Pottie Awards: September
Most people do experience some kind of winter blues, or the winter doldrums as we call them, well, in the winter. I experience the fall F-OFF in September.
I really do think I might need an evaluation for SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), but we won’t go there right now. However, I do start hating September, without even giving it a chance, starting around August 1, and although I perk up right after Thanksgiving, I mourn summer like a kid whose carnival goldfish passed away in that cheap bowl two days after throwing a ping pong ball in there.
There was a great commercial from Staples which aired for a few years in a row. I pee in my pants watching it, but I cannot understand the concept. It is not the most wonderful time of the year … there is no free time, my shorts are clinging to my legs like a frightened child on the first day of school begging me not to put them on the shelf, it’s getting dark at 8:30, my kids are grumpy, my grill has entered into a depression, there is no frolicking in the pool after camp, no sleeping in till 7:30, no grabbing ice cream after dinner, trips to the shore. Need I go on about bikinis, tanned legs and icy ombre pink drinks from Starbucks?
But, there are those, who personally and commercially try to get me to love Pumpkin Spice Lattes, sweaters, pumpkin and apple picking. Guess what, you can’t make me love fall. I think it sucks. Back to routine, homework, after school activities that have me embedded into the leather of the driver’s seat of my car so when I get up you see the indent of my coolie. Oh, I have tried to love the fall, and all it’s beauty, which really doesn’t show up until November, and by that time, fall has started to collide, with the 8th deadliest sin, winter.
Does anybody understand what is about to happen here? You all bitch when it’s too hot, “Holy crap, I’m sweating like a pig … omg, this is too hot, ugh, I can’t deal … I’m dripping … I’m melting…” Ahhhh, but when it’s 20 degrees outside and your ass slips on that piece of ice developed by a crying pipe when you walk in to get your toasty latte in the morning wearing your ugly parka with the fur hood, you are cursing the winter and crying “where’s Spring!?” like church goers who go back to God when they find out they are terminal.
The only thing I like about the winter is a big frieking blizzard that knocks out power, shuts down the neighborhood and keeps everyone home. I can stay in my pjs and watch my kids fight over the best cookies to make and take a nap mid-day.
So, personally, I hate the fall. It’s a prequel to winter, which is even uglier, but fall is like winter’s pimp … trying to sell it in sexiest way possible by appealing to your sense of smell, sight and touch. But, really, you get a cheap, decrepit, dead, broken down season that gives you a five minute thrill from November to January, but has you crying from regret every moment after that.
So, to you September, the longest month of the year, the month who seems to have eight weeks and each day is Septmber 1st. You pumpkin, sweater lovin’ kool-aid drinking fall culters, you aren’t fooling me. I want my summer back, and September is the beginning of the end … to the most beautiful season, summer. But, in May, we will all be back with a vengeance and a beach towel.
I gotta tell ya…I debated this one for my entire vacation. After reading about our expedition, you might feel my pain. So, pack your bags and come along for a turbulent ride…kind of.
Listen, Atlantis has always done well by myself and my family. My kids love the aquatic chaos, and the ex Merv Griffin Paradise Island Resort and Casino, which still has ghostly presence in the Coral and Beach Towers, was transformed into this beachfront mega resort which I used to find pristine and well run by island standards. Restaurants such as Carmine’s and Virgils, even Starbucks and Ben and Jerry’s found lucrative homes seaside, and the massive casino ding-dings with excitement and money hungry gamblers 24/7. We always invested in the dining package, which could be anywhere from three full meals and high end restaurants like Mesa grill or, ample for us, two meals per day and decent dining establishments.
But, this summer, Atlantis took it’s chances on an all-inclusive package available from August to December (trying to make up for lost revenue in the low season), and it sounded great, but I think a good business move was informing their staff they had an all-inclusive package.
We have done a few great all-inclusives, i.e. Beaches, Barcelo Bavaro, which, with my family, is the way to go. Pay once, eat, drink, vomit…do whatever you want and don’t ask me about it. So, I thought for sure Atlantis with it’s reputation for fun in the sun and food for your brood would have his this out of the park: foul ball.
At check in you receive a map indicating the restaurants that are on your list, and bars where you can utilize your key to gluttony, but when you approached anybody…front desk, bartender, cashier, nobody could answer if you were on a free for all, or a diet. We never knew how much if anything we could have. One staffer said, “well, in the memo it said you could have as much as you want.” In the memo?????? Mega resort Atlantis couldn’t find it somewhere on their to-do list to have a staff meeting about such a huge endeavor as an All-Inclusive package? Just weird and underdone, and unprofessional. Anytime we took a drink or purchased food, we had to ask: “Included?” “Yeah, I think so,” was usually the response.
If you were following my Insta and FB, you were also privy to three days worth of photos of a half eaten pizza slice, and box, and a dismembered chocolate cake which greeted me in my nightstand. My husband who is much less squeamish than I am slept on the side of the bed that flanked the grossness of someone’s last Bahamian meal. Many calls made to housekeeping resulted in a clean up on the last night. I guess they didn’t want me to touch it either. The nice attendant who showed up turned green and apologized after almost dry heaving in the hallway as he carried out the corrugated cardboard box.
In their defense, after I tweeted and posted, I received a call from management begging me to take the post down, and offering me 250.00 resort credit. I thought about it, but I felt it better that travelers knew how an establishment such as Atlantis handled a dirty problem rather than washing it away like it didn’t happen. That’s where true customer service gets the grade. How did they troubleshoot? What was the result?
I was ready to take the 250.00 gesture and shut up after all the hassle with their not so all-inclusive all-inclusive and the late night frat party that died in my nightstand, but, at check out out I begged for all charges to be removed…we had none. We stayed with the pre-paid all inclusive, and I walked out with a zero bill (every hotel holds on to your credit for incidentals), only to find out after boarding our NCL cruise in Miami, that my 250 credit was not immediately issued, and guess what, Atlantis was holding on to 2300 of my Amex credit, which, until I tweeted again, was not removed.
I was ready to give Atlantis a gold star for a customer service remedy, but after seeing another 91.00 charge on my Amex just yesterday, it ticked me off, and the fact that I spent the first three days of what should have been a relaxing cruise trying to recover 2300.00 from Amex via Atlantis, I said, no way….
Atlantis…clean up your act, stop taking massive amounts of credit at the front desk at check in when clients have already paid up front, and here’s an idea….let your staff know when policies change. Maybe we will consider coming back when you really “clean up.”
Pottie Awards: Summer Homework
I get it…it’s universal. Every school, every summer vacation in every state, city, county and town (as far as I know) assigns summer….B. S. Yes, I call it what it is, and I am really done.
Summer vacation is supposed to be just that…a vacation. It’s not only vacation for my kids, but a vacation for me as well: the parent, the provider, the tuition payer, the fundraiser, driver, you name it. But, when you start assigning summer work to my kids, really, you have assigned it to me, too.
Let’s face it, unless you have some off the charts beguilingly gifted kid who’s solstice aspiration is to live in the lab and/or the library, and needs NO nudging whatsoever to read a book or “enjoy” a math packet, your urging, nagging, pushing, whatever euphemism you apply to the situation, becomes part of summer anxiety, and as a summer baby, summer should be flowy, and free, like the women in long dresses running through cornfields in Summer’s Eve commercials.
As we laughed our asses off at my birthday get together last night, the mood turned cold and somber when I asked my girlfriends if they had done any of the summer assignments. One turned to me, face similar to the grotesque figure in Edvard Munch’s “The Scream," and almost crying asked, “we had summer assignments?” Oh yes we do, and guess what, I haven’t gotten off my tanned ass to do them either, because they suck.
Imagine if you worked all year for your boss, and here it is, the moment you’ve been waiting for all freiking year, your two weeks of vacation have finally arrived! As you are walking out the door, dreaming of Bellinis, Prosecco and handsome men in Speedos as you head for your dream vacation in Monte Carlo, your boss turns to you and says, “Oh yeah, in between dips in the Mediterranean, can you please finish these files. I mean you can just upload and download and have them ready for me in an email. No rush, as long as they are ready by the Monday you return. But, have a great time and enjoy your vacation.” I would be like, F-OFF. But oh no, summer assignments are allowed, and it’s the same concept.
How much does a kid get from a summer “reading” assignment? Not much, really. I’ve been at this a long time, and the only thing, even for some of mine who are honor students (the names have remained anonymous to protect the innocent on both ends of the spectrum), ZERO, ZERO, ZERO. Nobody wants to read, it’s a chore, and the absorption of fact and enjoyment on the acidity reading stick is albino colored, so my time and theirs has been wasted.
I don’t understand what the education system is afraid of…is my kid coming back illiterate because they didn’t read two books in the ten weeks they didn’t sit at a desk? Do you have such little faith in your teaching staff and your institution that the staying power of what you taught them for nine months will just evaporate with the first jump off the high dive or bite of boardwalk cheese fries? Have a little more faith in your educational rubric.
And the math assignments? I think a week of refreshing when they return in September is plenty. I suck at math, and I certainly remember how to multiply, divide and conquer after being out of school thirty years. Do not get me started on unnecessary math concepts, either. There’s a great adage that applies to this writer mommy, “My whole day went by and I still didn’t use algebra.”
I am a Summa Cum Laude graduate with a double degree. So, yeah, I value education, and so did my parents. All my siblings are college graduates, and my father, a successful entrepreneur, was an attorney as well. My husband is an M.D., and that should sum up how we promote education in our household…we do. But, summer should be a time to pursue other things…not just academics…the arts, athletics, dream jobs, internships, culture, travel…other things that make your little bundles of joy well-rounded, well spoken, and oh yeah, aware of the importance of family time.
So here’s a happy medium to all institutions of both higher education and grammar school: If you want to assign a reading assignment, give the students a month to pick out two books that interest THEM…they will get more out of what they read, extend the absorption if they have a choice, and exercise their creativity and brain function if they can go outside the box and really learn. Scientifically oriented kids should be able to read books on space, theater goers and musicians can read Shakespeare or Mozart’s bio, or similar, baby chef’s can read cooking books..the list goes on. And, a test? How about a demonstration or a project during the first month of school?
You will see a lot more learning, and a lot more enthusiasm from this method, I assure you.
I swear to God, if I have to go over BISCUIT GOES TO SCHOOL, MORRIS THE MOOSE or a choice from the WHO AM I bio series, one more time, I’m going to make book covers out of the collage of pages so nobody forgets what they’ve read.
DONE with summer assignments.
Homework is next…
I don’t like to bring anybody’s business down, but as we know, blogging and the written word are indelible. You can’t take it back. Even if you take down the piece you wrote, someone has it screenshot and forwarded to their entire list of contacts. So, I decided to keep this store anonymous, but my irritation every time I shop here needed a voice, so that it might become better for fellow shoppers. The “potties” are to make shopping life safer and less treacherous where we spend our precious dollars.
New Jersey is the mall capital of the world, and traffic capital on any road that houses a mall. Let’s say that’s most of our highways. So, I think staff in a major department store should be used to the hustle and bustle of demanding clientele on any given day of the week. We do get a Bergen County reprieve on Sunday thanks to our beloved Blue Laws.
But Rose, out of desperation for her true love, finds her way back onto the sinking ship, risking her life, only to make out with Jack in the main vestibule of the ship, as it faded away into the icy cold waters of the Atlantic whild other passengers were whizzing about, grasping at a chance to live.
This is what it is like to find a salesperson and purchase a pair of shoes in a local major department store’s shoe department. (Nameless). First you are in a literal sea of shoes, with other shoppers looking for the perfect pair. Then, the search for the captain, or salesperson, with some answers begins. If you find one who isn’t overwrought, breathing normally and not carrying a tower of shoes as high as Dolly Parton’s hair, you may have a chance at “sole survival.” This takes much time and skill, and if you are seated, or sitting in steerage, nobody will help you.
Tripping over boxes of a either a non survivor or a survivor’s unwanted footwear is a major hazard, and sitting on a stiletto or block heel because you didn’t see it amidst the other crap on your seat is also possible.
As Rose so passionately took Jack’s face and planted one on his lips, once you find a sales person who is available to find your size and width, without any remorse, you may want to make out with them too, because at last, a chance for survival, possibly emerging from the stock room with your stilettos in another half an hour has come to fruition. DO NOT ATTEMPT TO ASK FOR MORE THAN THREE PAIRS OF SHOES at a time. Your lifeline will be cut short, and you may perish amongst the unwanted flats and ugly sneakers.
Once you have the shoes in hand, it is now time to get on your life boat and check out. Imagine the cashier is the life boat being lowered to safety, and the check out line, the sinking ship. Each passenger, clinging to their most beloved belongings, a child, a spouse, or in this case a pair of gladiators or a Steve Madden wedge are now vying for position to pay. There is no line. Just a few deckhands telling you to now come forth and claim your salvation as you wait behind droves of other shoppers claiming their 20% off and paying, or getting on the lifeboat and floating away. Once you have your items in a bag, dry throat, car keys in hand, you have earned your safety, your car, your refuge, because the desire to go back on board, and shop in any department has diminished and sunk away into iceberg-like nothingness.
The shoes here have become more “WENDY’s EVENING WEAR” commercial-ish, and certainly not worth the Titanic similarities just to buy shoes. Maybe take a tip from another luxury shopping oasis whose staff is awaiting you like the former staff for Louis XIV at Versailles … and yes, they do sell normal shoes as well, with the same kind of service you find in the foo-foo section.
Sorry, local department store, your on the floor service has completely bombed over the years, but the shoe department takes the cake here. Not a life vest in sight..it’s every foot for themselves.
Pottie Award: Beth Bender Beauty
I think I have said it before…I am a sucker for anything I can buy that might be a quick fix, especially when it involves beauty products. For a few years, now, I have been trying to master the stroke of the perfect “cat eye.”
It’s hard to admit one’s downfalls, but after many, many failed attempts, and several audience heckles from the other beauty queens who live in my home, I gave up. Failed attempts looked like 1920’s extended eyeliner botches, or I would pull my eye, draw the line, and then, like a turtle in trouble on a major highway every time a car drives by, the line would shrivel up and retreat back to my lid, morphing into this lump of liner.
Then, I thought one day I had found my salvation: NOT!
I guess a quick disclaimer is that I have deep-set eyes, which makes the cat eye a little more difficult. My oldest daughter, Brynn, who does not have deep set eyes, also failed to make the “mark.” First of all, the stencil slides over your lid so it lies on your lid. Not happening. Where is the assistant that comes with the stencils to hold your contraption steady? You need two hands or a surgeon to pull this off. Once it’s on, and you are ready to “draw” your cat eye, just grab your toddler and hand them a sharpie…same effect. I tried one, two, six, nine times, and the same every time.
The same set comes with a Smoky Eye stencil, which for fear of looking like Rocky meets Apollo Creed, I did not attempt. My middle daughter, Valentina, who feels she should be interviewed on the topic has chided me for attempting make up “coolness” when I am going out for the day. She advises to attempt new moves in the evening when you aren’t going anywhere so it doesn’t matter if you botch your artistic-ness. From the mouth of beauty babes ...
Pottie Awards: Buy Buy Baby
Yes, it is true, my beloved store, has won a Pottie … it may just be a one flusher, but the store I used to value as much as www.revolve.com gets a poo…
I am a huge, huge proponent of customer service. When I went in this past weekend to purchase a new umbrella stroller (I will review) for my son for some upcoming travels, I thought I would run in and run out … but NOOOOOO. Of course a Saturday is the busiest day of the week in the land of malls, Paramus, NJ, but boy … get a grip.
I walked into the stroller department to be greeted by … nobody. The one sales associate dressed in his royal blue Buy Buy Baby uniform was helping a couple who were on their third baby, with their two other kids, father who was negotiating a deal with his secret service headset exploding from his ear, and a mother who kept rubbing her belly as if that baby needed comforting, in unison with periodically grabbing her toddler daughter by the arm. The associate kept explaining the latch vs the seatbelt installation, and I was now standing in the group as if I were an in-law, trying to get attention. I just wanted to know where this one stroller was located. I was apparently invisible.
I strolled around the department to see, if in the mecca of baby and children’s needs there existed another associate to help me with something so obscure as stroller. Alas, there was, but she was explaining some car seat system to a young couple who kept repeating questions. Is it possible a car seat or a stroller was that foreign when you were having a baby?
Feeling even more ignored, I approached the information desk. “Is there anybody else working in strollers?” The associate grabbed her lapel mike like she was about to use it for a SCUBA expedition, and whispered, “Associate to strollers…” She said to me in top secret form. “He will meet you by strollers.” I felt like I was a CIA agent on a reconnaissance mission. I ran over to my spot in the sea of strollers where, if you were having a nightmare that you were being attacked by strollers and car seats, this is what it would look like. And sure as hell, as I was on my way over there, the new associate was snagged by another first time couple who needed help with the car seat curriculum as if tomorrow they were defending a thesis on five point harnesses or they would have to give their baby up for adoption.
I said, “excuse me, they just called you for ME.” He looked at me blankly, “Oh, someone else can help you.” GEEZ..I was losing my cool. If I didn’t need the stroller, I would have left. Another blueberry associate approached me…”I NEED YOU…..I said. Please do not move another inch. She stared at me. I need this stroller…” She pulled one from the display so I could play with it and give it a treat like I was adopting a puppy. I said, ok, “I need it in blue…” but she was now talking to another couple who were on a Buy Buy Baby date. So, while she was talking to them, she stared spewing information into her SCUBA apparatus about my purchase. She was helping me and them at the same time. I thought for sure I would go home with their infant car seat system and breast pump, and they would get my umbrella stroller at check out.
Did I get what I came for? Yes, I did…after almost 45 minutes…it was unacceptable. Not enough help, organization or decorum that afternoon from a store I have trusted for about 15 years.
Poo…Buy Buy Baby…work on your customer service and realize it’s busy in Paramus on a Saturday…hint…every spot in the parking lot is filled, and yeah, people have off.
Hire a few car dealers ... they know how to make a sale and work the Saturday crowd.