One of the jobs of a writer is to pay close attention to everything that happens

Not that you actually can get it all.

But I’ve got two items of interest for you, items that might find their way into your next story, or your next character.

FIRST: How long is from Christmas to Christmas?  Now, I’m not talking about the fact that Christmas decorations and pre-sales are now going up around the end of August, that’s just greed, and it is to be expected.  No, what I’m talking about is this:  When you were six, the time between Christmases (or Birthdays) was very, very long.  When you get to be an oldie, like me, the time between Christmases (and, cough, cough, Birthdays) is like the blink of an eye.

Why do you suppose that is?

Here’s my take on it.  When you are six, the passing of one year is equal to 1 sixth of your life.  That can make the passage of a year, a month, even a week seem to take forever.  But, the older you get, the tinier the fraction when you work out the math.  Older folks are always talking about how fast time is going, and the very young, just the opposite.  It turns out to be a matter of distinction, and comparison.  I mean, really, didn’t I just take down the Christmas decorations a couple of months ago?

Consider how you could use this telescoping of time—normal for older people (up close and personal), and reversed (tiny, tiny, far away) for the very young… and somewhere in-between for all the rest of you—as a psychological component for a character in your next novel.

SECOND:   It is my imagination, or has service gotten sweeter, of late?  No, I don’t mean 100% across the board, but in general.  I had to buy a new washing machine on Black Friday (that should have been a nightmare, but it wasn’t).  The washer was delivered by two guys who were smiling, happy, helpful, and knowledgeable.

Went to get new glasses, the Doctor was cheerful, had interesting and helpful things to say, and never lost his smile.  The people who sold frames and did fittings were the same.  Happy, helpful, cheerful… just plain nice.

Having spent a good amount of time in the service world, a world where upper management cracks the “smile and be nice” whip constantly, and the push-back from the service providers tainted the customer experience, I have been amazed of late.  Needing help with the host for this blog went well.  The guy claimed to know very little about my issue, but stayed with me, and fixed it all, and did so in minutes.

It seems that all of service providers—from grocery stores to restaurants, to even the post office—have been replaced with people who have worked it out that keeping the customer happy takes no more work than being rude to them, and it makes their own day that much more enjoyable.

Have I been transferred to an alien planet?

In any event, seeing a change like this—and I know, it might somehow be a change in me—is a fulfilling experience.

How might one of your characters wind up having to look elsewhere for conflict than his local merchants and service providers?

Wouldn’t that be interesting?