Thank you for your love and guidance, Aunt Ray

One of the things I love most is my entire family (immediate and extended). My mom was one of seven and my dad is one of eight. I have 39 first cousins and more extended family across the U.S. Three years ago, we started to lose my mom’s final four siblings, and today, heaven gained another angel. Ray Pettus was my mom’s oldest sister, third of seven. All seven siblings are reunited with each other, their mom and dad, and other friends and family.

She has been battling Parkinson’s, and she is now pain-free. She holds a special place in my heart for a couple of reasons. She helped take care of my mom when she was a late teenager while they lived in Charlottesville. The cover photo on Facebook is during that time.

She also came down to visit my family for weeks at a time while my mom was in Chemo. Aunt Ray, Aunt Mary and Uncle John helped our family through a difficult times. Aunt Mary’s children helped us, too. It’s one of the things that I love about the Anderson/Bond family.

When my mom died, Aunt Ray woke us up and told us the news. My uncle John was at the hospital with my dad. I remember I used to come annually up to Fairfax to visit Aunt Ray and we would go shopping. She taught me about fashion, the best types of clothes I should buy, and we got suits when I had an internship in DC.

What I didn’t realize is that my dad used to send me up to visit, so she could take me bra shopping and clothes before school started. She was my second mom in so many ways to me and so many other cousins.

During the summer of 2000, I interned in DC and lived with her and Uncle Bill. It was great to spend quality time with both of them and other cousins who moved up to the area. I learned so much about their courtship, favorite movies, and history of the family.

Throughout my time with Aunt Ray, she was so kind, found the right words to say during any situation, and always took care of her family. She taught all of us so many things including:

  • A short visit with someone is always better than no visit
  • Marriage is about compromise
  • How to handle difficult situations with grace
  • She always found the silver lining in everything
  • She taught me how to sew a button.
  • She influenced my love of crosswords and gave me permission to cheat–it’s the only way to figure out which way the clues are going
  • She was an avid reader and recommended so many books to me
  • She showed all of us how she loved her family and grandkids

For those of you who have had my white chocolate chip cookies or other flavors, those are my Aunt Ray’s Bargaining Chip Cookies. I made some for my interview to drive the Weiner mobile in college, and I got a second interview. She was a great cook and baker.

Yesterday, I spent time with her and the entire immediate family, and cousins and friends stopped by to say good-bye. Over the past six weeks, I saw her three other times. Each time, I cherished those moments because I had a feeling her time was coming soon. I saw her over Thanksgiving and last Sunday while my dad was in town. We had a great visit with her, and she was smiling at us as we talked and told jokes. When I saw her and said I love you and gave her a hug, I saw in her eyes she was about to cry and that look she knew her time was coming. Just didn’t think it would be this quick.

She wanted to go on her own terms, which she was able to do. She is pain-free and she was at peace with life. She lived a great life. The last few days have been rough because I’ve been crying and not sleeping as much. Yesterday’s visit was so good in so many ways. She knew we were there and I told her everything I need to say to her.

Everyone who met Ray loved her and she always treated people with respect and love. She was such a blessing for all of us. Rest in peace Aunt Ray. I know you are having fun with your siblings. I’m so thankful for everything you taught me and my family.

Much love,

Sabrina

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Being Thankful this holiday and looking back on 40 years

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. When I was a kid, my mom and dad would cook Mac & Cheese, mash potatoes, stuffing, deviled eggs, turkey and so many other sides. It was a time to celebrate family and friends. Sometimes we would get together with my mom’s side of the family and have an extended Anderson/Bond family reunion at my great aunt’s place in Greenwood or in Clinton. Other times we would get together with my dad’s best friend or other family friends.

As kids, we would play hide and seek, football or other games in the yard. Sometimes we would go exploring in the neighborhood and swap stories with our cousins and friends. We were carefree and having fun. I have photos of me at six or so playing at my Aunt Annie’s house.

As I enjoy some coffee, I want to take a few minutes to reflect back on a few things that I’m thankful for this year as well as share some wisdom that I’ve gained over the past 40 years of life.

Turning 40 this week is something I really have not looked forward to for the past few years. Age is just a number, but I’ve always wanted to have kids of my own. I believed that I would be married with a few kids running around the house by my 40th. As I went through my mid-30’s, I kept seeing that window closing. It’s still a possibility, but I’m trying to embrace that perhaps god has different plans for me.

As I look back in life, I’ve always been a planner and had a Type A personality. When I was in high school, I started thinking about running for president in 2028. I wanted to be president when I was 50. I started to recruit my calculus teacher to be my Secretary of Education and Dr. Summers agreed to help me out. Not sure if I’ll run in 2028, but I may seriously consider it.

Here are some lessons that I’ve learned over the years.

a.) Letting go of some of your favorite things. A couple of years ago, I started to think about what could let go to free up some time in my life. I didn’t want to give up volunteering, but I had to do something. I decided to give up fantasy football and college basketball brackets. I love fantasy football and competing with others for the tournament. Three years ago, I decided to give it up.  After the first year of not doing fantasy football, I realized that I missed it, but I don’t regret giving it up. I still watch sports, but I don’t have the stress about who is winning or losing.

b.) Asking for help. For the past two years, my Internist has been strongly asking me to see a Dietitian/Nutritionist, and I kept saying give me a year and let me lose weight on my own. He said okay. Well, let’s just say, I kept pushing it off. In January, I told him I would reach out.

For six months, I made excuses and didn’t carve out time to do it. When I saw him again in July, he gave me a look. I told him that I would do it that month. At the end of July, I saw a Nutritionist. We sat down and had a conversation about a lot of things. We talked about how I’ve done Weight Watchers and it worked until I became complacent. After that, the weight would come back. After our discussion, she put together a plan for me to follow. I was skeptical. I didn’t think it would work. However, I followed her advice and plan.

After one month, I lost six pounds. After the second month, I lost additional six. I realized that perhaps she might be right. Each month, I have lost something. As of my 40th birthday, I’ve lost 17 pounds and 21 inches. It’s a lifestyle change. Have I had bad days? Yes. But, what I’ve noticed the last four months is that I’m recognizing how my body is reacting to the changes and the types of food that I need.

This month, we made a plan for now until mid-January when I am going to see my Internist again. We’ve made some goals of what I want to accomplish. I’m ready and will work hard to get to where I want to be by January 17.

c.) Always be intentional. For the past 15 years, I’ve worked hard to find jobs, volunteering roles, and opportunities that will help me reach my ultimate career goal in life. I want to be a CEO/COO for a small or mid-sized association. I’ve always communicated that to my bosses and others, and my colleagues have been so helpful in providing advice as well as opportunities. PRSA-NCC has been instrumental in giving me experience that I will use to help me become a CEO. I’ve been a volunteer, board member, treasurer and now president for the last 17 months. I’ve led a board of 18 members and 24 chairs of committees for the largest chapter of PRSA.

It’s been a great learning experience. Past presidents of the chapter have been so helpful in getting me through a variety of situations, and I’ve learned so much about myself, my leadership style, and recognizing how to manage difficult situations, which will happen as a CEO.

When members ask me about where they should volunteer, I always flip the question back to them and ask what skills or experience do you want to gain that you may not get in your day job? I always try to stress to my friends and members that you should be intentional about what you do when you volunteer and give back.

Things that I’m thankful for this year

  • Always having extended family and friends in the DC-area. It’s been a crazy few years, and it’s been a blessing to have them here.
  • Being a defensive driver has come in handy this year. Two months ago I almost got into a bad accident. Luckily, I was paying attention. I’ve been thanking Allah everyday for letting me live another day.
  • New job that is giving me experience around membership development and marketing.
  • My tribe of folks who I can reach out to for advice and support. It’s so critical to have folks in your corner.
  • Gift of time with my family and friends. My top love language is quality time. For me, spending time having a conversation over coffee or playing cards with my dad means more to me than receiving a present. Time is so precious. Embrace it when you can.

Happy Turkey Day! Hope you enjoy time with friends and family! Looking forward to spending quality time with family!

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Some of my favorite podcasts

A few years ago, I listened to the Serial podcast, and it got me hooked. I’m a true Adnan fan, and I’m praying he is set free soon! Over the last month, I’ve binged several podcasts that range from funny to serious. There are several that I can’t stop listening to on a daily basis. There are a few that I haven’t gotten to yet, but I’m working on tackling them in the next few months.

Here’s a quick look at the ones that I’m loving:

a.) See Something Say Something (https://www.buzzfeed.com/seesomethingsaysomething) : Ahmed Ali Akbar is the host of the podcast, who works for BuzzFeed News. He invites guests on his show and they drink lots of chai 🙂 He and his guests all tell personal stories about their experiences of being Muslim, and it started back in October 2016. I’ve been jumping around different topics, and I still have many episodes left. But, if you download this podcast, there are a few you have to hear first. Episode 1 tackles how people feel about Muslim right now (late October). It’s so good and highlights several thoughts that I’ve been experiencing. Episode 2 about Jinns is the one I listened to tonight. I was cooking and some of the stories made my skin crawl. I’ve had an experience in the past, which scared me to death (I’ll write about this in a separate blog). My dad came to visit a few days later and prayed for them to go away. Needless to say, I haven’t had any experiences since. Episode 5 about parents is so good!! This is by far one of my faves so far. Episode 16 talks about dating and using apps like Minder. I laughed so much because the guests were saying the same things that I’ve been experiencing.

b.) The Unpodcast (http://www.unmarketing.com/unpodcast/): Last year at the PRSA International Conference, I heard Scott Stratten speak at the closing general session. He had me and the audience laughing. I decided to download his podcast, and I love it. He and his wife, Allison, talk about current examples and discuss the good, bad, and ugly of marketing. They had a great podcast about the recent United crisis, passive aggressive email marketing, and ethics. It’s about 30 minutes long, and they banter back and forth, which I love. I listen for tips and think about how I can apply them to my job and future growth.

c.) Two of my PR colleagues have started a podcast called Serial_Moms (twitter.com/Serial_Moms). Susan Matthews Apgood and Samantha Foster Villegas are so funny! They have different personalities, but I love how they tackle different topics. Even though I’m not a mom yet, their show still resonates with me. They’ve talked about self-doubt, how to handle conflict, mean moms, and more. It comes through as real, authentic, and always include humor. I’ve known them for eight years, but I always hear something new about them in every episode.

d.) S-Town–is a podcast from Serial and its an American Life by Brian Reed. It’s seven episodes following the life a man named John, who hates his small town in Alabama. He asks Brian to investigate a murder that happened in his town. There’s a twist to the story in episode 3, which had me saying really? As I cleaned my house a few weeks ago, I finished all seven episodes. I couldn’t put it down. The storytelling was fantastic. I know some folks were meh about it, but I really liked it. (https://stownpodcast.org/)

e.) Pod Save America–Three guys from President Obama’s White House staff talking about different issues happening with politics. They bring different guests on to discuss current events, and it’s pretty good. I listen to it often, but I don’t listen every week. There are times when I need to take a break, but it’s one podcast that’s helping me navigate the new president.

f.) Reveal–is a podcast that tackles real-life issues, investigative reporting, and tells great stories. They’ve covered things like the color of feminism, issues with the legal system for people who can’t afford a lawyer (great episode!!), religious freedom loophole, and more. There are so many episodes I haven’t heard yet, but I’m working through it. This is probably one of the more serious ones.

g.) Tiny Leaps, Big Changes: This podcast are very short episodes covering topics to motivate you to be a better person. Most of the episodes are 20 minutes or less. One that I loved was the power of gratitude. It’s important for all of us to be thankful for what we have and not compare our lives to others. I tend to do it all the time, but it was a great reminder for me. 🙂 This morning, I listened to why you should do squats on a regular basis. Let’s see if that helps motivate me to do it.

h.) #GoodMulismBadMuslim: This podcast is so funny, and the two female hosts discuss topics relating to being Muslim. There are many shows that I still need to listen to, but I really love what I’ve heard so far.

i.) Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People(xhttp://www.earwolf.com/show/beautiful-anonymous/) The host will interview random people who call the hotline number. He interviews them and they tell their life story.  This is truly one of my favorites because of the topics they cover. The other day they had a couple talking about being swingers. There’s no way I would ever do it. However, this couple was so funny and honest about why they do it. There was one about a Trail Blazer, and he led a hard life of drugs, failed marriages, jail time, etc. It was intriguing to hear the lessons he learned along the way.

j) Stuff You Should Know (http://www.stuffyoushouldknow.com/): The co-hosts tackle topics that we should know more about. One of my favorite episodes is “How Swearing Works.” This was not only funny, but it was very educational. When I watch my sports teams, I usually will say words I can’t repeat or write in this blog. I heard another one about how corsets work, and it was fantastic. They truly look at different things and really explore it in about 45 minutes to an hour. Great stuff on this one.

k.) Brexit Podcast: This covers different issues relating to Britain leaving the EU. I haven’t listened to a lot of them, but I’m planning to make time to listen. I remember being in England in 2000 studying abroad in school. That’s when they started the EU plan. I took a course and wrote numerous papers on why this would be successful. The guests talk about how this will impact the country and Europe overall, and current issues happening that may impact the succession.

Here are a few that I’m going to listen to soon: Missing Richard Simmons, Women of the Hour, The Mash-Up Americans, Spark, They Walk Among Us-UK True Crime, and Terrible, Thanks for Asking (I’ve listened to two so far), Code Switch, and Reply All (listened to two).

What other podcasts should I add to this list? Let me know!

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Thanks Trump? You have empowered me and millions to speak up!

As a young kid, I went voting with my parents and believed in the democratic process. When I was in high school, I started the Young Democrats club with a few of my fellow students. I campaigned for Clinton/Gore in 1996. I couldn’t vote, but I wanted to help elect Bill Clinton.

While in college, I participated and campaigned for Gore in 2000. I remember meeting Susan Day and others and feeling empowered to make a difference. On election night, I went to bed thinking that we had a chance. The next morning, I woke up to what happened in Florida with the hanging chads. I joked with my brother that it was his fault because he moved to Jacksonville for residency.

The Supreme Court decided the election and Bush won even though Gore won the popular vote. I wasn’t happy with how it happened, but I accepted it. Less than a year later, our lives changed because of 9/11. Congress decided to quickly pass the Patriot Act because they wanted to “protect” America. I totally understood the need to protect the those that live in America (both citizens and those who are living here other ways). However, we later learned that many Members of Congress didn’t fully read the act and said yes.

Life for my community was tough. People attacked Muslims and others who appeared to be Muslim. Students who lived in America and were here on student visas had to tough decisions to make. Do they stay or go?

Congress united together for awhile to pass some laws and many members rallied to support the Muslim community to let us know that extremists did the unthinkable, not Islam. There was and still is a small, vocal minority who truly believe that Islam teaches violence and we should all go back to where we came from.

Many of my friends and family reached out to support my family and others. It took some time, but it slowly started to get better.

In 2004, I decided to go back and get my master’s degree in public administration. I was cynical about politics and going through the program only solidified that feeling. In one of my classes about policy, my professor discussed how hard it was to change policy once it’s written. With any law or policy, there’s always unintended consequences.

On top of that, many Members of Congress are making laws that impact education, military and healthcare, and there are some who are making these laws without the expertise to create them. However, it’s up to us and those who specialize in those fields to influence government.

Here are a few reasons why I’ve always been cynical about government:
a.) the amount of money involved with lobbying and trying to influence legislation
b.) the amount of money coming from donors to support specific candidates
c.) the amount of money you need to run for office knocks out a large portion of the population.
d.) gerrymandering of districts so it’s hard to vote people out once they get in.

Fast forward to last year’s election run. As I watched both parties primaries, I started to see that Trump was running the table. I wondered why people supported him. I understand that he’s a businessman and he was speaking his mind. What scared me the most was that he was making fun of different races, those with disabilities, and comments around women. He made those who are racists feel legitimized and encouraged it. I had a feeling six months before the election that he was going to win. My friends and family didn’t think it was going to happen, but I had a feeling.

On election night, I started to watch the returns. Virginia took a long time to go to Hillary, and I knew that we were in trouble. I started to watch Trump’s lead increase. I couldn’t believe it. I was scared because I knew that if he won, he wanted to ban Muslims. He always indicated it would be for those trying to enter the country, but I had a sick feeling. I went to bed around midnight knowing that my life and this country wouldn’t be the same.

After 9/11 I never felt truly worried or scared, but on November 10, I felt scared. I was in Boston a few days later, and everyone I met said they are with us (Muslims). I felt better, but I still worried about what our soon-to-be President would do.

Last weekend I took part in the women’s march in DC. As Aisha and I made our way into DC, I saw the crowds. I saw the diversity. It was packed. It’s like Obama’s inauguration eight years ago. As we walked towards the march, there were thousands of people protesting the election. The main message from speakers and organizers was we needed to be active, speak out on things you disagree with, and get involved in the local election. There was so much energy. I was getting excited, but I kept thinking if people would be active for the next four years.

Well, the first week of President Trump was insane. The different executive orders he signed was fast and furious. He was like a horse at a race. He left the gates quickly and never looked back. He wanted to show people that he was going to make decisions quickly and stick to his campaign promises.

Leading up to his inauguration, I wasn’t happy with some of his selections, especially Bannon. He’s a known as a white supremacist. I knew this country was going to have an uphill battle.

Over the last few weeks, people have been calling their representatives and voicing their opinions about the different nominees Trump was putting forth. They have been protesting and making their voice heard. My heart is full.

On Thursday, I saw him put an executive order on stopping all refugees and any Muslims from seven different countries. When I looked at the list, none of them have to do with 9/11 or any other acts on this country. Those with visas and Greencards are impacted.

I really couldn’t believe my eyes. I am scared to travel internationally right now. I have never felt this way before. My co-workers, friends and family are telling me things will be okay. I truly hope so. Then, I saw posts and news articles about how Homeland Security and customs were stopping citizens, young kids who are 3 years old, and old people who have been in the US for 20 plus years.

I saw that one of my friends had an issue at the airport. He and his wife were coming back from their honeymoon. He’s an American citizen and so is his wife. I was livid. How can this country and those in homeland security detain someone with a blue passport without a valid reason?

Those detained asked for a lawyer and some of the airports were refusing them access to get counsel. As I continued to freak out, I started to see thousands of people at JFK, LA, Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, DC, and other cities rallying against the executive order. Thousands of people are coming out to support the rights of all people. I’m truly floored.

When I left Killer ESP today, I saw about 40 people protesting outside Bannon’s place. I smiled and gave them a thumbs up! People driving by were honking their horns. They were protesting the refugee order. I walked away smiling. My cynicism about government is slowly getting better.

Although I’m truly sad that Trump won, I have to say that his election has spurred people to act and protest things they believe in. I LOVE this so much. It has lit a fire in me to be more politically active. I’ve gotten messages from friends saying they are behind me and how can they help. They want to support Muslims and fight Trump. What he’s doing is anti-American.

This country was founded because of immigrants. Our founding fathers fought for us to have a separation of church and state, freedom of the press, freedom of speech and other rights.

Along with the executive order on refugees and Muslims from certain countries, the other actions he has taken from trying to stop certain agencies from sharing research and information to a hiring freeze with the federal government. He’s writing these orders without consulting people from different agencies to see if it’s legal, ethical, reasonable and practical. He moving swiftly without caring about the unintended consequences.

People are noticing and not standing for it. Members of Congress: For those that are not standing up to Trump right now, you better change your mind quickly. People are angry, they are paying attention, and will vote in two years. Your seat isn’t safe.

Wait, we have Gerrymandering, so it will be hard. Wait. There’s voter intimidation and laws make it hard for some to vote. Although there are many obstacles, I truly believe people will continue to be active, show their spirit and vote.

To House Speaker Congressman Ryan, you have closed the comment line for your constituents and others to contact you. That isn’t right. You are hiding from the people who elected you. There are others who are trying to hide and figure out what to do a Trump presidency. People are watching and paying attention.

Will you and others put your party politics aside and fight for people’s first amendment rights? Will you stop the President from making horrible decisions that aren’t lawful? The ban on foreign Muslims is going to make the threat from ISIS worst, not better. You are giving them what they want. Think about this: why would refugees, who spend tons of money and two years to be vetted, be a threat to this country? They are trying to escape death and tyranny.

What about making sure President Trump releases his taxes? We want to see if he has any conflicts of interests. My question to you is: If he has nothing to hide, why would he not share them? He’s hiding something and doesn’t want us to know.

For those of you who are protesting, keep it up! I will protest when I can and call my members of congress, so they know how I feel. The hardest part for all of us is keeping this up for the next few years. We need to be ready to fight and make changes in two years with the House and Senate. We need people who will stand up for all of our rights.

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Never, ever use Amoma to book a hotel

Back in mid-September, I planned a trip to Philadelphia for a weekend. I looked at hotel deals, and I used a site called Amoma.com to book my stay at the Marriott downtown. I love this hotel because of its location, and I stayed there for the 2013 PRSA International Conference.

The site was offering a great deal, so I booked it. I knew that if I decided not to go, I wouldn’t be able to get my money back. I took my chances and booked my bus ticket on MegaBus.

Fast forward to October 7. It was the day before I was suppose to go, and I got a call that my uncle died. I was truly devastated and called Amoma to let them know. They asked for a copy of the obituary, which I sent them on Saturday morning. They said they would reach out to their supplier about a possible refund. It’s not guaranteed, but they would try.

I reached out to MegaBus about my bus ticket, which usually isn’t refundable. I told them about my circumstances, and they refunded my money in three days. Y’all, THREE days. I was so impressed with their customer service and response. I’ve used other bus services and my friends have used them and loved it. I’m definitely going to use them for my next trip to either Philly and NYC.

A couple of days later, I got an email from Amoma, saying the hotel doesn’t accept to waive cancellation fees. When I saw the response, I was in shock. I’ve stayed at Marriott multiple times and loved the service. Plus, I know people who work for the company, and they are some of the most caring folks I know. They truly value their customers. So, I knew something was fishy. Plus, Amoma doesn’t realize that I’m in PR and messing with the wrong person. I rarely call out companies for things they do, but this is something that I needed to blog about.

I waited a couple of days to respond after Amoma told me that the refund wasn’t going to happen. In my note, I emailed them saying I expected a company to have compassion and understand why I couldn’t use my reservation. What they didn’t know is that I decided to call Marriott directly. I spoke with the billing office on October 26.

I talked with Sharmagne about my situation. I told her that Amoma mentioned that they had reached out for a refund, and the hotel rejected the request. She asked me to forward the conversation, and I was HAPPY to! During my chat with her, she immediately said she would put in the paperwork to get the refund to my credit card and reach out Amoma.

I didn’t hear anything as of Monday, so I called Marriott to check on my situation. Cassie was so nice and said they filed for a refund on Friday. I should see a refund in the next 3 to 5 business days. I asked her if Amoma had reached out to them about my situation, and she said no. They never contacted them.

At this point, I was mad. Not only had they lied to me, they are using the hotel as a scapegoat. Their supplier never approached them about my situation. They didn’t make an effort at all. It’s one thing not to refund someone’s money, but this is true deception. This is so unethical.

So, knowing this, I emailed Amoma telling them that I called Marriott asking for my money back and they agreed to refund my money. I wanted to see how they would respond.

They asked me who I spoke with that said they would give me a refund, so they could share that information with their supplier. Really? I love how they are acting more concerned now than before.

So, I gave them the first names of both of them. I haven’t heard from them in FOUR days. From a customer service perspective, this is just unacceptable. I really expected more from Amoma and any company that I deal with.

When I had emailed them in the beginning to say that they should have been more compassionate and I would let everyone know not to use them ever again, I got a response from them. I wanted to share it for two reasons. One: it starts off okay, but at the end, you can see its a form letter. Second, it took them a few days to respond. Such bad customer service.

Here’s their response:

Dear Mrs. Sabrina Kidwai,

Thank you for using AMOMA.com!

Following your reply, please learn that I appreciate your comments and I would like to inform you that AMOMA.com is a company offering internet users direct access to hotel room reservation at ‘at source’ rates, directly from wholesalers.

We have no interest nor intention in withholding any information from our clients, our contractual relationship is based on seriousness, availability and customer care and we have no direct contract with the hotel itself.

I would like to express my sincere apologies for any discomfort that you may have encountered regarding the fact that the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown could not refund the payment for your reservation. Please note that our customers’ satisfaction is our main goal and once an issue is brought to our attention, we do our best to avoid any inconvenience for future records, always aiming to rise to the level of indemnity requested by our clients.

Nevertheless, I would like to restore your faith in AMOMA.com and assure you that you will be provided with an optimal service next time you will contact our agency.

I remain at your service for any further information and I will gladly assist you in any and all questions you may have.

For more details you can contact us by phone or by email at customersupport@amoma.com specifying your reservation number or your client ID. You will receive a reply by email.

Thank you for using AMOMA.com and do not hesitate to call us back in order to make your reservations around the world. AMOMA.com wishes you an enjoyable stay!

New!

The last paragraph is just not right. It shows me that they really didn’t read my note to them. This is by far the worst experience I’ve ever had with a company. I’ve used other websites like hotel.com, trivago.com, and hotels directly, and I received great customer service.

I urge y’all not to use this website EVER. The customer service has been horrible and they lied to me about reaching out to the hotel. My next stop is the BBB.

Happy Friday!

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When traveling you must be patient and be nice because it pays off

Throughout my life, I’ve traveled domestically and internationally on many airlines and pay particular attention to customer service. On Monday, I was working out and saw what was happening with Delta. I knew that my travel on Tuesday was going to be rough. With Delta having a breakdown with their computer systems, I knew it will take them a few days to recover.

So, as an experienced traveler, I decided to get to MSP early. When I arrived at the airport, the lines weren’t bad at all. Going through TSA pre-check was a 7-minute process. So, I really thought that I wouldn’t experience any delays.

After finishing breakfast, I saw that we had switched gates from G to F, so I started to head over. As I walked, I got a message saying that my flight was delayed four hours. In my head, I knew this was the beginning of a long day. When I got to the counter, the gate agent was very helpful, nice and listened to my questions. She put me on stand-by for another flight. I decided to head over to the gate and hope for the best.

While I was waiting, I didn’t realize they had cancelled my flight until I heard another passenger tell me. So, I proceeded to head to the counter and hope that I would get onto the plane. I wasn’t able to, so I called my travel agent for our organization. He saw that there was space on the 7:30 flight, so I asked him to reserve me a seat. He said that I would need to talk to Delta and confirm. I did this while waiting in line with Delta. One of the other passengers from this morning, mentioned that she got through Delta via phone, so I decided to call.

He helped me out tremendously and confirmed me on the 7:30 flight. As I waited on standby for the 2:40 flight, they were running behind because of other delays and backups. I heard them call my name and I was able to get onto the flight. The best part was it was a seat in first class.

As I sat on the plane, I’m truly impressed with the Delta staff in Minneapolis. They have been dealing with a computer glitch from yesterday and more than 450 flights cancelled yesterday worldwide. As a Delta hub, the staff has been dealing with thousands of stressed out, angry customers. Throughout my travel woes yesterday, I saw nothing but class from everyone I’ve encountered.

Even people throughout the airport were nice and putting the customer first. The restaurants and vendors have continued to implement first class service. I think it also helps that people who are flying understand the situation, and Delta is trying its hardest to pull through.

When I think about customer service, I think about a few things:

a.) honesty

b.) responsiveness

c.) customer service

Yesterday, Delta excelled at all three. I have to also give a shout out to our travel agency ATC. Aaron was very quick to try and fix the issue and was honest with me about the situation. He helped secure a seat on the flight tonight, and I called him back to thank him. He appreciated it, but he said that’s part of their job to help rebook us and figure out a solution. Happy that I got on an earlier flight, and I was pleasantly surprised that my luggage made it. I had anticipated that it wasn’t going to be there when I arrived. Delta representative here in Salt Lake was so nice and helped me find my bag. The customer service was fantastic.

I’ve flown on many different airlines and we as travelers judge airlines on things like quality of food and customer service. Food is important, but I believe it’s truly how the staff of the company handle issues during a crisis situation.

American Airlines has made mistakes, but in late June, it made up for its past mistakes. Yes, I have an American Airlines credit card, so I’m more loyal to them. However, I appreciate good service when I see it. For the past 10 years, I’ve flown more for work and personally, and I truly believe these are some of the best airlines based on my experience.

a.) Virgin Airlines—you can order food and drinks from your seat, the ambiance on the plane is awesome, and service is fabulous. It’s a cost effective airline from east to west coast.

b.} Delta—I have a long history with them because I used to fly them all the time because it was one of the major companies that would fly out of Columbia. They truly try to give the best service possible.

c.) Except on one or two occasions, American Airlines (US Airlines) has been fabulous. They have been responsive to emails and complaints that I’ve sent them.

d.) Southwest—they allow you to check-in a bag without a fee, if you check-in early you have an early choice on a seat, offer direct flights to places like Jamaica, and the staff are friendly, funny and are great. A couple of years ago, we had an issue leaving our Annual Meeting, and we were able to book a flight on Southwest back to DC. The staff was nice, and we got home safely.

One thing we have to remember with any airline—they are trying to win our business. We all value different things, but we all need to embrace that we need to bring patience when a big issues happen. We all want to get home or to our business destination and the airlines want to get us home safely.

Who is your favorite airline to fly and why? For international flights, I rate Emirates or Turkish Airlines at the top. I’ve flown other airlines and had horrible experiences. We all have had bad experiences, but the key is taking a look at the bigger situation and seeing how the airline reacts and communicates with its customers. Plus, we are safe on the ground dealing with all of these issues.

Let’s hope my flight home next week isn’t as eventful. Now, if Delta wants to put me in first class, I won’t turn that down. Just throwing it out there. 🙂

Posted in delta, flying, living, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Why leadership traits should be a bigger factor than issues when deciding our next president

Full disclosure: I’ve been voting democrat for the majority of my life, and there are only a few small occasions where I’ve voted for a Republican. I read about the issues and decide who the better candidate is.

A couple of weeks ago, one of my friends on Facebook posed this question: “Do you select a political candidate by the person or by the issues?” When I saw this, I immediately responded with the person, and everyone else responded based on issues. I found it very interesting to see why people say issues are so important. Yes, issues are important, but I truly believe selecting the right person as a leader is more important. You may disagree, and I’m okay with that, but here’s my reasoning.

a.) We all come from different backgrounds that has influenced how we approach life and look at issues. That’s a great thing that I value and listen to both sides. I may not agree, but I appreciate hearing other perspectives.

b.) When I got my master’s in public policy, I had a couple of key takeaways from the program. One: it’s hard to change policy once it’s written and passed into law. Look at the healthcare debate, which we have been having since the 1960’s. We have been trying to “fix” or “change” the system, and it took a long time to implement ACA. Two, there are so many competing interests and money in politics, it’s hard to break through the clutter. Three: Gerrymandering has gotten worse over the years, so it’s hard to get someone out of office once they get it. People are frustrated with how our political system is right now, and I don’t blame them.

c.) I’ve heard many people say they won’t vote for Hillary because she stayed with Bill after the affairs. I get it. But, here’s my thinking. That’s her decision to make and it’s in her personal life. It wasn’t a decision she made politically, which directly impacted millions of lives. Now, it’s the email issue. That had some security issues surrounding it. That impacts her credibility for sure. The other major candidate has bigger flaws. Trump has been married three times, filed for bankruptcy with multiple businesses, and has made racist comments. He gets angry over a tweet and offended when someone criticizes his knowledge of the constitution.

d.) Hillary made mistakes at Secretary of State. All Secretaries of States and other political leaders including presidents make them. The key is how they respond. Keep in mind that we are human and will make errors in life.

e.) George W. Bush made a huge mistake by going into Iraq and getting rid of Saddam. He lied to world saying there was weapons and we had to go in and get rid of it. We find out later that it wasn’t true. So, we are still fighting a war based on a lie. That’s a hard pill for me to swallow. He misled us and wasn’t punished for it. But, Congress wanted to impeach President Bill Clinton because he couldn’t keep his pants zipped. Many people chastised Clinton when he mislead folks with his personal life including former Governor of South Carolina Mark Stanford. A few years later he was on TV admitting to an affair after getting caught hiking on the Appalachian Trail. Nixon had Watergate, JFK was a ladies man, and there are too many other scandals from past Presidents.

When I’m trying to decide who I’m going to elect as my future leader, it’s important to look at their temperament and how they will handle stressful situations. Last week, I watched Stephen Colbert and he had Doris Kerns Goodwin, a historian of past presidents. She mentioned that temperament of a president is so important. If we look at the two main candidates, we all know who has a better one (in my opinion).

I’m catching up on Time magazine, and there was a great article called, “What a president needs to know,” by Jon Meacham. He writes about Trump’s ability to wing it on the fly and how that may not be the best trait for the president. There’s a couple of passages that I found to be relevant today. He wrote about Harry S. Truman and what he said in retirement after the presidency.

“You just can’t tell in advance, whether you are talking about a general in the field in a military situation or the manager of a large firm or bank officer for President…You’ve just got to pick the man you think is best on the basis of past history and the views he expresses on present events and situations.”

In the article, Jon interviews another historian, Michael Beschloss. He basically says that presidents don’t need to know details of every budget, but you need to have confidence in their decision making skills, temperament, skill and basic values.

Jon goes on to write about how experienced and non-experienced presidents have made mistakes and the success and failure hinge on the president. They are the ones who ultimately make the decisions.

I believe it’s critical that we have a leader that can strategically think through the situation and make an educated, reasoned decision. I may not agree on all issues with a political candidate, but I look at the bigger picture. Issues are important, but how someone handles themselves under pressure is more important. President of the United States has very difficult situations to deal with, and they will get advice from their cabinet, but ultimately, it’s up to the president to make the final call. That’s why I look at the person more than how they are on issues.

There are many people who don’t like either candidate are thinking about voting for a third party. I’m not going to say you shouldn’t vote for Johnson. But, here’s what I ask everyone to do. Please do your research and think about which person will have the right temperament, political experience, and will make the best decisions under pressure. Don’t forget that many of the laws that we want to change or create start in the House of Representatives and Senate, not with the president.

I’m not telling you to vote one way or the other. Just asking you to do research and determine which person is a better leader from a strategic perspective, not solely based on issues. The next three months will be an interesting ride to see who will be the next president.

Posted in Politics, Uncategorized | Leave a comment