Friday, July 31, 2009

Keep it to the Bathroom Stalls

Hey Kids, it's time to talk about graffiti. I don't understand graffiti. Yes, I know what it is and that the word comes from Italian and originally referred to cave drawings. What I don't understand is why is there so much of it? Is the act of doing graffiti really popular or is there a small group of people doing a whole lot of graffiti? Let's break it down!

If graffiti is a really popular pastime with lots of artists then the obvious question is why is it so popular? However there is no accounting for popularity as I've already documented on my post about tattoos and is also demonstrated by the footwear known as Crocs. Having said this though, I can't recall knowing anyone (even in my youth) who was big into or even dabbled in graffiti, so I must conclude that graffiti is down largely by a small group. Further evidence of this is the apparent skill with which most graffiti is done.

So, this brings me to the question of why spend so much time on graffiti? Why would this become someone's passion? I suppose it might be fun, but it is such an unfair form of fun and that is what makes it so annoying. Near my house there is a large wall painted white that in recent years has become the canvas for at least one spray painter. The business that owns the wall periodically repaints it white only to have the graffiti return. It must be obvious to the graffiti person or people that this must be annoying to the guy with the can of white paint, yet they persist.

Graffiti on a forlorn, unkept, and under-appreciated surface is one thing, but constantly spoiling someone else's idea of what they want their property to look like is mean, rude and annoying. I don't get it.

At the same time I am a big fan of the scrawlings on bathroom stalls, if they are funny. These provide a service to those of us who like to read while we sit. My favourite of all time is still one of the stalls in the basement of the UVic library that I affectionately knew as the Howie Meeker stall. Someone had drawn a sketch of hockey analyst Howie Meeker and put one of his typical expressions next to it (He can't hit the ocean from a pier) and others had added their favourite Meekerisms on their visits to the stall.
Such gems as: "Can't shoot, can't skate, but he's got a heart as big as the whole outdoors," or "He went around the defence like a hoop around a barrel." The list was about ten long. Apparently the custodians liked it too as it seemed to outlast the other graffiti.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Holding Me Over a Bank Machine

Okay, here's something that's not just annoying, it's damn unfair. As you all know, bank machines, or automated tellers, charge you a fee to extract money. I'm okay with this as the machine is providing me with a service. It's convenient not to have to look for my bank and just go to the nearest machine. All fine and dandy.

Now you may have also noticed that these machines don't all charge the same fee. Generally in my experience the fee is $1.50. Occasionally it is $1.75 or $1.25, but far and away the most common fee going at a bank machine is $1.50. Once I used a machine at Costco and it was only 75 cents. Those Costco guys are always undercutting the little guy. Now here comes the crux of the matter (I've always wanted to use that expression).

I have experienced a rather nasty strategy being used in some places with bank machines. These places are usually somewhere that has few choices for getting cash. A captive banking audience. The most recent was inside the gates of Playland, a Vancouver amusement park. I didn't have any cash when arriving at the park, but thought, no problem there will be a bank machine. We paid to get in and there was the machine. I put in my card and the fee at this machine was $2.75. Give me a break.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Special Offer? I Don't Think So.

The baked potato dominated in the steak accompaniment poll. Keep looking for polls when you check out A and A. I find them so much fun. Now onto the next post...

You want to know what really bugs me? Of course you do! Special offers, that ain't special. Or at least they don't live up to their billing. Case in point. Recently at a mini-golf course the score card had an advertisement on it that had "Kids Eat Free" in big letters taking up the top quarter of the add. The name of the restaurant was also prominent. Then in small type I found the following: "Only available 5-6 pm on Wednesdays".

Now, if you're going to have some kind of special offer to attract customers then don't be pulling something like this. Either make it weekdays or something other than one hour a week. I feel offers like this are mostly just to get people to mistakenly come to the restaurant with their kids in tow at some time other than that measly one hour window and then find out that they can't get the deal, but now that they are there they might as well stay. It's cheesy.

The same goes for a lot of those two for one offers out there that come with all kinds of restrictions in the fine print. If you don't want to offer two for one then don't do it. And don't get me started on the "starting at 66.99 type promos". Has anyone ever got the starting price on one of those deals?

Then of course there is the old change of ownership ploy. You're all excited about your coupon or two for one offer or maybe your free game of mini-golf you earned by getting a hole-in-one your last time out and they tell you that they aren't honouring the offer because it was made by the previous ownership. Their right I suppose, but not exactly the way to get off to a good start with your clientele.

Friday, July 17, 2009

That's One Hot Potato!

Hey, I've brought back the poll to the A & A blog. Please vote so I get some sense of how many are paying attention out there.

Today's post may not be the consensus feeling of my readers. It's about the expectations people have of their servers (waiter or waitress in pre-politically correct speak). I don't understand why so many people feel their server has to live up to high expectations, and that when they don't, that they are open to rude behaviour. This doesn't seem to be the case with other jobs. Servers take it on the chin if they are perceived to be doing a poor job.

I say treat them and those working in other service jobs like fast food or even those troublesome cashiers, that are always asking me about my weekend, with a little respect, and when possible, tip well. These are generally speaking not high paying jobs and they are under the pressure of performing for each customer. We should all be so unlucky.

A friend who I was out for dinner with recently told me the story of his career as a waiter. He was working for a steakhouse in the upper mid-range of restaurants. He had worked his way up to waiter after a few months at the establishment and thought he was getting his big break. One night things weren't going so well and one gentleman was being particularly annoying.

The annoying gentleman was being condescending in my friends opinion and generally being rude and treating him like dirt. He and his female companion both ordered the same meal, but the man asked for a baked potato, while the woman wanted rice. When my friend brought the meals to the table he placed them backwards with the potato in front of the woman. He started to walk away and the man called him back. "Boy, I ordered the baked potato," said he.

My friend the waiter came back and apologized. He then picked up the baked potato from the woman's plate and put it on the man's and then grabbed the pile of rice on his plate and put it on hers. "There you go," he said. He turned and walked to the back of the restaurant, through the kitchen, out the back door and drove home.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Stop Telling Me What to Do

I went to a B.C. Lions game on Friday night. Canadian Football League action for those of you from other parts of the planet. That's football North American style, not soccer. The game was fine and enjoyable, but there was something very annoying to report. And I don't believe this is an isolated incident.

The stadium was less than half full, but it was a large crowd of 26,000. This crowd was happy to get up and get excited when it saw fit and that's the way it should be. However, the public address announcer kept coming on at times that he saw fit to try and exhort the crowd to "make some noise". His pleas were augmented by loud music and electronic signs that also encouraged the crowd. I find it condescending to me as a sports fan that I'm being told when to cheer. In this case it was usually to make it loud in the stadium on a key defensive play to make things more difficult for the visiting Tiger Cats of Hamilton.

Any football fan worth his or her salt or pepper knows that you're supposed to make noise to help out your defense. Sometimes as a fan you feel inspired to do this and at other times maybe you're not quite ready to put your heart and soul into it. Let me decide, Mr. Public Address Announcer, because you are not the boss of me.

In other news...

Have any of you other males out there noticed the evolution of the urinal that has taken place. It occurred to me when I was in a restaurant last week that had dividers between the urinals to provide more privacy. This is becoming more and more common. I'm not here to pass judgement on it, I'm just pointing out the phenomenon. On the other end of the scale if you go into a much older bathroom such as the one in the basement of the Fish House in Vancouver's Stanley Park then you're just peeing against a wall that drains into a trough. There are no separations between the users at all. You are all in it together.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Rant - Parking Lot Edition

I was walking through a parking lot this week and an older lady went on a rant and there I was, stuck being her lone audience member. It didn't matter that I didn't engage her in conversation. She was on a roll.

It all began because someone backing out of a parking space didn't see her and I suppose there was a near collision. She then proceeded to tell me that it happens almost every time she is in that parking lot and that nobody looks out of their back windows anymore. That she was going to begin taking down license plates so she could phone them into the police and that if she ever gets hit she is going to sue for a million dollars.

I didn't have the heart to tell her that it might be easier to actually watch out for cars that are backing out of spaces and not walk behind them than it would be to stop to take down the license plate and call the police. In fact I could have pointed out to her that the cars have these convenient reverse lights that let you know if a car is going to back out. I could have also said that I walk through that parking lot all the time and not once have I come close to being hit by a reversing car.

The Missus tried to suggest that perhaps this woman was slow afoot and couldn't get out of the way fast enough. If you were thinking likewise, then let me say for the record, that she had no trouble keeping up with me as she ranted on about these idiot drivers on our way across the parking lot.

Bottom line, as I've said before, is that as a pedestrian you've got to have your eyes open and not expect the cars to be seeing you. So stop annoying me with your rants you oblivious-whining- overtalkative parking lot strollers. You annoy me. Hah!

An unrelated story this week to share with you. Once at my school there was a raffle being held for a big stuffed bear. The students had purchased tickets and could put them in the draw bucket during the week. The bear had been donated by a family to raise money for the school and on the day of the raffle the principal had one of the children from this family do the draw. The kid reaches into the bucket and pulls out a ticket and hands it to the principal. It's a little bit crumpled up (it may have been a lot crumpled up, but I can't quite recall the extent) and it has the kids name on it. He won his own bear! The principal's theory was that the kid had his ticket crumpled up in his hand and when he reached into the bucket he didn't actually take a ticket out, but just handed the principal the one that was already in his hand. Nice.