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Aug 23 2010

Over the weekend, four of us went to dinner at a local restaurant that is pan-Latin. It’s one we like and have eaten at frequently. The service was as slow as sap in January in Maine. But that’s not what this is all about. We ordered a bottle of a particular malbec, one that we’ve ordered many times here. After quite a delay (the poor service thing), the waiter told us the wine was no longer available. He tried to steer us to a wine that was $51 a bottle as compared to the $39 for the wine we wanted. We said we’d rather try other wines in the same price range as our original choice. The waiter said he’d bring us a taste of another malbec. 

Time passed. The waiter returned with a malbec which none of us liked. He went away again. Time passed. He brought another malbec that none of us liked. And we’re not that picky about wines usually. All through this, he was trying to get us to buy the $51 bottle of malbec.

After all this, one of our party said to the waiter that we thought since the wine we wanted was not available and that none of the others in the same price range were acceptable to us, they should sell us the $51 bottle of wine at $39. Let me add at this point that on a particular night of the week, every week of the year, you can come in and buy any wine on the list at half price. We weren’t asking for this, but it’s part of the background on the transactions.

The waiter told us he couldn’t make such a decision and would get the manager. So the manager comes, we tell him the same thing we told the waiter. The bottom line in his response was that he wouldn’t sell us the $51 wine for $39, but had other wines he would sell us that were not on the wine list at about the same price or lower than the original wine. He brought one over. We tried it. By this time, our food was arriving and we were not happy to be negotiating on the wine and settled for what he brought. We didn’t finish the bottle, which is very rare for the four of us altogether.

Customer service opportunity #1 missed: “Oh, sure. No big deal. Glad to sell you the wine at a lower price since you’re loyal customers and we’re out of what you usually order.”

The next day, I wrote the manager an email recounting the entire story. His answer merely said he was sorry the service was so slow and sorry they were out of the wine we had wanted. See the customer service opportunity #2 that was missed?

That night, Marian and I went to a local Indian restaurant. When we ordered our entrees, I asked the waiter if naan came with them. He said, “No, but tell me what you want and I’ll bring it as an appetizer.” We did. He did. It wasn’t on the bill. Big customer service points for this guy. He understands.

Sep 01 2009

all in one person today.

I took my mare, Rosie, to Queeny Park today to ride in the shade, under the trees, on its nice chat paths. It’s a social place with walkers, runners, folks with dogs all cheerful and cordial as we pass one another going in opposite directions or if we overtake one another in the same direction.

Rosie was walking on a downhill part of the trail. We were ambling right down its middle. Up ahead, I saw two walkers coming toward me, so I moved Rosie to the right. As I was doing this, a man about my age zipped past us between the horse and a thick stand of trees and brush. Neither the horse nor I heard anything until there was the buzz of his wheels right next to us.

Lucky for him that Rosie when startled jumps a bit in place or away from the source. I yelled at him: “Hey, say something like ‘On the right.’ This is 1,000 pounds of horse and rider that could have been in your lap. Idiot!”

He never paused, never looked back, never uttered a sound as he pedaled out of sight up the next hill. Is there such a thing as trail rage?

Mar 26 2006 As I have written about earlier, I have a persistent cough that gets worse, then better, then worse. It’s turned from a cold to bronchitis to pneumonia. Now, we’re not sure what I have. Over the last three weeks, I have taken or am taking the following prescription drugs:

1. A round of azithromycin during the first week. That didn’t seem to do much.
2. An Albuterol USP inhaler to dilate my bronchial tubes.
3. My favorite is Promethazine with Codeine. It lets me sleep instead of coughing all night.
4. Then there was a double series of steroids (there goes my chance in baseball this year, darn it).
5. The most recent round is an Advair Discus inhaler (more steroids and more bronchial dilators).

The following are the combined possible side effects of all this medicine according to the Walgreens web site:

SIDE EFFECTS, that may go away during treatment, include mild diarrhea, nausea, stomach pain, fast heartbeat, nervousness, tremors, headache, difficulty sleeping, nausea, drowsiness, excitement, dry mouth, throat, or nose, dizziness, constipation, stomach upset, thickening of mucus in nose or throat, difficulty sleeping, mood changes, nervousness, increased appetite, indigestion, hoarseness (dysphonia), throat irritation, headache, or cough.

CHECK WITH (OR CONTACT) YOUR DOCTOR AS SOON AS POSSIBLE if you experience vomiting, hearing loss or ringing in the ears, rash, hives, itching, wheezing, increased difficulty breathing, rapid or pounding heartbeat, difficulty urinating, flushing, or redness of face, swelling of feet or legs, unusual weight gain, black, tarry stools, vomiting material that looks like coffee grounds, severe nausea or vomiting, changes in menstrual periods, headache, muscle weakness, prolonged sore throat, cold, fever, white patches on tongue or mouth, or if your mouth/tongue becomes swollen and painful.

AN ALLERGIC REACTION to this medicine is unlikely, but seek immediate medical attention if it occurs. Symptoms of an allergic reaction include rash, itching, swelling, dizziness, trouble breathing, weight gain, vision changes, trouble sleeping, tremors, seizures, severe muscle weakness or cramping, fast/irregular heartbeat, numbness or tingling in hands or feet, chest pain, or worsening of asthma symptoms (e.g., increased difficulty breathing, wheezing, coughing). Rarely, your wheezing might actually increase immediately after using this medicine (paradoxical bronchospasm).

CONTACT YOUR DOCTOR IMMEDIATELY if you experience swelling of your hands, legs, face, lips, eyes, throat, or tongue, difficulty swallowing or breathing, hoarseness, irregular heartbeat, reddened, blistered, or swollen skin, or severe diarrhea.

My favorite of the above is vomiting material that looks like coffee grounds.
Apr 23 2007

The other day, I was in Magianno’s for lunch. It’s a chain of restaurants in about half of the lower 48. When the waitress arrived at my table, I asked what the specials were. She replied, in part, with: “Today I have … and I have … and I have ….” Then I asked where the men’s room was. Her reply: “My restrooms are upstairs and to the left.”

This gets me to the kernel of all this: what’s with this use of the first person (either singular or plural) by waiters at restaurants? With this waitress, she implied she was an owner/manager/chef. Then there is the use of “we.” It’s pretty common to go somewhere and have a waiter ask:

“How are we doing?”

“What do we want to drink?”

“Are we ready to order?”

“What are we having?

Should I invite the person to sit with us to be part of the group? Should I say something like: “I don’t know about you, but we are having … ?” How about: “What’s this ‘we” crap?”

Mar 23 2006 It’s been a weird few weeks. I have had a cough turn into bronchitis turn into pneumonia. The coughing is ongoing and sometimes involves spasms where it’s hard to catch my breath. And about every time I think that I have turned the corner on it, there seems to be another corner ahead.

Then our well pressure tank became waterlogged, as I have written about. That was all about too much water and not enough air.

In addition, it seems as if our water softener has not been working. So, we have had a build up of sludge in our faucets and other water-related appliances. The repair man came out and replaced lots of parts and gaskets. Even a new Ventura, whatever that is. He also set the softener to a higher hardness level. When it’s “slick” in the shower, all is copasetic.

Today, I took my trusty VW Touareg into the local quick-change oil place, sat and read the paper while they worked, and then got into the car. The “Check Tyre Pressure” warning light was on, which is usual whenever someone fills or checks the tires. Usually, you go to a menu on the dashboard, click on Tyres, and then tell the system to learn the new tire pressures. Today, however, the list of options on the dashboard menu did not have Tyres. It has Lights, Language, Doors, Units. It does not have Tyres.

I looked in the owner’s manual. It should be there. It isn’t. I tried the Set to Factory Defaults button. Nothing. I shut off the car and restarted it…sort of like rebooting a computer. But, alas, while I still have the Check Tyre Pressure warning, bell, and icon visibly displayed and sounding, there is nothing in the menu anymore for Tyres.

Ah, let’s call the VW dealer and see what the service manager says. He says they must have done something at the oil-change place. I ask what they could have done since all they did was change the oil, its filter, and check my tire pressures. He has no clue. Only way to figure this out, I was told, is to come to the dealer for a computer scan to find the problem. The dealer is about 30 minutes away and I know from past experience that these computer checks take up to two hours to complete even if they find nothing, which is often the case.

I called the oil-change place in the vain hope that the manager could shed some light on this. Wrong. Sgt. Schultz in person.

To recap, we have pneumonia, coughing spasms, waterlogged well pressure tank, sludge from faulty water softener, and a misguided air pressure monitoring system in the VW. Serendipity? Kismet? Some grand order of the cosmos?