Monday, October 25, 2010

Sucky Service

Ok. Is it me or has service gone waaaaay downhill as of late? 

Last Friday I went to shop at the Banana Republic Factory Outlet Store. While the clothing was beautiful and the store was clean, the service was simply non-existent. Seriously, there was no one there! Not one employee was noticed on the floor helping me or anyone else, there was no one in the change room for the first 3-5 minutes I waited for someone to let me in a room, and there was no one at the cashier when I went to pay so I had to stand and wait for someone to notice me waiting. I would have approached someone if I saw a single person that worked there!!

Then on the weekend we went to try the newly revamped D'lish Wine Bar and though the food was really good, the service was not. Our waiter had no personality, didn't sell us on trying anything on the menu and himself seemed not only unsure of himself but what he was actually doing on this planet. At one point he actually said 'we haven't had too many complaints about that'; so does that mean it's about 50/50 on the complaints? What's 'too many'?  We all agreed at our table we wished we had someone else to serve us as our guy was a dud.

Then today I took DS to Walmart to pick out some items for our upcoming vacation. We picked out a few DVDs, stickers, some paints as well. They only had 3 tills open (not nearly enough for a Walmart...why have 20 odd tills if you are only going to use 3?) and when I was at the till the manager was instructing the cashier to double check the cost of the DVDs as they were pulling at the incorrect prices. She checked all of them and as I was paying she DIDN'T put the bag in the cart (as she had done with all the previous bags) and so I left thinking I had everything when in fact I didn't. I got home and noticed right away the bag was missing so called promptly. I let the phone ring for 2 minutes and 45 seconds and no one answered. Customer Service fail #2 (incorrect prices and failure to put the bag in my cart #1). I waited about 15 minutes and tried again. I finally got someone and when I explained to her what happened she said 'oh yes, we found the bag. You need to come in and reshop all the items and then we'll run them through the till again and give them to you'. I was completely perplexed as it had only been 1 hour since I left the store, why couldn't I just come in and pick up that 1 bag? She said as soon as they find a bag they put all the items back on the shelves.

So, let me get this situation right. They didn't have enough staff to work tills but enough staff to put PAID items back on the shelves??? Were they hoping I didn't call? I wondered how they would know what I actually took home and what was in the bag if they put it all back and she said they documented it in a binder. So, have the time to document it, put the items back, but are not able to just leave the bag intact for someone to come claim it 1 hour after it was purchased?? Is it me or does anyone else how ridiculous this system is??

Anyway, this just adds to a long line of poor service I've experienced of late. I certainly don't feel that the 'customer is always right' anymore. Nor do I even feel that my business is valued and appreciated. What has happened to customer service?? Do people read the customer surveys I fill out?  Please Lord just say that it's not just me that this stuff happens to!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Me Time - Selfish or Necessary?

I was at a meeting the other day and we were discussing moms getting out and doing things for themselves. It made me think about how whenever I bring up 'me time' to other moms there seems to be two camps of moms: Camp 1. Me time? YES PLEASE   and Camp 2. Me time? No, I'd prefer to be with my family.

As a FIRM member of Camp 1 I have a difficult time understanding those moms that like to be in Camp 2. Since becoming a mom I've had a hard time establishing who 'Jody' is and making sure that other's also view me as more than just a mom, being a stay at home mom makes this even  more difficult. Why is it that some moms feel it necessary to distinguish themselves as more than just a mom and some believe the title 'mom' is simply enough?

Is being a mom rewarding in itself? Yes, at times it really is. When I see my kids do or say something I know I helped teach them - it can be a proud moment. Or those times they catch you off guard and say something very sweet, it's a moment to treasure. But there's the rest of the day where you are a chauffeur, a cook, a house cleaner, a human kleenex (if one more kid uses my shirt to wipe their nose I think I'll scream), a craft queen, a teacher, a disciplinarian, etc, etc. All the things you are that you pretty much never get credit for and that goes unappreciated. For me, those are the things that can be very mundane and draining, I will fully admit that I get bored after 2 minutes of playing with playdough!

So, as a member of Camp 1 I find it essential to my well being to get in my 'Me Time'. I volunteer, I read, I get together with girlfriends, join clubs, and work out. It's not about trying to remember who I was before kids, it's about defining myself WITH kids.

Now the question is, is that selfish? I'm sure some moms would jump right up and say that yes it is selfish to worry about myself when I should be taking that time to work with my kids on potty training, or spelling, or how to use scissors. I could be making homemade birthday cakes, making Halloween costumes from scratch and making sure I document all the things that my children so I never forget and can show them in the future. This is where I will fully admit to ANY man, woman or child - I am NOT a perfect mom, nor will I ever strive to be one. I am however a good mom that makes mistakes. I choose to buy that birthday cake because it saves me hours of labour in which I usually spend some of that time with the kids and some of it on myself.  I choose not to hand make a Halloween costume because again, it would take me DAYS to even figure out how to sew. Days I could spend with my kids at the park and nights I could spend doing volunteer work, or reading a book - things I enjoy.

The reason I do these things for myself is I feel it makes ME a better person. It allows me time to breathe, to express myself through my own interests and recharge my batteries that get drained throughout the day when I do all my mom jobs. If some call me selfish for that, I understand but I will not apologize nor will I change. It's simply what I need to do to get through the day and be the decent mom I am. Without those things, I'm pretty sure I'd have to go back to work full-time and let someone else watch my kids as I would be useless to them!

Me & my mom at a breast cancer fundraiser.

Me time or not? I wonder if this is something we are taught from our own moms? What I learned from my mom was to see her as more than just 'mom'. She worked part-time from the time I was 3 and started full-time when I was 6. She had women's groups she belonged to. She played softball. She also went on dates with my dad on a weekly basis. It made me see her as mom and also as Lorraine. So it seems I take after her.

Selfish or necessary? I guess it's up to each mom to decide for herself.

I would be most interested to hear from someone in Camp 2. If you fall into that category or know someone who does please comment and let me know what recharges your batteries, what drives you, and how you feel appreciated for your efforts.

Disclaimer: I personally hate the phrase 'just a mom'. As a mom I know that no one BUT a mom knows what it all entails so I feel able to use that phrase. But just a piece of advice, unless you are a mom I'd avoid using that phrase or you might get the snotty shirt mentioned above thrown at your head.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Bookies

After moving back to Edmonton last year one of the first things I did was put out some feelers to see who would be interested in joining a book club. I was in a book club in Calgary for around 4-5 years and loved every minute of it. Well, maybe not EVERY minute of it as one of the original members wanted to read the autobiography of Traci Lords and I wasn't super pumped about that. Luckily she bailed after the first month so I never ended up having to stand in line at Chapters with that in my hands!

Anyway, I was very lucky to find 5 other women who were interested in being in a book club so we formed 'The Bookies' (sounds kind of cool sometimes to say 'I'm going to see my Bookies'). Anyway, we've been meeting for the past year and have uncovered some gems (i.e. Water For Elephants) and also some duds (Ulysses - I suffered through that book and will never, ever touch it again. BUT I finished it so gave myself a certificate to commemorate that achievement).

In our book club we meet in October or November and pick all the books we're going to read for the following year. Being the practical person I am I like to read ahead so that if I get really busy one month I don't have to scramble to meet the deadline. We also skip meeting in December and July as those months tend to be really busy or people are travelling.  Because people have extra time to read that means we slot the larger books for January and August. We also try to slip at least 1 classic book in but last year we read 4 (not that I would count Ulysses as a classic but some schmo did so I included that in the count) so this year we only went with 2 older more classic books, The Princess Bride and The Third Policeman.

Anyway, the Bookies got together last night and hashed out a new list for 2011. Here's the official
Bookies 2011 Book Club Selections, in order we're going to read them:

The Princess Bride – William Goldman  (then we're going to get together to watch the movie afterwards!)
The Room – Emma Donaghue
Half Broke Horses – Jeannette Walls
The Zookeepers Wife – Diane Ackerman
The Shack – William P. Young
The Third Policeman – Flann O’Brien
Blood Meridian – Cormac Mccarthy
Ape House – Sara Gruen
The Art of Racing in the Rain – Garth Stein
Still Alice – Lisa Genova

If any of you have read any of the above books and would like to make a comment if you like it or hated it feel free to add your thoughts, we like to know what we're getting into ;) Also feel free to read along with us and post your comments on a monthly basis when you see me add my book review.