Minnesotan in training: December 4, 2013


I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. It may not have been as warm as last year, but at least the weather cooperated around here, as opposed to the snow that fell on Thanksgiving night a year ago.
We have a lot to be thankful for. Marrying Sarah is obviously at the top of my list. I’m thankful for all the friends and family members who celebrated our special day with us. Their participation made everything that much sweeter to celebrate. I’m also thankful to officially be a part of Sarah’s family.
Professionally, I’m thankful for all my coworkers and everyone I’ve gotten to know over the past year in this position. I couldn’t do this job without those kind people, as evidenced by the paper that was published while I was on my honeymoon. Also on a professional note, I recently learned that one of my photo stories of a Boy Scout flag retirement ceremony has won an award in the Minnesota Newspaper Association Better Newspaper Contest. In three years of entering submissions in the Iowa Newspaper Association BNC, I had never won anything so this award – even if it is third place – is particularly sweet for me.
This community gives me a lot of things to be thankful for. There are so many great people and organizations that make this place great. Specifically, I’m glad that you’ve allowed a new guy to come in and be a part of the newspaper and community at large. I know we may not always agree, but I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of important conversations. 
On another note, I’m grateful to be a part of the Maple Lake Chamber of Commerce. I was recently voted in as vice president and will hold the post for the next year. I look forward to being active with the Chamber and helping to grow business in Maple Lake.
This Saturday marks the Chamber’s Christmas in Maple Lake event at The V by HH from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. I hope to see a lot of kids and parents there, as well as at the Tree of Hope event from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Maple Lake Airport. 
• • •
Following Thanksgiving with Sarah’s family, many of us decided to continue our family bonding by venturing into the cold to look for “Black Friday” deals.
After an unfortunate pajama incident at one big box retailer last year, I opted to avoid the craziness there this year.
Instead, I found myself waiting in line at another retailer. I showed up about a half-hour early and already had hundreds of people in front of me. 
“That’s OK,” I thought, “at least we have a plan.”
That plan consisted of me bee-lining it for the small-appliance section for a deeply-discounted floor steamer, while Sarah looked for DVDs and a few other things on the list.
When I got to where I thought the steamers would be, I was told they were in their “home location” and there were only three of them.
I figured with all the people in front of me that they were gone for sure. When I got there, I couldn’t find what I was looking for and assumed the worst.
Nonetheless, I kept shopping, hoping to find enough bargains to make up for missing out on our primary target.
While continuing our quest, Sarah spotted two people scanning the price of two floor steamers. I just had to ask where they found them and learned that they were where they were supposed to be. My instinct was to freak out that I had somehow missed them, but I composed myself and started walking away.
Then something unexpected happened. They started flagging me back. As it turns out, they didn’t need two steamers; they were just making sure both were the same price since they were in different boxes. The price checked out and they offered me the steamer they didn’t need.
Like Ed said in his column the other day, it’s better to be lucky than good.
The same night, I decided to try a decaf pumpkin spike latte. When I asked where I could put my tip, they informed me they could not receive tips.
This really bothered me. 
I’ve listened to several debates about raising the minimum wage and have always heard the argument that raising the minimum wage would raise the cost of everything and cause employers to actually cut employees. I think there could be some merit to that argument, so I’ve been a proponent of tipping minimum-wage employees who do a good job, regardless of their industry.
That moment opened my eyes that even some in service industries cannot receive tips, while also not making a living wage. I plan to look into this issue more and I may even start a petition regarding the issue.
Stay tuned.