Tuesday, September 29, 2009


As promised, the "Puh" restaurant mentioned in a previous post, did indeed get a surprise visit from the Department of Agriculture last week.

I was pleased with how quickly they responded to my request.

I was not entirely pleased with the outcome, as there didn't seem to be one.

I received a phone call a few days ago regarding my complaint about a employee who was apparently, according to fellow employee,s coughing all morning long. The Department of Agriculture determined that:

  • The employee did not have a fever, (I wasn't aware they took temperatures - seriously, how would they know this) and thus, she could not be forced to clock out for the day. I was directed to a website where I could find and read the code for myself, although, in his words, "it is quite extensive". No thanks. He was quite clear. A cold doesn't warrant an employee going home. A fever does. Ok. I get that. But THAT wasn't my beef. My issue was over the coughing followed by an offer to serve me with bare hands.
  • The proper signage about washing hands is displayed in the restaurant. Again, all well and good. Had the employee simply said, "Let me take a moment to wash my hands" my issue would be a mute point. THIS is what I stressed. There was coughing and then an immediate, "How can I help you". Yuck.
  • Many of the cupcakes had paper liners, and thus the employee didn't need to use tongs. Um, I never mentioned a cupcake in my complaint. And the item I was purchasing did not have a paper liner. Neither did the cookie I ended up receiving in my bag.
  • I basically got nowhere.

In my opinion, the employee acted irresponsibly. She coughed. She didn't offer to wash her hands. When I suggested it, she did so and then walked off in a huff. She did not follow the signs posted about hand washing, and her customer service skills lacked actual skill.

I still believe I did the right thing in calling her out and calling the Department of Agriculture in.

Will I go back? Yes. Will they remember me? I don't know. Does this happen in restaurants often? I'm sure it does. If I witness something like this in the future should I just ignore it? No.

No matter what your job. Do it responsibly. If you are in a service profession, service your customers well.

Even in my Mary Kay business, I have cotton balls, disposable eye shadow applicators, and disposable mascara wands for my customers, plus a brush cleaner and sanitizer. Anything going on someone's face is disposable. My samples are sealed - one to a customer, or a I use a small spatula to put a bit of lipstick on someone's tray. It takes a bit more effort, but it is essential. Nothing sits out open in the air, I don't allow my customers to handle the bottles themselves (I squirt, rather than having several customers handle the bottles) and my fingers don't touch the client's face (unless they are really needing some application help). At most facials, I do Satin Hands on the women first, as it insures that they have washed their hands at the beginning of the appointment.

It's not difficult.

Do your job well.

Or go wash your hands of it and find something else to do.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

More Unplanned Seinfeld References

No more Muffie talk. However, before I drop it for good, let me add that I am so tempted to walk back into the "puh" establishment and yell, "Top of the muffin to you! Everybody feeling well enough to work today? I hope so, because you will be getting a surprise visit from the Department of Agriculture. Come on, now. Look alive. Spit spot! Oh, no, no, no, no, no! No, don't actually spit."

But, alas, no. I'm moving on to more interesting topics. Topics such as, getting dressed in the morning.


Today was a lazy day. This basically means that I do not have to be anywhere until pre-school pick up at 12:45. It's the kind of day where, if I owned them, I would hang out in my beautiful mommy yoga clothes. All day. No makeup - ok, maybe a little concealer, tinted moisturizer, and mascara. And lip gloss. I may be lazy, but it doesn't affect my vanity.

My goals to be accomplished before noon: unpack boxes of books sitting in my living and carry stacks of them down from the third floor. Arrange all of them on the shelves in the living room. Straighten up the dining room. Rehearse a few songs in preparation for leading music at our 4Kidz Service next Sunday. So actually, if you think about it, when you combine unloading books, climbing and descending three flights of stairs several times while carrying stacks of books, and bouncing around to some highly aerobic dance movements set to worship tunes, yoga pants do actually apply.

I'm not lazy after all! I happen to dress based on mood.

Woke up, put on my not so beautiful mommy yoga pants, and a new swingy shirt with a bit of smocking along the neckline, and long sleeves that gathered at the wrist, tied a bandanna on my head, and turned towards my mirror to face A PIRATE STARING BACK AT ME.

Yes, I almost left the house looking like a pirate. And to think I usually wear silver hoop earrings also.

I can just hear it now upon needing to run errands later in the day, "Mom, are you ready to go? What's taking so long?"

"Just a minute, hon, I can't find my eye patch. Or lip gloss."


Maybe the neighbors would have thought nothing of it. Just that crazy chick from Chicago rehearsing for the Halloween Hop a month early.

Come to think of it, I don't actually know what a Halloween Hop is.

But, I'm ready for it. All costumed up. With ridiculous items from my very own closet.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Can't Touch This

For as much as Elaine liked them, she wouldn't have eaten this Muffie either, had she experienced first-hand what I did.

After a nice lunch with Zane and Grams, during which Zane inhaled chicken noodle soup, I agreed to get him a treat. This chain of a restaurant offers much in terms of sandwiches, soups, and salads, as well as, treats. The little man gobbled the soup, so a post-lunch nosh was definitely deserved.

As he peered through the glass, I knew what he would choose. There was only one left. One.

Chocolate Chip Muffie. Always, always, always, makes me think of Seinfeld. Ah, Seinfeld, if only you and Arrested Development were still on the air - for only these two shows could have brought hilarity to my Muffie conundrum.

I can hear you asking. And the answer is "no". Nope. Not gonna tell you where we were dining. You can do that guesswork yourself. Chain. Free wireless. Sandwiches. Soups. Salads. Treats.

Oh, by the way, Zane and I are currently working on phonics. We are up to "P". The "P" makes a "Puh" sound.

As the food service worker turned to ask what we needed, she coughed - not a dry cough (like that matters), but, rather, a phlegmy cough. And not into her elbow. More like her wrist. I glanced at her hand. Naked. No plastic glove on the hand. Noticing that we were watching her, she coughed again quite dramatically into her elbow.

"What can I get you?"

I knew there was no way I was going to let her pick up that Muffie with her naked hand. Not now. No way. No how. I had to say something.

"Well, before you get us anything, I would love it if you would wash your hands."

Now, my mother in law can serve as a witness and will, if asked, verify that I delivered this response as sweet as a Muffie. I didn't want to embarrass the girl.

I also didn't want her germs all over my kid's Muffie.

Her reaction was one of the reasons I call corporations to complain about customer service.

She stared me down. Said nothing. Turned abruptly and walked to the sink to wash her hands. I thought she'd at least say something, or would wash her hands and turn back around to address me.

"Thank you. It's just with cold and flu season . . . and, well, you know, it's for my son. I wouldn't want him to get sick."

Silence. Backed turned.

"I'm not trying to be mean. Just safe."

Silence. Backed turned.

And . . . exit. She walked off. No, "Let me get someone else to help you". Just dried her hands and walked back in to the kitchen.

Another gal asked if she could help, and I mentioned that I had asked the first girl to wash her hands because she had coughed onto her non-gloved hand. I also mentioned that she seemed, well, pissed, that I had called her out.

"Yeah," the second gal answered, "we've been ragging on her all day about being sick. She's been coughing all morning and should probably go home."


She's been coughing all morning? She's a FOOD SERVICE WORKER! Serving FOOD! No gloves. Nothing between her sicko germs and my, not to mention the other customer's, food.

I've yet to call management. I just got too busy. But, I will, as this only occurred on Monday, so I can still make a stink.

We bought our Muffie from the second, non-coughing, non-sneezing gal who placed it in the bag, and then drove home so Zane could enjoy it.

Only to reach home and open the bag to reveal a Peanut Butter Cookie. No Muffie.

Great service . . . "Puh".

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Writer's Challenge: A Guest Post By Harper Atkins

I am entering a writer's challenge. My mom talked me in to it.

I said it was MY chose!! But then she said we are a family that tries everything. So now am in a writer's challenge. I have to write about what my favorite place is in beaver county. I am deciding on two places. Castle toys or the little dinner. I thought this was not going to be fun. But it is!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Something Old, Something New

Nope. Nobody is getting married.

Just borrowing a catchy phrase reserved primarily for weddings because no other title could fit more perfectly.

I'm second hand rose. Goodwill, Salvation Army, and consignment shops are my frequent haunts. I enjoy the process of sifting through racks of second hand goods, and then rejoice when I find that Ann Taylor shirt, or those pants from the Gap for $2.99. I have a set of Christmas snowman dessert dishes and mugs (service for 8) for which I paid $6.00. Yes, it takes time to find items and one must really be passionate about the hunt. Yes, the items have been worn, or used by others (although not in the case of the Christmas goods), but I simply don't care.

It's fun. I always find incredible items. I think I like the thrill of the chase.

Walking down 3rd street the other day, I passed an empty store front that used to house a bead store. Since moving here, I've always joked that I would rent the space and open a used book store - Beaver needs one. So, surprise, surprise, when we walked by last weekend only to glance in the window and see Prada shoes. Prada? Beaver? Huh?

I looked at the display in the window and immediately started salivating. Ask Harper. She will confirm that Mom was panting.

The display not only had Prada shoes, but an eclectic mix of handbags, jeans, and some funky blouses. I sniffed the air. My spidey senses tingled. Can you say motherload?

Girls, there's a new designer consignment boutique opening in September and of course, you know who, marched right inside, introduced myself to the owner, shared my passion for consigning, and gave her my card. A very casual conversation followed. One that hinted of her hiring me for a few hours here and there.

Um, yes. And. Yes.

Something old. Never underestimate the power of older designer fashions!

Ok, now for some real honesty. I diversity stalked today. The place was Brady's Run. The creek. As we came off a trail on which we were hiking, the kids mentioned that they wanted to play in the creek. The place was packed, as the weather has been amazingly beautiful. I immediately noticed a black woman (yes, I said black, for how am I to know if she's from African descent) with great dreds playing with some children in the creek.

I sidled on up to her and made chit chat. The surfacy chit chat lasted only about two minutes by which point we were hooked and moved on to deeper conversation. She grew up here. Shared with us about some homes in Bridgewater that were on the underground railroad back in the day. Told us where we can get "soul food" and how I must get down to the Strip District - no, no, no, that doesn't mean pole dancers and pasties, but rather the international market scene. No naked flesh. At least I don't think.

We chatted about Beaver County and about race, both from her black and my white perspective - of which, interestingly enough, we had made similar observations. She shared how she can't stand being called "African-American" and prefers "black". I concurred. "Nobody calls me an Italian-American", I added. She confirmed, once again, that I am a cake-eater. We laughed as I shared that I must be the only cake-eater hunting under the couch cushions for quarters so that I can hit up Aldi! She mentioned her need to find a church and we talked about Four Mile.

And then I learned she works as a massage instructor where I take yoga.

She invited me to come in any day when she is teaching, as the students need to to get in their hours on, well, people. I'm people.

She also noticed my Mary Kay key chain and told me that she throws all types of parties for her students and wanted to book a Mary Kay party.

Something new. All it took was a simple introduction in a creek.

I am convinced, yet again, that when we stick to our comfortable circles we miss out on God's surprises for us.

My passion for "something old" may have just landed me a very small position at the consignment shop. Seriously, can you even imagine?

My passion for "something new" landed me a new friend today.

Who knows what's coming around the next bend.

Something borrowed? Something blue?

Penny in my new Prada shoe?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Monochromatic, Part Two

Thank you, readers, for your comments about my last post. Between my blog, facebook, and neighborhood conversations, this last post has gotten people talking. Talking well. Not heated. Rational. Respectful. It's been really interesting.

Enough so that I feel the need to expand a bit. To think further.

When Harper made the comment she did about her class being void of "black people" it was obvious that she was shocked by the absence of a color other than white (as our environment back in Evanston was incredibly colorful). However, it has taken me a few days to realize that Harper may only see diversity in terms of the color of one's skin.

As I talked with neighbors about the post, (thanks for reading, and thanks for the parsley), I came to learn that this area does have cultural diversity - maybe not in terms of skin pigmentation, but in terms of ethnic background. Polish, Czech, and Scottish backgrounds abound. However, through the eyes of an 8 year old, there are only white people. To her, this insinuates that everyone is the same.

We are not.

One can not look at another and immediately glean their ethnic background. There are white Africans. There are black Irish - those with unexpected dark hair and eyes.

Can any of us really pinpoint one's heritage from merely glancing at the color of their skin?


How exciting is that?

So, this got me thinking. While I do lament the decrease in the a visual difference that abounds in this small pocket of the human race called Beaver, I still have a lot of culture to seep up.

Diversity is not merely skin deep. Everyone is colorful on the inside.

It comes down to something so elementary. Respect what's on the outside. Respect what's on the inside.

Treat others the way you would want to be treated.

Remember this from the 70's?

Question: What's your ethnic background? I probably can't tell by just looking at you, but I'm interested.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


There was a time in her young life when Harper didn't notice skin color.

I will never forget a few summers back when while sitting in the car waiting for the light to change, we watched a group of African American kids crossing the street in a single file line.

"Mom, Karen must be in that summer camp." (Karen being our Ghanaian neighbor).

I cringed.


"Why would you say that, honey?"

To which she responded, quite matter of fact, and as if I were blind, "Because they are all the same height."

Fast forward to today. First day of school in Beaver, PA. George and I have realized all along that we were moving from a mecca of racial diversity to one that doesn't have such a colorful human palette. Sheesh, I actually saw a Muslim woman walking down the street the other day, covered from head to toe, and I wanted to pull over and take her to lunch. However, it's Ramadan, and I realized that I'd have to wait and invite her to dinner after sunset. I seriously went through the entire conversation in my head.

I've become a diversity stalker.

We did not, however, realize how much Harper would notice the absence of "red and yellow, black and white" (well not so much the white), to quote the popular "Jesus Loves the Little Children."

For upon talking about her first day of school, Harper had one "complaint".

"There are no black students in my class!"

"Do you find that odd, Harper?"

"Um, YEAH. A little bit." (emphasis on the valley girl "yeah" and an upswing in her tone at the end of bit). She was clearly not pleased.

"Well, did you see any black or even Asian students at school today?"

"I think I saw one."


"I don't know. I've only met the kids in my class. Maybe I'll meet other kids."

Zane tired to help, "Harper, are there any Alaskeeans?"

"It's Alaskan, Zane. And I don't know."

"How about someone from the South Pole?"

I feel sad for her. She was raised, from birth, in such a culturally diverse area. And while we like it here and have no hesitation about being here, I can't help but think that she is missing out on having friends of color.

And Zane. He hasn't had the opportunity she has had to mix with families of different races, religions, or ethnic customs and traditions. We've already had an incident where a little friend of his acted "Chinese".

Zane told us about it and I seriously thought I would explode. Calmly I shared that the behavior was entirely unacceptable and that God made all people. We are to respect the beauty of His creation, and that includes people of all races.

Harper was horrified, "Zane! We don't do that!"

"I didn't! It was 'so and so'".

How do I, a white Christian mother adequately teach my kids about other races and faiths and ethnic backgrounds without the benefit of living near actual people who hold some of these differences? I've never had to be intentional about this before. This is new territory for me. Literally in my 40 years of life, this is the first time I've ever lived in such an environment.

I grew up outside Washington D.C. where diversity was a given. I dated Cuban, African American, Korean, and a Sid Vicious look-a-like (ok, maybe that doesn't completely fit with this discussion, but he was different).

Upon heading to college I was naive enough not to realize the need for discussions about diversity and unity. It never occurred to me that people of different racial backgrounds didn't get along. I mean, I knew that historically our country had experienced racisim, but I had no idea there were actually problems on our campus. I also never realized until seeing the film, "Remember the Titans", that I had even grown up in an area with tension. However, I have always been white, (surprise), so mine is a white perspective. I just knew that I simply got along with everyone. I never saw a difference.

Would you believe that a week after 9-11, upon selling our Honda Civic to a Muslim gentleman, someone actually said to us, "You better hope he is planning to use that car as a car and not as a bomb." Shame. On. You.

I have always had friends of different colors, different races, and different faiths.

Add to the mix being married to someone who served as the Director of Missions and Evangelism for part of his time at our former church and you've got a family who had the amazing opportunity of meeting Christians from all over the world! Hey, you think about trying to nurse your baby while wearing a sari that you wore to an event, forgetting that you would need to nurse your son at some point, only to have a wise Indian woman offer rice pudding to your 2 month old. I took her wisdom.

Zane loved it.

My boobs? They did not.

So here we are. And let me reiterate, so as not to worry any local readers. We like it here. God called us here. We are ALL IN.

My children will no doubt have a different experience than I did over these next few formative years. And thus, I will do the work that I need to do as their mother to keep them from becoming ethnocentric (I learned that word in college and love using it), or racist against those who may look, or worship, or live differently then we do.

I'm sure you can tell I'm struggling over this. Any wisdom out there?