Friday, April 27, 2012

No Phone Calls, Please

Yesterday, my friend and I were talking (and by talking I mean texting). We were discussing the benefits of texting/tweeting/emailing/facebooking (is that a verb?) in lieu of phone calls.

I, for one, love the ability to reach out in written communique rather than phoning a friend (royalty alert). I often feel I’ll sound stupid or poorly prepared on the telephone. The quick reaction and quick thinking on a phone call just isn’t the case when I write my message. I can reread it quickly and send it out rather than pausing verbally to contemplate my answer or response.

As a con, I feel a phone call often forces a person to take the time to speak with me. I’m not giving them many options. Sure, they could send me to voicemail but do they really want to record my wah, wah, wah? With a typed message on whatever the device at hand, they can answer, leave it for later, or respond in any form they choose.

My other HUGE pro towards the written word is the multi tasking I feel I’m getting accomplished.  I’ve been known to carry on four or five conversations via text simultaneously about completely different subjects and get so much accomplished. Or maybe I’m not known for that. Perhaps those friends on the other end have no idea I’m multitasking. To them, they have my undivided attention.

At times, I’m even coordinating between several people about the same subject and there’s no need for the time lapse a phone call would have. “I’ll call you back after I speak with the babysitter.” Or, “I’ll let you know when he gets home, yada, yada.” (woops, another royalty alert) Instead, it’s instant information at your fingertips.

We also discussed (by texting, of course) the fact that sometimes it’s just a one or two word answer or message: Home Safe, Pick Up Kids, Get Milk (notice I didn’t say got?) and those are so much faster and to the point than a long drawn out conversation that inevitably will turn into the “what’s wrong, why do you sound mad at me” questions I always end up asking the Hubs. He stays in his safe zone if it’s just a text.

Do you think most people, like me, have moved on from the telephone or do you think I’m just part of a small few?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Well, Consistency IS Key

Last Friday, I tweeted this…
Well @Applebees, it's four days after my phone call, 6 days after the incident, and no resolution, no apology. I give up.

I got back this…
@kneatfreak Juli, were you given a case number? We want to make sure the correct person gets in touch with you ASAP.

And replied this..
@Applebees Yes I was. He didn't seem too concerned with me & said the store itself would be in contact with us.

And this...
@Applebees At this point, I'll just cut my losses. No problem. Hopefully someone will take a lesson from it. Thanks for your help tho.

They replied again…
@kneatfreak Would you mind giving me the case number so I can have someone from our Guest Relations team look into this?

I replied with the number and then Hubs got a phone call from the local restaurant within half an hour (Seems their Twitter Rep IS on the ball).

The phone call went something like this:
  • Mr. Maychlye
It’s Maichle. Yes?
  • This is Applebees, Dover. I got a message that you wanted to speak to someone. What was the problem when you were here?
Well, like we’ve explained several times, this is what happened…read about it here.
  • We’d like to send you a gift card for that meal. How much did you spend that night?
Well, like I said, it was two burgers and two sodas.
  • Yes, but how much was your bill?
I don’t recall off hand but it was two burgers and two sodas.
  • (sigh) I guess I could look up the receipt if you give me more information about when you were here.
Can you look at a menu?
  • Oh, yeah, well I guess I could do that. You should have your Gift Card in a week.
Do you need my address to send it to?
  • Oh, yeah, well I guess that would help, wouldn’t it?

No apology. No sincerity. No pleasant chit chat. NO CUSTOMER SERVICE.

Here’s what I am happy about with Applebees, Dover. At least they are consistent.

A little bit of a back story:

Several years ago (see how long poor customer service sticks with you), prior to Hubs and I having children (BC- before children), we frequented Applebees, Dover. Especially, later in the evening, because, again, this was BC, we had an evening life. We enjoyed their late night Happy Hour prices and would sit for a while just enjoying the company. 

Hubs and I have both, for a long time, been in the service industry. I’ve waited tables since 1990 or so. I KNOW how it is to waitress and I KNOW how I want to be treated as a Customer. Because of this, we have always been good tippers. We factor the tip into the cost of the meal and if we can’t afford the tip, too, we don’t go out to eat. It’s PART OF THE MEAL.

Now, with that said, I don’t tip for nothing. My server doesn’t have to be over the top, but they can’t be terrible and expect my good tip either. I’m generous, not foolish.

One day looking over our bank statement, Hubs and I noticed that our recent meal at Applebees, Dover did not match the credit card receipt we signed. We had been on this budgeting, reconciling kick where we would add the tip in the amount to get the grand total to an even dollar. This meant the server got even more than 20% most times. And 20% BACK THEN, in the early 2000s was high. It was damn good! (I know people that to this day still do 15%!)

Anyway, the difference between the statement and our receipt was 42cents. I was upset. It bothered me that someone could and would alter my signed credit card receipt to give them selves a rounded tip at even more than the 20+% that we had generously given them.

I called the store. I got the rudest manager I’ve ever spoken to that snapped at me for accusing her staff of stealing. She used the word stealing, I did not. We went round and round until she finally growled at me saying she would send me my “damn 42cents.”

And she eventually did. About three weeks later I received an envelope in the mail with nothing but a piece of paper wrapped around 
a quarter,
a dime,
a nickel,
and two pennies.   

We didn’t eat there for YEARS. 

We should have stayed consistent with that. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Unexpected Doctor Visit

Yesterday, I was perched at the front counter working when a familiar face strolled by. I called to him by name and he turns around to say “Juli! There you are, I’ve been looking everywhere for you.”

Well, that was a nice greeting! Apparently, the Doc had seen me about half an hour earlier on the other side of the property as I toured an Expo. He was at one of the booths handing out tomato plants. I had walked right by and he was unable to get my attention, so he came looking for me.

The Doc is Dad to both my and my brother’s best friends from school and our Basketball Coach for years. Our families were always together growing up. Friday was Pizza Night, Saturday was Sleep-Over Night, Sunday was Church Day. At least one night a week was Bonanza night at what is now the local Uno Pizzeria with the same owners, also in our Church Family.

Our houses were about a mile from each other, as the kiddos walked. A little bit more having to go by way of car. And our parents used to trust the world enough to let us walk back and forth to each other’s houses with only the promise of a phone call once we got there. I can remember doing this as far back as probably 4th grade. I would never imagine allowing that in today’s world.

The Doc and my Dad still get together regularly for lunch and an occasional beer. But the rest of us have moved on and away. So it was very nice to play catch up with him. We sat bragging about his grandkids and my kiddos and showing off pictures. I asked questions about his retirement and he asked questions about my work. It was nice reminiscing.

I learned a lot from the Doc all those years on and off the court. He was always someone I looked up to, listened to, and respected. It was a great, surprising, unexpected Doctor visit.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Let’s Just Suppose

You’re on your dinner break from work. It’s your one evening shift of the week so that puts dinner right about 8pm on a Saturday. Your kiddos are at Grandma’s so your Hubs picks you up for dinner break, just the two of you.

He decides on Applebees since that’s right around the corner and shouldn’t have much of a wait. He gets you seated at the table and then goes to wash his hands.

The waiter greets you and asks if you want to wait or order a drink. You order two sodas. The waiter agrees and adds rather abruptly and not in a joking manner, “I have to offer you the Corona or I’ll have to buy you mozzarella sticks and I’m broke and can’t afford that.”

He comes back after a few too many minutes and sets the sodas down, asks if you need a couple of minutes. Your Hubs is back by this time and he agrees you two need another minute.

He, once again, comes back after a few too many minutes; but this time with a dirty plate from another table in his hand. He asks if you’re ready to order. You are so he asks, as he sets it down, if it’s ok if he sets the dirty plate down on your table. Your Hubs shoots you a dirty look.

He writes your order down on his pad, collects your menus, and then walks away from your table without the dirty plate to put the menus away. He returns and gets the dirty, nasty plate from someone else’s table that he set down on yours.

You wait for what seems like an excessive amount of time to have your burgers brought out. He brings them to you and says “I don’t know whose is whose.” He sets them down and starts to walk away. Your Hubs gets his attention and says his burger is not what he ordered. He looks dumbfounded and asks why. Your Hubs tells him it’s not the right burger and the waiter asks if he can bring him what is missing from the burger.

Your Hubs has to insist that he take the burger back to the kitchen and retrieve the correct one. He reaches only half way for the plate and stays arm stretched out not grabbing the plate. Your Hubs has to hand him the plate as if he suddenly cannot reach as far as he did when he initially set the plate down.

As he walks away with your Hubs’ burger you realize, yours, too, is not what you ordered. The burger you ordered was to include crispy onion straws & sweet bbq sauce yet this burger in front of you has sautéed onions atop it.

When the waiter returns with your Hubs’ burger he mumbles something about blaming it on the expo person in the kitchen. You tell the waiter your burger is also not as ordered and he says he doesn’t know the burgers. You explain the onion thing and he says he’ll have “them” make you some onion straws. You agree and sit waiting for far too many minutes and scrape off the sautéed onions while you wait.

Finally giving up and eating the burger not as ordered, you reach the last two bites of your meal only to have the same kind of sautéed onions brought out to you with two refills on sodas with little to no ice in either one. The waiter says “the kitchen says this is what we have.”

Now, let’s just suppose this was your dinner tonight. Did you enjoy it?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A Conversation About Poop

On our way to Soccer (finally) this morning, I’m asking the kiddos where we should grab lunch. We travel by McD’s, Arby’s, KFC, or Hardee’s on our way to the ball field. I list them for them.

Then I realize it’s Picture Day and there will be Hotdogs and such at the Soccer Park. So I tell them that.

Then I sorta take that back because I have no cash on me and we would have to stop at the bank and also we’re pressed for time and saving some time by eating on the way there would probably help. (See my last past on me not being traditional me of late.)

So I ask for their answer. JP says “bbblubbb blubbb pawk.” I say laughing, “What? Scuse me?” He says it again. At this point big Sissy says “Ewww, get your dirty fingers out of your mouth.”

I reiterated (like a responsible Mommy) and told JP that his fingers are filthy and he needs to keep them out of his mouth. He tells me he likes the taste of dirt from under his fingernails, it’s yummy. Umm, gross. All boy!

So, to freak him out and hopefully gross him out of putting his fingers in his mouth again I tell them both that worms poop in the dirt. Sissy just about barfs, but JP, on the other hand, wants to know what else poops in the dirt.

The next five minutes included me listing as many things as I could that poop in the dirt. Which moved on to why things poop. Which moved on to where does poop come out of on dogs, on horses, on ants, on spiders. Which moved on to what a girl private on a dog looks like. What a boy private on a dog looks like. Which FINALLY moved on to some nicer differences in boys and girls. For example boys and girls can do anything they want but there are a few things that one TENDS to do other than the other.

So that brought us to talking about farming and karate and fishing and coaching and driving and playing with dolls and legos. It was a great conversation.

Until JP asks “Mommy, can we go back to talking bout poop?”

To Neat Freak Or No?

I couldn’t find my Coach’s shirt today. As I was hunting for it I realized my work clothes. ALL of them, were in the washer! SHIT! I have to pack them to go with me!

I have to work at 4, but Madi’s soccer game is at 2, but team pictures are at 1, but as the Coach I needed to be early, but it is 10:30 and none of us have showered yet.

Eh, that’s nothing, you say. Well, it shouldn’t be but the kids haven’t had breakfast, its looking like no time for lunch, I have to pack their over night bags for Abba DeeDee’s, I still have no work clothes, and cannot find my Coach’s shirt for picture day.

How did I get this UNorganized!? This isn’t like me. Hell! This isn’t me!

I have been trying for over a month now to NOT be the neat freak that I always am. I am trying to lay low, calm down, relax.

Look where it got me.

Friday, April 13, 2012

CP Anonymous

Hi, my name is Juli and I have a Care Package Addiction.

Hiiiii, Juuuuuliiii

It began last February when I got word that my friend Clint was in the hospital. He had shockingly been diagnosed with Stage IV Testicular Cancer and was battling for his life in the ICU.

I wanted to DO something. I had to DO something. First, I decided to ask my daughter’s first grade teacher if the class would write letters to my hospital stricken friend.

While I was at it, I had a package headed out to a local soldier currently stationed in Afghanistan. He had contacted me through work about the possibility of getting some playing cards sent to them for their down time. I asked the teacher about letters to the Soldiers, too. What a great way to get letter writing practice for the kiddos and smiles to the Soldiers overseas.

The kiddos did an outstanding job. They even drew pictures for each of my friends and sent encouragement and heartfelt blessings to both of these men in very different situations.

Following the letters sent to Clint, after he was released from the Hospital, I gathered up a care package of all sorts of goodies for him and his family. I sent water guns, silly putty, cards, candy, and other little knick knack stuff I thought they might like. It was either in that Care Package or the next one that I even threw in Rehoboth, DE Tee Shirts for his two boys.

I got a picture later of Clint squirting the boys with the squirt gun and a picture of the boys sporting their matching tee shirts fresh out of the bath tub. Adorable!

After that, I guess I just continued gathering things here and there for different people. Things from my state if they were out of staters, things I hoped would bring a smile, things that the receiver probably wouldn’t have sought out to get for themselves.

In the early winter Newborn Care Packages even made their way to the post office from us. I loved buying the little onesies and remembering how tiny my kiddos were, just yesterday.

In January, during our Hunt for Pluto, we began to receive a Care Package or two here and there. How awesome that was, especially when the Pluto we were hunting for surprisingly showed up at our house. So, what did we do? Well, of course we sent a Care Package right back to Miss Gail and her girls in Florida as a Thank You for finding our Pluto. Once again, I even threw in matching DE shirts for the girls. (Maybe I should hook Clint’s boys up with Gail’s girls?? Hmmmm)

Then my Care Package Addiction took off running this February/March. After a beautifully written thank you from my childhood buddy Jenny, some inspiring thank yous on my Facebook from a couple of my Care Package Recipients and some encouragement and reinforcement from my Mom.

I have to be honest and tell you that giving a Care Package is somewhat selfish of me. I would venture to say it actually gives me a little high. I love the suspense of it, I love the smiles it brings, I love that it completely catches friends of guard. I try my darnedest to keep my mouth shut about who the next one is going to. I also like it best when I’m not caught red handed dropping it off. The mailed packages are much easier in that sense but the dropped off ones give me a chance to tease with a picture on Facebook.

My underlying intention of these Care Packages? It’s something Clint Miller taught me. One thing he said over and over before he left for Heaven was to be kind to others. Buy a stranger a Coffee; pay for the toll of the car behind you; hold the door; acknowledge a kind deed or a kind word; DON’T take life for granted; Simply love your people.

So, My People, be it known, I’m getting to your package.