Monday, March 21, 2011

So, The KFC Fun Isn't Quite Over Yet

Well folks, I thought that all the fun that I had with KFC this past week was over with the last column. To get you up to speed, in an attempt to appease me after finding a whole fried feather in my paper bucket of chicken; they offered me and my family a free replacement meal. You know, the one I was supposed to get originally. We ate the meal sometime last week and I was ready to let this whole thing go. They had done right by me and I considered the matter closed. I didn’t want to hear from them no more, I was done with KFC after that. I had gotten what I wanted; and I was pretty sure that they had finally made up for everything.
That is, until I went out to get the mail today. Aside from the magazines and junk mail, we got this envelope in the box that was from something called “Customer Service Center.” I knew that it didn’t have anything to do with the freezer in the garage; there wasn’t any Freon leaking all over the floor. So excitedly I open it up, figuring it was a free sample of Tide or something. Nope, I found this…

That's right folks.  An apology letter.  From the head chicken plucker himself, Mr. Larry Roberts.  Or so it would seem.  If you look closely, you can tell that this is a very standard form letter.  For all they know, my hand caught fire eating a biscuit.  No mention of the giant feather.  No mention of the rude service.  The corporate version of someone saying "my bad."
Oh, it gets better.  Pay special attention to the bottom of the letter.  See that red thing with the Colonel's face on it?  That's a five dollar coupon!  Yep, the next time we go to a KFC we get five dollars off.  Now the problem with that is, combined with the god awful service and the extra parts we received, nobody in my family ever wants to go to a KFC ever again.  The amount is a sight to behold as well.  Five bucks.  What the hell can you get at a KFC for five dollars?  If you add it up right, you can get a tablespoon of gravy, a eye dropper of coleslaw, and a picture of a buttermilk biscuit.  Sorry Larry, this is not good enough.  You guys couldn't leave well enough alone.  You had to insult me by saying the inconvenience that my family went through was only worth five bucks to you.  Well just to let you know, we will not be using this coupon.  Not because it is worthless, but because I'd like to think of it as free advertising for Chik-Fil-A.  So remember, if you find a feather in your KFC bucket, they only think it's worth five bucks for them to settle.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Feathergate!

For those of you that were sickened and disgusted at the thought of finding a feather in your bucket of chicken; fear not. I have been assured that it wouldn’t happen again. When the good people at Kentucky Fried Chicken’s corporate offices found out that there had been a foreign body found at one of their locations; they were quick to act. I wouldn’t call four days quick to act, but then again slower than molasses takes longer to type. But at any rate, they finally got around to calling back in between rounds of mechanically separating chickens.
The result in itself was relatively simple. The corporate office managed to find someone in our area that knew what they were doing and contacted me. I was informed that by the time the chicken I received got to me, that it had passed through two or three sets of hands that are responsible solely for looking for things that shouldn’t be there. That’s what scares me. A couple of people got together and figured that feathers were tasty. I’ve eaten a ton of fried food in my time. Fried cheese sticks, fried clams, even a fried Twinkee once. Never have I thought of deep frying a chicken feather. But since I had already gotten a refund, by the time an actual manager got a hold of me my options were limited. Much like the time Kramer agreed to a free coffee settlement, I verbally committed to a settlement.
Free chicken. Yeah, I know. But the family and I were pretty much given carte blanche to keep us happy. But since I didn’t sign anything, be careful. You might find a feather in your chicken. That being said; our options were a little bit limited. So we had to opt for the Crispy Strips Meal. Which in itself was very good. The family had a pretty good meal. And In some small way I got one over on a large corporation. On a corporate level, KFC in the end did treat this whole situation very well. But they and other fast food empires are not immune to the general who gives a damn attitude most of the staff at their locations seem to have. They just don’t want anyone to disrupt the oblivion that they have to put themselves into mentally to get through the day. But all is good and well now.
One last word on this KFC feather incident and then I’m done with it. Although you may feel like a kook, and although it may look completely ridiculous, if you have a problem with something at any restaurant; don’t just stop at the manager if you aren’t satisfied. Call corporate. They’ll light a fire under people’s asses and get them to realize that their jobs are just as reliant on how they treat people after their chicken is in the box as it is before it.
And now for a place where you won’t find any feathers in your chicken, let’s talk about Chik-Fil-A for a moment. Their menu is pretty much three or four things done really well. Chicken sandwiches and chicken strips. That’s pretty much their entire menu. The only real alterations that can be made to the menu is whether you want tomato on it or not. That’s it! No mystery bowls, no quarter size biscuits, no paper buckets. Just bread and chicken. And it is delicious. Plus they are closed on Sundays. Which I like. Not so much the fact that it’s the owner publicly expressing his religious beliefs; but it tricks me into thinking they are spending that extra day looking for feathers.

Friday, March 11, 2011

The Elderly And You!


Every once in a while you will run across some really interesting people.  But it’s people you never see on a daily basis.  That’s because you see them on a daily basis and tend to just simply not notice their odd little quirks.  So for someone to draw your attention they have to be completely out of their mind strange.  Peanut butter and Habaneros strange.  They’ve got to be loud, opinionated and blessed with the uncanny ability to just not give a damn anymore.  Nine times out of ten, that means they are really damned old.
Sometimes the elderly will totally surprise you.  Take for example this one rather old and pungent senior citizen that was a friend of the family.  Stunk like old hymn books.  Like the inside of a bowling shoe after an MDA fundraiser.  So bad a doctor once prescribed her soap.  But time and time again this woman that could have made millions as a Victor Borge impersonator was invited to family gatherings.  And the stink came with her.  Every single time if you sat next to her long enough, eventually the rids would begin to taste like macaroni salad.  When there was none at the barbecue to begin with.  And the air around her would begin to smell like swamp water and bad car wash air fresheners.
Never mind the sights and smells of these citizens of seniority; we now move onto the sounds.  By that I mean non-verbal communications.  Which after years of painstaking research seems to be a mixture of Morse Code and flatulence.  Want to know if your old uncle is walking around the house and not in need of assistance?  He will surely let you know with a brief series of very low guttural noises fueled in part by the ten year old case of Milwaukee’s Best he found in the garage.  Every step will be met with a plop or a plop, which by the way are two totally different sounds.  Do not bother to bring this up to them however.  For one, they can’t hear you.  Second, it’s how they get around without bumping into things.  Almost like SONAR, but SONAR doesn’t smell like a wet dog.
You will also get regaled by the old folks with stories that contain useful nuggets of information.   Ever just happen to go to the 1930’s and needed to know how much admission to a movie was?  Or a gallon of gasoline?  Or the cost to ride the trolley?  If you ever plan on taking a vacation back to the Depression these morsels of knowledge will come in quite handy.  And they will let you know too, for the fiftieth time.  Whether you want to hear it or not…
That is, after they tell you how good you have it these days.  Right after you get back from putting a triple mortgage on your house and grocery shopping at the dollar store.  Mmm…Bargain Meat!  Yummy!

History Of The Lunchable

Sometime in the late 1980's, either a chef or an executive at the Oscar-Mayer corporation came up with an idea. To this day I am not sure as to whether it was a good idea. The concept itself was simple, a pre-packaged assortment of meat, cheese and crackers. Originally designed to quell the appetite in the middle of the day; the Oscar-Mayer Corporation had no idea that they were in the beginnings of creating a monster. The Lunchable...
The original Lunchable was genius in its simplicity. A little snack box of just meat, cheese and crackers. Moms all around the United States were happy. No longer on field trip day did they have to wake up extra early and produce an extra special boxed lunch for their kid. The school lunch lady also loved this, since she could spend a day normally reserved for making cardboard pizzas and not getting laid in relative relaxation. And the kids loved them too. Because kids are easily entertained and love pretty colors. And these things have pretty colors out the ass. Another bonus for the kiddies was the little plastic tub the Lunchable came in, which could be used as a projectile to throw at the bus driver. The bus drivers hated them, as plastic bags didn't have the distance these tubs did. Many a school employee have had nervous breakdowns after getting hit with Lunchable tubs one too many times.
Everything seemed right with the world, until the children of America finally realized that there was nothing in a Lunchable to wash down the pack of crackers and the processed cheese they had just choked down. So they bitched and they bitched and they bitched some more. The mothers of the world called up Oscar-Mayer and said, "hey assholes, would it kill ya to put a damn juice box in there!" So the powers that be broke down and packaged a Capri Sun Juice box with the "meal". Which the kids all promptly squirted fruit punch on the front of their shirt. Because nobody has ever opened a Capri Sun without getting that shit all over them.
Like all well meaning ideas gone bad, several augments were made to the original design. Due to strict market research and a collective cry from the kids of,"we're sick and tired of fucking crackers", several different types of Lunchables were made to accommodate the tastes of every discerning grocery store customer. In short, they fucked up a wet dream.
First came the chicken tenders. What a wonderful idea. Nothing tastes better than rubberized miscellaneous chicken parts that barely survived a trip by eighteen wheeler to your nearest grocery store. These weren't so bad, you could at least drown them in barbecue sauce.
Then came the nachos. Such a great way to shut your child up. Processed cheese spread in a piss test cup and a pack of stale tortilla chips that resemble the leavings from a bag of real chips glued together. Pass on them, nobody will be happy after that except the guy that sells you your toilet paper.
After that were the pizza ones. Six flakes of shredded cheese, a half a pepperoni and this red shit that is supposed to be pizza sauce. All served on a piece of wet cardboard.
Then you have the worst offender of the mini-food phenomenon. The taco Lunchable. They are comprised of the same wet cardboard used for the pizza Lunchables, but only slightly inferior quality. The same packet of cheese, only slightly more awful tasting. You might be asking about the meat. Can't put cooked hamburger in the package. So they decided to go the space food route, and come up with this odd looking brown paste. Don't worry, it only looks like pre-packaged Montezuma's Revenge. And at least like corn, it looks the same coming out as it did going in.
So the next time you feel a little bit of hunger coming on, just make a sandwich. At the very least, your shirt won't be stained red, and you won't have to pretend you are not really eating crap served on a chunk of a refrigerator box.

Crippling Bingo Injuries


In case you readers of mine have not already noticed; I don’t stick solely to one topic.  It’s just not that fun.  If I relegated myself simply to one type of writing; I and my columns would get boring pretty quickly.  My attention span simply cannot handle talking about one thing.  Think of reading my column as an adventure!  You sit down to read something insightful and moving and BAM!  I spend the whole time talking about no bake cookies.  Not there’s anything unimportant about no bake cookies; but you don’t tend to see people reading the nation’s leading news sources for information on no bake cookies.  So I’m sorry if some of you folks came to hear something serious.  I’m in the mood for something lighthearted right now.  Maybe you’ll get something serious tomorrow.
Like I said, I talk quite a bit of the plight of the American veteran.  We were away from home for months at a time, in extremely dangerous situations.  Working hours that would crack most people, we did it because we had to.  Tensions even among your best friends run high.  Something as simple as the last sip of a soda will send people into a fistfight.  Thankfully, every once in a great while the Morale Welfare and Recreation folks on board the ship will organize some sort of activity to ease a little bit of stress.  And nothing says fun times to a group of a couple thousand folks, mostly in their twenties, like a closed circuit television bingo game!
Yes, I said bingo.  Every couple of months during a deployment, the MWR people on board the USS Bataan would put out the announcement that they’re gonna be having bingo.  Now, some of you that have been to a casino or a church fundraiser know that bingo with more than a couple hundred participants is just absolute chaos.  The military is going to attempt this via closed circuit television with a cast of thousands.  For about a week or so, they would sell these books of multicolored bingo cards all over the ship.  People would spend a good portion of their paychecks, indirectly donating to the MWR fund, for the promise of winning a few bucks and blowing off some steam.  I can only imagine what would have happened if they installed a roulette wheel.
So the big night would come and everyone would gather around whatever television they could find as the MWR officers would call the numbers out on the television.  You could generally see what people really needed to blow off steam, because they would have a couple dozen of these bingo books splayed out on a mess table like their grandmothers.  Number by number, excitement amongst the crew would rise that could only be paralleled by a heavyweight title fight.  Then out of nowhere someone would yell bingo at the top of their lungs.  As if the people calling the numbers could hear them through the TV.  Then just like Dialing For Dollars, the winner would call into the small TV studio and go up and collect their prize.
For the smaller amounts, the winner would peacefully traverse the halls of the Bataan.  Nobody is going to break their ass over a twenty five dollar bingo pot.  But just like with a real live bingo game, when it got to the bigger amounts, it would almost get violent.  I myself got caught up into one of these messes.  The main prize was something in the neighborhood of a few hundred dollars.  The numbers are getting called, and the phone rings in the bingo studio.  Someone has claimed the big five hundred dollar pot.  But with a couple of thousand people playing, there is the off chance there might be another winner.  So the host of the show announces that anyone that also has bingoed has five minutes to get up to the MWR office with their winning ticket to claim their prize.  I and a couple of my other friends realize that we have winning tickets.  Crap!  We only have five minutes to get up there.  The scene played out over the next few minutes was something out of It’s A Mad Mad Mad Mad Mad World.  People that have never moved faster than a snail are now becoming Olympic level sprinters.  We are moving around cargo vehicles, airplanes, helicopters.  We are leaping stairs in a single bound; and hurdling garbage cans and furniture.  Kind of like Ninja Warrior.  One guy even fell flat on his face into a steel deck, busted his nose, and kept on running.  I can only imagine what it looked like to the rest of the crew seeing this guy with blood running down his face, standing in front of the camera; to collect his forty dollar prize.  The odd part about it though, he spent sixty dollars on his bingo tickets.  So he came out of it with a busted nose, down twenty dollars, and a story to tell.  Well, he came out of it with a good story for me to tell.  Least I just broke even and stubbed my toe.

Your Cat Will Entertain You


Let’s face it folks, entertainment costs are on the rise.  Say you go to a movie, it’s going to be ten dollars minimum for a ticket.  And be prepared to take out a second mortgage if more than one person in your family wants popcorn.  Seems like everything is going up in cost and it is just going to continue.  Your cable bill will get bigger.  Even those of you that think you’re clever with the Netflix account know that they just raised prices.  There’s one thing though, that although the prices may jump slightly over the years, will assure you of entertainment even when the power goes out and you got no television to speak of.
Get a cat.  That’s all you have to do.  Just get a cat.  There’s plenty of them out there.  Think about this for a second.  When have you ever looked around and thought to yourself that there is a shortage of cats?  Not once.  And the startup costs are relatively cheap.  For around sixty dollars you can go to a pet store, or better than that your local Humane Society.  There are plenty of those lovable little balls of fur to go around.  After you get your cat of choice, all you got to do is buy some food, litter and box, and a couple of toys and you are set for a lifetime of entertainment.
I had an inkling of this notion of cats being nature’s calliope for some time now.  But it never really hit me until my wire and I were at our local pet store just yesterday.  Our cat is a little fussy when it comes to her food.  So every month we go out to the PetSmart and pick up her provisions.  On the short walk from the back of the store to the cash register; we see this aisle of various furry objects with bells and ribbons attached to them.  Little tiny fake mice for the cat to hone in on her instinctual hunting skills.  Some of them are just for plain ol’ goofing off.  Never mind the Oscars.  You get your cat a piece of fur with a bell and a stick on the end.  You will be assuredly entertained all night long.
Give you an example.  We return from the store about an hour or so before Oscar time.  After putting her food away, we present the cat with her new toy.  The thing with the stick and the fur.  After setting it on the floor for a few minutes; she gives us this look as if to say the new plaything has passed inspection and she is ready to give it a try.  So we hold the stick three feet over her head and wave it from left to right as she gazes on in astonishment.  Even at this we are amazed and entertained at how entranced the cat is by waving a stick over her head.  Then comes the big moment.  She’s going to try and jump at this thing.  She thinks it’s some kind of intruder hoping to attack her human protectors the second she drops her guard.  So once she thinks she has got this thing pegged, she makes a flying leap at the fur at the end of the stick.  For about two seconds, it appeared as if our cat was on a space walk of some sort.  She makes a swipe at the ribbon swaying back and forth.  I think she even tried to kick it.  But alas, she did not vanquish her foe and continued on trying until she tired and curled up to sleep in a corner.  Poor kitty had given up.
Or so we thought.  Fast forward to a few hours later.  Everyone had turned in for the night.  Out of nowhere this chiming cuts through the quiet.  It was our cat, dragging the furry stick up the stairs.  She had finally killed the savage intruder.  She then hops on the bed and looks at us as if to say, “look guys, I finally got him!”  Now with the world safe, she dug in under our bed and went to sleep.
So I hope you see what I mean here.  There’s plenty of cats out there that need a good home.  If you can, go get one.  Not only will you feel good about yourself; but you will get more entertainment than cable could possibly provide.

Open Apology


Well folks, looks like I’ve gone and done it.  I had the most wonderfully laid out plan to write an amazing, insightful column and I messed up the opportunity.  Today’s President’s Day, and in honor of the holiday after I woke up I was going to write this amazing column for everyone.  Don’t ask what President’s Day had to do with it.  So I got up bright and early at around eleven in the morning.  Poured a steaming hot cup of coffee for me and my wife.  Sat down and started watching the news as I was trying to wipe the sleep from my eyes.  Fast forward to about twenty minutes later when I returned from the end of the driveway hanging my head at the fact that I had again forgotten that there is no mail delivered on President’s Day.  I had set a direct time that exactly noon I was going to sit down with my collection of pens and notepad and write another witty insightful article.
But I’m a stickler for starting on time, and I wasn’t going to start for another half hour or so.  If I didn’t start at exactly noon, nothing was going to turn out right.  If I started so much as one minute early, everything would go totally haywire.  So, I looked toward the television and thought, what the hell; I’m going to play that new Call Of Duty game.  It shouldn’t take more than a couple of minutes before I use up my pre writing time and eventually force myself to get to work.  So my wife says to me that our son was playing a mode in the game where you shoot zombies or something and that I should try it.  It didn’t take more than a minute or so before I got mauled to pieces by hoards of undead German scientists.  I had to get to work soon; but I just couldn’t let those undead bastards get the best of me.
So I put on my zombie killing hat and put my nose to the grindstone.  I had to get to the end of this thing and free the world of these flesh eating ghouls.  But I got my ass handed to me the first time, so I had to prepare.  I had to get the strategy down proper.  I delved deep into every online strategy guide known to man.  Millions of people around the world are apparently experts at killing zombies.  Never mind the fact that this is all vicarious experience.  Because I doubt any of these so called experts has seen a real zombie.  But I had to take them at their word for it.  I didn’t have a damn clue anyway.
Now that I was well prepared, I could begin the fight.  For time indeterminable; I shot zombie after zombie after zombie.  Splattered blood over the walls of a nuclear reactor for what seemed like days.  I’d get knocked down and start over again.  I was going to get to the end of this thing.  I was going to solve the zombie puzzle!  Just as it seemed I was about to finally save the world, guess what?  My son comes down the stairs and informs me that there was no ending to the game.  No matter how far I go, he informed me, I was just eventually going to get killed by a mob of the undead.
Crap!  Just like in real life, when the zombies come they will win out every time.  There’s just no use.  Just lie down and let them eat your brains.  When my eyes finally adjusted to the world around me, I realized that it was six hours later and that I had blown all my prime writing time.  Any news I was going to report on was now old news.  Any humorous story I was going to tell was now not going to be funny.  Jokes become obsolete quicker than computers.
So if anyone was intending on reading my column today for something witty, I apologize.  If you were hoping I would write something that would have an impact on some far reaching global issue; I beg your forgiveness.  It was the damn zombies.  I’ll try to do better in the future.  Or I could just ask my wife to hide the XBOX controllers.