Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2008 Year in Review

2008...oh my!

Each year at new years I have wished for true love. Last year, I wished for a good year of weight loss, no complications and good health. Imagine my surprise to reach the end of the year and to find myself rolling in everything I've wished for. Sappy... yes, untrue... nope.

Here's my year in review.

January: Back to work after my surgery and onto a normal schedule. I'd lost about 66 pounds since I started my weight loss journey. I was feeling the results in my clothes and spending a lot of time in the closet shopping for things that fit. I foolishly agreed to be on the board at my condo, and for the first time ever weighed less than the number shown on my drivers license. (Month end tally: 66 lbs down, pant size 24)

February: Started out the month getting rid of clothes that no longer fit. 10+ bags to Goodwill. I went on my first business trip since the surgery. It was filled with challenges related to eating socially, but in the end it worked out. My aunt took ill and entered the hospital leaving me as the closest and most able bodied relative to visit and assess the situation. (situation.. BAD!) Month end tally: 75 lbs down, pant size 20)

March: I Still dealing with my aunt, who was bouncing back and forth from the hospital to a nursing home. Most of the things in her house were a total loss due to (understatement of the century coming up) her unfortunate housekeeping skills and thus trips to the dump were occurring at every weekend visit. I had hopes we could move her to an assisted living place and started working on that with a social worker, but by month end it was clear we were dealing with major issues like MRSA. My weight loss took second stage, but I was still moving along. My retirement account posted a 12% loss for the first quarter. Month end tally: 82 lbs down, size 20 )

April: Even though, I was still in the throws of the family situation, I started to think about possibly dating. April 1 I make a reference to looking into We moved all of auntie's remaining items to storage . I was still driving to Bellingham every weekend and missing my own life. In an attempt to move things along I signed up on No dates; but had a quick 'romance' with some evil scammer. I also joined the gym. ( Month end tally (89 pounds, size 20 )

May: Had one of my credit cards stolen online and had to deal with that, Auntie died in the early part of the month. I felt relief and guilt. I had a minor flirtation at work and enjoyed a weekend with my girl friends in Portland. My huge insurance settlement came in from Auntie, not enough to really do anything, so I decided to let it sit. My gal pal Becky turned 40! Go girl! (93 lbs gone, size 20/18 pants)

June: hang on to your hats folks, the online dating thing took off in June. I went on a date, was talking with one guy and met someone potentially interesting "this guy seems nice, maybe a little too enthusiastic about his family -but practice dates are good too." By the end of the month was feeling pretty good about myself and not at all embarrassed about "playing the field". I finally passed the 100 pound loss mark and bought a pair of pants in a normal store -- not the big lady section, but regular clothes for regular sized people. Sad news, my cat Peter was getting sick and I lost him at the end of the month. (107 lbs lost, size 18 pants)

July: My date with the "nice" guy was great and within a week of that date we agreed to see each other exclusively - but not because I'm smart, but because I'm lucky. The nice guy found my blog and called me out on my multiple dates and in a rare moment of clarity I noticed that he could really be something real. (Thank God for miracles!) By the end of the month, J and I were spending as much time together as we could manage. (118 pounds lost)

August: Turned 40! Had a great party with my wonderful friends. Introduced J to my parents. Found out I posted a document on my companies web site that mistakenly used the word "Pubic" instead of "Public" oops. I was falling in love... really really falling in love. Weekend sleepovers were starting to happen. My people were beginning to express concern as to how fast the 'dating' was turning into something super serious. Well I was willing to take a huge fall; it is my time to be happy! (123 lbs - size 16 pants, size 14 dress for my birthday party!)

September: Planning a trip to Greece in October, I was looking forward to it, and at the same time i was sad about leaving for almost a month. Things at work seemed bleak, the stock price was in the shits and things don't look good for MegaBank. J helped me clear out the storage locker in Bellingham and it was a huge relief to have all of Aunties things resolved. How odd to have someone to willingly help. J finally shares with his parents that not only are we dating, but that things look really serious with us. We talked about getting married for the first time. End of the month, my company was seized by the FDIC and I called off the trip to Greece. (130 - size 16 pants)

October: cancelling the trip sucked, but I was able to meet with people from the new ownership which ultimately resulted in a job offer. J and I had a romantic weekend away in Long Beach, I started to meet some more of his family and by the end of the month we officially became engaged. The love situation has put a big dent in my gym attendance and we vow to return to the gym. (weight... steady at 130 - pants 16)

November: I met J's parents to the first time am waiting to find out if I have a job, I'm thrilled with the election results. Planned a romantic weekend with my guy in a hotel downtown... you have to love the 'staycation.' Bills and collection notices for Auntie are still rolling in. I try to get a head of it, but she's still gone and not bringing in any money. It's a hassle and I'm whiney about it. Thanksgiving goes well - my parents meet J's parents... all is right with the world. It's official, we are living together. (weight... 130 gone, pants 16... but size 14 in jeans)

December: The holidays are here... lots of events. Dinners, parties, cleaning, putting up two trees. Snow, more snow, and then some snow. I basically skip the last two weeks of work due to snow and then an unplanned vacation. I have a job until March, and an offer to move to Manhattan. It's a nice thought, but I'm not going. Christmas goes well in spite of the fact that Mom and Dad don't make it over. New Years Eve is tomorrow and I'm aware that my life is blessed beyond belief. (weight loss 130, size 14 clothes)

Come back for the photo progression next.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Our First Christmas

Well, in spite of the fact that my parents chose (wisely) to stay home for the day my first Christmas with J was wonderful.

We woke up early, had a quiet moment alone with good coffee near our tree. His parents were up and soon the stockings had been distributed. I have had a spectacular life with many many happy Christmases, but 'doing' stockings was a tradition that my family never embraced. I think it had more to do with the fact that my dad's schedule, as a policeman, was different from year to year. Some years we had our Christmas on Christmas Eve, and in others we were Christmas morning folks. One year we had our celebration on the 23rd. Christmas for us has always been more about the day we are together than the 25th.

So, having never done stockings I was excited to experience it, both as a receiver of treats and to find the right items for the other stockings. It turns out, stockings are WAY fun... the stockings yielded CD's, socks, Pez, ornaments, cheese spreaders, and other fun treats.

After the stockings the distribution of the gifts began. I must say that it is good to be in a new(ish) relationship at the holidays. J is a good gifter (lucky me -- AGAIN) and imagine my surprise and delight to open a pretty new Kindle. (Electronic Book)

J and his dad made breakfast after our overwhelming but delightful gift exchange. It snowed all morning and phone calls were flying back and forth about our expected trip to Duvall for dinner. They had a solid 20 plus inches of snow and we had to make a group decision to go or not go.

In the end, we decided to brave the elements and head east to be with family. The roads weren't too bad, but since my car has front wheel drive, and tires with tread (J will be getting new tires for his birthday... SURPRISE!) I was the driver.

The trip in was slow and felt a little bit like the Autopia ride at Disneyland - where the little cars are on a track but you're sort of in charge of where you go. The snow was making a nice little railing to help us stay on track. My jetta is a low riding vehicle (not "drive-by-shooting-in-the-hood" low) and it was scraping bottom some. We made some very nice "fenderburgs" for our friends in the cars that were following us to dodge.

Once in Duvall we parked the cars in the parking lot of the hardware store and cousin Marty took us the rest of the way to their house. Here's a snow shot that shows the depth of the snow on top of their hot tub. I don't think they've been using it very often.

We had a lovely dinner of flank steak with veggies and then played some party games. I was tested with the game of "Dirty Mind" where you have to guess what object the clue is talking about, but the clues are VERY suggestive. There's something wrong about your future father-in-law reading a clue about hot sticky goo on a wiener (katsup.)

Our trip back home was a bit more stressful, but only because most of the snow had melted off the roads, but the temperature had dropped and we were worried about ice. It was a slow, and slippery ride home, but we made it just fine.

J's family, his parents and the cousins are great. They are fun to be around and they genuinely like each other. There is also a lot of affection between the couples. They have made me feel really welcome and seeing how much they like J is awesome. They aren't perfect...a wing of the family avoided the celebration due to a silly brouhaha that resulted in the entire "drawer of grievances" being opened and aired before Christmas. Time will take care of it, but it is a stellar example that all families have conflict. I'm still new, so having a slightly smaller group makes my entry into the family a bit easier. Smaller crowd means easier name remembering. (Actually, I have this side all figured out, it is the names of the Colorado folks that I may never get.)

So, there's the super exciting run down of our first Christmas. I missed my parents and yet felt completely at home with J's family.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

FUV Shopping (Futile Useless Venture)

Since I'm about to lose my job my thoughts have turned to what I can do to be more fiscally conservative in my life. I'm sure you and I just had the same thought... BUY A NEW CAR.

J and I have been looking at cars for a bit and while I still like the Jetta, I keep gravitating towards a car that has a little bit more staying power in the inclement weather, yup, I want to join the SUV crowd. I don't need the Expedition or the Land Rover Mountain Mover, but the Toyota RAV4 or the Highlander appeal to me.

With the end of the year approaching, and me technically still employed we decided to drop by Toyota of Bellevue to see how hungry the sales folks are. Well... in spite of a front page story in the national news about Toyota posting a loss for the first time ever, they aren't very hungry.

Alex, our "prospective buyer consultant" lost J at hello, lost his dad when he marched us through a 4 foot snow bank to a car that wasn't what we wanted and lost me during the 45 minute wait while they "appraised" my car.

The manager came back with the printout of the Kelly Blue Book value (that we had looked up at home in under 45 seconds) and then offered us $2000 less than the posted rate. Before J could rip the 'manager' a new place to pooh, I quizzed him on why the value was less than the quoted price. The manager started some song and dance about the features on my car being "basic" but when I let him know that the site took that into account he moved on to the resale and the inventory of used cars not moving very fast. I couldn't stop myself so I told him that it didn't look like the inventory of new cars was moving fast either.

He then asked if I owned the car outright, and I said (mostly to let him know that we had come to buy a car) "Yes, in fact, the title is in my purse right now." His tone changed a little, but I was done especially since they weren't willing to offer any incentives (cuts in price) on the car we were looking at.

We left feeling very frustrated and it is doubtful we will return in the near future.

You know I don't react well to crappy service, and this wasn't the worst service I've ever encountered (Maggiano's Little Italy, Bellevue WA - is in the #1 position currently) but as for feeling like they were trying to sell me a car, this guy sucked.

What you need according to the Beatles

song chart memes
more music charts

Monday, December 22, 2008


Mom and Dad called this morning to say that they agree that coming over the pass for Christmas is a bad idea.

So, for only the second time ever we're not going to spend Christmas together. They will spend their day with my aunts and hopefully have a lovely day. I will be with J and his parents and will be thinking of mom and dad.

I'm disappointed, but 100% agree it is the right decision. It still sucks though...

Outside Seating?

The view from our deck.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Good Neighbor

We (J & I and his parents who arrived Friday afternoon) are enjoying our snowbound existence.

This morning, J and I walked to the Fred Meyer at the bottom of the hill for eggs, bread and a few treats like the Sunday paper and the New York Times. He and I enjoyed a quiet moment together at Starbucks before heading slowly back up. The exercise was great and it was fun to get out into the snow.

We have been playing cards, watching football and will start season 3 of Weeds this evening. J took a call from his neighbor who was stuck in the driveway and we bundled up to go help her. Getting her car up into the parking lot involved about 45 minutes of serious snow removal with a scraper and a monster shovel. I'll be taking a much needed shower as soon as my body temperature returns to a moderately normal zone. I'm so hot right now I could melt butter on my forehead.

Work is a slim likelihood for me tomorrow considering the park n' ride near the house is closed and the closest metro will come is about 3 miles away. My desire to go sit in an empty office just isn't that great. I will call in for "vacation" for the week and not worry about it.

I'm mildly stressing over the visit from my parents in that if they get across the pass will they be able to get to my place? I don't think my condo will be accessible. The little hill going down into my complex doesn't get any sun so snow and ice stick around until well after a snow and ice event is over. A hotel is an acceptable alternate plan, but we will have to switch up the Christmas event location.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ask and ye shall receive...mock and be mocked

So, I may have been a tad too quick to mock the Seattle Media.

Today we awoke to the white stuff and traffic snarls that are still an issue 3 hours later.

So, in spite of my non-snow-snow day yesterday, I did it again today. I have a few teleconferences and some reading to do... so it is smarter to do it here vs. spend 2 hours to get in and then 2 hours to get back.

The only bummer about the weather is that my friends and I were to have delivered our "adopt-a-family" toys and food tonight. There's no way we're headed out so the delivery just got a lot more complicated. It may fall to J and I to do this weekend. I'm sure his parents would enjoy the good samaritan activity, but I will leave it up to them to join us or not.

I was going to take a photo of the snow, but the views from the condo are great, but not really ideal for a winter wonderland photo, unless you want rooftops or a picture of the pool next door. (brrr)

I picked up some super cute flannel pj/house pants at REI last weekend and they seem to be perfect for hanging out on a wintry day.

That's really it. NOt much to report. J and I are watching Weeds and I have some 'homework' to do today to catch up so that I'm where his parents are. He bought Season 3 to watch over x-mas. It's pretty danged funny.

Gotta go...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow Job & the Job

The local media irks me. With the impending threat of snow all they can talk about is the weather. It is cold, it might snow, it might freeze...

Yes, there was snow in places today, but not a flake in my neighborhood. I listened to the weather folks and made arrangements to work from home today, but I could have gone in.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not sad about getting to stay in bed until 8am, take my phone calls in my sweats and getting caught up on the laundry today. But...if it actually DOES snow tonight I have to make the decision about tomorrow. Showing up to work is a good thing.

One of my phone calls today was with the Senior Senior manager of the team I would be working with at MegaMegaBank. We talked about the team, the work, the position, the location and the compensation. My reaction was: good, good, good, eek, and what!?

team: small, busy, hardworking, international
work: familiar, a growth opportunity and interesting
position: a challenge, a career builder
location: Manhattan, NY
compensation: same salary, same benefits

The lure of Manhattan is certainly interesting. I can see myself carrying my groceries home from the corner market, dining at neighborhood gems and soaking up the arts. However, my salary, while nice is not Manhattan friendly. We could afford to rent a pretty decent place, but the dream of home ownership would die quite quickly.

I can't say the idea isn't tempting, and the offer of continued employment extremely flattering but...

The Sr.Sr. Manager said that I could let him know in January where I stood and if the answer is no then they won't go through the motions of extending an offer and I'll just live out my 90 days. So, officially, J and I are discussing our options.

I know better than to request a paid trip to Manhattan to look at neighborhoods and experience life as a potential New Yorker. The first thing is that I would probably fall in love (which would be the point of their paying for the trip) and since I know, I'm mostly a no, it would be unethical.

To be fair about the process J and I are exploring real estate listings so we can honestly assess the financial impact of such a move.

J could find another job, but we need to make all decisions based on one income. That's my rule - because it's the only income we could count on going into the situation.

I won't officially say the answer is no, but it's a pretty strong likelihood at this point.

The chances of my moving to New York, might be lesser than the chance of snow in Issaquah in the next few hours.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Health and Safety

The 'little' bug that J had is going around their office. I encouraged him to put up signs to help prevent the spread of the bug...

"Don't Lick Your Co-Worker."

He won't do it. In fact, he doesn't think it is funny at all.

Maybe his humor will return once he stops aching from all the puking. Sheesh.


Yes, it is TRITE to blog about the weather, but I've been called worse things.

It was a whopping 16 degrees outside when I got up this morning. The bed with the warm winter weight down comforter and the warm, heat generating dude was hard to transition away from. When you poke your nose outside the covers and it goes all cold getting up isn't high on the activity list.

I wanted to shower and dry my hair before seven so that when last nights episode of the Daily Show came on I could enjoy it while I sipped my coffee. Well, darn it if the Daily Show wasn't a rerun. I was waiting to see what John Stewart would do with the Iraqi Journalist shoe throwing incident. Showing the Prez with stinky shoes is a fantastic insult, and funny to boot. (pun intended) I worry that the offending journalist will be hanged for his actions - I don't mean like lose his job and his credibility, but like dangling from the last standing tree in Iraq.

I will give Georgie some props, he has excellent Duck and Weave reflexes. I wonder if he's been playing the soccer game on the Wii Fit? It must be easier in real life to tell the difference between the soccer ball and the shoe, because on the game console I whack my head against the shoe all the time. I bet he'd be able to dodge the panda head too. (Although, that is a pretty disturbing image, children kicking a severed head of a cuddly, endangered animal at you.)

So, like I was saying, it was cold this morning. It's supposed to snow tonight, which will be awesome! I've already made arrangements to work remotely tomorrow so I'm SET. J will be working, so I'll have HOURS to work on my Guitar Hero Career. I mean, on lots and lots of MegaBank activities.

Actually... last night, I played a small two song gig on my career and earned an encore. I played some Linkin Park song that I'd never heard in my life and played it PERFECTLY. 100% of the notes hit! Woo Woo. I'm not at all ready to advance beyond the easy skill level, but I am actually enjoying Guitar Hero. I run out of patience after about 2 hours of it being on... it is loud and our house is so small that even with the door to the back bedroom closed I can't quite get away from it.

I'm hopeful that once we sell our houses, get married, and I get a new job that we'll get a house that is big enough to separate the game room from the primary living space... or big enough to have a quiet TP gal room where I can putter in my own noise when needed.

This isn't a sign of terrible trouble in 'THE RELATIONSHIP" I have always needed a quiet space. As a kid I would have friends over and my mom would notice that my friends were playing without me, and she would find me in my room or taking a nap. I would exile myself for my own "time out".

J is actually really great about this and when I've asked for a break he is kind and understanding. I also acknowledge that I could go home and have quiet, but I would rather be at J's than be alone. I used his address when mailing my x-mas cards which is kind of a back door way to announce that we're living together. At 40, it's really no one's business where I live, so it wasn't intended to be an "announcement" but it has increased my email and telephone inbound communications.

It has been great to talk with everybody. (Oh my, I am rambling on and on...)

So, last tidbit. Work is fine, not much to report, life is good, winter is here, x-mas is upon us. I'm happy happy happy!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sick Night...the revenge

OK, so our sick day the other day was a stretch. Well, for me any way. J was honestly feeling punky and used the day to recuperate. However, taking it easy to stem the tide of an oncoming cold was nothing compared to what we went through last night.

We had folks over for dinner last night and then watched the finale of Survivor (Go Bob!) Half way through the show, J started quietly disappearing into the back of the condo. By the time the show was over he was spending more time in the loo than in the living room.

If all four of us hadn't eaten the same meal, I would have bet that J was suffering from food poisoning. Thankfully (and selfishly) I am not also throwing up and well... the other unfun evacuation from the back end.

I feel for the guy, and there's nothing I can do. I chilled his favorite flavor of Gatorade and keep offering to clean up any mess. He won't let me do it, and I understand. I wouldn't let him do it for me if the roles were reversed.

I didn't have ANYTHING on my work calendar for today so I decided to work from home. I feel a little helpless and basically useless, but I can keep my guy in toast, or whatever foodstuff isn't terribly painful if it comes back up.

We were up most of the night, but he's sleeping peacefully at the moment. (I'm not mean enough to take a photo for you, but trust me, he looks cute all snuggled into bed.) He is getting color back, which is a good thing. A grey, pasty J... NOT PRETTY.

Happy Wintry Monday everyone!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Sick Day

With a cold rapidly approaching (and two use-it-or-lose-it days of sick leave left in my bank) I decided to take it easy today. My poor work ethic was aided by J who is also fighting a little something. I'm sure it is a complete coincidence that we both are sneezy and are reaching for the lotion coated kleenex.

Anywho, we called in sick this morning and then went back to sleep. Waking up at 8:30 was such a treat, and one that rarely happens even on the weekends. We popped a DVD in the player and started to get caught up on Weeds. After a couple episodes we changed out of pj's and into semi-ok street clothes and went to breakfast.

Our weekend breakfast place looked completely different on this late Thursday morning. Imagine that?

We made a quick stop at the Kirkland Sur La Table and then headed back home where the remainder of season one of Weeds was waiting.

Because we are bascially big children we have already broken into the Christmas presents and have also been playing Guitar Hero all afternoon. I had to take a break because our standing Thursday night guests will also be playing and I can't "Rock" for more than two hours at a time. J has much more stamina than I and will be the stronger "player" -- always.

I, however, am cute and intend to bank on this fact until it no longer works for me.

Thankfully, we are experiencing a rare moment of quiet. J is trying to get the Playstation Home feature to work. We have no idea what it is supposed to do, but it was released today so we are super excited. (woo woo)

I did finally shower in anticipation of our guests tonight and have enjoyed my "secret Saturday." Going back to work tomorrow won't be fun or exciting, but it's Friday, so it'll be fine.

The day has been wonderfully relaxing and I hope that the cold doesn't "reimerge" next week. That would be so sad...

Monday, December 08, 2008

Lethargy & The Holidays: A Festivis Miracle

There is very little work to do at my job these days. There are small little bursts of activity which I should be grateful for…but they are sad little tasks that I don't really want to do. One such task is awaiting my attention right now. I am supposed to create a little report for each one of my staff that is 'exiting' so that we can track their exit activities.

Um… ick. It's sad that my sheets look like this:

Name: Joe Employee
MegaBank Manager: Me
More MegaBank Manager: N/A
Current Responsibilities: none
Transition Activities: none
Issues: The function this person was performing has been "absorbed" by MMB and all archived data is available until 1/29/2009.

There have been lots and lots of great and wonderful things that my team has done, but it now means nothing. It is a discouraging reality.

This sad reality also makes my desire to get cracking on this report really small. It's one thing to work on something that says how fantastic and smart your people are, but to basically report that we have been made useless is dreadful.

The days drag on here… thankfully it is the holidays. I wandered downtown today for a bit of shopping. I seem to be doing a good job with my future mother in law (Fmil)but poor Ffil… he's got nothing headed his way. That’s not entirely true, but its close to being true.

I ordered something really great for my dad on 10/31 and the damn thing hasn't arrived yet. If today is not arrival day, I am going to demand a refund. Darned online sellers.

So….as I was saying, work isn't "work" it is a matter of being here long enough during the day to call it a full day's work. The first bus home is at 3:30 and every day I am on it. I am not the employee I want to be right now. Not at all.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Becky & English Beat

Here's Becky and Dave, from English Beat.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Holiday Disclaimer

This was at the bottom of an email from one of J's co-workers:

Please accept without obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral, celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. And in lieu of a Happy New Year... please have a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling, and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2009, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great, (not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country or is the only "AMERICA" in the western hemisphere), and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith, or choice of computer platform of the wishee.

DISCLAIMER OF WARRANTABILITY -- (By accepting this greeting, you are accepting these terms. This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others, and is void where prohibited by law, and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year, or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

"F*cking Lame"

Those of you who know me, know that terrible customer service gets my blood boiling.


I'm not completely unreasonable and I am aware that everyone has a bad day, but there are times that I can't let it go.  The quitting the gym experience was one that bothered me mostly because it was a process set up to be intentionally difficult


J and I pulled together a cross selection of family to dine with the Friday after the Thanksgiving holiday.  We were a party of ten and when I made the reservation (many days in advance) I called the restaurant to ensure it wouldn't be an issue. 


Having dined at Maggiano's Little Italy in Bellevue with a large group I knew they could handle our party.  Well, there are things you know, and things you THINK you know.


The Friday after Thanksgiving might be the craziest time to try and dine out especially at a place connected to a major shopping center, but we all made it to the restaurant and found parking.


Having checked in we were taken back to our table, which was not placed in the main dining room.  The restaurant opened up its banquet rooms and converted them to seating for parties of 10 or more.  We were perfectly happy to be out of the loud dining room and seated ourselves around a large table that was preset with plates, glasses and silverware.


The waiter arrived with 5 menus (there were 10 of us) and proceeded to hand them across the table (rather than walking around to hand them out.) He told us we had to share. 


In looking at the menu we quickly figured out that instead of being given the normal menu we were looking at a family style meal that was a fixed price and that we were supposed to order two of every course for the table.  Honestly, this was a fine way to go and I think we spent less per couple than had we ordered individual items.  My issue is that the server should have explained it.  He handed out the menus and then walked away.


When he returned he asked if we wanted drinks and at that point we asked for the wine list.  The waiter, let's call him Doofus, seemed put out and spun and went to retrieve the wine menu.  J's dad ordered a 3 liter bottle of wine and while we were waiting for it to arrive he and J's mom noticed that their plates were dirty.


I mean dirty, like smeared chocolate on the bottom of the plate and chunky potato gunk on the top of one of the plates.  During the wine arrival a quiet complaint was made about the plates.  Doofus responded with the confused question "oh, do you want new plates?"  Uh, YES.


The main meal service was basically fine, although when a second bottle of wine was ordered, J's dad surprised Doofus by requesting a new glass to taste the wine.  I know, it is unreasonable that you can't just pour the old wine into the half full glass already on the table, but you can't.


The family meal we were enjoying allows for unlimited refills and I would like to take the opportunity to say that we did not ask for seconds of any item.  The reason this is relevant is to show that while we were a large party we weren't running the server back and forth for more pasta, more bread, more, more, more….


We ordered our dessert and the dinner plates were removed and new plates brought out.  They weren't brought to each place setting, but a pile of 10 plates were handed to my future mother in law.  She immediately noticed that they weren't clean.  In fact, they looked like they had only been rinsed. 


At this point, I started to loose it.  None of these individual issues was enough to be upset about, but they just keep adding up and Doofus seemed unequipped to deal with it.    I got up to quietly ask for the manager.  I gave him the run down and said he needed to do something for the table, because the service we were getting was terrible.


While I was in the hall explaining the situation, my fFIL (future Father in Law) grabbed Doofus and rejected the desert plates.   Upon my return Doofus was standing behind a sturdy woman in a white coat (the executive chef) and she was explaining that she was sorry about the plates.  She adjusted the wine off our tab and then she walked away. 


This would have been a nice resolution, but….


The damned deserts were brought out and when Doofus set them on the table he said "will there be anything else?"  I couldn't stop myself from sounding a bit snotty when I said "Oh I guess we'd like some serving spoons or utensils."  This clearly pissed him off because he huffed away and came back with about 80 big spoons that he just set in the middle of the table.


We resumed our meal, enjoying the food (which throughout the meal was great.)  At one point cousin D. excused himself to use the restroom  (he could have gotten up to quietly cover the bill, but he's just a jerk like that….)  and when he was returning to our banquet room he stepped into the hall behind Doofus.  Doofus was complaining to a colleague that he "had the table from hell," and that we were a "bunch of f*cking losers."


Thankfully this wasn't relayed to me until the next day. 


When the bill arrived we noticed that a note was printed on the bottom "For Parties of 10 or more, we add 18% gratuity for your convenience."  I really hate this practice because I think it limits the tips the servers get, but in spite of the terrible service we didn't balk at the addition.  We divided the tab by the number of couples and paid our tab and left.


The next morning, J was doing some math and figured out that there was no way the tip was added.  A seriously not planned waiter stiffing.


I wrote a letter to the manager of Maggiano's to explain my disappointment at our experience and J believes we will get a reply.  Having emailed the letter Saturday and finding myself here Wednesday with nary a peep, I think we have a case of "eh, who cares?" 


I'll let you know if we do, but in the meantime I strongly suggest you find another location for you big post-holiday family get togethers.

Send e-mail faster without improving your typing skills. Get your Hotmail® account.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

The Verdict

As I predicted, my last day with MegaBank is slotted for the end of March. I’m ok with this timeline because it comes with a reasonable severance package. If the new owners of MegaBank follow through with their proposed job offer the dates may change.

I had a not-so-secret wish that the date be closer to summer so that I could justify taking the rest of the year off, but I’m happy with the timing as proposed. I’ll work until spring, and then start looking for a job. Who knows, maybe I’ll have no break and can use my severance to do something wonderful.

That’s the good news. The harder news was that MegaBank had the local managers tell their teams the news about their disposition status. Meaning, I had to sit with each of my team and tell them the decision that someone else made about the future of their employment. In my opinion this was good and bad. It was really awful to deliver hard news that I had no ability to control, but I’m happy that they heard it from me because they know I know how hard they worked and what great people they are.

Having been through the demise of a company before, I’m fortunate to carry the knowledge that life goes on and more work will come. However, I know my circumstances are different from most of my team. I’m a single gal who doesn’t owe much money to anyone and isn’t supporting a family. I can live lean and was already planning to sell my condo; I don’t have the same responsibilities and stresses as the majority of my group.

I’m thankful that I’m going into this with a positive attitude and hope that as the year progresses that I can take the time to enjoy my ‘time off.’ Gosh, maybe my job this summer will be to go to the gym and be the fittest bride on the planet by September. That and hand making party favors. I can see it now, at every place setting at the reception there will be a depiction of the person, made with macaroni and yarn. Doesn’t that sound AWESOME!

Monday, December 01, 2008

Decision Day

MegaBank tells us today how long we can stick around....

My guess is 3/31 and I'm a lucky one. I am ready for any news even 1/31.

I slept like crap last night, stress dreams and multiple periods of awakening. Yuck.

More info as it arrives.