If you’ve been with me for the past year, you’ll know I always seem to learn something interesting when I travel. It might be that my cordless mouse is a threat to aviation security, that some restaurants have no business advertising, or even that “Unskinny Bop” is a song that will follow you, no matter where you go.
This past week I had two trips, back to back. One was a sales meeting for work and one was a mini family vacation to the Great Wolf Lodge waterpark resort. Besides being completely exhausted, I again managed to learn a few things along the way. Since it’s been over two weeks since I posted anything, I thought I would get back in the swing by sharing a few of the pearls of wisdom I’ve gleaned during my most recent travels. Enjoy!
- When you open the new gates at a small regional airport, I really don’t think you need to post signs to warn the flying public of the new 1 MINUTE AND 20 SECOND walk to the new gates. I know it’s a terrible inconvenience to have to walk for an entire 80 seconds to get to the gate, so don’t advertise it. You’ll only anger the sheeple.
- I need to get a privacy screen for my laptop. Some people are just too nosey. I hope the lady who sat next to me on the plane last Monday enjoyed reading my Facebook updates. She sure seemed interested in them.
- When the restaurant has a board posted on the wall detailing all of the available shots and a group of your co-workers decides to “drink their way through the list” – be afraid. Be very afraid.
- Losing weight and eating right do not mix well with business or vacation travel. Much more on that later.
- If, however, pork rinds are one of the high protein snacks you are allowed to eat – you should take full advantage of them. When you find one in the bag that still shows a bit of blue ink from the tattoo on the pig – throw it out the car window, pretend you never saw it, and never speak of it again (except on your blog). Don’t let a tattoo ruin your vacation. (Sound advice, on many levels…)
- Staying at a water park resort during off-season is great – there are very few crowds – but there is a downside. No crowd means you get to walk right up to the top of the waterslides. Right up all seven flights of stairs. No waiting. No standing still. No catching your breath. Vacations aren’t supposed to be exercise.
- Some people have no business wearing a bikini to a public water park. I’ll just leave it at that – I don’t want to have the dry heaves again.
- Yes, the prizes at the hotel arcade are cheap – you could buy something far nicer with the $60 dollars you spent on tokens. Sometimes, however, the fun of earning the prize tickets with your kids is worth far more than the money you spend. (Plus, with enough prize tickets, your son can get an enormous and truly impressive whoopee cushion.)
- My daughter has a way of cutting to the chase and getting at the essence of something. She’s dubbed the aforementioned whoopee cushion a “fart bag”. She has her father’s gift for words.
While all of these nuggets are interesting, some things you learn require a little more context –a little more meat on the bone. They just don’t fit in a nice neat bullet pointed list. To truly appreciate the full, life changing import of the moment, you really need to live through it with me…
My Father is fulfilling his duties as Grandpa exceptionally well
My parents love being grandparents. My dad, in particular, has taken the role to a new level. Not only does he hand out dollar bills to the grandkids like they were Gatorade cups at the Boston Marathon, he also keeps them all guessing about whether his tall tales are serious or if he’s just pulling their leg.
While my family and I were in Kansas City, we found there was a Bob Evans restaurant just across the street from our hotel. If you haven’t been to a Bob Evans, it’s one of the best breakfasts you will find – anytime of day. It also happens to be one of my father’s favorite places to eat.
As we were getting the kids ready to head out for breakfast, my daughter did NOT want to sample the morning repast at Bob Evans. My daughter is not a big fan of new things, or change in general. Getting her to try new restaurants and/or new food is an exercise of equal parts persuasion and threats. On this particular morning, I decided to lead with persuasion.
“You’ll like Bob Evans,” I said. “They have great pancakes”.
“I don’t want pancakes.”
I countered with, “They also have great bacon.” (It’s hard to go wrong with bacon.)
“I don’t want their bacon.”
Not wanting to give up on the persuasion too quickly, I decided to pull out the Grandpa card. My daughter adores my father, and I’m not above using that to manipulate her – if the occasion warrants it.
“Bob Evans is one of Grandpa’s favorite restaurants. You’ll love it.”
Ha – I’ve got her now. No way she can resist that. Bob Evans, here we come, I thought. But as I looked at her, I could see a look of pure revulsion and fear storming across her face.
“Yuck,” she said seriously. “Grandpa only likes restaurants that serve squirrel.”
It was all I could do to not lose it right then and there. She was so serious and so earnest in her belief that Grandpa only liked places that served squirrel. I realized, in that moment, what a master my father is at the Grandpa game. I can only hope I will be half the Grandpa he is, someday. Well done, Dad.
Persistence and logic will occasionally pay off – even when dealing with fools
I have been on a pretty strict diet and eating program for most of this year. I’ve managed to lose 65 pounds so far (more on that at the end of the year), and feel better than I have in years. The only downside has been trying to stick to the program and eat correctly when I travel. For this trip, I was entering a maintenance phase of the program, so I had more options when it came to eating. I still tried to avoid carbs and sugar, but I thought it would still be easy. I was wrong.
I made it through most of my sales meeting without major program or outright falling off the eating bandwagon. On Wednesday, however, I faced a significant challenge – and it wasn’t just the food.
As we all went to dinner that night, I had to take a call. It went a little long, so I was the last person to make it through the buffet line. We had the entire corporate commissary to ourselves that night and had contracted with them to cater the event. As I made my way to the line, it was a short four chafing dishes long. The first dish was bread. Pass. The second dish was broccolini in some sort of butter like substance. Not a fan. The third dish was a massive pile of macaroni and cheese. Now, I like the occasional mac and cheese dish – but you would be hard pressed to get any further from “low carb”, so that was out. My hopes where pinned on the last dish. Surely it was a protein I could eat.
I approached the dish, peered into its depths, and saw the silver bottom staring back at me. There was nothing there. Just a lonely sign beside it proclaiming the lost protein had been “Chicken”. I didn’t even know what kind of chicken it was. All I knew was it was gone, and I was out of luck.
Don’t panic, I thought to myself. You’re an adult. There is a way out of this. Just remain calm, don’t panic, and don’t run screaming for the exits. It was at this point I spotted the Food Services manager milling about in the dining area. Bingo! I’ll just go ask her to help me out.
I made my way over to her and politely asked, “Excuse me. Could you let me know when there will be some more chicken in the serving line?”
“We’re all out of chicken.”
“Pardon me? You’re out of chicken?”
“Yes,” she said with a slightly vacant stare that gave me cause for concern, “we were told there would be 80 people, so that’s all we prepared for.”
“You mean you don’t have any more chicken in the back?”
“No sir. We are all out of chicken. There is some broccolini left. I hear it’s to die for.”
Again, I cautioned myself. Don’t panic. Don’t lose your cool. There is a way out of this. Just explain your situation.
“Ma’am, I’m on a very strict diet and I can’t eat the mac and cheese. I’m not sure that broccolini would really constitute a meal for me. Could you just prepare a few more chicken breasts, or tenders, or even nuggets?”
“I’m sorry,” she said again with the same robotic, welcome-to-the-DMV voice, “we’re all out of food.”
It was at this point I began to realize I was not dealing with one of the winners of life’s lottery in the brains department.
“You’re out of food?”
“Isn’t this a restaurant?”
“Does it have a kitchen in the back?”
“Does the kitchen have any food in it?”
“We’re all out of food, sir. We only prepared for 80 people.”
“But is there any food in the kitchen?”
“We’re all out of food sir.”
“Do you get food deliveries every single morning with EXACTLY enough food for just that day?”
“We’re all out of food, sir.”
“Really? REALLY?” (At this point, my temper was definitely starting to get the better of me.) “You don’t have anything in the entire restaurant? Not even an apple? I would be happy with an apple. Just one small apple.”
“I’m sorry sir, we’re all out of food.”
That was the point at which I snapped. I have the physical ability to absorb six inane comments like “we’re out of food” from anyone. The seventh one, however, is my limit. I am incapable of surviving seven consecutive mindless comments. I blew a gasket and started to yell.
“You’ve got to be kidding me! This is a functioning restaurant. At my house, we have two marvelous inventions. Perhaps you’ve heard of them – the pantry and the refrigerator? They give you the godlike ability to STORE FOOD. I can actually keep food from one day to the next and EAT IT LATER. I may fix dinner at 7:30, and then decide I want a snack at 10:30. Guess what? I HAVE MORE FOOD IN THE HOUSE! I just go the refrigerator and GET A FREAKING APPLE. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK OF YOU – A FOOD SERVICE PROFESSIONAL?? ONE FREAKING APPLE??”
I’m not sure if it was my superior reasoning skills or the volume of my voice, but I saw a small spark in her eyes. It could have been understanding or it may have just been fear. I don’t know. Either way, she held up one finger as if to say “A-ha!”, then turned on her heels and made a beeline for the kitchen. 3 minutes later, she returned with a freshly cut apple on a shiny white porcelain plate. I gave her a quick thumbs up, thanked her for her herculean efforts in securing the apple, and sat down to try and enjoy it. It was mushy.
As soon as we got back to the hotel, I sat down at the bar and ordered a large cheeseburger. It was delicious.
Persistence and logic will occasionally pay off – even when dealing with fools: Part 2
The last night of a sales meeting is always a delicate balance. You want to have fun, you want to eat a good meal, and you want to share time with your co-workers – but you also want to be prepared for the 5:15 shuttle to the airport the next morning.
On the last night of our sales meeting, we again rented out an entire restaurant for the group. Since this was a public restaurant, we had a fixed menu to choose from – not a buffet. “Great,” I thought, “this will be SO much better than last night.”
As I perused the menu, not a lot was jumping out at me – fish and chips (deep-fried), Mac and Cheese (again with the Mac and Cheese? Is there some sort of cheese and pasta renaissance happening that I’m unaware of?), Turkey Burgers with blue cheese (blue cheese – no thanks). Then I found my solution – a barbecue cheeseburger. Perfect. Just lose the barbecue sauce and I would be all set.
The perky waitress came to our table and began to take our order. As it snaked around to me, I politely said –
“I would like the barbecue burger, but could you hold the barbecue sauce please?”
“I’m sorry, but we aren’t making any modifications to the dishes tonight. It’s a fixed menu.”
The cold fingers of déjà vu began to wrap themselves around my stomach. “I’m sorry?”
“We aren’t doing any modifications tonight, it’s a fixed menu.”
“I understand, but I’m on a very strict eating program. Could you just leave off the barbecue sauce?”
“We aren’t modifying any dishes tonight.”
“But if you douse the burger in sugar-laden barbecue sauce, I’m not going to be able to eat it.”
“We aren’t modifying any dishes tonight.”
Given the events of the night prior, I knew right away I wouldn’t make it to the seventh inane comment by Flo the Helpful Waitress before I lost my cool. I could already feel the sarcasm seeping up from the pit of my stomach and preparing to unleash itself on this poor, unsuspecting soul.
Don’t get me wrong. I can understand the need to have a standardized menu for a large group. It allows the kitchen to get food out in a timely manner. But there has to be a bit of sanity involved. I had only requested that they leave off the barbecue sauce, not remake the burger with ground veal, dress it with thin sliced Vidalia onions, and top it with ketchup made by Peruvian children from tomatoes personally picked by the eldest daughter of the village’s leader.
“Are the burgers already made?” I asked, with just the barest hint of annoyance.
“No sir, they are made to order in the back.”
“Great. Here’s what I would like for you to do. Walk back to the kitchen and put in my order for a barbecue burger. Watch them while they cook it, put it on the bun, and add the onions and lettuce. As soon as the chef grabs the squirt bottle of barbecue sauce, yell STOP! at the top of your lungs. When the chef jumps back and looks at you like you’re crazy, grab the plate and run it back out here – sans barbecue sauce. Do you think you can handle that? Or would you prefer to be the one to call the paramedics when I pass out later from a lack of food?”
“Let me see what I can do,” she said sheepishly, and turned to head back in to the kitchen.
About 10 minutes later she returned with all of our food. Lo and behold, my burger had nothing on it but cheese. There was not a drop of barbecue sauce to be seen. I thanked her and proceeded to dig in. It was a good burger – almost as good as the satisfaction I felt from, again, standing up to The Man. Power to the People.
© 2011, The Word Zombie. All rights reserved.