Black Thursday? Holiday
Shopping Season Starts Earlier
you ready for or dreading the holiday season? Maybe a little of
Kohl's store recently announced it will open at 8 p.m.
Thanksgiving-- the department store chain's earliest Black Friday
kick-off ever-- and will stay open for 28 hours continuously!
course, not to be outdone, Macy's announced it, too, would
open at 8 p.m. Thanksgiving. As will J.C. Penney.
to a survey by American Express, consumers facing a late
Thanksgiving and shorter than usual holiday shopping season are
especially intent on getting finished early with their
shopping. According to the survey, 27% of shoppers plan to finish
their holiday buying before Dec 1, compared to 24% last year.
as CNN news anchors have recently been asking: "is this a good
thing or a bad thing?" I admit, I'm biased, but I don't think
it's a good thing overall. Yes, people are at choice and yes,
earlier shopping might boost our economy (economists predict only
modest increase over last year's holiday spending). But is nothing
sacred? Can't we just mellow out a bit and settle by the hearth
together for one evening? Are we headed toward stores being open all
day, every day of the year to compete with the 24/7 Internet?
course, with more of us doing our shopping online and increasingly
with our smartphones--last holiday season was the first time
Americans spent more online than at actual stores--I suppose many
will shop before, during and right after the family dinner. Still,
can't we as a culture have a modicum of restraint?
what are we teaching our kids? And please don't say "nothing
they don't all ready know; we're a helplessly, hopelessly
materialistic and consumerist people... resistance is futile."
are at choice in each moment--or, at least, we should be.
Do You Have to Be Grateful For?
going on in our personal lives at the moment and what ever we
perceive is going on in the world around us now, we are truly at
choice about our reaction, or at least our interpretation, of it.
I'm not saying it's easy. And I'm not saying I've mastered this
either. But I believe this to be true.
around last Thanksgiving, my wife and I bought a small painting from
a recent acquaintance at a local art gallery showing. It is a black,
white and grayish depiction of a simple glass that with water in
it--about half-way. It's entitled "The Half-Full Glass."
We were both drawn to it and chose to hang it in our
bedroom. My intention was to use the picture as a constant
reminder to look at the glass as half-full--my life as half-full
instead of half-empty--and even to reflect at the end of each day on
how well I'm doing with my "attitude of gratitude."
I'll admit, I haven't been that regular about it. But, I'd say that,
all-in-all, over the last year I've been finding it easier to
appreciate the little things in life (even the ups-and-downs).
your glass half-full or half-empty? It's all a matter of perception.
Report from Recent Lifestyle Intervention Conference
wife and I recently traveled from Michigan to Prescott, Arizona to
visit a friend and her dog who moved there about a year ago. We had
a great weekend with them--Dogtoberfest was a highlight--and then
got in our rent-a-car and drove four hours north--right past the
Hoover Dam--to Las Vegas, Nevada--Sin City and, curiously, a very
common location for addiction-recovery conferences, including the
3rd Annual Lifestyle Intervention Conference where I presented a 90-minute
seminar about employee theft.
Lifestyle Intervention Conference offers four tracks of topics:
eating disorders, love/sex/relationships, interventions, and
workplace issues. Thus, my presentation on employee theft fell
primarily into the last category.
estimate that there were at least 250 attendees at the conference.
There were three other seminar options opposite my presentation. I
counted about 25 attendees--not bad but clearly not close to
one-fourth of 250. If statistics show that at least 75% of employees
steal or commit some form of dishonesty at their jobs, I often
wonder why more people don't take a keen interest in this topic.
Maybe it makes them uncomfortable.
good news is that the presentation went well and the conversation
was lively and open. Most of the attendees were mental health
professionals and several were EAPs (Employee Assistance Personnel).
I love speaker to mental heath pros and EAPs--they usually raise
their hands when I ask: how many of you have ever committed any kind
of employee theft. When I've asked the same question during my
employee theft presentations to business professionals, accountants,
or loss prevention personnel, nobody raises their hands. Uh-huh.
funny thing happened at the very end of my presentation in Vegas. A
guy raised his hand when I made a closing remark that we probably
can't totally prevent employee theft but we can certainly reduce it
through understanding more deeply and accurately why employees steal
and through enacting more progressive and effective strategies to deter,
detect, and deal with it. This guy either just stepped into the room
or hadn't been paying attention to my presentation because he simply
said "you can stop people from stealing from work by just
firing them." You could hear a pin drop. I replied, politely,
that catching the 75% of people who are stealing at work is
challenge enough; firing and replacing them likely would be even
theft remains a scourge that is more pervasive and complex than most
think. And, yet, it also remains the elephant in the living room
that few are really talking about.
A Hoarder: A Recent Case
recently was contracted by a local company to assist on a hoarding
case. The company was put in charge of removing contaminated soil in
the front and back yards of about 100 homes in a neighborhood over
the last year or so. They had one holdout: a middle-aged disabled
man, a chronic hoarder, whose fenced-in backyard literally looked
like a junk-yard. Over the last year, he'd rebuffed attempts by the
city and the company to get him to clean-up. His was the last
property to be remedied and the final deadline was at hand as winter
is closing in.
company found me online and hired me to be on hand in case they
needed me to talk to the property owner and help him finally let go
of much of his stuff. Fortunately, he was cooperative on the day we
all arrived. We were blessed with good weather but it took a team of
ten men and several big trucks and trailers about ten hours to
remove several old cars and other large objects.
didn't get to find out exactly how long the property owner had been
hoarding or why he started down that path. I only know that it's
good he finally let go and now has a clean yard, the city off his
back, and new uncontaminated soil surrounding his house. I'm pretty
sure the inside of his house was packed to the gills, too, but that
wasn't our concern. I only hope he doesn't start accumulating all
Spotlight: "In Recovery" Magazine
a wonderful relatively new quarterly recovery magazine I want to let
you know about. It's called "In Recovery." Founded 2 years
ago by Kim Welsh, a recovering person herself, in Prescott,
Arizona--home to many treatment centers and half-way houses, this
magazine has something for everyone. I visited Kim in October 2013
and was honored to be invited to write a regular column about
process/behavioral addictions--starting Spring 2014.
magazine is available in hard copy as well as online at:
3rd Millenium STOPLifting Online Education
Millenium Classrooms out of San Antonio, TX has been offering
high-quality online education courses for alcohol, marijuana and
shoplifting issues for many years now. I've been honored to help
them fine-tune and update their shoplifting course which many are
court-ordered to complete after an arrest.
3rd Millennium Classroom's STOPLifting is an online intervention
course designed to assist shoplifters in examining and altering
their attitudes and behaviors towards shoplifting. The course
incorporates evidential examples and related follow-up questions to
discover the student's motives behind shoplifting, reveal possible
patterns in his or her behaviors, and identify potential triggers
and ways to cope. Through STOPLifting's unique motivational
interviewing style, students are encouraged to evaluate the personal
consequences of shoplifting and how they affect the individual, his
or her family and those around him or her. See: www.3rdmiclassrooms.com
Target Removes Criminal
History Box on Job Apps!
from reports): Sanctions that make it more difficult for
ex-offenders to obtain jobs, housing and even basic documents like
drivers' licenses only serve to drive them back to jail. With that
in mind, a growing number of states and municipalities now prohibit
public agencies - and in some cases private employers - from asking
about a job applicant's criminal history until the applicant reaches
the interview stage or gets a conditional job offer. These eminently
sensible "ban the box" laws are intended to let
ex-offenders prove their qualifications before criminal history
issues enter the equation.
this year Minnesota extended its existing law to cover private
employers. Now, the Minneapolis-based Target Corporation, one of the
nation's largest employers, has announced that it will remove questions
about criminal history from its job applications throughout the
country. The announcement represents an important victory for the
grassroots community group TakeAction Minnesota, which had been
pressuring the company to change.
This comes on the heels of a similar development earlier this month
in California, where Gov. Jerry Brown signed a ban-the-box bill that
applies to government employers. The federal Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission gave this movement a lift last year, when it
expanded and updated a ruling that barred employers from
automatically denying people jobs based on arrest or conviction
records. The E.E.O.C. guidance made clear that an arrest alone is
not proof of illegal conduct or grounds for exclusion from
employment. It also explained that employers need to take into
account the seriousness of the offense, the time that has passed
since it was committed and the relevance of the crime to the job
being sought. Given that 65 million Americans now have criminal
records, that reminder is crucial.
was one of the fortunate ones. I had two misdemeanor shoplifting
convictions on my criminal record by the time I was 25 in 1990.
Despite this, I was narrowly approved for licensure as a Michigan
attorney in early 1992. I practiced three and a half years full-time
before enrolling in my masters in social work program from
1995-1997. Some colleges don't accept convicted felons. I was able
to get my criminal record expunged in 1996. I was hired as a
counselor right out of social work school by a chemical dependency
clinic in 1997 and was up front about my recovery from shoplifting
addiction and a previous criminal history. After 7 years with the
clinic, I started my private practice in early 2004.
aren't always as lucky as I've been. I can't tell you how many
clients I've worked with who've lost their jobs--and often couldn't
find work--due to a criminal conviction. It's many, though.
it's encouraging to hear that several major retailers--as well as
some municipalities--have begun to realize that, often, the rewards
of not asking about an applicant's criminal history outweigh the
risks. In my research, I've read that about 15-20% of job applicants
will have some kind of criminal record. Many times, it's an old charge
and it may not have a relevant impact on the job hand. Yet, many
people with skills and motivation to work are denied a second
chance. While I can understand that any employer might wish to know
as much as possible about its future employees, I believe checking
an applicant's resume and references for accuracy and monitoring all
employees equally are better approaches. Also, removing "the
box" doesn't prevent employers from doing universal background
Barneys/Macy's Accused of "Shop-and-Frisk"
- New York civil rights leaders recently decried the city's brewing
"shop-and-frisk" scandal, in which major retailers Barneys
and Macy's are accused of profiling black shoppers who say they were
detained by police after buying luxury items.
star Shawn "Jay Z" Carter defended his partnership with
Barneys after coming under pressure to cut ties with the company.
gone from stop-and-frisk to shop-and-frisk," said the Reverend
Al Sharpton, president of National Action Network, alluding to a
police crime-fighting tactic that critics say amounts to racial
representative of Sharpton's group is set to meet next week with
Mark Lee, the chief executive of Barneys New York, following
allegations from two black shoppers that they were detained by New
York police and accused of fraud after buying luxury items at
a third such allegation this week, actor Rob Brown of HBO's
"Treme" told New York's Daily News on Friday he had been
"paraded" through a Midtown Manhattan Macy's in handcuffs
in June, and held for an hour, after purchasing a $1,350 gold Movado
watch for his mother.
said he came forward after reading news accounts of others who had
similar experiences at Barneys.
told the newspaper he "implored" police to check his ID,
but "they kept telling me, 'Your card is fake. You're going to
Barneys New York publicly apologized this week, and Macy's Inc said
late on Friday it was investigating Brown's allegations.
2005, Macy's paid $600,000 to settle similar allegations that many
of the chain's New York stores had targeted blacks and Latinos for
particular scrutiny of theft, according to the New York Attorney
is its own reward.--Anonymous