Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Dining Dilemma

Ok here's the deal with the dining table. What I really, REALLY want is way outside my budget. There's a shop called Barrio Antiguo that makes tables out of repurposed wood doors. They are gorgeous. And they run in the $1000+ range, which is about twice what I am willing to spend on a dining table.

I spotted one I really like at World Market, that has the same sort of rustic look and feel that I'm going for, but it's too large. Technically, I could squeeze it into my dining room. But I think it would feel too cramped and oversized for the space.

So I'm mentally settling for the one at Walmart. And I shouldn't settle. I should wait and find one that I really love. Blah blah blah. Fine. Back to scouring the furniture stores. Again.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Input Desired

I'm thinking about buying this dining room table. It has the look I want at a price I love. My only hesitation? It's from Walmart. Thoughts?

Click here to see the table.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

An Intrusion

Shanna informs me the official term for a cluster or group of roaches is an "intrusion." Why, yes. That describes it perfectly. And lest anyone be confused, I'm not dealing with the giant cockroaches or tree roaches. I've got an "intrusion" of the small German roaches. Which are equally disgusting, but far less terrifying when it comes to the prospect of crushing them.

Last night was the first time since Saturday that I ventured into my kitchen. I found several dead roaches, which I took to be a good sign. I pulled all of the dishes out of my lower cabinets in order to wash them all. The idea that vermin may have crawled across my pots and pans prompted the desire to clean everything.

While washing dishes, I was able to enjoy the lovely flowers I had received earlier in the week from a friend who knew I was feeling sick. They looked so pretty sitting there behind my kitchen sink.

Then I glanced a little closer. And gasped. The "intrusion" continued to the point of violating my lovely flowers. Here's the close-up shot so you can understand what I'm going through.

At least he was dead. But at this point, they're making me angry. And really, you don't want to get me angry.

Monday, January 24, 2011


My friends, I live. It was touch and go there for a while...but I have pulled through and am reasonably confident the good Lord has released me from the grips of death, otherwise known as the flu.
Oh, it was bad. I haven't been that sick in years. There was one night that I seriously considered calling someone to take me to the emergency room. I don't think I've ever had the flu before (if I did, it was as a child). I never want to have it again. From now on I will be among the first in line to get the flu shot.
By Saturday morning, I could tell I was returning to the land of the living. I had gone five days without drinking coffee (that's how you know I was REALLY sick). I got up and thought to myself "Self, I think I want some coffee."
I went into the kitchen (which hadn't been used in more than a week) and pulled the carafe off the coffeemaker to fill it with water. As I went to place it back on the burner, I jumped back and screamed. My eyes were met with the most appalling sight...there was a NEST of roaches in my coffee maker! A whole cluster...a gaggle of them, if you will. The vile creatures invaded not only the sanctity of my home, but they even entered the Holy of brand-new coffee maker! You can mess with me, but don't mess with my coffee! I grabbed paper towels, crushed the vermin and immediately called an exterminator.
And so began my reentry to normal life. It was a rude awakening. I hope to have happier updates for you from now on...but let's be honest...January hasn't been the best of months so far. Here's to February sucking less.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The End of the Story (I hope)

Sorry for keeping you all in suspense on the status of my car-drama. I moved over the weekend (another reason the car nightmare was horribly timed) and don't yet have access to the internet at my new casa (more to come on the house in a future post).

The dealership did, in fact, deliver my car to me on Thursday evening. I received no further communication from them until I emailed the head manager of the entire dealership to tell him about the horrible customer service I received at his business. I pasted my entire blog entries into the email and told him I would never do business with his company again.

Here's his response, which I will post without adding any commentary of my own. Draw your own conclusions.

"Mrs. Johnson,

My apologies for the service you received at Momentum Mini. In most instances such as these I am informed by our clients so that I may have an opportunity to assist in the service however you did not allow me that courtesy. I find it very disheartening that you will be posting and blogging about one single incident here at our location which is hardly fair I believe. We service over 200 vehicles a day and have a great reputation in our service department which is reflected in our customer satisfaction surveys. However we regret that you will be taking your Mini to other locations for service, the other two locations are great facilities.


Monty Meave
Dealer Operator
Momentum BMW/Mini

Thursday, January 06, 2011

An update

Two and a half days after dropping my car off for a brake pad replacement job, I still don't have my vehicle back. This morning at 7:45, the technician called and left me a message, saying they found a leak in the oil pan and need to replace that as well. "I'll try to have your car done early today. I'll call you when it's ready," he said in the message.

Three hours later I still hadn't heard anything, so I called him and asked for the status on my car. "Oh, didn't you get my message?" he asked. "Yes, I got your message. You said you're working on it and would have it ready soon so I'm calling to find out when it will be ready."
"Oh, ok. Let me check," he said. He put me on hold and then came back a couple minutes later and said "it will be ready at 5pm." WHAT?? You have got to be kidding me! How in the world can you possibly need another full day to work on it??

His explanation was that it takes about five hours to replace an oil pan. Mind you, he had called and alerted to the oil pan issue at 7:45 in the morning. Add five hours and you should come to the reasonable conclusion that my car could be ready by no later than 12:45. So obviously no one had even bothered to start working on the vehicle yet.

He then suggested that I wait until tomorrow morning to return the loaner and pick up my car. I told him that was absolutely impossible as I am moving tomorrow and have to be at my new house at 8am to wait for the gas guy and furniture delivery. His next suggestion was that I keep the loaner until MONDAY.

Are you out of your mind? I am not going to leave my car at the dealership for a WEEK just to get some new brake pads and an oil pan!!! Unbelievable. So I informed him that instead of keeping my car even longer, what he would need to do is deliver my car to me at my office and pick up the loaner from me this afternoon. He tried to tell me he doesn't have enough man power for that and I told him that the manager of the dealership could personally deliver my car if no one else is available. Then I told him to have his manager call me so we could confirm this plan.

Fifteen minutes later, the technician called me back (the manager never bothered to contact me) and asked for my work address to deliver the car. That's the last I heard.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A rant about Momentum MINI

If you don't feel like reading my customer service tirade, I'll go ahead and sum up the main point for you: Momentum BMW/MINI has horrible service and I will never, ever purchase a vehicle from them or have a car serviced there or in any way ever pay them another dollar and I will encourage everyone I know never to patronize their establishment either.

That being said, allow me to tell you the story of my car repairs.

Last week, my brake light came on in my car. I called my dealership to make an appointment and bring it in for repairs. My appointment was for Tuesday morning at 8am. I assumed that would give me ample time to have my brake pads replaced and get to work by 11 or 12 that day. Oh how wrong I was.

I dropped my car off and asked how long the service would take. I was told the car would be ready by midday or early afternoon. I said I definitely needed it by midday because I needed to be at work.

While I was there, the technician informed me that my service warranty had expired. I told him that was impossible because my warranty is good for 3 years or 36,000 miles, neither of which I have reached. He said his system showed it expired two days ago, on January 2nd. But he said if I could bring in my paperwork showing when I purchased my car, he could get the issue resolved. Ok, fine. He told me he would call me after the car went through diagnostics and let me know exactly what was wrong with the brakes. I told him that I wanted to have my car serviced one way or the other, regardless of what happened with the warranty. I need brakes.

A shuttle service took me home, where I immediately pulled out my paperwork and called the technician to verify that I had the documents showing my purchase date. He then informed me that my paperwork would not be sufficient after all and that I would need to contact the sales department of the dealership that sold me the car and get them to confirm the warranty.

So I called my original dealership and asked them to check my paperwork and confirm it. They assured me they would contact my service technician and authorize the service because my warranty should still be active. They said there was a mistake with the corporate office and they would get it cleared up.

So I sat at home and waited for notification that my car was ready for pick up. I waited. And waited. Four hours after dropping my car off, I still had received no phone call. So I called the technician and asked him what the status was on my car. He launched into a spiel about how my warranty still wasn't cleared up and he didn't know if the work would be covered. I reminded him that regardless of the warranty issue, I needed the service completed on my car. I then asked if the work was finished and he said they were just now getting it into diagnostics. I told him I needed to get to work and was astonished that after four hours of waiting they still had not even determined what kind of work needed to be done. "Oh, I didn't know you needed to go to work," he replied. "I told you this morning that I needed to be at work today. And now you're telling me that the car hasn't even made it into the shop yet? How do you expect me to get to the office?" He said he would have the technician "speed it up." He then told me he would call me after the diagnostics and confirm the repairs needed.

In frustration, I called my boss and explained the situation to him. My boss had to drive to my house to pick me up and bring me to work.

Once at work, I waited to hear the status of my car. No one called. Finally, at 4:40, nearly nine hours after dropping my car off, I called the technician to ask about my car. "Oh, we still haven't figured out the warranty issue, so we haven't done the work," he said. "WHAT? You mean you've had the car all day and haven't done any work on it?? Why not?" He then proceeded to tell me that my dealership had contacted him and told him to do the work on good faith while they worked to clear up my warranty issue, but that he couldn't do the work on good faith because if something went wrong he would be responsible and have to pay for it out of his own pocket. "I already authorized you to do the service," I said. "I told you I would pay for it if we couldn't get the warranty issue resolved. Now I am stuck at work with no transportation and I don't have a way to get home tonight or get back to work in the morning, not to mention that my car still isn't repaired which means you'll have to keep it for another day. You never bothered to call and tell me any of this or inform me that I would have no transportation for another day. This should have taken no more than a couple hours. You've now had my car an entire day without doing anything. This is ridiculous. I want to speak to your manager."

Of course, the moment I dropped the word "manager" he immediately began to apologize and asked me if I wanted a loaner car and told me he could have the work done on my vehicle by 10am the next morning. I said I wanted to talk to a manager immediately and wanted someone to answer my questions about why no service had been done on my car and no one took the time to notify me of that fact. He put me on hold, then a few minutes later came back and told me his manager wasn't immediately available and he would have him call me.

An hour later, at 5:30pm, no one had called. So I called back and told the receptionist that I needed to talk to a manager immediately about the fact that my car was still there and I was without transportation. She took all my information, put me on hold, and then came back and told me the manager was in a meeting and would call me within 30 minutes.

An hour later, at 6:30pm, no one had called. So I called back again and demanded to speak to a manager. I was told they were all in a meeting, at which point I demanded someone interrupt the meeting and pull the manager out to talk to me.

Finally the manager, Andrew, got on the phone. I explained the situation to him. He never apologized. He just said "well I guess we need to figure out your transportation situation. We can call a cab for you to take you home tonight." I told him that I had already contacted a friend for a ride home because he hadn't returned my phone calls for hours and I wasn't going to sit around and wait for him.

He said he would have a shuttle at my house at 7:30 the next morning to bring me to the dealership and give me a loaner and get my service issue resolved.

At 7:05 this morning, the dealership called me and informed me their shuttle service doesn't start that early and they wouldn't be at my house until 8am.

I finally got to the dealership. The manager didn't bother to meet me there until I specifically requested to talk to him. I had to wait 15 minutes for him to show up. I explained the whole story to him and told him how appalled I was at the horrible customer service. His explanation was "obviously there were multiple breakdowns in communication." He then authorized a loaner vehicle for me and promptly walked off. I was at the dealership for nearly an hour, waiting to process the loaner.

More than two hours later, he called to tell me my warranty was approved and they would begin the brake repairs on my car. More than 24 hours after dropping it off, they are finally working on my car. And because of how long it has taken, I will not be able to pick up my car until tomorrow morning. Which means 48 hours after dropping it off for brake pads, I will have my car back.

Let me reiterate: no one from the company ever returned any of my calls. I had to call them. Every single time. No one informed me of any progress, or lack thereof, on my car. I had to ask for updates. Every single time. No one contacted me with regard to my warranty issues. No one confirmed my transportation needs after leaving me without a vehicle. No one apologized. And no one offered any sort of compensation or service or in any way attempted to redeem the situation.

Never, ever do business with Momentum MINI/BMW. I plan to tell everyone I know not to do business there. And I can't wait to fill out my customer "satisfaction" survey.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Hail Mary Pass?

One thing I think I've well-established by now is the fact that my family is crazy. I know many of you think YOUR family is crazy. But mine is the real deal.

Even the family members who are closer to the sane end of the spectrum are still above the average level of crazy. Take my grandmother, as an example. She's generally a regular gramma, wearing her little cardigans and making the Christmas biscotti and fudge. But every once in awhile, you get a little taste of the crazy.

On Christmas Eve, as our family festivities were winding down, somehow the subject of dating came up. Now mind you, no one was questioning me or giving me grief about my dating life. We were merely discussing the issue. But gramma, who is a bit hard of hearing, got the wrong idea.

*Pause for momentary rabbit trail. Gramma can't hear very well anymore. She has a hearing aid, but doesn't like to actually use it. This is actually entertaining when someone says something like "close the front door" and gramma responds "what about the sweet corn?"

Ok, back to the story. So gramma hears the dating conversation, but she doesn't hear the actual details. So she jumps to the conclusion that everyone is making fun of me for being single. She jumps out of her chair, runs back to her bedroom, all the while yelling "hold on, hold on...God told me what's going to happen."

We're all a little confused at this point. She runs back into the room, clutching her rosary beads. "Now y'all stop making fun of her," she says to the room...still under the impression that I'm the butt of single-girl jokes. "God told me about your husband," she proclaims, thrusting the beads into my hands.

"Umm, ok Gramma. What did God tell you?"

"Look at that bead," she commands, pointing to one of the Our Fathers on the chain.

The beads are carved out of stone and I look closely at the one she points out. There's an aberration in the markings on the stone that looks like the number 35.

"God told me that 35 is for you," she announces. "When you're 35, you'll have a husband and a baby."

I'm a little unclear on whether I get the husband and the baby in the same year, or whether the husband comes earlier followed by the child, in which case by the time I'm 35 I will finally be a complete and whole person in the eyes of my family.

Either way, the beads have spoken.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Back on the Blogwagon

Hello friends!

Apologies for my loooong absence from the QQ! I'm back and hope to be a bit more consistent with my stories.

Now settle in, chilluns. I've got a good one for ya. What could be a better way to start off the new year than with an Awkward Guy post?

The scene: A glitzy New Year's Eve party
The characters: Your heroine (looking stunning in a slinky little black number, if I do say so...), an Awkward Guy, supporting cast
The story:

There I was, standing next to a friend of mine chatting about this and that, when up walks a guy I've known for many years with another guy in tow behind him.
"Laurie, I want you to meet my friend, John. He and I used to be roommates long ago. He's in town this weekend and I wanted you to meet him."

There stands John, looking ever so slightly uncomfortable, but also a little overly eager.
"Hello, I'm Laurie. Nice to meet you. You're in town for the weekend? Obviously you don't live in Houston, where do you live now?"

John says he now lives in the hill country region of Texas, an area I myself used to live in. "OH!" I exclaim. "I used to live a few miles from there!"
John smiles, nods and says nothing.

Errrm. Ok let me try that again.

"It's such a pretty part of Texas!" I add.

John nods and says "yes it is." Then stares. For a long time. Saying nothing.

Meanwhile my two other friends who had been standing nearby have completely cleared out. I'm in a deadzone. There is no escape.

After a pause that felt like an eternity, John asks me what I do for a living.
"I work in radio," I reply.
"Which station?" he asks.
"The NPR affiliate," I respond.
"And you're a CHRISTIAN??!" he exclaims.

We are off to a great start.
Let me take a moment to pause and remind all you single fellas out there that insulting a woman about her occupation is usually not the best method to impress her. It's not like I said I'm a stripper. I work in radio. News broadcasting and classical music. Not exactly the devil's work.

So I proceed to lay into him about how much I love my job and that Christians need to stop complaining about liberal bias in the media and start being a part of the things going on around them etc etc etc...then I finally cooled down and ended my tirade with "so what do you do?"

"I'm an allergist." Long stare. Silence.

"Do you enjoy your work?" I ask.

"Yes, I do. You know they say it takes 100,000 people to support one allergist. So I travel a lot." Long stare. More silence.

Here's another free tip for the have to actually talk when you're having a conversation with a girl. You can't just stare. Or stand there. Or wait for her to come up with all the questions. Because what will happen is she will do exactly what I did, which is say "I'm going to go dance with my friends. Nice meeting you." And she will walk off and then blog about you.