Wednesday, August 29, 2007

You call it corn. We call it maize.

We were supposed to go on vacation last week, to a beach house in a warmer clime. Unfortunately, on the last play of the last game of his summer softball series, my better half re-ruptured his ACL and tore the meniscus in his knee. Yes, the same knee on which he had ACL replacement surgery two years ago. He'll have to have a repeat surgery in October once the swelling subsides. I have been nurse wife and primary driver for the past week.

With luck, we'll be back in the house by then. We're still waiting for the contractors to finish the tile, painting, and carpeting. Also waiting on the Marmoleum flooring for the kitchen. Waiting, waiting. I also spent three days of what was supposed to be vacation week chasing down Craigslist leads for a Sept-only rental, as our landlord had been telling us all summer that they wanted us out at the end of August. I finally managed to locate a tiny, expensive place near the T, and booked movers. When I called the landlord's office they said "Oh, we thought you wanted to stay! We haven't rented your place and you can stay for Sept if you want to." Gak. Luckily I hadn't put a deposit on the new place yet, so we can stay put. BH still won't be able to help with the moving, but happily the moving company rescheduled with no problems.

To cheer myself up I went to a yarn sale, where I bought some sock yarn made of corn. I like knitting with it - it sort of feels like my hands have been dusted with cornstarch. Not to overlook the soybeans and shellfish, I also bought a skein of Tofutsies. I wonder what Halacha would say about shrimp-based yarn?

So yeah, there's my week: emergency room visit, literally watching paint dry, poring over Craigslist, buying sock yarn.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Yay for good customer service

As I've had several jobs that involve customer support, I tend to be quite a stickler about good service. I've been known to up and leave establishments in which I wasn't being waited on or acknowledged (even with hungry kids in tow), and I've refused to give business to firms that do not return phone calls in what I consider to be a reasonable amount of time (or to businesses whose vehicles cut me off in traffic). On the flip side, I tip extremely generously for good restaurant service, and I've been known to, say, buy a six-pack for the stereo repair guy who fixed my cd player but refused to charge me.

I present to you now, three (3) excellent customer service experiences I've had recently, as I feel those businesses should be rewarded by more than just my continued business.

1. The Stata Cafe', whose executive chef was filling a steam tray as he overheard me ask the server whether there was cilantro in the grilled chicken salad. Was I allergic? he inquired. No problem - he darted back into the kitchen and emerged moments later with a cilantro-free dish. I know this seems minor, but considering how busy the place was and how quickly they generally try to move people through, I was astonished.

2. Yale Appliance and Lighting. As part of our home remodel, we wanted to replace our very old kitchen and laundry appliances with more energy efficient models. I've mentioned my trip to their showroom before, but I did not mention their excellent customer service. I was trying to decide between two washer-dryer sets, one of which was considerably more expensive than the other. I asked the rep what he thought, and when he said "Oh, I'll make the decision easy for you" I braced myself for a hard sell on the higher-priced pair. Nope - he told me that while that model was good, they were seeing thirty percent coming back in for repairs. He recommended the other set, hundreds of dollars less expensive. Both he and the kitchen rep printed out all of the rebates associated with my purchases (about $1500 worth!), and highlighted all the due dates, model numbers, and addresses to which to send them. They also fixed it so that my purchase was rung up over Tax Free weekend without me doing a thing. Woot! Finally, they both read and respond to email questions promptly. It's no wonder to me that this place consistently wins Best of Boston awards.

3. Jordan's Furniture Interior Design Program. Realizing that our milk crates and thrift shop furniture no longer "made a statement," we realized we needed help. I called a few interior designers, but they all wanted to work on the entire house, and were loath to keep any items I already had. I had heard the commercials for the Jordan's service, so figured I'd give it a shot. The designer came to the house - in all its ripped-down-to-studs glory - and took measurements and photographs. She suggested wall colors and furniture layouts, and asked me what we wanted and how we used the house. I sent her the measurements and photos of items we wanted to reuse in the decor. A week later, she met us at the Jordan's closest to us (even though she works at another location), and spent three hours showing us items she'd picked out. There was no pressure to purchase any of her selections, though I must admit, I think we bought nearly everything she suggested. She even gave us some tips on window treatments and decorations that they don't even sell there. She compiled the order, and like the Yale guys, told me it would be put through over Tax Free Weekend.

Here's the unbelievable part: because this purchase, ah, kinda maxed out my credit card, my card company put a fraud alert on it. When I called them to confirm, they said that they would allow the Jordan's purchase to go through. Cool, I thought. Appliances and furniture done. And here I will publicly admit to being an idiot...I was supposed to call Jordan's over the weekend to confirm, and I...didn't. I thought the credit card company confirmation was good enough, and even though the designer had specifically called me the previous week to tell me to call over the weekend, I somehow thought I didn't need to because the charges were already on the credit card. And, Yale didn't make me do anything special, The designer called me on Monday to say she'd noticed I hadn't called, and that it meant I would unfortunately be taxed. Fudge. I told her what happened and she said she'd talk to her manager and see if anything could be done. I said I doubted that an exception needed to be made because a client was stupid, and she laughed. Last evening she called my cell phone as I was driving to pick up the kids...guess what? Because of the credit card confusion, they are giving me a discount in the amount of the tax. They have just won a customer for life.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Birthday Bear

Today my son R turns 8. I can hardly believe it. Those little feet that once wore hospital bracelets (whose info we nervously Photoshopped out when posting the first pictures of him online) are now wearing some of my own socks, at least when one of us mistakenly puts my socks in R's drawer. I am trying not to let this be an excuse to not finish making socks for myself. Me: "Hmm, getting kinda tired of continuing the baby cable rib on the instep...maybe I'll just start the toe here and give these to R."

R is a great kid - funny, smart, kind, an amazing big brother and tremendously enjoyable company. He'll still let me hold his hand to cross the street and for a few seconds after. I know that's not going to last much longer. Man, I'm tearing up just thinking what a wonderful kid he is. Or, perhaps it is just leftover from watching a rerun of Dirty Dancing last night. I'm not an overly sentimental person, but I have never, repeat never, not needed a tissue when Jennifer Grey does the leap into Patrick Swayze's arms during the ending. I am not made of stone.

Happy Birthday Bear! I love you.