Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Running Shoe Complaint and Book Club Discussion Guide

Husband always buys same brand of running shoes.

Goes to same running store.

But today, Sir, you must try this new brand.  They have extra cushioning.  Resistant to temperature changes. Techtonic supernova technology. Your Feet Will Love Them.

What if they don't fit right?

If they don't fit right you can bring them back.

Sounds fair.

Runs in store aisle.

Seem fine.

Runs outside.

Significantly less fine.

Returns to running store.

Brings back this new brand of running shoes.

Not. So. Fast.

You can't bring back these shoes Sir because you ran in them.

Yes I did. They are running shoes.

You ran outside.

Yes I did. This is where I run.  (Husband too polite to say that running up and down store aisle would make training insurmountably cumbersome).

We can not take them back.

Husband says I don't need these shoes. They don't fit me correctly. I will leave them with you and I will also buy the same brand that I always buy.

Husband watched me on TV  looking quite adorable in my turquoise necklace explaining to all of Canada how and why to complain (click here to view a summary video) yet he still calmly put down the running shoes, bought a SECOND pair of running shoes from the SAME store and walked out satisfied.

Couple of days later his phone rings.

Sir you were in our store a few days ago attempting to return a pair of running shoes.

Yes that's me.

I said We couldn't take them back because you ran in them. Outside.

Yes that is where I run.

Good news. I took the shoes in the back and was able to clean the soles. They are as good as new.  I can resell them no problem.


So we have gone ahead and issued you a complete refund for the shoes.

Book Club Discussion Questions

1. Running is often a metaphor for escaping.  Discuss whether you are someone who runs "in the aisle" or someone who runs "outside".  What are the similarities? Differences? Can someone be both an aisle runner and an outdoor runner? Would they wear the same shoes?

2. The narrator alludes to her television appearance and her turquoise necklace.  Does the necklace hold magical complaint related powers? If the husband in the story was wearing a turquoise necklace would he have complained in the running store?  Discuss the symbolism of turquoise as a necklace, a tool for gender identification and a refutation of magical thinking in heterosexual relationships.

3. The sales person character washes the soles of the shoes and refunds the husband's money in full.  What do you think his or her motivation was? In the Bible, there are several instances of foot washing. Abraham washes his guests' feet in the desert, and Jesus washes his disciples' feet.  Was the author using these allegories to illustrate the best possible customer service? Or do you think the sales person was just trying to be nice? 

4. In this story, not complaining worked as well as complaining.  Does that mean that complaining isn't worth the trouble? Or is this the narrator's way of telling us that complaining is more of an art than a science?

Friday, 20 February 2015

The Back Story

Important TV show calls and asks about complaining.

Calls again.

Of course I can get to Toronto.

Of course I can be there tomorrow morning.

Arrive at destination at 10:07am and realize that I have to be at taping at 10:30am.

Further realize that if I have to be at taping at 10:30am so does my face.


Racing through airport like crazed lunatic leisurely strolling past gates when remember that when en route to give keynote speech in Thunder Bay bought lipstick at favorite makeup store in airport.

Um, this might be a strange question but I'm uh going to be interviewed on a TV show today and as you can see I'm like beyond useless with my face.

Yes I can see that, says makeup artist with red jewel glued to chin. How much time do we have?

Fifteen minutes.

That's it? Well I will do what I can.

And then, like a chin jeweled angel, Soraya the makeup artist made me as passable as she could with only fake eyelashes and Miami Beach pink lipstick as her spirit guides.

Racing through airport like crazed lunatic walking slowly to the Ground Transport area I look out the window and don't see any cabs.

Just then, like an angel (but without the chin jewel) a cab driver appears and says You looking for Taxi ma'am.

Yes, as a matter of fact I am.

Start following him and have a minute of hey wait a second where is this guy taking me.

So what I'm just supposed to trust you?

He takes a photocopied license out of his pocket.

Just then, hallway doors burst open and like two angels, fully uniformed Airport Police call out Hey Ma'am did this man tell you he was a taxi driver?

Yes, as a matter of fact he did.

He is an illegal taxi driver.  He has no right to pick up fares here.  He would lead you to his car and not

Before they could finish their sentence, I was already racing through the airport like crazed lunatic to the official taxi stand and jumping into a cab.

Running so quickly I forgot to check something.

Did the Airport Police have chin jewels?

Morals of The Story:
1. Cab drivers without chin jewels can not be trusted.
2. Miami beach pink lipstick has no business in Thunder Bay
3. Where is Della Reese when you need her (look it up)
4. If someone who is an expert in customer service, and WHO IS ON HER WAY TO BE INTERVIEWED FOR A NATIONAL TELEVISION SHOW ABOUT CONSUMER PROTECTION can be duped by a wannabe cab driver, it can happen to anyone. Please be careful.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Go to the Gym, Starve an Alligator

Raise your hand if your New Year's Resolution was to join a gym.

Could save your life.

Increased blood flow, lower body mass index, better cardiovascular output.

Not only that.

Reduced social isolation, improved stress reduction, tighter abs.

True but there's more. Latest research shows joining a gym can prevent you from being eaten to death by rabid alligators or at least save you $350.

Colleague's husband went fishing in Florida.  Went to end of pier where there were lots of fish. Also lots of starving alligators.

Caught fish. Left pier, went back to car.  Keys not in pocket.  Walked back to end of pier and look for keys in murky water.

Call car rental company who says it will be $350 for a new set of keys.

Think about jumping in and hunting around but can't because of ravenous alligators.

Can't see keys from pier because same colour as murky water.

But oh wait. What is that fluorescent orange tag glimmering in the water.

Take fishing pole.

Fish out metal ring attached to fluorescent orange tag.

Car keys.


Unanswered Questions

1. If alligators were starving, why didn't they just eat the fish?
2. If Colleague and husband were on vacation, why would they have a gym tag on their car rental key?
3. If my gym tag isn't fluorescent orange, is going to the gym still good for my health?

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

E=mc varmint

Guy walking in front of me has tattoo of Albert Einstein on back of left calf.

Overhear wife saying they live in rural area where I happen to know there is a university.

He must be a physics professor I whisper to my Husband. Or maybe math.

Restaurant for lunch and Guess Who is sitting at adjacent table.

Pleasantries exchanged.

Minutes pass.

Well this lunch is almost over, I say to Professor, and I am dying to ask you about your relationship with Albert Einstein.  I have never seen an Albert tattoo before, so I'm guessing he must be very special to you. I say smugly, looking over at my Husband like I know everything I inquire innocently.

Yeah, says Professor.  It's all because of my first tattoo.

(Probably to celebrate PhD completion)

When I was seventeen I went out with my buddies and had a little too much to drink, know what I mean?

(Too young for PhD. Must be a science fair win)

and I came home with Yosemite Sam holding a beer on my shoulder.   Regretted it ever since.

So you got the Albert to cancel out the Yosemite?  Even though one is on your shoulder and one on your left calf?

Yes.  They don't cancel each other out, but they, like cancel each other out, know what I mean.  

Wife chimes in: We use this as a Cautionary Tale for our children.

Cautionary Tale, Okay, Go On.  (Maybe she's the Brownian Theory expert.)

Always plan ahead when you go to the tattoo parlour.  You should know which tattoo you are getting and where so that your buddies can't convince you to get a Yosemite Sam on your shoulder.

Possible Explanations For This Statement (Choose One):

1.  Because there may not always be an Uncle Albert to bail you out.

2.  Because every one knows Yosemite Sam drinks bottles of XXX. The beer is just embarrassing.

3.  Because if Albert was on your shoulder and Yosemite was on your calf, people walking behind you might think you were hunting Bugs Bunny instead of the guy who figured out that gravity can bend light.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Good Thing I Didn't Send Oreos

Bake sale at T's school to raise money for local food bank.

Knew I wouldn't have time to bake for bake sale.

Bought two boxes of nut-free, individually wrapped, chocolate covered granola bars.

Night before bake sale get frantic email from organizers:


Email the organizers not to panic, I am bringing two boxes of CHOCOLATE COVERED GOODIES to sell, so their inventory is up by at least 16 items.

Bake sale is adjacent to Craft sale.

Setting money on fire Purchasing only on highly necessary items at the Craft sale and bump into Home and School President.

Your email was So Funny. We all just cracked up that you actually bought stuff for the bake sale instead of using fresh local farm to table free trade organic ingredients.  That was so cute.  We all just laughed and laughed.

Smile politely and wander over to bake sale table expecting to see granola bars pathetically leaning against vegan carrot cake and hemp seed pumpkin latte brownies.

No granola bars.

Look in between egg-free meringues and sugarless candy canes.

Still no granola bars.

Volunteer mom leans over. Can I help you.

Yes. I'm the one who sent in the granola bars.  Just wanted to make sure you received them.

The boxes of granola bars?

Yes.  Where are they?

Those sold out this morning. They were the first things to go.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Things That Never Happen At Tim Horton's

Nice thing about being lazy is knowing a lot of short cuts.

For example.

When ordering latte, hand barista two packs of sugar so that you don't have to rip the packets and stir yourself.

Ordered coffee.

Forgot to hand over sugar.

(Not nice thing about being lazy is sometimes you forget stuff).

Apparently every store has a little table with milk and various sweeteners just for situations like this.

Walk over to table.

Some overly made-up investment banker Another patron is quite spread out.

Purse, briefcase, laptop bag, iPad, cell phone, make up case all on top of milk and sugar table.  Will she put sweetener in her coffee or apply two more coats of blackberry extra shiny lip gloss?

Tapping my feet and looking at my watch patiently wait my turn and wonder why a corporate raider would need a full make up case.

Inch my way over and casually slide purse and briefcase over to make room for my to-go cup.

That sounds like a bark.

Oh my g-d yes it is.

The make up case is not a make up case.

The make up case is now licking a bit of spilled soy off the table.

Unanswered Questions

1. If you are not in fact carrying 1.4kg of make up around with you, how do you keep your skin looking so dewy all day?

2. Handing the barista two sugars is now not only about being lazy but also about avoiding skin contact with dog spew.

3. How does Fido like the new Pumpkin Spice Latte?

PS Remember when I offered to write up your story in exchange for a donation to the Breast Cancer Walk? Refresh your memory here.  This is one of those stories.  Thank you so much JS for your generous donation.