A Costly Mistake to Make When Flying

Hot black coffee on a cool, overcast morning takes me back to Paris, walking around the cobbled streets of the city enjoying everything around me, which is strange because the only time I ever remember having coffee on either of my trips there, I wasn’t  walking around the city at all, but was rather thousands of feet in the air somewhere between Amsterdam and Paris. I was on an airplane with my dad, fourteen years old, and outside of the United States of America for the first time in my life. I had survived my first flight ever, from Memphis, to Amsterdam, so was a seasoned and confident air traveler by the time this second flight rolled around, so I was more carefree, relaxed, and laid back, my stomach no longer clenched tight, and open to the possibility of filling it with whatever food and drinks the airline had to offer, which just so happened to include coffee.
 
This was the only coffee I remember having on the trip, and come to think of it, it wasn’t even black coffee. This was before I became a coffee purist, freeing my morning beverage of gallons of cream and piles of sugar, so it is strange to me why drinking black coffee on an overcast and cool morning makes me think of something that has no apparent connection whatsoever. It’s really fascinating to me, like I would love to have the kind of free time to just spend hours every day sitting around and thinking about why certain things conjure up memories of other things that seemingly aren’t related, but I’ve got a life to live and a blog to write, so I guess I’ll just go ahead and get back to it. While coffee on the plane was great, what I was really looking forward to was the food. I know, in hindsight it seems weird to me that I ever looked forward to airplane food, but having only been on one flight before, where one of the meals on the plane was breakfast, my favorite, so I hadn’t been jaded yet to the realities of airplane food.
 
The stewardess came around after the drink service was finished, offering one thing and one thing only, cheese sandwiches, which sounded absolutely perfect to me. Just bread and cheese, the title said it all, no unsavory condiments or slimy lunch meats; I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. My dad tried to warn me, tried to tell me the truth and bring my expectations back down to a reasonable level, and whether it was the high altitude or the excitement of trying new things in a new place I do not know, but I didn’t listen to him or heed his warning. I stuck out my hand for a cheese sandwich, making the single greatest mistake, even to this day, of my entire life of air travel. I opened the wrapping and between two large pieces of crusty bread, was cheese, yes, but it certainly was not the star of the sandwich. No, that role was saved for the half jar of mayonnaise that had apparently been dumped on the bottom half of the sandwich bread, the excess of which flowed freely out the sides of the sandwich, making sure the person who had made the terrible decision to accept this “meal”, would have a sticky and smelly reminder on their hands for the remainder of the flight. I knew within seconds that I had made a mistake, and the look on my face must have given me away, because my dad, a fellow hater of mayonnaise, sympathized with me and told me that I didn’t have to eat the sandwich. He had tried to warn me about the over abundance of the most disgusting concoction on the planet, but I hadn’t listened, thinking his hatred for the stuff was clouding his judgment, causing him to exaggerate, thinking foolishly that I would be able to scrape it off onto a napkin and it would go undetectable on my taste buds. Even though he told me that it was okay, that I didn’t have to eat it, I felt guilty about it, so I nibbled at the edges of the bread, hating every bite, for as long as I could, before giving up, rewrapping the sandwich, and shoving it as far down into the seatback pocket in front of me as it would go, like if I pushed it hard enough it would return back to hell from whence it came. For all I know that sandwich is still there, thirteen years later, stinking up a plane that makes the forty minute flight between Amsterdam and Paris, making terrible memories for some other poor soul.

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The Pre-Birthday Announcement

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Don’t you hate it when people remind you that their birthday is coming up? Some sneak in subtle hints like referring to days surrounding it, not as Monday or Wednesday, but rather the day before or day after their birthday, while some are completely shameless in making sure that a day that is only significant to them is known by anyone who has contact with them, writing annoying social media posts announcing their birth month, or making a status that’s like “I just have no idea what to do for my birthday. Any suggestions?”, which will prompt an outpouring of people wishing them a happy early birthday, pretending to care because they feel obligated. There are a lot of things in life that I hate, like loud noises, impolite drivers, and people who pronounce gyro incorrectly, but this practice of reminding people of your birthday is definitely near the top of my list. You know sometimes when you’re walking in the cemetery and you happen to see a tombstone that has the same birth day and the day they died? It seems very poetic that life would fully circle in that way, entering the world and leaving it on the exact same month and day, but when I really think about it, it seems like something more sinister might be at play, that this isn’t just some interesting coincidence after all. In the last five minutes as I was writing this, I came up with a pretty interesting theory to explain how this apparent phenomenon occurs; all of these people that are born and die on the same day had told people about their upcoming birthdays, and as an act of revenge, Karma decided to kill them on that very day to send a message to anyone else who might be arrogantly assuming that their birthday will be a day to be celebrated rather than one to be mourned.

Now you may be wondering to yourself why people continue to behave in this egregious manner, announcing their birthdays, days, weeks, and sometimes even months in advance if the intention of Karma killing people who did this was to make it stop. That’s ultimately a dumb question because Karma can’t talk or explain itself. It had the tools to carry out the plan, but lacked the communication skills to let people know exactly why it was happening, a major oversight on their part, one I’m sure they would apologize for if they had the ability to do so. So Karma waited. They killed these early birthday announcers and then they waited some more, waiting for a bright mind to come along and deliver the message for them, and nice to meet you, that just so happens to be me. So for all of you out there who may be thinking that Facebook needs to know that your birthday is a week away, perhaps you will think twice before sharing, now that we know the consequences of making such an announcement, but since I’m the messenger, the one chosen by Karma to make this plan clear, I’m sure I have special exclusivity from having to face these repercussions. That being said, my birthday is a week from tomorrow, and I have no idea what I’m going to do. Any suggestions?

Cheddar’s:Worst Dining Experience Ever

IMG_4141Now I’m not one to complain, but I’m finding it really difficult to hold my tongue on this one, and my therapist told me that I need to open up more, to quit keeping things pent up inside and driving me to do crazy things like make spaghetti with sour punch straws instead of noodles, so perhaps you will indulge me while I vent about my meal last night. By the way, this isn’t just all about me and my experience, no, this is really for you, the reader, my friends, the general public, to save you from repeating the same unfortunate mistake that I made last night by going to dinner at Cheddar’s.  Until I moved to Memphis, I had never eaten at this chain restaurant that didn’t come to Little Rock until after I moved to Florida and was currently under construction in Port St. Lucie, Florida when I moved to Memphis last year, but I’d heard a lot about it and was pretty excited to give it a try. The first time I ate there was not that good, but I attributed that to the menu item I got, and vowed to give it another try, and that paid off with the incredible fish tacos I had on the second visit, so last night, which was our third time going there, I was pretty pumped since the last meal was so good, but unfortunately it was much, much worse than I ever could have imagined.

The restaurant was fairly crowded for a Tuesday night, but our small party of two was seated right away. A few minutes later the waitress came over and took our drink order, coke for my wife and un-sweet tea for me. She said she would be right back with the coke and the sweet tea, but luckily I was able to correct the mistake before she walked away and crisis was averted, at least for the moment. She returned shortly after with our drinks and took our order, buffalo chicken wrap for my wife, and a southwest bacon burger for myself, both with fries, and then she disappeared. I started drinking my tea, which was good in terms of restaurant quality tea, but my wife didn’t touch her coke. She is the kind of person that can’t drink out of a glass at a restaurant without a straw because she finds the prospect of thousands of other people having pressed their lips to the glass in front of her to be an utterly disgusting thought that she leaves her complete unable to bring that same glass up to her lips.

The waitress was nowhere to be found and my wife was starting to get impatient after a while of not being able to drink her soda in front of her, so we stopped the next waitress we saw, and she asked her for a straw, to which the waitress replied that she didn’t have any and would have to go get one from the back. There were clearly a handful of straws in the front of her apron, completely visible to us, but for some reason she didn’t want to give my wife one of them, and looking back, that is the point of the evening where everything changed, where everything after that was downhill. If I could go back in time I would’ve brought a straw from home and my wife never would have had to ask that waitress for one, and perhaps things would have been different, better, but our waitress came out of the kitchen a few minutes later brandishing a straw, not the girl who we had spoken to about it, so perhaps our waitress was mad and thought we had betrayed her by going behind her back to ask for something that we needed, despite the fact that she was nowhere to be found, or maybe she was just annoyed that she had to leave the comfort of the kitchen to bring the straw out, but whatever the reason, something within her snapped, and she became the worst waitress I’ve ever had in my entire life.

Our drinks had been empty for a long time when I heard our order being shouted in the kitchen, so I knew one of two things was happening; our food was ready, or they hadn’t made it either because they had forgotten or the order had not be turned in and they were just about to start it. The waitress who was making regular appearances at the table across from ours made a rare stop at our table to inform us that our food would be out shortly, completely ignoring the fact that our glasses were empty. Fifteen minutes later and still no food or drink refills, although we had seen the waitress’s back on multiple occasions at the other table, but she never stopped by to check on us. Finally, annoyed, I called out to her as she walked away, “Excuse Me!” She turned immediately like she had been waiting for me to speak up, and quickly walked over to our table. I asked if we could have refills and she said that she would get those right away, but she did not.

Our food arrived and the fresh drinks didn’t, so I once again asked the waitress for refills, which should be the most fundamental and easy part of her job, and once again she said okay. With our food getting cold in front of us, we waited and waited and still didn’t get our drinks. The waitress finally arrived empty handed, and seeing our full plates of food, asked if we needed to go boxes. She was ready for us to leave before we even started eating. I told her no, but once again asked her for refills and ketchup for our French fries. She again told me that she would be right back with our requested items, however my confidence in her, as you can imagine, was waning at this point. She went to the table across from us and started taking their orders, content to let us wait while to food got cold and disgusting. When she finally returned with the drinks, she asked my wife what she ordered, just to confirm that she’d brought her the right beverage. My wife said coke and she sat down the glass and walked away while my wife took a sip of her diet coke. Finally my wife got her drink and we could begin eating. The burger was overcooked and didn’t have much flavor apart from the barbecue sauce that was added on top of it and the fries were some of the worst I’ve ever had, which is why I left almost all of them uneaten, and that might not have been so bad had I not paid extra for the fries because they didn’t come with the burger.  Out of ten I would give the whole experience a 2, solely because the tea was good; unfortunately the waitress didn’t refill my drink enough to let me fully enjoy the tea to my heart’s content.

As we sat across from each other after the terrible meal, both of our plates still half full of fries we made a pact, that Cheddar’s was going on our list of places to never eat again, because the awful service combined with the terrible food made it one of the most all around miserable dining experiences of my life. I would have loved to do the online survey about my meal to make management aware of how things are being run at their restaurant, but the receipt printer was apparently low on ink, making it impossible for me to read the check number that I would need to enter into the survey, so please take this review in lieu of my survey. I will say this though, with the holidays coming up in a few months, I would highly recommend purchasing Cheddar’s gift cards as gifts for the people you are obligated to buy a present for but whom you can’t actually stand. I guarantee you they will have a miserable experience, which is something you can be happy about, which is exponentially better than I felt after my terrible dinner last night.

Three Creative Ways to Reuse Your Solar Eclipse Glasses

IMG_4133Now that the solar eclipse is over we can go back to living our everyday lives and not caring at all about the solar system or our magnificently complex and miraculous universe at all. Now that the event is over, I’m here to save the day by offering up some suggestions for reusing your solar eclipse glasses. Since you’ve already spent the money on them, it would be wasteful and irresponsible to just throw the glasses away, and right now you are probably thinking to yourself that most people didn’t spend more than five dollars on the glasses, so what’s the big deal? First of all, if that’s how you feel, like throwing away five dollars is insignificant then please, by all means, mail me five dollars, because you obviously don’t need it anyway. Secondly, I know for a fact that a lot of people spent quite a bit more money to procure their glasses, especially yesterday on the day of the event, when they were getting desperate to find some, lest they be a complete failure and disappointment to their kids who had been looking forward to watching the eclipse for nearly three days after they heard about it from their bratty know-it-all “friend” that he sits next to in kindergarten. My wife works at the zoo and she told me a shocking number of adults, people who had survived more than twenty years of life, which is pretty miraculous given their stupidity in decision making, were paying the price of admission to the zoo for a pair of the solar eclipse glasses, which believe it or not, is not the dumbest part of the story. They didn’t even go into the zoo. They paid for a ticket at the front gate, got their precious flimsy cardboard glasses and left. Whether you were one of those people, spending way too much money on a cheap set of glasses, or you were more prepared, those of you who planned ahead and bought the glasses in advance, this blog is dedicated to you and helping you find a fun and useful purpose for your eclipse glasses now that the big event is over.

Recycling or reusing something so as not to waste it is not a new concept, but I do believe this is the first time in the history of the world that we have had to look for ways to repurpose solar eclipse glasses, so I guess I’m kind of like a pioneer in a way. You can call me Lewis Anne Clark, although I don’t really care for the feminine middle name given to him. You know how kids are just ungrateful little demons these days? Well with my new plan for your old eclipse glasses your kids will not only be the most thankful and appreciative humans on the planet, but they will also worship you and see you as their hero forever. Let me explain. First, this plan can only be started on a newborn baby, so if you choose this option, let’s call it option A, you need to go ahead and either become pregnant yourself or get somebody pregnant. If you’re already expecting a child that’s even better since you’ve already come to terms with the fact that your life is over and therefore might be more likely to do something irrational and desperate, like trying this incredible plan.

First things first, you’re going to need the glasses and a full role of duct tape in the delivery room with you as soon as your child comes into this world. Before he or she can open their little baby eyes, you’re going to tape the glasses firmly to the face of your child, thus covering the baby’s eyes so he or she can cannot see anything but darkness. This may seem cruel but just bear with me for a minute and you will start to see the genius behind the plan. As the baby becomes an infant then a toddler or the other way around (I’m not really sure on the order of child progression) the baby will be told constantly by the parents that he or she is blind, so that is what the baby will believe. You homeschool the child so as not to draw suspicion from the teachers who might not be one hundred percent comfortable with five plus years of old duct tape permanently intertwined in the hair of an innocent child. Then at some point when you are having a bad day and could really use a pick me up, you remove the eclipse glasses and you become a hero, which instantly erases all of the negativity you had been feeling that day, and your child becomes eternally grateful to you for discovering the cure for blindness. It’s a win-win.

If you don’t have kids and you’re not on board with the idea of having children just so your solar eclipse glasses don’t go to waste, I have just the thing for you; I call the plan Invisible Idiots. I work at a bank so on a daily basis I see people that I find incredibly annoying and it just bums me out sometimes when I have to see them, but now there is an easy solution to a once complicated problem. Whenever an idiot approaches my window in the bank I can just slide my nifty little eclipse glasses on, and voila! they become invisible to me. While it’s not perfect because I still have to hear them, at least I don’t have to see them which is a positive thing, so feel free to take my Invisible Idiot plan with you wherever you should go, and pop those glasses on anytime an idiot walks into your view and threatens to ruin a completely happy moment. Your life will improve greatly.

The third and final way to repurpose your solar eclipse glasses is perhaps my favorite and quite possibly the most practical, although if I have kids I’m going with option A in a heartbeat, because I think I would make a pretty perfect hero. You know how when you eat Chinese food you’re always dropping and losing your chopsticks because of all the slimy sauces that are on the food? No matter where you look, under the table, between the couch cushions, the VCR, you never can seem to find that missing chopstick, but now with the repurposed solar eclipse glasses, you will never have that problem ever again. All you do is take the long cardboard flaps that are supposed to go behind your ears and you use them as chopsticks or as I like to call them, eclipse sticks. They’re connected so there’s no chance of you losing your utensils ever again! Also, that part of the glasses is about three times the width of chopsticks so you can get more food in each bite* without risking it falling out of your grasp and onto your shirt. When you’re done just make sure to completely lick the eclipse sticks clean, because there’s nothing nastier than dried up sauce on your kitchen utensils, and then they’ll be good as new and ready to go the next time the delivery guy comes knocking. Whichever of my genius ideas you decide for reusing your solar eclipse glasses, you won’t be disappointed, plus you can feel good about yourself, knowing that you are doing your part to protect the environment by recycling.

*Putting more food into your mouth increases the risk of choking, so be sure to chew thoroughly to avoid this hazard.

Wendy’s Bacon Queso Crap: A Review

IMG_4100I went to Wendy’s for dinner last night, not because I like Wendy’s, in fact among popular fast food restaurants they are near the bottom on my list of favorites if they aren’t my absolute least favorite, but because it’s that one time of year when corporate realizes they have way too much extra cheese and bacon that is going to go bad soon so they roll out a new product that features these two ingredients. I don’t know why I keep going back time and time again, thinking that maybe I’ll be blown away by the combination of flavors that remain the same despite the changing the name of the product they are selling. This year is the bacon and queso family of products which includes a burger, a chicken sandwich, and of course French fries, all topped with the disgustingly delicious amounts of the stuff, so naturally, I had to try it.

I got the chicken sandwich, because the burger just looked a heart attack waiting to happen, and since I don’t know where I really stand karmically, I figured it was best not to tempt fate with an easy way to get rid of me.  Over the speaker a question was directed at me, “do you want the chicken sandwich regular or spicy?” and since I knew that this meal would likely end with me on the toilet regretting my decision to eat there in the first place, I decided to just go for it, so I confidently replied spicy. I got the fries too, because again, if the canon is going to blow either way, you might as well stuff it full of as much gun powder as you can cram inside.  It was 9.59 for the sandwich and fries, a little more expensive than a regular meal, but I pulled around and gladly paid it, thinking the increased price would translate to more enjoyment of the food, but I’ve been wrong before, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that I was wrong again.

Let’s start with the positives, because at my core, that is what I am truly about, always looking for positivity in negative situations and never complaining because it won’t do any good anyway. The chicken sandwich was great. As I’m not a frequent visitor of Wendy’s I’d forgotten how much I liked their chicken sandwich but it was actually really juicy, with just the right amount of spice, topped with a queso cheese sauce that was also somewhat spicy, and a couple strips of crispy bacon. I was pleasantly surprised by the queso, that it actually tasted like something you might actually find at a low quality Mexican restaurant which was a step up from what I was expecting. If I were just basing my recommendation on the sandwich alone I would definitely encourage you to try it because it actually was surprisingly good, but we haven’t even discussed the fries yet, so buckle up, we’re just getting started.

You might be thinking to yourself, I wonder why Kendall doesn’t go to Wendy’s more because he clearly likes their chicken sandwich, and let me set the record straight, I do, but the main reason I don’t go there is because of the fries, which in my humblest of opinions are the worst fast food fries that exist within the vast tapestry of American fast food chains. They are the most flavorless pieces of sadness that I’ve ever had alongside a burger, but I thought, add queso and bacon and perhaps they will be better. I’ve fallen into this trip before, going to Wendy’s to try the chili cheese fries, the ghost pepper fries, and even the baconator fries that are a mainstay of the menu, none of which couldn’t overpower the underwhelming quality of these horrible fries, but I thought that perhaps this time might be different. I was wrong. While the queso cheese sauce and the bacon pieces were delicious, it wasn’t enough to make the Wendy’s fries edible, so the queso bacon fries can be considered nothing but a colossal failure. So next time you’re thinking about picking up some fast food, I would highly recommend going to an establishment with a more well rounded menu, where the fries and sandwiches are both good, because with all of the options out there today, there really isn’t any reason to limit yourself by sacrificing half of your meal on a mediocre side dish. Maybe Wendy’s will step up their game sometime in the future, but until that time I’m going to be staying far away, until of course they need to get rid of some more bacon and cheese again next year.

What I Didn’t Know About the Solar Eclipse

I don’t normally watch the news, mostly because the anchors tend to annoy me with their over dramatized reporting of insignificant things like “Find out who’s been going through your trash. Is your identity safe? Find out next.” When the commercial break ends it’s a story about raccoons caught on camera digging through a dumpster, so that’s why I prefer to read my news so I’m able to draw my own conclusions on the seriousness of the story rather than having a talking head trying to worry me, but Monday afternoon when I got home from work the news just happened to be on. We keep the TV on during the day for the benefit of the dogs, using it to stifle any noise outside the apartment which would drive them into fits of frightened barking which would in turn make the neighbors hate us, so when I sat down in my chair I heard something that was actually important information for me to find out and it literally saved me from doing something really stupid that would change my life forever. 
    Did you hear about the solar eclipse coming up next week? I don’t know how you couldn’t have heard, because it seems like everyday I hear something about it, but until Monday I wasn’t really paying much attention to it other than the date thinking it would be pretty cool to see when it happens since it’s apparently a once in a lifetime thing. I figured I would just show up to work and when it got unusually dark outside I would rush out to the parking lot to behold the miraculous event. I’m an idiot, which I know is probably a shock to a lot of you since I normally come across as one of the most intelligent people to ever stumble through life, but sadly my complete self confidence was shattered the moment I heard the news report. I don’t remember who was reporting the story about the solar eclipse being a week away, but whomever it was I owe a great deal of gratitude for saving my eyesight. Apparently if you look at the eclipse directly you will become blind, a fact that apparently everyone but myself knows because trust me, I’ve asked around since then, and every person I ask about it looks at me like I’m a complete moron, which I obviously can’t argue against.

 

    There was a news story on my USA Today app a week or so ago with a headline that said something about a company selling solar eclipse glasses and without actually clicking to read the story I just assumed it was a scam or a joke used by some company to cash in out the latest fad that’s taking the world by storm, but now I know that it was an actual legitimate thing and it was I who was being scammed by my idiotic mind. I’m not going to buy a pair of eclipse viewing glasses, so I suppose I’ll miss out on this once in a lifetime experience, but at least I’ll keep my eyesight, which seems like a fair enough trade.

Winning a Marital Disagreement

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For all of the people out there in relationships that are full of disagreements and conflicting opinions, who believe that no matter what, your significant other will never come around to feeling the way you do on certain issues, there is hope. Until today I never would have believed it and have given up on even trying to sway my wife’s opinion, but rejoice my friends because today it actually happened. Over the course of our relationship, my wife and I have had many disagreements over things, some small, like where to go for dinner or how to load the dishwasher, and some big, like whether Lord of the Rings is the greatest movie trilogy of all time, or if we should get dogs or not. Well we’ve never sat down and watched Lord of the Rings together and we now have two chihuahuas so it’s safe to say that I lose a lot more than I win, but today I won, and it feels fantastic.

The biggest fundamental difference of opinion that we have is far bigger than dogs or movies or how to load a dishwasher to make sure that everything gets clean (Seriously why does it matter how you put a spoon in? They’re not that expensive we could just buy more spoons), but rather where the ideal place to live is based on the weather. My wife was born in California and lived there for nine years before moving to Florida where she lived the rest of her life before we moved to Memphis last year, so her opinion was completely biased based on the surroundings she grew up with. She loves hot weather, so between Florida and Southern California that are two of the consistently warm climates in the country, she didn’t think it could get any better. I on the other hand like the cold. I absolutely loved living in Minnesota during the winter of my freshman year of college where snow stayed on the ground for the better part of three months, whereas the four years spent in Florida were some of the most miserable of my life, so we had to come up with a compromise, find a place where we could both get what we wanted, so we moved to Memphis.

We moved here in July, which was perfect for her so she could go from one hellishly hot place to another, but then fall rolled around and the heat relented and I was suddenly a much happier man, my first taste of cool fall air in four years. Last winter was a pretty mild one save for the week where it was consistently in the upper 20’s, but it was nice to have the cold for at least a little while, and to my wife’s surprise, she survived it. Now that it’s miserably hot again she was really enjoying it for a little while, but lately hasn’t been as happy about it, and today she texted me from work telling me that she can’t wait for winter and said she actually appreciates the changing seasons now, so take that Florida and California, Memphis wins (at least in that respect)! That just goes to show you that changes of opinions or preferences can change over the course of a relationship, so don’t give up hope and maybe, just maybe, you will be as happy as I am today.