4

Gross or Not?

20140425-125936.jpgOften times I feel cheated by fast food chains.  I know that I accept the responsibility of getting possible bad service and semi-decent food at most fast food chains.  Lets face it – there aren’t people with Doctorates floating around the local Taco Bell and McD’s.  Most general employees of fast food places are either really young, really old, using it as a second  (or third) job to supplement their families income or live in a demographical area that is typically lower income.

Now before I get tons of hate comments – let me be clear.  I am in no way undermining a job at a fast food position.  When I was a teenager I worked at Long John Silver’s (I still cannot stand the smell of that red cocktail sauce – ugh!).  Many of my friends worked at the fast food joints all over town.  As we got older several of my friends had to take on an extra job and went back to fast food because it was easy to get hired and usually had semi flexible schedules.  A few of my friends actually became managers of a couple of the local joints.  Not to mention my Big Kid is 14 1/2 and will be looking for employment very soon and may wind up with a fast food position (Keeping fingers crossed for Chick-fil-a because they have the best lemonade EVER!).  I do love me some fast food.

However, because jobs at fast food chains are typically very easy to get – the quality of employee isn’t always superb.  I once drove up to a McD’s and ordered a Happy Meal for my Little Man and two Big Mac meals with sweet tea for the Mini Me and Big Kid.  I’m not a huge fan of McD’s (although I do LOVE their soft serve icecream with a side of hot french fries!!) so I didn’t get anything for me.  I might have ordered a little something but the tone of voice and demeanor in which I was being spoken too was irritating.  After ordering each item, the young guy on the other end of the brightly lit box (full of pictures of food that doesn’t come close to resembling what actually comes out at the end of the line) says, “Is that all?” and I would politely say, “No, I also need…”. When I asked him to repeat the order please, I could literally hear him let out a big sigh and repeat it with a voice that told me that his mother is making him work this job but he would much rather be home with his PS3. I drove up to the window and handed him my card with a smile.  As he snapped it out of my hand I took a deep breath and counted to 10.  I was either going to crawl out of my car window and punch him in his little teen-aged face (I’m a redhead – I have a short fuse – don’t judge me) or I was going to try and make his day better.  So I say with a smile, “Bad day or do you just hate your job?”. He took a double take my way, started to say something and obviously thought better of it.  Handed me my receipt and bent down with both arms on the window and let it all out.  “It’s my second week here, my second day on the window and they just keep telling me I need to go faster!  What do they want from me?!  I can only do what I can do.  I can’t go any faster.  If they want the orders right and the customer happy then I have to go the pace that is comfortable for me.  Ugh! It just makes me so mad!”. I smiled and I said, “Don’t worry, it gets easier as time passes.  But taking it out on the customers won’t make you feel better.  Just ignore them and take pride in knowing you are sending the customers home with the right food.  I promise you that would make me happy.  And if they continue, there are a hundred other places to work – you don’t have to work here.”  He smiled and said thanks and I pulled up to pick up my food feeling very happy that I didn’t punch the poor kid in the face. (For the record, I can’t remember the last time I punched anything, let alone a person.)

We go to Rosa’s Cafe almost every Tuesday night for Taco Tuesday.  You get 3 tacos (soft or crispy and your choice of beef or chicken), rice (that is “oh so yummy”) and refried beans all for under $4!!  When you are feeding a family of 5 that is nice!! :).  It is a good thing their food is so tasty – otherwise I wouldn’t bother going.  The price is so great that they get CaaaRAZY busy on Tuesdays, as you would imagine.  I have to pull into the parking lot and go through my order every week to see what they forgot.  They ALWAYS forget something.  It is because there are too many hands in the bags and no one to do quality control at the window.  The staff isn’t unfriendly at the location we go to, but I wouldn’t say they are friendly either.  This is the standard they set and are obviously happy with because it never changes no matter how many times I complain.

This brings me back to today.  I work a part time J.O.B. (which someday when I become a rich and famous writer I won’t have to do anymore) and the shift is 9 or 10 hours long and since I am the only employee – I get no lunch break.  If I eat before work I am starving by the end.  So I usually swing through a quick fast food place and grab something to eat once I get to work and get everything set up for the customers that day.  It is usually pretty slow for the first hour, so I can usually get at least half of my lunch in before it is too cold to enjoy.  One of the places I frequent is the local Braum’s.  This particular location has the big thick crinkle cut fries that I love and their ice is that soft crunchy kind you can eat after your soda is all gone.  The service is bad for the most part, but the place is inexpensive, convenient and fast so it’s worth the toss up.  I usually only order one of three things there: Chicken strip meal, Chili meal or the Kid’s meal.  The chili is my favorite but they often times forget to turn the warmer on and the chili is cold.  No one (especially in Texas) can eat cold chili.  Once I get to work and find out it’s cold there is nothing I can do but call and complain.  I don’t have time to go back and even if I did the chili still wouldn’t be cold.  It happens about half the time.  So I’ve learned that when I pull up and I hear, “Welcome to Braum’s.  Would you like to try our blah blah blah today?” I come back with, “Is your chili hot today?” …which is irritating.  Who should have to ask that?

So today I pull up to the window and get to the question and the response was, “uuuh, yes, it will be.”  I thought for a second and said, “It will be or it is?”. He said, “Yes ma’am, it is.  I just asked.”  So I took the plunge and ordered the chili meal with a Dr. Pepper. (Which I was really excited about because I gave up soda’s for lent in support of my Catholic friends and 40 days and nights is a looooooong time to go without DP!!)  The voice then asks if I would like cheese, onions or sour cream with my chili.  They very seldom actually ask and I usually forget to ask for it because all I can really think about is hoping the chili is hot!  So I say that yes, I would like cheese on the chili and sour cream on the side.  “That will be six oh five at your first window ma’am.” Ok, this must be a manager on the window today.  I pull to the window and see the badge “Shift Manager” – that makes more sense.  I hand him my card and wait for my receipt and tell him to have a good day.  I get to the window to get my food and see the girl filling my soda cup.  She turns and opens the window and hands me my drink and a big bright pink straw (I love their straws).  She closes the window and walks away.  Then it happens.  I see a woman at the counter with a small pint size container of Braum’s sour cream.  The plastic lid is off and the foil top has been peeled back.  It was obvious this wasn’t fresh sour cream.  Then she gets a small styrofoam container and sticks her fingers in the sour cream and pulls out three “scoops” of it and puts one after the other in the To-Go container.  With. Her. Hands.  No spoon.  No fork.  Not even a straw or using gravity and pouring it in.  She scooped it out with her fingers.  Now, before I say anything else I need to say – she was wearing a glove.  To me – that didn’t matter.  Watching her pull the sour cream I was going to put in my mouth, with her fingers made me sick.  I immediately visualized those poor little kids from other countries that scoop rice into their little dehydrating mouths as flies land on their tiny little noses and hands.  I got to work and threw the sour cream out.  I just couldn’t eat it.  It actually didn’t look fresh and creamy anyway – you can see that in the picture above.  Honestly though, I threw it out because she served it to me with her fingers.

Gross or not?  What are your thoughts?  Am I over-reacting?  Should I have said something?  Is it really no big deal?  What are some of your fast food stories?

1

The 27th Line

The 27th Line.

I have never read a blog post I identified with more.  This….this is the world I want to believe in.  This is the type of people I want to believe in.  I am literally at a loss for words on how to respond to this post… and those of you that know me, well you know that is a BIG deal.  Printing this out and giving it to my 14 year old (the Big Kid) and 12 year old (the Mini Me) in the morning and will be saving it for my 2 year old (Little Man) – just incase.

The 27th line indeed.

 

15

Hate Letter to Autistic Child’s mom – Thoughts?

The following is a story I found on Facebook. I have friends with autistic children and follow with all of the charity work and fund raisers I do I meet a lot of families with autistic children. This is hard for me to swallow. I can't imagine anyone thinking these things, much less a mother. 😦 Sad. Just sad.

It makes me angry….so very angry.

I am going to post the story directly from the news site and I'll post a picture of the letter.

***IMPORTANT*** If you are directly close to an autistic child – this letter will be hard to read – and it will probably make you angry – and maybe even cry (if you are sensitive like me). I'll try to follow this story and let you know if anything every comes of it. The police did open an investigation and I hope they find this woman….

 

Story following:

The Crown Attorney's Office in Ontario says a letter asking the family of a boy with autism to move or euthanize him falls below the threshold for a hate crime, despite the hateful language, Durham Regional Police Service said in a release Tuesday

However, police will consider whether the letter violates other sections of the Criminal Code.

A criminal investigation is currently underway after the Newcastle, Ont., family of a 13-year-old boy who has autism received an anonymous letter telling them to either leave the neighbourhood or have the boy euthanized.

The boy's grandmother, Brenda Millson, said she was shocked when she read the letter, which arrived in her mailbox on Friday.

The author of the typed one-page letter claimed to be a mother who lived in the neighbourhood and was upset at the noises Millson's grandson Max made when he was outside.

The letter went on to say the boy's “noise polluting whaling (sic),” scared the author's “normal children”.

It also included statements such as “he is a hindrance to everyone and will always be that way” and “do the right thing and move or euthanize him.”

Millson said she immediately reported the letter to police.

She said Max lives with his parents and older brother in Oshawa, Ont., but he had been visiting her home in Newcastle.

She said the author of the letter may have assumed she is Max's mother.

“At first I couldn't believe what I was reading,” she said, adding that she was shaking in disbelief.

“It's just so sick.”

Durham regional police said they have been investigating since Friday and that they are taking the letter seriously.

Max's mother, Karla Begley, 44, who is in a wheelchair with multiple sclerosis, said police told her they had never seen a letter “that despicable.”

Speaking on CBC's Power and Politics, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne said she was “in tears” when she read about the contents of the letter.

“I just think it is horrific,” she told CBC's Evan Solomon.

“There is no place in society for this kind of attitude.”

Wynne urged the author of the letter to reflect on the inclusive nature of Canadian society and realize that Canada is a country that accommodates many different types of people.

“Part of our strength is that we can provide for everybody, and diversity is part of what defines us,” she said.

The only hostility the family had sensed in the Newcastle neighbourhood was four years ago, she said.

At the time, Max loved to throw a ball in the backyard and as he often threw it over fences, Millson had written her name and address on it, Begley said.

One day it arrived in the yard tattered, she said. “They took the time to shred the ball with scissors and throw it back over.”

Begley added the family did not know what yard the ball was thrown into.

Millson said Max is a wonderful, sweet and lovable boy with a 16-year-old brother who was “infuriated” and “disgusted” by the letter.

Millson said the letter is “pretty gutless.”

On Sunday night, at least 120 people waited outside the home for more than an hour in order show their support, Begley said. Families with autistic children drove in from Oshawa to show their support.

“Max was high-fiving everyone. He didn't understand but knew it was for him,” Millson said.

Begley said support for the family following the letter has been “bittersweet,” adding it's too bad it took such a letter to bring attention to a special-needs child.

“It's just a reminder, you know, you've got to treat these kids like they need to be treated,” Begley said. “They just want to belong.”

Anyone with any new information regarding the investigation is asked to contact Const. Thompson of the East Division Criminal Investigations Bureau at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 1604.

Anonymous tips can be made to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or at http://www.durhamregionalcrimestoppers.ca.

So….that's the story….

Please post your thoughts below and share/re-blog to get the word out! Especially if you have connections in Ontario.

 

PS…BIG hugs to Max, his mom & his grandma…all the way from Texas. ❤

 

3

Touching Strangers

You can usually tell a lot about a person…just by watching their body language.  People watching is one of my favorite hobbies.  I love to sit in a food court at the mall and watch people and hear little tid bits of their lives as they walk past my table.  I guess maybe it goes back to that old “What is the meaning of life?” and “Why are we here?” type thinking.  We all play such a big part in this world.  Strangers – they intrigue me.

I suppose that is why I am so into Richard Renaldi, an artist out of New York.  He takes photographs of people…lots of people.  His artistic eye captures people in a way that gives the viewer an opportunity to write a story about that person the instant they look at them.

Richard has several different projects that I love like “Manhattan Sunday” – a series of black and white photos depicting people on the streets of Manhattan in their own light.  These photos put me in Manhattan.  I can see myself sipping on a warm cup of Earl Grey in a little café watching these people walk by – can you imagine their stories?  I also love “The Grand Show” – photos from all over the United States that portray scenes of beauty and chaos and history.  Just lovely, really.

My favorite project has been getting publicity lately…which is actually how I learned about him.  A friend of mine posted a link on Facebook from CBS News that was featuring his project “Touching Strangers“.  She is very artistic herself and said, “This? I love. Adore.” and posted a link the article.  I read it and had to find out more!  So google bound I was…  The interesting thing is that I love Richard’s artistic vision – but I love the idea behind this series of photos.  He asks complete strangers to pose with each other.  Awkward is the first word that would come to my mind – but I think I would probably do it.

With so much history behind us – we all tend to live in a world of our own of sorts.  It’s like we have are our own city, allowing those that we enjoy to live in our city.  We know that there are billions of other people out there but they need to live in their own city.  Lets face it – it is hard to let people in.  I am a touchy-feely, affectionate kind of gal – which makes some people very uncomfortable.  I often refer to people as doll, hun, sugar, sweetie – you get the idea.  I once had a man tell me, “My name is Marshall, not hun.”  I was a little taken aback.  First because I was offended, but then because I felt guilty for making him feel uncomfortable or maybe disrespected?  At any rate – I still see this man from time to time in business and since that day it is always, “How are you today, Marshall?” and “Thank you, Sir”  He seems appreciative – even shocked me the other day by offering me some discount coupons at a local buffet because he knows I like to eat out with my kiddos.

That is the way of the world – we don’t want to let anyone new in.  In this series of photos, Richard asks random people on the streets of New York to pose together – as if they know each other – and to touch in some way.

Some of the photos suggest they know each other intimately…

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Tari, Shawn & Summer

Some photos you can see the awkwardness…

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Alex & Carlos

In an interview done by Joerg Colberg, Richard said, “I decided I wanted the images to explore how notions of trust, love, social conventions, and taboos are expressed through body language.”  I would say he hit his mark.

A few of my favorites…

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Alfredo & Jessica

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Michael & Kimberly

The photo below is my absolute favorite – probably because I was able to read the story behind it.  Richard said he approached a lot of people that were not willing to be photographed with a  stranger – much less touching them!  On this day Julie was in the park taking her wedding photos.  Richard approached her and explained his endeavor and in his words, “Thrillingly, she was game.”  He began searching for the park for someone to photograph her with.  When he found Xavier, he knew it was a perfect match.  Her family and the wedding party watched on as the wedding photographer recorded the events and this photo was the result.

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Julie & Xavier

Remember, I like to create stories while watching people in their normal day-to-day lives.  These photos give me the opportunity to imagine things on a grander scale.  Not just, “Who are these people?” and “Where are they going?” but, “Who were they?” and “How did they meet?” – “What is their story?” I think it is simply fascinating.

When the photo shoot was done – did these people just walk away?  Did they become life long friends.  Did they keep in contact at all?

When asked something very close to those questions Renaldi said, “As far as I know, no one exchanged phone numbers.  But I do try to email the subjects their pictures, and I include both email addresses so they could theoretically get in touch with each other…”

And I think that is kind of awesome.

Here are some links if you would like to find out more:

Richard Renaldi’s Website

Richard Renaldi’s Blog

Follow Richard on Instagram

Richard Renaldi on Facebook

**Note: The project titled “Hotel Room Portraits” is a collection of photos of Richard and his partner Seth in some of the hotels they have stayed at during their travels.  A few of these pictures show full frontal nudity.  They were all very artistic and tasteful photos – however – in case you are viewing at work or in a public area, I wanted to give a heads up.