Mickey's Mind

Monday, September 04, 2006

And the winners are...Ruth's Chris and Waffle House!

This weekend, I had some of the worst possible dining experiences! I am a food snob and restaurant junkie and I have really high standards for certain places. I expect a certain of level of service at McDonald's that I would not expect from 3 Forks.

Anyway, on Saturday night, a friend and decided to dine at the Fox Sports Grill. Located at the Shops at Legacy Village, I had passed by it while on my way to dine at Cru (limited wine list, by the way) and thought it may be worth checking out sometime. Well, was I in for a surprise. My friend and I were carded at the door, which is not a big deal to me. Texas is big on carding in places that serve alcohol. I can remember being in Chicago during St. Patrick's day weekend and never once being asked for ID at any bar I went to.

We asked if we could sit outside. The hostess, instead of grabbing 2 menu's and seating us at the table, advised us we could sit outside if "we could find a table." As a former hostess myself, that did not sit well with me. We made our way through the restaurant in an attempt to find the patio (she didn't even tell us how to get to it). We noticed there was half eaten food on a lot of tables. After finding the door for the patio (it looked like a fire exit-just a door leading outside), we were greeted to tables filled with ashtrays and plates of half eaten food.

We found a moderately clean table (just a few empty glasses) and decided to see if the tables would be cleaned soon. A couple came in a few minutes behind us and had to sit on the railing, since the tables were filthy. I went and found a waiter and asked if we could get a table clean. He said a busboy will be out shortly. Sure enough, a busboy did come out- he only cleaned one table, which the couple got before me and my friend. Did I mention that while we were sitting outside, 2 waiters came out but never once asked if we wanted anything to drink?

At this point I was fed up. I went to the hostess and said that this was my first experience and I was not at all impressed. She offered some lame excuse about it being the restaurant's first football weekend and they were really busy. A sports bar in Texas busy during football season? Perish the thought! I asked for her manager.

We were greeted by a young man ( I say young man because he never gave his name or a business card) who couldn't have been much older than me. He apologized for the experience and agreed to buy the first round of drinks. I ordered a Cosmo, my friend, a Top Shelf margarita (they were paying after all).

We finally got a clean table and our drinks. We had to ask for menu's. And napkins. We ordered chips w/ salsa and queso. Here is the weird part: The food and drinks are great! The margarita (even on the rocks) was excellent and the queso (although a little cold) was very smooth. The salsa had a kick to it without being too hot. The service was just HORRIBLE!

Same friend and I dined at the Original Pancake House on Sunday. Totally worth the 30 minute wait. Great pancakes and coffee that would give Starbucks a run for its money. The service at this place wasn't bad but it wasn't very good either. The waitress wasn't very friendly and I had to ask another waitress for a cup of coffee. She brought the creamer half full. I asked for Splenda for my iced tea and she hands me saucer full of Equal covered in syrup. Needless to say, her tip reflected her attitude.

So why are Ruth's Chris Steakhouse and Wafflehouse declared the winners? On the surface, they seem to have nothing in common. Ruth's is were the money dines. Waffle House caters to your truck stop and hungover crowd. Although the setup is totally different, Ruth's Chris and Waffle House offer excellent customer service. Both the waitstaff anticipates the customer's need, whether it be another glass of wine or more butter for your toast. The waitstaff at both places are friendly and make it a point to check on their customers. These two restaurant's rate high on my Best Places to dine. A Prime chophouse and place that serves waffles at 4 in the morning. Gotta love it!

So will I go back to Old Pancake House? Absolutely! The waitress was a one time incident, so I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. Fox Sports Grill? That remains to be seen. If they can't handle an opening weekend for college football, OU-Texas is going to kick their butts.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Plan B

Today the FDA announced that Plan B would be allowed for sale over the counter to women over the age of 18. There have been some questions about the pill's safety and can you really keep it out of the hands of minors.

My own humble opinion? YAY! At last, the government has decided I am mature enough to make choice about my own reproductive health. Do I plan to go buy Plan B once it hits the shelf later this year? Maybe. Do I like the option of knowing it is available? Yes. Do I plan to use it as birth control? No.

I don't think Plan B will lead to a rise in STD's or pre-marital sex. And I don't think girls under 18 will try to buy it. Hell, I'm 23 and still buy my protection late at night. Nothing could be more awkward than running into a coworker with a box of Trojans in your hands.

I think society has been too accepting of teenage mothers. My mom had my older brother at 16, but that was in the early 70's and trust me, no one was accepting of it. It never dawned on me in high school to have a baby. I had a little thing called fear instilled in me. Plus, my older cousins made it through high school with no babies, so its not like I had an excuse.

A lack of education is biggie. I will never forget sitting in the high school gym before class talking to some friends. One girl let it slip that her and her boyfriend went all the way. They didn't use condoms, since he pulled out and "you can't get pregnant off the pre-cum." You can see where I am going with this: Senior year she had a baby boy.

I am all for some form of sexual education, be it at home or in the school. Parent's have to understand that you can't tell a teen not to have sex and that be the end of it. When that happens, sex becomes mysterious and forbidden. It makes it seem that sex is dirty and wrong. Explain to teens the consequences of sex before they are ready. Let your kids know that they can talk to you about anything. Don't judge. It only gets a teen to clam up and you miss an important opportunity to help.

I don't think teens are uncomfortable with the sex talk, I think the parent's are. No one wants to think their 17 year old is having sex. But it happens. The question is: will the 17 year old be prepared?

Monday, August 21, 2006

Is it possible to be a bad customer?

The answer is : Yes. Someone long ago said "The customer is always right". I'm here to tell you that the customer is not always right. I have worked in some aspect of customer service since I was in high school and have dealt with my share of bad customers.

Before I offend anyone, I have had my share of great customers. A prime example is that during Thanksgiving while in high school, I was manning the cash register the day before Turkey Day when the servers for the credit card machine crashed. If you have ever been in a grocery store before Thanksgiving you know it is sheer madness. I had a line of people at my register aggravated and did not want to hear that I could not ring up their purchases. A man proceeded to tear into my 16 year old self and blamed the entire system crash on me. I am close to tears, I had been there since 7am (it was now 1pm) with no real lunch (although me and a coworker sneaked a loaf of French bread and cheese from the deli-don't worry we paid for it). A lady immediately jumped to my defense and put Mr. Pissy in his place. She made sure I was OK and asked if she could still buy her groceries if she paid with cash. She was very nice and never once did she have an attitude.

All customers are not like the lady mentioned above. Most are like Mr. Pissy. I don't know where some people got the idea that since they spend money at an establishment it also means they can verbally abuse someone behind a counter. Now, I will admit there are some very special people standing behind counters who can't carry on a conversation or do basic math. But for the most part the customer service I deal with on a daily basis are very nice.

Customer service reps remember bad customers whether it's over the phone or in person. When you dial that 1-800 number for customer service everything you say is being recorded. When you use foul language or just rude that gets noted on your account. And if you think no one reads the notes before calling a customer, you're crazy. My best advice when dealing with a customer service rep over the phone is remember that you are talking to a person. A lot people get very brave over the phone. A rule of thumb is that if the customer service rep was in front of you, would you still say the same thing? Most people wouldn't. I know it's easy to get fustrated on the phone, but remember once you catch an attitude the customer service rep is no longer eager to help and just wants to get you off the phone.

When dealing with a customer service rep in person remember a basic rule of thumb: be polite. Sounds pretty basic huh? A cashier may see hundreds of people in a week, but if you called him a name he won't forget. Have your form of payment ready. When the cashier says hello, say hello. I know everyone has a bad day but the cashier can't take their bad day out on you, so don't take yours out on them. Remember that the cashier does not determine the prices or the tax of the items. If you have a problem with the sales tax, write your congressman. Don't like the prices? You do have the freedom to shop somewhere else.

And just something to keep in the back of your mind: would you want someone thinking they have the right to rip into your 16 year old son/daughter because he or she spent $2 bucks for a loaf of bread? That person standing behind the counter or on the phone has feelings too.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

I heart books!

After a week of waiting I finally have my hands on the book, Anonymous Lawyer by Jeremy Blachman. The man is funny, first of all. I will admit I was skeptical of a book written in blog and e-mail form. The Wall Street Journal did a little blurb about him this summer. I checked out the link to his Anonymous Lawyer website. I couldn't believe how well written and funny it was. I bought the book today and am on page 101. I will be done with this book before the week is up.

I'm a big bookworm. I can spend hours at Half Price or Barnes & Noble. I was very shy as a kid and books were an escape. Once I get a good book, I can spend the entire day on the couch, completely oblivious to what is going on around me. Mystery and humor are my favorites. I like some non-fiction, mostly books on sociology and relationships. I have even been known to read a trashy romance novel or two. Trashy romance novels are junk food for the mind. Do you honestly think everybody reads the 9/11 commission Report? I don't think people should be ashamed to admit that sometimes reading a little novel about quivering loins is good for you.

I worked at a bookstore over Christmas last year and every other customer came in and asked for Memoirs Of A Geisha or The Da Vinci Code. Granted, Memoirs Of A Geisha was a great book. The Da Vinci Code was not. I tried to give Dan Brown a chance but after the first chapter I was bored stupid. I'm sure others may disagree with me, but somewhere someone is trying to sell that book at a garage sale. I think that The Da Vinci code was so hyped, I had higher expectations for it. As I said before I love mystery books, I figured Dan Brown would keep me on the edge of my seat. I fell asleep in it instead.

Anonymous Lawyer was hyped quite a bit on Amazon and it lived up to it. I'm glad since I spent almost 28 bucks for the hardback version.