Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dear Sears, All I want for Christmas.........

Early Monday morning as I rode in to work, I heard an ad on the radio for Sears. They are having a "Wishing Hours" sale everyday this week starting at 4:00 PM. The sale is both in the stores and online. One of the featured items for Monday and Tuesday was a Craftsman cordless impact screwdriver for $9.99, 75% off of the usual $39.95 price.

Monday afternoon I went to the bank and headed back to the restaurant. As I drove past Sears, I looked at the clock and saw that it was 4:15. I decided to go into Sears and pick up one of the sale screwdrivers. I walked into the hardware area and asked a salesman where the screwdriver that was featured in the sale starting at 4:00 was located. He knew nothing about a sale. He called over another employee, who likewise knew nothing about the sale. A quick survey of the hardware area produced FOUR employees who had not heard anything about a "Wishing Hours" sale. The first clerk then paged a member of management, who knew nothing about the sale, but headed off to find out. About 10 minutes later he reappeared to tell me that the sale was in the lawn and garden area for 10% off of most items. I pointed out that I had heard the ad THREE times that morning mentioning the screwdriver. He told me that he knew nothing about any screwdriver on sale. I told him that I would call the National Customer Service line when I got home and let them find out about it. This apparently threw his "CYA" instincts into high gear and he walked over to the screwdriver display and called out an item number for a clerk to check on the cash register. The clerk responded that the price was $9.99. "I'll take one!" was all I had to say. After a couple of minutes the clerk trying to find the screwdriver called out the number to the guy manning the register. A product inquiry showed 12 on order and none in stock. By this time, I had been in the store for almost 30 minutes. I took a rain check and headed out.

After I had calmed down the next day, I called the Sears National Customer Service line. After confirming that I speak English and waiting on hold for about 4 minutes, I was able to speak to a representative. I calmly recounted the events of the previous day to her. She then asked me about a few details. The first question sent me over the edge. "Are you sure that it is called a Wishing Hour sale?" "Lady, I heard the ad three times on the radio. In addition to that, I heard it on the music and messages being played while I was on hold waiting for you to answer the phone. If you don't believe me, call yourself and get put on hold. You can hear it then!" Sensing an imminent explosion, I told her, "Let me sum it up for you. Your marketing department placed ads on the radio, so that customers will come to the stores, for sales that your employees know nothing about, to buy products that you don't have in stock. Does any of this make sense?" She then tried to say something about how quantities are limited, before I cut her off. "I was the first person in the store to ask about one. This isn't about limited quantities, this is about non-existent quantities!" I then explained that I didn't need a letter or a call from anyone at Sears about this. I told her to let them know that the next time they were trying to figure out why sales suck, this incident could give them a little

I checked both Tuesday and Wednesday, still no screwdriver. I am going by this afternoon on my way to work. My older son thinks that by the time I check on it a few more days, they will just send one over to the restaurant to keep me out of the store. Maybe by Christmas?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Bah! Humbug!

Thanksgiving Day- The national tribute to gluttony. As I sit here having consumed my carb limit for the next week, I thought I would get caught up before Christmas.

If you think that people are in better moods with the holidays, you're wrong. The asshole count among customers jumps dramatically at this time of the year.

Listening to the radio the other day, I heard a spot about a local town having their "Holiday Festival Parade". I'm thinking that this is Politically Correct speech for "Christmas Parade".

Periodically at the restaurant, someone asks for plastic carryout utensils to use. These people are afraid that our silverware is not sanitary enough for them to use. Instead, they want to use plastic utensils made somewhere in China, packaged by people they will never see, in conditions uninspected by any health department, loaded into shipping containers, brought across the Pacific by ship, hauled across the country by truck, and then sold at the lowest price possible. If there's a God in heaven, there's lead in those plastic forks and spoons.

Even worse than the plastic utensil morons are the "hot water" morons. They ask for a cup of hot water to soak their silverware in before use. I once asked one of the "hot water morons" if they also did that at home before eating. She responded, "My silverware at home is more sanitary." I then asked her if she pre-soaked her silverware at home, what the temperature and duration of both the wash and rinse cycles were, and how often she checked the strength of the sanitizing solution. Unable to answer any of my questions, I explained that we were required to do all of those things. My offer to send a health inspector over to her home to check her procedures went unanswered, if you don't count the grunt and the waving of her middle finger.

At the monthly meeting of the Chapman Society the other night, we had a "show and tell" program. We all brought items and stories to share. I took some bayonets and an aircraft urinal. Yes, an aircraft urinal. It was the only one in the room.

The price of gas has dropped a few cents in the last week. Apparently oil companies are finding that $3 a gallon is the point at which motorists begin cutting usage. It takes more than a little K-Y jelly on the nozzle to keep filling up at that price.

If you don't believe that Barnum could see into the future, check out the time the mall in your town is opening on Friday. Four Seasons Town Center in Greensboro is opening at 1:00 A.M. Last year, someone told me that they were in line outside a store at 3:00 A.M. waiting for some "great deal". I explained that I wouldn't get into a line at 3:00 A.M. if they were giving away blowjobs.

Wal-Mart is running TV ads tonight about how they will be opening "extra cash register lines" for the big shopping weekend. What's the big deal about opening a couple of more lines where you check out your own stuff? The local Wal-Marts have about 30 cash registers but only open 2 or 3. Why buy registers that you won't hire a cashier to operate? It really doesn't matter, I'm not going to Wally World anyway.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Ho! Ho! Ho!

A firm in Australia that recruits and furnishes Santa Clauses for stores and malls has instructed their Santas not to use the traditional "Ho! Ho! Ho!" for fear that it might offend women. They are asked to use "Ha! Ha! Ha!" It just doesn't get any stupider than this.

Not as easily satisfied, the Politically Correct crowd in this country will soon have Santa chanting "Lady of the evening, Lady of the evening, Lady of the evening."

I guess that the politically correct crowd has never seen the "Surplus Santa" on Lee Street in Greensboro. The local Army surplus store puts a big guy outside with the white beard and red hat dressed in camo. Barnum would be proud.

As long as I am on this Santa streak, here's one of my favorite Santa jokes. This one is for Ken Blitchington, the increasingly rotund US Airways pilot, who claims to be my only friend. An inspector from the FAA visits Santa a couple of weeks before Christmas to inspect his sleigh and make sure that it is airworthy. After inspecting his sleigh, the inspector climbs into the sleigh with Santa to go for a check ride. As Santa prepares for takeoff, the FAA inspector pulls a shotgun from his bag. Santa asks "What are you doing with the gun?" The inspector replies, "You are going to lose an engine on takeoff."
As Santa says in Australia, "Ha! Ha! Ha!"

As a man of stocky proportions, I have often played Santa during the holidays. Like any other self respecting fat guy, I have my own suit. We're po' folks. The only thing that I inherited from my grandfather was his Santa suit. Several years ago on the TV show "Evening Shade", Charles Durning was complaining about playing Santa. "They are always asking every fat white guy to play Santa. I'm tired of it! Do they run around at Easter asking every guy with buck teeth to play the Easter Bunny?"
As Santa says in Australia, "Ha! Ha! Ha!"

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Theatre of the Absurd

Senator "Fat Teddy" Kennedy opposed the nomination of Michael Mukasey as Attorney General because Mukasey refused to make a statement on "waterboarding". If Mukasey had any courage, he would have told Fat Teddy that while he would not make a statement on waterboarding, he would make one on young women suffocating in a Senator's car while submerged. Forget waterboarding! You can just strap a terrorist into Fat Teddy's backseat and have Ted try to drive him over a bridge. That's as close to simulating drowning as anyone needs to get before telling all they know.

The United States Senate is going to investigate several evangelists to see if they are misusing donations. Hello??? Anybody home in the Senate? How about the Senate releasing a financial statement? Senators are concerned that evangelists are being chauffeured around in expensive cars. Who do those people think they are, Senators?? How many government officials ride in limos? How about a count on that one, Senators?? If Billy Bob and his semi-literate cousin and wife Earline, want to send Oral Roberts twenty bucks, I don't care. At least it is voluntary. I don't believe that the payment of taxes to support the US Senate and the rest of the government is voluntary. I guess the government thinks that it is the only organization allowed to squander the public's money!!

An employee asked me the other day how I felt about "waterboarding"? I told him that I would answer as soon as he told me how he felt about videotaped beheadings. I'm still waiting for an answer.

Hillary Clinton believes that her experience as First Lady qualifies her to be President. The good news for the Democrats is that if sleeping with Bill Clinton qualifies a woman for the Presidency, they have quite a selection available.

To the person who asked me if the Hollywood writer's strike is responsible for my infrequent postings of late: Call the doctor, tell him to cut the dosage or change your medication. It isn't working.

Continuing in that vein, I can't believe that the late night shows are in reruns due to the writer's strike. This means that Leno and Letterman don't know enough other comedians to help them come up with five minutes of material for a monologue four times a week. That's pathetic! Brittany Spears is still running loose and they can't come up with anything funny?

Gas went up twenty cents a gallon in one day last week. So naturally enough, as mentioned earlier, the United States Senate is investigating evangelists. If only Exxon were a church!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Confessions of a restaurant guy

"Savor" is the name of the section of the Wednesday edition of the News and Record that used to be the "Food" section. I guess that "Savor" gives the news and recipes a little more class. As a restaurant guy, I read that section every week. It's like watching a wreck, you don't want to watch, but you do anyway.

I am always fascinated by the stories about restaurants in the area. Next to restaurant reviews, I hate those stories the most.

Ken Blitchington, "my only friend", tells me that I'm a pretty picky eater for a restaurant guy. He may be right. After 37 years in the restaurant business, I can finally admit it, I hate to go out for dinner.

Right now, you are probably asking yourself, "Is he crazy?". I guess that you missed the name of the blog. For me, going out to eat is like going to work. After watching my employees at work all day, I now get to pay to watch someone else's employees.

One of my pet peeves is waiters or waitresses who come to the table and introduce themselves. We have all heard it. " Hi! I'm Sally and I'll be taking care of you tonight." First thought, at my age, if an attractive woman comes up and tells me that she is "taking care of me tonight", food is not the first thing that comes to mind. Second thought, having erased my first thought and realizing that "Sally" is speaking of my dining experience, is she doing everything? Is she taking care of the dishes, the restrooms, cooking the food, cleaning up, and everything else associated with my dining experience? Of course not, she's just taking the credit. If you complain about something, she will quickly point out that someone else caused that.

Last week my wife and I were eating lunch at the Red Lobster in Williamsburg and heard a variation on the introduction. The waiter introduced himself and then said "I'll be taking excellent care of you today." I fought off the urge to tell him that the quality judgement was mine to make, and even passed up calling him a liar on the way out.

The cure for this introduction is to do as I have done when dining out on my son's birthday. After the waiter finishes his introduction, do your own. " I'm Gilbert, that is William, that is Walter, this is my wife, Susan. We will be your customers tonight." Once your family starts speaking to you again, it is pretty funny.

Water. Since the diabetes came, all I drink at dinner is water. Have you tried to get a glass of water at a restaurant lately? I don't want lemon with my water. If I had wanted low grade lemonade, I would have ordered it. You have to tell them that you DON'T want lemon, just ordering "water" isn't enough.

Napkins. Why do waiters and waitresses keep making a big deal out of you bringing you "extra napkins"? The real story is that the manager is telling them not to do it but they think that giving out extra napkins enhances their tip. Yes, I am sure to leave an extra tip for the waiter who believes that I am such a slob that I can't get by with only one napkin. Maybe, I'll just drool all over the tip next time to show my appreciation.

Fads. Remember the pepper mills of the 1970's and the 1980's? When your meal was served, some guy came by with a pepper mill the size of a bazooka and asked, "Would you like some fresh ground pepper on that?" Most people were afraid of being assaulted with the pepper mill and consented. I was content to ask, "Do you just have a pepper shaker that I can use?" Now they have added salt mills that grind out sea salt or some such shit.

But my big complaint about restaurants today and the articles in "Savor" is the amount of bullshit that you must decipher to find out what they are serving. Let me break it down for you. I would rather eat a chili dog and some greasy onion rings at the Varsity in Atlanta than sit in a yuppie-filled restaurant and listen to some pretentious bastard introduce himself, and then tell me how all the subtle flavors in the wine accentuate the flavors infused into the organic food, grown lovingly by some peasant in the nearby countryside, delivered fresh daily, in an environmentally friendly vehicle, and prepared with an array of fresh herbs by the chef, who bases all of his cooking on recipes passed down in his family since they catered the barbecue of Joan D'Arc. Frankly, I don't give a rat's ass how they do it in France.

I don't care about the lineage of my meal and how it was treated before it arrived on my plate. I don't care if it was brought to the restaurant by handcart or by a smoke-belching 1953 Mack truck. I don't care about how the people live where it was grown or what kind of shoes they wore to stomp the grapes in my wife's glass of wine. I don't care if it is environmentally friendly or if serving twelve more like it will bring on Armageddon. My only real concerns are "Does it contain green peas, cheese, or olives?" and "How much does it cost?".

Tips for chefs. Don't waste a lot of time decorating the plate. I'm here to eat, not take pictures of your finger painting my food with the sauce of the day. All I really need on my plate is a slab of meat and enough vegetable matter to make my wife think that I am trying to eat a "balanced" meal. By the way, quit talking about "root" vegetables like it's new information. I'm from North Carolina, I know what part of the plant that I'm eating. I'm a carnivore. I didn't climb to the top of the food chain to eat herbs and a few vegetables. My primal urge to hunt and kill needs to be satisfied with a hunk of something that had to be killed to get it to the table.

Despite being a son of the South, my taste buds have moved past the stage where anything I eat has to be "Dirt grown or deep fried", I can do broiled.

Nick Nicholas, noted restaurateur and columnist, said it best, "Just give me some god damn food!"