2-26-11 Saturday (Secretive Portions)

Weight Watchers?  What’s that?  That my friends, is a different story.  Somehow, my weak willpower grabbed hold and I hit the big ole pause button in the life of dieting.  Don’t judge.

We started the day with a trip to JCPenney to return some socks.  We didn’t walk around the mall, we were hungry so we made our returns and bought some other clothes that we really didn’t need.  I did get a coral colored polo to replace one that I liked and was retired due to staining. 

Jim had a coupon.  What news, huh?  I’m telling you, I’m the coupon Queen of grocery stores (saved $9 at Walmart last weekend) but Jim knows his way around entertainment/dining coupons like a specialist.  Near the mall is a Buca di Beppo.  We’ve always wanted to try this place.  We’ve never even heard of it.  Are you ready for the review? 

We walked in and I was instantly taken back by all the framed pictures cluttering the wall.  I felt like I was in a frickin’ cave.  We were lead to our table through a maze.  Really.  Every 4 tables or so was in a “room” of sorts.  This was definitely not an open concept dining room.  It was cluttered and closed in feeling.  We made so many turns we asked the hostess if they had a map.  We were seated.  We waited longer than I think we should have to be greeted.  I ordered sweet tea.  It had a stale taste.  I asked the server to switch to water because I didn't like the tea.  She said her family thinks the same way of the tea.

Eventually, we find the “lunch” menu section.  Good thing because everything seemed to be served family style.  The minimum size was to feed 3 people up to feeding a small village or something witty like that.  Server chick came to get our order.  For a possible future dinner visit, I asked if the items could be ordered from the lunch section at dinner time since for just two of us, we might want different items.  She said, “uhhhhhhh yeah, you kinda can.  We try to keep it quiet.  We typically don’t have a problem with that.”  What?  Is this Mafia run or something?  You either can or can’t lady.  I swear, she said that.

Many times I trust the server to help me decide between possible choices.  I teetered between the Fettuccine Alfredo with Chicken versus the lasagna.  I asked.  She replied, “Cream sauce, red sauce, cream sauce, red sauce.”  I must tell you, that statement didn’t help me.  It actually stifled me for a moment.   My, in-the-head-reply was, “No shit Sherlock.”   I said I understand but was wondering what was more popular.  I couldn’t even say what I meant cause she caught me off guard.  What I wanted to know is what do the customers or even the staff prefer.  She selected the Fettuccine Alfredo.

With the lunch selection complete, and a big ole pile of chicken teeth on the floor, I started to really look around the tomb room.  Behind me were two photos with cherubs or children with exposed penis’.  Really.  Was I offended?  Nope.  BUT really?  Crosses and other religious mementos adorned the walls.  This is what an old style TGI Friday’s would like like if it were located in the Vatican’s food court.  That’s all I can say.  OK, not really, I have more.  Here’s some pictures from around the internet, click here.   The creepiest was the Pope head on the table.

    2011-02-26 002   

I took that photo on my way out of the restaurant.  It was the happiest part of the visit… the leaving part.

The food?  Bland. Nothing I can’t get elsewhere.  Nothing about the food rose above anyone else’s version.  I’ll stick with Olive Garden.  There’s also a non-chain Italian restaurant here in town that we like and are overdue for a visit to. 

Now that I sound like an anti-religious God hating restaurant critic, we’ll move on to the next part of the day… the RV show in uptown at the Convention Center.  We went last year too.  We love walking in and out of climate controlled RV’s.  Because there were so many, we stuck with touring those we’d be interested in or that were very unique.  I love 5th wheels but we’d probably never have one.  We’d like to trade our MoHo in on a bumper pull.  Probably something that the Jeep can tow or perhaps a little larger.  While in one, Jim got this paper cut on his finger that you’d think hit an artery and would require stitches.  After the first aid intermission we continued our browsing. 

I didn’t take any photos.  The only unique RV we saw was a 5th wheel with a slide out patio/veranda balcony thing that was cool.  I can’t find a photo on line since I can’t remember the name of it.  We didn’t finish the whole show so we’re going back Sunday.  I’ll try to snap some pictures.

2011-02-26 003Above: The weather has been gorgeous lately.  With warm weather and a little rain, some trees have bloomed.  It’s awesome.

After we tormented ourselves with new RV’s we can’t have, we came home to freshen up and then headed out for dinner (with reservations) to 131 Main.  This is one of the restaurants we went to during Restaurant Week.  Jim had gotten 2 free appetizer coupons so off we went. 

We ordered pork chops to share and 2 appetizers.  It was more than enough food and was all quite tasty as expected.  The service was… perfect.

Next up, a busy day for sure, we went to a comedy club.  It was fun yet strange.  Strange because it was in a lobby of some other businesses.  It was an improv comedy thing and pretty entertaining.  It looked as though we were attending an AA meeting.

2011-02-26 004

2-25-11 Friday (Acronyms)

In case you care, I’m feeling better.  My head is kind of clogged, yes more than normal but other than that I’m OK.  You can just hear the congestion when I talk.  Speaking of hearing, I can’t very well.  Everything sounds like I’m hearing it with ear plugs in.  It’s all kinda muffled. 

I’m not sure what’s worse.  Being sick or opening those damn cold medicine pill packages.  What are these manufacturers trying to do to people?  By the way, while searching the internet for a photo to use in the blog I found this site which is all about product failures such as the one below.  It’s hilarious.


imageThis wraps up work week #2.  So far, I love it.  I love what I’ll be doing and getting more excited about it each day.  With the excitement comes a little fear.  I constantly worry about committing everything to memory.  The worst is hoping I’ll remember what I learned on day 1 will still be remembered by day 40.  There’s so many different systems I’ll be using for looking up customer’s information and opening or modifying accounts.  Different systems, different options, different screens, oy.  Fortunately, my company does a great job at training.  We do scavenger hunts on the computer.  We have a list of different information that we need to find and we have to write down the answer along with where we found it.  It’s annoying in a way because a lot of times we’re looking up stuff we haven’t even covered yet.  Maybe about a regulation or perhaps a definition.  Sometimes it’s things like cut off times for California.   The point of the exercise is to show us that we can find the answer within the systems we use. 

imageThe other difficult thing for me is all the damn abbreviations and acronyms.  We’re gonna use the HUY system which is used for inputting CIT info into the LOP screen.  When you get to that screen, the GEW screen will automatically pop up.  Make sure you verify the information against the REFS.  None of those are actual systems, but you get the point.  There’s tons.  Sometimes we don’t even know what XYZ stands for.  I guess it doesn’t matter, just know what to do.

So what exactly is my job?  Primarily, I take inbound calls from customers who want to open accounts.  Perhaps they want an equity line.  Maybe open a CD.  My job is to find the best fit for their needs.  I’m a personal banker.  A consultant.  There’s more to it, but that’s the general idea.  I’m not “customer service” for stop payments and the like although I’ll have the ability and training to do many of the functions that they can.

I already know I’m a dweeb but I’m kinda looking forward to having a cubicle.


















2-24-11 Thursday

On Wednesday, Jim stopped at the Salvation Army to check out some clothes.  Sometimes he’ll find a souvenir shirt for some city we’ve been to.  Yes, sometimes he’ll buy it too.  It seems funny to buy a souvenir shirt 2 years after we’ve been there, doesn’t it?  This time, he found a t-shirt for Corvette Diner in San Diego.  We went there March 2009 with my cousin David.  This was a more interesting find since it wasn’t just a city, but a place in the city.  Naturally, he bought it:


Over the weekend we stopped at a few furniture stores.  When the house is completed we’ll need at least living room furniture and a guest bedroom of furniture.  I know we’ve got plenty of time but just like the appliance shopping, we want to keep our eyes open.  We’re pretty much checking out who carries what and for what price.

I did call the flooring place and received a recording that they’re only open 7-4 Monday through Friday.  I guess I understand.  The place has “building products” in their business name so they aren’t out there for me but rather the construction industry.  I’ll have to call back during business hours and find out if I can buy/get a sample from them.  If not, I may ask my home builder salesperson, Michelle.  I’m trying not to be annoying to be less annoying. 

Jim has been sick with a cold this week.  I tried to avoid it.  I sprayed Lysol all around the house like an OCD Germaphobe.  At about 3pm on Tuesday while in training, my throat became sore.  I drank fluids, chomped a breath mint, nope, still sore.  The sore throat started it.  Wednesday morning my head is clogged, throat sore, sniffly, etc.  I stopped at a Rite-Aid for supplies and went into work.  Jim called out sick.

On Thursday, I was feeling worse.  I was completely stuffy with lotsa snot.  You asked, didn’t you?  I hate going into work sick.  I’m just going to have to do the best I can to keep my germs to myself.

Our trainer decided it was time to switch up seating.  A fellow co-worker asked to remain in the front due to vision concerns.  I asked to stay put because I’m afraid I won’t learn as well.  Our trainer allowed us handicapped people to stay where we were.  I really hate being “high maintenance” but I think it was a necessity. 

Plans this weekend: An RV show, brunch with the gals, and a comedy show!  I love that we always have something going on!

2-19-11 Saturday (The Power Of Suggestion)

Today we met up with a friend and got a personal tour of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Botanical Gardens.  Jim and I enjoyed the greenhouses a lot.  We had lots of questions for our host, John, who was happy to answer them.  We spoke about native plants, easily maintained plants and saw many exotic things.  Jim got to trigger several Venus Fly Traps.  Amazing plants.  I’m sure you’ve seen them a dozen times.  What we didn’t know is they were at one time only indigenous to an area 60 miles from Wilmington, NC.


We learned about Corpse Flower/Plant and how it only blooms like once every ten years and when it does it smells like rotting mammal flesh.  The odor is so strong it carries very far.

The director and his assistant wrote a book called “Bizarre Botanicals” that feature some of the strange plants I mentioned.  There’s several signs in the greenhouse that highlight these plants.


2011-02-19 001

The photo below was one of the many fun looking plants.  It looks like the leaves have been hand painted.  Unfortunately I don’t remember what its called, although I’m sure it can be Googled for some of the name shown in the sign:

2011-02-19 004

The weather was in the upper 60’s which made this day perfect.  For lunch, Jim, John and I went to the campus buffet which was very nice.  I’ve lost about 4 pounds so far in the past 2 weeks but eating at this buffet was dumb for me.  I certainly didn’t eat smart.  Ugh.  I must say I was impressed with place.  Lots of custom foods.  Fresh looking veggies.  Here’s their websites description:

“Crown Commons is our state-of the art all-you-care-to-eat restaurant. Almost every cuisine is cooked-to-order right in front of you. Enjoy pizza made in our gas fired oven. Comfort foods range from regional favorites to ethnic specialties. Grab a deli sandwich made with fresh sliced meats, cheeses and toppings piled high. Burgers and other American favorites grilled or charbroiled as you direct. Build your own salad and pair it with a side of soup and bread. Enjoy breakfast all day with Belgian waffles, cereal and yogurt on display anytime you wish. Daily vegan and vegetarian entrée’s available. Please consult our chef!”

We met up with Beth and Ruby for dinner at Portofino’s.  There’s 4 locations in town so they must be doing something right, huh?  Well, it certainly wasn’t through service.  At least tonight’s.  Yep, another bad service story.  Most of it seemed to be caused by what seemed like an inexperienced server although she made us think she’s been there forever and having an off night.  We asked for a wine list, she came back for a wine order.  Ruby asked, “oh, did you bring us the wine list?”  Oooops, no she didn’t.  It was a lot of stuff like that.  The funniest was Ruby’s salad.  In defense of the restaurant, the ingredients were list in the description however it looked pretty lame.  Ruby said, “this should have some cucumbers, tomatoes, and pepperoncini.”  The server asked if that was a suggestion.  She wasn’t being rude.  It was funny.  So Ruby said, “well yeah, I guess, but can I have a plate with some tomatoes, cucumbers and maybe some pepperoncini?”  They didn’t have the pepperoncini.  I’m tired of typing that word.  Anyway, it was kind of amusing and at the same time not the best experience.  The dishes Jim, Beth and I ordered were delicious.


One of the girls suggested shooting pool.  Both Ruby and Beth play on different leagues so Jim and I were the handicaps.  We had to pair up and pick our bitches.  Well, Jim and I were the bitches.  So we went to Midtown Sundries (restaurant/bar).  Crowded.  Ruby suggested a biker bar she frequents (not to make her sound like a lush or anything) for various tournaments and such.  My first biker bar.  So much unlike my first Barbie.  It was fun though.  We played about 8 or 9 games of pool.  Beth and Jim won the most.  I guess I was the biggest handicap.

2011-02-20 008Above: Me and Ruby

2011-02-19 005

Above/Below: Ruby

2011-02-19 006


2011-02-20 007Above: Team Beth and Jim.

2-18-11 Friday (Infringements)

Greetings from a working man.  Yay.  Week one is over.  I like the class, particularly the trainer.  Trainer Jay keeps the class humorous and moving along.  It’s a great start, to a new career.  If you’ve forgotten where I work it’s Wells.  You can also review this entry for more info. 

I did get a reply from Mohawk on the 14th regarding a flooring sample.  They replied:

“We apologize for the difficulties you've encountered in your search for the Oak Town product.  I've located one retailer in your area that participates in the Portico program, and hopefully can assist you with the style you're interested in.”

They gave me a source that I’ll call and see if they even have samples then I need to determine if it’s worth the drive.  It’s in Harrisburg and I’m not sure where that is in relation to me.

I’ve been wanting to shoot a letter off to Crave regarding our visit the other night.   I basically copied and pasted that blog entry into an email.  I prefaced the email with an apology:

“I was at your restaurant on Saturday 2-12.  I have been to your restaurant several times and typically bring out of town guests.  Here's my feedback, review, complaint or whatever else you want to call it.  Forgive the "way" it's written because I copied and pasted it from my blog:”

I didn’t mention the blog address any where.  Probably within 15 minutes of sending the email, I received a call from the GM, Phil.  He apologized, wanted to know the servers name (which she never mentioned), and talk about it.  He said the owner is making more menus.  We chatted about the entire situation and he’s putting a $50 gift card aside with my name on it.  What would be interesting is if I went now, how different would my experience be?

With my first day of work out of the way, I put together a blog entry with a few photos.  Friend, Scott, emailed me with a caution that my photo could be infringing proprietary information.  He’s right.  The photo showed our phone system.  I removed the photo.  I assume the photo of the Hershey’s sign and the cafeteria would be fine since it’s not business related.

The past few times we’ve visited our lot we’ve gotten so much clay-mud stuck to our shoes.  It happened 1 too many times so we decided having a supply of “booties” in the car would be a great idea.  I got on eBay and search for some.  I found 200 for $6.95, free shipping.  So we got a 100 pairs and that should last us a while.


I received my package and here’s what was in it:


I was amused.  What’s Mickey Mouse got to do with shoe booties?  Something tells me that I’ll never know.

2-15-11 Tuesday (Robotic Employees)

Yesterday I told you all about my company’s cafeteria, ice cream place, dry cleaners, etc.  Today we ventured one building over at lunch time so that we could see the food court.  The food court has a Chick-fil-A, a Quiznos, a Sbarros, Seattle's Best Coffee and a fast foodish Chinese place.  Amazing.  It was a long walk though.  I’d probably stick to bringing my own lunch, as I did yesterday and today for a few reasons.  It’s much cheaper, I’ll only get a 1/2 hour for lunch and I can’t trust myself to make smart choices when yummy looking food is around me.

I sat in the front row on my first day so that I could be as close to the action as possible.  I was afraid my suspected ADD would kick in and I’d day dream about ridiculous things when I should be paying attention.  Our trainer, Jay, thus far has been awesome.  He’s easy going, amusing and keeps a great pace.  I think I zoned out once for a very short time.

We made it through a bunch of company philosophy stuff today as well as some of our customer service modules. 

On a return trip from the bathroom, I heard a beeping noise in the hallway.  There was nothing there but the sound was getting closer.  Suddenly a big cart of sorts turns the corner and comes toward me.  I stepped out of the way.  No one was pushing it.  It had several postal bins on it and some lettering that read, “Mail Mobile”.  It was such a cool thing.  I Googled several words to find a picture that best represents what it was.  This is the best photo I could find online.  It was similar to this:



Isn’t that crazy? 

Here’s a Google Earth view of my work.  Notice the visual size of the cars in the parking lot.


Below is another view, zoomed in.

Map 2

So, I’m sitting next to a 23 year old body builder who has competed with a body fat % of 3.5 or something like that.  So, through out the day I reach in my lunch bag and pull out brownies and cookies to snack on.  After my first day, I had to tell him that I’m on Weight Watchers and they are approved snacks.  I couldn’t help it.  He’s a nice guy that’s working on his Masters in health so I’ve been talking to him about nutrition and such.  He’s the type of guy you’d expect to see eating egg yolks and grass.  There he was sitting at a table by himself with fast food Chinese in front of him.  Me and a fellow student, Erin, sat with him.  He did admit that he likes his fair share of crap food from time to time.

Day #3 tomorrow!  We get ID tags made up!  That will be nice because right now here’s a breakdown of time:

10 minutes to work.  5 minutes at the guard shack.  5 minutes to park and get into the building lobby.  5 minutes to check in with the lobby guard.  5 minute walk to the classroom.  Once I get an ID, I can park closer to the classroom and bypass guards.  Yay!

2-14-11 Monday (Spy Photos)

Today was my first day of work.  The first day of my 6 weeks of training.  I picked my spot (front row) and here’s my “desk” for now.  The object to the right of the computer is a phone system having to do with our inbound call part of my job.  We’ve not even talked about it today.

***** Photo removed just in case I’d be breaking any breach of contract rules.

Friend Mark asked what my coworkers thought of me taking pictures.  Well, I did it as spy like as possible with my phone.

Our training materials were accidently sent to Pennsylvania and hopefully we’ll have them in a day or so.  For now, the trainer is “winging it”.  The trainer is awesome though.  He’s down to earth, keeps it interesting, and well, I’m excited about it all.

I’ve mentioned how big this place is but now that I’ve walked through some of it, I gotta tell ya – monstrous.  Ginormous.  We haven’t even went to another section where the food court is, just the HUGE cafeteria.  In this part of the building is a dry cleaner, ice cream shop, Starbucks, eye doctor, general doctor, dry cleaners, nail salon, massage place, and of course a bank.

2011-02-14 001Above: Cafeteria.  Tomorrow we get a tour of the food court where there’s fast food restaurants like Sbarro and others.  I bring my lunch.  Weight Watchers style!

The place is so big they have “tent cards” on the tables advertising the on site gym and other places.  I actually took some pictures of them but since they have email addresses and phone numbers, I thought it best to leave it off the blog.

2011-02-14 003Above: Mmmmmmmmmm.  Next door to Starbuck’s. No I didn’t.

Most of the day was about getting our various ID numbers, setting up our passwords and email account, discussing the general responsibilities of our job, and filling out some paperwork here and there.  We discussed PTO (Personal Time Off) which is 18 days per year.  General benefits.  Etc.  

2-13-11 Sunday (Bitten)

Jim and I departed Charlotte at about 10am for a roadtrip to Columbia, SC.  The purpose?  Fun of course.  Fun with Amy and her family (The Francis Family).  Amy and Jim went to school together in FL.  Small world.  Yeah.  We met up for lunch at a Publix, particularly one with a café area to dine in.  We love Publix.  We miss Publix.  For those of you unaware, Publix is a supermarket and they don’t have any locations near us.  In their deli, they makes lots of stuff, but their subs are awesome.  Their bakery is to die for too.  It was strange meeting friends at a supermarket for lunch but damn was it good.

2011-02-13 001

We then followed Amy and Jeff and their 2 kids, Matt and Megan to the Riverbanks Zoo.  We walked around.  We saw animals.  I snapped some photos.  I won’t bore you with my animal photos.  If you want to see more, you can view them by clicking here)

2011-02-13 005Above: Megan and Amy.

At one point we were standing at some entrance to an exhibit.  The Francis family spoke in code about how Jim should hold the cup.  Well, it was a feed the lorikeets with a nectar sorta thing.  Jim was given the nectar and in we went.  A bird immediately landed on his arm and licked away at the nectar.  Jim tried to pet it and it bit him.  Naturally the signs say it might hurt but that it’s only a nibble.  The son of a bitch bird broke Jim’s skin!

2011-02-13 011

2011-02-13 009

For a few minutes, Jim had 2 birds.  Sometimes they land on your head or your shoulder, sometimes they crap on you.  Good times.  Luckily there was no crapping on Jim.

2011-02-13 0132011-02-13 0062011-02-13 0072011-02-13 0082011-02-13 0102011-02-13 012

What a sport.  Better him than me.

2011-02-13 017Above: Jim shows us his cow milking skills.

2011-02-13 018Above: Matt shows us his skills too. 

2011-02-13 019Above: 2 turkeys.

2011-02-13 023Above: Jim and I

2011-02-13 026Above: Jim in yellow, Matt behind him, Jeff has the hat on, Amy with the sunglasses and Megan beside her.

2011-02-13 027Above: Me with a gorilla.  He barely moved.

2011-02-13 029Above: Francis family.  Matt, Amy, Megan, Jeff

2011-02-13 030Above: Hawks Flamingos.

2011-02-13 032Above: Megan in front of the penguin exhibit.

2011-02-13 033Above: Matt is taking photography classes and had a ginormous digital camera.

After we saw all the animals we went to the botanical garden section of the zoo.  It happened to be the last day of some large orchid show.  I’m glad we caught it because there were some beautiful orchids on display.  Some variations I’ve never seen.  Here’s a few.

2011-02-13 0472011-02-13 0442011-02-13 0452011-02-13 046

And as we left we saw this:

2011-02-13 049Above: And now, a word from our sponsors, by Jeff on behalf of Compoost.

2011-02-13 050Above: “When ordinary poo, just won’t do.”

Here’s some videos from the day.  They’re all short, don’t worry:


We had a blast!  Maybe next time, the Francis family can meet us for some snow-tubing or other mountainy type fun stuff!