A Follow Up On Sikhs and Soldiering

About a month ago, I posted about how Canada had selected a Sikh as its next Minister of Defense, and was sad to think that would be effectively impossible in the US.

Well, the Army must have read my post (and likely a few others) and started coming around to the error of their ways. US Army Captain Simratpal Singh, a Sikh, has been granted a waiver to allow him to keep a beard, long hair, and a turban (albeit in a temporary status while the Army decides whether to grant a permanent exception).

This is a development which has big implications for religious exemptions in the military–namely, Orthodox Jews and Muslims, who both have at least some religious motivations to keep facial hair.  When one considers that there are 2-3 times as many Orthodox Jews, and up to 10 times as many Muslims as Sikhs, we open the door to a whole new population of people who may serve in our military.  People whose service in defense of our fundamental freedoms is much more relevant to their own status as a religious minority.

There are certainly some things the Army needs to do to figure out safety concerns–for example, getting a gas mask that will work with a beard, or ensuring that soldiers don’t injure themselves by entangling facial hair in machinery–but having a military that fosters  and protects religious freedoms among its soldiers arguably strengthens its ability to protect those freedoms among the citizenry it serves.

On a personal note, I’m proud that Captain Singh is a fellow USMA graduate and combat engineer.  I’ll leave with a quote from the good captain:

“A true Sikh is supposed to stand out, so he can defend those who cannot defend themselves,” he said. “I see that very much in line with the Army values.”

Social Media and Customer Service: A Surprise

Saturday, my wife and I had an idea of a gift for our kids that was time-sensitive: it would really only make sense if we gave it to them on Sunday night.  What it was and why isn’t important, but what was important was that we ordered from Amazon, paying extra for one-day delivery so that it would arrive in time.

We excitedly tracked the package Sunday as it arrived at the carrier, and was out for delivery.  Then a couple hours later we checked, and it said the carrier “attempted” delivery–meaning for some reason they didn’t feel they could deliver it.  We got pretty upset because we knew exactly what had happened: the driver showed up at our apartment complex, saw the leasing office closed (of course–it was Sunday) and the gate, and turned around.  What he didn’t bother to look for was the gate directory, which would have called our cellphones and we would have let him in.

Since I was upset, I called the carrier (LaserShip) in the morning to find out what happened.  After a 30 minute phone call where I was on hold for about 20 total minutes, our suspicion was confirmed.  What’s worse is the driver didn’t even put the package back on the truck Monday to try to re-deliver! The best the customer service rep could do was promise Tuesday delivery. While I was still pretty put out, at least Amazon refunded the 1-day delivery fee.

I posted this tweet in my frustration:

Within 10 minutes, I got a reply on Twitter saying to email them with the tracking number.

I emailed them and what do you know? The package was delivered on Monday!

So this made me wonder a few things:

  • Why couldn’t the customer service rep on the phone arrange to get delivery on Monday?
  • Is it because I complained loud enough? Or was it because I complained in public?
  • Am I the only one with this problem? Apparently not:

Screenshot - 12102015 - 11:49:01 AM

  • Why is Amazon continuing to use this shipper? I did a little research and it sounds like they’re temporarily relying on regional small-time shippers to do one-day delivery while Amazon builds its own delivery capacity.