The Airing of Grievances

Before my relatives panic, this post is not the airing of FAMILY grievances, but rather a small collection of annoyances that have been piling up on my desk over the last couple of months awaiting an opportunity to get them posted on the blog.  It occurred to me today that this would be a perfect time to get this done.  And why is this the perfect time… well, in tribute to the classic Seinfeld episode, it’s “Festivus for the Rest of Us”.  Taking the risk this post will make me out to be a heartless, puppy kicking grinch, I begin…

  • To Peoria news stations, stop reporting on the fictitious high unemployment rate the area is supposedly experiencing.  Why do I believe this is a waste of air time?  Well, this opinion is due mainly to one indicator that is almost always a positive side effect of high unemployment – the Service Meter.  High unemployment by definition implies there are multiple applicants for just about every job – especially in the service industry.  This in turn means the employer has a choice when hiring.  For example, an employer, could say, choose an individual that has higher math skills to fill a numbers related opening like a cashier.  Additionally, it could be a tipping point if one applicant is very positive and cheerful for a position that interacts directly with a customer.  But alas, this doesn’t seem to be the case around here.

    Example #1: A few of us went out to lunch at a local restaurant that begins with an A and ends with an S that serves cheap Italian food.  After completing our meals we headed to the lobby area to pay.  A friend ahead of me was joking about the condition of his penny looked (looks like it had been found by a weekend warrior with a metal detector) and was glad he could finally get rid of it.  It occurred to me that I didn’t have a penny meaning my change due would likely result his penny heading to me.  I gave the cashier my $6 for the $5.27 bill.  As soon as she rang it in, a friend behind me gave her two pennies to apply to my payment (jokingly to prevent me from getting the bad penny).  What proceeded stunned us both.  She literally stared at her register tray picking up random coins and looking dumbfounded.  After about 30 seconds my friend told her the change would be 75 cents which was met with “Thanks, I’m just not good at this thing”  I would have laughed if I wasn’t mortified.  Of course, this is the same restaurant that charges more for two half loafs of bread than one whole loaf (trust me, there is a picture of that menu coming in a future blog).

    Example #2: Linda and I went to a Burger King to get a quick bite to eat while shopping in the area.  After struggling to get my order taken (see the hamburger grievance below) we proceeded to wait for our order to be filled.  We waited and waited and waited while they worked on getting the chicken sandwich cooked – note, we were the ONLY people in there.  Meanwhile, they have my hamburger done sitting on the non-heated ready shelf.  Pretty soon the manager grabs up our fries from the heated fry shelf, slaps it on a tray and sticks it up on the non-heated shelf and proceeded to head for the bathroom.  For the next 10 minutes I stood there staring at my cooling fries and hamburger.  Eventually the chicken finishes cooking.  Sure enough the chicken and hamburger are put on the now cold fry tray and handed to us.  Needless to say, we demanded warm fries (note, manager never did come back).

    Example #3: We made a quick run to McDonalds to get something to drink before Linda’s doctor’s appointment.  The drive-thru was pretty busy (maybe 8 cars lined up) so we went inside to make our order (where there was only one party ahead of us).  Our total order was one small hot chocolate and one small Sprite.  I didn’t clock it, but I had to wait over 15 minutes for them to actually make my hot chocolate.  That 15 minutes actually felt more like 30 minutes having to endure their conversations:

    Hit the jump to see the rest of the grievances:
    Continue reading The Airing of Grievances

Them Girls are Deceptive

There are a few things I really look forward to over the course of the year. This includes standing at the top of the slopes with the feet strapped into the Burton, lining up at the start of the Bix7 race and setting up for the annual Halloween cookout (oh, in case she is reading this, coming home every day to see Linda). Not to be left out, ripping into the first box of frozen Girl Scout Thin Mints is ranked right up there in the top ten. Unfortunately, it is getting harder and harder to actually order boxes. The daughters of my friends are now either to old for selling cookies or on the other end of the age spectrum. This year a friend of mine let me order from his relative and my Sister-in-Law was able to put in n order for me with one of her contacts from the school she teaches at. Once the orders came I rushed home and cleared space in the freezer and patiently waited for those babies to chill. Now I have to ask, is there really any form of food that tastes better than a frozen Thin Mint? (any answer other than NO is an unacceptable response by the way)

So, after a couple of hours, the time had arrived.  Freezer door opened with haste, the green box grabbed with zeal and seconds later I had ripped through the packaging to get to the goods.  Suddenly, the frantic pace came to a halting screech.  Have you opened a chip bag lately and been disappointed in the amount of empty space inside the packaging?  Regardless of whether the vendor feels guilty enough to add the “Some settling may occur” marketing line to the packaging, you feel a little empty inside, an emptiness originating out of a overwhelming feeling you’ve been taken.  Actually, I think the better word is d-e-c-e-i-v-e-d.  To my surprise, this is the exact same feeling I got while staring at the inner packaging … apparently some settling had occurred.  This picture below doesn’t provide the best angle for comparison, but you can tell there is a definite difference between the height of the box and the interior sleeve of thin mints. Due to the fact these cookies are like crack, I had consumed a majority of the package before realizing I forgot to assess the difference in cookie units between the inner packaging and the extra space in the box.  Post estimate has this at about 4-5 cookies x2 for the two sleeves and you are looking at 8-10 cookies that won’t be pleasing the taste buds.

However, there is more to this devious story.  My friend’s order was fulfilled by a Chicago area scout troop.  In line with how politics goes in this state, the “down-staters” once again take it on chin.  Cookies in the Chicago area are sold at a cost of $4.00 per box.  Contrast that with the local scout troop charge of $3.50 per box.  My Sister-in-Law’s order came in this week allowing me to verify that the local cookie boxes also had less than a full cookie box sleeve.  This means both investments fell short of expectations, but the empty space in the first box cost my $.50 more.  I wonder if they get a merit badge with a giant screw on it if they sell a certain number of boxes.

Okay, before someone gets all worked up, this post was somewhat in jest.  I realize it is a fund raiser for a good cause and I not at all concerned about the monetary difference between the various troop regions.  Actually, I congratulate them for embracing supply and demand principles and charging what the market can bear.  They might want to consider hanging out on streets and passing out a  free frozen thin mint to people who pass by – guaranteed people would be back drooling with money in hand looking for the next hit.. I mean bite.  I did get the empty feeling in my stomach when I saw the dead space in the packaging.  After all, per Wikipedia, the Girl Scout code consists of “I will do my best to be honest and fair”.

Before I leave this post, I wanted to mention something my brother brought to my attention.  During one of our calls, he mentioned that McDonald’s had their Shamrock Shakes available again.  Don’t ask me how we ended up on this topic, but he confessed when he orders these shakes he has them add in the crushed Oreo topping used in their McFlurries.  The resultant concoction tastes like a Thin Mint shake.  Intrigued, Linda and I ordered one while traveling to a dog show in Wisconsin.  After 15 minutes of trying to explain what I wanted to the cashier, her calling over the manager, both exchanging looks of utter contempt and a hundred buttons being pushed on the register they finally produced the augmented shake (note, based on the amount I had to pay for this sucker, I think they ended up charging for the shake and a small cone).  I grabbed the shake and headed back to the car taking special effort not to look back for any mocking that might have been going on.

Safely in our car, Linda and I dug into the experiment.  Survey says… Not Bad!  I am not entirely sure it was worth the trouble to order, but it definitely tasted like a Thin Mint shake.  Kudos to my brother for discovering this.  On second thought, we probably should not be that surprised since his repeat business has basically earned him an honorary degree from the McDonald’s Academy!

Later peeps, I’m heading down for some tasty frozen slices straight from heaven.

A Service Recap

I thought I would take the time to recap some recent service experiences I have had.  If you recall, I was complaining about having to load just about all of the cement bags at Menards by myself.  I am still a little torqued about that, but I ended up patronizing their store again to purchase the treated lumber for the bridge span (which will sit atop the cement purchased previously).  In this load (and there will be multiple) I purchased 25 2x12x12x10′ and 15 2x2x8′ treated boards.  Pulling into the wood shed, my heart sank noticing that the 10’s were on the end of the  SECOND floor of the shed which has one set of stairs a loooong way away.  The worst part of it, is the distance from the second to first floor which made it impossible to simply slide the boards over the edge and then move them to the truck.  A close second was the weight of these boards.  If you want to test your strength wrestle a few of these babies out of their storage location in a small aisle.  I made it through 3 and quickly decided this was going to take a few hours.  Although my history of help is less than stellar at Menards, I noticed an employee on a forklift helping someone on the other side of the shed.  A few internal pride discussion ensued before walking down and asking the guy to help me when he was done.  He agreed and promptly came over to help once his other business was completed.  Turns out the railings of the aisle come off providing a means to simply slide the boards straight out and across the raised forklifts.  He helped load the 25 boards on the lifts, assisted in moving them to my truck and then went with me to help get the 15 8 footers which are stored in another location (I have no idea why by the way).  So I need to keep some credit to Menards and their employee (ironically named Bryan) some credit for saving some sweat and allowing me to get out of there in under 30 minutes.

Contrasting this with a Burger King visit last week in East Peoria.  Hungry after a night out, Linda and I decided to catch a late quick dinner.  This place actually keeps a display in their back kitchen area that grades their service for the day.  Rarely have I ever seen it over a ‘C-‘  but that night it was at an ‘A’.  We walked up to the counter and looked for someone to take our order – everybody was back in the prep area.  Minutes passed before one of the employees said he would be there in a little bit… waiting … waiting …. waiting.  Finally he comes up and takes our order where I explicitly state I want onion rings instead of their fries.  I go to pay and he walks away and says someone else will be back to get my money.. waiting … waiting …. waiting.  A lady eventually comes up and takes my money.  The food arrives the original clerk asks me if I want sauce for the chicken fries – thankful for him asking since I always forget, I requested one ranch and one sweet sour.  He then stuns me and questions “You do not want more than that?”  I responded that I really wanted two sweet and sour (which I did) and he said sure, “We don’t charge you like some stores try to do!”  I knew exactly who he was talking about and thanked him for the free extra condiments.  Although I had to wait, this experience put a satisfied smile on my face… which lasted until I was driving back to the house and Linda informs me they gave me crappy fries instead of the requested onion rings – Sigh.

Note, as a confession I was early to Menards on Sunday so dropped by Micky D’s to get a quick breakfast sandwich.  I order a sausage and egg (no cheese) bagel.  Forgetting to check before I left, the prophecy came true about carry out and there was cheese on the sandwich.  I honestly though that the service industry was better when the unemployment rate was high but  it is cresting over double digits now (thank you current government and oh great no change orator) and the service is not improving.

Oh well, shame on me for not validating the orders I guess.

A Holy Sighting at MickeyD’s

Holy McDonaldsYesterday, my wife and I stopped in at the McDonald’s in Knoxville, IL for a quick dinner.  We were heading up to Davenport, IA for another agility dog show.  On our way out I held the door open for two elderly ladies.  The first one was utilizing a cane and was definitely struggling to navigate the walkways.  I must mention the fact they both expressed their appreciation for my deed which seems to be a dying concept in today’s society.  Oftentimes I’ll hold the door open on my way out of an establishment without a bit of acknowledgement.  Probably the most irritating is when they simply walk out past me without reaching out for the door so I can continue on my way. 

Back on topic, I finished holding the door and proceeded alongside the ladies to my car.  They ended up turning left into the parking lot between a truck and car.  As soon as the lady with the cane passed the truck window, a large dog jumped at her barking loudly.  It startled me a little bit, but guessing resulted in a Depends moment for the lady.  She turned white and screamed “Jesus Christ!”  I tried, but couldn’t hold back a laugh.  Either she saw the white light, was seriously pissed off or in fact Jesus might have wanted some tasty nuggets. 

 Note, as I was leaving the parking lot it hit me that the golden arches actually looked like a broken halo.

Would You Like Some “Screw You” On That?

Burger Money

First off, go check out the latest posts at the Dead Reckonings Forum for some fascinating discussion on the impact metal had on naval navigation.  When you are done you can come back here and read my stupid rant on McDonalds.

Back so soon? … or were you captivated by my less than stellar graphic?  Anyway, on to my rant.  My wife and I were on our way to a dog show in Caseyville, IL when we stopped off at a Mickey D’s in Bartonville.  As a note, there were other places we could have stopped to that point including Subway, Hardees and KFC, but I had a taste for some yellow arches.  As we walked up to the counter I noticed a sign had been added to the menu detailing their new policy involving an ADDITIONAL charge for any condiments added to an item that doesn’t normally come on it.  I then immediately recalled that my wife had come home griping about this policy when she went to one in Peoria.

I decided to read it slowly again in order to understand all the nuances, but it basically just resulted in more questions.  The clerk finished ringing up my wife’s order and then prompted me for my selection.  I decided to lead with “so if I get my sandwich plain, do I get it for less?”  This resulted in an answer explaining how the meal is a few cents cheaper than ordering everything together. Apparently, this request went sailing over her head.  I restated the question and emphasized the plain “sandwich” part.  This got a strange look so I tried again and referenced the fact the sign above her stated that adding a condiment increased the priced so removing the standard available condiment should be less.  “No, we don’t do that” was the response … as in not discounting the sandwich.  I decided continuing this discussion was going to get me nowhere, so I ordered by plain sandwich and made a personal decision to contact McDonalds and talk to a graduate of their fine McDonald’s University.  I am still awaiting a response (no, not holding my breadth), but the way I see it, I am obviously paying the cost of a fully condimented (is that a word?) sandwich.  This mean I have been increasing their profit margin every time I order there.  This makes me sick and from this point on I will choose one of the other establishments and get the sandwich the way I want it.

By the way, my wife ended up answering my second question as to whether removing something off the sandwich from the standard condiment list would allow me to get option added for free.  That answer is a big NOPE! – kudos for my wife for actually getting an answer to that scenario.

The good thing about a bad economy (thank you money lending criminals) is I have many many choices to spend my money and you would therefore think establishments would be a little more customer friendly and not jeopardize future sales for the price of a condiment.

Oh well, was that a Quiznos over there?

That’s One for the Fail

I happen to be a huge fan of the various “Fail” sites on the Internet.  Just in case you are not familiar with them, basically they collect images and photos of things that fit into a generic failed category.  This could be such things as an engineering failure, a social failure, a design failure or the most common types, signs and descriptions that are incorrectly worded.  Two of the best sites on the web are http://www.engrish.com and http://failblog.org. The first catering to bad translations and the second for the ever popular “Owned” images.  As an avid fan, I am always on the lookout for items like this and over the years have collected quite a few.  I lot of mine can be found at http://www.eddiesoft.com/den/den/scat/miscscat.html.  I decided it would be fitting to include some of the new ones on this blog since after all, this is all about observations.  Warning, some of these are mature oriented.

As a the first in this new category, I’m going to start with a chocolate marshmallow treat I was given in my last Christmas stocking.  Chocolate covered marshmallow treats is nearly an addiction for me so I was eager to bite into the sweetness.  This feeling changed abruptly once I got it out of the packaging.

Snowman Treat

All I could think of was South Park and their quite disturbing character Mr. Hanky.  This character actually being a talking/singing piece of poo with arms, eyes and a Santa hat.

Mr. Hanky

Before I forget, I grabbed this image off of the net.  If someone has an issue with me using it, just let me know along with proof you have rights and I’ll find another one to replace it.  Now I ask you, is this really the impression the candy company is trying to capture?  The confectionery creators didn’t care, so I’m assuming they either don’t watch the show or it is a secret inside joke to them.  In either case, I’m going with another brand next time.

I have some more fails after the jump

Continue reading That’s One for the Fail