Sunday, June 20, 2010

Disney Confessions

This blog post is inspired by a thread on the DIS called “What is your Disney shameful secret”. Even an uber Disney fan like me ends up with some things that she must confess from time to time, and I thought it might make for an interesting entry here. :) Not all of these are shameful really.

1. I have never ridden Splash Mountain at Magic Kingdom. It was always too cold to get wet, or I didn’t want to walk around in wet jeans on all my previous trips. I have an elaborate plan involving numerous ponchos for riding it in November without getting wet.

2. A Dole Whip has never passed my lips. In fact, I’d never even heard of them until I started reading the disboards where people were raving about them. Sounded like something I’d like to try until I read what they are. I’m not even mildly interested in trying one.

3. A few of you know this, but this one is huge: Haunted Mansion scares the ever loving heck out of me. I ride it every trip hoping *this* will be the time that I’m not holding back screams of fear, but each time I’m still scared stiff. I know it’s meant to be funny and campy, but the graveyard at the end really gets me. I think it’s the stuff that pops up there. I rode this ride alone on my last trip and wanted to die. To prep for November, I’ve read the entire Doom Buggies site and am fairly sure I can ride HM this time without fear.

4. I love the It’s a Small World ride but only recently. You would think that riding it over and over with Katelyn and Joshua would make me go insane, but it did quite the opposite. Getting to see it through a child’s eyes as they adore each part of the ride and point out things like “Look! It’s those silly geese that Aunt Joanna loves!” makes it into pure joy. Besides, that ride is so busy that even on the 10th ride of the day, you still see things you didn’t see before. It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized the white room at the end was a mega mix of all the countries. Maybe that’s more because I didn’t pay attention. IaSW isn’t cool to enjoy when you’re a teen. I’d love to learn the song in all the languages on the ride.

5. Snow White’s Scary Adventure made me cry so hard when I was a 5 year old child that I never wanted to ride it again. In fact, I’m not sure it had the “this ride is super scary” warning on it when I was a child. I think that’s a good addition. I rode this one alone as an adult and once again, I had to look for the “happy” stuff, so I wasn’t curled up in a ball in the back of the car! That was more mental than actual fear though, and I ended up really liking the ride.

6. As a child I cried through Epcot. I cried so much that my father had to carry me through that part. Everything scared me. (Maybe that’s because we went the day after I’d been through the horrors of HM and SWSA!) As an adult, Epcot is typically my favorite park. (Depends on the day, sometimes my fave is MK.) I could spend days there exploring the countries.

7. I could spend all my snack credits in the Boulangerie Patisserie in France. This time I’m going to try School Bread in Norway though.

8. I went on Dumbo with Katelyn and Joshua and was secretly relieved that our Dumbo wouldn’t go up and down. When we went up high automatically I realized that Dumbo not having a door that shuts makes me have irrational fears of falling out. Despite this, I want to ride the Astro Orbiter in November. You have to take an elevator to get up to it, and it’s Dumbo in space ships basically. I kinda think I might come off of it white knuckled, but if I can make myself concentrate on how awesome the view is, I might be ok.

9. I fell off a horse on Cinderella’s Royal Carousel (now Prince Charming Regal Carousel). Maybe fell is the wrong word. Did you know the horses on the outside ring go higher than that ones in each concentric circle moving toward the center of the carousel? I didn’t know that either until I placed Katelyn on a horse in the middle and took the horse on the outside for myself.
Just my luck, my horse stopped at the end of the ride at the highest point it could be. Katelyn ended up watching Aunt Joanna make a fool of herself while waiting to be helped off of her own horse. I held on to the pole and “dismounted” from the horse only to realize I was dangling at least 2 feet from the ground. Ended up letting go and more or less falling not so gracefully to the floor. Could not stop randomly giggling over it once I got off the ride. Pic below is me before the fall. :D

10. I’ve never been to Animal Kingdom. I know it’s not a zoo, but when I love the other 3 parks so much, I can’t see myself going to AK. LaRae and Randy didn’t like it that much on their honeymoon, so with that glowing recommendation, I’ve been less than eager to head over there. I’ll go in November, and I’ll give it a fair shot, but if I’m not in awe by the end of the day, I’m not likely to return.

11. When I read news stories about people dying from brain hemorrhages and such after riding a roller coaster, it makes me panic, so each time I get on Rockin’ Roller Coaster I say a prayer and hope it isn’t my last day on Earth. That doesn’t stop me from riding though. At Hollywood Studios I make a small circuit riding RnRC and Tower of Terror over and over again!

12. Some family out there has a picture of themselves on Tower of Terror with me in the side of the car fixing my bangs after a drop. I love sudden drops, but I apparently was more worried about my hair when the picture was taken! :D I kinda wish I’d bought that one.

13. Looking at my list, I realize I scare easily (but really it’s just unsecured heights and things jumping out at me). Last one that mildly scares me at WDW? Characters. Face characters I can handle, but I never really know quite what to say to them. Characters (kids over your ears) in costumes give me a bit of a panicky feeling right in the pit of my stomach. Have I told you about my Baloo the Bear experience from high school?! We found him in a dark corner in Adventureland without a handler. When I went to have my friends take a picture of me with him, I walked up and held his hands. He turned me around in his arms to where my arms were crossed in front of me, so I was wrapped in a big bear hug. After the picture was taken, he absolutely would not let go. My friends, not reading the freaked out smile on my face, thought I wanted more pictures taken, so they took more (which I still have)! When I muttered “ok seriously not funny! Let me go!” he finally released me. You never know who’s in there. Now I just let the magic take me into the right frame of mind, run up to characters with my niece and nephew, and get photos with the real deal characters. I mean *that* was Stitch, right there!!!
14. I love the “boring” rides like Carousel of Progress, the Magic Kingdom Express, and especially the Tomorrowland Transit Authority and Living with the Land.

15. I didn’t know there was a ride in Mexico in Epcot until January of 2009. However, now that I know it’s there and think it’s hilarious, I could ride it over and over!

16. As a math lover and Disney fanatic, I’d love someday to make a model of Spaceship Earth.

17. Final confession: Walt Disney World is my happy place. When I’m stressed at work or tired of my life, I day dream about being at WDW. It’s the one place where I forget my life outside, and I let the pixie dust take me into a world of magic and joy. There is no work. There are no angry parents. I don’t have too much to do and not enough time to do it. I just have this moment, this place, and this childlike wonder that puts a goofy smile on my face and a song constantly in my heart.
I have more, but I’ll stop here. Maybe I’ll do a second installment after I get back from my next trip. Hope you enjoyed some of those. More than that, I hope that you have a happy place like I have at WDW. When I say I’m going to WDW, and you say “again??!!” my answer will always be a dumbfounded “well yeah”. If I’m not at WDW, I’m planning my next trip there, and that, my friends, is a wonderful thing.

**Editor’s Note: Pardon my look in these pics. They are old, and I look quite a bit different now. :D

Saturday, June 19, 2010

How to Lose a Loyal Customer

Word of mouth can sometimes make or break a business. I'm not arrogant enough to believe that my recommendation can cause a business to go under, but I've been know to use my blog to share my experiences with various businesses. After my car accident a couple of years ago, I had plenty of businesses to give a good shout-out to, and I was more than happy to do so. I believe if someone does something good for you, it's nice to thank them and help them get more business.

I also believe that if a business... how to I put this... screws you over, people should know, so they can avoid them. Here's where I'm torn. Let me use some picture proof.

Here's Sprinkles at 8 this morning:

Here he is again at 2 this afternoon:
Doesn't he look great?? About a year and a half ago on Julie's recommendation, I switched from Petsmart to Petco. Petsmart had gone from charging me $35 to groom Sprinkles to $60+. It was flat out crazy to me that a dog that small would suddenly cost $25 more to groom, and their service there left a lot to be desired. The groomers were rude, and once time when I was trying to save money they said I could wash him at home, and they would just do the grooming there. They wrote it down wrong and tried to charge me even more despite them not giving him the bath or drying him! Not cool.

So off I went to Petco, and for a year and a half I have loved the haircuts that Amanda has been giving him. They were around $30 a pop, so I could tip well for the service too. At Christmas though, she went on an "emergency leave of absence" which they didn't tell me until I called to confirm my appointment, and they tried to cancel on me (not reschedule). I was firmly insistent that they had to groom him before the holiday, and they fit us in. It left a bad taste in my mouth, but I decided to give them another try.

Sprinkles has been groomed there again since Christmas. This was his third since then actually. The time after, they had a new groomer who up-charged me for brushing him. He's a long haired dog! Of course you have to brush him! He did not have more than one or two tiny mattes. The next time though things were fairly back to normal with a small but manageable price increase. They had 2 strikes against them, but I was understanding that things go wrong at holidays when you lose a groomer suddenly.

Today, though, well today took the cake. Petco has lost my business completely. When I went in to pick Sprinkles up, the bill was outrageously more than usual. They had added in $11 worth of up-charges without telling me in advance for things that used to be included in the regular groom, not to mention the base price had jumped again! It put his grooming bill up to around $60 from the typical $30! To say I was shocked is an understatement.

The grooming salon manager was there, so I asked him about the up-charges. He told me that the old manager was undercharging people, and corporate said that they had to charge people correctly. I said I understood that, so I could handle the base price jumping, but the up-charges had not been communicated to me, nor did I think they did enough to merit at least one of the charges. (They charged me $6 for shaving him. That's the grooming package. He gets shaved!) Anyways, we spoke a bit longer (I kept my cool the whole time), and I explained about how I left Petsmart to come to Petco and how I drive well out of my way to get here because they've always been so great. He looked at me like I'd lost my mind and said the prices compared well to other grooming salons in the area, and that they hadn't been making a profit before with the old manager.

Hold. the. phone.

Excuse me?! Since when is your bottom line my concern? I get that we all need to make a profit, but when you are talking to an unhappy customer is telling her that you must make unnecessary up-charges to make a profit really the best route?? Not cool. I calmly said, "yes, but before you had loyal customers." He said, "you can have loyal customers and make a profit." My response, which is one of two things I'm not proud of saying today, was "let's see how long you keep loyal customers when you keep raping them with your up-charges" and walked out to pay my bill at the register.

*Sigh* At the register I talked to the store manager and relayed what had happened inside the grooming salon. She was very sorry of course especially when I said the second thing I'm not proud of saying today: "It's all well and good that you need to make a profit. You're a business, and I get that, but pardon me for saying that I don't give a damn about your profit when you trap me with up-charges I wasn't warned about and that weren't necessary!" I let her know I wouldn't be coming back, so she gave me a $0.90 discount to try to get me to stay. (I wish that amount were a typo.) She said she would speak to him about how to talk to customers and would make sure in the future that they let me know ahead of time that there would be up-charges. I asked her to tell him that his tip was lost in the charges he added to my bill (which saddens me because he did a great job on the grooming part of the day).

Here's the bottom line:
1. I don't appreciate hidden and unnecessary charges. They're sneaky and no way to run a business.
2. I also am not a fan of managers who don't know how to talk to displeased customers. I have been in the service industry, and I've dealt with dissatisfied customers. I get it. However, I will tell you when you are cheating me and I don't appreciate it. I will give you the courtesy of being polite but firm. I'd like the courtesty of you being polite. Do what it takes to make me happy or I won't come back. In this regard, they could have taken off the up-charges but let me know they would be added next time if those services were provided again.
3. I won't be back to Petco for grooming or anything else. That ship has sailed. That was 3 too many bad experiences with them.

Now here's the stinky part for me and Sprinkles: I need a new groomer, so I need some help from my friends in the DFW area. I'm looking for a reasonably priced groomer who can handle a long haired dog (and by handle I mean shave). Anyone know of a good one?

Another alternative is that I am willing to buy a shaver and learn how to groom Sprinkles myself if there's anyone who can teach me. So if you know how to do this or have done it on your dog before, I'll give you $20 to come help me learn in August. Seriously, $20 for an hour or less... better than a summer rerun! ;-)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Roach of Impending Doom

**Fair warning: If roaches freak you out, you might want to not read this, but if stories about awesome friends are your thing, perhaps you should brave on.**

My afternoon involved so much screaming and laughter that I feel I need to share it with my blogging audience. Mostly I feel this way because I am STILL freaked out by this afternoon's events.

Tracy and I decided that we'd go see Alice in Wonderland at the dollar theater this afternoon. I'd been begging her to go see it with me, but she thought it wouldn't be her cup of tea. (Hee hee! Get it?!) For a dollar and popcorn, she decided she'd go. So we planned for her to pick me up at 1:45 for the 2:30 showing. She'd have her 6 year old daughter and her neice, Brooke (who is about 16), with her.

While waiting for Tracy I decided that I'd worn my hair curly for so many months that I wasn't sure how long my hair truly is, so off I headed to the bathroom to flat iron my hair and kill time. Halfway through I looked up in the corner of the room, by the ceiling, and saw IT: the Roach of Impending Doom! The thing was HUGE! Now picture it fully: there I was halfway through doing my hair, so I had half straight/half frizzy curly piled on top of my head with what's left of my bangs in clips, and suddenly I was shaking like a leaf running circles in my bedroom squealing. Yeah, Sprinkles knew at this point that his master was truly insane, AND now it was confirmed for me as well! I just don't do roaches (or spiders for that matter or crickets now that I think of it).

So I ran out to my couch unsure of how to proceed. I first called maintenence to schedule a exterminator (they should call tomorrow). Oh and while they're at it, perhaps they can unclog one of my bathroom sinks (why I use both of them I have no idea) and fix it since it's clogged and leaking. That would take care of future roaches, but the one in my bathroom had now set up a tent and hammock to stay for a while.

The vacuum cleaner next caught my eye and for a brief moment I considered using the tube to suck up said roach. Then the thought of the flippin' thing running down the tube and onto my arm made me about vomit, so I went to trusty google: "how to kill giant roach". Yes, I used the word giant just so google would know how seriously big this roach was. I found numerous sites where people like me wanted to know how to kill a large roach without guts getting everywhere or without the possibility of touching it. All solutions sounded rather iffy for a short girl on a ladder, so I tried to call Paul. Paul was not around, so I went to my next solution... sit on the couch and tear up at the prospect of gross roach now having sole ownership of my bathroom. I decided I should at least know where the roach was, so I got the broom and closed the bathroom door enough to be able to see in the bathroom from the bedroom using the mirror on the door. Hey at least I was slightly smart about that since peeking around the door into the bathroom gave me nightmares of the roach jumping on me.

Whilst sitting on the couch I decided that Tracy is about the strongest friend I know, so I proceeded to call her. She told me that the one thing she doesn't do is roaches. Well poop. Then she told me all sorts of things that made me freak out more (about eggs, infestations, stuff in my bed, trying to kill it and guts and bugs on me and EWWWW!) and made me squeal into the phone in a tone I'm sure only dogs can hear, "Traaacccccy!!!! You're just making it worse!" and hang up.

Back to bathroom mirror. Yep, he was still there and gross. *squeal* I looked at the clock, and it was 1:15. No way I was going to get my hair finished and come up with a roach solution before 1:45, so I texted Tracy to tell her I couldn't go to the movies for my previously mentioned reasons. Thankfully that made her decide to come to my rescue.

Enter Tracy, my new hero! She came in laughing with a can of Raid (which she politely left with me just in case). She, Brooke, and I went and braved the bathroom while Sprinkles and Tracy's DD stayed in the living room safe from the fumes. OK when I say "braved the bathroom" that was more Tracy's bit. Here's how it went. Tracy went in and sprayed the roach while I screamed (and I mean SCREAMED) in the bedroom. Then all hell broke loose.

You need a little background in case you've never seen my apartment. My bathroom is cute. I've got a huge vanity with double sinks, so I've got neat stuff for organization across the counter. This includes a lamp for Sprinkles (the lights are too hot when left on when he's in there during the day), a large pink box of hair supplies, a mug of make up brushes, 2 mini hat boxes of make up, a container for my contacts (since I use dailies), a mug for my toothbrush and paste, a cute dish for my contact cases (since I open new ones ONCE a day!), and a decorative perfume bottle, ohhh AND a bottle of glitter (you know, in case my day needs a bit more magic). All that said and done, the hair stuff box and one of the makeup boxes, among other items, don't have lids. See where this is going?

The roach FELL into my hair supplies box. (more screaming) Immediately I said that was ok and I would toss the whole box. Then Tracy realized it was in one of my make up boxes. Whew! That stuff would be way less expensive to replace since my perfume and such was in the other box. Then we decided we weren't sure where it was until (OMG!) stuff started *moving* in the make up box! At this point I was squated down in my bedroom, peering into the bathroom, all out squealing something along the lines of "EEEEEEEE!!!! TRAAAAACCCCCCYYYYY!!!" over and over again! Brooke was laughing her head off, and Tracy was just about as freaked out as me but hiding it much better. I'm not a screamer usually btw.

So now what? I said we could just toss that box, but I had to work up the nerve to peek in it to see what I'd need to replace. Done (with more squealing). Tracy insisted that we needed to kill the roach, so she slowly handed me everything else from my countertop. It all went on the bed. Last to go was the 2 mini hat boxes of makeup, top one with roach inside. Tracy dropped it off the top of the stack, and the roach fell out. (WAAAAY more screaming!) She handed me the lower make up box which had roach guts on the outside, so make up got dumped on my bed and that box went into the trash. Then she said she needed a shoe. I think this is the point where I screamed again just out of sheer panic as she walked back into the bathroom and scared her so bad that she about killed me because she thought it was on her! After much deliberation my pink sneaker took the hit. Into the trash it went (they were old anyways). After the shoe the makeup box with makeup that the roach landed in went into the trash bag. Then Tracy kindly cleaned up the REALLY dead roach. Yeah. Ew.

Now what am I doing? Well I've replaced the makeup, which I really didn't have the money for, but there was NO way I could touch all that again. After the movie (awesome!), we went and got bleach for me to clean the counters and walls with. Did you know I don't keep bleach in my apartment? Mom messed up too many pieces of my clothing growing up, so my policy has always been that to use bleach you should be able to open the bottle and swing it around your head without ruining anything. I made an exception for this. I have new makeup bins. They're not as cute, but they're neat, and they were only a dollar at Target. I also have a can of roach spray just in case, but I think we can all agree that this was just a migrating roach who was alone, without family, just passing through, and I will not see another. RIGHT?! Let's all agree on that now! The other pink sneaker is waiting just in case though. Finally I'm finishing laundry, so I can wash my bedsheets since I put what I thought was clean stuff on my bed. Can't be too sure. Oh yeah, and I'm Cloroxing all the items that were on my countertop. Ugh.

Life Lesson Learned: True friends will come do something that they HATE when you are incapacitated with fear, and they'll laugh with you while you scream and after you scream and when it's all over. Tracy is one of the best friends I've encountered. Thank God for her. Heaven knows without her I'd be packing the car to head to GA tomorrow! Seriously. One day I hope to repay the favor, but I'd prefer it to not have to do with bugs. :-D

*Oh and in case you're wondering: My hair is still half curly/half straight right now. I think I can rock this look at least until work tomorrow. ;-)

Friday, June 04, 2010

But I Don't Have Any Makeup On!

I fly solo for the most part: I shop on my own, I go to the pool alone, I take care of my car and my dog all on my own... you get the picture. So tonight, it seemed normal to go to Wal-Mart alone to get groceries. Actually, I've started enjoying grocery shopping again. I make a careful list for the week, get out my headphones, and shop to my fave music on my iPhone. (Tonight it was Fall Out Boy.) Typically grocery shopping is one of those tasks that I get a feeling of accomplishment from: look at all I got to make yummy food and for an awesome low price! Tonight I left with a different feeling.

My list called for a bunch of produce and quite a few refrigerated products, so I went to the baking aisle first. As I was deciding between EVO and Light (tasting) Olive Oil, I noticed a man watching me. He was of average looks and about my age, if not a little older. I thought he needed oil to be honest. Next thing I know, he's approaching me, and this conversation (or something similar) takes place:

Him: Ma'am, I just have to stop you and tell you how pretty you are!

Me: Umm... thanks. *starts walking towards powdered sugar*

Him: I just knew I wanted to stop and talk to you. I'm _________ (promptly forgot his name). And you are?

Me: *figuring first name is ok* Joanna. *shakes hand and starts walking a bit*

Him: Joanna, you are so lovely. How old are you?

Me: *clueless and figuring age is ok and I hate being rude* 27

Him: Me too! (yeah right) When's your birthday?

Me: February *starts to walk away AGAIN!*

Him: Mine too! Wow! What day?
(At this point I'm uncomfortable and just want out of the situation.)

Me: 22nd. It was nice meeting you... *trails off and starts to walk away*

Him: *at this point so persistant that I'm sure he's up to something* Mine is _____ (again, promptly forgot). Well, I'm new to town, and I run a private security service. *At this point I'm looking at his hands for his card to come out, but instead he's got his cell phone.*

Me: *rather faintly* Oh? That's nice. *starts looking around to walk away*

Him: Can I give you my number? I'm looking for some friends or really a date, and I'd love for you to call me sometime. *pulls up cell*

(At this point I'm freaking out mentally, so I blurt out the following:)

Me: Oh thank you but I'm not interested (here and starts to insist on giving me his number and I say) and I'm already seeing someone! (OK, that's not entirely truthful...) Nice meeting you though!

Him: *backs off immediately* Oh! OK! Well it was nice meeting you too! Hope you have a nice evening.

I immediately walked away and one song later I realized I couldn't figure out what cleaner I needed to buy for my sinks because I was so taken off guard by the whole thing. Here's why:
1. I've never been hit on in a grocery store (or out in public by a stranger anywhere).
2. My hair is in a ponytail, and I've got no make-up on tonight. I don't exude enough confidence to make up for that really...
3. I'm immediately wary of someone whose intro line is about how pretty I am.
4. He was soooo persistant as I clearly wanted to walk away.

Here's how I handled it all (after I called Tracy). While talking to Tracy, I checked my purse. Everything was still in it and in my wallet. (Whew - not a con artist distracting me for a partner to steal my stuff.) I then continued shopping, but I was VERY aware of my surroundings and stayed on the look out for him. I started wondering if he might wait outside and follow me to my car or approach me again. I swear that man had some sort of hidden agenda. Then when I went to check out, this nice man named Justin was my cashier. When he asked if I found everything I needed tonight, I hesitated and then briefly described the experience. I admitted I was a little scared to walk to my car alone, and he turned his light off and said he'd personally walk me to my car. So sweet, and he helped me load my groceries! I'll be calling Wal-Mart in a little while to tell them how great a worker he is. I never saw any other sign of my "hit man".

The critics' opinions:
Tracy - I called her as I was pondering the usually easy choice of cleaners. She exclaimed that I shouldn't have given him as much info as I did and was as alarmed at the situation as I was. Like the bestie she is, she allowed me to freak out a bit and then told me I'd be ok and to be away of my surroundings.

Mom - I called home as soon as I was in my locked car. She thinks it was weird too. Like Tracy, she was not a fan of me giving so much info (for heaven's sake what's he going to do with my first name, age, and bday???). Sorry, I'm kinda friendly and trusting like that. Like me, she thinks I'm safe but was relieved that I asked someone to walk me out of the store.

Dad - He was not surprised someone would hit on me because his little girl IS pretty. (I told him he has to say that bc I'm 50% Mom, and he's attracted to her, so of course he'd think she'd make pretty kids.) He's heard that some people pick up dates at the grocery store, and as long as this man wasn't trying to solicit something or seemed threatening, I shouldn't have worried. He obviously just wanted a date. (Suuuuurrrre Dad... sweet notion, but I'm still not buying it.) Wait, where did my dad get that dating advice and why?! Ha!

All in all, it just ends up being another weird story for my blog like LaRae making me scream obsenities, The Box of Doom, and Leash Law outrage! So what do you think? Would it have creeped you out, or would you have taken it as a compliment?