one would see in person or with a better camera. – 8/21/2017

You do see the sun’s corona from behind the moon, which is a pitch black circle in the sky. You can also see stars and planets. I saw Venus, which, where it was, would be completely obscured by the sun’s light before and after totality. In the photo I took, the light of the corona does overwhelm the dark circle of the moon, and no photo does it justice.

The temperature does drop, though I was too engrossed in the eclipse to really notice it myself. Also, all along the horizon, you see distant light as in a sunset, but overhead and nearly to the horizon, it’s a night sky! They refer to this as a “360 degree sunset or sunrise” And it is really different and worth seeing.

Where I was, totality lasted about a minute and 56 seconds roughly. When the sun starts reappearing, there’s a sort of flash at one end of the moon’s rim making it look like a diamond ring. At this time it is no longer safe to look at the sun with the naked eye!

And, the light again looks different from normal sunlight. It first looks like the light is coming from a very powerful electric spotlight from far away, like standing in a big football or athletic field at night with only one light on, shining down on the filed. Then, still slowly but seemingly faster than before totality, the light starts coming back, still with that strange dimness, but then returns to normal. And, on the projection of the sun or through a pinhole viewer, you see a now reappearing and growing crescent sun, the crescent appearing on the opposite side.

Though the totality only lasts a very short time, the partial eclipse usually lasts about two hours, so you can still use the pinhole viewer to view the remaining partial eclipse.

In Conclusion – My Thoughts

Total Solar Eclipse 2017. Me just after the totality phase of the eclipse, as shown on the projection in the background. – 8/21/2017

I had considered staying where I lived to view the eclipse, where it would be 99.2 percent totality, but everything I’d read from those who had seen a total eclipse said that there was a huge difference, like the difference between “going to the prom vs actually getting married”, or “hitting 5 numbers in the lottery vs hitting 5 plus the mega or power number for the top jackpot”, so I went and it was worth it! It did take me 2 1/2 hours to get home using back roads, but I’d do it again even if it took me twice as long to get home! I found that the comparisons that I read bout are true and I’m glad I went down to Salem to see my first total solar eclipse! It was quite a show and not one to be missed!

Here’s  the video I took during the eclipse. Enjoy!

Happy Observing!

 

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A Handy Tool for Rendering Computer Help Remotely

Are you computer savvy? Even just a little bit more than most people you know? Well, if you are, they probably know it. And, when they need help with their computers, chances are, they call you, right? And, unless you live close enough to simply hop over to their place within minutes, you probably have to help them remotely, over the phone. And, when you do, you come to realize why doctors often refuse to make a diagnosis over the phone.

Windows 10 Start Menu. 11/27/2015

 

 

It can be really frustrating to identify a computer problem over the phone and even tougher to correct it, as you have to guide the person who you’re helping and they may not always understand, or be as familiar as you are, with what you’re trying to tell them. And it often doesn’t matter that they may be as computer savvy or literate as yourself. When I worked for a large company in the past, I often had to try to describe technical problems to our IT department, and I often wished I had some kind of camera that would allow them to see what I was talking about, because it was still difficult at times for both sides to “see” the same problem.

Well, there is a free software program that can really help in this regard. It’s called, Team Viewerand it’s really great! If you ever allowed a tech company to remotely control your computer to diagnose a problem for you, Team Viewer is similar. How it works is, you go to the website, download it, and install it on your computer, and also have the other person do the same. You’ll also see more information about Team Viewer, including resources for both business and personal use. The website is quite informational.

The program will install a desktop shortcut like the one pictured once it is installed. Then both you and the other person call each other and then each of you will click on the shortcut on your computers. This will bring up  the team viewer windows.

 

 

 

 

 

The person needing your help will then give you their password, which you enter into a field on your Team Viewer window. You’ll then see the other person’s computer and your mouse will move the cursor on their screen. They can still move the cursor and see their own screen as well. You can then see what they are seeing and can correct the problem for them or guide them while seeing what they are actually doing and what actually happens when the problem shows up if it is not readily apparent. This means you can see the problem as it really is, which makes it much easier to identify and correct!

It’s really helped me since my cousin told me about it. As I often help a few of my relatives with their computers, and with them living quite a distance from me, it has made it much easier to identify and correct problems on their computers.

If you’re worried about having someone else have control of your computer, just remember, they cannot get control until you give them your password, which changes every time you open Team Viewer. Your mischievous nephew cannot take control of your computer on a whim. He would have to have you turn your computer on and give him the current password.

And, there is a Team Viewer app for Chromebooks, which can then be used to diagnose problems on other computers, whether they are Chromebooks or regular Windows pc’s or laptops.

So, if you are the go-to person when your friends or relatives need computer help, Team Viewer is for you!

Happy computing!

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Want Great Sound? Get a Blue Tooth Speaker!

Hi everyone! I’ve been curious about these portable blue tooth speakers lately. I did have some computer speakers that could be used alone with my mp3 player, but they required an additional plug-in to an electrical wall socket and also weren’t very loud, despite being of otherwise good quality. I had another set that was completely portable that I could also use with my mp3 player. The great points for this set of speakers were that they were very light weight, required neither an additional plug-in to an electrical socket or computer or anything else, and also required no batteries! I would just plug them into my mp3 player and they worked. But they were extremely weak and just being more than about 5 feet away from them meant not really hearing what was playing.

Both sets had some extra wires to contend with and neither set could really fill the room with sound.

I’d seen the portable blue tooth speakers in stores and found most to be quite impressive sound-wise, and have no wires to contend with, but I really wasn’t sure if these speakers would work as well in my place, especially the smaller ones. And many of them are pricey, especially if they are of any size, and many don’t have a battery life of more than 10 hours.

So, a couple of weeks ago, I decided to check them out on Amazon, as I can often find more varieties here than at almost any store, plus with reviews and usually more information, and I found one I liked, with a 24 hour battery life and the ability to connect with non-blue tooth items via an auxiliary audio cable, like the one I sometimes use to connect my mp3 player to my car’s stereo, so I can listen to my playlists on long trips. And it only cost $30!

 

This is it. And I am very satisfied!

Buttons on top include the power button, volume down, play/pause, volume up, and blue tooth. This area, which goes around the speaker via the top and bottom, is rubberized so the speaker won’t slip easily.

Many portable blue tooth speakers have some sort of rubberized surface, and some are even made to be water-resistant with the outdoors in mind.

 

 

And, it is just under 7 inches long!

And light enough to take anywhere! I’ve known people who pair these speakers to their phones and take the speakers with them where ever they go.

And the sound? It is great! Once you connect it via blue tooth to your phone, or computer or other device, you will notice the difference right away! This speaker, despite its small size, will fill the room, and possibly your whole house, with great sound!

So how long will it play? I haven’t yet played it for a really long time, but it’s battery life is rated at 24 hours and the reviews seem to bear this out.

It does come with a micro usb cable which can be used to charge the speaker using a computer or a wall charger with usb ports. You can also use any wall charger with a micro usb plug-in.

 

 

But of course, the blue tooth connectivity is the best feature of these speakers, as you don’t need any type of wired connection to use it with another blue tooth capable device! And you can pair many of these speakers with multiple devices, as well. So you can take one of these speakers and play the music files from your laptop through the speaker, and can take the speaker into the bathroom while you shower, or onto the porch or balcony, or into the kitchen, and enjoy great sound!

Do bear in mind, these speakers do have a range and this range varies from speaker to speaker. Mine has a range of 66 feet, which is more than enough for my place, but some have a range of 30 feet, so if you have a mansion, you would want to take this into account.

Also, many of these speakers allow the use of an auxiliary audio cable so you can attach that old, non-blue tooth mp3 player to the speaker and still enjoy great sound!

And, you don’t have to spend a lot to still get a quality speaker. Checking YouTube to see if there are comparisons between the one you are interested in with other well-known brands can help with your research also. So, if you want great sound that you can take with you, think about a blue tooth speaker!

Happy listening!

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Want to Build and Keep Trust in Your Dealings? Don’t Forget These “Minor” Things!

We’re pretty much aware that, when dealing with people, be it a business deal or casual plans with friends and family, that following through is important. If I sell you a product, I need to give you that product and you need to give me what you said you’d pay for it. If I say I’ll bring the cake to the party, I should bring the cake to the party.

But, something too many of us forget is, communication, particularly when there’s a potential that things may change or go wrong, being ethical, and yes, following through (and be sure you can follow through)!  These may seem minor, especially the communication part, but they can be just as important for building and keeping trust, as delivering the product itself. Below is an example of a business transaction that I was involved in where all of these things came into play.

Communicate when Things Change Unexpectedly and Be Ethical!

Recently, I was selling an air mattress online. A potential buyer, who we’ll call, ‘Jim‘, called me and said he wanted to buy it, but at $5 less than I was listing it for, which I agreed to. We agreed to meet at a certain time and I thought that this was fine.

I was then texted by a 2nd potential buyer we’ll call, ‘Karen‘. I told Karen that there was a potential buyer in front of her but that I’d let her know if the deal fell through, or if it did go through. In other words, I would let her know either way so she would know where she stood. I also gave her a date by which I would know for sure, just a few days away.

Well, I called Jim to confirm just before our meeting time and he said he was out of town on short notice from his work and couldn’t meet until the next Saturday, which was a day past the date I’d given Karen earlier.

So, I asked him if Saturday was definite and he told me he never works Saturdays and would definitely be available. I did let him know that I had a deadline to give an answer to another buyer so that Jim would know I was holding the item for him. He told me he would be buying the mattress for sure on Saturday.

Having sold things in the past, I knew well that something isn’t sold until the buyer actually and physically picks up the item and gives me the money!  As far as I was concerned, I wasn’t believing that Jim would be buying the mattress until I would actually meet with Jim and he would pick up the mattress and pay me the money he agreed to pay.

I then contacted Karen again to let her know that Saturday was the new deadline and that it was certain I’d have an answer for her, and I did apologize and explained the situation concerning the first potential buyer. Karen then offered me $5 more if I went ahead and bypassed Jim and sold it to her, but I told her that I couldn’t do that to Jim as I’d given him my word to wait until Saturday. To Karen’s credit, she said that was fine and she didn’t get mad or surly in any way as many other people would have.

On top of this, a third potential buyer we’ll call ‘Bill‘, texted me and I told him he had two potential buyers in front of him but that I’d let him know by a certain date or earlier for sure on where he stood and would keep him updated.

So, Saturday arrives and I decide to call and confirm again. (Not everyone has the message of this post or will learn from their own experiences, so, unless you know that the person you’re working with is truly reliable and will communicate when needed, confirmation of such things is advisable.)

And lo and behold, when I called him, he tells me he was called to work that Saturday! Now, to Jim’s credit, he did say to go ahead and sell it to someone else, and he did apologize to me.

What I wonder is, would he have told me at all, or would I have ended up at our meeting place, waiting and waiting for someone who never would have shown up?

When sudden changes come up that affect the other party, communicate, communicate, communicate!

Anyway, I contacted Karen and we agreed to a meeting place and she did show up and bought the air mattress, I let Bill know that it had been sold, and all was well.

Photos of my Motorola Moto-e 2nd generation 2015 phone. 4/30/2016

So, in your dealings, do keep everyone who’s supposedly in the loop, in the loop. Update everyone in the loop so you don’t hear later, “I never got the memo!”, or something to that effect. If you have a smart phone and you know that everyone else in the loop has one also, it’s even easier to keep everyone updated at any time!  (Just don’t text while driving. Pull over and park first!)

 

 

 

 

And, if you tell someone you’ll call them, call them! And if you do forget to call them (which we all do from time to time), and they bring it up to you that you didn’t call them when you said you would, please, don’t say to them, “So why didn’t you call me?”, when it was you who said you’d call themIt was your responsibility to call them!

And don’t reserve a time with someone and tell them it’s certain when you know it really isn’t, and if you do reserve a “guaranteed” block of time, for someone, try to keep that commitment! And if you can’t guarantee a time, then let the other party know that it’s not guaranteed, and agree to a limit as to how long or how many changes they’ll be before letting the other party know that it’s ok for them to move on.

And finally, speaking of ‘reservations’, it should be first come first serve, unless, in a business dealing, you’ve put the ‘deal’ up for bids and have let everyone concerned know. Otherwise, if you have a potential buyer and you’ve agreed to sell it to that buyer at a certain price, don’t dump them if the next potential buyer, who’s arrived after the first buyer, offers you a better price. And the same goes for if you are the buyer and have agreed with the seller to buy something at an agreed price. If another seller jumps in, after said agreement was made, and offers a better deal, go with the first, since you’ve already agreed to buy from the first seller. It’s just plain unethical to do otherwise.

So keep talking! And be ethical! It’s worth it in the long run!

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