Rough Edges

Like everyone else on the planet today, I’ve been thinking about all the things I want to do differently in 2013. I’ve got a laundry list of things that I could tell you about myself that I’d like to focus on improving in the New Year, but some of them are too intimate and I don’t really feel like sharing them in case I don’t do so good.

But then today I got this letter mailed to me from my friend Jillian.  She attached this Post-It note to a couple of Pom Wonderful pomegranate coupons:

I peeled back the note and checked out the coupons it was attached to and just laughed my ass off. Talk about someone knowing you so well! Of course I was itching to immediately grab my scissors and start neatly trimming around the edges so I could tighten that shit up. In fact, one of the coupons she sent was so badly ripped that the tear went right through the little section where you can see the expiration date of the coupon.  C’Mon!  I was thinking to myself, “How can I even use this at the grocery store? The cashier won’t even be able to use it.”  And oh how that bothered me.

One of the poorly clipped coupons

But then I paused and thought that getting these coupons couldn’t have come at a better time for me because it reminded me that this was one of the things about myself that I wanted to work on in the New Year – my perfectionism which has probably manifested itself into a very mild form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  (Yes, I am compelled to line up my wallet “stripper ones” so that the faces are all pointing in the same direction – don’t you?)

It’s this perfectionism that has prevented me from writing more because every word has to be placed just so. It’s this perfectionism that won’t let me start a project unless I know I’ll be able to complete it 100% within weird self-imposed strict guidelines or else I’ve failed. 
I know I’m sitting here writing this and I’m not happy with how I’m getting my point across, but you know what? I need to be OK with it.  I need to console myself and say that at least I’m writing something rather than just thinking of all the things I want to write.  I’m performing an action.
In 2013, one of my resolutions is to embrace the rough edges that come my way and learn to maneuver around them. After all, it’s not always about the straight line and sometimes you just can’t find those damn scissors.
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Furry Essentials

Joann giving her signature Eskimo kiss!

Our Beagle Minnie’s groomer Furry Essentials won the 2012 Best of Worcester Reader Poll  in the pet groomer category!

I’m sad to say that I didn’t even know about this poll because I don’t actually subscribe to a print newspaper and found out about it on Facebook this afternoon, but I’m psyched for them and they deserve it.

Joann treats Minnie like a princess. Joann loves to get right down onto the floor to greet Minnie when we walk through the door. Minnie’s typical response is to get all submissive and roll over onto her side letting that fat round belly of hers hang all out in all its glory.  After much cooing and fussing, we chat for a while and I always know I’m leaving Minnie in excellent hands.

We’ve been taking Minnie to Furry Essentials for over five years. At first it was Joann and June, our dynamic duo.  But then June moved down South and Joann’s daughter-in-law Michelle starting working there and I loved her instantly.  We became Facebook friends and she was introduced to my love of Hello Kitty.  She started texting me  pictures of Hello Kitty stuff she’d see in stores which eventually morphed into buying me little Hello Kitty presents.  Now every appointment begins with her busting out some amazing little toy or trinket to give to me.    Sometimes she’ll text me a picture she’s taken of Minnie in a doggie dress which cracks me up because Minnie is SO not that kind of dog, but she endures it with her usual Zen-like calmness knowing this too shall pass.

When it’s time to pick Minnie up, Joann also has this nice little touch that she does with the invoice that I really love:  she attaches a little personalized note telling me how Minnie behaved during her visit.  She’d write things like “I was such a princess” or ” Five Paw Star” and I grew to look forward to seeing what phrase she’d come up with next to describe Minnie’s very ordinary behavior.  (Trust me, I know I’m lucky that Minnie isn’t the sort of dog that would tear things up while in the care of somebody else.  She’s more the kind of dog who is content to stay in one spot and nap hard.)

I was so happy for them when they were able to expand their business by moving to their new location. The shop is beautiful and taking Minnie there feels like she’s going to Doggy Daycare because she gets to be surrounded with all the other dogs that have their grooming appointments.  I swear they should charge admission just so people can walk into their work area, sit down on the clean floor and be instantly surrounded by 5-10 dogs of various sizes and natures.  It’s instant love, adoration and a guaranteed drop in blood pressure.

You should see Minnie when she’s with the other doggies and there is a treat to be had.  She definitely embraces that whole ‘survival of the fittest’ mentality and will do just about anything to wiggle her way closest to Joann’s hand to be in first place for a Scooby snack. She doesn’t believe in missed opportunities and she’s got the grand belly to show for it.

If you’re looking for a groomer that will treat your dog like it’s their own, then by all means visit Furry Essentials.  They’ve been my best kept secret for years.

(If you’re interested in the other winners of the 2012 Best of Worcester Reader Poll, you can check them out  here.)

Deli (en)Counters

Dear Deli Counter,

I’m writing to let you know all the things wrong with you in the hopes that you’ll shape up and embrace changes after all these years of sameness.  It’s time…

Lose the  Take-A-Ticket concept. It doesn’t work.  Don’t you know by now that ordinary folk can’t follow direction?  Probably 5% of deli customers see the ticket machine, get the ticket and wait politely waiting for their number to be called so they can place their deli order.  The rest of the 95% ignore what you’re supposed to do and just press themselves as close to the glass display case as possible trying to get the person’s attention like their ordering a drink from a bar.  If you want people to use the ticket machine, the person behind the counter needs to actually follow the process themselves.  You wait on a customer and then advance the little digital number to indicate the next customer in the que.  What doesn’t work is me walking up to the counter, pulling number 15 and the digital display says 4.  Use the technology you’ve been given! Oh, and get rid of that stupid plastic wicker basket on the counter for people to deposit their tickets into after they’re all set with their deli order.  Most people just throw the tickets on the floor and walk away. I know…people suck.

Learn from the DMV. Now that’s a system that works for stupid people.  If someone wants to order from the deli, line up benches in front of the counter so people can sit, relax and wait their goddamned turn. NOW you can use your silly take-a-ticket machine to dispense numbers.  If you do that, customers will have time to reflect on exactly what they want to order at the deli before they actually approach the counter.  No more, “Hmmmm…..let’s see….do you have any Boars Head Spicy Elephant Ears?”  They’ll just approach the counter and order their damn meat.

Stop Playing Games. When I ask you to slice it thicker, do you slice it exactly the same way and see if I notice any difference?  ‘Cause I fall for it every single time.  How am I supposed to see if you’ve added a 1/16″ more depth to my cheese slice? I’m all the way over there behind the glass with the stacks of bulkie rolls.  I can’t see that far.  I say, “Yes, much better. Thank you very much.” because I have their weird need to please you, but then I get home and have to perform surgery on my pound of American Cheese with my best knife because I can’t separate the slices because they’ve been sliced too thin. I just want a normal cheese slice.  Can you talk to your pals in The American Association of Meat Processors and get a quorum on the width of deli cheese? Thanks.

No More Free Slices. Stop letting customers con you into asking for a slice to try before they buy it. I stand there silently hating you for prolonging the deli transaction because I’ve got to wait around for some annoying customer to decide if the ham is too salty for their delicate palate.  Enough with the taste test. Here’s another piece of free advice: don’t be fooled into thinking if you give a toddler a slice of cheese they’ll shut up…because they won’t.  They’ll just reach out their grubby little hands for more. Or throw it on the floor.

Take A Lesson From Wegmans.  I think you’ll agree that you get a lot of deli traffic crowding up your counters.  I know that’s not a bad thing, but it’s got to be annoying when so many customers are just ordering your basics like cheese, ham, salami, bologna, etc. How many times are you unwrapping and wrapping up the Polish Ham? Isn’t that exhausting?  Wegmans, my favored grocer, actually has a little refrigerated area adjacent to their deli counter and they have all the deli meat staples wrapped in half-pound packages so customers can just grab and go.  No need to clog up the deli counter at all. It’s the ultimate drive-by.

Deli Counter – I know you’ve got a tough job to do managing all those meats, cheeses and over-sized pickles for your customers.   I know the elderly can be annoying with their quarter-pound meat requests.  And I can certainly appreciate that the safety training can be tiresome just so you can guarantee that you’re people go home at the end of their shift with their ten fingers, but you’ve got to do a better job.

Because if you don’t, I might just have to go all Vegan on your ass. And trust me, if that happens, you’ll lose your best over-sized pickle customer.

My First Heimlich

Photo: Heimlich Heimlich Hippos via Shirtoid.com

You never forget your first time.

Spencer and I went out to lunch today.  I just happened to look up from my delicious Chicken Oscar and noticed that a waitress was performing the Heimlich maneuver on a fellow diner.

It happened so fast.

At first it just looked odd that the waitress was hugging this guy and then it dawned on my slow brain that I was seeing a medical emergency in progress.

I stopped chewing and probably exclaimed ‘Cool’ or something like that to Spencer. Then a chunk of food came flying out of the guy’s mouth and it was over as suddenly as it probably began.

The waitress was smiling at the man who clearly knew his life had just been saved by her.  He sheepishly inserted himself back into the booth and I could see the waitress reaching back into her apron to pull out her pen and pad to presumably take the rest of their order.

A few moments later, I noticed our waitress had slapped on her plastic gloves and had a spray bottle of cleaning stuff ready to presumably wipe up the mess the poor guy made on the table when the mysterious chunk of food stuff flew out of his windpipe.

Just another reason for me to recommend having a meal at Not Your Average Joe’s in Westborough, MA. Excellent food, outstanding service and you just might have your life saved while you’re there.

Introducing The Wrong Kim Perry

I’d say for the past 6-8 months, my Gmail account has been mistakenly tangled up with at least 3 different Kim Perry’s, but probably more. Apparently I’ve been quite busy doing the following:

  1. Apartment hunting on Rent.com in Alpharetta, GA. 
  2. Reviewing my CanaDuct Cleaning experience via Homestars.com.
  3. Being Chief of Emergency Medicine.
  4. Writing cautionary emails to my co-workers about the state of the ladies bathroom (a personal favorite topic of the ACTUAL Kim Perry)
  5. Attending various Little League games
  6. Travel to Cancun

All of these emails have been clogging up my inbox so I decided to use the labels feature in Gmail to help me organize all this noise. I created the label “Wrong Kim Perry” and began creating filters for the daily emails I would inevitably receive in the hopes that someday I would actually be able contact these “others’ to explain that I’ve been receiving all of their emails and eventually pass along all this information that was really meant for them. And trust me, I have tried to contact these other Kim’s explaining that their emails have been reaching me in error. To date, zero success.

But this latest batch of emails that I’ve begun receiving from a property management company alerting me to dry cleaning being picked up and packages delivered to my apartment in New York city got me thinking that it might be interesting to occasionally document all this crazy shit that I just can’t seem to rid myself of every time I check my personal email.

Just in case readers of this blog are interested in the double, triple and quadruple lives that I’ve been apparently living, I’ll be sure to keep you updated going forward.

Don’t Worry, Bee Happy

Lately I’ve been learning everything there is to know about replacing a roof and all the things to look for when hiring a roofer.  It’s been a month-long journey of meeting with various contractors and navigating the professional jargon:  drip edges, soffit ventilation, felt paper, fascias, flashing, sheathing, architectural shingles, ridge vents, etc.  But the one thing I never expected to learn about with this whole project is that our home has been under attack by Carpenter Bees.

The fascia board, which is the wooden boards nailed to the end of our roof all around our house, was riddled with all these dime-sized holes which I just attributed to the work of our neighborhood woodpecker. It was unsightly, but I never gave it much more thought other than someday thinking I’d have a carpenter replace the wood because it looked ugly.

I had this really over-priced roofer quote our roof and he happened to notice the fascia boards.  He told me I had a Carpenter Bee problem.  I was really surprised because we don’t have any issues with bees in the house, but he told me that these Carpenter Bees are pretty notorious for boring holes in wood and laying their eggs.  I told him I’ve seen these big, fat bumble-bees buzzing around up there, but I never saw them go into the attic.  Well, it turns out they were Carpenter Bees which resemble Bumble Bees.

The female Carpenter Bee lays her eggs in the holes and the male sort of flies around the holes protecting it. These bees are harmless except that they ruin wood because of their nesting habits and like any number of pests – you don’t want them in or around your house.  Mi casa is not their casa.
I ended up calling Colonial Pest Control of Worcester to come out today to get rid of our bees. The exterminator who took care of me walked around the house and confirmed that I had a whole lot of bees. His reaction was priceless when he looked up on the left side of the house and simply declared, “Holy Shit!” Apparently the Carpenter Bees have been silent tenants at Miami Street for years and it was time to evict them.
But here’s the cool thing – I started asking the exterminator how he ever got into the profession in the first place because I’m fascinated that someone makes their living working in the insect industry.  He started talking about his past and mentioned how he ran a couple Abdow’s Big Boys restaurants – namely the one at Lincoln Plaza.  Now it was my turn to exclaim, “Holy Shit!”  I loved that place as a kid and just couldn’t believe I was talking to this guy who actually worked there back in the day.
It turned out that he actually grew up on Wayside Avenue back in the early 70’s.  He was 4 years younger than me, but was an old neighborhood kid.  I threw out a couple of names and it was so amazing that he recognized every one of them.  We ended up standing there reminiscing about the infamous Great Brook Valley riot and sledding down White Ave in the Winter.  He fondly remembered our neighborhood before the new construction in the back of my house and all the unpaved roads.
I could have talked to him all day, but there were bees to murder and I was mindful that I wasn’t his only customer that day.
He ended up spraying around the house and promised me that neither our Beagle Minnie nor the little birds nest up near the corner of the house would be affected by the chemicals.  
I got a six month guarantee on the bees and now I’m ready to have our roof ripped off and replaced.