My Ted Kennedy moment

August 28th, 2009 by John Morris

It was during the era my wife, Lyn calls “BK” for Before Kids. My mother-in-law invited us to go to Washington, DC for a weekend on her. Since we were usually broke, we took her offer.

While doing the standard DC tour, we stumbled across a line formed outside the mint.  My job was to find out what was going on. I learned that today they were doing a first issue of the Thomas Jefferson $2.00 bill. We could buy ten for souvenirs and then get in another line to have the post office stamp the date on them so they would be collectibles. It seemed like a fun thing. We still have these bills stashed in our bank box.

At the end of our day, we returned to the hotel to get ready for an evening out. While waiting for the elevator, I heard a noise storm growing louder and coming towards us. I looked in the direction of the noise to see Senator Ted Kennedy at the center of fawning staffers competing for his eye contact.

I asked my mother-in-law to look over there and pointed. I focused only on her face and saw a look of confusion change to one combining surprise and awe. I will not forget it.

Since that time, Ted Kennedy has been in the US Senate. He worked the political game deftly and became a major power broker. He was a boss among bosses there and a force who could get things done because he knew how the system worked.

If you thought Kennedy was an example of was wrong with our elected officials, you’ll hope to not see his likes for a while.

If Kennedy’s body of work made your life better, then you’ll hope he can be replaced.

Revenge is a dish best served cold.

August 10th, 2009 by John Morris

Short version:

  • My 19 month old, flat screen Polaroid HDTV wouldn’t turn on.
  • I had no warranty. I don’t believe they save any real money.
  • The vendor had gone out of business. You remember Circuit City?
  • Polaroid won’t send a repair guy unless I tell them the broken part’s number, AND despite my best efforts, I couldn’t remove the unit’s back to get it.
  • My TV guy removed the back and gave me the part number. I placed an order for a replacement to be shipped.
  • Polaroid made me wait NINE days before “authorizing” the sale of the part. There was a series of “someone will contact you within 48 hours” all of which didn’t come.
  • Polaroid’s parts manager caved when I told him I would not end the call until he agreed to sell me the part.
  • Part arrived; TV fixed and broken part returned, as agreed, for core refund of $100. I used Polaroid’s prepaid FedEX mailing label. Total downtime = three months.
  • Two weeks later, an invoice from FedEx for $86 arrived, and my name is on the “bill to” section. Polaroid agrees this is a mistake and will have the invoice changed immediately to their account.
  • Two months later, a dun notice arrived from FedEx’s collection agency. Yes, it was foolish to trust them.
  • Next day, the NEW Polaroid company’s customer service guy tells me the OLD Polaroid company went bankrupt one week after my last conversation with them, and they are different companies. He did wish me luck.
  • Bad news: Internet confirms latest Polaroid bankruptcy, and the chilling news that there’s no there there.
  • Good news: Polaroid paid the $100. for the returned core.
  • To save my family’s good credit rating, my wife and I agreed to pay the FedEx bill and try to collect from some unknown someone.

Where to start my rant? 

  • Polaroid considers their $1,000 flat screen TVs to be disposable goods. However, they could really help someone like me if I just had the warranty.
  • I can not imagine a company who would make a customer nearly beg to buy from them.
  • Polaroid violated the prime directive of sales: answer all summons. I blame the managers and not the front line troops.
  • If I knew the return shipping was going to be charged to me, I would not have chosen FedEx’s next morning service but one costing about $20. I should have had the choice.

Here’s my advice when making major purchases:

  •  Ask the people who repair them what brands to buy. They know which are the easiest to repair and who are the real stinkers when it comes to after-market work.


The old boy writing this blog wears many hats: Vietnam Veteran, husband & father, salesman and techno-dude. After my service with the Army Security Agency, I operated a sign company for nineteen years, The sign industry changed after CAD/CAM machines made the task easy enough for the non-talented. I sold my company and never looked back.

Life has granted me a life partner better than I deserve. My wife, Lyn is a transplanted Kansas gal. Her bliss is teaching kindergarten and first grade.

I am the most proud of my children. My son, Adam lives an international life teaching English and living in Sozhou, China. He is married to one of life's truly lovely women, Yuri Kim. My daughter, Beth grew up in a small town and found her way in life means working and living in major cities like Chicago and New York. She and her life partner, Julie Sterling married in LaJolla, California in 2010.

I like getting the newest gadgets, but also I like to use things until they are useless, i.e., my last personal car was an 88 Honda Prelude Si.

I wrote a Vietnam Veteran newsletter for nine years. During this journey, I learned I like to write. It is a harmless exercise that rewards honest effort while tolerating failure gracefully. I been away from it for too long. My son gave me the blog, and it was a lifeline back to writing.

My best advice is to show the world what you can do but to accept only your opinion of who and what you are.

Update: In August 2008, my job became one of the half-million jobs that went away that month. I took the following year getting the home ready for my official retirement.

In October 2009, I took a part-time job as a saleman at the vaulted Maxwell's Hardware.

On November 29, 2011, I reached my 66th birthday, and I officially started Social Security. I intend to stay with Maxwell's as long as I can contribute.