Sunday, February 01, 2009

Open Letter to EMS (the sports store, not the medics)

Yesterday, I had an infuriating customer (lack of) service experience. I was on my way home from the gym, when my mom called, asking if I would do her a favor and go into EMS (Eastern Mountain Sports) to get something called “Yak Tracks Pro” which are things you put on your shoes to help you walk in the ice.* This item is pictured to the left. I agree, but uneasily, since I looked liked GARBAGE since I was on my way home from the gym and wanted to minimize time in public, especially time in Harvard Square where there’s a large risk of seeing someone I know. But, I go.

I walk in, and walk around the store 3 times, looking for either a) Yak Tracks Pro, or b) an employee of the store. I find neither. Finally, I find the Yak Tracks Pros. But, they do not have the requisite size. So, I continue my search for an EMS employee. The store is packed with confused and lonely looking customers, and full of merchandise that demands employee assistance (sneakers, skis, watches in locked glass cases) but there is NO ONE AROUND WHO WORKS THERE. No one.

Finally, I see an employee half-hiding behind a pillar, who looks slovenly and insolent. I walk up to him with an optimistic smile, and say, “Excuse me, do you have…” Now it’s worth noting that before I even asked for what I wanted, he was shaking his head saying no. I guarantee you, whatever I wanted, he didn’t want to sell it to me. “… Yak Tracks Pro in size small?” I continue. He snorts as if I’ve asked something totally preposterous (perhaps I have, but, I want to spend money in his store, which should surely justify whatever questions are needed to complete the purchase!). He replies, “Um, NO, not unless you want to ___.” The end of his sentence is a big mumble. “Excuse me, unless what?” I say hopefully. “Unless you want to go to our New York store to get them!” he sneers at me. This is first of all a rude response to a customer, but moreover, really pissed me off, because if only this guy knew how badly I actually DO want to go to New York, whether to get Yak Tracks Pro or not!

I then lose my composure and roll my eyes and say “Great, thanks,” huffily. Then, he calls after me, “Or, you can order them on the internet!” Now, this is the first helpful thing this kid has said to me since I walked into the store. Why he waited until he’d already irritated me to the point of storming out to say it, I don’t know. Meanwhile, because of EMS’s understaffing and employee unhelpfulness, I’ve now missed my bus home, thereby increasing my time in public looking awful by 30 minutes.

So, EMS, you have hereby lost my business in favor of City Sports, who was cheerful and helpful in assisting me with a purchase of a non-BPA water bottle!

* As the courts say: We need not address the issue of whether this request or purchase was reasonable.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Mission Accomplished! (For realz.)

Recently, I have accomplished 2 major feats. The first was merely taking first semester law school exams. The second, equally daunting was…. Cutting my cats’ claws. This may seem trifling, but it recently occurred to me that the plethora of skills needed to complete this task are vast and many. Here are some of the qualities required:

Organization: Cat claw cutting can only be done with a specialized cat claw cutter. This is the kind of object that loses itself very easily. The first step, obvious as this may seem, is to find the damn thing. So, as with most things in life, before you can start the job, you must be organized enough to assemble the needed tools. Once that’s done, you can begin…

Stealth: Both cats must be completely asleep before any successful attempt can commence. Now, chances are, the idea for cutting of the claws occurs to you while the cats are awake, as it’s usually spurred by their clawing at something forbidden (the couch, the bureau, your pants, your face). But no, you must wait, patiently, until they are solidly slumbering. Since cats sleep about 22.5 hours a day, this isn’t so hard. But then, you must sneak up on them, quietly and stealthily. Which leads us to to the next skill required…

Know Your Enemy: There are 2 cats involved. Hence, 2 sets of particularities to be aware of. Inevitably, the cats will wake up upon contact. So the most you can hope for is maximum sleepiness, not total unconsciousness, during clipping. So this requires tricking them into staying sleepy, even while you brandish the clippers and begin work. For Ninja, all this requires is a soft cooing noise (“Hi sweeeeeetie! Okay! You're okay! Shhhhh.”), but for Mr. Rupert (the cleverer of the two, and the more dangerous/violent), it involves more subtlety. The key is to maintain a steadiness of hand, to impart the message that you are in control, and that his best move is not to fight or flee but to submit to your ultimate power. It’s hard to pinpoint how to do this, the best analogy is to horseriding, where you must somehow convey to your steed that you’re unafraid and omnipotent, even while you know that in reality, the horse has the power to throw you off or gallop away at its whim. Which brings us to…

Endurance: No matter how smoothly the transaction goes, you are going to get scratched. It’s best to realize this before you begin. If you run away at the first wound, it’ll never get done. So you must endure the minor scratches and the odd bite, if you want it done. No pain, no gain. No fear. But…

Realism/Take What You Can Get: There comes a point where it’s not worth the blood loss. For instance, today, I got 9 out of 10 of Mr. Rupert’s claws done before he started to totally freak the &^*&^#@ out. So, at that point, I cut my losses. One overly long claw isn’t going to kill him or my furniture, and the mission was just about accomplished. You have to know your limits, and be realistic about what the mission is, exactly. That said…

Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day: While Mr Rupert can survive with 1 long claw, it’s ideal that all 10 get clipped, AND, that the back claws get some attention as well. This kind of perfection can only really be attained through multiple assaults. Once the target falls back asleep, you can begin the second round. This must be done even more gently than the first, since even a cat’s limited short term memory will probably retain the recent clipping ordeal. So, you wait until the next day, or even the next week. And then, you begin again. You must carefully note (and remember!) which nail was neglected, and then, get in and get out. Do it fast, and utilize any lessons that might have been learned from the first round. Also, knowing that a second round is in the cards will take the pressure off the first round, and the more relaxed you are, the more successful you will be.

Above is a pic of Mr. Rupert and Ninja, post-clipping. Look how happy they are!

Well, I was happy at least.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mojito Mint... ... ... ...

I can't tell you how many times the following conversation has occurred betwixt me and a friend:

Version #1.
Me: Hey friend, do you have any gum?
Friend: Yes, but I warn you it's the grossest gum in the world.
Me: Hmm, what kind is it?
Friend: Orbit Mojito mint.
Me: Oh yeah, I've had that, it's gross. Why'd you get it?
Friend: I made a mistake, I thought it was spearmint.

Version #2.
Friend: Hey Char, have you heard of this mojito mint gum?
Me: Yeah, it's gross. People are always trying to get rid of it.
Friend: Oh... yeah.
Me: Were you gonna try to get rid of it by offering it to me?
Friend: Yep.

What IS it with this gum? The marketing squad really did a great job of making it look almost exactly like the most popular flavor, since I feel like 99% of my gum-buying friends have made this error. And if it weren't for these accidental purchases, I swear they would never sell any of it, since it's probably one of the grossest tastes ever. Which, I mean, is not surprising. Who wants booze flavored gum?

I've never made this error myself since I'm loyal to Dentyne, not Orbit.   :+)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Cafe Metro, I just hate you!

Here is a list of the RECENT offenses this useless establishment which unfortunately inhabits the storefront literally next door to my office has inflicted on me:

*I ask for an English muffin with butter and salt. They tell me it’s their policy to only give salt on the side, not in things.

* I do a create your own salad, and ask for cheddar cheese. No cheddar cheese they say. What?! How can they not have cheddar cheese? That’s like, the MOST basic salad item. But whatevs, I think, fine, I’ll get parmesan. I pay $8.12 for my salad. I return to the office and taste it, and in the first bite there’s an unidentifiable crunchy tasteless non food item object, and also, the dressing tastes like vomit. I take one more bite, then throw the whole thing out.

* I order an egg cheese tomato sandwich, for which they charge me $4.95!!! I get to my office and take a bite, and the roll is stale.

* I order a bagel and cream cheese. The transaction goes smoothly, I in fact leave smiling. I get to my office open it, take a bite… and it tastes like laundry detergent.

* I go in intending to order a cup of coffee, but the line is OUT THE DOOR because they’re so inefficient, so I walk straight back out again.

* I ask for a coffee with extra milk. I watch her pour in one microdroplet of milk. I say, “Excuse me, do you mind putting some more milk in? I actually said extra milk.” She adds one more microdroplet, and looks at me. “Um, some more, please. Like, more than you usually put in, not less.” She adds one more microdroplet and closes it up, hands it to me, and charges me an outrages $2 for a small coffee. I get to my office, take a sip, and it’s undrinkably gross. Just bad, bad coffee.

*I pay for something (I forget what, surely something that was overpriced and disgusting) and my total comes to something .05, and she gives me 95 cents back ALL IN NICKELS.

And I STILL GO BACK to this hell hole. Why? Because it’s right next door. As in I don’t even really need to wear a coat. But I think they’ve accrued enough offenses that I will from now on walk the half a block to Europa, which is better in every single way.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Trust? Nahhhh.

Last night, along with my Fresh Direct order, a funny little insight into my own brain was delivered right to my doorstep.

So my Fresh Direct was supposed to come between 8 and 10pm. My buzzer is half-broken (what isn’t, in my apartment? The shower, the smoke alarm, the carbon monoxide detector, Mr Rupert’s sanity, my computer, the windows all fall into this category) so that I can only buzz someone in, I can’t ask who it is or hear a response, prior to granting them access to the building.

The buzzer rings at 9:30pm, and I buzz them in without hesitating, since it’s Fresh Direct time. Bear in mind that it could have been any manner of hooligan or fiend, and I still would have let them reach my doorstep.

I look through my peephole, and see a large man carrying a very large object. Great, looks perfect. I open the door, and it is indeed Fresh Direct.

The Fresh Direct Man is very friendly and normal, and says hi to Mr Rupert and Ninja (any deliveryperson who acknowledges the cats gets bonus points in my book). I grab a pen from the counter, sign the thing saying he made the delivery, and then tip him……….. $2.

Look, OK, I know that’s not a great tip. But technically, I don’t think I have to tip them at all, they work on salary, not tips. And, I’m as broke as… my carbon monoxide detector. So he leaves, with his $2, and the second he leaves I lock the door in all ways possible.

Why, you ask? Because (get this!) I was scared he was going to come back, avec knife or gun, and attack me for tipping so poorly.

Yes! I actually thought this man who had just nuzzled Ninja’s whiskers was going to stab me. AND, this is someone who, BEFORE I knew that he was normal and nonsketchy, I had let into my building.

THEN, I hear a knock on the door. Adrenaline BLAST! He actually IS coming back to attack me, be it verbally or physically, for my poor tipping. I decide to not open the door, but he bangs and bangs and bangs, so I decide to face my fate. I open the door, prepared to say, “Sorry! I thought one of those ones was a five!” but then he says, “Miss, I kept your pen by accident. Here you go.”


Monday, March 12, 2007

The 2nd Most Offensive Thing Anyone Has Ever Said To Me

The most offensive thing anyone has said to me was when I was wearing a brand new dress (that happens to have an empire waist), and a homeless man turned to me in a deli and says, “When are you due?”

But that’s not what this post is about.

The second most offensive thing that anyone has ever said to me was not said by one person, but by many, over and over and over again. It goes like this:

Me: Hi! (with recognition)
Other person: (blank stare)
Me: (faltering) Oh, we know each other from (insert time/place)
Other person: That’s odd, I don’t remember you.
Me: Oh well, no worries. Nice to meet you. (politely, smoothing over the awkwardness)
Other person: Well it’s just weird, because I remember everyone, always.

It’s that last line that really gets to me. It’s like, OK, you don’t remember me, fine. That’s a tiny bit awkward, but no biggie. It’s happened to me a few times too, that I don’t remember someone, and they remember me. But to actually SAY that not only do you not remember me, that you always remember people, implies that I am just the MOST generic, unmemorable person EVER. And that, my friends, is why I find this the most offensive statement anyone can ever say to me. Also, what do people expect I say in response? “Oh, you’re right, I DON’T know you?” Obviously, if I can name the precise way we know each other, it’s true. The above unfortunate event happened not once, but twice in the past weekend:

AWFUL MOMENT #1: At a bar, I see a professor I had senior year of college for an ancient philosophy class. He’s super young, super hot, and a super-genius. I go over, and say, “I’m sure you don’t remember me, but I took a class of yours…” and I continue with various pleasantries, while smiling and being generally nice and flirty-esque (though, I hope, not creepy). DO YOU KNOW what he replies? “Oh, uh, I remember all my students, and I don’t remember you. Sorry.” THANKS, man. Real nice.

AWFUL MOMENT #2: My toilet is broken. Thus I go into the café on my block, Chez Betty. Betty is working, and I say “Bonjour!” as I always do, every one of the approximately 15 times I have been in there. I always speak to her in French. I explain that my toilet is broken and politely request to use hers. She says, “No. Customers only.” So I’m sort of annoyed, but agree to buy a couple of cookies (which by the way the cats later got into and ate, spilling crumbs ALL over my apartment). This conversation ensues:

Her: Do you live around here?
Me: Yes, right there.
Her: Ah, you’ve never been in before.
Me: Um, no, actually I have been in many, many times.
Her: Hmm, well, I always remember every single customer.

Since this happens literally the day after the hot professor said the same thing to me, I storm out, huffily refusing to even wait long enough to grab my change, which I promptly regret.

These are just the times it’s happened to me within the last 72 hours. I swear it’s happened about 3784297897897892347 times prior to this weekend, and it’s usually people who know me personally, unlike these two examples which are more of, like, I’m a face in a crowd. I guess I need to wear feathers sticking out of my ears, or become a Cyclops or something.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Preggers Skeeter?

I realize that many of my blog entries have been about bugs. This trend will stop. However, I have one more bug tale before the moratorium commences. Also, I’d like to defend myself by saying that I think bug incidents often are kind of interesting, because it reminds us that despite all appearances in NYC, we are still living in nature. Also, even though we’re three trillion times bigger than most bugs, they still have the capacity to terrorize us. Strange.


I was awoken at 5 am this morning with an itchy chin and an itchy hand. I convince myself that I am being silly, that I’m just paranoid because Athena had bed bugs a while back, and that nothing is biting me. At 5:30, I awaken to myself making a noise something along the lines of, “Aieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” and the startled, disgruntled dislodging of the cats from where they had been adorably positioned, snuggled up next to me. My pinky finger has definitely, definitively, been bitten. I turn on the light and see that it has swollen up so much that it’s doing that gross thing where the swelling reaches a joint and then can’t go anywhere so is just sort of stopped in its tracks to balloon ugly-ly. And the bites on my chin and hand are, I find, also extant. It is then that I espy the culprit.


It is one of two things: the largest mosquito the world has ever known, or the smallest horsefly the world has ever known. Either way, it is evil, and I attempt to slaughter it. I fail. It vanishes, and I think, OK, well, let’s not get ridiculous, I should just go back to sleep and ignore it. I won’t die. Unless it’s carrying avian bird flu or west nile virus or malaria. I decide to throw the blanket over my head so that only my face is exposed, which I hope will make me appear a less delectable treat for the beast.

Sleep comes, grudgingly. Approximately five minutes after resuming slumber, I awake when Ninja swipes at my face. While my cats often mistake my eyelashes for playthings, especially when I am asleep, I have an ominous sense of foreboding this time. I run to the bathroom, and yes, it’s true.

I have a gigantor bite on my nose, and one slightly to the left of my nose. The pinky, hand and chin bites, oddly, have all faded and ceased itching. This is a characteristic of the bites of this creature: the bites itch horribly for only a few minutes, then fade away more quickly than any bites I’ve ever had, leaving me wondering if they were ever there at all. Sly trick, bug.

It is now 6am. Sleep is clearly a lost cause. I get up and go to a café, where I proceed to read for 2 hours. Sort of pleasant, but I’m reading THE IMPRESSIONIST by Hari Kunzru. If you’ve read it, you’ll know that it’s an odd and disquieting way to start the day.

One other thing: it is mid-December. Why is there a summer bug in my room?! Maybe because it’s been 60 degrees outside. Having just watched AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH the other night, it seems particularly ominous. Though that movie was insanely boring and concluded with a loathsome song by Melissa Etheridge.

Since I refuse to end a blog post with the words “Melissa Etheridge,” I will relate another worry, which is that this was a preggers skeeter, and the pregnancy was what a) made it hugemungous and b) what changed the chemicals of the poison, rendering the bites briefer and more intense. Nooooooo . . .