A huge shout out and thank you to all the Legislative Assistants out there!
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to head to Washington DC for a few days of Farm Bureau meetings, and a day on Capitol Hill. I love when we are able to visit our elected officials. I have learned so much about leadership, and how to work with those you may not agree with politically.
One of the things that has been repeated with every visit, is the importance of building a relationship with the Legislative Assistants. When I see Senator Amy Klobuchar’s LA, Brian Werner, I try to get a selfie or a photo with him if his day is not crazy busy. He is a native of my county, a connection that has led to a recognition when we see each other either in DC, or when he is traveling to Minnesota for his job. In the photo above, I was able to greet him at a hearing about the Farm Bill in his home town.
Legislative Assistants are human, and we need to treat them that way.
While we were waiting for our meeting with Senator Klobuchar, we had the chance to ask questions of her office staff. They were busy answering phones, and reading the emails that were coming in. They explained the process of sorting emails to the appropriate file (not the deleted folder), and how every call is logged. Even with the volume of calls they receive, the two staffers were very friendly on the phone. Ever feel like calling up your senator or representative and ripping them a new one? Don’t. The people on the other end of the line are human, and they don’t like being yelled at any more than you do. Ripping someone a new one is also a poor reflection on you or the organization you represent. The Golden Rule applies to congressional staffers, and our elected officials.
Meeting with a Legislative Assistant is a good thing
Sometimes schedules are so crazy that we cannot meet with our Congressmen or Senators. Having the ability to sit down with their LA’s is a good thing. They are the ones who will research, document, and make recommendations to their boss about whatever it is that you are wanting them to work on. Drop them a business card on your way out of the meeting, and follow up with a thank you email as soon as you are able. I’m still working on mine from two weeks ago, but I will get them done!
I’m thankful that we have talented, smart, and energetic individuals who are working as our Legislative Assistants. Whether they are working for a boss in DC, or your home state…in the office on the Hill, or in a field office, we need to treat them all with a bit of kindness, and show them a little appreciation now and then.
Last week was quite a week for drainage issues at our place. The first issue was related to the two inches of rain we received on Thursday. The outlet for our house storm drainage was under a foot of water, which meant the tile lines around the house were level full. Every time the sump pump ran, it would pour the water back into the house. Jonathan and I were not home when that happened, but thankfully, our daughters were. We were able to tell Laura how to cut the pipe with the Sawzall and attach a hose to extend the drainage into the yard. The girls were awesome, and even started cleaning up the water before we got home.
While dealing with the wet carpet, we noticed that the sewer line was backing up a little bit. We weren’t sure the cause, but thought the septic tank could have gotten too full, so we called a local septic tank guy. We were on a no water in the drain order until after he came to check out the situation. I was very happy to see Gary show up!
Last summer, we had some landscaping done where we took out all the shrubs and the sidewalk around the house and regraded the soil to help prevent water issues in the basement. This meant that they tapered the soil and tilled up a swath of grass as well. This was seeded to grass seed, and looked really nice. What we didn’t think about at the time was the fact that they took out the divots that marked where the septic tank covers are. So we needed to start probing the soil. It took a little bit to find the covers, but once we did, it was easy to dig down and uncover the pump outs. We found out that we had an issue in the line, so after the septic tank was pumped, the guys went to work figuring out the issue. I’ll be honest. It totally grosses me out when they work on that. I can handle animal manure, and baby diapers, but I can’t handle sewage.
Because the whole thing grosses me out, I am so thankful for people like Gary who do this every day. He is the nicest guy, and is so easy to work with. You don’t really appreciate guys like him until you need them…which is why the septic cleaners and fixers are my Thankful Thursday focus this week. Thank you all for being willing to deal with crap every day so we can flush at will!
I don’t know about you, but heights scare me to the point of buckled knees and shortness of breath. At the same time, I have a fascination with people who seem to be so at ease with heights.
The guys in the photo work for a company that is removing all of the high-line wires and poles from the road in front of our house. The new CapX2020 line will eventually replace these double wooden poles, which really won’t affect us much at all. Watching the process of wire and pole removal was super interesting. I tried not to gawk too much as they worked in front of our place.
One day, when the poles were being removed a few miles north of us, I had to run up to the Cities. I left later than I wanted to, and was feeling a bit grumpy. Things just seemed to be going wrong all morning. I had to wait for the flag man to wave me by the first set of trucks, which was expected. The second truck a mile down the road didn’t have an official flag man. Instead, two of the workers who were putting gear in the back of the truck started waving cars by, dancing, waving, and smiling broadly. They totally brightened my day. It’s hard to be grumpy when you encounter two gruff looking guys break into dance!
When the time came for the old power poles to come down in front of our place, I just had to go out and watch the process. The one guy had a chainsaw, and was cutting the support brackets. The other was there to maneuver the bucket and assist with the cutting. The main cross piece was lowered by a chain attached to the claw on the second truck. After all of the support braces and main cross piece were removed, the two white trucks were moved, and the large backhoe worked the poles out of the ground. The whole crew working on these poles had great communication, and treated each other in a friendly manner. To me, it was a great lesson. No matter what your occupation, your attitude can make your job seem less like work.
Thank you, Power Pole People, for braving heights and dangerous conditions every day…and for the occasional dance break.
Rural areas like ours in Southwest Minnesota can seem like Mars to some coffee loving city dwellers when they learn we are two hours from the nearest Starbucks. They wonder how we can handle living so far from that type of atmosphere. It’s pretty easy for those of us in my area. We have two great locally owned coffee shop options.
My favorite place to grab a mocha latte (my favorite beverage), or have lunch with friends, is a little place called Bagels & Brew. This cute little place is attached to a laundromat in an unassuming building along the main drag in Marshall. After 15 years in business, they have built up a loyal following. They serve bagels, but also have a nice selection of sandwiches and paninis, along with side salads. If you are just looking for beverages, they have a full line up of coffee options, tea, smoothies, and in the fall, a delicious caramel apple cider.
What makes Bagels & Brew my favorite coffee shop…besides my love for the coffee? The people. I have stopped for coffee or lunch many times over the years, and I have never seen any of the employees grumpy. It doesn’t matter if you are going through the drive-thru, or eating in, the staff is always friendly. I have witnessed Todd, the owner, run out to vehicles in line, taking orders so they wouldn’t have to wait so long in the drive-thru. When customer service is taken seriously, and delivered with a smile, it makes me want to support them.
Living out in a rural area isn’t so bad when you have great local places that fill your needs. When the service is delivered with a smile, it makes it all the sweeter. Thank you, Todd and staff at Bagels & Brew in Marshall for your smiles, the friendly atmosphere, your delicious sandwiches & salads, and your wonderful mocha lattes!
I’ve always felt a little funny about the phrase, “Thank a Farmer”. I guess I just have a difficult time asking people to thank me for a job that I love doing. I mean, why would I ask people to thank me, when my parts guy isn’t asking me to thank him for keeping the equipment running? Recently, Jenny, from Prairie Californian tweeted about thanking the people that make our lives easier. That conversation got me to thinking about starting a new Thankful Thursday series, where I can highlight some of the people that I come into contact with on a regular basis, and thank them for their work.
I’ve been working on gratitude and thankfulness in my own life lately. I’m a words of affirmation girl, and I understand how a kind word can make your whole day better. I also understand how an unkind word or unsavory expression can ruin what was a good day. I would love to see the world become a more positive place, where people are kind to one another, and where Please and Thank You are not just words to a Barney song.
My hope is that this journey will help us to have more of an attitude of gratitude when we are at the grocery store, the local coffee shop, the gas station, the parts store…wherever there are people helping us out. It is so easy to get crabby with the waitress when she’s a little slow, or get mad at the parts guys for not having the correct hydraulic tips. It would be cool if instead of getting upset, we could be thankful that these people are here to help us, and are willing to work at that establishment.
If you would like to join me in my Thankful Thursday series, put a link to your blog in the comments. I’ll add your link at the end of my posts.
You cannot be grateful and bitter.
You cannot be grateful and unhappy.
You cannot be grateful and without hope.
You cannot be grateful and unloving.
So just be grateful.