Food, arts etc.

Friday, February 26, 2010

My wife and I enjoy most foods from countries around the Mediterranean. What a pleasure it was to enjoy a delicious sampling of Mideastern favorites last Sunday at the Islamic Center in Cape Girardeau. The center held a "Hearts for Haiti" benefit that was well-attended.

And we didn't have to travel several thousand miles.

It was interesting to see the mix of hungry diners at the event. Many of them appeared to be college students, and it looked like every continent might have been represented. You don't see that too often in these parts.

This was the second dinner we've attended at the Islamic Center. A few years ago we met several knowledgeable individuals who answered our questions about Islam and gave us interesting reading material.

I often hear that Islam is a mysterious religion, but I find its adherents to be quite forthcoming with information whenever I ask. Besides, can't you just imagine what folks from other cultures must think when I try to tell them what Episcopalians believe?

When Dale Nitzschke was president of Southeast Missouri State University a few years back and announced plans to create a new arts campus next to the new bridge across the Mississippi River, there were some forward thinkers who grasped the potential of what he envisioned. I admit I was excited about the prospects, but I also wondered if such a dream could ever become reality.

Now that the River Campus for the Visual and Performing Arts has been open a while, I can honestly say it's far more than I ever thought possible. There is something going on every week at the Bedell Performance Hall or Shuck Recital Hall or the museum or the gallery that my wife and I want to see.

It is said that having something to do -- sports, clubs, hobbies -- keeps youngsters out of trouble. I contend that the River Campus keeps a lot of us from becoming adult delinquents.

Many years ago, when we lived in Maryville, Mo., Sam Walton came to town for the opening of his company's newest Walmart store.

As folks from the community filed into the store, Walton had the store's employees line up along the checkout stands. Using a bullhorn, he told the employees to look at the next person who came through the door. All eyes shifted to the door where greeters waited. A man walked in. "That's who you work for," Walton said.

Recently I wrote about some of the local business establishments that provide good customer service. I'm sure the owners and managers of those stores would all say Walton was right.

The more I think about customer service, the more I realize that what any customer gets in Southeast Missouri is good service. The exceptions are rare.

I think that's part of living here. We expect our friends and neighbors to be friendly. Guess who works at the stores where I shop? My friends and neighbors.

See how it works?

A while back I wrote about the scam that involved third-party charges on my AT&T bill. The scam was not AT&T's doing. Even so, the phone company worked hard to clear up the mess on my bill. I got my AT&T statement this month, and the scam billing has been removed and I have received full credit for the previous billings in question. I thought you should know that.<I>

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