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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Post# 243 - Rainforest Cafe - The Cougar Hangout? - 9/18/2011

Dear Rainforest Café,

As a seventh grader, I still love to learn about nature and wild animals.  I also love your restaurant.  Where else can a kid go and eat a hearty sandwich in a rainforest setting?  Besides a rainforest, I guess.  I've never been to a rainforest, but I'd like to go someday.  On my most recent visit, I enjoyed a Reuben Sandwich, stacked high with corned beef, as I sat among the gorillas. I try to sit by a different animal each time, and I go home and try to learn as much as I can about that animal.  Thanks to Rainforest Cafe, I was inspired to do my science project on Gorillas, and I took first prize.  Cha Ching!

My older brother's college friend, Lester, told me he also likes to eat at the Rainforest Café.  This is where it gets confusing.  He goes on Saturday afternoons, when he says there are lots of kids' birthday celebrations happening.  He told me that during these parties, there are cougars, and he said he like to tame them by feeding them "mow-hee-toes."  Once, he told me he was took one of the cougars home for the night.  He must have used a lot of "mow-hee-toes."  He calls your restaurant "The Cougar Den."  What's that about?

This got me excited.  The following Saturday, after soccer, we asked my friend's mom to take us to the Rainforest Cafe for lunch.  There were birthday parties aplenty--noisy kids with cakes and gift bags, and exhausted looking parents.  I didn't see any cougars, not even robot ones.  I didn't see any live animals.  I was disappointed.

Then I started thinking.   Why would the Rainforest Café go to all the trouble to have live cougars on site like that?  It seems like they might smell badly and try to attack customers.  I could see birds, maybe.  Although there might be a problem with the droppings.  I think you should stick with the robot gorillas and elephants and tropical birds.  Besides--couldn't he sue you if he got bit, or some kind of infection from the cougar? 

I questioned Lester again, and he said he was there again this past Saturday, and he took two cougars home.  They must be kitten cougars.  Or, he's pulling my leg.  Before I start begging my parents into taking me again on Saturday, can you confirm whether you have cougars at any of your locations?   Are they real or fake (robots)? Do you ever have other real animals (besides the fish)?  What about a wild game night once in a while?  My dad likes going to those things.  He ate otter.

Otherwise, I love your restaurant.




I sent this on 9/22/2011:

Dear Rainforest Cafe,

If I was on a guided tour through a real rainforest, the first thing that the tour guide would want to establish is trust.  An unfamiliar place with unfamiliar creatures and berries.  A different climate with unusual fungi and weather patterns.  That's right--somebody is doing a science report on rainforests.

Last week, I asked some questions about your "rainforest."  You didn't answer them, and I feel like we don't have decent grounds for trust.  Let me say it simply: I don't trust you.  I asked you a simple question about whether or not you have cougars in any of your location, and you couldn't answer me?  Seriously?

How can I feel comfortable now in your restaurant, surrounded by what I previously "trusted" to be robotic gorillas and tropical birds?   What if one of those so-called fake primates reaches down with one hand and snags my reuben, and with the other, slashes my jugular?  You say they're fake, but now I can't trust you.

I really just need to know if you have realistically fake cougars on your premises.  It would be cool to see these up close, and maybe get my photo snapped with one.



Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Post# 242 - McDonalds and Their Policy on Messed Up Orders

I sent this letter on 6/17/2011, after a lousy experience:

Dear McDonald’s,
Here’s the deal.  Last Sunday, I took my family through your drive-thru.  My son and daughter ordered your Chicken McNugget Happy Meals.  I ordered some other food, and a Chocolate Banana Milkshake.   I drove home, approximately 12 minutes, factoring trains and elderly people coming home from church.
When we arrived, I noticed something.  I had no straw.  On the hierarchy of needs pyramid, a person with a milkshake really needs a straw above all else.  At the same time, my son opened his McNuggets, only to find something grotesque and horrific.  It was a slimy, greasy blob with little pickle pieces for eyes.  Mind you, we’re trying to wean him onto other, more conventional foods.  A McNugget container full of Thousand Island-looking goop wasn’t a step in the right direction.  We lost ground that day.
We piled back in the car and headed back to your restaurant, where we waited in line, food in hand, behind (I swear) the most picky, custom-ordery customer I’ve ever seen.  I’ve never heard so many “minus this’s” and “plus that’s” in my life.  When it was our turn, I asked the cashier for a manager.  She obliged.
The manager arrived a few moments later and politely asked how she could help us.  I explained that I had no straw, and asked for another shake since mine was a bit melty by now.  Then, I showed her the McNugget container.  She explained that someone ordered extra Big Mac Sauce.  Who orders extra Big Mac sauce?
The Manager then proceeded to give my son another Happy Meal (McNuggets, Fries, and same toy he just received), and a replacement shake.  I accepted this.  I didn’t complain. 
On the way home, in the back of my mind, I thought to myself, “now there’s a half hour I’ll never get back. “  It put me behind schedule in driving out to my brother’s house.  It made me have to rush.  And in the end, what did we really get?  Exactly what we ordered in the first place.
What’s your policy when people have a mis-delivered order?  Just give them what they ordered?  It’s supposed to be fast food.  Food that is fast.  It seems to me, for the inconvenience, lost time, extra gas and mileage, and added hunger, there should be more.  That’s just me, and how I’d handle it.  If employees saw their boss handing out $5 or $10 gift cards every time they messed up, things might shape up quickly.
Just a thought.
Date: Wed, 6 Jul 2011 00:18:23 -0400

Dear McDonald's,

I submitted the letter below on your website, on June 17th.  It's been three-or-so weeks, so I thought I would follow up. Can you answer my question?



Subject: RE:
Date: Sun, 17 Jul 2011 23:04:39 -0400

Dear McDonald's,

It's been almost a month, and this is my third note.  I really don't understand the mentality of not answering a legitimate question about your policies.  Is it too, too personal?  Or worse, do you actually have no "set-in-stone" policy? 

Here's the deal, Punky Brewsters.  If a person orders items A, B and C, and ends up with A, B and Big Mac Sauce, they're going to be upset.  Upset for two reasons.  First, because they received the wrong thing, and this is easily resolved with the replacement of that item.  But second, and more important, is the amount of time--precious time that could be spent with family, or in worship, or doing exercise, or meditating, or nursing a wounded puppy back to health.  It doesn't really matter what the thing is that I'm missing out on--the point is, you robbed me of that thing.  And at some point, I'd almost rather go hungry than flush a half hour of my weekend, the very thing that I work all week to get to, driving back and forth to McDonalds to solve your problem, a problem that could have easily been solved by a little scrutiny, or a clear frigging container for someone's disgusting personal vat of Big Mac Sauce.  And by the way, who would think to order extra Big Mac Sauce?  Subsequently, my son, still disgusted by the sight of that Big Mac Sauce, referred to his diarhea as having consistency of that sauce.  It's pretty safe to say, he won't be ordering a Big Mac anytime soon.

And yes, I suppose I could have pulled over, out of the drive through, to carefully check my items.  Then, I would have only had to park my car, bring my son into your store, wait in line because no one really knows I've already paid and everyone's focused on normal business.  I could have waited the ten minutes and saved 20 minutes.  Shame on me for trusting your staff.  My bad.

And then, to add insult to injury, you can't even grant me the courtesy of responding to my note questioning your policies?


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Friday, February 17, 2012

Post# 241- Motherhood Maternity Shorts And My Shallow Pocket Mis-hap

I sent this on 8/3/2011, on behalf of a pregnant friend, whose smart phone fell from the shallow pocket in her maternity shorts, into a puddle while retrieving the mail.

Dear Motherhood Maternity,

Imagine how a mother kangaroo would feel if her joey slipped out of her all-too-shallow pouch.  The same analogy applies to any marsupial and their young, and in a way, extends over to humans.

The other day, after a long rain, I walked out to the mailbox to retrieve our daily assortment of flyers, coupons, bills, and my husband's People Magazine.  As I removed the mail from the box, the water bill fell to the wet pavement.  As I awkwardly bent down to retrieve it, my smart phone unnested itself from it's shallow pocket in my Motherhood Maternity shorts.  My phone landed in a puddle and died.

Maybe you don't get it.  An expectant mother is dealing with a LOT--the nesting instinct, aches, pains, cravings, nausea, emotions, and fear of the unknown.  In the back of my mind, the phone in the pocket is a metaphor for my precious baby, inside me.  My sense of security is all messed up, and my hormones are raging.  I need waffles and bacon now!

Why are your pockets so shallow?  What's the point of a shallow pocket?  Shallow pockets offer a false sense of security, like handing your wallet to the playground mom, only to find she's a meth head who steals kids' money while they're on the merry-go-round.  I would argue that a shallow pocket is worse than no pocket at all, just as a crooked playground mom is worse than no playground mom at all.

Next time, when you're all in the boardroom looking at cute colored pencil sketches, conceived by a man or woman who has never been pregnant, maybe consider function instead of fashion.  Maybe a deeper, working pocket isn't as aesthetically pleasing as a false-sense-of-security pocket.  But as our bodies become a home to a living human-being, we're not planning on winning any fashion contest--WE JUST WANT COMFORT.  Having to buy a new phone on top of post maternity wear, baby stuff, diapers, formula, toys, wipes, nursery stuff, life insurance, a car seat, a stroller, and stuff to baby proof everything is not comforting.

On behalf of angry expectant mothers everywhere, I would appreciate an explanation--who designs shallow pockets?  Just curious.


Subject: RE: Motherhood Maternity Email From Customer
Date: Wednesday, August 3, 2011, 11:18 PM

Dear Stephanie,

Thank you for your email.

We have forwarded your information over to our merchandising department for review.

Customer Service Team

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Sunday, February 12, 2012

Post# 240 - White Castle: I'm a Poet Who Craves Tiny Hamburgers

My note to White Castle, sent 8/23/1996:

Dearest White King, Ever-Seated on the White Throne,
A Poet I am, a passionate man. 
I shall feast on your rations, while expressing my passions. 
I earn almost nil, and shan’t pay my bills.
My given name Larry, my poems please don’t bury. 
An artist by choice, a man with a voice
For hunger and strife, but not the ex-wife.
She will scrape for her own since she left me alone.
I break my morning fast, devouring your vast
Early morning fare.  I breathe the fresh air.
At lunch, I disperse, and break from my verse,
With thoughts of fervor, I indulge in your burger.
By dinnertime no longer can I restrain my hunger
For burgers and fries, my certain demise.
My puzzle is this: Your food I would miss,
If my Uncle Sam sent me off to war,
Banishment and exile forevermore. 

But respond if you dare-if I order one rare, 
Will you betray our love, taking flight like a dove.
While I like rare tissue, it's always an issue. 
With  physicians, those clowns.  Surgeon General, pipe down!
For life with scorched meat, the unthinkable feat,
Is to live not at all, unwinged, but to crawl.
For a life minus red, is life that is dead.
My question for you, what shall I do? 
Should I grill my own, oh King of White Throne? 
Or shall you decide to serve me raw hide,
I hope your decree will make me happy.
Just one other item, if you please.  I humbly inquire of your decree:
For my great attempt at this confounded sonnet,
Free Coupons for your food, I need them, I want it!
Time for My Slider, Another All-Nighter...

No Reply
My Follow-up, sent 10/23/1996:

Oh Dearest Unresponsive King Ever-Seated on the White Throne,

There are a deuce more than three things that do annoy me.

To begin with the first,  and certainly not worst
When some man named Russ climbs into the bus
And makes us all repent with his offensive scent
Like three-day old chili --it seems a bit silly.

Offense number two, is from me to you.
Newscasters who always like to brag  “you heard it here first,” what a drag!

The third thing is, of course, the Grand Equestrian Horse
Who does all of the work so the Jockey, that jerk
Can stand up and boast “Gold Medal! Let’s Toast!
And send poor old “Skies’o’Blue” to the place where they make glue.

Offense number four, I cannot ignore.
To order rare steak, please make no mistake
And send it well-done. 
Your tip shall be none!

Offense number five, no kidding, no jive
To ignore me and my letter as though you are so much better.
So get off the chair and fix this dispair
You caused by neglect and do not reject
This poet’s polite request for only the very best--
Free food at White Castle with no more such hassle.

My question I repeat--Can I order rare meat?
If no answer shall you write, it will be with great despite
That nobody knows, I’ll break into prose.

Rhymes a Second Time,

Kate kelly's response, dated 11/14/1996:

Dear Jerry,

Thank you so much for your great poems that you wrote to White Castle.  We always appreciate hearing from our more creative White Castle Cravers!

Because of your interest in White Castle and your obvious passion for our hamburgers, we are inducting you into our White Castle “Official Craver Club.”  Enclosed is your certificate to that effect.

We apologize for not responding sooner, and again, sincerely appreciate your interest in White Castle and its products.  Please enjoy the enclosed coupons.


Kate Kelley
Marketing Coordinator

Cc: K. Bartley
      D. Cline

Enclosures: 4 
My response, sent 11/18/1996:

Dearest King of the Slider, the Fried Clam, and the Mozzarella Stick:

I do humbly thank your pearly-white palace
For making me feel the absence of malice.
For fortifying my regimen with burgers of nine,
At no further cost to me, not a quarter, not a dime.

I will remember always, the kind gesture and deed,
The gift of nine free sliders to a poet in need.
Accompanied by free fries,
A poet cannot disguise
His feelings of leverage
Burgers!  Fries!  And Beverage!

The ex-wife will toss and turn in her lonely bed at night--
Friend of the Court can’t touch this--not a burger, not a bite.
And thanks for the certificate inducting me in your club.
I feel like I belong--How’s about I give you a back rub?
Don’t get me wrong--It is not boys I like,
It’s tall blonde women in spandex on bikes.

I just feel so lucky to be accepted by the King,
I feel as though I could fly but instead I shall sing
Praises to you, the almighty chosen one--
King of the cure to too much beer and gin and rum.

King of the eternal Slider,
A pause for the Midnight Rider,
In a word, thank you for always being brave.
For providing Americans with what they crave!

Poetically Yours,

Monday, February 6, 2012

Post# 239 - Gamefly - How Does It All Work?

Dear Gamefly,

Your service intrigues me—the ability to rent videogames by mail, rather than purchase them outright, or drive to and from a video store.  As a videogame junkie, I love trying all the new titles before I commit to purchase.

The other day, I saw one of your commercials on the National Broadcasting Channel.  Something about it stuck in my head.  Here goes.

In the commercial, a woman, presumably selected to appeal to the decision-making mom market, stated that when you’re done, you can “drop the game in the mail, and the next one arrives in a day or two.”  In a DAY or two.

I was wondering how this was possible.  Best case, I can see two days, more realistically, three (drop in mail on Monday Morning, receive new game Wednesday).  Day One: I drop it in the mail, the mail carrier delivers it to the post office where it is processed.  Day Two: the game arrives at your hub, where it is quickly processed and turned right around.  If early enough, it processes through the post office and is delivered that same day.  That’s really asking a lot of the postal service.

I’m curious.  Before I sign up, I need to know.  How are you able to turn a game around in a day?  Was the lady in the commercial a big fat liar?  Was she “going off script?”  Improvising?  Feeling the vibe?  What’s the deal?



Thank you for contacting GameFly. We process returns and shipments six days a week. In most cases, we ship your next available game within the same day we receive the returned game. We also use FastReturn, developed in partnership with the U.S. Postal Service, to improve delivery times by allowing us to send you the next available game in your GameQ before we receive the returned game in one of our facilities.

A FastReturn is initiated when a barcode located on the return mailer is scanned by the U.S. Postal Service. This scan is then sent to GameFly to enable our FastReturn system to start processing the next title in your GameQ. Your GameQ may temporarily show that you have more games out than your plan allows. It will be updated as soon as we receive the returned game.

Shipping thru the U.S. Postal Service first class mail to or from one of our facilities is estimated to take 2 to 4 days. However, we realize there are exceptions and understand this situation can be frustrating. We work diligently to improve shipping performance and rely on members like you to help us focus on the most important problems.

If we can be of further assistance, please let us know.


Jodi R.
The GameFly Team
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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Post# 238 - Applebee's Neighborhood Grill and Bar: Not As Much A Bar As a Restaurant With Kids Menus and Reasonable Hours

I sent this to Applebee's on 8/2/2011:

Dear Applebee's,

As a man whose marriage ended after forty-three years, the dating world can be daunting, to say the least.  I took a recent blind date to Applebee's.  I had never been to Applebee's, but my date wanted to "go to a bar."  I picked your restaurant because your ads and signs suggest that you're the "Neighborhood Grill and Bar." 

The service was great.  The food was decent.  The date didn't go well, and that all stemmed from an argument about Applebee's.   I was chastised because she said "Applebee's isn't a real bar."  Her definition of a bar is as follows:

-A place that closes at 2AM (Applebee's closes at 12AM).
-A place where the kitchen closes down at some point, and there's only drinks.
-A place with a loud local band playing.
-A place that doesn't have a kids menu and crayons.
-A place where kids would never be seen after 9PM, let alone at closing time.
-A place where there may or may not be some drunk chick instigating a cat fight with another drunk chick.
-A place where there may, or may not be a lingerie show at lunchtime.
-A place where bikers like to hang out.
-A place with dartboards, pool tables, and a jukebox.
-A place where the restroom contains either ice in the urinals or a prophylactic and aspirin machine.

It got me to thinking.  How is Applebee's any different from Chili's, Buffalo Wild Wings, TGIFriday's, Bennigan's, or Red Robin.  Yes, each has a bar and liquor license, and each place has unique menu items.  But it ends there.  Each has early closing hours, laminated drink menus, kids menus, crayons, and no drunk chick.

My date ended badly, because you misrepresented yourselves.  Also, I said she wore too much perfume, so there's that too.  I think you need to make some changes if you're going to call yourselves a "bar."


Subject: Thank you for contacting Applebee's! Here is a reply to your case number 1273326
Date: Wednesday, August 3, 2011, 5:00 PM

Dear Jerry,

Thank you for your e-mail.  We’re always looking for new ways to provide great guest service, and comments like yours help us to do that.  We’ve forwarded your comments to our Restaurant Operations and Marketing teams.  We appreciate your suggestions and we want to make sure that your voice is heard.  Thanks again.

If you have any other questions or comments, please give us a call at 888-592-7753.


Adam L.
Guest Relations Coordinator II
My note to Adam, sent 8/5/2011:
I know I gave Applebee's some "tough love."  I know tough love can hurt a little. 
Here are some tips:
1) Hire a band in each region.  It doesn't have to be complicated--three piece, noncontroversial, non-confrontational, to play one Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday per restaurant per month.  Stick them in the corner and load them up on motza sticks and stale keg beer.  They'll love it.
2) No kids after 9:00.  Because that's when the place gets a hoppin!  They should be at home in bed at that time anyway!
3) You don't need a real drunk chick. There are plenty of out of work actresses who will work for scale.  Hire an actress, have an employee eating at a table in street clothes, and stage a catfight.  When it's over, have two "cops" come in and arrest them both.  Then give everyone a warm-baked chocolate chip cookie because you're "sorry" they "had to witness that."  The crowd will LOVE it!

These are some tips.  I'm sure there's already a Saturday workshop in your plans (sorry if I messed up everybody's weekend).