Archive for the ‘Random Thoughts’ category

Husbands and Husbands

March 11, 2010

World AIDS Day!

December 1, 2009

As long as HIV exists – we all have AIDS!

Do I ask too much?

November 18, 2009

I talk a lot about being unhappy with service at restaurants I go to. I always seem to strike out at Busboys and Poets. 😦 I thought I would post a little bit about what I expect. There are 2 versions. The minimum expectation, because I have learned that good service around the DC metro area is not common. Also, the true expectation- what I think every good service person should strive for.

** To be fair to Busboys and Poets- a manager has reached out and offered to chat about how to make my experiences there better. That is a great thing.

I spent more than 15 years in the restaurant/hospitality industry. Based on that, here is the minimum I expect when I dine out.

1. Acknowledge me promptly – within a minute. You don’t have to take my order. Just let me know you see me and tell me when you can help me.

2. Pay attention when I order. – Get it right!

3. Check in on us regularly. Every 5-10 minutes max. Keep drinks full. Just look at the table and take action.

4. Bring us the check promptly and return to collect payment promptly. When people are done eating they are often ready to go.

If you can do these things, I would say that is pretty darn good service.

To make it stellar or excellent expand on the above.

1. Acknowledge me promptly – within a minute. Be sure someone gets us water or try to get a drink order if possible.

2. Pay attention when I order. – Repeat the order back and let me know you have it right.

3. Check in on us regularly. Every 5 max. Keep drinks full. Checking in does not always mean interrupting dinner, just be present in case a table needs you. Don’t hang out and talk to other servers and forget us. We can see you!

4. Bring us the check promptly and return to collect payment promptly.

5. If we are regular guests- remember us. People love to hear their name. We love to know you as well. It makes customers feel they have a connection or a “hook-up” if they know their servers or bartenders.

I really don’t think I am too picky. This is the service I would like to see everywhere. If I want to get my ass kissed, I can pay for that at a higher priced restaurant like The Inn at Little Washington. <— They know how ot do it right!

To Fly or to Be Invisible?

September 10, 2009

When I first began dating my now-fiance, he posed a question to me that turned out to be the stuff that heated debates are made from:  Would you rather have the ability to fly or the ability to become invisible on demand?

To me, there is one very obvious answer: to become invisible.

I love other people’s business; I love to listen to what are people are saying and, if it weren’t so glaringly obvious, I’d love to unabashedly people watch to my heart’s content.  I love estate sales not only for the great deals on really awesome vintage furniture, but because you’re able to literally walk into someone’s home and see how they lived.  It’s like a little museum dedicated to the deceased; everything is just how they left it.  You’re able to scan the rooms and see what was cherished and what was junk.  It’s really an amazing process.

As a child, I obsessed over Sherlock Holmes.  While the character that Conan Doyle created is frequently portrayed as a heartless thinking machine, capable of ruthless logic and boundless memory, I never thought of him that way.  Holmes had an unimaginable ability to understand people and their actions.   He frequently succeeded not because he was brilliant, but because he was intuitive to the point of prediction.

Invisibility seems like the clear response for me, given my obsession with the actions of other people.  This was not the clear answer for my fiance, who insisted that he couldn’t fathom anyone who wouldn’t want to fly.  In my mind, flying is ok, but it provides no benefit other than what it is… unless you’re able to avoid a heinous metro commute.

We have debated this on and off since the question was posed and I haven’t been able to convince him that invisibility is the way to go.   I think this morning, I found my most appealing argument ever.

Last night during President Obama’s speech, Congressman Joe Wilson (Moron- South Carolina) decided to scream, “YOU LIE,” in the middle of the President’s address.  Not only is this action not to be tolerated, it’s also reason for censure.  So, like any idiot who hopes to remain an elected official, Congressman Wilson has begun the long process of attempting to make amends.

Talking Points Memo reports that Congressman Wilson called the White House in the attempt to apologize to the President directly.  Apparently, Congressman Wilson was instead treated to a phone conversation with Rahm Emmanuel.

How much would you have given to be an invisible presence in Rahm Emmanuel’s office during that motherfucking phone call?!

And that, ladies and gentleman, is why being invisible is preferable to the ability to fly.

Can’t live with ’em and you can’t live without ’em.

July 28, 2009

Tourists.

I have mixed feelings about tourists. I have been a tourist. I like being a tourist. It is always great to go to some place new and marvel at things before unseen.

Riding my bicycle to work everyday takes me along the National Mall. At one point I leave the roadways and hit the path between the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. The tourists are always there in all there glory. Traffic is particularly heavy for the evening ride home.

What I can’t understand for the life of me is . . .

Why a group of 5 or even 3 people all have to walk next to each other and block a whole 12 foot wide path?
Why don’t parents love their children a little more and move them when a bicyclist is ringing the bell and exclaiming, “bike passing on your left!”

I could go on and on. Yet, Washington D.C. is a place people want to go and they bring their money with them. So ultimately these little frustrations could make things better for me. That is assuming the corrupt D.C. Government agencies stop letting employees rip them off.

I will continue to try to be a good citizen bike rider. If you are visiting our city, please try to be a good citizen tourist. Be aware of your surroundings, watch your children, and look out for joggers and bicyclists. It is our park too.

The DistrictChatter Starts Tweeting

April 16, 2009

I am now able to Twitter my life away! I have added Tweet updates to the sidebar. I will be able to make more random observations and hopefully post more often this way.

Follow me on Twitter – DistrictChatter

“Hello! Hello! Gucci! Rolex! One Dollar!”

April 13, 2009

I just got back from an exciting jaunt in China with my mother.  It’s something she’s wanted to do for a very long time and I was lucky enough to be invited to join.  We traveled throughout the country for nearly two weeks and I’m still decompressing from my trip.  During my time there, I became incredibly accustomed to the wonderful bartering lifestyle China offers.

If you don’t like the price of a given item of food/jewelry/knick-knackery… you simply stick your nose up and indicate that the offering price is not one you’re willing to pay.  Then the bartering begins.  Everyone seems to enjoy themselves during the process- it’s the ultimate test of wits and common sense.  How much do you perceive the item to be worth?  How convincing can you be in your assessment that the “jade” being offered to you is actually glass?

I’m certain that as an awkward foreigner, I got hosed 95% of the time on the cost of the goods I purchased in China, but frankly, bartering provided me a feeling of control that I lacked in other aspects of the trip.

China was an exceptionally disorienting experience for me.  Six foot tall redheads don’t come around rural China very often.  I was stared at incessantly, which was fine for the first couple of days; however the staring, combined with a general lack of personal space, made me antsy and hyper-aware of every single movement I made.

Bartering provided a outlet where I could be comfortable.  Most of the negotiating was done via calculator.  The seller would type in their price, then you would erase it and type in yours.  The calculator would be passed back and forth until the final price was reached.  Seeing as my Chinese is piss-poor, the experience provided me an opportunity to interact with local people without my language barrier getting in the way.

So, I came back to the U.S. and had a serious case of Alzheimer’s in regard to how “buying things” works here.  I picked up some gummy bears the day after my flight landed and attempted to barter with the clerk at the corner store.  I said, “Three dollars is a bit much, can I give you two?”  The poor man looked at me like I was nuts and simply said, “No.”  It was incredibly disappointing that my new bartering skills didn’t translate here.

My fiance and I bought a condo last week.   The deal was official as of Friday afternoon.  We put in our offer on Monday morning.  The seller then sat on our offer for three days while they waited for another offer to roll in.  This was a situation where bartering lost all comfort.  Bartering actually made me a bit of a reclusive, hyperactive bitch (What was going on?  Why weren’t they getting back to us?  Those fuckers are waiting for a better offer, aren’t they?!  Well, fuck them!  I don’t want to live there anyway).  When the seller counter-offered and the negotiating began and it made me feel worse than the days of waiting.  It’s not a pleasant feeling knowing that the individual you’re dealing with isn’t obligated to accept anything you offer or operate on your time frame.   Especially when you’re not talking about a package of delicious Chinese dried fruits; it’s the future of your living situation for an assumed three-to-five-years.

So, I learned an important lesson:  bartering is for silly goods that are trivial in nature.  Bartering makes you feel like you’re in control of the outcome of your situation, because at the end of the day, what’s a garish 500 Yuan Lucky Cat Bank to the rest of your life (other than a convenient place to store lose change)?  When you’re actually dealing with life choices, it’s called, “negotiating”.  I fucking hate negotiating.