Tuesday, March 26, 2013

School Vacation, Snow Days, and Unreasonable Parents

I'm supposed to write my "part 2" story today....but I don't feel it right now and the only way for me to write it is to "feel it."  I will get to it though, I promise.  Thanks for your interest. 

Here is what is on my mind today....school vacation, snow days, and parent's inability to be pleased (or so it seems from some of what I've seen today!)  I have an incredible urge to comment every time I see one of the posts where people are just bitching without offering a solution to the problem.  I want to tell people that if they really believe the entire school system is "stupid" and they have a better solution, they should get their kids out of that school system and start their own.  But I'm not a huge fan of arguing over any social media site so I don't say anything.  I just write about it on my own page! 

I've read and heard numerous times about school districts considering cancelling April Vacation to make up for some of the snow days so that kids won't be in school so long at the end of the year.  From what I understand, whether it's cancelled or the schedule is kept the same, parents just aren't going to be happy.  It makes sense; plans are made, vacations are booked, child care is planned....I get it, I really do.  But what I do not understand is what parent's think is the solution.  I've yet to find anybody that has a solution that can please everybody because there isn't one.  Some people already have plans for April vacation, so cancelling it would affect their plans.  Some parents have plans for the middle of June and the extra days in school are going to affect those plans.  There are many people affected by this, but the fact that so many people are being totally unreasonable about it is what has caught my eye.   One of my absolute favorites about this is a variation of this comment:

"It will be way too hot for the kids in school in June.  They cannot handle that without air conditioning."
Ok, maybe I'm wrong here, but um...it's New England, it's summer....many millions of children have lived through the month of June IN THEIR HOUSES....WITHOUT AIR CONDITIONING...IN 4 DECKER APARTMENT BUILDINGS and they lived.  All of them.  Hell, it's not like it's August when shit gets real hot and nasty around here.  Seriously?  Your kid won't make it in a classroom without air conditioning?  Does your kid play outside in the summer, you know, when it's hot??  Or do you follow them around with an air conditioner?

"Great, now my kids will have no summer vacation."
What??  There are still like 8 weeks where they won't be in school, and 90% of parents are going to be totally frustrated by their "bored" kids after the second week.  These same parents will be complaining that they "Can't wait for school to start again" in mid-July. 

The other part of this that makes me laugh is what was posted during all the snow this winter.    

 I feel like people are forgetting that the superintendent of the school is a human being too.  A human who can only make a decision based on the information that he/she is given at any time.  And since we all live in New England, we should all be fully aware of the fact that the weather is pretty hard to predict.  Storms are often hit or miss and where you live in this state plays a big part of that. 

Here's what I've seen myself and what I think about it:

"What the hell? They cancelled school again? We didn't even get much snow!"
Yet, the forecast called for 6-10 inches and it was snowing at the time when the superintendent had to make the call to cancel or not.....I assume most superintendents aren't psychic and all they can go on is the information that they get from the weather reports.  Maybe at 8am they should have updated everybody that there actually is going to be school because the storm turned east and went offshore?  Is that easier to handle?

"It's snowing out there so bad right now.  I almost crashed my car getting the kids to school today.  What kind of idiot doesn't cancel school on a day like today?"
The poor guy was probably sitting at home, reading the thousands of angry emails he got from parents the previous week when he did cancel school and said "Fuck it.  They get pissed off if we cancel school as a precaution when the weather report says we are getting 8" so I guess we will have school so all the parents are happy."  But they weren't then either.  Poor Guy!

Obviously not everybody is handling this as badly as I explained above.  Most people are fairly reasonable and understand that the school systems are making the best decision that they can right now.  But there are always those people that are totally unreasonable and I just cannot understand how they can be like that. 

What do you  think?  Can you solve this great crisis??

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The Fear Deep Inside of Me

I wrote this long, crazy, emotional blog recently.  I go back and forth about sharing it.  But I've decided I will share it and so here goes.  I'm going to break it into two parts, the first which is below, is about me....my issues....my fears.  The second part is going to be more about Hylan and how we changed me and gave me confidence in myself.  I hope you enjoy it.  It was really hard for me to share it because I'm a pretty confidant person and fear is something that I don't handle or share well!

I became an accidental step-mom.  I came across this phrase today and it kind of fit perfectly.  Hylan coming into my life is truly one of the best things that has ever happened to me, but it was totally unexpected.  Before him, I truly was petrified of the idea of having kids.  In my twenties, it was never a thought, it was only a "hell no."  As I got older, those feelings changed because my life changed, and I grew up a bit.  But I was still scared.  I never had parents that showed love or cared for me as most parents do.  Deep inside of me was this overwhelming fear that I couldn't possibly be a mother because I would have no idea what to do.  And  I don't mean the normal "holy shit, we have a baby, now what?" that most people go through.  I mean that I worried I wouldn't be able to love a child right, whatever 'right' is.  I wouldn't know how to show them that they were loved.  I never saw that myself, or felt it, and I had no faith that I would be able to show it to somebody else.  I knew for a fact that I knew what NOT to do.  I had an entire childhood of experience in that department.  It's odd because I feel like many people worry about having kids and the costs, time, and effort are their big concerns.  Obviously everybody wants their kids to have more than they had, to go to good schools, become successful, live a happy life, and becoming overall good people.  None of those are that big of a deal for me.  This is not to say that I don't worry about things like that, but I think that like everybody else, I will figure it all out.   I will do my best and it will work itself out.   My fear is so much deeper than that and it's often overwhelming.  I worry that there is some "bad-mom gene" and maybe it was passed down to me too.  In my case, regarding my parents, I don't feel that they ever intended to actually hurt me in the ways that they did, but they did.  They were not mentally able to care for themselves fully, never mind to care for a child.  And that's the honest truth....and it's fine....I survived and became me.  I can't change any of that.  But I can hope to do better for my future children.  But you see, I say "hope" like I doubt that I can.  Which is stupid because I know that I can.  I know that I would never do any of the things my parents did to me to a child.  But there's always this little line of doubt running through me about it.  I have this fear that my child won't know that I love them, that I won't show it enough and they will not feel it and their lives will be all sorts of fucked up because of it.

And in walks Hylan...thrown into my life unexpectedly and of my own doing.  I was the one that called Jen (his mom) and talked to her to work things out and made it so he could come see his dad.  I was the one she trusted with her son at first because the hate she felt towards Justin consumed every thought that ran through her head.  I was also the one who realized it was actually going to happen, then said "Oh shit. What the hell do I do with a little boy in my house?"  I was clueless.  I was scared.  So freakin' scared you have no idea.  At the time, I didn't know what would come of it.  I didn't know if she would let him come here once, then never again, or what would happen.  And I truly didn't ever anticipate that the love I would have for this kid would be as strong and deep as it is.
Come back to read the rest of this story tomorrow......

Thanks for all your comments and feedback.  It's greatly appreciated! And may I suggest the bloglovin app for your phones.  It makes blogs easier to read and you can comment right from the app itself.  

Dish Customer Service--They can't fix shit, but they will make you repeat yourself a lot!

I switched to DishTV recently.  Personally, I've found that the service is just dandy.  I haven't had any issues with the receiver or losing signal or anything else.  I'm not in love with the way their DVR and recording options work because it's not as easy to "stop" a recording and fix conflicts, but I can figure it out.  Their customer service on the other hand, is awful.  Totally awful.

Dish's customer service, like so many other companies, just sucks!  They have this protocol that they have to follow and instead of actually listening (or reading if you are doing live chat) to what you say, they go down this obnoxious list of stupid and irrelevant questions that aren't related to your actual issue.  I understand that there probably are people that call and cannot make their TV work because it's on the wrong input, but I am not one of them.  If they listened to me, they'd know this wasn't the problem.

This is how the conversations went, when I both chatted and actually called:

"Hi, I'm wondering if there is a way that I can change the time for the auto-update of my receiver because 1 am is not convenient for me. It's annoying that I have to run into my bedroom every 2 minutes around 1 am to 'catch' the update warning and stop it if I'm going to bed soon and want to watch TV."

"Sure, I'm sorry you are having this problem and can help you correct it. So, can you verify that you TV is on channel 3, and when you push the channel up button that the 'sat' button lights up for me?"

"Yes, I can do that, but that isn't at all relevant to the issue I'm having.  The issue I'm having is that the auto-update happens at a very inconvenient time and I'd like to know if there is a way to change it."

"Yes, well this step is part of the process."

"Oh..umm...ok then I will do it...yes, it is."

We went over a few more basic things, with me explaining that they weren't relevant, but going through the motions anyway.

"Ok, bear with me here, while I look into your problem."

Waiting. Waiting.

"Ok, so go into menu, then settings, then updates.  There is an option for inactivity timer.  Please set that to disable."

"Umm...the inactivity timer is not the problem I'm having.  I have a problem with the time for the auto update."

"Yes, miss, I do understand that.  This will solve the issue of the TV going off."

"Sure, ok, let me disable it.  But you aren't addressing my issue.  Fine, It's disabled."

"Ok, so now you shouldn't have a problem with your TV shutting off because that is now disabled."

"You do realize that I do not have a problem with the fact that the TV shuts off when I don't use the remote for 2 hours, correct?"  You do realize that the problem or the simple question I have is if there is a way to change the time that it automatically checks for updates, correct?"

"Yes, miss, I do.  What we just did will correct that problem."

"Yea, ok, sure it will. Thanks. Bye"

Imagine my shock, when at 1 am, I raced into my room, slid across the floor and almost fell on my ass just to catch the message asking me if I was OK with an update now or if I wanted to skip it.

For some reason, I thought I'd have better luck making the phone call. Apparently in the middle of the night I really enjoy repeating myself. So I called.  I told them the whole story, what I already did, and again, asked my simple question.  The phone call went the exact same way that my online chat did.

Can these people not simply listen????

So yea, the dish TV service itself is great.....the customer service is essentially useless. Woo Hoo!!

After 3 phone calls, one today, hoping that maybe the day people actually listened, I got an answer.  At this current time, because the hopper software is new, there is no way to change the time on the auto-update.  It is an issue they are looking into and will hopefully have addressed soon.  I got a guy who listened to what I said when I called!!!   He also read the notes, and was as confused as I was about what the hell they were doing.  Good to know I wasn't just crazy.

All I hope is that I don't ever decide to call them in the middle of the night again because I have a better chance of fixing the problem by asking my cats what to do. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Things I wish customers at restaurants understood

In today's world, with social media, there are plenty of places for those of us in food service to share their opinions.  I feel like some of them are written in a very negative way and give us all a bad rap. Most of us that choose to work in the food service industry do so because we get off on the thrill of it.  The crazy chaos and rush of it all is exciting.  And we do like people!  I meet tons of awesome people at work and the majority of people are nice and good people.

I feel like everybody should have to work at a restaurant at some point in their lives.  The experience will give you a new-found appreciation for what people actually do.  I'm not here to say that my job is harder than yours or more stressful, or anything like that.  Every job has its own set of stressors, good parts, and bad parts.  But I feel like many people have no idea how a restaurant works and have unrealistic expectations about what we can and can't do in a short time frame.

Where I work, we have a menu unlike any other local menu. We also have an open kitchen, with 3 people at most working at any time.  Everything we do is right out in the open, right there where you can watch it all happen. This is good and bad.  It's not a common restaurant with your average food items and therefore it's confusing to many people.  And that's fine.  I know the menu, I can explain it to you, I enjoy suggesting items to you and telling you what you really should try!  But it'd be nice if when people asked questions they listened to the answer too.  That would make things run much smoother, that's for sure.  When you say you want pork ribs, and I ask which pork ribs, and tell you the two options and you answer "Yes," or "the pork ribs," we aren't getting anywhere.   Same goes for if there are 3 of you ordering together....if you are all getting ribs, and I asked one person which ribs, I'm going to ask you too.  Maybe have an answer ready? Or make me repeat myself to every single person with you.  That's fine too.  I can do it in my sleep.  But your order will be put in quicker if I don't have to.

Here's a few other things that I wish I could say, but don't because you are the customer and I am here to work and help you:

  • When we are really busy, please don't take offense to the fact that we cannot engage in a full conversation with you during the entire time you are here.  I assure you that if you come in on a day where we don't have a line out the door, we will discuss your trip to Kansas City, how your ribs were, and your grandmother's grits recipe.  But when we are crazy busy, talking to you or anybody that much just isn't an option if we want to actually get everybody's food ready in any sort of a timely fashion.  You may not realize but at every second we are concentrating and have a running list 15 things long of what we are doing or will be doing next.  It's difficult to break that concentration, figure out where we were, and start over while getting your food ready quickly enough that you don't get angry. We can either chat with you about your life, or get food cooked quickly.  Although you may not be in a rush, the other people waiting may be.  If you want to fully chat, come when it's slow! We will talk with you, we'd love to!
  • When there is a line out the door and you wait twenty minutes before it's even your turn to order, please know what you want!  If you have questions, that's fine, but when it's your turn and you haven't looked at the menu, you are holding up everything and everybody.  The urge I have to say "Go to the back of the line and come back when you are ready" is overwhelming.  The urge the other people in line have to say that to you is probably stronger than my urge.
  • If we run out of something, we are out of it.  We try our hardest to never let this happen.  But we also cook fresh food and sometimes the demand is far more than we anticipated.  We feel awful when this happens.  Yelling or being rude about the fact that we ran out of something isn't going to make it magically appear. Whining about it is even worse, especially if you are a grown man.  If your entire day is ruined because we ran out of something, maybe call before you come so your day isn't ruined next time.  Same with driving here.  We love that people drive over an hour to come get our food.  That's awesome.  But if there is only one thing you like, maybe call before you make that drive, just to be sure we have it.  Also, when we say we are out of something, we are actually out of it....even if you can see it. The reason there is probably some left is because all the people in front of you ordered it and  I haven't finished packing their orders yet.  I'm not holding out on you waiting for you to express anger or whine before I will give it to you.
  • When you are standing with 30 other people waiting for your food, I assure you, we are doing our absolute best to get everything out quickly. Although you can see the cook, asking him, or anybody else where "YOUR" order is isn't going to make it any quicker. Everybody wants their food quickly, and we are trying to please all of you, not just one of you.  First of all, I don't know where YOUR order is because I honestly cannot remember who YOU are. There are 30 of YOU that all want your orders.  Secondly, if I have to go through all the slips, find "yours" and try to guess a time, everything is going to be held up, including YOUR order.  Have a little faith that we are working as fast as we can (which you may have noticed while watching?) to ensure that you have good quality food, and we put your entire order together correctly.  We are doing this for you and everybody else standing near you.  If wait time really is a big concern, it may be best to call your order in before you come.
  • We have our full menu available online. If you are going to phone in an order, please know what you want.  Read the menu, pick your fixens', write it down, then call.  I cannot read the entire menu to you when you call. What you can't see is the 20 people waiting to order their food and the 20 people waiting for their food to be bagged while I sit on the phone with you.  We can answer questions without a problem, then you can call back when you know what you'd like.  Please don't call and continually say "hold on," while you read off things to your family and they decide what they want. Also, if you ask how many people something feeds, and I tell you an answer, say 4-5, trust that I'm not lying.  Remember, I work here and I know how many people our dinners feed.  When I tell you this and you tell me about your family, in depth, and how much they eat, then ask me again, I want to hang up on you.  I don't know your family.  I do know how many people our food can feed generally.  You probably know how much your family eats better than I do. Figure it out and call back.
  • Groupons have a price amount on them, for example $45.  The entire menu has prices on it.  Simple math can help you add up these items before you are ready to place your order.  If you do this, you won't have to wait at the register, trying to spend $15 more by adding 1 of everything on the menu.  You also won't have to continually ask, "what's my total?" after every item. Another great idea is to ask how you can spend it.  I always offer a half rack of ribs, cold, that can be used as a quick dinner later in the week when you are rushed and haven't made any food. It's quick and easy for us and you too!
  • If you are in a rush, let us know when you order.  We can suggest things that are very quick and can have you leaving soon. If you are in a rush and order the things on the menu that take the longest, you are going to be waiting. Everybody is busy and has places to be.  I'm not able to put your order first, unless you'd like to ask everybody else waiting if they don't mind because you are in a rush!  It can go either way, and you can decide. Either order what I suggested will be done quickest, or order what you want and wait. It can't go both ways.   
  • If you ask me what's good, I will tell you what I honestly think is worth eating!!  It's all good, but I will tell you my favorite.  Try it!!  I'm not lying! Don't make me go through an entire suggestion for your family for you to simply say "No, we want....blah blah blah" If you knew what you wanted, why bother asking me???
  • If you don't like something, let us know!  We want everybody happy and we think our food is great.  Maybe you don't.  If you come and tell us why you don't like something, or that something is cooked wrong or doesn't taste right, we can give you something else to try. But we have to know.  We can't just guess.  If you don't tell us, then go and write a bad review that isn't really giving us a fair chance.  Let us fix it.  
  • Keep in mind that we are all only human.  We do our best every day.  We work our asses off and we sit afterwards and think of where we messed up or what went wrong and how to fix it for next time. I'd love to say we go home and forget about this place, but that's a lie. We all get upset when we hear bad things, or we know the night just didn't go well.  We try to get everybody's food quickly and correctly, but on some occasions, like events ending, game days,etc., everybody has the same great idea to eat at the same time.  And you all come at once.  And order at the same time. And want to eat at the same time.  And there is only so much we can cook at one time. So give us a little bit of extra time. You can see us working our tails off.  Interrupting up or giving us death stares doesn't help you get your food quicker.
  • Lastly, although we may know all of you by face, we don't all know what you order.  Please be helpful when you order and tell us what you want.  If you think the cook knows and feel the need to not tell the person taking your order and simply say "he knows how I like it" the chances you get it that way are slim.  The person cooking may not even see you standing there, may not remember how YOU like it, or may not even know which slip is yours because we are so busy. And yelling it out to the person cooking isn't going to help.  It will slow them down, and by time they even get to your slip, they probably won't remember.  But if it's written on the slip, when you order your food, they will see it. So tell us any changes or specifics when you order.   It's not personal. We appreciate that you think we can remember 100 people and the specific way they like their food, but really, we aren't that good!  Sorry.  

That's all for now folks...what did I miss?? Obviously, I missed tips, which itself is a different story for a different day!  Anything else?? Share it in the comments, I'd love to hear it!

Bedtime routine gone wrong

Look at her in all her chunky glory.  You just have to love her.

Today I am going to share a story that will make me look like a crazy cat lady...110%. No doubt. Let it be known that I actually do have a boyfriend, a life, a job, and friends.  I know reading this story you may really doubt me, but I swear, I'm actually not a crazy cat lady.  But my cats do rule my damn house and I have no control over these things anymore.  I can't stop this. It's been going on far too long and there is nothing I can do. Plus, I love my kitties and well, this is how it is.  It's a bit too late to try to solve this problem. 

Off to bed we go.  Sunshine has slept in my room with me for all 14 years of her life.  She has no intention of stopping now.  She sleeps next to me, cuddled up against me and after an hour or so has almost my entire half of the bed because she stretches herself out. Whatever, I can handle that.  What I can't handle, but still do handle every night, is the "bedtime routine."  It's worse than anything I've dealt with involving kids.

True story, every single night at bedtime....
I head into bed, and grab Sunshine.  She is old, fat, and has arthritis, so jumping into my fairly high bed is a battle for her.  She basically hooks her claws near the top and climbs her way up.  So bringing her into bed seems like it'd be the logical thing to do.   But she won't stay in bed.  That would be far too easy.  

Off she goes to eat something and do whatever around the house, while we fall asleep.  About 15 minutes after I'm in bed, about to fall asleep, the crying begins.  This cat doesn't even know how to meow, and makes some odd squeaking noise, REPEATEDLY walking through the house. It's loud. She makes it sound like she is dying because she is so lonely.  I call her from the bedroom  because apparently she has forgotten where we went and is devastated about being alone in the house.  She slowly walks into my bedroom with her long nails clicking across the wood floors.  I can hear where she is the entire time because she WILL NOT let anybody clip her nails.  When she's close, I tell her to jump into bed.  She stops walking, then it goes silent.  (I'm pretty sure she is just sitting on the floor, making sure I almost fall back to sleep before her next move.)  Once it's been a minute or two and I'm almost asleep, she goes over to the plastic trash barrel under my nightstand and bangs it against the wall, repeatedly.   This is usually the point where I get mad.  But I can't yell because she will run away, do her scratching routine elsewhere, and come back to start over the entire process.  She's trained me over the years.  It's just easier to do it her way and I will get to sleep earlier.

Generally, at this point, I can convince her to jump on the bed.  It's a 50/50 chance that she will listen and do her half jumping/half climbing thing.  If not, I usually will untangle myself from Justin, roll half way out of bed and pick her up myself.  She likes to back away from me as far as possible during this, just so that I almost fall face first out of bed. 
Finally, she is in bed.  But it's not quite over.  If I don't pet her, she will go stand on my nightstand and stare at me.  It's freaky.  So I usually half ass pet her for a few minutes until she lays down. I keep the blanket over my head before if she can see my face, she will lick my entire face.  It hurts! And well, I don't actually enjoy getting my face licked clean before bed. Who knew. Then finally, she lays down.  She's just like Justin in the sense that in about 30 seconds she is sound asleep.  On my arm.  All 15 lbs of her.   And my arm falls asleep. EVERY.FREAKING.NIGHT.

Yep, and I let this happen....because this cat knows all my secrets.  She lived with me through my twenties and may even remember things I can't remember.  It scares me. She could start her own blog and I may be in a little bit of trouble!  

But really, she's a sweetie.  Every night she pisses me off.  Then she comes into bed and purrs so loud and is so happy to lay next to me.  I'm a sucker.  I fall for this every night.  The odd part is that she has really become Justin's cat.  She is with him anytime he's home, but for some reason, she's all mine at bedtime.  Awesome.