Saturday, 15 December 2012

Opposite of A Complaint

Welcoming new fancy tea store to the neighbourhood.

Salesgirl pulled delightful novelty teas off the shelf with panache- Do you like popcorn? Try our Movie-goer's tea!

Offered alternatives to each tea - If you liked Chili Chai, you'll love Chili Chai Chocolate!

Couldn't decide whether to go for the Oolong, It'll Change Your Life or Moroccan Mint, You'll Feel the Sunshine.

Then salesgirl dropped a bombshell.

If you get the Sleigh Bell, dried fruit and nut tea with real cinnamon sticks!, you can re-use the tea to flavour your oatmeal the next morning.

Re-use? Oatmeal? Sounds too good to be true.

Fell for it, hook, line and $42.99 later.

(Not all on tea, silly. Bought a few Christmas gifts while I was there. OK, fine, tea Christmas gifts, but still.)

Have to admit.  Worked perfectly. Tea great.

Saved tea bag.

Opened it next morning and threw into oatmeal.


Remarkable Things About This Story:

  1. People will buy tea with actual popped kernels of corn in it despite absolutely no evidence, circumstantial or otherwise, that popcorn, when steeped in hot water, will produce a tasty drink
  2. Sales people in fancy tea store appear to have spent more time in training than some emergency room staff
  3. Training includes tips for how to re-use tea bags.
  4. Tea bag re-use turned out to be as absolutely delicious as it sounded
  5. I can find absolutely nothing about this transaction to complain about

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Internet Is a Total Enabler

6:45am.  Open eyes.  Full work day ahead.

Nine people for Friday Night dinner.

Crockpot solution.

Curry chicken with coriander (fresh) and toasted cashews (using walnuts).

6:49 am. Start throwing things into slow cooker.

7:08am Take B to bus stop and Realize that I didn't throw in curry sauce.  Further realize that I don't have any jarred sauce, I used it all up last time I relied on crockpot for emergency Book Club dinner.

7:14 am. Look up curry sauce and find many options. 

Oh, good, have all the ingredients.  Take out food processor. Take out fresh veggies.  Start chopping.

7:33am.  Wait a second, what's this Garam Masala?  An Indian spice?  Have I ever bought this before?

7:48am.  Wiping down shelf, re-arranging jars. No Garam Masala.

7:56am . Look up Garam Masala.  It is indeed a blend of 7 Indian spices.  Turns out I have them all. (Also turns out they are all on my counter.)

A few half teaspoons and two Tablespoons later I have more Garam Masala than I have ever wanted.

I have a crockpot full of curry chicken.

I also have a meeting in twenty minutes, two kids I forgot to wake up and get ready for school, and the unmistakeable stench of curry powder emanating from my every pore.

Internet, you make it too damn easy.

Why couldn't you have just told me to order a pizza?

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Yes In the End I Found the Shoe

You know how sometimes you look everywhere for your keys and they are right in the inside pocket of your purse where they belong?

Or you say to yourself I wish I had thought to put blue Excel chewing gum in my glove compartment, and you open your glove compartment and there it is?

My sister in law has a great expression for that.

She calls it being your own best friend.

Yesterday morning I couldn't find my Chuck Taylor Lichtenstein Converse very appropriate work shoes.

I'm a huge liar.

I actually found one sneaker but for the life of me couldn't find its mate. 

Offered a prize to whomever could locate second shoe.

Thought about the time I inadvertently donated a single orange winter boot to the Goodwill.

Finally crouched on hands and knees in closet, vowing to overturn every --

Wait a second, is that a Zellers  Holt Renfrew bag, poking out from the corner?

Shift over plastic rubbermaid tub very well organized cedar chest of purses.

Two awesome Hanukah gifts. Vintage 2011.

Found just in time.

Turns out I am not only my own best friend, but my own Santa Claus too.

Does this mean I get to bake myself cookies?

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Wonder What the Spanish Menu Says

Montreal landmark restaurant recently reopened.

Saturday lunch with kids.

G orders burger and baked potato.

That will be extra, says Waiter.

I wouldn't mind springing for a baked, I tell Waiter. But according to menu, burger comes with choice of baked or fries.

Sorry, Waiter says. French menu says burger comes with fried or mashed.

Polite chuckles all around.  We'll take the baked.

Husband's turn to order.

Wants burger and fries.

10 oz burger? Asks Waiter.

No, says Husband.  Here on menu burger is 8 oz.

On French menu, says Waiter, burger is 10oz.

More polite chuckles.

G's burger comes.  With fries.

Excuse me sir, I think he ordered the baked.

Oh.  Kitchen having trouble getting used to English menu too.

Look over at next booth.

Another family having lunch.  He's drinking a pint of beer. She's having a vodka orange.

On the English menu, they ordered diet Cokes.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

This is Why Eleven Year Olds Should Not Date

11 year old G invited New Girlfriend to first BBQ of the season.

One o'clock. Blow dried and plaid shorted girl rings doorbell with her Mom.

One problem.  BBQ called for six pm.

G still at BFF's house.

New Girlfriend is mortified.

Looks at her Mom. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before. Voice cracking.

Don't worry, hon, I'm 42 and nothing like this has ever happened to me either.

Normally when someone invites you over, you expect them to be home.

We apologize profusely for misunderstanding and New accompanies my Husband to pick up G.  Comes home with G and BFF. New delighted.

Relationship runs its fifth grade course. Here we are in sixth grade, New Girlfriend has hit cutting room floor, and we are now back together with Summer Camp Girlfriend.

Summer Camp is invited for Sunday brunch.

Rings the bell Saturday at noon.

G is - obviously - at BFF's house.

BFF's Dad takes G back to our house to reunite with Camp.

Choose a Moral for the story:

1. G needs a bus pass
2. Good thing G's relationships don't last long, at least the idiocy is spread around
3. G's BFF has the patience of a saint
4. Let's hope G's next girlfriend has a blackberry

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Where PT Barnum meets Jackass

B forgot his lunch at home.

Didn't have any money with him.

Guess he will be hungry and will remember to bring his lunch next time.

(Spoken like a true amateur.)

Comes home from school looking disappointingly well fed.

What did you have for lunch?


Fancy. You must have nice friends.

No, no, Mom. I paid.


Came up with the best way to make money.

I go up to people at school and ask them if they want me to do anything stupid for a loonie or a twonie.

I just run around screaming, or lift up my shirt.

Once, I had to say hi to some girl.

And, Mom, the funny thing is? They think I'm the sucker.

But Mom, they are totally the suckers.

I walk away with the money.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

This Story is Fourteen Seconds Old

Coffee shop with B and G.

Bribing them with lemon poppy seed cake they eagerly agreed to join me and do their homework while I work on my book.

(I thought it was done too but apparently the editor can totally ask you to rewrite stuff).

Boys taking their work out of their bags and pretending to study.

Server comes over to wipe up a few crumbs.

Sorry about the mess.

That's OK.  You should have seen the mess I made this morning.


Boys eyes glazing over.  They are thinking: Mom, is it strictly necessary for you to to speak to every single person in the entire world.

Server still talking.

Spilled milk everywhere.  Probably should have gone home last night instead of playing beer pong (for those of you who didn't go to college).

Beer pong? Boys snap to attention.

She continues.

I'm not so good at Beer Pong so I'm a little - uh - "tired" this morning.  My sister is way better than me. My younger sister.

And by the way can you lower the volume on your computer so it doesn't beep?

Presses hand to temple.

Complaint tie-in:  I don't mind a little small talk from my coffee shop server.  Nice weather we're having.  Boy I miss those Habs.  Even a what do you think of the new mayor would be ok in a pinch.

But bragging about your drinking games? Like, seriously?

Dude. Please.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Good Thing I Didn't Buy Shoes There Too

Felt guilty in the night that haven't been blogging.

Worried that blog becoming too mommyish.

Concerned that maybe have drifted too far from original vision.


Perhaps writing complaint book drained all the retail related mishaps out of me.

May have to face fact that am just running out of material.

If only there was some way to generate funny stories about shopping, flying and drinking bottled water without actually leaving the comfort of my bedroom.

Perfect day to wear brand new red power suit.

Look in mirror.

You know those ungainly beige plastic tags that will spray ink everywhere if not removed in the store?

The ones that are on the hem and absolutely can not be camouflaged with the right sweater?

I guess I will have to wear grey executive suit.

Purchased at the same store on the same day.

And clearly checked out by the same clerk.

Moral of the Story: Be careful what you wish for.

Monday, 3 September 2012

With Special Thanks to S for Today's Story Idea

Story 1:  I Guess the Belgian Waffles, Cereal Bar and Full Breakfast Buffet Weren't Enough For You

B's Bar Mitzvah ends at 2pm on a Sunday.

Can I have some friends over?


Can we walk home?


Can we stop at the Convenience Store for something to eat on the way home?

Story 2: Apple Doesn't Fall Far From The, Um, 

Parents graciously providing transportation to out of town Bar Mitzvah party.

All Guests must be at the shopping centre parking lot at 5pm to catch the bus.

5:06pm friend comes to the door to pick up B.

B is in the shower.

Bang on door.  Hurry up, friend is here.  Late for bus.

Hang on a sec.

Can't hang on a sec.  Bus left 7 minutes ago.

Calmly emerges. I'll get dressed in the car.

Runs out of house dripping wet, boxers only, clutching skinny jeans and a black button down, converse slung around his neck, cloud of Axe trailing in the air.

Am sure they are going to miss the bus and I am going to be stuck driving them 67 minutes up north.

Miraculously bus hasn't left yet.

Oh Mom did I say 5pm?  I meant 5:30.

Story 3: Dude, Where's Your Bar Mitzvah?

B allegedly invited to Bar Mitzvah of alleged very good friend, however no invitation was actually produced.

Adamant that is expected to be somewhere at some point this morning, details not readily available.

I posted on Facebook that was looking for Bar Mitzvah.

Went on synagogue web sites and scanned weekly bulletins.


Mom, it's fine.  Just found out where and when we have to be there. We aren't even late.

How did you find out?

Just texted the Bar Mitzvah boy.  He's on his way to the synagogue now.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The Vanity in the Master Now Opens and Closes Without a Peep

Houseguest came for dinner and stayed 8 days.

Washed, dried and put away breakfast dishes.

Cooked Bananas Foster and almost managed an actual flambĂ©.

Finished the peanut butter and replaced it before we even noticed.

Oh and by the way, a repair guy came in to fix something in your bathroom.


He wasn't sure which bathroom, so I brought him to all of them and then he realized what he was here to fix.


Mr. Houseguest.  We appreciate your company greatly.  And by far, the best jerk tofu I have ever tasted.

Unloading the dishwasher was much appreciated.

And the hair clip you brought was so thoughtful.

But please do not let strange repair men into my house without my permission.

We were very lucky that this turned out to be an actual repair person.  We were lucky that he knew what to fix, and how to fix it.

But opening the door to strangers is a risk.

Please do not take that risk in my house.

If I wanted you to open the door and let people in, I would let you know.

In fact, do you mind getting up early tomorrow morning?  The drain in the downstairs sink is leaking.

The plumber should be here by 8am.

And I hear he loves his latte flambéd.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Get Over Yourself Mister Banana Bread

Good friend of mine gave birth way too early.

Kid in NICU, surgery, very scary.

What can I bring you?

Rice krispie squares with chopped up Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  Chop the cups, put them in the freezer so that they don't melt immediately.  Make rice krispies on stove and stir in frozen cups at the last minute.

Dropped them off at her house.

How did you know I like Rice krispies with Chopped Reese's Peanut Butter Cups?

(Lucky guess)

She didn't remember a thing.

Had she been on her game, it would have been:

What can I bring you?


Which would have led me to the only possible solution:

Banana Bread.

Not sure why Banana Bread has become the universal symbol of I'm thinking of you. 

Tastes good, but not too festive.

Solid, filling, sort of healthy.

Requires just enough effort so you feel you have done something.

Easy to wrap, drop off.

Can throw it in the freezer.

Not to disparage Banana Bread but when you have enough to re-brick your house, you kind of wish someone dropped off toilet paper and laundry detergent.

You may also want coffee, milk, lunch.  Something to distract your kids.  Your dry cleaning picked up.  Your lawn mowed.

This does not apply to me, you are  thinking. 

My Banana Bread is the best.  I use Coconut, Chocolate Chips, Maraschino Cherries extra Bananas.  

I am sure you are right.

I am sure your Banana Bread is the best.

And we all appreciate it.

But before you drop it off, think about what else you can do to help.

You may end up chopping Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  Putting them in your freezer.  

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Good Thing She Didn't Work for the Mossad

7 year old daughter T. went to a friend's house last week.

Husband supposed to pick her up.

I may have forgotten to mention when and where.

May also have possibly skipped town with this critical information.

Husband knew kid's mother's name only.


Called friend with this dilemma.

Friend said: Name sounds familiar.

I think she is a Real Estate Agent.

Let's drive around and find a sign with her name and phone number on it.

Problem solved.

Complaint Tie-In:  See? This is why I never learn my lesson.

Monday, 30 July 2012

My Veggie Burger was Fine Though, Thanks for Asking

Stuck in Tourist Trap for overpriced lunch.

Service could have been faster.

Fish and chips could have been crispier.

Fries could have been a salad.

Beer could have arrived before dessert.

Waiter could have ignored the situation.

Instead, he came to our table.

Coffee's on me today folks.

I like that he tried.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Same Story Twice


Giving "How to Complain Effectively" speech to Association of Retired University Professors.

Running late.

Shortcut through construction zone never a good idea.

Front passenger tire learned that the hard way.

Roadside Assistance.

Fixed tire, back at work, piece of cake.

Two weeks later Husband moves car early in morning.  Still denying that he left the lights on.  Car won't start.

Roadside Assistance.

Same tow truck pulls up.  Same guy gets out of car.

We both crack up.

Thank g-d I tipped him the first time.


First cousin once removed sees total stranger wearing fabulous dress.  Had to have it.

Wants to ask woman where she got it.

Daughter is mortified. If you even glance in that woman's direction I am going home.

Once removed says we are in New York City.  We will never see her again.

Stops woman in dress - Where? What? How?

Dress is flattered.  Says two blocks west, across the street, on the right.

Daughter leaves on principle.

Removed goes to the store immediately.

Guess who the salesgirl is?

Bought the dress in three colours.

Monday, 23 July 2012

I Also Found the Sign In Pic from My Bat Mitzvah

New job starts today.

Asked to provide proof of Master's Degree Completion.

(Sure, no problem.  Have only moved 7 times since then.)

Was sure it was in specific box on specific shelf in basement.

Reached for box, slipperier than I remembered.

Noise so loud, husband came running to my rescue, stepping over shards of Hallmark picture frames as he approached.

He was sure diploma was in particular cardboard tube on particular shelf.

Then he paused.

Um Honey?

Did you look on the wall?  Over your desk?

No wonder they asked for proof.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Overheard in My Car Yesterday

B (to friend): Dude, wanna go to the gay pride parade? I've always wanted to go to the gay pride parade.

Me: You've been to the gay pride parade.

G: Wait, is that the one where all those people were walking around the street naked?

G: Oh, no, that was the thing you and Dad went to in California with the flying tortillas.  Remember? People were wearing shoes and socks and like, nothing else?

B: Was gay pride the one where Dad got those vagina lollipops?

G: The chocolate lollipops? No, that was a garage sale.

T: Those were delicious.

B: Yeah.

G: I wonder how they got that shape.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

If You Buy Me a License Plate That Says "Mom's Taxi" The Deal is Off

Just gave B's friend a lift home.

No he was not at my house.

No he did not ask me for a lift.


He was skateboarding in the park eight blocks away.

And it's dark.

A little rainy.

No bus pass.

There is a cheesy quote going around that says something like you should listen to your kids when they are small and tell you little things so that when they are big they tell you the big things.

I am hoping the same principle applies to lifts.

I give my kids and their friends rides as much as I can.

I want them to get into the habit of calling me when they need a ride.

I want them to know I will go and get them any time, no questions asked.

I am hoping that giving little lifts when they are small will cause them to ask me for more important lifts when they get bigger.

Complaint Tie-In:
Sometimes it's better to suffer through a small complaint now (driving all over creation) to avoid a much larger complaint (my kid is in the hospital) later.

This is not a sure thing, I agree.

But I am comfortable gambling on my minuscule complaint because the potential for grave complaint avoidance is so big.

Hope this doesn't mean I will spend the rest of my life driving people to the airport.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Maybe Had I Not Just Seen the Avengers This Story Would Have Had a Different Ending

Saturday night, just after midnight.

Open front door.

Furniture completely re-arranged.

Laptop and extension cords zigzagging across living room floor.

Black wig, gold crown and zebra morph suit partially hidden by couch pillows.

Stepped on two sweatshirts I have never seen before in my life.

Key Grip forgot to strike the set.

Pizza box. Milk container.

Craft service also obviously off his game.

I rolled up my sleeves and got to work, putting house back together and muttering under my breath the whole time.

Ha.  You know me better than that.

I went straight to bed and set my alarm for 7am to attack the disaster area before my house was condemned.

You fell for that too? What is this, amateur hour?

I woke them up.

Yes, at 12:15am.

I turned on all the lights and said Go Downstairs and Put The House Back Together.

Also How Many Brownies Did You Eat.

They were not too happy.

Neither was Loki.

But I think both learned their lessons.

And I didn't have to blow anybody up.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Book, Cover

Knit night.

(wanted to push myself, knit something out of my comfort zone)

Idle chitchat.

Woman sitting next to me on the couch is pulling spectacular beaded lace shawls out of a tote bag.

Many lace shawls.

Shawls so beautiful, so delicate, that for a moment you are wondering why American Apparel bothered re-inventing the hoodie.

I have a lot of time to knit in my job.

I am a mechanic.

I work in a factory.

I sit and knit waiting for the machines to break.

Sometimes I am on call.  I sit at home knitting, waiting for the phone to ring.

I guess it makes sense.  Someone has to fix those machines.

Never occurred to me it would be a knitter.


Friday, 20 April 2012

Chocolate, Vanilla, Lime Green

72 hours before the biggest (and only) catered event of my life so far, I get an e-mail from the caterer.


Heart drops.

Venue flooded.

Caterer declared bankruptcy.

Food poisoning incident.

None of the above.

E-mail reads:

Cake: Chocolate or Vanilla?
Icing: Chocolate or Vanilla?
Trim: Blue?


1. Relief
2. Jealous of people to whom the only emergency they have ever known is chocolate related
3. Also jealous of people to whom this decision would actually be an urgent one
4. Pity for the caterer who probably has to deal with decisions of this nature with the delicacy that perhaps they do not deserve
5. I am obviously in the wrong industry

Monday, 16 April 2012

Maybe You Can Explain This To Me

Cheesy accessories store.

5 for $10 or 10 for $10.

I have 5 for $10.

So far so good.

I have 3 for 10 for $10.


Cashier says Choose 7 more items.

No thank you.  I have enough pink zebra hairbands.  I really need these three with feathers.


If I choose 10, it will be $10 even.

You win.

Al Gore and I lose.

In retrospect, I should have purchased the extra items and just left them on the counter.

Next time.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Why I Will Never Be an Economics Teacher

I just paid $7.78 each for two containers of for cream cheese.

Here's how I rationalized it:

1. Had to buy cream cheese anyway.  Four buck premium for chopped chives.

2.  Didn't buy lox.

3.  First post-Passover bagel deserves a special shmear.

4.  Little comforts, big impact.

5.  Very expensive week. Can easily hide four dollar loss.

If Suze Orman calls, tell her I'm in the shower.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Because I Don't Have A Problem and I Absolutely Don't Spend Too Much Time on Pinterest

Friday night 8:47pm.

Home Depot.


Clerk does not know what I am talking about.

Has me type the word burlap into her computer.

Yes. We have it in stock.

Great, I need two packages.

Well, it's a seasonal item.


And we have it, but it's somewhere in the back.


We couldn't possibly get to it now.

But I checked online before I came.  It showed you have six packages in your inventory and I only need two.

Yes, we have six packages.  Burlap is used to wrap pine trees in the fall.

(Oh, so now you suddenly know what burlap is.  Interesting.)


We put it away in the winter.

I am confused.  Your store inventory shows you have it but I can't actually buy it?

That is correct Ma'am.  We have it somewhere in the back. On top. It's a seasonal item.

So there is absolutely no way we can ask the guys in back to look around for it?


Great.  Thank you for your help.

Note to Web Developers working for Home Depot:  Next to the Store Inventory button we need a Can We Actually Access the Product button.  Apparently having burlap in the store does not necessarily mean we can put it in a cart, wheel it to the cash, pull money out of our wallets to pay for it, throw it in the car, drive it home and use it for very important and life changing craft projects.

I'm a little disappointed.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Now I Know How the Evil Stepsisters Felt

Found the perfect pair of shoes.

Found them on eBay.  Even better.

A few days go by.

No news from deeluxeshoesrus#22228.

E-mail Mr. Deeluxeshoes to see what's up.

Dear Ebaybuyerwith3kidsandfabulousblog,
Thank you for your order of Springtime In Paradise shoes SZ8.5.
Unfortunately, we are out of stock in your size.
We suggest that you take the shoes in SZ7.  They run big anyway.
We will refund you $30 off the original price, and shipping will be free.

Umm, sure.

I want those shoes so badly I will cut off my toes just to fit into them.

(Fingers on your feet? Totally over-rated.)

Complaint Tie-In:  Please do not advertise things on eBay that you do not have, and therefore could not possibly sell, hoping to lure me into your evil clutches with false promises of reduced postage and free shipping.  I almost fell for it.

Happy Ending.

Found shoes on another web site.

Found them in my size.  Even better.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Coulda Happened to Anyone

Husband walks out of the bank with T. (7 year old daughter).

Excuse me sir? Is this yours?

Stranger hands Husband my daughter's blackberry playbook age-appropriate and completely non-electronic toy.

Husband says to T.: We could have lost this.  That would have been very bad.  If you are going to....


Are these yours too?

Holds out the car keys.


Point taken.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

I Am Sure to Get A Lot of Dinner Invitations After This

Went out for dinner with two friends.

Food, drink.

Friend three shows up.  No thanks, I'll just have a diet Coke.

Picks at our food.

Friend two says to Friend three - c'mon you gotta taste this.

And this.

And this.

Friend three now has napkin on lap and is discussing possible wine pairings.

Bill comes.

Friend one says to Friend three Don't worry, we got it.

Friend two says Ya, you just had a diet Coke, it's our treat.

Looks at the waiter. We'll just split this three ways.

Umm, excuse me?

You are a big sport.

Some may say you are too generous.

Especially since you are spending my money.

Next time we go out, if you want me to treat you need to ask me.

I may say sure, I may say no thank you.

I may say I'm just going to have a diet Coke.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Complaint Tie-In: Now What I am Supposed to Eat With My Nachos?

Have always been fascinated by how people met their closest friends.

Pediatrician's office.

Sat next to each other at a wedding.

Happy hour.  Introduced by a co-worker.

Last night took B and 2 friends out to kick off the birthday season.

Three practically thirteen year old boys put down their cell phones for long enough to have the following conversation:


Remember in grade one when you moved to your new house?

And you brought cottage cheese to school and told everyone it was your brother's throw up?

Dude, that wasn't cottage cheese that was guacamole. And it was grade two.

Ok, fine, grade three, remember?

And you looked at me and you were like yo Dude, play along.

And I started eating it? and everyone thought it was barf, and I was like, eating it?

Yeah dude, ever since then we've been friends.

Changed my mind.

Used to find how we met stories fascinating.

Once we take a left turn into eating baby barf, I'd rather talk about knitting.

Friday, 9 March 2012

Friday, 2 March 2012

Which one is the most offensive? Please vote.

Parent teacher interviews.

Three large tables with books.

Sign says: Save Us From The Recycling Bin.

Couldn't help myself.

Now look on the right hand side of the blog post.

There is a poll.

Click on one of the circles to vote.

I am very curious to see what you think.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

High School Students, Drugs and a Horse

Yesterday I was invited to my son's high school to talk to the Grade 8's and Grade 7's about public speaking.

To involve the kids from the beginning, I had them write down topics for me to speak about.

Collected the topics from the kids and referred to them repeatedly throughout the slightly boring lecture fascinating expose of public speaking in the 21st century.

Suggested topics included: dolphins, lions, cats, turtles (I'm serious. What is with these kids and animals.), giving birth, being new to Montreal, cake, bringing your iPod to class, and the inevitable kid that gave me a blank piece of looseleaf.

I burned through the animal kingdom pdq.  Flew through the next series of topics, and reached for the final scrap of paper.



Actually, I tell the kids, I have a funny story about drugs.

Chatting with my boys about drugs the other day.  Telling them that I have a zero tolerance policy against drugs.  I don't find them cute, I don't find them funny and my beloved cherubs will find themselves on the street living in a cardboard box faster than you can say neuf-un-un.

My kids are arguing what if they need medicinal marijuana.  What if they get AIDS?

I tell them if they have AIDS they are about to die and therefore have way bigger problems than my position on medical marijuana.

What if they get AIDS by mistake? B. and G. argue, relentlessly trying to find some situation where I will crack.  Some scenario where I will say - OK, in that case drugs are fine.

Reaching deep down into the barrel, B. pulls out the following:

What if, B. says, he is riding a horse, and the horse has AIDS, and the horse gets shot by a bullet that travels bloodily through said horse and into B.'s leg, summarily infecting him with the HIV virus, which immediately develops into full-blown AIDS, and what if they only thing that gives him some relief is drugs?

Does he actually think I'm going to fall for that one?

I'm smarter than that, kiddo.

You on a horse?  Ha.  Never.

What did I actually answer him?

Extenuating Circumstances will be Reviewed on a Case by Case basis.

Complaint Tie In:  Sometimes when arguing,  hypothetical scenarios will become increasingly outrageous.  You do not owe your spouse, kids or co-workers a full response or explanation.  I came up with a good line and I am sharing it with you in the hopes that it will give you the same sense of satisfaction it gave me.  Ok fine that's not a complaint tie-in.  But it does explain where I was coming from.  And the high school students? Totally cute.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Yesterday's Guest is Today's Host

Yes, I write a cooking blog called Complaint Kitchen.  Yes, I sous-chef for my chef friend when she teaches quick, healthy meals. Yes, I have made my own marshmallows from scratch.

But still, I manage to screw up grilled cheese.

Impressive, right?

So impressive, that I was invited as a guest to tell the story.

Click on the link (the word guest above), and read all about it.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

How to Complain Using Social Media, Fan Mail and a Quick Story About Chocolate Cake

A million years ago my mother went to visit our across the street neighbor and saw an iced chocolate cake on the sideboard.

Company tonight?

No.  Just my husband and kids.

(My mother incredulous:) You baked a chocolate cake just for your family?

(Neighbor incredulous:) If I'm not going to bake for my family, then who am I going to bake for?

Beautifully put.

I bring this up, because, ladies and gentlemen, we have received some fan mail.

Is the fan mail from a personal friend of mine?


If I'm not going to get fan mail from my friends, then who the heck am I going to get fan mail from?

The mail is a summary of a social media complaint success story that we helped inspire.

(This is where I stop writing, and I paste in the letter for you. Unedited except for the links.)

My friend Amy has been teaching me the art of complaining efficiently. And today, it got me a $700 refund in one day.

I had a horrible problem at the airport yesterday: due to a change on my outgoing flight, a customer service voided my return ticket. I was stranded at the airport with no way to get home. I tried to apply my best complaining techniques, but they were having none of it. I found myself needing to buy a full price one-way ticket to get home, which I did.

This morning, I wrote it all down, in detail. And then I did what I do best, I posted it to Facebook. On my wall, publicly, AND on the airline's Facebook wall. I got the copy-and-pasted standard response from the social media handler. But after the post got reposted a few times and they were getting a lot of 'hits' on my post, the handler promised to pass this along to the right person in customer service.

By 4 pm, I had been refunded my ticket. They didn't offer much in way of extra compensation, a discount on a future flight which I will not be taking. But it worked. Had I waited for my email complaint to work it's way to the standard 15-business day process on their website, I'm not sure it would have been as efficient. However, a well worded, detailed account of the situation, posted to the right social media outlet, and voila: complaint received and resolved.

Thank you Complaint Department for teaching me the art of efficient complaining.

(end of pasted fan mail, now it's going to be me writing again:)

I love a good, effective complaint story. Especially one where you were successful in getting your money back (and a token discount on top).

Thanks for sharing.

I guess this means I owe you a chocolate cake.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Not Sponsored by the Safety Patrol

When my kids were small, I didn't baby proof.  I thought it was a lot safer to teach them how to go up and down the stairs safely instead of blocking their access to the stairs.

Now that they are a little older, I apply the same philosophy to a different skill set.  I would rather they learn how to do things safely than prevent them from doing things at all.  You know that I let them have facebook accounts.  I let them watch movies.  I let them talk to strangers.

HUH? Talk to strangers?

Yes.  I think talking to strangers can be rewarding when done safely.  Hell, I met my husband in a bar.

My kids are not allowed to get into anyone's car without calling me first.  They are not allowed to go to anyone's house without calling me first.

But are they allowed to chat up complete strangers on the bus? Sure.

Let's watch and see what happened Tuesday morning on the 63.

12 year old B took the bus to school.

Saw a guy wearing a hat with the Google logo.

Asked the guy where he got it.  Guy said he works for Google.  He develops the software for the safe-browsing list.

B asked him for his autograph.

Google guy pulled out his business card.  B said cool, but can you sign it.  Google guy said he's never given his autograph before but sure.

As B was leaving the bus, Google guy says Hey Kid, and hands him a red Google pen.

This made B's day.  He was so excited and happy that he got to meet an actual computer programmer from actual Google.

Would he have had the courage and the confidence to approach this guy had he not been casually chatting with people for years? Absolutely not.

Did he handle it safely? Yes.  He was in a public place, he was with his friends, and he didn't give the guy any personal information.

He was empowered by his ability to go out into the world and meet an interesting person.

I am so proud.

So what's the complaint?

My complaint is that people think they are protecting their children from risk by not allowing them to do things like go down the stairs, take the bus, talk to strangers.

In my opinion it's a risk either way.

If you let your children have some freedom, you are taking the risk that they may fall down the stairs.

If you don't teach them how to negotiate the universe on their own I think you are taking several risks: that when they finally do have some freedom they won't know how to use it wisely and one very late night in 2017 you will see them on Girls Gone Wild, that they will constantly look to you for protection and will be afraid of the world; or that they will lead a boring life never meeting anyone who hasn't been hand-picked, vetted and sanitized by HQ.

To me, the choice is clear.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

57 Minutes I'll Never See Again

Saturday afternoon. Department store.  

Two dresses. Cashier off her game.  Did not offer me the opportunity to save 15% by opening a store card. Paid cash and gift card.

Children's department cashier a little smarter.  Offered me the 15%.  But - said it was too late to get 15% on purchases I'd made earlier that day.  Paid with my own credit card.

Third cashier (hey, don't look at me like that, everything was on sale) was persistent.  

Sure, she said, I could get 15% off my spring status bag and satin clutch very important and crucial items from her department and 15% off the women's and children's department.

I bit.

Manually returned all items from first purchase.  Took a gift card out of her drawer and put the total gift card amount back on the gift card.  Refunded the rest of the purchase.

Manually charged each item to new 15% off card.

People behind me in line thrilled.

Manually returned all items from second purchase.

I am making a lot of friends.

Charged total to new 15% card - one item at a time.

Card rejected. 

Rejected? You just sold it to me.

She calls Customer Service.

I am asked to verify my identity.

The identity that I just gave them during this very same transaction.  The identity that is still on a piece of paper in front of the cashier.

I gently point out that they rejected my card less than twelve minutes after approving it.

Asked me for my mother's maiden name.

Choose a Moral for This Story:  

1. You can save money with an in-store credit card, but you won't win a popularity contest
2.  No amount of money saved is worth waiting an hour for endless manual transactions
3. Customer service reps do not always make sense
4. Is it time to buy your spring status bag already?

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Then Again, Golda Meir Never Met Justin Bieber

My Dad used to tell me about a Golda Meir quote where she said something like we can forgive the Arabs anything, but we can't forgive them for turning our sons into killers.

I know what she meant.

I can forgive Justin Bieber his youtube video.

I can forgive him for his music, his lyrics and associated fame.

I can forgive him for my ten year old boy's endless use of my blow dryer.

Hell, I can forgive him for creating a nail polish, marketing the nail polish to six year old girls, and naming the colors after his hit songs.

But Justin - making the nail polish so unbelievably hard to remove?

I really can't forgive you for that one.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Funeral Faux Pas (with special thanks to N who gives me all the best ideas)

Funeral today.  Work related.  Mid-range tragic.

Look across the aisle.  Someone brought her Starbucks.  Into the funeral home.  To enjoy, during the service.  I love my venti soy latte with sugar free hazelnut as much as the next starlet, but really - could you not have left it in the car?

Funeral this summer.  Complete Stranger sitting next to me missed the part about turning off your cell phone.  Esteemed suburban rabbi sitting in front of us.  Leans back - says to Complete Stranger - that's why I left my phone in the car.  Ouch.

Final story.  Jews wash hands when leaving a funeral.  Was in line for the spout.  Old woman literally shoves me out of the way to jump the queue.  The washing hands queue at a funeral.  I'd hate to see how she behaves at Starbucks.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Three Complaints About New Year's Resolutions

1. We use resolutions as an Excuse to beat ourselves to a pulp.

If only I could put kale in my coffee, then I can really wake myself up and get my nutrients, too!

I should start making my own laundry detergent, composting and reading Tolstoy. In its original.

Put down that oh-so-helpful magazine and get some fresh air.

There are some lovely resolutions you can make to treat yourself better, and still improve your life.

2010 my resolution was to only knit with high quality yarn.  Sure, I still reach for a ball of acrylic every now and then, but for the most part, I respect my work enough to use only the best materials.

(Ironically, the girlfriend who gave me that resolution now owns a high-end wool shop.  I sort of wonder if there was some prescient guerilla marketing involved...)

Choose a resolution that makes you happy.  Not one that fills your heart with dread.

2.  We give up our resolutions too easily.

A million years ago, I took a project management workshop where we learned how to do a brainstorming exercise using post-it notes.  And one of the navy blue suited, 90s Rachel haircut participants actually raised her hand to ask what we should do if we didn't have yellow post-it notes.  Can we use pink? Would store brand be okay?

Lady, it was just a suggestion.

Same thing with the resolution deadline.  The January to December thing - just a suggestion.

If you find yourself in February still not having put your spices in alphabetical order or crunching your abs, you can start now. You don't have to wait till the clock winds its way back to Jan 1.

 3. We are quick to suggest resolutions for Everyone else.

Much as we love looking in the mirror and coming up with ways to improve ourselves, we love even more looking at each other and offering suggestions of ways other people can improve.

It is amazing how many people have offered me suggestions for New Years' resolutions over the past two weeks.  More housework.  Less yarn.  Shorter haircut.

I would never do that to you.

Well, if you insist, there is one teeny-tiny way in which you can improve.

I appreciate deeply that you read this blog.

To fully enjoy the experience, you can comment.  You don't have to say a lot, but if you threw me the occasional one-liner I would be forever grateful.  Anonymous is fine.

Commenting on the blog.  A New Year's Resolution from me to you.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

And the Cafeteria Ladies Should Have Checked the First Aid Kit


Community Centre pool has been open for 60 seconds.

Janitor calls to a lifeguard: Hey, your emergency phone working?

Lifeguard shrugs: Think so.

(Think so? THINK so? isn't that a little nonchalant for an EMERGENCY phone?)

Janitor calls to Lifeguard: Why don't I call you? You can answer the phone and lets make sure it works.

Thank you Mr. Janitor.  Maybe we should all switch t-shirts, and you can be the lifeguard this afternoon.

Top Four Things That Are Scary About This Story (aka Complaint Tie-In):

1. There were two lifeguards, neither of whom had checked whether emergency phone was working.  This should obviously be part of the opening of the pool procedure.  Check that lanes are set up, check that chlorine/filter are working.  Check that phone is operational.

2. Someone died in this very same pool a couple of weeks ago.  You would think that the lifeguards would be sufficiently freaked out to be extra super mega double dog careful.  You would think that the lifeguards would be downright neurotic about accident prevention and safety.

3. The janitor's plan, while well intentioned, only checks the emergency phone's ability to take incoming calls. Aren't we more worried about the phone's ability to make outgoing calls? Shouldn't we be checking that?

(and the fourth scary element of this story:)

4. When I overheard this conversation I was secretly a bit happy. Because even though my personal safety and that of all the other swimmers was briefly compromised, I knew I'd have a great story to tell you later.

Happy New Year.