Holy F*ckballs, We Bought a House

Sooooooooo, a lot has happened since the last time I posted here. The Keeper and I were house hunting from, like, October to December last year. We found a place, bought it, painted it, moved in and we’ve been trying to get it furnished and organized for most of the year so far. Still not quite done with that last part. I’m in the middle of putting a stencil up on a wall in our dining/living room, which is WAY more time consuming than you might expect. Before that there was painting old furniture we got from The Keeper’s grandmother. And before that there was buying furniture. I still don’t have my office set up. But we’re getting there.

A Decent Proposal

As the title of this post suggests, The Keeper proposed to me recently. And he did a damn good job, too. So, I’ve decided to set him forth as an example for anyone out there who is trying to figure out how to go about this, apparently, daunting task.

First, here’s how it all went down:

We were on vacation in the Outer Banks. The Keeper and I had talked before the trip about having a picnic on the beach one of the nights of our vacation. So earlier in the day we bought a picnic basket/cooler and some wine. Then in the evening we grabbed a couple Subway sandwiches, packed them into the cooler with the wine and a couple of plastic mason jar cups with twisty straws, and hauled everything out onto the beach.

 

We tried to pick a place that the was both less populated and close to where we’d crossed the dunes. We ended up close to where we’d entered the beach, but overrun by small children hunting for ghost crabs shortly after we’d spread our blanket out and sat down. We ate our sandwiches and drank our wine and muttered about how it would be nice to have an unobstructed view of the ocean instead of a wall of small children. Eventually the adults that were with the children either decided it was getting too late or realized they were bothering us and they shepherded the kids down the beach some.

We finished our wine, watched the ocean until it got dark enough to see stars, and then laid out on our blanket looking up at the sky. We both exclaimed about how bright the stars were with no city lights to compete with, and then The Keeper said, “Man, this would’ve been a really good time to propose.” And I sort of chuckled and replied, “Oh you just thought of that?” And he said, “Nope”, and pulled out the ring box.

 

And that was pretty much it. He asked the question, I answered, we chatted a bit. Then we went back to the house we had rented.

Now, here are the lessons you should be taking away from this story if you’re trying to figure out how to propose:

1- Unless your partner has specifically said that they want to be put on the spot in front of a huge crowd of people, don’t. An informal poll of all of our female friends, both married and unmarried, suggests that the way The Keeper went about things was perfect. Most people don’t want their answer to such a huge question to be waited upon and scrutinized by a huge group of strangers. Or a huge group of family and friends for that matter. So either find somewhere secluded to pop the question, or if you have to do it in the middle of a crowd somewhere do it in a way that won’t draw the attention of the people around you. That means that if you’re in a restaurant, don’t do that one knee bullshit.

2- Choose a special place. It can be somewhere you go together often and both really like, or somewhere that’s special because it’s new and you’re both excited to be there experiencing it for the first time together. Just try to pick a place that will be worthy of the memory later on. I’m not generally super mushy or sentimental, but I do want to be able to tell people about this event and if the setting had been something boring he would have had to work way harder on the delivery for it to be a good story.

3- Do what feels right for you and your relationship. If it feels right to write out and rehearse a speech beforehand, do that. If it feels better to just wing it when it comes to the words, that’s fine. If you want to go down on one knee, great. If not, that’s ok too. Just take the other two points into account. If the location you’ve chosen means that getting down on one knee will draw a bunch of attention and you don’t know if your partner is ok with that, then either pick a new location or don’t do the knee thing.

That’s it. It’s that easy to get it right. Unless you’re with one of those weirdos who want some outlandish, grand, attention seeking gesture. I don’t know what to tell you about those people.

Am I Alone In Wanting To Be Left Alone?

I was out running an errand tonight and decided to treat myself to some frozen yogurt. So I go into the shop and I’m headed toward the cups when I am accosted by the cashier.

First she welcomes me to the store. Yea, ok fine. I know you’re probably not nearly as cheery and happy as you sound because I also work in food service, but your boss probably requires you to greet the customers so whatever.

Then she asks if I’ve been there before. I had, and I told her that, but why even ask? Why does it matter at all if I’ve been there before?

Lastly, after learning that I’ve bought yogurt from this store before, she thanks me for coming back. Uh… you’re welcome?

Just leave me the hell alone and let me go about my business!! Seriously, am I the only person who actively dislikes all the stupid polite small talk shit that the owners and managers of retail and food service places require their employees to spew at their customers? When I go into a shop of any kind I just want to do my shopping and leave. If I have a question, I will ask.

I don’t need to be greeted, I know you don’t care how my day is and I know you aren’t nearly as happy to be there as you’re pretending to be. So can we just skip that completely pointless interaction? I honestly do not understand why the people who manage these stores seem to think it makes any difference to the customer whether they are greeted when they come in. I have never spoken to someone who was happy with their purchase but wasn’t going to go back to a place because no one said hello when they walked in the door.

I don’t need help. At least not the minute I enter your store. If you’re a retailer, I need to look for the thing I’m there to buy. If you’re a food service establishment, I need to decide what I want to eat. What I do not need is you bothering me before I’m ready to make my purchase. All you’re doing is wasting both our time. Go do something more productive until I’m either ready to leave or I actually do need your help.

I don’t like platitudes, polite small talk or attempts to sell me things. Just leave me alone and let me get what I came for. As long as you’re not rude to me when or if I engage you I will be happy.

Am I alone in this? Do other people actually care whether they’re greeted or like it when a sales person tries to give them a tour or spiel about the products in the store?

LivingSocial From A Restaurant’s Perspective

Living Social, Daily Deals, Groupon and other deal-a-day sites are great for customers. The Keeper and I have bought deals on food, cleaning services and one for a day out at a firing range from Living Social. But what about the businesses that participate in these promotions? To be honest, I never really thought about what the businesses get out of these deals or what impact these deals have on them when they are redeemed. I was just happy to be paying half price. But last Friday I got to experience a Living Social deal from the perspective of someone working in a restaurant. Here’s what went down:

We started getting calls at about 9:30am (an hour and a half before we actually open) from people asking questions about the deal and wanting to make reservations. The deal in question was with Living Social’s brand new “Instant Deals” function and the deal itself was $20 worth of food/drink and you pay only $1. They’re calling it their $1 Lunch deal and it was supposed to be valid from 11am until 2pm.

So when the managers on duty realized what was about to happen when we opened (the manager that handles making promo deals like this was conveniently scheduled until later in the day), they began frantically calling employees who weren’t scheduled to try and bring more kitchen and serving staff in to handle the extra traffic. I work in the back office normally, but being a new employee and knowing that the restaurant was going to be slammed today I volunteered to help out. They stationed me up front with the hostesses to redeem all the deal codes.

We opened at 11am and were pretty much immediately slammed. There was a line of people going out the door waiting for seats and to place carry out orders. There were people who had made reservations who weren’t getting seated because we were so packed. The kitchen was so backed up that people were waiting up to an hour for their food, both dine-in and carry out. We had to cut off service before the time that had been designated on Living Social’s site because of how backed up everything was. It was a nightmare.

Now, to be fair, I doubt this sort of thing happens with the normal deals from Living Social and other such places. Usually it’s a deal for 50% or so and it doesn’t become usable until the day after you buy it. Then there’s an expiration date like any other coupon, so people have weeks, or sometimes months to use the deal. This $1 lunch thing had a window of 3 hours in which to use it before you were refunded your money and the voucher code was no longer valid, so it stands to reason that during that window the places participating would be packed. However, as best we could tell, no one had given Living Social a maximum number of deals we could handle. Their site sold out of our deal before we actually opened, but we have no idea how many deals were bought. This sort of thing is more likely to hurt business than help it, which for the businesses is the entire point of participating.

Pink Eye+New Job= FAIL

After my temp position debacle, I lost all motivation and inspiration. I would sit down to write, but nothing appeared on the screen. Or nothing appeared that I was happy with. I was not quite fully depressed, but definitely in a depression-like slump. The fact that my unemployment benefits came into question because of the shitty temp job did not help.

Then I was contacted by a couple people for interviews and I thought things were looking up. I went to two interviews one week, which was more than I’d had in the previous 4 months or so. But they were both a bust and I continued to wallow in “meh”-ness.

Saint Patrick’s Day came, and with it a phone call. The author of one of the random ads I’d responded to on Craig’s List, despite the lack of simple information like a company name or who to address the emailed resume to, had liked my resume and was interested in speaking with me. But first, for whatever reason, he wanted to make sure we were on the same page regarding pay. He had budgeted $13-14/hour for the position, but since the job was located in the city I was pretty sure that I’d need a minimum of $15/hour to cover the added transportation costs. We signed off of our phone conversation with the understanding that I would do some calculations and let him know if I could make $14 work. The answer was no, but I emailed him to let him know that if he was willing to consider paying the $15/hour for the right candidate then I would still love to come in and interview.

That Saturday, during my monthly Pathfinder game, another man called me from the same business. I explained what I had spoken about and emailed to the first guy and he said they would talk it over and get back to me. A little while later he called back to say that they were still interested in talking to me, so we set up an interview for Monday.

Monday came and the interview went splendidly. I left feeling excited and optimistic. The job would be a pretty basic Administrative Assistant position, but instead of being in a typical office setting I would be working in the back office of a restaurant. A beautiful restaurant with exotic food that smelled delicious. It was perfect. And there would even be room for growth, because this wasn’t just any restaurant. This was a foreign restaurant chain which was trying to expand into the US, and the location where I would be working was the first US location. Now all I had to do was wait while they finished up their other interviews and chose who to hire.

On Friday I spoke on the phone again with one of the two guys I’d interviewed with and was informed that I had gotten the job! They wanted me to start on the following Monday! I was elated! This was the first “real” job I had gotten all on my own, and it felt fantastic.

Then, on Sunday morning, The Keeper started complaining about his eyes. They were irritated and gooey and in pain. By Sunday evening he was having trouble seeing because of gunk forming on his eyeballs and he was fairly sure he had pink eye. In both eyes. My eyes were just fine though, so I decided to go in for my first day of work as planned. I would just tell my new employers as soon as I got there what was going on, so that they would be aware and have warning in the event that I caught this affliction.

On Monday morning I got up, I got ready and I took the bus and the Metro into DC. I arrived at my new job on time and when my new boss began to extend his hand to shake mine I greeted him with the following:

“Hi! Listen, before we get started and before I shake your hand there’s something I should probably make you aware of… this weekend my boyfriend seems to have come down with a double case of pink eye. I haven’t had any problems, my eyes are just fine, but I thought I should let you know before I touch you or anything else here.”

We talked about the situation a little bit and he decided we should probably push back my start date, just to be safe. Since it’s a restaurant and all. I apologized profusely and felt terrible about the whole thing, but I think he was grateful that I brought it up instead of just jumping right in and then saying something when/if my eyes actually started to be a problem.

Excuses

I realize I didn’t explicitly say I was going to try to blog more when I posted my list of 2011 resolutions, but that was kind of my intention with the meme ideas. I wanted to get into some sort of regular schedule, but I seem to be failing spectacularly at that. I mean, the first full week in January I posted on 6 out of 7 days. The next week, twice. Last week, 4 times. And this week is looking like maybe just once. This week I have a pretty good excuse though.

I got a job.

I have been unemployed since February 20th of last year. During that time I have been looking for jobs through Craig’s List and Monster, and I have been in contact with multiple temp agencies. On Monday, one of those temp agencies finally came through with a job for me. It is a temporary position with, forgive me for being vague but I’d like to protect my anonymity, an organization of scientists and healthcare professionals who study diseases of a certain bodily organ. There was no interview and the temp agency initially said that it was a 2-5 week assignment, however I’ve been given the impression that there is a possibility of the position becoming permanent if these people can settle on someone to hire.

The problem is, they don’t seem to be able to find anyone to hire. These people have been through multiple temps from various agencies and have been unhappy with all of them. My temp agency actually submitted me for this position with them weeks ago and they hired someone from a difference agency before coming back to my agency and asking to see my resume again. They asked to see my resume Monday and wanted me to start today. I had to scramble yesterday to buy some work clothes that actually fit and get out to my agency’s office and do the required paperwork.

Today I had my first day of work in almost a year. It kind of sucked. Even ignoring the fact that I’ve come to enjoy being home all day with my cats, my arts and crafts, and my internet it still sucked. It sucked because the guy I’m working for seems incapable of explaining anything in a way that makes sense. He reminds me of my last manager, actually, which makes me wonder if it’s a cultural issue, but that’s neither here nor there. The point is, just based on my experience today, I have a suspicion this place can’t keep temps because they have unreasonable expectations and not because there was something wrong with the temps.

But, a job is a job. I intend to work there at least until the temporary assignment is over. Perhaps once I get acclimated to the place my first impression based opinion will change. I mean, it’s not all bad. I have my own office. Not cube, OFFICE. And there’s a Perfect Pita across the street. How bad can it be?

Obligatory Welcoming Of The New Year- 2011

Over the last couple of months I’ve purposely not posted anything here about the holiday season. There was no post for Thanksgiving, no post for Christmas, and I thought that there would be no post for the New Year.

I don’t have anything in particular against the holiday season, I’ve just always been kind of annoyed by the seemingly obligatory “Happy [insert holiday here]” webcomics and blog posts. And, regarding the New Year specifically, I’ve never really been the type to seriously make resolutions. I’ve always felt that they were just sort of pointless. No one ever sticks to their big, meaningful resolutions for more than a few weeks; which is probably due to the fact that they only made big, meaningful resolutions because it was New Year’s and that’s what you’re supposed to do. So usually, I just don’t make resolutions at all. I might think about things I want to do differently in the new year, but I don’t formalize them into resolutions.

This year, however, I joined Twitter and Twitter doesn’t allow you the number of characters it would take to explain that something is not a resolution, it’s just something you’re hoping to change during the next year. Which means that as I thought of things I should probably do differently in 2011 I had to call them resolutions if I wanted to Tweet about them. And then I decided that if I was going to Tweet about it, I may as well blog about it. So, here we are. These are my resolutions for 2011:

  1. Cook more; order delivery, take out fast food and go out to eat less. I spend money on groceries, I really ought to actually eat some of them.
  2. Leave my apartment on days that are not weekends and for reasons other than D&D or running errands. Seriously, I have been a ridiculous hermit since I lost my job.
  3. Create some sort of cleaning schedule for the apartment and stick to it. This place is such a sty most of the time.
  4. Have more sex. This will require either help from The Keeper, or his permission to be a swinger.
  5. Get an effing job. This is less of a resolution and more of a hope. I would settle for an extension on my unemployment benefits though if necessary.
  6. Create more. Drawing, painting, writing, knitting, cross-stitching, sculpting- all things that I don’t do enough of to actually become skilled at instead of just talented.