In businesses throughout the world, the function and role of human resources departments have developed significantly in the last 30-35 years. Job descriptions for employees working in these departments have diversified, resulting in more active and effective responsibilities within a range of organizations. However, despite their on-going development, human resources departments continue to be perceived as unpopular units whose existence and importance are often questioned.
In defense of the important and necessary work they do, many human resources departments have worked to disseminate these criticisms. Unfortunately, many corporate employees still disrespect the functions and the people working human resources jobs, going so far as to make defamatory charges individuals in these positions are trying to create their own tasks as the control units of the boss(es). Interestingly, in a recent survey conducted at a major, multinational company, it was revealed that many participants defined human resources as “the department protecting the company from the employees.”
This not-so-nice picture is likely the result of an insufficient development of human resources departments since their inception, not only in local/national organizations but also in many global companies. Human resources departments became the target of these criticisms after being stuck in strictly functional areas, such as recruiting, salary management, union relations and procedure management, among others. Tasked as a company’s watchdog, a great deal of employees outside of this department have come to view HR as a “hire and fire” unit.
Historically, most companies were formed with only three main departments—production, sales and accounting made up the sine qua non of an organization. But as businesses grew, in part due to an increase in competition, a number of support departments were established to aid in the success of these three main units. From these departments, marketing and information technology sectors have flourished, rising to the top as two of the most vital functions of many organizations. The rest, which include departments like HR, fail to exhibit the same growth and for that reason are subject to harsher scrutiny. Throughout this time, HR departments have functioned largely as task forces established to seek out problems, establish authority, enforce rules and head disciplinary teams. Though the model for strict disciplinary committees feels outdated, units like this are still active in many corporations.
In our current economic environment, in which most companies are forced to tighten their belts, human resources departments that fail to keep up with the times, that do not reflect the needs of modern workers and that are unable foster a more open, communicative relationship with other departments will continue to see a decrease in their power, breadth and role.
A SOLUTION: MODERNIZING HR DEPARTMENTS
To fix this potential downgrade, human resources departments should turn themselves into proactive and strategic units immediately. Current human resources roles appear to cover less than a quarter of the positions that would more comprehensively contribute to a corporation’s success.
One possible evolution of human resources positions would be to modernize their role within a business and make them responsible for the management of more strategic areas—such as goal setting, development and deployment of new systems, organization restructuring, streamlining, planning, management change and crisis management. In light of this growth, ancient and outdated systems, procedures and rules could be left behind, and these newly designed strategic human resources departments would be on course to become one of the most indispensable and respected units of any organization.
It would not be too difficult to reappropriate the administrative tasks that most human resources departments currently cover. Salary management any payroll could be shifted to a finance or accounting department, union relations and legal issues could be absorbed by law firms or the legal aid on retainer and recruitment could be handed off to outside companies. To avoid rendering themselves obsolete, human resources departments should focus on ways to turn this problem into an opportunity and grow into a new, more adaptable role.
We’ve all been a victim of poor business etiquette at some point in our careers. Years ago, when smoking was permitted in the office, I sat across from a gal that smoked. I am highly allergic to smoke and I have asthma.
At the time, there was no precedent or place for having a smoker go elsewhere to smoke. Finally, they bought her a “smoke eater” machine, which partially solved the problem. In today’s office environment, businesses have to take each employee’s needs into consideration by setting clear and firm standards of comportment, whether it be a dress code, a code of conduct or designated areas for eating and smoking. They must communicate these standards through many channels, many times, and they must stand by them, with repercussions for offenders.
Codes of conduct and proper etiquette go hand in hand. I specialize in helping companies address multicultural workforce issues, and as you might expect, there are many do’s and don’ts of business etiquette that are dependent upon the culture you are in (See my last article here Doing Business in Brazil, Modern DC Business, February, 2012).
Fortunately, most rules of etiquette transcend all cultures. Business etiquette, like all etiquette, is about making others feel comfortable. The golden rule applies in the office, just as it does in personal settings. We often forget to do unto others in business because when we’re at work, we’re conditioned to put ourselves first, for professional advancement. But I truly believe that individuals, as well as businesses, can be extraordinarily successful if they put other’s needs before their own. So here are some ways how:
Give personal space/privacy – Whether it’s tight quarters in your office environment or not, give your coworkers the space and privacy they need to complete their work. Th at means minimizing drop-ins, scheduling your time with them and not commenting or listening in on phone calls if, due to a cubicle setting, they are in earshot.
Voice volume speaks volumes – People think a booming voice commands respect, but oft en times it just instills fear. If you are too loud, you can be interpreted as angry, arrogant or overbearing. Moreover, a loud talker invites commentary and eavesdropping in a cubicle environment, and worse, it distracts your coworkers. On the other hand, a soft talker can be perceived as too timid. Find the medium level that gets you heard without causing your audience to wince or strain.
Dress for your coworkers – So many people of all ages get this wrong. The office is not the place to express your personality through fashion. Your clothes and appearance should not distract others from seeing your work, or doing theirs. It’s as simple as that. No heavy perfumes. No loud, clanky jewelry and make sure your hair is neatly groomed. No matter if you are a business formal or Friday casual environment, it’s appropriate to look neat and clean. Leaders should model the dress they want from their staff . Employees should take cues from the leadership on what’s appropriate.
Show Sympathy – It is not only okay, it is important – and proper etiquette – to show sympathy to a coworker who is going through a personal challenge. It assures them they are in a safe, caring environment. I once knew of a coworker who had returned to work aft er losing her mother to cancer and her boss never said a word. His lack of acknowledgment made her feel that she didn’t matter to him as a person. She left the job because she ultimately felt uncomfortable working for him. So, you must say something, but make it brief and don’t overdo it. All you have to do is say, “I am sorry to hear of .” Leave it at that, unless you have a personal relationship. Be concise – Whether you are speaking on email, in voice mail or in person, your message is taking up others’ time, so plan what you have to say beforehand and say it as concisely as you can. Emails should be quick – a couple of sentences at most. An email that requires scrolling is likely better suited for a face-to-face conversation. Your voicemails should take about 10 seconds. Leave your name and phone number and the question you have. Speak slowly and enunciate so the listener can write your number down. When in person, get to the point. People will appreciate your brevity.
Respect grammar – Casual communication through texting and email has lulled everyone into thinking that grammar doesn’t matter, but it does. When you misspell words or use sloppy or lax grammar, you not only give the impression you don’t care about the recipient, you appear inept. Plus, you may cause unnecessary confusion. So have a copy of Strunk and White at your desk and set up your Microsoft Word and email to auto spellcheck. Th en proofread it all yourself before sending.
Choose words carefully – This is often something we overlook. In our efforts to project authenticity, we have gotten a little, shall we say, too colorful with our word choices in the office. Profanity is not appropriate in the office. It comes across as hostile. Relaxed language is good for building rapport, but use of slang or overly casual phrases will make you appear immature. A good rule of thumb is to use the sort of language you would use with your friend’s grandmother. You might be casual with your own grandmother, so use the formality and respect you’d use with your friend’s grandmother.
Control your TMI – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have made us all more comfortable sharing personal information with coworkers. This can be a good thing, in that it fosters relationships and builds trust. But there is a line. Again, the leadership must model the behavior and set the boundaries. Topics that are still inappropriate and “too much information” or TMI for most office environments include politics, religion, bedroom and bathroom. Even if you have a personal relationship with someone in the office, it’s best to keep your office conversations professional, lest a coworker hears you and is off ended by your comments.
Think of cell phones as crosswords Cell phone use poses arguably the biggest breach of good etiquette. If you are unclear of when it’s appropriate to use your cell phone – for anything – use the crossword puzzle rule. Cell phone use is appropriate whenever doing a crossword puzzle is. So driving, no. Meetings, no. Dinner table, no. Waiting on the mechanic, sure. Just remember that if you cannot put the phone away while in the presence of someone else, then you should reschedule or decline the meeting to a time when you can. It’s so important that leadership model this behavior. When a high-ranking authority figure whips out a phone and starts texting in a meeting, she/he is saying (a) this is okay to do and (b) none of what’s happening here is as important as what I am doing on my phone. It’s rude to all other attendees and should not be done.
As a business owner, it’s your duty to publish and communicate the standards of behavior you expect in your office. You must lead by example, and also react swiftly with follow–through to violators of your standards. Likewise, employees need to be mindful of their own behavior and treat others as they’d like to be treated. These are rules that apply no matter what business you are in or who is in your workforce.
Brazil is a very welcoming country to business people from all over the world. Are you planning to travel to Brazil on business soon? If so, please consider these various scenarios and the proper business etiquette before you go.
Marty has been asked by his company to finalize a deal in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Marty has never been to Brazil and does not speak Portuguese, but this does not faze him, and he is looking forward to the business trip. He grabs his company’s brochures and heads to the airport.
Marty needs to provide the brochure in Brazilian Portuguese. Many Brazilians speak English, but if you are going to the country for business, make sure that you have translated your company’s brochure into Brazilian Portuguese. Th is shows both preparation and respect.
Marty took his business cards with him on his trip to Brazil. He also made sure that his memory drive contained the proposal he was going to present. As part of Marty’s preparation for his business meeting, he should translate the proposal into Brazilian Portuguese. Th is guarantees that the Brazilian company will completely understand all facets of the document. It’s okay to have an English-only business card to hand-out in Brazil.
If your company already has an office in Brazil though, the business card should be in English and Brazilian Portuguese.
Marty arrives at his hotel in Sao Paulo Brazil. He decides to drop in to say a quick hello at the office where he will have a meeting the next day. He is wearing his jeans and casual top.
In Brazil, it is expected that a more formal protocol will be used for meetings. It is not in good taste to appear at an office unannounced. Marty will very likely be told to come back the next day at the actual meeting time. Also, business dress is taken very seriously in Brazil. Do not go to a meeting in jeans, casual shoes, or low-cut blouses, dresses or shorts.
Marty arrives the next day for his previously scheduled meeting with the company. The meeting is at 10 a.m. and he arrives at 9:45 a.m. At least two days prior to the meeting, Marty should have confirmed the appointment by email and a phone call but Marty arrived at the meeting at an appropriate time.
Marty is meeting with five people in the office –three men and two women. He is unsure of how he should greet each person, especially the women. The proper greeting between men is a handshake. A man greeting a woman will give her an air kiss (on the right cheek), even at the first introduction. Marty should address the clients formally with “Seu” before the male client’s last name, and with “Dona” before the female client’s last name. Eye contact is important with both sexes.
Marty is anxious to begin his presentation. The meeting is starting late as it is, and he doesn’t want to continue the small talk that is happening. For Brazilians it is very important to build a personal relationship before conducting business. Marty’s cell phone rings and he excuses himself to take the call.
This behavior is not acceptable because it tells Marty’s clients that they are not his priority and instead he feels it’s okay to stop and take a phone call from someone else.
Marty decides to go with the flow of the casual conversation before starting the official meeting, so he brings up the topic of soccer and announces that he believes that American football is a much more exciting game to watch.
Going with the flow of the casual conversation is a good idea, but it’s not a good idea to speak poorly about soccer since it’s a Brazilian national treasure. Marty should stick to talking about the weather or a local news event that he read about in advance.
The meeting turns serious as Marty is given the green light to present his proposal. He had the foresight to hire a translation agency in the United States to translate his proposal into Brazilian Portuguese and he had previously sent the proposal to them in both languages.
Marty is on track in this scenario. It makes good business sense and is a courtesy to send the proposal to the client before the meeting and to send it in that country’s native language, as well as in English.
The meeting runs another two hours and Marty is feeling that things might not be going that well because there are a lot of questions and very animated discussions in Brazilian Portuguese. Make sure to leave plenty of time for meetings. In Brazil, there will be a lot of back and forth among the two parties, often with emotions openly expressed. Marty should be patient through this process and answer the questions completely. This will help the clients overcome any mistrust that they may have about Marty and his company.
Marty is glad that the meeting has ended, but frustrated that the contract has not yet been signed. Instead, the client has invited him to his home for dinner that evening.
Continuing the social aspect of the meeting to the evening is very common and it furthers the trust level that the client will feel. It’s very important that Marty not post any disparaging comments to his social outlets.
Marty arrives at the specified time to the client’s home, but finds that he has to wait in the foyer for half an hour before the hosts are ready to greet him. He didn’t have time to stop by to purchase a hostess gift for the client’s wife. But on the street he finds a vendor selling t-shirts of his favorite local American football team, and thinks that it’s better to take this as a gift, than to not take anything.
As mentioned before, it is a good thing that Marty arrived on time for the invitation, but he will have to get used to waiting a bit before the event actually begins. It is not in good taste to arrive empty-handed to the client’s home, but it’s even worse to arrive with a gift that is in bad taste. Good gifts include flowers, wine, chocolate and even a gift from Marty’s company with their logo on it. Expensive gifts are not a good idea because they could be interpreted as bribes.
While Marty’s story may seem exaggerated, it does show two things. First, when doing business in another country, it always helps to understand the business and personal culture of the people. Second, it just takes a little knowledge and research to prepare oneself. Brazilians are very understanding and forgiving people. But taking the time to grasp the proper cultural etiquette can make all the difference in sealing the deal.
How do you think Marty did with his first business trip to Brazil? Did he finalize the deal with the client? What should he do back at home to follow up? What do you think Marty would do differently on his second business trip to Brazil? Keep the conversation going: @UnoTranslations.
Nobody wants to be embarrassed when doing business in another country. Yes, translating your company’s website into the languages of the countries that you’d like to do business with is important, but beyond that you need to understand the country’s culture. What if you reach to shake the hand of a new Japanese business acquaintance, and you were actually supposed to bow to that person? Or what if you give a Japanese business acquaintance a clock as a gift? We need to develop cultural knowledge, cultural awareness, and cultural sensitivity to improve cross-cultural competence.
History 101—It’s important to gain cultural knowledge of the country where you want to conduct business by understanding the people’s history, values, belief systems, and behaviors. Be aware of holidays, and religious days in foreign countries – many religious holidays are official government holidays. Understand that country’s cultural norms about age groups – be respectful of the older generation. Also, keep in mind that meal times vary from country to country. In Argentina, dinner generally takes place at 9 p.m. or later. It’s important to be aware of this so that you don’t invite your business acquaintances for dinner too early. Cultural awareness—Bring down the cultural barriers through cultural awareness. Develop an understanding of the people of the country where you want to conduct business. Clear out any stereotypes that you’ve developed about that country so that you can be open and flexible towards the people. Becoming culturally aware begins with understanding the limitations of our own cultural knowledge.
Don’t be lost in translation—Be aware of the cultural differences and similarities by developing cultural sensitivity. Respect counterparts’ meeting times – time and punctuality tend to be more relaxed and flexible in some Latin American countries. Provide communications in the language of the country you are working with. Make sure you use a translation company so that you will receive professional translation. There have been too many incidents of companies sending out poor translations that insulted the people of that country.
Get local—Work with an interpreter if your business acquaintance does not speak English. For instance in Germany, many meetings are conducted in German. Also in Germany, make sure that your brochures are in English and German. And if you are writing an email or letter to schedule an appointment, make sure it’s in German. Recently, UNO Translations and Communications, LLC used a German interpreter to plan the logistics of an American company’s event in Germany. Embrace the Happy Hour—Work on the relationship first – to build trust. Be prepared to socialize. A 3-hour lunch is common in Latin America because they want to further a personal relationship before doing business together. Be aware that the physical distance between Hispanics when holding a conversation is much shorter than in other cultures.
While most people would view art and science as unrelated fields of study, Rebecca Kamen sees them as interconnected disciplines that can enrich each other. She demonstrates the bridge between art and science by “making the relationship between the invisible visible.” Sharing the bridge between art and science as Kamen sees it has become her passion, and she hopes, her legacy.
“So many of us were taught science through the drill and kill method,” observes Kamen. “We were not taught to see how things interrelate. I remember having to memorize all the numbers on the periodic table, but never understood its significance to me as a person.”
In 2007 Kamen had an epiphany. When returning from a lecture trip to Santiago Chile she envisioned the periodic table as a muse for the creation of art. This preliminary visualization ultimately became a quest to take something that most people think of as rigid and boring and make it beautiful.
Over the course of the next two years Kamen traveled the world and researched other cultures’ depictions of the elements. She combed through the alchemy book collection at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Philadelphia. She studied the Lewis and Clark diaries, Isaac Newton’s Principia, and original drawings and engravings by Ben Franklin at the American Philosophical Library—also in Philadelphia. While conducting this extensive research, Kamen realized that before the advent of the camera scientists were artists, creating beautiful drawings and paintings to represent their findings. Several years later she had a pivotal discussion with Nobel Laureate, Baruch Blumberg. He described science as an illusion— very much like magic. He clarified by saying that scientists and artists have intuitions about certain things, which provides the basis for their research. Both disciplines conduct experiments and collect data in a manner that tries to support the illusion that they have.
Kamen says she couldn’t believe her ears. She had come to a similar conclusion. In fact, she teaches that drawing relates to magic because one can take a flat piece of paper and create the illusion of three-dimensional objects.
The discussion with Blumberg confirmed Kamen’s conclusion that artists and scientists follow the same discovery process. They begin with intuition, observe the world around them, and then somehow depict the invisible world as they record their findings.
Kamen’s research also revealed that each American Nobel Prize winner in chemistry reported having had some type of significant art experience—from drawing to music. Because their experience in art compelled these Nobel Prize winners to look at their work from a different perspective, these scientists believe they actually improved their problem solving abilities in the lab. Kamen’s research culminated with a sculpture garden called “Divining Nature: An Elemental Garden,” a three-dimensional depiction of the periodic table constructed of Mylar cutouts and fiberglass rods. The 2009 exhibit was well received. Over four thousand people viewed it at the Greater Reston Arts Center (GRACE). The exhibit is slated to go on permanent display at George Mason University’s new science building. “Divining Nature” provided the seed for her next endeavor. Kamen hypothesized that if she could follow this process of discovery, problem solving, and visualization, then she could teach others to follow the same process.
“It’s like starting out on a journey,” declares Kamen. “You begin with a problem to solve. I wondered if it were possible to get scientists to be able to envision their research as art? Or could we use art to enhance the teaching of science?” This summer Kamen and Amy Van Meter, the Director of the Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program at George Mason University set out to prove this hypothesis. They challenged 48 Aspiring Scientists with creating a work of art that represented a facet of their research. “We walked in with a challenge: Use art to describe your research,” states Kamen. “Amy and I were delighted with what the interns created and their ability to articulate what it represented. These Aspiring Scientists had to synthesize their data, think of some artistic form that would capture what they were seeing, and then articulate what (and why) it was.”
The ASSIP experiment demonstrated that one can teach creative thinking in one discipline to influence and enhance problem solving skills in the other. The Aspiring Scientists enthusiastically embraced their challenge and produced some very thought provoking and beautiful pieces, which will be on display at the Science Museum of Virginia in Richmond starting next year. The program’s participants agreed that the recommendation to see their projects through a different lens helped them to be more creative. Americans tend to take science for granted. As a culture, we lose our scientific curiosity in grade school—largely a result of the drill and kill method of learning Kamen describes above. This lack of cultural curiosity has a serious impact on our economy and ability to be competitive in a global marketplace.
In fact, the United States has fallen dismally behind the rest of the world in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. Only 5.6% of the world’s college graduates with STEM degrees come from the U.S. And over the course of the next five years domestic demand for STEM jobs will grow at twice the rate as non-STEM jobs—a gap that cannot be closed under status quo circumstances. Resolution requires not only interest from students, but also qualified educators, another area seriously lacking in our education system. Moreover, the gap in STEM education jeopardizes our economic recovery as a whole. Nobel Prize recipient, Robert Solow, discovered that more than 50% of economic growth could be explained by technological innovation. As a result, the gap in supply and demand for STEM candidates has serious consequences for the U.S. economy. In particular the gap jeopardizes local industry, which supports the Department of Defense and government agencies that require advancements in STEM to resolve large-scale domestic and global issues.
Kamen’s work gives us insight into how to turn the dismal academic output around by making science exciting and relevant by adding STEAM (art) to STEM. It’s critical that we find other creative ways to ignite the curiosity and passion of our students. The U.S. economy is banking on it.
And that’s where Kamen’s vision and passion will continue to bear fruit. A professor of art at Northern Virginia Community College, Kamen has recently been awarded a Chancellor’s Commonwealth Professorship by the Virginia Community College System. This two-year appointment enables Kamen to extend her reach to schools and scientific communities—directly and in collaboration with other artists, educators, and scientists. She and Van Meter are already planning next summer’s ASSIP project.
Kamen believes her new role lays the foundation for creating the legacy she dreams of leaving. She wants to give students the opportunity to create and show work that has been informed and inspired by different aspects of science. These works act as a catalyst to inspire other students and generate interest in pursuing STEM as a course of study. It turns out you can see the invisible—you just have to know how to look for it. And if you look through Kamen’s eyes, you’ll be seeing a world filled with awe, wonder, and hope for the future.
This week’s expert prognostications included, among other things: the inevitable demise of the Euro as a common currency, with devastating consequences for Europe; a further decline in US housing prices and a corresponding increase in under-water consumers; and of course the continued paralysis of the US Federal Government to do anything truly constructive.
Perhaps these prognosticators are overly pessimistic. And perhaps not. But regardless of how you handicap the odds, the risks on the downside are considerable, and any CEO would be foolish to assume a strong economic recovery any time soon, and to base the company’s plan for success on such a recovery. The far smarter and more prudent course is to assume another two, or four, or more years of stagnation, and to take any upturn in the economy as a bonus.
And then: Focus on what you can control, rather than hope for things that you can’t. The good news is that if you are like most companies you have many as-yet-not-fully-tapped levers to increase your profitability – and growth – even in a no-growth environment. Among other things, you can:
- Once again eliminate waste, making the tough decisions you have been postponing: Get rid of employees who are not up to snuff; go back to your suppliers and make them share the pain by lowering their prices (knowing there are other suppliers who would be happy to do so if yours balk); cut back on unnecessary purchased services that have become embedded in your culture; and thoroughly review and streamline your internal processes and the costs hidden therein. A no-growth environment calls for a declining internal cost structure, so it’s imperative that you challenge every assumption and combat all of your costly organizational inertia.
- Invest the time and get smarter about your sales and marketing efforts, rather than leaving them solely to your sales and marketing people. Sales and marketing is, of necessity, one of the most “artistic” and least “scientific” parts of your company, but that means that there is always an opportunity to do better. Which expenditures are working? Which aren’t? What can be improved? What should be added? A hard look at sales and marketing inevitably produces a 10-20% improvement as measured by growth results, cost, or both, and in this environment there is no better time for you as CEO to take that hard look.
- In total, ramp up your sales and marketing effort, and pay for it by being tougher on costs in less critical areas. This shift in costs is a win on both sides of the equation.
- Take a fresh, smart, and analytical look at your pricing across segments and customers. I’ve yet to meet the company that isn’t leaving money on the table when it comes to pricing – and that is money that you need, right now.
We should confine our views about the overall economy to our role as citizens or political and economic thinkers. As CEOs, we should assume a long, Japan-like flat-lining (which by some measure we’re already more than a decade into), and then go design a strategy that is robust enough and run our companies superbly enough that we win and prosper despite that flat-line. And if the economy and consumers wake up, all the better
6:50AM, I leave the house to attend a Technology Marketing Alliance meeting in Tyson’s Corner. The topic is “Straight from the Board: Corporate Board Members Tell What They Really Want from the CMO.” It is a breakfast event from 7:45AM and 10:00AM. I take the VA 267 toll road.
7:00AM, I pass the first toll booths without any problem.
7:01AM, I am sitting in bumber to bumber traffic, 10 feet passed the tolls.
7:10AM, I can still make it to Tyson’s Corner by 7:45AM, right?
7:15AM, I think we moved about a mile, I can now see the HOV lanes coming out of the airport.
7:20AM, I moved 1/2 mile, maybe. I am listening to CNBC on XM Radio. They say the price of oil is rising again. I don’t know about you guys, but when the price of oil gets closer to $100, I start to pull for oil. I want to see it break the record. Americans love an underdog, don’t they? (Click read more to read the rest)
7:30AM, I am still in a bumber to bumber traffic. I can see Fairfax County Parkway exit now.
7:31AM, I am thinking now. Hey, why not? I have nothing else to do. There must be tens of thousands of cars in this traffic. The HOV lane immediately to my left is fairly open. Some cars zoom by. Some but not too many. Maybe hundreds, maybe few thousands.
7:35AM, The double lane HOV that comes out of the airport is wide open. Few thousands cars are using it. Wow, we are really saving the environment with this HOV idea, aren’t we? Here I a sitting idly in traffic for hours along with tens of thousands of drivers. All that smoke is going up and polluting the environment. 3 lanes of HOV are fairly open and un-used. They are being patrolled by 3-4 highway patrol cars to catch the offenders. I am sure we can find better ways to leverage our police force, but we can’t because we are saving the environment with our HOV lanes.
7:45AM, I decided to take the Fairfax County Parkway exit and use Leesburg Pike. Maybe the side roads are open.
7:55AM, I am sitting in a bummer to bummer traffic, on Leesburg Pike.
8:00AM, I cannot make it to this meeting on time, why try. There goes $85 down to the garbage (non-recyclable).
8:05AM, I turn around at the first traffic light. I am going back home.
8:30AM, I am back in the house in a lighter car, 1/4 tank lighter. I burned my $85, wasted my time, polluted the environment, be unproductive at work….Please, can someone explain to me how the HOV lanes fit our American life style? How am I supposed to use HOV on my way to a personal meeting? Why am I paying over $3 for a toll road, just to sit in traffic for 90 minutes. Isn’t this road privately owned? I don’t put up with the long lines in retail store checkout. Why do I have to put up with it here? I have a topic for them to discuss “Straight from VA 267: Citizen Board Members Tell What They Really Want from VA toll road management.”
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