Thursday, April 25, 2013

Guilty Pleasures That I’m Tired of Feeling Guilty About… What’s Yours?

            Coming from a Jewish mother and a Catholic father, it was inevitable. Smack! A double whammy of guilt from the time I was born. And if you couple that with the fact my father converted to Judaism when he married my mother, we might need to bring the tally up to a triple whammy of guilt.

            So is it any surprise I am wracked with guilt over things I should instead be proudly embracing? Take, for example, my nudity. I admit it—I walk around in the buff after showering. What better way to let my body (and my deodorant) dry off before putting on my clothes? It used to drive my roommate crazy when I lived in Hell’s Kitchen, as I’d scurry back and forth from the bathroom to my bedroom to get ready for work. Now that I live alone, I’ve even been known to do the dishes and make breakfast in my birthday suit. An old boyfriend used to tease me claiming the neighbors were watching, and I started to wonder. I thought to myself, “I really should grow up. It’s time to buy a bathrobe.” So I did—a plush, velvety red one—and it’s stayed on the hook on the back of the door ever since. I don’t know what made me think wearing a robe would make me feel “grown up.” Adulthood is all about freedom, and that silly thing just made me feel constrained.

And here’s another one… cartoons. And I’m not talking about the cool ones everyone watches on Adult Swim, although for the record, I love those too. “Aqua Teen Hunger Force” rules. Who doesn’t love a character named Frylock that’s literally a box of french fries? No, the cartoons I’m talking about are the good, old fashioned ones from back in the day. You know, like “Curious George” and “Scooby Doo.” I’m also a fan of the more modern day cartoons such as “Dinosaur Train.” When I have a bout of insomnia, nothing calms my nerves more than watching a show with a cute little monkey or a giggling dog who solves mysteries. People have said my laugh at times reminds them of Scooby, which I take as a huge compliment, thank you very much! As for “Dinosaur Train,” I used to love going to the Museum of Natural History in NYC with my parents and this show just brings out the kid in me—and it’s educational too! Ever hear of a Corythosaurus? Neither did I, but they apparently make hooting noises through a crest on the top of their head. Who knew? I sure didn’t.

And I think it’s time to admit to my love for Hallmark/Lifetime movies-of-the-week. A typical story will involve a girl going home for her high school reunion, where she is torn between the feelings she still has for her old beau and the blossoming love she's discovering for her best pal (who incidentally is always way hotter and more successful than the aforementioned beau). Or there’s another scenario where a guy has been lying to his family about the “great girl” he’s been dating and lo and behold it’s holiday time and the family wants him to bring this “great girl” home with him. So the guy has to recruit someone to play his fictitious girlfriend for the weekend. Have you already figured out that the pretend couple ends up falling in love? These movies might be the ultimate cheese in terms of writing and acting, but I don’t care. I love every second of ‘em!

And what about other people’s guilty pleasures? My friend from college said his was fuzzy navels. What’s not to like? OJ and peach flavored alcohol? You can get drunk while getting your daily dose of vitamin C. But ordering one in a bar? That would be a big no-no according to him. And I happen to agree. Even as a woman, that drink reeks of teenager-getting-drunk-for-the-first-time-and-puking-later. There’s no way I would have the nerve to ask a bartender for that juvenile yet tasty beverage.

One of my favorite gal pals, Marcy, is a MacGyver fanatic. She’s quite frankly the only person I know that owns the entire box set of the series. When I pointed out her MacGyver mania was a guilty pleasure, she abruptly replied, “But I don't feel guilty!” Check out her blog entry aptly entitled "The Tao of MacGyver", where you will learn MacGyver taught Marcy to unlock the front door of her apartment using only a bobby pin. Impressive... maybe I should feel guilty for not watching this show.

            Okay everyone… I am declaring this “Guilty Pleasure Pride Week!” It’s high time we shouted from the rooftops all our secret loves we’ve been hiding from the rest of the world. If you like dressing up as a superhero—own it; if you lip synch while busting a move in your living room to your favorite Back Street Boys video—work it; if you wake up in the middle of the night to play World of Warcraft—do it! Stand tall everyone and don’t deny yourself one moment longer.

            Come on folks, spill it. What are your guilty pleasures? Please comment and let me know!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

I’m not your guest, I’m your CUSTOMER!

            I value good service… I really do. My parents instilled in me the value of having a strong work ethic and taking pride in a job well done—whatever that job may be. I’ve always believed we are not put on this earth to be lazy. After all, my father had a Masters in Education and taught school full time, yet he still managed to work a night and weekend job through most of my childhood. So suffice it to say, I don’t have a lot of tolerance for slackers. People who say, “Oh, I’ll work hard when it’s something I actually care about,” annoy me. Whether you care or not, if you made a commitment to do something, then do it, do it well, and work hard while you are doing it. Period.

            So while I applaud quality and effort, I give a major thumbs down to blatant misnomers.  Are we so far removed as a society that we refuse to call a spade… well, a spade? I was recently standing on line at the bank, and the teller actually said, “Can I help the following guest on line?” Seriously? I looked around, wondering who on earth she could be talking to. When I turned back, she was still staring at me, waiting for me to step up to the window. I guess she was serious. I walked over to the teller, and had one of those moments I often have where what I’m thinking comes straight out of my mouth. I said to her, “No offense to you, but I am not your guest. I know it’s what you’ve been told to say, and it’s not your fault, but I am handing you money to deposit in my account. That makes me your customer, not your guest.” She looked at me and said, “I totally hear ya.” Was that subtext for, “I hate saying it as much as you hate hearing it?” Or was it was her polite way of saying “F*** off?” Probably the latter, but I didn’t stick around to find out.

            As I drove away, I thought about all the places that have jumped on the guest bandwagon—the Gap, CVS, Staples (insert any major retail chain)—and how it absolutely infuriates me. But let’s take a moment to clarify what the word “guest” actually means. According to, the following definitions are listed: “a person who receives the hospitality of a club, the city or the like,” and “a person who patronizes a hotel, restaurant, etc., for the lodging, food or entertainment it provides.” Excuse me, but I did somehow miss the big musical number with singing and tap dancing that they were doing over by the ATM machines at my bank? Or maybe there was a wine tasting I didn’t notice by the women’s dressing rooms of my clothing store. I just don’t get where the entertainment or the hospitality is entering into the picture.

            The bottom line is I’m giving you money and you’re handing me a box of pens. Unless there’s a dirty martini being handed to me with my package (now that’s what I call a gift with purchase), I don’t see the hospitality. It’s just a simple business transaction between a cashier and a customer. The cashier could be the most lovely, hard working person in the world, but no matter how you slice it, I’m still just… well, a spade.

            Clearly they (whoever “they” are) have done research… some kind of study where they have determined calling people guests makes people feel regarded. More likely, they determined it makes us, the consumer, spend more money! Wherever the truth lies, all it does is make me uncomfortable and edgy. When I’m eating dinner and you bring me that fourth glass of wine I have no business drinking, you go right ahead and call me a guest. The same goes for when you leave that mint on my pillow after you make my bed and I’m lounging by the hotel pool. Otherwise, just call me a customer and let me be on my way, with my pretty pink bag full of $5 for $25 panties from my favorite lingerie shop.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Courtesy, Professionalism, Respect… Does that include hanging up on someone?

            Friday night. 3:00am. You’re either well into your zzzzz’s, or if you happen to be awake, let’s hope you’re partying like it’s 1999. Well I happened to be the former, that is, until nature called me to a semiconscious state. On autopilot, I glanced over at my cell phone and saw I had a voicemail. It was my friend, worried over the whereabouts of her boyfriend. She wasn’t sure if he was stuck underground (Note: NYC may be the “city that never sleeps” but the transit system certainly takes a major siesta during the wee hours) or if his bus had been delayed. We hung up, each planning to track him down through the bus company or the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

            I didn’t get ANYWHERE with the bus company, i.e. Greyhound. The customer service agent put me on hold only to come back and give me a different phone number to call. When I called that, it was an automated message at the Port Authority. Wow. He totally passed the buck. As an aside, I find it absolutely preposterous that every single airline has a “flight tracker” option on their website giving detailed information as to where a plane is, even if it’s mid-air, yet a bus company can’t tell me whether a bus has arrived at its final destination on the ground. Greyhound’s motto may be “Go Greyhound, and leave the driving to us,” but when it comes to arriving, well you can’t leave it to them cause they clearly don’t know.

            While my friend was trying to contact the Port Authority, I figured I’d try to call the Port Authority Police. They have a small station right inside the bus terminal. Surely they would be able to help me, right? Perhaps they could tell me how to get a hold of those people who page missing passengers over the loudspeakers. Or maybe they had a phone number for someone who could tell me whether the bus in question had ever arrived, and if not, where it was.

            I was actually surprised when my call was answered within a couple of rings. 3:00 a.m. must be a lull time for these folks. Anyway, Captain Someone-Or-Other greeted me. I was able to get out, “Hello, do you know how I get in touch with someone at the Port Authority who knows when the buses arrive—” before I was abruptly cut off by the captain who replied, “I have no idea.” CLICK. Did he actually hang up on me? I looked at the phone in disbelief. Yup, the call was terminated. Where does that fall under the realm of Courtesy, Professionalism OR Respect? Answer: It doesn’t.

            I sat there, stunned. I pondered whether I should call this captain back and give him a piece of my mind, but my friend texted me at that exact moment to say her boyfriend had arrived safely at her apartment. No foul play was involved in his tardiness. Train trouble, as it turned out, was the real culprit (thank you MTA). I looked at the phone again. Should I call the crabby captain? At that point, it was 3:30 a.m. and I had an eight-hour seminar in ironically less than eight hours. I decided Captain Someone-Or-Other was going to have to wait. I was going back to bed.

But the next morning, I kept thinking about what happened. Look, I’m sure the police get barraged with calls concerning questions which don’t necessarily fall under their job duties, and many other calls that are just plain outlandish. I get it. I spent many years answering phones as part of my job duties, and believe me, it wasn’t fun. I vividly remember my blood boiling as someone asked me the same stupid question (stupid in my mind, anyway) that ten other people just asked me. But I was not working for the police department. Shouldn’t the police be a step above the rest of us in terms of “customer service?”

            The give-everyone-the-benefit-of-the-doubt side of me wonders if perhaps I interrupted a busy workday for this particular cop. He could’ve been in the middle of something critical or time consuming. But what about compassion? Human kindness? Isn’t there always time for that? My coworker and I were recently talking about the importance of being nice to people and I offhandedly said, “Kindness is free. There’s no reason not to give it out.” Hear that, Captain Someone-Or-Other? I know we don’t live in a comic book world where an army of “super men” are going to save our fair city from all evildoers…. I was simply hoping for some manners.              

            But perhaps common courtesy is too much to ask for in a city where you can see someone plucking her boyfriend's nose hairs on the subway. And if you don’t believe me, check this out:

            And to all of New York’s Finest who have been kind and gracious to me over the years, I thank you! Perhaps one of you can drop by to see Captain Someone-Or-Other and give him an etiquette lesson.