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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wichita Falls: Great People in a Great City Will Overcome Detractors

I love Wichita Falls. I like and admire the vast majority of kind people living here. I lived here for 2 ½ years in 2011 through late 2013, and came back in March of this year. There are 104,900 people in this city, and the GREAT NEWS is at least 104,000 of them are fantastic, terrific, giving, loving, kind people. They care, they share, they take an interest, they smile, they contribute. Time and again I have seen this community come together in terms of tragedy or crisis. From my 2nd day here I was fascinated with the Downtown architecture and “feel;” good strides have been made and CONTINUE to be made in it's “revival,” but it's just so damned cool to me I like to just walk around there and take photos. It reminds me of Liverpool in many ways, and I'm ALL FOR helping to promote it despite a few individuals dropping the ball and not using the photos I took free of charge and offered to submit FOR its promotion. Perhaps in the future.

The fly in the ointment are a handful of unprofessional, dishonest, good 'ol boy network, lying glad handers that have to a limited extent “spoiled my experience.” As is the case anywhere, fly by night liars exist but not to the level I've seen here. It's a disgrace, as well as a disservice to the great folks here whose handshake, word or promise certainly mean something. I'd like to outline those instances both to get it off my chest and send out a friendly warning that not everyone who smiles is your friend. We have all, especially those involved in business / sales, experienced flakes. It's part of the human condition anywhere and everywhere. But egregious LYING, especially when my returning here was BASED on trusting someone, is a different matter. Thanks for reading and here they are:

1) I was friends since 2011
 with a Realtor here. I spoke with her on the phone over a hear ago whilst still in Palm Springs and considering returning here. It was a GREAT nearly one hour phone call and I thanked them for taking the time. We discussed Real Estate photography, markets in Wichita Falls vs California, and other topics including the Realtor's not being happy with an existing Wichita Falls photographer complete with a list of faults. 6 months later when I was preparing to come, I called and said “you don't have to commit to a certain NUMBER of listings to be photographed, but would you use me as your photographer?” I was trying to hit the ground running with some “pre-sold clients.” The Realtor said “Yes. Sure.”
During my first month here I got an email saying they would use me “next month.” I acknowledged that and said thanks. Couple of weeks later, a text saying “I have one Monday.” I texted back and said weather would be better Tuesday. That was agreed. Friday of that week, it was canceled. “No problem,” I thought. The Realtor said “I'll use you for the next one.”
That was 5 months ago. I never contacted them again. Why bother? Four lies in a ROW:
  • I will use you if you come
  • I will use you in the next month
  • I will use you on Monday
  • I will use you for the next one
tells me it's both not going to happen and isn't WORTH it happening. I never had this in California. 11AM Tuesday meant 11AM Tuesday. If someone isn't interested they'll TELL YOU, politely. Saves everyone time, effort and most of all “hoping or expectation.” I found it odd that the “photographer with faults” opened an Instagram 2 weeks after I arrived here. Not only that but lovey-dove comments on her page from someone who originally wasn't happy. All I can surmise is that THAT photographer was a local and I AM NOT. I AM an “outsider from California.” I posted a YouTube video examining perspective problems and all of a sudden the “competition” was taking steps to correct just that in their photos. Odd, huh? My tips are being fed to the person being used in lieu of me on an Instagram account created at the time I came, which by the way copied some of my hashtags. It doesn't get any more smarmy or high school; I blocked them both. “

2) About a month
 ago a gladhanding "man about town" contacts ME for social media help. We talk in message, then on phone, and he's all kinds of interested. He asks for a meeting, which is usually unnecessary but I agree and we meet at a coffee shop. I read 2 clues immediately...A) He walks in with HIS OWN coffee & sits down; I purchase mine (and give the waitress a 100% tip). B) Tells me during meeting he gets up early & reads the Bible every morning. Also tells me "oh, if I weren't proceeding I wouldn't even be here."

He tries to pick my brain for free, which I think was the plan all along, but he'll have to get up a little earlier than that. Meeting ends with him saying he'll get with me next week. Following week, nothing. Now it's 2 weeks. Not only do I not think I'll hear; I just don't care and furthermore don't even want to work with him. If this is how he lies with me, how bad is he screwing customers? Recently I noticed there's a “social media seminar” being offered at the Chamber of Commerce Dec 7th. ONE GUESS who is giving the talk?

You would think somewhere in that Bible would be something about honesty. I'll tell you folks, from not chiseling a waitress to friendships of 40+ years, I sleep REALLY WELL at night. I was raised with ethics, decency & honesty. And I don't need a Bible to give me or anyone else that "impression." If you ask for help, take up my time and decide not to proceed, that's fine. Call and say “no.” Don't be a “prayerful warrior” who then charges $50 to people to give them knowledge you obviously don't have, after committing to me for a 3 month promotion plan because you don't have the knowledge. It absolutely pains me to think of people paying good money for that who won't come away with a shred of practical tools. That's the reason I don't speak to groups; without a reach on supportive network, you might as well open your bedroom window, scream what it is you do, and slam the window shut. These “gurus” usually have 80 followers on Instagram or Twitter or something, and propose you get a Facebook "Like Page." Don't get me started on those! LOL!

3) Several days ago a now ex-FaceBook friend checked in where he works a part time job. The check in led to a page showing a horrid 1-star rating out of 5. This was broadcast to all his friends and/or anyone who shared the post or commented. Since I was also friends with his boss, the General Manager, I sent her a message pointing it out. She messaged back something to the effect of “OMG thank you for pointing this out, it's a generic FaceBook generated page and that looks dreadful.” Since she didn't have access or ownership (which is why I contacted her, hoping she did), I told her there was a solution … if she went and gave it 5 stars, the employee did the same, and I did it … that would make 3 5s and a 1 totaling 16, divided by 4 … would be 4-star rating. At least better than one!

10 minutes later the employee blocked me on FaceBook. I messaged her to advise her of that … and then SHE blocked me. In other words, “thanks for pointing out a glaring 1-star review on a hotel I manage, but we've both blocked you for your trouble.”

What the hell is in the water here?! Since when do you try and help with a DREADFUL stupid goof bringing attention to a 1-star review, only to be blocked? Really?

WOW. Three instances of ignorance on a stick. But I won't let them soil my image of a good city full of MOSTLY GOOD people. The vast majority, in fact.

So, to conclude… I can see someone “dropping the ball;” When I photographed the Zales Building Dedication the person from “Downtown WF” didn't have a good enough camera for the group shot at the end. I tapped her shoulder and said “No worries, mine is wide enough, get in the photo. Email me later (I gave her my card) and I will send you the pic to use.” NO EMAIL. EVER. Never wrote. Another example? I met the new owner of a rather famous building in Downtown Wichita Falls and he said “Oh, you're a photographer… I need a shot of the building for a postcard flyer.” I said “No worries, I've got one you can use for free with my logo at the bottom.” He said “Great, give me you email and I'll email you today.” I said “Alright, just make sure you remember and I'll send it to you ASAP.” NO EMAIL. EVER. Neither of these cases would have cost them a penny; I was offering for free. NO FOLLOW THROUGH. No sense of urgency. Really?

You can't save everybody. What you can do is insist on PayPal prepayment before wasting your time with lying flakes. You know what's funny? People think that would be the standard procedure in Los Angeles where I'm from. You know … “those Left Coast L.A. flakes” mentality. NO ONE THERE tried to shaft me. Ever. I'm glad I'm not more gullible or I'd have suffered a loss. I feel like I have anyway ~ not financial but with regard to faith in humanity. The good news? >> While I'm convinced that 5% of the people here have all the money and pull, and the other 95% are struggling picking the peanuts out of their own turds … the 95% are nicer people. We can and should rise up against this archaic “Good 'ol boy network” and demand people be accountable. That's how we would judge any of you moving from Wichita Falls to Los Angeles. There are NO “outsiders” there; you're immediately and always welcome. You're judged on your word, character and results.

It's a cool concept. And we didn't go to Ryder High. Imagine that. I'll SHOW YOU "outsider."

COME ON PEOPLE! From clerks in the stores to independent shop owners, from cab drivers to artists, from people in animal rescue to wait staff, from nurses to folks in piercing/tat shops … this town is CHOCK FULL of great people! Do as I'm going to try and do, and that is forget the weasels. A tad difficult since it seems they appear to be “in charge of all things commerce,” but they can be replaced with the honest folks. How? By promoting a business or person YOU TRUST and calling out the liars. Simple. Give credit for that great haircut. Rave about something. REJECT glad handers who have never done a single thing FOR YOU but manage to have everyone ELSE fooled. Get involved, especially in “leadership” positions in the City. Not necessarily government; it can be helping promote a cause or business up upcoming event. I even started a FaceBook group to do just that; it's up to almost 800 members and it takes some of my time to maintain but I don't mind at all. Friend and message me on FaceBook if you'd like to be added. OR … start your own! Every little bit helps.

Thanks for reading especially if you endured all of my rather long “Magna Carta” blogs. There are short answers and there are correct answers; there are very few short correct answers. For that reason I tend to be wordy but complete :) I hope you and your families have a safe and wonderful Christmas and feel free to contact me if you have thoughts or suggestions as to how to overcome a few insects ruining the great “pie” that is Wichita Falls.

Be safe xo
©Paul Roberts