Monday, March 18, 2019

Mitzi The Jersey Diner Waitress

It's amazing when I think about all of the services Ross and I use.

Here in the US it has become customary to tip at least 20 percent of the tab to
those hardworking people who provide all the services we enjoy.

The two newspapers we get daily are delivered by the same two persons.  There is a driver and his helper.  The driver hardly slows down while the helper tosses the papers out the window, where they land on the driveway on the same spot each time.  How do they do that?
We pay for the papers automatically out of our checking account each month.  We tip the two guys at the end of the year.

The garbage collectors leave a Christmas card in our mailbox.  Sometimes, when we don't get our garbage out on time, they will come back later on in the day and pick it up.  I would say that is going above and beyond, wouldn't you?

Doesn't everyone receive an Amazon package at least once a month?  We do.  To be perfectly honest, though, I've never tipped the UPS guy.  Anyway, he doesn't hang around long enough.  He rings the bell and runs back to his truck.

The lovely ladies who come once a month to clean our house receive a nice cash Christmas present each year.
I'm never quite sure what to do for the woman I go to for my manicure and pedicure.  I don't get my nails done on a regular basis.  Usually, it's for a special occasion, the holidays and then a couple of times a year in between.  The charge is $71 and I leave her a $15.00 tip.
Does that warrant an extra something at Christmas time?
Last year I gave her a lovely hand made shawl.   She didn't open it in front of me and never thanked me for it.   This year, I wished her a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.  Was that okay?

This post though is about the waitress, Mitzi, who served us our meal yesterday.

The brilliant blue sky day was demanding that we go out and be in it.   The only plan we had was to take a car trip, leisurely meandering the back country roads.
We eventually made our way out to a highway where we spotted a diner and decided to stop for a bite to eat.  The parking lot was full.  That's when we remembered it was St. Patricks day.
Around here, there are three times a year when it's never a good idea to eat out.  Mother's Day, Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day.

Before I start on my litany of complaints of yesterday's experience,  I do have empathy for wait staff.  All of my children worked in the food service industry.  My son-in-law still does.
I will concede and take into account that because of the holiday, the restaurant was unusually busy yesterday  Should that have effected the level of service?

New Jersey is famous for its diners.
According to a July 2015 article on Bon :

"New Jersey is called the diner capital, mostly because of the sheer number of diners in the state. ... "Diners filled that need—and our location between New York and Philadelphia along with this road network through New Jersey becomes part of the reason why there were so many."

One of the remarkable things about Jersey diners is the size of the menu.  It's a book, with several chapters.  And then there are the daily specials which are listed in a separate mini book.

I mention this because it takes more than a few minutes to "read" the menu.
Typically, when we eat in one of the Jersey diners, our experience, for the most part, is that our server gives us enough time to look over the menu before they approach.   They then wold politely ask if we need a few more minutes before we order.

First, our table did not have a set up.  No placemat, no flatware.  When the pleasant enough gentleman came over to set the table, he had a fistful of flatware.  I hoped he washed his hands before handling the forks, spoons and knives we were about to put into our mouths. Yes, I'm personally, extremely germ aware.

We waited more than a few minutes for our server to come over to our table.  We read through the menu at least twice.  

Our server, Mitzi,  was a tiny middle-aged woman with frizzy "blond" hair.   By her demeanor and harried look, I am sure she had already put in a long day.   When she finally got around to our table, we got no preamble greeting or hint of a smile.
She asked if we were ready to order.  I was, Ross looked unsure.
It was clear that she did not want to wait for Ross to make up his mind and quickly said, "I can take their order,"  pointing to the table next to us.
Since we had waited for a time already, we did not want her to leave before she took our order.
I told her what I wanted, giving Ross a few more minutes.
When it was his turn, he hesitated, which apparently annoyed her. I say that because of the significant size of the sigh she pushed out.
He ordered.  He chose the St Paddy's day special corned beef and cabbage, I the roast chicken.
When Mitzi brought us our basket of bread and bread plates, she hastily dropped them, with a clatter, onto the side of table closest to her.
She brought the soup and salad out at the same time.  Shouldn't the soup have come first, then cleared away, then the salad?
Am I being too picky?
I could go on with other little infractions, but let me get to the main "course".
Remember Ross ordered the Corned beef, cabbage, boiled potato special.
Mitzi handed us (not placed in front of us) our meals and then quickly ran off.
I looked at his and said, "That doesn't look like corned beef."   It wasn't.  It was ham.  
Since she was like the "Flash" swooshing past, eyes straight ahead, it took a few tries for us to get her attention.
When we finally got her to notice us, Ross politely said "Did they run out of corned beef?"
With another big sigh, she grabbed up his plate, and "flashed" into the kitchen.
Side note, although, she got my order correct, it was hardly edible.
By the time Ross' meal came back out, we were done, ready to go, had had enough.
Mitzy mumbled something about the cook giving her the wrong meal.  But why didn't Mitzy notice this before she brought it out?
We asked for the check, and  take out boxes for our salads, which we never had time to eat.
She threw the boxes onto the table, no seriously she did.   We then had to ask for a bag to put the boxes in.
Now, again I am empathetic towards the hard, demanding job of wait staff.  I'm sure I would not be able to do it.  Dealing with the public is not easy.  

Isn't a tip, though,
supposed to be an indication of the level of satisfaction with the service?

I did not want to leave Mitzy a 20% tip.  Ross disagreed.

What would you have done?

Friday, March 15, 2019

Me and Young Guy

I recently bought a new iPad, which is what I am using to write this post.  I’ve only had it about a month or so.
I’ve used Apple products for about 10 years now.  Laptops, Desktops, iPods, and iPhones.  In fact this is my third iPad.  So, I can safely say I am familiar with lay of the Apple land.

I loved my old MacBook Air laptop.  For the past eight years I used it to write my blog. After eight years, though, the battery wouldn’t keep a charge.  I have to keep it plugged in while using it.

I like my iPhone 7 enough so that I have decided to keep it for awhile.  For the past two years I used my iPhone to record my podcast (Joey’s Scarf).   Then I would use my beloved laptop to edit and upload the video.
The laptop, though, has become very slow in converting the video and uploading to YouTube.

It was time to replace my laptop.  Hence the new iPad.

I’ve written about why I chose an iPad instead of a new laptop  in my blog post called Thank you Pink!

A few days ago I decided to record an episode of my podcast using my new iPad.
As I started to get ready to record, I discovered that the microphone I normally would use with my iPhone did not have the same connector as the new iPad.
Next, I found the remote clicker I use to start and stop recording was also not compatible with the new iPad.

I went to Best Buy to purchase compatible cables to work with my older devices.

The young man at the door greeted me and pleasantly asked me, “What can I help you with today?”

I explained.  He didn’t understand.

“Why would need you a cable?” he asked.

By the look of his furrowed brow, I could tell he was genuinely puzzled.  He started throwing words around like “bluetooth” “WIFI” and the dreaded “cloud”.

I became exasperated, but kept my composure  and I politely tried  once   again to explain what I was looking for.

After a couple of back and forths, we seemed to be on the same page and he led me over the the cable rack.  He pulled one off the hanger and handed it to me.
“This should do it,” he said.
I immediately knew it wasn’t the right one.
“No, I said,” “That won’t work.”
He again mentioned how I probably didn’t need a cable “because of the Bluetooth/WiFi/cloud availability,  you know,” he said. 

At that point I don’t know who was more frustrated.  But I bet it was me.

After several more exchanges, we came to an agreement.  I wanted cables and he needed to find them for me.  Which he did.  

Lesson learned for both of us, me and “Young Guy”. 

Even though most of us in my generation didn’t grow up with computers, we have had no choice, but to learn to live with and in some cases even learn to love them.  

Perhaps Young Guy realized that sometimes we older folk know what we are talking about.   I know for sure he learned that at least this old gal knew what she wanted. 

As for me, Young Guy encouraged me to learn more about BlueTooth/WiFi/ and the now not so dreaded iCloud. 

A final note:  While I like my new iPad, especially when I am using it with the “Knit Companion” app, I have found that my laptop has more functionality with programs such as Blogger and iMovie.  

As I was writing this post, I eventually had to revert to my laptop to finish it.
And since there is only 18 percent battery left, I better hurry up and end it. 

If I had to do it all over again, I probably would have purchased a MacBook Pro along with a smaller less expensive iPad.(to use my knitting app on) 😊 

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Gingerly Navigating My Way

As I hobble into the next decade, I find myself struggling with age progression anxiety.
“Oh come on now,” said my doctor, I wouldn’t consider you “elderly”.
Since I had just gone through a litany of aches and pains felt in more than a few of my body parts, talked extensively about those little black dots that seem to float in front of my eyes lately, and “Yes, I said, “everything I eat gives me heartburn”, I was puzzled by her comment.
I like my doctor.  She looks directly at me when I am talking, nodding appropriately, but was she really hearing me?
It’s kind of interesting, it seems Ross and I have moved to a location which has attracted like-aged people.  As our congregation continues to grow and it is growing, the landscape of the area continues to evolve.
Old Pathmark supermarkets, going out of business K-marts, and even restaurants that couldn’t make a go of it have now been turned into rehabs, urgent care facilities, and orthopedic centers.
Our local hospital has expanded twice in the 15 years we have lived here.
Perhaps my doctor made the remark about me not being “elderly” because she has treated patients much more age advanced than me, with more serious ailments than I have.  Or, okay maybe she was just being kind.
In any event, my age progression anxiety is real.  Is there a support group I could join?  Will the talk be filled with knee surgeries, “remember when’s”, “where did I put my keys?” and whose funeral is on “Thursday?”
Or perhaps the talk will be of interesting experiences, enlightened perspectives, astute opinions  and of course grandchildren
Who else, but those of us who have extensively age progressed, would be able to advise, nurture, coach and enlighten the ones who are on the road following in our well worn treads?
Sadly, I’ve sometimes learned the value of the wise most when the wise were no longer here to ask.
I suppose as I maneuver my way through the next 10 years, I will manage to figure it out as I go, just as I did through all the others of tens of years.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Seeking Perfection

I spent the last few days and a great deal of time looking for a special knitting pattern.   I browsed through hundreds of patterns on the Ravelry database, dismissing many because they just weren’t right.
The pattern had to be interesting, but not too complicated.   It had to fit the type, color and amount of yarn I had on hand.  I wanted a pattern that hundreds of others had not knitted.  I wanted to find an unexplored gem.  I would know it when I saw it.   And then there it was, the perfect pattern.

I excitedly cast on with silky merino yarn in a lovely shade of  blue with specks of green.

I was quite pleased with the way the pattern was written.  Even though there was a section of lace stitches, which can sometimes be tricky, the designer wrote clear step by step instructions.  The font was large so when I printed the pattern out, it was easy to see as it sat on a stand on my side table.
I happily knited along, stopping every so often to ooo and ahh at the results.

I posted a photo of my WIP (work in progress) on Instagram.  My knitty friends commented, “lovely”, “beautiful” and “love the color”.

Because this pattern has sections of lace, stitch count is important. The designer was kind enough to include the number of stitches the knitter should wind up at the end of each row.  Each row of each section of this pattern is different.  The end of row stitch count is also different.
I carefully knit my way through all of the three sections of the pattern.

Then this happened: “Work from Chart 3 five more times until you get (the specified number of stitches)”, This instruction was without any of the details of stitch count, etc.

I was taken aback.  It was as if the designer quit on me.   I felt as though the designer was saying to me, “okay now you figure out what to do now.”

I tried.  It was much too complicated for me, though.  The reason I buy and download patterns that other people write is because design and particularly the math of design is not my thing.

I still love the design of this pattern.  I think the designer is creative and I’m sure spent many hours perfecting the work.

I am disappointed, but mostly I am sad because I won’t be able to finish this beautiful design.

This pattern, this design was going to be the project I was going to knit for the third annual “Joey’s Scarf Memorial” MAL (make a long).

I’m sure I will find another perfect pattern.  There are over a half million available patterns just on Ravelry alone.

I host a YouTube podcast called “Joey’s Scarf”.  It’s a podcast about knitting and crocheting and colors and patterns and beautiful things one can make with yarn.
Associated with the podcast is a group I created on Ravelry.  It is also called “Joey’s Scarf”.

 In case you are not familiar with Ravelry, here is the description according to Wikipedia:

Ravelry is a free social networking service, beta-launched in May 2007. It functions as an organizational tool for a variety of fiber arts including knittingcrochetingspinning, and weaving. Members share projects, ideas, and their collection of yarnfiber, and tools via various components.
For the past three years I have hosted a “Memorial MAL”.  The idea is to craft an item in memory of someone you have lost or in honor of someone who you might think of while you are crafting.
The name of this year’s MAL is “2019 Joey’s Scarf Memorial”.
  A MAL or “Make a Long” is where a group of crafters get together, virtually, to knit on a project. 
This MAL is running until April 4, which is the anniversary of my son Joe’s birth.  Typically, at the end of the MAL the host will award gifts to a couple of crafters who have completed their projects. Those selected will be randomly selected from the group.

If you are interested, please come join in.  I will gladly answer any questions.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Thank you Pink!

My MacBook Air laptop is about ten years old.  The battery is shot, so I have to keep it plugged in when I am using it.
I’ve been thinking about what to replace my laptop with for about a year now.  It’s a large purchase and I wanted to make sure about my decision.
I always thought I would just get another Apple product laptop computer.
We periodically pay the Apple store a visit. Well, Ross likes to stop in.  Me?  Not so much.  It’s always crowded, especially since the Mac Genius  to customer ratio seems to be 1 to 1.  That means there are as many customer service reps as there are customers.  Well, it appears that way to me.  I guess that’s a good thing because one rarely has to wait for service.
So, on one of these drop in’s, as I was checking out the new laptops, a Genius stopped by to ask if I needed help.
She was obviously born to work in an Apple store.  She was pretty tall, about 5’8”.   She was dressed in pink from head to toe, including her hair.
She introduced herself, “Hi, I’m Pink, can I help you?”
Really no kidding.
I told her that I would soon be in the market for a new laptop.
“So, what do you do with your laptop?” she asked.
After a brief distraction with her glittery pink eyeshadow, I explained that I write a blog, and edit my podcast using iMovie.
Then Pink went into full “let me convince you that you should really consider an iPad instead” mode.
She was very good at showing me all the bells and whistles of the iPad versus the limitations of the laptop and “not to mention the prices comparison,” she said.
I think the thing that sold me was when she showed me the Apple Pencil.
You can’t use a pencil on a MacBook Air.
My interaction with Pink happened about six months ago.
Last Tuesday, I decided it was finally time to go get my laptop replacement.  Even though Pink did a good job with her iPad pitch,  I was still vacillating between a laptop and iPad.
But, Pink wasn’t there this day.
Leroy, the Genius we had this time was very nice,well informed and spent as much time with us as we needed, but, he just wasn’t Pink enough for me.  He kind of left it up to me to make my choice.
In the end I suppose Pink was with me in spirit, though, for here I am, writing my blog on my new IPad Pro II, 256GB in silver, fully accessorized with a keyboard folio, and

Thursday, February 7, 2019

It’s Here I Come to Feel

Once, when I was participating in a therapy group, the moderator suggested an idea for our consideration.

“Change a thought, change a feeling” she wrote on the whiteboard.
It sort of made sense to me at the time.  At the time I would have grabbed onto any lifeline thrown my way.

On Monday of this week the doctor called with the kind of news that sucked the air from our bodies.

No amount of thought alteration could have changed that feeling.

We have a long road ahead.   More tests, more waiting for results.  Perhaps months of treatments.

Today I am wobbling between thoughts of despair and feelings of hope.

Once, when I thought that my feelings would overwhelm me and command me to despondency, someone suggested I write.

During the last seven years, this space has been my safe place.   It’s here I come to explore and express all of my feels and thoughtfully send them on their way.

It’s the lifeline that makes most sense to me.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

I’ll Gladly Knit You A Hat

Thursday, January 24, 2019

This weather!

Yes, I’m going to start off by writing about the weather.  So far the pattern this winter has been typical cold weather temperatures for a few days, then a rise to unseasonably warm temperatures, with down pouring rain.

The latter is happening today.  It’s pretty depressing.

But, thankfully,  number 1, I don’t have to go out of the house and number 2, I can stay in my night duds all day if I choose.

I’ve been in a knitting quandary lately.   In case you didn’t know, I am an obsessive knitter.  I knit every day.  I knit hats, scarves, socks, shawls, cowls and occasionally a sweater. I do wear what I knit and I also  give knitted gifts for Christmas and birthdays. I’ve been doing it for years now.  And just like the recent weather, I have saturated myself and the family with my wares.

So what do I do?  I can’t imagine myself stopping my knitting or even taking a break. Besides I have enough yarn in my closet to last a life time, even if I live to be a hundred.  
I know what you are thinking, “How about charity knitting?”   Yes, I suppose I could do that.
In fact yesterday, I dove into my knitted items dresser, and pulled out 10 hats, 4 shawls, 2 scarves, and 3 cowls.  My sister was visiting, I asked her if she wanted any of them.  She kindly took a shawl and hat.
I decided to donate the rest.  Ross, who champions my knitting, assured me that the Ladies Auxiliary from the local hospital thrift shop would be thrilled to have such beautiful items.
I carefully placed each give-a-way item in a pretty shopping bag and off we went.
When we got to the shop, the woman at the counter was very friendly and directed us to follow the arrow on the “Donation Drop Off - This Way ” sign.
We found our way to the back room.
No one was at the counter.   Ross rang the bell, but got no response.  We waited another few minutes.
Ross called out, “Hello?”
A woman popped her head out from one of the aisles of shelves and said, “Oh, hi!”
“Are you dropping off a donation?” she asked.
I proudly held up my pretty shopping bag, smiled shyly and nodded my head.  
She went behind the counter, handed me a tax donation receipt, and took the bag.
“Thank you,” she said.   She placed the bag on the floor along with a dozen other bags.
Ross, said to her, “My wife knits.”  "The bag is filled with beautiful hats, scarves, shawls…”
She said, “How lovely” and again thanked us without looking in the bag.
One of the most rewarding pleasures of knitting for others is the same that a gift giver might experience.
A thoughtful gift giver takes the time to choose just the right item.  The reward is the anticipation of seeing the look on the face of the recipient, hopefully a genuinely excited and happy look.
I admit I was disappointed.  In my imagined trip to the thrift shop, I could actually hear the ooo’s and ahhh’s as each time was lifted out of the bag.
As we left the shop, I said to Ross, “I hope they (meaning my donations) keep someone warm and dry this winter.  Especially with this crazy weather.

Right now I am working on a pair of socks.  The yarn is silvery and it sparkles.  And I am genuinely excited and happy as I anticipate how much I will love them.