Friday, February 20, 2015

Boston Market Makes Good, Sort Of

Upon making a big deal out of crumbled corn bread, I finally received some sort of solution to my Boston Market problem. After the first tweet sent me on a phone call email chase to nowhere and the second tweet fell on deaf ears, the third tweet with my detailed blog post attached was received with a Please DM us your contact information so we can contact you about this matter.

If this had been the first response to the first tweet instead of giving me instructions to call someone, this problem would have been solved a whole lot sooner. Either they changed their policy in handling tweeted complaints or the person in charge of the Twitter feed that first time hadn't a clue about customer service.

I DM'd my email address and in the next day received an email from a person in charge with lots of apologies saying that a district manager would follow up in an email.

Then came the correspondence with the district manager. I'll now remind everyone that I teach not only English but I used to teach, for many years, Technical Writing, a course that included specific lessons abut corresponding in a business professional situation.  Names have been changed to protect those who clearly did not take my Tech Writing course:

Hello Christina,
My name is Bostonia Marketa Area Manager for Boston Market. I am deeply sorry to hear about your bad experience at one of our location, I would like to give you my most sincere apology. We are more than happy to replace your meal and add some extra cornbreads , and a apple pie or pumpkin pie please get in contact with me on how I can make this right.

Dear Bostonia,
Thank you for contacting me about the problems I had at this restaurant. What you are offering to me is completely fair if you are able to offer us our four meal order plus a bonus of corn bread and a pie.
Would you be able to send us vouchers or a gift card of sorts? How might this work?
Also, having had that experience at that location, we would like to go to a different location if possible. Is there another location in the local area?
Thank you again for contacting me, and I look forward to your reply.
Best,
Christina

Please note that I refrained from addressing her as Bostonia Marketa Area Manager for Boston Market as that's what appeared to be her full name as she wrote it, and I ignored the "one of our location" and "a apple."  Also ignored: comma splices and run-ons.

Hello Ms Christina,
Thank you for accepting our offer. Would you be able to provide me with an address? This way I can send the be my guest card directly to you which you would be recieving between 10-15 days.
Thank you,
Bostonia Marketa

Hi Bostonia,
Yes, I am writing my address below. Please tell me what a Be Our Guest card is, if it will cover the four meals and sides you offered, and where I can use it. I'd asked if there were close-by locations other than the one on Main Street, USA.
Thanks,
Christina

The Be My Guest card sounds like something they ripped off from Disney's Beauty and the Beast, but I have no loyalty to Disney since working there was like being in a production for theatre of the absurd, so I don't care if they did rip it off.  However, I still didn't know what the heck it was.

Good morning Christina,
Be my guest card will be a family meal for 4 people with 6 extra cormbreas and a pie.You can use it at any Boston Market.
Thank you,
Bostonia


Clearly, I was not going to get an answer about the nearby location, and clearly Bostonia was now my friend so I just thanked her for her help. I mean, 6 extra cormbreas! How could I ask for anything more?

A few days later, this arrived in the mail:


I'm thinking I'll gather the fam in the car and we'll take a trip there, order on the spot, and chow down. Casual dining tastes extra wonderful when it's free.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Whole 30 and Beyond

Inflammation was the one thing the chiropractor said over and over whenever I saw him.  He couldn't understand why the adjustments and treatments wouldn't hold, and he suggested I take tumeric.  Then my No Fault insurance ran out and I stopped going to the chiropractor (also, the holidays and the snow had begun, so getting myself to Brooklyn was challenging--I'll go back for a looksee soon).  Since my back injury, everything else about my health started to head to a place it had never been.  Unhealthy.  Basically, I felt like shit all the time.

I found Whole 30 through Dr. Oz.  I rarely watch Dr. Oz, so this seemed serendipitous.  Also on the show were Chris and his wife, the trainers from that weight loss show, and they, too, had a nutrition plan that was high-low carbs.  That sounded easier, but I chose Whole 30 because it seemed like the only thing that would get rid of inflammation.  I had to try it.  To get me motivated, I started following Whole30Recipes on Instagram.

Cooking used to be part of my life.  I don't like to cook.  I'm not one of those people who go to the kitchen to whip something up when I'm bored.  However, I don't mind cooking for myself, I can follow a recipe, and I used to do it all the time as part of my wellness routine.

I never drank anything other than water and tea.  I never ate sweets as part of a routine.  I rarely ate bread and pasta.  These ideas had been long gone for quite some time.

With Whole 30, I got back to the kitchen.  I also started keeping track of everything I ate, and I started thinking about all the things I'd been eating before starting Whole 30, and I realized that everything I'd been eating was contributing to everything that was wrong with me.  What I've been eating that is Whole 30 Approved is everything that can make it and keep it right.




Eddie: "That looks really good.  For people who eat stuff like that."



After 30 days, I didn't feel completely better.  I did feel a lot better.  The pain in my back has been reduced greatly.

As an unintentional bonus, I lost some of the chub that latched on probably around the time I was slowly finishing a crumb cake from the holidays on a daily basis.  Eddie says I'm ripped.  My muscle tone is back and my pants are not tight anymore.  Bloating gone.  Chub gone.

My hair and nails are not shining like a sunbeam and my skin is my normal skin, but the results of eating healthy have been beneficial anyway.

I'm continuing to eat mindfully. I have incorporated some off-plan items back into my diet. Every day, I use cooking spray, which I couldn't use on-plan because it uses soy lecithin.  Twice a week, I go off-plan, allowing for good carbs and maybe even a sweet treat.

The sweet treats are not exactly treats anymore.  On Valentine's Day, Eddie and I had our normal waffle dinner, and then we split some chocolate lava cakes.  As I was eating the dessert, my head was feeling weird, my whole body was feeling weird, and then the aching started.  I kept eating, thinking that I was enjoying what I was eating, but then I realized it was simply too sweet to enjoy.  Idiotically, I scarfed it down, and then felt like I couldn't move ever again. I'll be backing down on the serving size of sweets in the future.







Eating out now will be easier because I won't have to wonder if something was made with butter, but eating at home is also easier now that I'm back on track.  My back is back on track, too.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Never Too Old To Learn Science


Because S likes candy and all things sweet and because I wasn't teaching and because I like museums and sweet things and hanging out with S, we met up at the New York Hall of Science to see the gingerbread exhibit and to, in general, learn things.  Science things.

The entryway was made for me.  So pretty!
Getting up to the cashier was easy enough with not a whole lot of people on line considering it was during a winter break.  Then came the hard part.  The cashier asked if I was a student.  I said, No, but I'm a teacher.  She asked if I taught in public school.  I said I taught in a SUNY school. She gave me a look that said, Nope that doesn't cut it, but in an apologetic way.  So I paid full price, which isn't much when I have all that science to learn.



Gingerbread Lane was pretty amazing.  Some artist created an entire town of gingerbread houses and buildings and other fun winter things.  By the time we saw it, lots of gumdrops had fallen away and some structures were lean-tos, but for the most part, it was intact and looked yummy.  Not many of the people nearby were touching it, which was surprising. It's so tempting to touch (like that song!  you know the one). It was also sort of blocking a fire alarm, but I suppose if you needed to pull it, you would simply knock over the cookie shelters.

Fire! Fire! Or not.

Recreating a Will Cotton moment, kinda


And then came the rest of the museum.  We chose a wing at random and started learning. We learned about life on Mars.  It's cold.  It's sandy.  We learned this by touching the metal ball that was cold and reading the sign above it that explained the temperature.

We also learned it because one of the docents (that's what they're called, right? I don't think I've ever used that word in my life and heard it once in a movie, possibly a Phoebe Cates movie, which is appropriate here because whenever I think of Phoebe Cates, I think of S) came over to us.  She was enthusiastic. She asked, So what do you think of the temperature on Mars?  We were like, It's cold.  She was like, Do you know why?  I read the sign to her.  I wasn't being snarky; I was just answering her question (S will attest to this--it was not a "good for youuuu" moment).

She answered that it's not often people actually read the signage.  We laughed.  That wasn't all, though.  She went on to explain it all to us even though we'd read it on the sign.  We thanked her when she was finished.  I thought maybe she was bored.  S thought maybe the Hall of Science has a secret-shopper program that sends in people to test how helpful the docents are (I'm really impressing myself with all this docent talk).  In any case, she was pleasant and helpful.

S and I came across a comet exhibit.  Dry ice was shooting out of a tube and careening across a pool, much like a comet would go through space.  I knew this because I read the sign.  Also, because the docent reappeared and explained the whole thing to us.  We got out of that wing after that.  We were being out-scienced or over-scienced, I'm not sure which.

Then came outerspace, molecules, and sports science.  The place was filling up with children.  I was well aware that this was a place specifically for children, so I wasn't getting angry that children were around.  I was a bit perturbed when one child cut in front of S on a line to throw a softball.  I was not throwing the ball, so I was not on the line, but I was still annoyed that when the child cut the line, S had to tell the child to go back on the line instead of the child's mom telling him to wait his turn.  Maybe I'd like children more if more parents actually parented in public.  Anyway, there was softball throwing, rock climbing, football spinning, and vertical jumping.  I spun the football with all my might, and that's about it.  We also lit up lights to watch how a power outage happens and watched some balls fill up a giant tank and then fall away.
A sciency looking thing

More science

S on the rock wall before the children accosted it

Good quote

Cool map

Pre vertical jump -- I tested mine in Vegas last year pre-accident--it's about 3 inches

Cool sign
And then, there was this.

                  

We'd been going through the exhibits for over half the day when we came into the room that has stuff to do with lights and bubbles and mirrors. I turned to S and was like, Omigod, I've been here before! She was like, Uh, yeah, of course you were. I've been here a bunch of times, too. I? Have a shitty memory. I have the memory of an elephant. Or wait, is it an elephant that has a good memory? See?!? I don't remember. So I should either eat more peanuts or none. Whatever. But I had this epiphany of making a bubble wall and then I was in real time making a bubble wall. And when the little children came over and tried to take over before we were done, their mom was like, No no guys, you have to wait for the girls to finish.

Two reasons I like this mom:
1. She told her kids to stand down.
2. She called us girls, as if we have any business being in a children's museum without children.

This is right after the two of us realized I'd been pulling the wrong end of the string.
From the opposite side, a rainbow
About as high as I got it to go
Then came the mirrors and the lights and the white wall and the illusions.  The light wall reminded me of Epcot.  The rest was like a weekend carnival.  It was very dizzying, and while we were in the hall of mirrors, little kids were jumping into each other and then one fell down and cried a lot. 
Some very tall girl joined us.

I'm even shorter here.

This is the new way to get skinny.

Mirror cube!  Mirror cube!

Shadow color

A short girl joined us.

Color shadow

We're either dancing or fighting.

Ah, it's dancing.
Oh!  We also did some Alice In Wonderland inspired growing and shrinking, and another docent was kind enough to capture it. She took a bunch of shots so we could choose.
The secret of being a giant: perspective.  Also, we both have devil eyes in this picture.
That was enough of the science.  We grabbed some food and then headed out as the crowd grew (lots of children, so I was getting antsy).  So what's the main takeaway of the day?  Docents.  Or Science.  Whichever.


Monday, February 2, 2015

A Chair and A Television

Shopping should not be difficult.  I'm not a huge fan of shopping. That's because for me, shopping is difficult. My brother saw first-hand why I should not go out into the world of retail.

He needed a desk chair.  Since I bought one for Eddie a few years back and put it together, my brother figured I had mastered the art of chair shopping and assembly, so I could help.  I was also under this delusional assumption, so I went along with him to Staples.  We sat in chairs.  We found a green ergonomic chair for $500.  He settled on a plain black non-leather chair because the faux leather chair I got Eddie has started to wear already.

We brought the chair to the register and there we found Morty.  Now I don't know if Morty was actually the name of the cashier, but it's the name I give guys like him.  First, he looked like a Morty.  Second, he also looked like he should be sipping a virgin margarita at Del Boca Vista.  I'm pretty sure Morty isn't on call for Black Friday because Morty took about an hour to ring up the chair.  There was a lot of scanning and button pushing. There was a lot of peering over glasses at screens.  There was a lot of slow arm movement.  The store was basically empty, yet the entire experience took as long as it would as if there were 100 in front of us on line.  I know I'm impatient sometimes, but Morty could've met me halfway. 

Chair in trunk, we drove over to another shopping center in Queens where there's pay-parking if you stay longer than an hour.  Hopefully, Morty would not be working here because then we'd have to pay.

Incidentally, I became an expert at these particular pay-parking booths when I was in DC with Eddie because they were everywhere and I was constantly putting tickets and credit cards in machines to get our car out of the garages.

What I was not an expert in was stupid parking garage signs that have arrows pointing to nowhere and ramps that lead to possible death.  My brother weaved his way around the ground level and I pointed at signs that said Best Buy, but we couldn't get to the up ramp.  We got to the exit.  So I instructed him to basically drive on the wrong side of the garage-road to go around again, and he listened because otherwise we'd run into a wall.

I should probably mention that the two of us both have Master's degrees and the two of us mold young minds.  This is not to say we are bad teachers.  This is to say that the world is run by idiots who just got by in school and decided not to apply anything they learned from teachers like us.

Somehow, we found the up ramp and then the same thing happened.  We got off at a level and went in a circle, not understanding any of the signs.  We did find the Best Buy though, and in my head, all I could hear was the music to Serial so I kept looking for a pay phone.

We got into the Best Buy.  We found the television section.  We bought a television.  It was a much simpler exchange than the one I had at the Best Buy a few years ago when Eddie and I went to buy a computer and instead witnessed a rubber band fight.  Different Best Buy.  (Seriously, I feel like I'm channeling Sarah Koenig).  It was also a much quicker checkout than the Morty experience at Staples.

Then we had to get out of the parking lot.  I put my pay-parking skillz to work to use the machine to get the card to release us from the garage.  We got in the car.  So far so good.  Then we had to figure out how to get on the exit ramp to get out. This was a challenge because:

1. There were no signs for stop or yield, so cars were flying up the ramp at the average speed of a NASCAR race.

2. We were parked right next to the opening to get onto the ramp, so cars were swerving our way.

3. We had to go up the ramp to go back down.  This we figured out as my brother edged his way out of the parking space and into the oncoming traffic as I made sense of all the arrows and exits signs that pointed in all different directions.

We made it back to his place after navigating our way out of the garage of possible death.  Then I put my chair assembly skillz to work.  These are my chair assembly skillz:

1. Reading directions.

2. Identifying parts and tools.

3. The ability to repeat motherfucker over and over when the chair does not come together.

When we opened the box, we saw that it was not the chair that was next to the box in the store.  My brother was not taking back the chair, so he settled for this faux-leather chair that may wear quickly.  (I've found that most guys I know do not return things to the store ever.  They either deal with what they've got or go out and buy something additionally). 

We put the wheels on first, which is what the directions say to do.  Because the technical writers of this product did not take my Tech Writing class OR they failed my Tech Writing class OR they chose to ignore everything they learned in my Tech Writing class because in my Tech Writing class, when I teach them about assembly manuals, one of the main lessons is Do not make the product ROLL while the consumer is PUTTING IT TOGETHER.

After we put the wheels on, we put the seat part on.  Then we put the back part on.  Then we attempted the sides.  This is when the chair started rolling.  This is when Chair Assembly Skill #3 came into play. 

After about 20 minutes, my brother had a chair.  We decided he should sit in it first.  It did not fall apart.

Years of higher education put to good use.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Big Beef With Boston Chicken

Take one look at that sad plate of crumbled corn bread and tell me that you wouldn't be upset.  I dare you.  I mean, the food at Boston Market isn't gourmet, but it's good home-cookin, and the best part is the corn bread.  So when you get a bag of corn bread crumbs, there's reason to be upset enough to tweet a picture of it to Boston Market to say, Hey Boston Market, what happened to my cornbread?  And then they should tweet back, We're so sorry--Free Corn Bread For Life!

Okay, I'm not expecting free corn bread for life, but I'm a little bitter.  Back in September--which is now last year--Eddie and I decided we should pick up some Boston Market for the family.  We put our order in ahead of time online as we always do, and then drove to pick it up.

We got there and the place was pretty empty. We went right up to the cash register and said we were there for our order.  The cashier called out to one of the workers, Did you get that order set up for me hmmmmm?  There was a distinct condescending tone in her voice, but I don't know what goes on there all the time, so maybe the benefit of the doubt is that the worker doesn't listen and the cashier gets exasperated.  Maybe.  Really, I don't care.  I just want my food and I like when people respect each other, so I was itching to get out of there already.

The server pointed towards the back of the kitchen and to the counter behind the register.  Our food was sitting out, uncovered, in both places.  The cashier, whom I think was a manager because her shirt was a different color, covered all the plates and then asked us something about gravy.  She suggested we get the larger size for cost effectiveness, so we agreed.  That's when she asked the server for a family-size container.  The server handed her a container.  The cashier would not take it from her.  She simply repeated, Family-size.  The server held out the same container.

You'd think it would stop there because Eddie and I both caught on that the container in the server's hand was not family size, and that clearly she didn't know what it meant.  So instead of saying, No, the bigger container, the cashier kept repeating, Family size.  She kept saying it more loudly as if volume was both the problem and the solution.  Finally, she grabbed the bigger sized container, held it up for the worker, and said, Family sized.

Meanwhile, a line of one person formed behind us.  Her plate of food was ready to go.  The other server set it out next to the register.  Uncovered.  Sitting there.  So while the container size debacle was occurring, the woman behind us rightly pointed out, My food is getting cold!  Sing it, sister!  So was ours!

No one responded to the woman behind us.  Instead, the gravy and container took precedence, and finally we were able to pay and get the heck out of there after twenty minutes.  Twenty. Minutes.  Isn't speed the reason for online ordering?  For shame, Boston Market, for shame!

The drive from Boston Market to my parents' house is about five minutes.  Either the food had been sitting out a long time in the restaurant or my car acts as a flash freezer because by the time we got it home, it was lukewarm at best. For shame, Boston Market, for shame!

I separated the meals and found that my dad's meal contained spinach as a side, which is not what he ordered.  Now if we'd ordered in person or over the phone, I'd understand that someone can mis-hear an order, but we'd ordered online.  All they have to do is read and check off what they do.  My dad is on blood and heart meds, so spinach is basically poison for him, so I took the rest of his food out and put it on a poison-free plate and gave him my side of lukewarm veggies instead.  I could get all slippery slope here and say, For shame for trying to poison my dad, Boston Market, for shame! But I won't.

While we weren't over the moon about our meal, it was still a meal.  We could heat up the cold parts (though I'm not sure if that rids the food of possible salmonella).  Then Eddie asked, Where's the corn bread?  And I was like, Oh, yes, that will save this meal!

So I opened the bag of corn bread, stuck my hand in, and pulled out what looked like a corner of a mini-bread.  Then I dumped the bag and got what you see up top.  A pile of corn bread pieces and crumbs.  That. Was. It.

FOR SHAME, BOSTON MARKET, FOR SHAME!!!

I got my phone, snapped a pic, and tweeted at Boston Market:
Lukewarm meals, the wrong sides, and then we empty the bag to find this.

They tweeted back at me a number I should call.  I called the number and left a detailed message because no one answered.  Then I went onto their website and submitted a complaint there.

Then? Nothing.

So in November I tweeted again since it was the only way I received the first response:
In Sept, I tweeted. You gave me further contact info. I emailed. I called. No response. Disheartened.

Then?

Well, I'm writing this, right?  Which means I got nothing.  Except bitter.  And now I'm done.  Except for this:

For shame, Boston Market, for shame!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Speedy Baddriverson and Me: One Year Anniversary

It's not surprising and quite fitting that my hip hurts today. Every day, it's something new. One year ago today was a sunny crisp day with clean, dry streets, quite different from the day before that brought about a snow day for the first day of Spring semester 2014. Before one year ago today, I was active, healthy, on top of the world. So this was the second day of school but the first day we had classes, and I was driving home, content, and then, Speedy Baddriverson rear-ended me.

2014 turned out to be a year of dealing with doctors and therapists and no-fault insurance. It was all ice packs and heating pads and stretches and stupidity. I got advice like, You should stretch and strengthen your abs, from doctors whom I'd just told, I taught yoga before the collision. I got advice like, Take tumeric. So I've added tumeric to everything. I've learned that too much tumeric can lead to heartburn.

The orthopedist did not help my back spasms, but physical therapy did.

The pain moved to my lower back when the spasms stopped. The physical therapy ran out then, anyway, so I went to a chiropractor.

My summer was consumed by three appointments a week, going to see the chiropractor for adjustments. The stress of slow results and pain moving from lower back to mid back and then back down again wreaked havoc on me. I got pains in my stomach. I was always tired. I was always achy.

I got a second chiropractic opinion that offered less aggressive adjustment, more alternative experiments. The drawback: he's in Brooklyn, and in traffic on the Belt, that means traveling 40 minutes to get there. But he was positive and determined to get me better, so I went. He sent me to get an MRI, something I swore I'd never do, but I did it (and it really was not as confined as had been described to me). I did cupping. Oh, the cupping. I got gentle adjustments. I got electro-tingly therapy. It was good when I was getting it. I was still achy, though.

Basically, if I tried to go back to living the same way I was with super duper workouts, I fell back into pain.

And then the insurance ran out. The no-fault doctor told Geico that I was fine. It's fine to be in pain every day.

I keep stretching. I keep moving. I can't get into the full yoga positions I used to, but I don't stop. The elliptical finally arrived from the old place and it's now in the home gym for me to use for a low impact high results workout. And I've been on a Whole 30 nutrition plan aimed at reducing inflammation, the culprit the second chiropractor was after. He told me I'd get better.

Here I am a year later, and I am not cured. However, I'm 22 days into Whole 30 and there are less aches, which means that I might possibly have less inflammation. Eddie says I've been complaining less, which means either I've simply gotten used to feeling this way or I'm getting better. I'd like to think I'm getting better. The aches move between my lower back and my hips. Because I've had so much of a problem with my lower back, I haven't been able to stretch out and open my hips the way I used to, so basically anything attached to my pelvis still is not back to what it was.

But it's better. A year later, I don't wake up with spasms in my back and I don't ache every minute of every day. For that, I'm thankful. Now if I can get my insurance company to cover chiropractic care, I can go back to the second chiro just a few more times and maybe make some magic happen. Until then, I'm continuing the Whole 30 to day 30 and then while I won't keep it as strict, I will not go back to the malnutritious well of inflammation I'd created.

As for Speedy Baddriverson, I hope she's taken some lessons in How Not To Crash Into Other People's Cars.

Back to me, here's where I'd like to be, and I'm getting there.
Finished P90X twice! Check out that bicep.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Book Giveaway!



Goodreads Book Giveaway


For the Girls, I by Christina M. Rau

For the Girls, I

by Christina M. Rau


Giveaway ends February 14, 2015.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.


Enter to win