A Confused Business Model.

I had a first happen to me this week. I strolled out of Samurai Sushi on Vancouver’s Davie Street with a full stomach, as I so often do when I’m in this part of the world, and noticed a clothing shop that caught my eye–which shall remain nameless on this blog for lack of free advertising. As I tried to enter, I was immediately greeted by a super metro/emo shop employee, who asked if I was there to see Fiona (name has been changed).

When I replied that no, I was simply browsing, he explained how Fiona is one of the best in the business, and that she has the magical quality of knowing exactly what every customer will look great in. Confident in my own style, I politely declined a second time and took a step towards a particular shirt that I wanted to investigate further. Apparently, my second decline was a battle cry, as I was told by the clerk that browsing was not allowed in this store. In other words, it’s Fiona or the highway. He also made clear that she knows European styles, as if that was supposed to impress someone who, unbeknownst to him, has already been to Europe 4 times since 2012 began.

Just as I was about to walk out, a middle-aged woman with gray hair stormed at me, and in a heavy-German/Scandinavian accent, asked where I was from. “DC,” I replied…and she immediately told me that she had been to DC, she knows the styles there, etc. Given that I had to get going, I wasn’t interested in a full consultation, and so I continued to exit…to some grumbling under this woman’s breath.

My business mind was churning. I understand that business is all about differentiation, and if this woman does in fact have a gift for styling and wants to sell that service, that’s great for her. I can say for sure that what I experienced was “different”. However, by being so aggressive, she may be alienating two-thirds of her potential client base–especially people like me, who simply don’t like being told what to do or what to like. I can’t recall how many times that I’ve been traveling, walked into a clothing shop that caught my eye, and purchased something (often more expensive than I would have otherwise) on impulse. I kept thinking…if this woman was not interested in any of that sort of retail traffic, but only on her styling services…why would she bother paying rent in one of Vancouver’s pricier neighborhoods? I suspect the average passerby who wanders in is not going to take too kindly to such an aggressive, abrasive sales approach.

I’m curious to find out more about this shop and how it performs. This business must be heavily dependent upon referral business, in which case, it might as well safe itself the pricey rent, and save unaware passersby from a potentially humiliating run-in with the shop’s staff.

-TR

Navigating IDspiration.

Today marks the official launch of IDspiration. While there is content posted here dating as far back as 2005, the entries up to this point were posted on other blogs I manage. I have grown a lot since my first days writing, but I wanted to make sure that whatever I wrote before did not go to waste.

Please use the navigational categories to your right to zero in on content that you are particularly interested in, or just enjoy the overall site browsing or via a subscription.

Thanks for visiting!

-SK

A “Wish I Could Have That Back” Moment.

Setting:  Yakitori Taisho; 5 St. Mark’s Place; East Village, NYC

Time:  Friday, February 12, 2010; 10:04pm EST

Synopsis:  A “Wish I Could Have That Back” Moment…

So I walk into Yakitori Taisho with my friend Melinda.  It’s a really narrow space, and there’s always a line.  There are a few groups in front of us, and the waitress comes up and asks if any of us would like to be seated immediately two doors down at “O Taisho”, their partnering restaurant with the same menu.  A few groups take up the offer, but I choose to wait, as I have a particular affinity for the ambience of the original Yakitori Taisho.  The group behind us, consisting of two guys and a girl, deliberately chooses to wait too.

The prelude to the blown opportunity that was to come happened early.  After we had been waiting about 15 minutes or so, two girls had just finished paying their bill and were headed for the door.  One of the two, who happened to be attractive, reached for her coat and accidentally knocked over a small plastic brochure holder, scattering three or four brochures onto the floor near the entrance.  The holder itself actually landed on the shoe of one of the guys in the group behind us, who we’ll call D.B. (Douchebag).  Rather than reach down and pick the thing up, D.B. proceeds to stop his conversation mid-sentence, glance up and to the left towards the ceiling, almost as though to pretend he didn’t even notice.  The girl, clearly embarrassed, started making a move  to fetch the holder, but she couldn’t get his attention as she was standing behind him, and he would have to physically move to give her an alley.  Keep in mind, she wasn’t one of these pretentious girls who was just waiting for the guy to help her out—she was clearly trying to grab it herself, but couldn’t really get the guy’s attention to say “excuse me.”

After 5 or 10 awkward seconds, I look at the other guy, who was speaking to D.B. and who is also in the way, as if to ask with my glance if he’s going to do something.  With no response, I take a step between then, start to dip my shoulder towards the brochures on the ground, at which blatant cue the other guy who’s still in the way squats down and picks everything up.  D.B. has yet to acknowledge the situation.  This rubbed me the wrong way.

A few minutes later we get seated, in the very back of the restaurant.  Because this place is so small, but so incredibly good, they have a room in the back to accommodate overflow crowd.  To get there, you have to walk through the part of the kitchen where they clean dishes and store supplies.  The room itself is exactly the same as the rest of the seating areas.  Not two minutes after we’re seated, the trio that was behind us in line goes to the table immediately next to us. Because this place is so small, the tables are no more than 12 inches apart, too.

The next 10 minutes are soiled by the fact that D.B., who we would come to find out lives in New York (the other guy had just flown into town that day from Alaska visiting), laments about how “ghetto” the restaurant (which he suggested they go to and which he chose to wait 30 minutes for a seat in) is. “I’ve never seen a place where you have to walk through the kitchen to sit” (in a snobby, arrogant, he-stole-my-purple-skittle tone).  No sooner is he done with that comment does he start talking about how “ghetto” the restaurant he had eaten at the previous night was.  By this point I already wanted to punch him in the nose, and would have been justified in doing so.

As they start perusing the menu, D.B. starts talking with an aficionado’s tongue about the different Japanese dishes on offer. This is a very authentic, traditional Japanese place, run by Japanese people primarily for Japanese people, and as such has some menu offerings not seen at the typical suburban Benihana’s.  Trying to be the big shot host New Yorker (though he’s clearly a transplant), D.B. starts talking about the most exotic dishes on the menu as though he invented them—it was truly a sound to behold.  So one of the entrees they decide upon is the Tofu Karage salad, which is basically jellyfish and tofu mixed with some Japanese vegetables.

The dish comes out, and it smells very strongly of the Japanese vegetables.  If only I could describe the look on D.B.’s face as he took a whiff—imagine the smell of rotten cheese-infused sweaty socks.  The dish didn’t smell like that, mind you…it smelled exactly how it is supposed to smell.  But the look on his face. Clear of the waitress, D.B. starts looking mischievously at his friends, and asks the fateful question (in a tone matching the way Butt-head used to speak to Beavis): “Do you guys, uhhhh, want to pay for this?”

You already know what’s coming.  A minute or two later, after the dish has been played with and touched and twirled, the waitress comes back with another entrée, and D.B. says (in the same tone): “Uhhh…I don’t think we ordered this.”

Wow.

This is when I very blatantly should have stepped in and said something. If not for the sheer imbecility of trying to show off in front of your friends and then trying to rip the poor waitress off, throw in the story from earlier when he wouldn’t pick up the brochure holder that fell on his foot. Making it worse, the waitress, being Japanese, was clearly distraught at getting the order wrong. She was puzzled and slightly frantic, bringing back a menu and pointing at the item and saying “I’m pretty sure this is what you ordered,” only to be met with a scornful shaking of the head by D.B. and his “nope, we definitely didn’t order this” reply. When the waitress walked away and the Alaskan visitor, who in his defense seemed to be an innocent bystander in all of this (the girl companion actually went along with the let’s say we didn’t order this plan), expressed slight remorse, D.B. assuredly said “don’t worry, they will just write it off as a mistake—the restaurant won’t make her pay.” What a thoughtful, generous soul.

I really couldn’t take any more of this, but my avoid-conflict mechanism kicked in, and I couldn’t bring myself to say anything to D.B.  So I walked as if going to the bathroom and made a bee line for the front of the restaurant, where three waitresses, including ours and the person who appeared to be the head waitress, were talking. Our waitress was clearly frustrated at the questioning, so I poked my head in and say “they definitely ordered it—we heard the whole thing.” I’m thankful that I said this in front of the head waitress, as I found out later that our waitress would indeed have had to pay out of her pocket for the ‘mistaken’ entrée—all $6.75 of it.

Melinda and I then debated if they would actually take the charge off the bill, as she, working in service, said they have to live by the “customer is always right” mantra. I argued that they should just keep the charge on there, given that it would take a double douchebag to not only lie once, but then lie even more deeply a second time to dispute a charge on the actual bill.  When I asked the waitress later, she said that they just kept the charge on, and the trio didn’t dispute it.  This made me feel a lot better, as though justice had been served, and the waitress (and even a male worker who was brining an entrée out to another table) thanked me multiple times for speaking up.

However, while the problem seemed solved in the micro level, as soon as I walked out of the restaurant, I realized that I had blown a golden opportunity to save so many poor waitresses and service people in the future. After all, while I got this particular waitress off the hook, D.B. walked out of that restaurant never knowing what an asshole he is. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that he probably lives his live like this every day, and apparently nobody points it out to him.  Had I called him out then and there, to his face, not only would he have been embarrassed beyond belief and looked like a total ass in front of his friends…he may have actually taken the experience to heart and thought twice before pulling such a cowardly dick move the next time. If I would have known for certain at the time that the waitress would have been charged I would probably have been more inclined to confront him, but I still chickened out. As the scenario kept playing around in my head, I realized that the perfect solution would have been to just take $7 bucks out of my wallet when I first heard them debating about whether they’d say they didn’t order the dish, hand it to him, and say “really guys? It’s seven bucks divided by three of you. Two-thirty three each. It’s just not that serious. Here’s the seven bucks, just give the poor girl a break.”

Had I done that, not only  would he have not taken the money, since that would be the ultimate slap in his own face…he might have actually learned something. Thought about what a dipshit he is for one second.  Maybe not.  But even if he did take the money, just having that potential would have been well worth it to me. More than anything, I would have been saving him from himself.  Think about people who are exceedingly cheap, and I’m not talking about being frugal with money.  It’s one thing to not spend a lot because you want to save, which means that you may limit your spend on luxury items, eating out, drinking, whatever.  But it’s a completely different thing when you choose to do those ‘luxury’ things, such as eating out, and then screw the people who are serving you. If you can’t afford to tip, or to pay for a meal properly, nobody will blame you for that—but just don’t go to the restaurant.  People who do that, just imagine what it actually saves them over the course of a month—a few bucks, maybe $20 or $30 max—in assorted tips?  Are the dirty looks and the total ass you make of yourself on a daily basis really worth enduring to save a measly $20 bucks?

Ahhh…how I wish I would have handed D.B. seven bucks and called it a day. I am no hero.  But I could have been.

-KS

Valentine’s Day.

To all of you who had a lonely, self-pitying, empty, unfulfilled, wallowing, lowly-anticipated and highly-disappointed, or any combination of the preceding, Valentine’s Day…fret not good sirs and ma’ams. For each one of you, there were two others who had to fake their way through the entire day, pretending to feel something they don’t.  And two others on top of those who did give or receive something nice, only to be disappointed and ultimately upset that it wasn’t something better.

I’m just saying…everyone who is in a relationship isn’t happy in the relationship. It isn’t always what it appears to be from the outside, so don’t compare yourself to others. Be patient and you can find the person you’d actually want to surprise on Valentine’s Day.

Consulting Firm, Insulting Firm.

Consulting firms.

Ah, yes…the dream employers of 50-75% of undergraduates everywhere. And 75-90% of graduate business students. And why?

Good salaries. Benefits. Frequent flyer miles. Hand-holding. And the all-important “experience on a résumé”.

But have you ever thought about the sheer nature of what a consulting firm provides? Or how they are able to become the shiny employer on the hill for America’s best and brightest?

Salaries? Easy. High billing rates, paid for by the client. Benefits? High billing rates, paid for by the client. Flights and hotels? Travel expenses, paid for by the client.

And hand-holding and experience? Paid for by the…client?

Interesting conundrum, isn’t it?

Think about the business—say it’s a print shop—that hires the consulting firm. What do we know about it? Well, it must have some income history, if it can afford the consulting firm’s fees. And it must have a founder, who must have some kind of expertise in his field. And some moxie, to found the company and partake in an entrepreneurial venture. And some business savvy, to sustain the company to the point at which it hires the consulting firm.

So facing a short-term cash shortage because of overstaffing and a problem in accounts receivable, they put the retainer fee on the table and bring on the consulting firm. Who gets staffed on the project?

A couple of 22-year-old Business majors who just graduated from JMU, a 40-something mid-level manager who has spent the past 16 years with the firm and, for PR purposes, a junior partner in the firm who has an MBA from NYU and has spent 25 years consulting.

Let’s break this down. The two Business majors, while bright, have no experience in the printing business, and no experience running, or even managing, a business. And they are being paid a high billing rate, travel and four-star hotel expenses to tell the print shop business owner with 20 years of experience in the printing industry and the experience of founding and sustaining a business venture (or two) how to run his business.

The mid-level manager has been with the firm for 16 years, working in a variety of practices, but has been staffed on this project to focus on the staffing side. He is ultimately the one who’s going to tell the business owner which positions, and individuals, he can eliminate, even though he has never actually spent any sustained period of time at the company to see who has been playing around online all day, who has contributed the most innovative ideas, and who has the best work ethic. Not the business owner, who has a sample period of several years to make these evaluations.

And the junior partner (with the same concept applying to the mid-level manager) has 25 years of industry experience. What does it say about his business “savvy” to have that much experience, and yet still have the company take 80% of what his work alone earns for the company (since most individual consultants only take home about 20% of the revenue from their billable hours). If you have that much experience, and do not have the business sense or contacts to be able to build your own client base, you most certainly should not be in a position to advise anyone else on how to run a business. It wouldn’t take any start-up capital to go into business as an independent consultant, and with that much experience, it shouldn’t even take any income lapse (as you could be setting up the clientele for your individual break-off even while working for the firm).

Besides these personnel issues, the loyalty of the consulting firm itself is to itself. It is in the best interests of the firm to sustain the greatest amount of business for the longest period of time. So there is no incentive for the firm to try to resolve the issues as quickly and efficiently as possible, as this is costing the firm billable hours and sustained revenue generation.

Just seems like an interesting dynamic. The 20 year business owner paying high retainer fees, billing rates and travel expenses so that the 22-year-olds can get “real life” business experience and frequent-flyer mile-inspired vacations, and the 16- and 25-year consulting firm veterans can continue to rest on their laurels, which aren’t based on any business expertise, as if they had that they would be working independently on similar business. Consulting? Or Charity?

Is there a tax write-off for fees paid consultancies?

The Double-Edged Sword of Relationships.

Sometimes, I fear that my worst trait is passion. Childlike optimism. Or that belief that that amazing story actually can happen to me. That I can be the star of that role, even on some small scale on some miniature stage. That not just some, but all of the pieces can fit together.

But with each day that I encounter, that passion sours just a little bit. That optimism fades. And while I know I can in fact be the star of my own play, and that the storyline may be generally happy, it’s not going to be quite so amazing or inspiring.

Ho, hum.

Finding a partner for life is not easy. Someone who we can see in their most disheveled, stinky, frazzled state at the same time as we are in our most stressed, pissed off, or generally disinterested state and still want to place our hands on their cheeks and kiss them passionately. Or fight through traffic to pick them up at work. Or actually learn about their day, and why they are so disheveled, stinky, frazzled, stressed, pissed off or generally disinterested.

I want to find someone who I feel all of those things for. Who I feel a special bond with. Who I always want to hang out with. Who I think about when I experience something unique or inspiring, wishing they could be there to share the moment with me. Who attracts me physically in such a way that the slightest hint of the thought of the anticipation of the way in which they might think about touching me when I get home makes me unable to stand up from my desk. Natural, unadulterated, soft and gentile yet violent combustion. Someone who can read my subtle feelings, my understated thoughts. Who reminds me of things I forgot, and forgets things that I remember. Someone who would make the lemonade extra sweet for me, or send a message just to tell me she’s thinking about me just because she’s thinking about me.

This isn’t easy to find. But sometimes it happens easily. And when it happens easily, I now know that there will always be something to prevent it from really happening.

I’ve felt that before. Naturally. I’ve felt it without fully knowing the person—in fact, without knowing them well at all. But it was a natural spark and passion and pull and push that told me I had to get to know them more. That I had to be close to this person.

And yet, when it feels so right…insecurity feels wrong. And since it was so natural for us…there must be others.

So what does she do? Cuddle up next to the guy who’s always around. Who she doesn’t really feel that strong of a natural chemistry with. But he makes her feel comfortable. He’s non-threatening. He’s available, always. He doesn’t make her stretch the slightest inch out of her comfort zone, and she likes that.

But you can’t find passion if you don’t extend beyond your comfort zone. I want that unique, once-in-a-lifetime kind of love.

The funny thing is, if this was really the person she is supposed to be with, then why did she warm up to you in the first place? Why was she so interested in getting to know you? Why was she even in a position to allow that spontaneous combustion to happen?

BECAUSE SHE IS NOT SATISFIED. But she also doesn’t want to take a chance. To walk outside of her familiar comfort zone. To experience something extraordinary.

No relationship is easy. Every relationship takes work.

But the feeling of knowing when you’ve found that person should be easy. It should flow naturally. It shouldn’t be cognitive. It shouldn’t be slow to develop. Lord knows that even if we find that natural chemistry, there are still a thousand other factors that must fall into place for the long-term relationship to work. But if we don’t feel that vibe right away, we need to move on. The person who thinks their way into a relationship is the person who subsequently ruins that relationship and people’s lives in the process.

When you DO feel that vibe, you pursue it. And if it doesn’t work, you move on. But give it your best. That feeling doesn’t come around often, and letting it run away is a gamble that it will come back around, because it may well not.

“Guns Don’t Kill People”…

This is going to be a short one, because quite frankly I’m too drained to write a lot. I just finished reading about a 17-year old Los Angeles kid who was shot two Sundays ago, 100 feet from his front door. For no reason. Football star, good grades, stayed away from gangs, and was being recruited by Stanford. Two bangers rolled up behind him, asked him where he was from, and since he didn’t reply…bang bang. Twice in the head. The following Tuesday, a 6-year old was shot while riding in the back of his family’s car, also in LA. Two days later, a 13-year old was killed while picking lemons off the tree in his front yard.

Coincidence that these are all shooting deaths?

I have heard the argument that “guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” And it makes me effing sick. Sure, it might be technically true. But if people didn’t have guns, maybe they wouldn’t kill people with them. Of course there’s always going to be those who get their hands on one. But the number of innocent people killed by legally-acquired guns is astounding, and disgusting. Gun possession should be illegal. Period.

Why Erin is Voting for Obama.

I know everyone hates political talk, but I got this e-mail from my friend Erin from high school, and had to post it somewhere…good writing is good writing and she put too much into it, so I figured if a few more people can see it thanks to me, that’s not a bad thing…

(05 Feb 08)

I regret having been as quiet and complacent as I was in 2004, and as clueless in 2000. I have had an internal debate over whether or not to write something political…I know some people will disagree, I know people don’t care. I try not to engage in political discussions because of the toxic nature of politics today.

Well, oh well. Here’s why I am voting for Barack over Hillary. If you are short on time, scroll down to the prose part.

Specific Policy Positions:
1) Obviously Iraq. He stood up against it during his Senate race.
2) I hope for a single-payer health-care plan, but I think the individual mandate is a stupid idea.
3) I think we should re-think our Cuba policy.
4) I think we should re-think or approach to diplomacy.
5) I think undocumented immigrants should have access to drivers’ licenses, and anything else than can help them live and work with dignity and safety here.
6) I think Obama will handle women’s issues as well or better than Hillary (in other words, I don’t think Hillary will be any better on this simply because she is a woman).

Other practical matters:
1) I think Obama will be far better received abroad, as a multi-cultural symbol, as a symbol of change, as a leader open to diplomacy. As a bonus to his character and demeanor, he has lived and has family abroad.
2) I think he will be better received by Republicans and will work better across the aisle.
3) I think he has a far better chance of beating McCain – because of his consistent position against the war – some Republicans are already crossing over.
4) I think he will be amazing for the Democratic party.

Hillary:
1) I don’t think all “35 years” count as experience
2) She has been triangulating for too long
3) I think she would make a far more competent president than Bush, but I think she would sell us out too often.
4) She makes a competent, but not a gifted leader. We need to do better than that.

This brings me to the most important thing. I was 19 years old when Bush was elected. I am now 27. My adult life has been defined by this madness – a long process of disillusionment and growing resentment toward this country, our process, toward America, really, sadly, because this is what I have known. My little brother was 12, he is now 19. He has grown up during a time of war. The under 30-crowd is turning out in record numbers because we don’t want this to be our legacy. Our future is uncertain. We are fed up.

I have never in my life experienced the deep sense of utter fatigue that I have felt from Americans this year. It is emotional. It is psychological. We have been told that our votes, our opinions, our constitution don’t matter. We have been convinced that lies and fear rule. Many of us strongly consider moving abroad. We pretend we are Canadian when we travel. Our government promotes speculation on our health, our homes, our educations, our retirements. It is not empty rhetoric to say that we are broken as a people. We are deeply tired and deeply sad. We want our dignity back, we want to heal.

That is why this election matters so much. It is not high-flying overly idealistic rhetoric to say that we need to truly re-engage each other, and understand that our government is US. Our democracy, our future depends on it. Barack Obama believes this, and Hillary doesn’t come close. Words and ideas DO matter. The ability to move a crowd, the courage to say things that no politicians think can be said – that is not just charisma – that is not just “yeah he does speak well” – that is gifted leadership. That is what we need.

Look at what the rhetoric of fear has done. The power of an idea that becomes an emotion, and then a reality. Why not the rhetoric of hope? of unity? The other side has had control of words and ideas for too long.

It matters that we collectively remember that we are supposed to be, that we HAVE to be looking out for each other, for a social good, because that is where good policy comes from. Inspiration matters and character matters. We need a truly transformative leader and we are fortunate beyond all belief to have one running for president.

That is why I am voting for Barack Obama.

***

You have to see this is you haven’t. Michelle Obama’s speech at UCLA rally is badass. She is speaking without a script. Here is the best link I could find for it:

http://barackfuture.com/2008/02/04/michelle-obamas-amazing-speech-at-ucla/

the whole event can be found on CSPAN:

rtsp://video.c-span.org/archive/c08/c08_020308_obama.rm?start=0:35:37

Highlights of Michelle’s speech if you don’t have time to watch it:
1) Barack’s state legislature and community organizing experience translate into a clear understanding of how federal policy affects local and state realities. Having worked as an advocate at a local coalition, that is HUGE.
2) Michelle and Barack are only 3 years out of paying off their education debt, and they are only out because of his book sales. No trust funds. No sense of entitlement.
3) If you didn’t know, he was first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. He is utterly capable.

AND if you haven’t seen the Yes We Can Video:

the artist Will.I.am was inspired by the speech, called his friends, made the video 2 days and posted it independently on the internet.

“Nothing can stand in the way of million of voices calling for change.”

Vote tomorrow or when it’s your turn. If you dig it, get online, get on the phone, SPREAD THE WORD. Put yourself out there, that is what this will take.

“In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.”

Peace,
Erin

Bad Decisions.

I don’t know what was with me today.

I’m usually a pretty decisive guy, in control of things. A risk-taker in some aspects, which occasionally backfires for sure, but still a good decision maker overall.

Not today.

I think I made about 20 decisions today. And about 20 of the wrong ones. And the day’s not over yet, so at this rate who knows where and in what kind of condition I’ll end up this night.

Setting: Vancouver, BC, Canada…8:50am

Destination: Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, 1:57pm flight

I’m doing good at this point, and as the weather is absolutely glorious in Vancouver, I decide to cruise up towards downtown for one last glimpse. Knowing my fascination with airplanes, I get diverted driving by the airport to watch a few planes come in. What I think is 5 or 10 minutes turns into 30. Stayed too long. Bad decision.

So then I decide I’m already halfway to Queen Elizabeth Park, a pretty cool vantage point of Vancouver, the downtown skyline and the snow-capped mountains beyond. As I’m getting closer and closer to the park, I even turned off at one point thinking “this is a bad idea.” But I can’t leave well enough alone. The guy in me takes over, and I figure “hey, I’ve already come this far.” So off towards Queen E I continue. Bad decision.

I get to the park, wander around for 10 minutes, and then start to get a sense of urgency. But I really have to pee at this point. And this is vulgar, so divert your eyes now if you’re squeamish, but peeing outside is just SO much more satisfying. So I decide to run back by the airport, rather than getting straight on the freeway, to get one more glimpse of the city, the airplanes and the beautiful day. And if I go to the park I have in mind, I can get a nice good pee in off in the bushes. Bad decision. The pee was great. But that’s 15 more minutes down the drain.

Finally I’m (trying) to make a bee line for Seattle, and it’s after 10am. I need gas though, which is more expensive in Canada by far. I pull off at the first gas station I see, which happens to be right in front of some train tracks. I haven’t seen a train EVER in Vancouver. So I’m getting some gas, and RIGHT when I pull out, the red lights flash, the bells chime, and the gates come down. Two locomotives drone by, followed by about 100 cars….ten more minutes down the drain. And then I see another gas station, cheaper too, about 10 feet beyond the tracks. If I went there initially, I saved ten minutes. And a few bucks. Bad decision.

By this point I’m on the freeway, speeding towards the border. I am approaching the last break-off point where you can either stay on the highway and cross at the Peace Arch, or exit and go to the truck crossing (Pacific Crossing). My gut is telling me that the truck crossing is quicker, but I hesitate just a SECOND too long, and the exit is gone. So I’m stuck at the Peace Arch, which ends up taking about 30 minutes longer than the “10 minute wait” advertised at Pacific Crossing. Bad decision. Even in line at the border, I choose the ONE lane where the customs officer is opening every trunk…so cars are whizzing by me on both sides. Bad decision.

Cruising now, trying to ignore the obvious bucking of displeasure by my rented Dodge Charger for doing 90, and it’s getting time for gas again. And I REALLY gotta pee. I’m trying to hold it until JUST a close enough distance to where I won’t have to fill up again before I return it in Seattle…since by this point I’ll be lucky to have time for ONE gas stop, with no shot at two. I finally see an exit that looks good with the gas sign, just hoping the station is right off the exit. Bad decision. I get off, wait at a red light behind a log truck for about TEN minutes, and then find that the gas station has NO GAS! So I wait another 5 minutes at the light, SPEED back onto the freeway to the next exit, where I fill up (relatively quickly).

So I’m approaching Seattle, and I’m coming up to the I-5/405 split. Both go the same place, with 5 cutting through downtown and maybe a mile or two shorter. Intuitively I’m thinking that 405 would be best though, because it’s less urban…but I stick with 5. Bad decision. About 10 minutes later I come to a dead stop. Traffic.

Now I’m pretty much resigned to missing my flight, and my gut is telling me to just relax, take the car downtown (I already paid for the whole day, anyway), and just check out Seattle and relax. But I’m still stubborn, holding out hope of making the flight, so I continue speeding to the rental car place, and return the car. Bad decision. I actually got in the VAN from the rental car place to the airport at 1:30pm—for a 1:57pm flight. By the time I arrive at the airport, it’s 1:40. I’m thinking MAYBE if I carry on my bags, I can run to catch the flight. I call Alaska Airlines, and the agent says there’s no cut-off with the e-check in kiosks as long as I’m not checking bags. That sounds strange to me, but I believe her anyway. Bad decision. When I go to check in at 1:40pm, it tells me I’m too late.

So now I’m stuck with 11 hours to kill until the next flight, with no more car, and not a damn thing to do. I work out my flight arrangements so I can get a flight that night (which will cost me an unnecessary $120 plus a night’s sleep), and then decide to go back to the hotel I stayed at last time I was here to chill in the lobby and get some work done (where I’m writing this blog). Finally a decent decision.

But the day’s not over. Around 6pm I’m starting to get hungry. I could eat at the bar in the hotel, or go across the street, where there’s a Jack-in-the-Box, a Denny’s, and some random diner. I decide to go to Denny’s. Bad decision. Not only is it the most expensive Denny’s I’ve ever seen…the salad that comes with my meal is absolutely DOUSED in thousand island dressing, to the point where I couldn’t even eat it. Turns out, the food at the hotel was just as cheap, and much better.

So not only is the food decision poor, but the time management is too. I find out that the hotel has a shuttle to the SouthCenter Mall, which is close by. If I was thinking of this earlier, I could have gone over there around 3 or 5, chilled until 5 or 7, gotten some food, and seen more of the place (the shuttle is every two hours). But since I waste my time and money at Denny’s, I end up with only enough time to catch the 7pm shuttle…with a pick-up at 9. Not only would I not want to spend that much time there…but also that return is going to be cutting it too close to my alternate flight. And I’m sure as hell not missing another flight today. So because of this (hopefully last) bad decision for today, I’m sitting here writing this blog instead. Which probably is a bad decision, as I’m probably missing some million-dollar giveaway shopping spree/wet t-shirt contest at the mall or something.

This sucks.

Oh, and I decided to pass up the Jack-in-the-Box Oreo shake after dinner, too. Which could be a bad decision or a good decision. Guess the jury’s still out on that one. But I know which one I’d bet on…

Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

I must be getting old. So I have this box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch in the cabinet, becuase I sometimes just can’t pass it up in the grocery store. The box looks too appealing and lures me in. But I usually stick with Cheerios.

So it just so happens that there’s no Cherrios in the cupboard this morning, so I finally open up that box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch that’s been sitting there for a rainy day. I pour the cereal, I pour milk on the cereal, and I start to savor the cinnamony goodness…except I find it kind of nasty. Whoa. Where did that come from? Anyway, I guess I just can’t do it any more…

The question is, is my relationship with Cookie Crisp over too? Do they still even make Cookie Crisp?