Posted tagged ‘small town’

A slice of grease.

March 25, 2009

This is the third installment of my watercolor junk-food still-lifes.

A generic slice of pepperoni from a forgettable franchise:  this wasn’t great pizza,  but it was the only place within a 40-minute drive that sells it by the slice.

From an artistic point of view, it would have better to get a slice of all-dressed.    The extra browns and greens from the peppers and mushrooms would have enhanced the bi-color red/yellow palette.

But this is Splat Creek.    The sidewalks roll up early (even at 6:45 PM).   So apparently it’s not worth selling more than one type of pizza-by-the-slice, even during peak supper time.


Still, it made for a decent breakfast.    Any cold pizza out of the fridge tastes good the next day.

Yes, we have NO Breakfast.

January 17, 2009

Some of you know I like to bitch about the local small town stores here.  But every once in a while, I’ll still give them the benefit of the doubt, and try to throw some business their way.   Support the local economy, you know.

Like this morning.  It was 11:30 and I went to eat breakfast at the Clueless Restaurant.   Even though I’ve gotten burned there before (they stop serving breakfast on Saturdays after 11:00 AM).

(God only knows WHY…).  But that’s besides the point.

But they’ve been under new management, and I know they extended their Sunday breakfast hours.

So heck, why not give it a shot?

No such luck.

Survey says: “ANNNNNNH!” (Insert obnoxious buzzer sound here).

When I walked in, they told me sorry, we don’t serve breakfast after 11:00.

Never mind that the Lunch Special was a FRIED EGG SANDWICH!  (Seriously, I can’t make this up, folks!)

They probably had club sandwiches too.

Meaning you could probably buy bacon, toast, and eggs.

Just apparently not all together.

The manager tried to reassure me that I can still get  “breaksfasty” things on the menu (whatever the f#%*  THAT means).    But she stuck to her guns, and said they don’t’ serve actual breakfast.

Sigh. I guess they didn’t want my money.  (Even though I was the ONLY customer there.)

Oh well.  I did what I usually do.

I went 400 yards down the road to their competitor:  The Normal Restaurant.   That WILL serve breakfast on weekends.   Till 4:00 PM, even.

And guess what?   I was eating hot breakfast within minutes.  And there were at least a dozen customers already doing the same.

There’s probably a moral to this story here….regarding which businesses will succeed and which ones will fail.

But I dont’ think Clueless Restaurant could (or would) listen to it.

Great Moments in Small-Town Fine Dining

November 1, 2008

My friend Kelly is an expert in customer service.   She’s always making great suggestions on how companies can improve their customer relations and attract more business.

And when I read her blog, I have to laugh.

Because the local merchants here in Splat Creek just don’t have a clue.    I swear, they must read her blog, and deliberately decide to do OPPOSITE of anything she says.

This morning was a prime example.

I had to go to the town dump.  On the way back, I decided to try breakfast at the Grease-Tree Truck Stop for a change.

The waitress gave me coffee and a menu.

When she came back, I said I’d like breakfast.

“Sorry, we don’t serve breakfast after 11:00.”

Let me get this straight.  It’s 11:40 AM.  On a WEEKEND.   And you can’t cook eggs, bacon and toast…at a TWENTY-FOUR-HOUR TRUCKSTOP !!?

(BAM…!  BAM…! BAM…!)  (That’s the sound of Friar banging his head on the table).

I wanted to leave, but I felt committed, because I had half-finished my coffee.   Plus I was too damned hungry to leave and drive  to the next place.   So I ordered a hot hamburger sandwich with mashed potatoes.

I should have known better.

Long story short:

– A harried waitress (who’s only vocabulary was “I’ll be with you in a minute”).

– A cook (a few fries short of a happy-meal herself) who was in no apparent rush.

– THIRTY MINUTES to get my food, which was dry.  (I saw the burgers sit on the grill for got knows how long).

– No glass of water to wash it down.   No coffee refill either (God Forbid, should they EVER give coffee refills here!)

Oh, and when you pay your bill?

You go up to the cash, and you tell THEM what you just ate (they’re so understaffed and messed up, they can’t even keep track).

If you might decide to add a candy bar or something extra to your tab, you might get lucky.

Sometimes the waitress won’t even charge you, she’s so frustrated.

“Take it, I don’t give a shit!”.

Ahhh.   Great moments in Fine Dining at Splat Creek.

You gotta love it.

The sad thing is,  I’m not even suprised.    This is what we’re used to.

Only in Splat Creek Ontario (*)…

July 31, 2008

(*) Note:  Based on an earlier post.

…Can you go to a picnic area after work, and meet two drunken yahoos who invite you to drink beer with them, fire BB pellets at cans, and teach you how to throw a hunting knife at trees so that the blade sticks in.

…Will the only major Burger King within 30 miles refuse to sell you hamburgers, because their “grill is broken”.

…Can you personally email a restaurant manager about the poor service you received, and the next day get scolded by people all over town, who tell you that you “oughtn’t to have complained like that”.

…Will fellow fishermen act so friendly at the dock, that they’re not the least bit shy about taking a piss where they’re standing, three feet away from you.

…Will the only donut franchise on a 100 mile stretch of highway run out of DONUTS after 8:00 PM.

…Will the only Chip Wagon (located next to the main park and soccer field) close at 6:00 PM during peak summer hours.  (Actually, I heard if you showed up at 5:50 PM, the owner would grumble at you about it being almost closing time).

…Will the Town Library stay open all day, but close between 5:00 PM-7:00 PM,  just when everyone is getting home from work.

…Can you buy Baby Formula at the Cheezi-Mart, but when your kids are weaned and you stop buying it, the store manager gives you shit. (Because you should have TOLD him…now he has stuff back-ordered.)

…Will you find a video store that sorts its movies chronologically rather than alphabetically.   (Good luck trying to find a movie unless you know what year it was made in.)

…Will the local restaurant refuses to give you a table for the buffet because you didn’t “reserve”, even though the place is 90% empty and nobody is waiting in line.

…Can people living in a small town of 4,000 feel superior to the people living in the adjacent village of 900.

…Can you drive through the bush, and meet a Grizzly Adams look-alike wearing combat pants and hunting boots, who invites you to his shack for supper, offers you beer, and (if you want), some weed.

…Can you write a Letter to the Editor to the local paper, and then have some old retired fart harass you on the phone, and try to come by your house to talk to you, because he doesn’t agree with what you said.

Plantain Wars

June 24, 2008

See this plant?

Until last year, I barely realized it existed.  But now I know it intimately by name: PLANTAIN.

Of course, I’d seen it before, but I never really noticed or cared much.  Not until I had bought my first house, which included my first very own lawn, and this nasty weed threatened to TAKE OVER MY YARD. 

Not that I’m one of those Cardigan-wearing Lawn Nazis who insists on perfectly-manicured grass and who hoses down their driveway every morning.  

No.  Far from it.

My lawn is a mix-and-match of all kinds of flora, including some actual grass.  I don’t mind a few weeds…my yard doesn’t have to be perfect. 

But it WOULD BE NICE if it looked slightly better than a weedy soccer field (which is what I would have had last summer, if I had let these Bastard-Plants win).

I wasn’t thrilled about using herbicide chemicals (Splat Creek has a by-law against it, plus there were little magotty kids running around next door).  I’d have felt just awful if they’d have gotten toe-cancer or leprosy 30 years from now.   

So the only other choice was to remove the weeds manually.  

But Ugh.  What a daunting task.  There was plantain by the HUNDREDS.   

This infestation also happened to coincide with a really bad phase at work I was going through at the time.   I was in a really toxic environment, working with a Quintessential Fuck-Wit who made my job so miserable it started affecting my health. 

So when I came home totally stressed out, I actually found it fun to rip out the plantain.  Suddenly, this wasn’t just a weed problem anymore.  It became my LIFE MISSION. 

So that’s what I did.  I ripped out the plants.  One by one.

I didn’t go nuts.  I did it maybe 20-30 minutes a day, and then I’d go fishing or do something else.   But it was surprisingly therapeutic.   Rip out the Bad…leave the Good behind.  Rip out the Bad….etc.   

And sure enough, my nice lawn started to re-appear.  Every day, a few more feet of territory gained.   Within 3 weeks, the plantain was gone. 

Veni, Vidi, Vici….I had defeated the Vile Weed!   It was immensely satisfying, much more so than anything I had accomplished at the office.     

But this year, I’m dismayed to report that the plantain is baaa-aack.     

There’s thankfully almost none on the Western Front where I waged battle last year.   But the troops are starting to gain a stronghold on the North-Eastern Quadrant (The Disputed Territories of the Back Yard). 

Of course you know, this means WAR.

So this year I tried something Different:  CHEMICAL WARFARE.

(Now, don’t worry, I’m still being a good little green Friar, I just used vinegar).  I sprayed it on the weeds, and was delighted to see the leaves shrivel up and turn brown after a day or so.   

YESSSSSS!!!!  I had disrupted their photosynthesis process!   There was a delightful patch of brown death there the plants used to thrive.  It was my cheap version of Agent Orange.   I thought I had defeated the invader, once again.

Though it appears to be just temporary.  New green leaves are re-appearing as we speak, amid the acid-burnt carnage.    

It’s not’s resting.  I’ve just stunned it.

So now it’s back to manually ripping the little bastards out by the roots.   To help me, I bought one of those forked garden weeders, and it’s doubled my weed-killing efficiency.

I’ve also changed my tactics slightly.  Instead of composting the dead weeds as yard-waste,  I just let their uprooted corpses slowly dry out in the sun. Over the next day or two, I take the satisfaction of watching them DIE!  DIE!  DIE! 

Then the lawnmower mulches them up, and returns their souls to the soil, from whence they came.

So I think I’m winning the battle again.

I never realized how caring for a lawn had such CONFLICT and DRAMA.   

But part of me wonders maybe, just maybe….I also need to get a life. 🙂


Friar Versus the Grayheads Part IV

May 23, 2008

Recap: Last week (see Part III) the main editorial of the Splat Creek Chronicle singled me out (yet again!) for my complaint about local store hours.  

This week:   I wrote a rebuttal, borrowing largely from one of my  earlier posts  where I listed specific first-hand examples of bad customer service.   I didnt’ use any actual names, but we’re so small here,  it wouldn’t be hard  to figure out which stores I was talking about. 

(Though to be fair, I also pointed out that we have many other excellent businesses in town, and my comments do not include them.)

Several people cautioned me against writing this letter. 

Don’t do it, Friar.   I would watch it, Friar.   People might take it the wrong way.   You never know…

Oh, Pshaw. 

65 years ago, our teenagers joined WWII to fight the Nazis.   45 years ago, people dodged tear gas and attack dogs to march for their civil rights.    

If they could do that, then surely I should be able to withstand any minor inconveniences arising from a  slightly-controversial letter I submitted to a small town paper. 

Besides, maybe store owners SHOULD see letters like mine, so they’d realize how their own staff treat their  customers.

Well, I’m pleased to say I got published.  Front and center on  the editorial page.  In fact, it was the ONLY letter published this week. 

Well, to be fair, that’s not a huge accomplishment, considering how slow the news is around here.   Last month, we were treated to a 1000-word essay from Gramma Carcajou whining about the phone repair man.

No nasty phones calls yet, and no Senior Stalkers coming to my house.  However, several co-workers (including my old landlord who stopped me on the street) all complimented me and said I was hilarious.    

But not everyone is happy, though.   Yesterday I heard someone call me in the grocery store.  I turned around to see this old guy (another retiree…big surprise!)   He raised his eyebrows, and sarcastically commented that he’s surprised to see that I’m actually shopping here.

Excuse me…do I KNOW YOU ?

What does Mr. MetaMucil expect…that because I don’t like the service, I’m suddenly going to stop buying FOOD?   

Well, you can be pretty sure the angry letters will start pouring in…something is building up here.  You can sense it.  

But we’ll have to wait until next week, when the next paper comes out.

In the mean time, stay on the lookout for angry mobs with pitchforks and torches.   Friar may have to lay low for a while.


Stupidest Reasons I’ve Been Told Why I Should Get a Girlfriend

May 19, 2008

If you don’t get a girlfriend soon, people will start thinking that you’re gay

Oh, then by all means, I’ll start a relationship for JUST that reason.  Because God Forbid should people start second-guessing my heterosexuality.   I better make sure I’m seen with a woman so that the rest of the world can relax! 

 You should ask so-and-so out….she’s single

When you’re in your 20’s, your friends tell you “You should ask so-and-so out, because she likes you and I think you guys would get along”. 

But when you’re in your 40’s…the consensus seems to be that you should ask someone out, based on the default that they’re available.  

Sorry, if I’m going to ask someone out, I need a better reason than this.

 You just bought a house…now it’s about time you settled down, got a woman and raised some kids

Gee, I never realized the Splat Creek City By-laws stipulated getting a house was an official prerequisite to a marriage licence.  Mabye I should have bought a house sooner then, eh? 

I don’t understand why so many people are stuck on the broken-record pattern of school-bachelorhood-house-marriage-kids.  Nobody is required to do anything in any specific order.  Not all of us are geared the same way.    

 Of course, you gotta have kids.  What do you think God put you here on earth for?

Talk about insensitive.  How do they know I (or anyone else they might say this to) might not even be able to have kids?  

And, um…what makes THEM the expert on what God intended for me?  

According the them,  I better find a wife and procreate right NOW.  Not because I want to, not because I’m ready to, but because the Big Man Upstairs is going to kick my butt if I don’t.   Sheesh!

 You should ask Claire Chaffington* out

(*not her real name)

There’s something about married women that they don’t like to see other men remain single.  ( I suspect it’s because they’re afraid we might corrupt their hen-pecked husbands).   You can really sense their unspoken attitude:  single people cannot possibly be happy.  Therefore, it’s their duty to make sure we become assimilated by the Borg.

Come, Friar.  Come join the Collective.   Be like us….

A few years ago, when I started a new job, two married women started dropping hints that I should ask out Claire Chaffington. 

She’s single, she has a house, she likes the outdoors, etc.   You should ask her out, Friar.

I just politely nodded my head, and said I’ll think about it, and tactfully brushed them off. 

You see, Claire Chaffington looks like a dude.  (Plus she has all of the fire-ball personality of a damp dishrag.)  

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not totally shallow that I need a perfect-ten barbie-doll girfriend.  But can I at least rate a TWO? 

C’mon!  There has to be at least SOME kind of chemistry.  I don’t want to feel like I”m dating my brother.

What’s funny about this story is that almost two years later, in a totally different building, another admin. assistant who I never met tried to pull the same stunt.  I had only stopped by the office to drop off some papers, but within 10 minutes, she learned I was single and she suggested I might like to meet one of her friends. 

This woman is single, she has a house, she likes the outdoors, etc.   Would you like her phone number?

Uh, oh.  This sounds too good to be true.  What’s the catch?   But I was polite and said sure, give me her number.

When I read the name on the slip of paper, I saw in big letters:  CLAIRE CHAFFINGTON!

Oh for CRYING OUT LOUD?!!  What is this..a CONSPIRACY?   Does this Claire person recruit armies of married women around town so that they can try to hook her up? 

Welcome to single life in a small town. 

(Hmm….being a bachelor ain’t so bad, when you think about it.)