Customer Service



The word “free” sends many of us into a tailspin. I hear “free” and I go for it even if it is the vegan turkey at the Trader Joe’s tasting table (it was terrible, don’t do it). So, when I heard Starbucks was doing a buy one get one free special over the next few days, I had to go. When I got there, I saw no poster advertising the special, and I heard no one else inquire about it. Still I plucked up the courage to ask, the cashier seemed a bit confused but she nodded her head and turned her focus to the cash register. She began to ask me a question when the barista at the espresso machines interrupted with a barrage of complaints about the way the drink cups were marked.

Now, I don’t like poor customer service. I don’t like it one little bit. I smiled at the barista who was making my drink. No smile was returned. I commented, “I don’t believe that’s my drink.” Her response? “I don’t care.” Followed by a string of further insults. This barista was not what you might call pleasant. I would not have wanted to meet her in a dark alley somewhere because I’m certain she would have knifed me, stolen my wallet, kicked me until I was lying on the ground, and then spat in my face. I promise you I’m not exaggerating. Well, maybe just a little.

The cashier was so embarrassed and flabbergasted by the barista’s behavior that she gave me a discount. The barista was so annoyed that she left and stopped making the drinks.

While I was certainly shocked at the behavior of this woman, I felt pretty sad. She was mistreating her coworkers and she obviously hated her job.

This tale of poor customer service reminded me of another one from several years ago. While shopping at Macy’s, my mother found a pair of shoes on the sale rack. To prevent theft or to promote interaction with the sales staff, Macy’s only places one shoe of each pair on the rack. My mum tracked down a sales rep and asked him to find the matching pair. The sales rep disappeared into the back only to return a few minutes later with still only one shoe in hand.

“Ma’am, there is no matching shoe,” he stated.

“Pardon?” my mother asked politely.

“There’s no matching shoe.”

“Oh, well, surely there must be one somewhere. Why else would this shoe be on the rack?”

“You see, ma’am, it’s a mix and match sale.”


“Yes, ma’am. You see, just pick any two shoes and that’s your pair.”

Shocked at the ridiculousness of this statement, my mother said, “May I please see your manager?”

“Certainly, ma’am.”

My mom watched as the young sales associate walked over to the equally young manager, conferred with the manager, and then walked with the manager back to my mom.

The manager spoke up, “Hello, ma’am, yes, today we are having a mix and match sale.”

Frustrated and flabbergasted my mom threw up her arms and left. While she lodged no official complaint, Macy’s had made our list. Poor customer service is simply unacceptable.

As we move into a crazy season of shopping, I know there will be many, many  future incidents of poor customer service, but I do hope there will be even more incidents of smiling faces and holiday cheer.


My Friends Make Me Smarter

I spent a long weekend with four of my best friends (and two of their wee ones). Every time we are together, we have a wonderful time filled with laughter, good food and good company. While I appreciate all of those things, what I appreciate more than anything is hanging out with my friends makes me smarter.

Topics discussed this weekend:

Civil Rights

In January, with this group of friends, I will celebrate 10 years of friendship. I’m thankful for friends who I can constantly learn from.

Much Ado About Nothing



I’m not very good with Shakespeare. Despite loving literature, I’ve always struggled with the Bard’s plays. Even though I’ve read Much Ado About Nothing twice (once in school, once post), have seen it performed on the stage, and seen Kenneth Branagh’s movie version, I still can’t really tell you what it’s about. Now, I’m not completely stupid. I know the play is a love story about two different couples and is full of wordplay and misdirection. I also know that “nothing” and “noting” were homonyms in Shakespeare’s day.

Disregarding the actual plot, I feel I could play the title character in my own version of the play. It would still be a comedy, but rather it would be about how I literally can make a huge deal out of nothing. For instance, yesterday I managed to lose my brand new iPhone in a Marshall’s store. I left the store and as I was driving away, I realized I did not have my phone. Just a week earlier, I had destroyed my last iPhone by washing it in the washing machine for an hour. I was in a panic. I had answered an email while walking around and worried it could be anywhere in the store. Had I put it down on a shelf as I sifted through the home goods section? Maybe it had fallen into a purse as I checked a price tag? Or maybe it had simply slipped out of my pocket as I walked through the store?

I returned to the store trying to keep it together. I could not believe I had already lost my new phone. I waited patiently for a customer service rep to assist me. The store was packed and panic must have been written all over my face as complete strangers came to my aid. The kindest of them was a woman who walked through the entire store with me, calling my number on her cell phone, bending down, standing on her tiptoes, all in an attempt to help me. I was so thankful, but there was still no phone. Then, it dawned on me – I was pick-pocketed. The puffy vest I was wearing had very shallow pockets. It would have been so easy to simply nab my cell phone. I almost accosted a middle-aged man in a wheelchair who was texting on his iPhone.

After 20 minutes of scouring the store, with half a dozen kind souls, I called a halt to the madness. I decided I would head back later with my husband and his phone. I left my information at customer service and began my search of the parking lot. Worried I would find it smashed to pieces on the sidewalk, I resigned myself to the fact that I had lost my new phone.

Back in the car, I began to fight back tears. Mad at myself for being so careless and absentminded, I took a minute to sit before driving off. As I leaned back, I ran my hands along the edge of my seat. My right hand brushed against something metal, and there wedged between my seat and the center console was my phone. Not hidden from sight. Just sitting there, taunting me. I burst into tears. What a huge deal for nothing.

Charleston Haikus


, ,

Four the last four years, my husband and I have visited Charleston once a year. Our dear friends moved down there and instead of calling and end to the friendship we have pursued it through trips. In honor of our visit, I wrote the following haikus for their guest book:



“Charleston Fun”
Time with the Drapers
Means there is fun to be done
And food to enjoy. 

“Charleston – A Haiku”
Sweet tea and Melvin’s
Bring Zoe and Sparky south
But y’all make the trip.
“Things Which Make My Heart Sing”
Monkey Bread, Waffles
Shrimp and Grits, Burgers and Fries
Cake, Ice Cream, Cookies.
“Ode to Anger”
Dominoes flying
We need a Sonic drink break
Happiness restored

Airport Security


, ,

The first time my husband and I flew together we were dating and headed down to Charleston to visit friends. We arrived at the airport, checked in and headed to security. My husband assessed the lines, assessed me, what I was wearing and the amount of hand luggage I had, and promptly announced he’d see we on the other side. At first, I felt a pang of hurt, “Our first trip together and he’s already deserted me!” I later realized that he gets quite stressed during travel, and it’s best that he not have me pointing out people’s outfits or accents. So, instead of protesting, I accepted we’d meet on the other side. That day was the beginning of a competition that I cannot lose.

You see, I am a born traveler. I don’t remember the first time I flew on a plane and I don’t remember the first time I ever went through airport security. But, I know I rocked it. It sounds conceited, but it’s simply the truth. Over our almost five years together, we’ve flown about a dozen times. As of yet, I’m undefeated in our race through the security line. What is exceedingly frustrating to my husband is I don’t even try to win.

For instance, on Friday, we headed to Charleston for another visit with our friends. We checked in, and with boarding passes in hand headed to TSA. We stood together in line until there was a split, and my husband announced, “We’ll see who gets through first.” I was already winning – there were only three people in front of me. I sauntered through security, stopping to talk to four TSA employees, waiting patiently for my turn. As I entered the body scanner, I turned to see my husband in a flutter. The man in front of him, obviously a first time traveler (or at least his first time in DC), was holding up the line and even managed to misplace his boarding pass. I retrieved my belongings, put my shoes on my feet and wandered over to the side. I then stood waiting for my husband for a good seven minutes. You see, my husband likes to wear very, very comfy clothes. Very, very comfy clothes translate to a huge hoody and enormous cargo pants covered in a variety of pockets. Therefore, he is always searched and patted down. On top of that, his name, Zoltan, triggers at least 5 TSA employees to raise their eyebrows.

I can’t be defeated. This fact seems to egg my husband on and drive him to win. Yet, I’m always the one waiting with a glass of champagne in hand, gloating, knowing it may all soon come to an end.

I Wish I Were…


, , , ,

In honor of this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge: I Wish I Were.

Adapted From “I Wish” by Skee-Lo (now in the subjective)

Hey, this is radio station W-S-K-E-E
We’re takin’ calls off the wish line
Making all your wacky wishes come true


I wish I were just a teensy bit taller, just a ¼ inch. Then, I wouldn’t feel guilty when I say I’m 5’6 instead of 5’5 and ¾”. Plus, my husband and I might not look so off in pictures.

I wish I were a baller. Then my husband wouldn’t have to go to work and we could spend all winter in Vermont.

I wish I had a girl who looked good – Oh, but I do…

I wish I had a rabbit in a hat with a bat and a ’64 Impala. Really, who needs a ’64 Impala when you have a ’92 Wrangler.

Oh, I wish I were…

The Excitement Continues


, , ,

On Wednesday, I wrote a muddled post about my excitement this week. The excitement continues but I have a new perspective on this emotion.

Last night, around 300 of us gathered to celebrate the Mehndi/Henna Celebration for Kalsoom’s wedding. There were reunions for all different groups of people. Kalsoom and her fiancé Jay welcomed family members, friends from childhood, from high school, from college, from graduate school, from trips, from work, and from life in and around DC. For the first time ever, most of the people they love in the world are in the same place at the same time. What a great reason to be excited and to celebrate!

While Kalsoom’s excitement was more than contagious, I was reunited with another friend last night who said something that really stuck with me. I had not seen Farah since we graduated from high school in Islamabad more than twelve years ago. She mentioned how it’s hard to explain to an outsider how significant it is for any of us from our high school to reunite. It doesn’t matter how close you were then or how in touch you are, but the shared experiences of living in Islamabad and attending the International School of Islamabad are enough to bond you for a lifetime.

Another friend, Asif, commented that all of us who were there from our high school looked relatively the same. There’s something comforting in the knowledge that I could have recognized any of these old friends if I had seen them on the street.

The excitement continues as we celebrate Kalsoom and Jay’s marriage and wedding reception tomorrow. It’s going to be LEGEND…Wait for it…

There’s Fun to be Done!

These are exciting times…

Firstly, my parents arrive in just a few hours. I have not seen them since February, so the I’m bursting at the seams. As a result, I am bustling about the house and creating a flurry of energy. The animals are mimicking my behavior by acting insane and chasing me from room to room. Well, the cats really don’t pay any attention to me, but they do watch the dog with great entertainment.

Then, in just one very short day, the wedding celebrations for one of my very best friends begin. There is also a flurry of excitement around that as we learn dances, see old friends and primp for all the different occasions. There is little that is more special than a friend’s wedding (especially when you also like the guy she’s marrying :).

Yesterday, one of my best friends from high school arrived for said wedding. I had not seen him in for almost two years. We made a couple pit stops so that he could set foot in his old stomping ground of McLean. But the thing he got most excited about were the trees on GW Parkway. He even commanded me to pull over at one point so he could get out and switch seats with the bride who was sitting in the front. For those who may never have never driven on the GW Parkway, there is no shoulder, no sidewalk. Just traffic or the Potomac.

In just nine days, my husband and I head to Charleston to visit old friends and to eat barbecue and drink sweet tea. Of all of the things above, I think my husband is most excited about this one. By the time we get back from Charleston, we’ll be in full Thanksgiving mode and my parents will still be here with us!

So, on this day when there is so much to prepare for, I’ve ruined my iPhone by washing it in the washing machine, the vacuum cleaner doesn’t want to work, and the woodpecker pecking away at our house is no longer scared of me.

I feel like my five-year-old self on Christmas morning. I’m so excited I can hardly eat, sleep or drink. There is too much fun to be done!


I’m bored’ is a useless thing to say. You live in a great, big, vast world that you’ve seen none percent of. And even the inside of your own mind is endless. It goes on forever inwardly. Do you understand? Being the fact that you’re alive is amazing, so you don’t get to be bored.

Comedian Louis C.K. captured perfectly what my parents told me from the time I was a young child. To paraphrase them – being bored is reflection of your own character and personality; there is so much that you can do, now go do it.

In the Name of Love


, ,

I can be a snob. I try to rein it in and not let it show, but sometimes it oozes out of me. Most of my snobbery is utter silliness. On more than one occasion I have been known to stand outside an objectionable store rather than go in it (silliness). I have rejected any red wine below 13.5% with no reason other than my mother told me to (silliness – but mothers do know best). I have removed tags from clothing of brands I don’t like (silliness – so many people look at the tags on my clothes). But, the place I believe my snobbery is most justified is with regard to food. I want to make everything that I serve in my home and I want to make it with the best ingredients available. This, of course, is not always possible. And since I am no gourmet cook, there are often poor results in the kitchen. While others may think this is ridiculous, I have accepted it and embraced it with the knowledge that while I am no gourmet, I am indeed a gourmand. For me, food brings great pleasure.

For a few months now, my husband has been asking me to make one of his favorite dishes. I have done my best to put it off, but I no longer can. Today, I succumbed. I “made” my husband green bean casserole.

To add insult to injury, I also “made” him Kraft macaroni and cheese with fried SPAM (my lip involuntarily curled upward and my nostrils flared as I wrote that last part).

I do it all for love.