15 November 2006

41. Sundance

Dear Sundance,

I stopped by the warehouse on Monday 13 November, only to hear from Ron that I'm no longer welcome to begin training for the stocker labor pool, due to concerns about my customer service abilities after my conduct during the apple, pear, wine, and cheese tasting of Sunday 5 November. What an unpleasant surprise. I'll be the first to admit that I spoke too soon and too loudly that Sunday, within earshot of customers as well as coworkers, and that my word choice was poor. That said, and speaking of unpleasant surprises, I would like to explain the heat of the moment in which I spoke.

I did not work a full week before the tasting, only the preceding Tuesday and Wednesday, and I believe that the fax orders I placed that Tuesday were lost in transmission, including one for Willamette Valley Cheese, one of the companies whose products we had planned to sample on Sunday. I left Oona a note to this effect on Wednesday evening, after having been unable to reach anyone at WVC by phone to determine whether or not the orders had been received. Oona had said she would call me that Friday to let me know if she had successfully hired a new cheese person (I wanted to train my replacement and do whatever I could to smooth the transitions in the department). She never called.

When I arrived at the cheese department the Sunday of the tasting, I found out that Oona had ordered from Willamette Valley Cheese to replace the lost Tuesday order, and that Liz had driven to Albany and back to pick up the new order. What we got, in addition to the WVC cheeses we already carried, were four brand new products, none of which were programmed into the scale or Expressions, and no invoice from which to determine their price. Furthermore, all the WVC cheese was in blocks too big to sell — they would have to be cut and rewrapped. I called Oona about the unpleasant surprise, but she was busy with her daughters and there wasn't much she could do from home anyway. Liz and I were on our own. Now fortunately, the other two companies we had planned to feature at the tasting, Fraga Farms and Silver Falls, had sent us not only products but people, actual human beings to help with the tasting. We could have been fine sampling out their wares and the already-programmed WVC cheeses (many of which were still in stock and could have been sampled without an emergency order or Liz's heroic retrieval efforts). Unfortunately, Liz had already prepared all the cheeses for sampling, including the new ones which we literally could not yet sell, and which customers were thus unable to find as the tasting got into full swing.

Those were the circumstances when I said what I did that Sunday. Maybe I should have just gone home. Instead, I invented prices for the four new cheeses by guessing based on WVC's other products, programmed them into the scale and Expressions, cut, packaged, and stocked all the new products, all while trying to help with the tasting and perform a semblance of a normal cheese shift's responsibilities.

By the end of that day, I was ready to compose, choreograph, and perform a major song and dance of complaint to Renee. Some kindergarten-level notions of not being a tattle-tale helped me wait almost three days to cool down before visiting Oona in person last Wednesday. She was very brief with me, essentially saying that the tasting was a big success, so everything that happened on Sunday was worth it. I wish I could say I'm glad the ends justified the means, but I don't believe that's true, and I'm certainly not glad about it. Based on that exchange, which also included the fact that a new cheese person had been hired, I guessed that Oona wouldn't be calling on me for cheese labor pool any time soon. It didn't occur to me to guess that I'd been disqualified from the warehouse labor pool as well. That unpleasant surprise came on Monday, as previously mentioned.

The worst part about everything I've described here is that so much of it feels exactly like the kind of problems I was worried I would cause when I resigned the cheese buyer position, and which I wanted to prevent. I wanted to be the cheese department's labor pooler so we wouldn't always be stretched too thin staffwise; I wanted to take shifts so that Oona wouldn't have to cover all of mine on top of her other responsibilities, including interviewing my replacement, whom I wanted to train. Most of all, I wanted to leave Sundance on good terms. I'm sorry I failed to the exact same degree that I'm not sorry I tried.

I always want honesty, respect, and good communication. I did not want tears and a tattle-tale letter, but I feel better for having written. Thank you for reading.

I still love you all.


Written in the early morning hours of 15 November 2006, when I couldn't sleep, and delivered to my former place of employment at a more reasonable hour later that day. I know, I've been really good about only publishing unanswerable and in most case unaddressable letters here, but I'm making an exception for this one. Maybe someday I'll write a letter about breaking rules I made for myself, but meanwhile this letter will stand as a reminder that I can do it, even if I'd rather not. Title abridged 1 December 2011, last reformatted 6 June 2014.

14 November 2006

40. Passive Aggressiveness

Dear passive aggressiveness,

Bite me.

Oh wait, you won't, because then you wouldn't be passive anymore, now would you?


Started 14 November 2006, last updated 1 December 2006, oh so very to be continued. Title abridged 1 December 2011.

08 November 2006

39. Apple

Dear Apple,

You're a dream, I know. But sometimes I still think it would be cool to get together with my friend Allison to start a punk rock teahouse, and we both agreed your name would be Apple, in honor of Eugene Mirman's "Punk" sketch, and there you go. On a scale from one to ten, how punk are we? You guessed it.

I daydream that you would be a huge old Victorian house, like the Pied Cow in Portland, with a yard that we could use for extra seating when the weather's nice. Live music could happen outside, too, and how extra-mega-super-awesome would it be if we could garden parts of the yard and make teahouse treats using fruits and veggies grown on the premises? Aw, yeah. The ground floor would be the teahouse, serving fair trade, preferably organic tea, and of course scones, and little sandwiches with the crusts cut off, and other treats. For people into occasionally eating things bigger than the palms of their hands, we could run meals Moosewood Daily Special-style: soup, sandwich, and salad. I would be in charge of the soup, which would almost always be vegan, because I'm so proud of the many vegan soups I made or invented during my time as prep cook at Sundance. Sandwiches would be a little trickier, but I think I could manage them, too. We'd have to hire somebody good at baking for the scones and similar treats, especially the sweets. Penny maybe, while I'm dreaming, since she's good at both the vegan baking and the punk stuff. Also she's up for just messing around with food till it works, and we could sell her less-successful experiments at half price, or at least make a display case of them as decoration because a sign that says "eat me at your own risk" is punk rock. (Hell, we should sell T-shirts with that slogan.) Also of course, Apple, you'd be an art gallery, if only for Penny's stuff and whatever else we feel like sticking to the walls. Damn, I really get into dreaming you.

Besides Penny's spectacular baked goods, we would of course do high tea with all the trimmings. Allison would be in charge of costuming, hats and gloves and safety pins and zippers and of course lots of black eyeliner (she pointed out that since I'm the hippie, Penny's the punk, and she's the goth, we have to keep an eye out for a kickass raver to join our crew... of course, we're all giant geeks). Back to the food, because I'm obsessed. I wonder if a cup of soup would balance on one of those three-tiered high tea serving contraptions. We'd have to hire kickass waitstaff, I guess. Not that I'd want anything else. I can't really fully express my high opinion of kickass waitstaff, nor do they ever believe me when I tell them they're awesome on a level that I will never achieve, so I mostly just tip really well. But I digress. Apple, only your ground floor would be the teahouse and restaurant (we'd have coffee, too, something locally roasted and organic and fair trade, like Eugene's Wandering Goat, only I don't think you'd be in Eugene) because Allison and Penny and I would live upstairs. Ideally we'd also have an attic, nice and roomy enough for someone to live in (or studio space?), and a basement for storage, although mostly deep storage --- it would sort of be a logistical nightmare if we had to put the kitchen or walk-in fridge down a flight of stairs. Eek.

Before I forget, back to the staff. Like I said, they'll be awesome. So awesome that I wouldn't ever need to talk to customers, except of course if we needed to bounce someone. That kind of customer service I'll perform with pleasure. At Apple, we'll explicitly reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. Period. First of all, we could hardly be punk fucking rock without being able to tell people to go to hell (with spitting if necessary), and second of all, it's in our religion. Allison and I are the founders of the First Discordian Church of Don't Be A Jackass, after all, and it seems only fair that all of our enterprises, including the fantasy businesses, proceed in accordance with those principles. (Did I mention that our menus will be more like manifestoes? They'll change a lot, with waitstaff of course fully authorized to edit them with black marker whenever we run out of stuff or they get sick of describing the specials, and would include lots of room for people to draw and color and whatever. Crayons on the table for everyone, and paper tablecloths in case the menus aren't big enough. In my "unlimited funds" daydreams the tablecloths are fabric and we give everyone markers and paint pens, but I digress.) In keeping with our proud Discordian heritage, we'll serve hot dogs on Friday at Apple. (Yes, your name is very fitting here, too.) The special should be veggie dogs with bacon, for extra bonus points. Hail Eris!

What else? Well, Apple, you love cats. My Iggy Pop and Otis and Allison's Lilith and Penny's Samantha all live in and around you, in whatever way we can get away with and not get busted by the health department. (Penny's law degree could come in handy all over the place!) And because you are a dream, I hereby declare that any and all cats associated with you will live forever, which is all the more reason for you to magically come true already because Samantha is not doing very well, but she is a fantastic sweet lovable kitty and I love her and don't want to miss her in a permanent way and if I'm saying this having only met her the once, you can probably imagine how much I'm freaking out wanting to hug Penny every time I hear about how Sam is doing. Wah.

And while I'm complaining about reality, Apple, I should probably mention that it's the biggest obstacle standing between you and me. Stupid reality, what with the fact that restaurants run super-tight margins and all our fair trade and organic and local ideals aren't exactly the cheapest around (and do NOT get me started on how fucked it is that ethically raised animal products are so expensive). Our ideal clientele couldn't afford to patronize us, and even if we lucked out and punk rock "the customer is wrong, bitch" service was trendy for like a week, that'd mean we'd what, break even for like a day? Yeah, that's not so good. Stupid reality.

But enough ranting about reality. Apple, you're a beautiful dream, and I enjoy fantasizing about you to escape from stupid, stressful, boring old reality. Thank you for always being there, in my imagination, and for growing steadily more awesome with every re-imagining.


Started 23 October 2006; published 8 November 2006, way early in the morning, when I should have been sleeping, last updated 6 January 2007. Title abridged 1 December 2011.