Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Man, I am just on an absolute tear of good luck and free stuff, because it continued tonight. Here is what happened.

It actually started out not so well. A water main broke right near our house, causing our neighborhood and many others to be put on a boil water alert. I knew that this meant no washing dishes, so rather than cook dinner and have a bunch of dirty dishes sitting around until tomorrow night (which would drive me crazy, because I like to make sure the kitchen is clean before I go to sleep), I suggested that we go out for dinner. So, we went to The Olive Garden, which is not my favorite place to go, but Paul likes it, and I was feeling ambivalent, and we still had about eight bucks left on an Olive Garden gift card that I won back in the spring. So we got in the car and drove a few neighborhoods over.

Paul ordered a chicken dish, and I ordered a pizza with lots of veggies on it, the idea being that we would share both. So we're sitting there finishing up our salad, and our wait person comes out with our food. The chicken's fine, but the pizza has big chunks of sausage on it, which is definitely not what I ordered and really not what I wanted. She apologized, said something about maybe grabbing the wrong one (the place was surprisingly crowded for a Tuesday, maybe because other people didn't feel like cooking during a boil water alert either), and walked back to the kitchen.

Then the manager came out. He was terribly apologetic -- way more apologetic than was really necessary, we thought, especially since I was already having some of Paul's chicken and it wasn't that big of a deal -- and said that my pizza would be out in a minute. And, he said, we wouldn't have to pay for it. And, he continued, he would like to offer us a free dessert too. Score again! As he walked away, Paul and I just looked at each other and giggled.

For those keeping score at home, this makes one free hotel room, free brunch mimosas, a free pair of jeans to replace a faulty pair, and more or less free dinner and dessert at The Olive Garden, all in two weeks. And now that I think about it, last month I got a free pair of pants from J. Crew because the pair they sent me had a giant stain on it, and when I complained, I got a refund, and then managed to get more or less all of the stain out with Oxi Clean anyway. (Oh Oxi Clean, how did we ever manage to live without you?) The funny part is that I didn't feel any anger toward any of these companies to prompt any of this good will (well, maybe I was a little pissed about the jeans), but somehow companies keep screwing up around me just enough to tip the scales in my favor. Now I just have to hope that my fortune won't reverse itself and bad things won't start happening!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Right, right, right: the jeans. So yeah, back in June, I bought these awesome jeans at the Mavi store in NYC. I spent the most I have ever spent on a pair of jeans, but I really liked them, and they fit perfectly, and I had other pairs of Mavis that I bought years ago, and it was time for a new pair. I didn't wear them for much of the summer, since it was hot out, and who wants to wear jeans when it's hot? (And I have to say, for a short girl, I have pretty nice legs, so I like to actually show them when the weather permits.) So I really got maybe three months of wear out of them before the top button started giving me trouble. It wasn't a normal top button, but instead a loose button on a post that was larger at the end so that the button wouldn't slide off. I guess it was a cool design, but it was definitely flawed, because sure enough, the button started sliding/popping off the post. I was always able to find it and pop it back on, but it was annoying, and I was afraid that soon I wouldn't be able to find it, and then I'd have a pair of jeans with no top button. And a pair of jeans without a top button is, I think you will agree, quite useless. Furthermore, an expensive pair of jeans with no top button is just plain infuriating.

Recognizing that I was on a good consumer streak, what with the free hotel room and all, I sent a polite but frustrated email to the company. Within a few hours, they got back to me: here is a UPS tag, send us your broken jeans, we will replace them immediately. Score! And actually, their email said that they would replace them with "new pairs," so maybe I'll get a second pair out of this. That would be truly awesome, but even if I don't, I'm okay with that. I just want a pair of jeans -- good jeans that fit properly -- with a reliable top button. Anything more is gravy. Mmmmm, gravy.

Monday, November 10, 2008
Hmm. It appears that I have let another week go by without writing anything here. I guess it was bound to happen, as last week I finished up my freelance projects for the season, and there was some crunching and last-minute-y stuff going on, and then I just felt wiped out and wanted only to sleep for hours and hours when I was finished. But things are less hectic now, and yow, what an upbeat, optimistic week it has been! Needless to say, I am more than pleased with the results of the election.

But on to other things. I spent Saturday and Sunday in Chicago hanging out with cousin Steph and some of her friends. Steph lives in NJ, so when she's this close to where I live, I try to make the effort to see her. It was, of course, great to see her, and we had a good time eating and talking about family and playing Catch Phrase and all. I was especially psyched when we went to Piece for live band karaoke, and Steph got up on stage and belted out "Sweet Child O' Mine," because that is something I could never do. (Sing in front of other people, that is.) I couldn't carry a tune if it had ergonomic handles. But Steph and her friend Laura were a cappella singers at Penn, and, as my brother Evan later commented, put two former a cappella singers at a karaoke bar, and they'll go nuts. Indeed!

But a definite highlight of the weekend was the free stuff. Bear with me, because there's some explanation here. It's not like people are just giving out free stuff in Chicago. (Although when Paul and I were there with my parents over the summer, some guy on the street was giving out free Monster energy drinks, which is how I tasted it and how I know that it is freakin' nasty. Paul didn't like it, and neither did my mom. "No wonder they're just giving it away," I said.) Anyway, Steph and her friend Miritte and I stayed in a very nice hotel room, and on Saturday night/Sunday morning, they called the front desk for a wake-up call. This was unbeknownst to me, as I was already sleeping and apparently snoring. The next morning, the phone never rang, and they were both a little confused as to why the wake-up call never came. And then I pointed out the sign next to the room phone: "Wake-up Call Guarantee, or Your Room is Free." Long story short, we got a $300 hotel room for nothing. Score! It maybe wasn't a fair trade for the hotel, since I don't think a missed wake-up call is necessarily worth that much, but it was their policy, not ours. If you're gonna have a policy, you should stick to it. Right? Right!

And then, we went to brunch at this very nice place on Michigan Avenue. We all ordered our eggy things, but Laura was very careful to tell our waiter that she wanted a goat and arugula cheese scramble with absolutely no toast on the plate, as she has a gluten allergy. No problem, said the waiter. Well, when our food came, there was of course toast on Laura's plate. The waiter apologized and took it back to the kitchen, and a few minutes later came out with a crab omelet with no toast. No, Laura told him, no crab. Goat cheese and arugula! Right, said our waiter. A few minutes later, he came out with an arugula omelet with no toast and no goat cheese. At this point, the rest of us were almost done eating, and Laura just said whatever, it was fine, and she took it. The waiter soon brought out a dish of goat cheese for her, but then the manager came over with a tray of mimosas for all of us! Score again! And then we were all silly and laughing over the whole thing, and of course we had to take pictures of us holding up our free mimosas, and Steph and I just marveled at how the mistakes of others got us a bunch of free stuff (and all before noon, at that). And if that weren't enough, Laura's mom insisted on picking up the check, which was unbelievably nice of her (especially since she had just met me an hour earlier).

When I got home, I realized that my new-ish pair of jeans had a crummy top button that kept popping off. Feeling like I was on a roll, I figured, what the heck, and I emailed the manufacturer to see if they could give me a new pair of jeans. A streak's a streak, yes? More on this development tomorrow!

Monday, November 3, 2008
In honor of tomorrow's election, some haiku that summarize my feelings. Ahem.

Tuesday's vote is big.
Anticipating long lines.
Better bring a book.

Michigan is dem.
Other swing states may be too.
Come on, Florida.

It's a great idea, except
Most people are dumb.

Palin plays up youth.
What I would tell that woman:
You're no JFK.

Landslide victory.
Palin's back in Alaska.
One can always hope.

Pundits at the desk.
Comments on comments all night.
Get a hobby, guys.

Whatever your political sway, please be sure to vote tomorrow.

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