Saturday, February 23, 2008

Why I don't like Whole Foods

On Thursday I had a major breakthrough while writing my BA. I now know why I become inexplicably annoyed whenever I open up my pantry: because of all the organic food in it. (And because I have no food in it)

I might raise a few eyebrows with that statement, but it’s not the idea of organic food I hate (I took Global Warming, I know we have to make some changes in food production), it’s all the stupid labels Whole Foods sticks on every…blessed…item…in the store. Like they’re saying “Our food is TOTALLY BETTER than your food.” Whenever I open up the fridge or pantry, a herald of angelic voices starts crooning “ooooor-gaaaaaa-nic” and my roommate’s organic pinto beans, organic whole wheat flour pastry, organic quinoa flour, organic albacore tuna cans, and organic mayonnaise start doing pirouettes, while my cereals hides shamefacedly in the back.

I’m not saying I have never bought organic foods. When the price is reasonable, I will not turn my nose up at organic things, but I just can’t bring myself to buy $9.00 butter or $6.00 organic chocolate. I could take the $4.00 I save with un-organic butter and do something better with it like, I don’t know, bribing DHL customer service or using it as floss. I usually just check to make sure my food labels don’t say “lethal” or “toxic” on them, then stick them in the basket and call it a day.

I feel like Organic Foods is just the latest craze, like Atkins. I wouldn’t care if it were organic if only it didn’t have the label on it so prominently. EVERYONE who shops at Whole Foods knows that about 97% of the stuff in there is organic, probably even the paper towels and toothbrushes they sell are organic, or if they aren’t, they shoot out rainbows if they decompose in a trash heap somewhere, so I wouldn’t like to see a label telling me that it’s organic. Because I feel like a great majority of people only go there to show off, saying that they are good people because they shop healthy things, and they buy things they would NEVER EAT simply because it says “organic.” Like organic chicken claws or “organic white wine” that is made somewhere weird, somewhere you wouldn’t think wine should be created because, guess what, it probably SHOULDN’T be put there but by virtue of its being organic they can put the crop into the weirdest places and say it’s good farming, when really, they’re just introducing a foreign species into a place it was never supposed to be. And we all know how well the rabbits worked out in Australia.

And then I start to think about all the electricity, gas, and money wasted on maintaining a huge warehouse of a store like Whole Foods, and shipping all the food over to it, and really, subtracting out the unsustainable farming, we’re basically right back where we started from. Unnecessarily large grocery stores with a huge, uncanny amount of selection and just overall too much food for people who aren’t too hungry but still eat a ton.

NOW I can get off of my soap box and focus on my thesis.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Short People got Nobody

I said a while ago that I have a habit of making the mundane very dramatic, which is basically why I carry on this blog. Yesterday, I talked about slipping on ice in such terms that it seemed like I was a hop, skip, and a jump away from breaking my neck, or that this is something that should be a national problem. Which is probably why I got a frantic phone call from my mom yesterday afternoon.

I alluded to the current DHL problem on my hands (or, from where I’m sitting, not on my hands): namely, that my computer is at one of their “facilities,” (it’s in quotations because the word implies “facility,” which is synonymous with “ability,” which they have none of, and uh, SERVICE, which I’m not getting) and I can’t get my hands on it. They tried their obligatory 2-time delivery spiel, then left me high and dry with a delivery notice telling me I should call them to get my stuff.

Which I’ve been trying to do for, oh, a whole week now, but whenever I call it is either busy, rings forever without an answering service, or someone answers and immediately says “Hello, please hold.” Today, I was on hold for a solid hour with my zip code branch before I had to hang up because I had to go to class, yesterday was about 20 minutes, last week half and hour. When I called the 1-800 number to talk to a representative, he told me I was probably on hold because I didn’t have my tracking number with me, and he couldn’t wrap his mind around the fact that I never got the chance to TELL them my packing number BECAUSE NO ONE WANTED TO TALK TO ME. And I had to walk around with a cheesy version of Vivaldi’s Spring stuck in my head, with an accommodating and able lady’s voice telling me how DHL is connecting the world.

While on the phone I multitasked and I wrote an email to DHL telling them about their really crappy service, likening the “on hold” experience to something as long and as painful as what I imagine it’s like giving birth for the first time, and that I was going to stay on the phone for as long as it took to give me DHL a piece of my mind. Clearly, that didn’t happen, since as it’s going to be getting an education that will allow me to have a few servants who will do this for me in the future. It was a little hard to detach the melted cell phone from my ear, but no harder than massaging out the cramp in my neck and shoulders from shrugging the phone to my ear for a full hour.

The reply I got back from DHL involved 4 different modes of apology, including “It is a candid feedback such as yours that helps us find new ways to improve our service.” With no future plan of action outlined for me. No promises of giving me their first born, no free computer, no firing of all the employees at the 60637 branch who, for all I know, might be using my computer to hammer in posters of scantily clad women onto walls, to hide drugs in, or to use as a food tray to eat chips off of while they’re watching Oprah. They are, in effect, saying, “That sucks, man. Want a fry?”

So today, I am dedicating this to all the little people out there like me who are sick of being ignored by the Big Man. I hear you all.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Today was an ok day

It’s come to my attention that winter in Chicago is sometimes less than pleasant. Actually, sometimes it downright stinks. And I say “come to my attention” because what makes it so unpleasant, the slipping on the ice continuously, is something that I don’t register immediately. The scenarios usually go something like this:

I’m walking. Suddenly I’m sitting.

On Saturday night this was made doubly unpleasant by rain starting to fall when it was still relatively cold. Chemistry has taught me that water will freeze below a certain degree, but what it never bothered revealing was that it is possible for it to rain, for that to freeze, and to never see a flake of snow in the process. So Saturday night, after taking my glasses off to protect them from the rain and walking home, I realized that lo, I had dropped my glasses somewhere. Which meant that I had to retrace all my steps, on the ice, in the rain, without glasses. And I was walking home on a SATURDAY night from a FRIEND’S apartment, which might have meant that my eye-hand-foot coordination skills weren’t so great to begin with. So bent over in half, looking for my glasses in sludge/ice, I did have a couple of accidents. After a bit, I sat down and in front of cars, darkened buildings, streetlights, and strangers I swore that, with God as my witness, that was the last time I was going to fall this winter.

The next day I went curling, which is a sport on ice, during which I took some really magnificent spills. As in for one of them, 2 other teams stopped what they were doing to make sure I was actually laughing and not crying. Right when I got home I fell getting out of the car, and today I slipped a mere 2 times while trying to get a hold of DHL, which is another story for another time.
The long and short of this is that I don’t care about my dignity anymore. I don’t care that I look like a fool when I’m walking, that the only time I am ever graceful is putting my socks on and off, I just want the pain to stop.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Oh, love

It’s going on around the 3rd week or so now that I don’t have a computer. Before my sister decided that my computer would look better with soup spilled all over it, 3 weeks without a computer probably would have seemed like a big deal. Now I am sort of living the American dream by not having it. Granted, it does make it a lot more tricky to look at all my naughty websites or to spend hours on end looking at blogs or facebook, but I get by. I am counting this as something I gave up for Lent now.

I am in the process of a superhuman push to make myself finish my BA thesis before spring break so that I can ACTUALLY GET OUT OF HERE for it. Which means that Valentine’s Day came and left before I could do anything about it (do anything about it = write a disillusioned post about love, NOT exchange handwritten notes on heart shaped construction paper with paper lace glue-stuck onto it). Linda and I celebrated the occasion by lying on Yennie’s bed while she cooked an actual meal for not just 1 gentleman, but 2! and eating green M&Ms Linda’s roommate mistakenly bought, thinking it was the red, pink, and white Valentine’s Day mix. Little did she know that when the entire package is green with only green M&ms dancing around on the front, it really does mean that there are only green candies inside. Advertising can be so deceiving these days.

So I think this is an appropriate sort of end to this post, somehow. Something to do with the obvious really being deceptive, everything that you thought you knew isn’t really how it is, blah blah blah. And also, things that seem really bad aren’t so bad after all. Like not having a computer for 3 weeks.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I wouldn't like to think airline employees go home at night and think of ways to screw me over, but I have no choice

Last Friday, I did not wake up with any intention of yelling at an old man. That just sort of happened. What I did intend to do was get to New Orleans, and this is how I will start this long(ish) tale of woe, and by far, hands down, the worst travel experience I have ever had yet.

As some of you know, I went to Mardi Gras last Friday to celebrate the start of Lent. Because 40 days and nights of self-deprivation calls for some celebration. Since I was leaving from O’Hare, I KNEW I was going to be late. So when I noticed I was dragging myself through 6 inches of snow to get on the train to the airport, I didn’t really worry too much about probably being late, because, guess what! It turned out my plane was delayed a mere 5.5 hours at O’Hare.

I knew I wouldn’t be making my connecting flight at Charlotte, since I left the airport at about the time I was supposed to be getting on that flight. But I was REASSURED that I would be put on stand-by for the next flights out of Charlotte, and that I was number 6 on the stand-by list. And that if I didn’t make one stand-by flight, I would automatically be rolled over to the next flight as a stand-by passenger, but most likely higher on the list because SOME of the stand-by people before me would presumably be able to board the flights I didn’t make.

When I boarded the flight at O’Hare, I was asked to surrender my luggage. Which I was loath to do, since I wouldn’t have time to get my stuff from the baggage claim and try to make the first of the several stand-by flights. So with a jolly “Well then we’ll just send it all the way to New Orleans!” and me saying “But I HAVE NO FLIGHT THERE,” my baggage was cruelly ripped away from me. The only feeling I can compare this to is that scene where Dumbo’s mom is separated from Dumbo in that classic Disney movie. It sucked that badly. I was sure that was the last time I’d ever see that suitcase again.

(Why they didn’t ask people who were only going to Charlotte to move their things from the overhead bins to the hold under the plane is beyond me. The airpline probably didn’t ask them to do this because THAT WOULD BE DOING SOMETHING RIGHT.)

I got to the Charlotte airport just as the first flight I was on stand-by for was rolling out. For the next flight I found out I was number 7 on the stand-by flight. Does this make sense? I was number 6 for the 4:30 flight, and then number 7 for the 6:10 flight. When I found out that I was number 17 for the 9:50 flight, I was absolutely livid.

Customer service was not enlightening. When I went to talk to the old man, all he said was “Someone made a mistake.” Duh. I wouldn’t have been at customer service had everyone done their job like they should have. And upon the suggestion that we find this person to rectify this slight oversight, his only response was, while languidly gazing into space behind me, “I can’t find him. The only confirmed flight to New Orleans I can get you on is on Sunday.”

The long and short of this is that I eventually decided to try to go to Jackson on stand-by so that me and a few other people who weren’t making the New Orleans flight could rent a car and drive to New Orleans. While waiting at customer service to be put on THAT standby flight, three gentlemen just barely holding it together were talking to the old man, explaining how they missed their connecting flight in Charlotte because their first flight took off a few hours late because a plane in front of them broke down on the runway and they had to wait for the plane to be cleared away. The old man was saying that delay was put down as weather related and that the airline didn’t have to do anything for them, and that’s when I started to yell, still completely pissed-off that this man was not willing to help me:

“Don’t expect ANYTHING from ANYONE at this airline. No one is willing to take responsibility for any mistakes, when you should be bending over backwards to help me because you even ADMITTED someone at this airline made a mistake and you’re not DOING anything”

Yadda yadda yadda. Boring. With no reaction from him.

The result was that I didn’t get on the flight to Jackson (SURPRIIIIIISE!), and I ended up waterworking my way onto the 9:50 New Orleans flight because I was lucky enough to end up finding THE ONLY employee with a soul in Charlotte. When I was getting onto the flight I gave her a huge hug and kiss and she said “This is why I love my job!”

I think she might have been the only person there who did.