On the move…

Just a quick note that I’ve moved my blog to a new home – http://www.wildsau.ca – I hope you’ll follow along.  Everything there should feel very familiar, albeit a bit more organized and accessible.  I’m looking forward to continuing my occasional posting and your comments.  If you’re currently subscribing to my blog, you can continue to do so at the new site.  Thanks!

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Life – it’s a lot like driving

I was thinking about life in general the other day and realized something.  In some ways, life is a lot like driving. 

Life is a collection of moments – some short, some long, some memorable, some forgettable.  Driving is also a collection of moments – and can be categorized similarly.  99% of my moments behind a vehicle’s wheel have been forgotten, but I’ll never forget when a drunk driver ran my fiancée and me off the road and we could have easily died.

My dad taught me that driving is largely how you react to things, and that as you get better at it, many of the reactions should be common-sense and become automatic.  There are some situations that you can try to prepare for behind the wheel, but you’ll never know how you’ll do when it happens because there’s no real way to practice for it.  Sounds a lot like life.  I hope I’d have the soundness of mind to react appropriately in the case of an accident or one that was about to happen, but how would I ever know?  Likewise, if something in life came my way, unexpected and unbeknownst to me, would I react appropriately?  I hope so, but often we can’t practice or prepare for certain things.

How do we flex behind the wheel, to make it work?  I believe we do the same thing we do in life.  We make constant adjustments to the wheel.  As things come up, we make incremental changes to how we’re travelling – we make small adjustments to the steering wheel, we touch the brake, we tap the accelerator.  These motions allow us to move around obstacles, through traffic, speed up, slow down.  We do all these things in life too.  We make little adjustments in order to flex around things that come up.  I have to prepare for a meeting at work so I leave a little earlier that morning to give myself time.  My wife can’t figure out how to screw on the lid to the toothpaste tube after 10 years of being asked to do so – no worries, I get over it.  My kid walks into the same table and smashes her face into it 3 times in a row?  Let’s move that table, shall we?  Simple things like that.  Those are the constant adjustments that we make – on the road and in life.  For the most part, they take care of business.

What about the unexpected goodies?  The big ones.  What happens when you’re driving down the highway and a cow falls off the truck in front of you?  Literally or figuratively, you’re going to stop making ground beef jokes and you’re going to need to make one or more big moves to survive this situation.  I’d say you’re going to have to veer – hard, and into a different direction.  Again, this can be applied to driving as well as to life.  Your girlfriend of 2 months announces she’s pregnant?  No little adjustment at the wheel is going to get you around that one, my friend.  You need to veer.  And you need to veer hard.  The direction you’re going to veer into is, of course, up to you and your girlfriend but either way, you’re not continuing on the same path.  You’re expecting a baby – maybe your first – and you get the news that it will likely be a handicapped baby, with significant deficits.  It’s time to veer, one way or another.  Your constant back pain leads to you the doctor, after being hassled to go for 2 years by your wife.  And you find out you have Stage III cancer, somewhere in your guts, where it’s going to be difficult if not impossible to treat.  You’d be inhuman if you weren’t to veer after getting that news.  Strangely, much as in avoiding a cow on the highway, no one can completely prepare you for these situations, and no one can tell you ahead of time which direction you ought to veer into.

There are millions of examples in terms of the little pebbles we barely nudge the wheel to get around in life, and just as many examples of the cow that just fell off the truck ahead of you on the highway. 

I don’t exactly know how I’ve done so far – on the road of life.  I realize that I’ve made a million little adjustments to the wheel – as I do every day.  (As a matter of fact, if this ridiculous “r” key keeps sticking on me, I might stop making small adjustments and veer in the direction of smashing this keyboard on my desk.)  I have also veered – more than I thought I would have to.  I didn’t expect some of those huge speed bumps on the road of my life.  I didn’t expect to lose my dad and my brother in the same summer.  I didn’t expect to lose a couple of my jobs along the way.  I didn’t expect to meet the most perfect woman in the world and for her to end up being mine.  I didn’t expect to ever father children, never mind three of them.  I didn’t expect to find out I had cancer.  But I have met all those speed bumps along the way.  Is it fair to call them all speed bumps?  Absolutely not.  Not all of them.  Perhaps I should call some of them curves in the road, or elevation changes. I’ve been soaring on a certain high ever since I met my wife, though it’s easy to forget that some days.  I’ve never quite grasped that my dad is gone, and to me, that was a curve in the road – I’ve never been going in quite the same direction since. 

Do I have any advice for you?  Not really.  Maybe the same advice I’m going to give my kids when they get behind the wheel of a real car for the first time – look ahead, try to see around that corner or over that hill and adjust as you can.  If you can plan ahead – even by milliseconds – you’ll likely make better decisions.  Those milliseconds on the road may translate to minutes, hours, days or months in real life and that kind of time to make proper adjustments can make all the difference.

But here’s what I’ve taken away from all this.  I’ve survived.  I’ve survived the little adjustments at the wheel – compromises, quick decisions, you name it.  I’ve also survived veering on life’s highway – huge decisions, life-changing decisions and one thing I haven’t talked about yet – taking risks.  In my opinion, in life and in driving, the bigger the obstacle that comes your way, the more you have to veer and the bigger the risk becomes, that you now have to take.  You might not see it is a risk, and although you’re veering hard to the right or the left, you’re , at very least, risking upsetting what has been status quo and potentially risking much, much more.

I’m here to tell you that you’re going to survive it.  Because you have instincts that will allow you to straighten that wheel again, and to continue down the road.  I’ve gained confidence in my years of being a driver, and I truly love driving.  As I sit back and evaluate the decisions I’ve made behind the wheel of life’s car, I realize that I truly love this ride as well.   My friend, unless you’re a Hindu, you’ve only got the one drive – look ahead, make the right adjustments behind the wheel as best as you know how, veer into different directions when you have to, take risks – big or small, and get back on track when you’re able to.  What more can you ask of yourself? 

As a final note, I’ve likely written the word veer more often in this post than I have in my life, and it now sounds weird to me.  Veerd.

Wishing you and yours safe travels – on any road you’re on.

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Meatballs and Balsamic-Apple Chutney

Tonight we had a very simple dinner, and I thought this would be great as an appetizer too.  Simple to prepare, a nice mix of flavours, not too complex for kids and ingredients that are easily accessible, and possibly already in your fridge/pantry.

The key to this quick meal is the chutney.  The meatballs are a slight variation on any basic meatball recipe you might have made already, but it’s the chutney that makes this recipe.

The chutney can be prepared in a skillet as follows:

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and add 1-1/2 to 2 cups of chopped onions and 1/2 teaspoon of salt – use Kosher salt if you have it.  Cook it over medium heat until the onions are just golden – this shouldn’t be longer than 10 minutes.  Make sure you stir it a lot.  Add 3 apples (Granny Smith are best, as they’re slightly tarter – peeled, cored and chopped as finely as you chopped the onion), 1/3 cup of balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons of honey.  Keep cooking the mixture over medium heat until most of the moisture is absorbed/evaporated.  Add about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of water to the mix and simmer it, covered, for about 20 minutes – until the apples are nice and tender.

As far as the meatballs go, they’re simple:

Ingredients:

1 lb. lean ground beef

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1 egg, just lightly beaten

2 tbsp. minced onion

1/3 cup of blue cheese crumbles – if you don’t like blue cheese, you can use feta cheese as well – it’s great either way

Mix the ingredients and add about a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of freshly ground pepper and form small meatballs.  Just broil them on a baking sheet (either non-stick or lined with foil and sprayed with PAM) for about 8 minutes, up to 10 minutes – as long as they are cooked through.

That’s it!  Serve the meatballs with the chutney.  We have tried this a number of ways – you can toss the meatballs in the chutney or serve them separately.  Our preference is to serve them separately with home-made pita chips.  The flavours go together very well.  If you choose to use feta, it will have a less strong taste obviously and might have a higher CAF (child-acceptance factor).  We’ve served it as an appetizer, and in that case, we sprinkle it with more blue or feta cheese crumbles and we’ve also added flat-leaf parsley as a nice way to catch the eye.

Our kids’ reactions:  Abigail – she eats most things and enjoys them – she enjoys this, but with feta cheese – blue cheese is a bit too complex for her, I think.  Amalie – she’s pickier – she enjoyed this as well, with the exception of the chutney.  She liked the meatballs, regardless of cheese choice, and obviously pita chips are a great way to get her to eat.

Hope you enjoy it!

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Indian Vegetarian Curry

I was going to make my first food post about the dinner tart we made the other night, but I need to do some more work on the recipe.  So here it is: my first food post.

We often make a variation of this simple Indian curry – it’s meatless, yet hearty and rich.  The flavor ends up being fairly complex without getting out of hand, due to a myriad of spices we end up using.  We love this in the winter, and hope you enjoy it.  By the way, it’s called a curry, but it doesn’t actually contain curry powder.  The turmeric and other spices do the trick.

FYI, this makes a big pot of stew, which easily serves our family of 2 adults and 2 kids twice.  So if you enjoy leftovers for lunch or supper next day, this is a great amount – if not, feel free to play with the amounts.  It’s pretty hard to screw this recipe up, and we’ve often toyed around with it – leaving things out or adding things in.  Have fun with it!  Another reason we love this recipe is it typically comes out quite saucy, which is great to serve over rice and that takes care of a simple, quick supper.

Ingredients:
canola oil
1 large yellow onion, diced – we usually don’t dice it too small – this would be a matter of preference though
4 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled & grated (I’d say about 1 tbsp. when you’re done)
1 tbsp. ground coriander
1-1/2 tsp. ground cumin
3/4 tsp. ground turmeric
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 tbsp. tomato paste
2 cups chicken broth – this recipe also works with vegetable stock – thanks Janelle!
1 cup coconut milk (you can also use milk or cream – it’s far better with coconut milk)
A cinnamon stick
Salt and freshly ground black pepper – we always use sea salt, again a preference
4 cups of cauliflower florets – we don’t always have cauliflower on hand – optional
Roughly 3 cups of sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes – we usually do 1″ cubes max
2 medium tomatoes – these need to be cored and seeded and then chopped – it can be rough chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and cut into rounds (about 1 cup) – don’t make the rounds thicker than 1/2″
1 can lentils (chickpeas) – obviously drained and rinsed
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
2 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro – lots of cilantro haters out there – it’s a must though

In any heavy-duty pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook
until it starts to brown, 3 – 4 minutes – you’ll want to be stirring a lot. Bring the heat down to medium (or medium low if necessary) and continue to cook until the onion is fully browned – usually about 5 – 7 minutes longer. Add the garlic and ginger and keep cooking the mix for a minute or so.  This lets those flavors blend nicely.  You’ll also want to continue stirring a lot.  At this point, add the coriander, cumin, turmeric and cayenne – and give it a good stir again.  Add the tomato paste and stir until it’s blended with the spices really well – take about a minute of stirring.

Now add the broth, coconut milk, the cinnamon stick, about a tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp.
pepper and bring the whole shebang to a boil. Bring the heat down to medium low or low and simmer for 10 minutes.  This is when the smell will get irresistible.

Add the cauliflower (if you’re using it), sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and carrots. Crank up the heat again to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil.  And now, for the last time (I promise) bring the heat down to medium low, cover your pot, and just let it simmer until the vegetables are tender – strangely, we find this varies but usually they’re good in about 20 – 25 minutes. You can ditch the cinnamon stick now – it’s done its work.

Stir in the chickpeas, lime juice, and the zest.  We always taste it at this point and season to our preference with salt.  Now we most often just stir in the cilantro right at the end, but you can also serve it with the cilantro as a garnish, or leave it out if you’re weird.

Absolutely no reason to go through more work than what I’ve written here – serve it on a good quality white basmati rice.

The verdict:  this recipe is as easy as it gets, but I’d rate it easy to medium only because of the increased effort while you’re continuously adding ingredients and bringing the heat up and down.  We absolutely love this recipe – we’ve fiddled around with adding green beans, using cream instead of coconut milk, etc.  I feel it is definitely worth the effort, and as I’ve already mentioned – we would make it again, and we have.  Finally, our kids’ reactions:  Abigail – she eats most things and enjoys them – she loves it, but always finds it a bit spicy.  Amalie – she’s pickier and she doesn’t enjoy this recipe – anything with a bit of a kick doesn’t work for her.  Let me know what you think of this recipe and we’d love to hear about any variations that you’ve tried that worked.

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Wildsau’s blog expands – let’s talk food!

After what seems like hundreds of contacts over time, I finally believe that my wife and I are not alone in our love for cooking and enjoying great food.  If you follow me on Twitter or if you’re my friend on Facebook, you know I often talk about food, and I often post pictures of what we’re cooking or what we’re eating.

Let me tell you where it started.  When it comes to our eating habits, we determined a long time ago that we will, with as few exceptions as possible, eat at home, eat home-made food, use fresh ingredients when we can, and eat around the dinner table.  We have some rules to follow those ambitions as well…..

1) we don’t make any exceptions, meaning if someone is feeling picky that evening, it’s too bad.  You will try a few bites, and if you don’t, you won’t have dessert or any bed-time snacks later.

2) you must ask to be excused, and when you are excused, you bring your dishes to the sink.

3) everyone takes part in the dinner conversation, including our little 3 year-old, and we have two standard questions we all have to answer – what was the best part of your day and what was the worst part of your day?

Obviously these rules are to add some structure for our kids, but we found it was important to not turn to the TV as the centerpiece for our dinners and we wanted to make sure our kids were part of this equation.  Therefore we include them in the prep if we can – both our kids have their own Wüsthof knife and their own cutting board – and they are excellent little prep cooks.  Why do we do these things?  We feel it’s important to eat healthier and to eat less refined food, and to spend as much time together as a family as possible.

So here it is – we’ve had, on countless occasions, requests to share recipes, techniques, pictures, sources of ingredients, cookbook recommendations, restaurant reviews, etc.  We don’t have any issues with sharing anything we do, and we’ve often asked for help or tips from others – we’d love to share as much as we can, because if we can get anyone else into enjoying the preparation and the consumption of their food as much as we enjoy it, it will be worth it.  It’s been a rewarding ride, and we’ve learned a lot since we got married and started taking our cooking seriously.  We don’t have any training, and we can’t do anything that anyone else can’t do – yes, for the most part, it takes more time to eat the way we do, but other than that, there’s nothing special about it.  We use locally available ingredients and we use normal cooking techniques.  We just enjoy it.  A lot!  We look forward to sharing some of our favorite recipes – in words and in pictures.

I want to be honest – we use recipes.  We don’t come up with a lot of our own unique and original recipes – we have on occasion, but we often use recipes as we find them, or as they come recommended by others.  And most often we find recipes that strike us as interesting and we make them our own, by tweaking, by experimenting, by changing things up.  It’s what has kept us interested and passionate about cooking.  The point here is that it’s the result I want to share, and I will always give credit as to where the recipe comes from if it’s not our own.  And we are always looking for winners from our friends and acquaintances – if you have a recipe worth sharing, please PLEASE do – we’ll try it out, document it, share it and certainly give credit where it’s due.

My plan is to share what we’ve tried, and to be objective with the results.  I also plan on keeping a few things consistent.  Whenever I share a recipe, I’m going to try to do several things: I will tell you how easy or difficult it is, I will tell you whether I felt it was ultimately worth the effort, I will tell you whether we would make it again, and finally I will tell you how our kids reacted to it.  Also, if applicable, I will share a story attached to this food, if there is one.

The words that tipped the scale in this direction were a result of sharing my pictures of a kale, sweet potato, onion and feta tart in a teff crust that we made tonight, January 31st.  Therefore I plan on starting with that recipe.

But before I do, I’d love to hear from you.  I’d love to hear suggestions to make this as useful as possible for anyone who stops by and maybe in terms of what you’d like to see here.  This is going to be my way of sharing something we do anyway and if you think you might drop in from time to time, I want to make sure it’s as accessible and enjoyable as possible.  Lastly, I get pretty wordy in my other blog posts – I can assure you that that won’t likely happen here.  I’m not pouring out my soul here, I’m filling my tummy.

I’m looking forward to this, and to hearing from you – now and in the future.

Bon appetit!

Posted in food, get to know me, where I'm going | 3 Comments

Why I got rid of my baby

My heart is shattered.  I’m not sure where to turn.  If you don’t handle stories about tragic loss and grief well, you might not want to read on.  Three weeks ago, we welcomed a baby boy into this world.  I breathlessly blogged about it.  Our little family glowed with excitement of the new arrival.

But today, I have bad news.

Any of you who know me, or who follow me on Twitter, will know that I am also breathlessly excited about another baby.

A few years ago, my wife let me buy my dream car.  It was an Audi S4 Avant, a horny beast of a car – a little A4 wagon that dragged big, clanging balls around with it – to the tune of a 340-horsepower V8.  It sounded like it was gargling glass and without getting into too much detail, I had dreams about this car.  I always wanted a 4-door wagon that could bitch-slap most cars back down to size, and certainly keep up with most others.  It was a friend to me – it kept me company on my commute, it let me strut my immature boy attitude once in a while, it let me drive like an idiot when I wanted to, it tickled my ears with it’s V8 rumble.  It served its purpose – it carried me and my wife and two girls wherever we needed, and we all just seemed so happy.  What’s that saying though?  All good things….

I had a feeling this day was coming, but I was afraid to face it.  I tried, nay pleaded with this car to make three child seats fit.  But the S4 is built on a VW Jetta platform, and frankly you’d have a better chance of fitting the Nutty Professor’s Klumps into a Smart car than getting this done.  I did the math – tried to figure out a way.  Tried to think of how on Earth I might make this work.  But the moment that sealed my fate came in the form of a single tear.  I had met my wife, who had all three of my kids in our other vehicle, at the mall.  Our other vehicle isn’t ideal either – but will seat the three kids.  However, as I sat across the parking lot and watched, thinking she’d be out in seconds, it took her 2-3 minutes of fighting with the stroller, which she had to put in the front seat beside her, to get it out of the car.  She struggled mightily, and I give her credit – because I would have bashed that stroller into a tiny little package to get it out of the door by then, and I’m certain my children would have heard a word or two they shouldn’t have.  As I came up to the car, she didn’t complain – not one word – but she had a single tear of frustration running down her face.  I knew then it was time to get rid of my baby.

Yes, I struggled getting rid of my dream car.  Yes, it stings a bit, because I’m dropping it off today to make room for something else.  And I’m sure any car enthusiasts reading this will be muttering under their breath, shaking their heads and rolling their eyes, just KNOWING what’s coming.  We went and looked at mini-vans.

At first we drove a Toyota Sienna.  We had our hearts set on this vehicle, because it seemed quite competent.  I couldn’t quite get over how soul-less it was, parked OR driving.  But in the end, I need an able people-hauler with room for a stroller and three huge child seats, and excuses weren’t going to cut it.  We were on our way to pen a deal at a Toyota dealership on December 31st when I decided we might be short-changing ourselves if we didn’t have a look at the other competitor, and so we quickly swung over to a Honda dealership and tried out an Odyssey.  My wife absolutely loved it and even more so when she drove it for a few kilometres, and although it’s not an Audi interior (there’s NOTHING like an Audi interior, by the way), it was miles better and nicer to look at than the Toyota.  We swung a deal.  We bought a shiny Honda Odyssey and that, my friends, is that.

Today is the Audi’s funeral.  I did get to drive it this weekend, and I believe that Edmonton snow fell exclusively for me.  Any of my friends and/or Twitter followers know full well that I pray for snow from about September on, and I go out to play in the snow with my Audi – I will gladly blast through a half-tank of gas in an evening – no regrets.  Well, I put about 400 kms on my car in the last 76 hours.  And no corner in southwest Edmonton remained safe without the chance of a dolphin-grey Audi S4 wagon flying around it at ludicrous speeds.  I bagged the piss out of that car for the last few days and we said our good-byes that way, hand in steering wheel.  It took it like a champ, never complaining, always giving what I asked of it.  As I looked back at my Audi in the garage last night after a 2 hour romp in the snow, it sat there and heat and steam sizzled off of those giant V8 balls it drags around.  But somehow it wasn’t a sad moment.  I think for a second, my baby smiled at me and said “Thanks for the memories, my friend.  Thanks for driving me the way an S-car should be driven and for taking care of me.  Thanks for our connection.”  And I smiled back, assuring it that though this will be its funeral, I do believe in reincarnation for cars, and it will be reborn into a new relationship, with a new owner, and a new friend to take on the streets of Edmonton.  Good-bye, my friend, and thanks for understanding what I needed to do.

And if I pass my dream car on the street some day, driving my mini-van, I’m sure we’ll wink at each other and smile, knowing that we’re both in better places, and we might meet again some day.

Remember that shattered heart I talked about earlier?  It’s healing, and quickly.  The hole in it is filled with a wife and 3 kids that don’t have to worry about where they’ll sit in the vehicle or whether snow from the stroller’s tires will get on the dash or seat, or how on earth we’ll ever make a comfortable road trip with three child seats in our vehicle.

I would have been ashamed to say it but a few years ago, but as it turns out, I’m a proud mini-van owner.  Not because it’s a mini-van, but because I made peace with giving up my baby and I did it for my family.  I think I’d rather have lopped off a lobe of my liver, or sliced a piece of my manhood apart than have bought a mini-van a few years ago, yet somehow this feels so right.  Speaking of slicing and manhood, now that I have three kids, I think I have to book a surgery…..

Thanks for reading!  I’d love to hear your thoughts, if you’ve went through a similar situation or if you just want to call me bad names and throw rotten fruit for giving up such a rare jewel just to make things work for my family.  😉

Posted in get to know me, my family, where I came from, where I'm going | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Anthropologie, security tags and a tainted shopping excursion

I want to briefly tell you about what happened to us yesterday evening.

We had a baby last Saturday – that’s laid out in detail in my last post. My wife is a go-getter and has definitely done very well in the last week – another reason I’m crazy about her. She’s an amazing woman who quietly goes about her business and doesn’t let anything get in her way.

Her one wish this week was to go to Anthropologie, which was one of her favorite stores in WEM. We discussed throughout the week and agreed that we would head over there Friday night. We had it all planned out – quick supper at home, feed the little guy and head off – Aimie’s only agenda item was Anthropologie, and mine was to hit Kernels with my girls to buy us some special popcorn. We’d likely hit other stores up, but those two were our must-stops.

We came into the mall right by Anthropologie, and so it was the first stop. As we walked in, amongst other shoppers, the anti-theft alarm went off. One of their greeter staff immediately gravitated toward our family of 5 – my wife, my 2 daughters, my 6 day-old son in a stroller and me. She asked if there were any tags we had left on from previous purchases earlier, or perhaps any items we had forgotten to pay for. I said, No, we walked into the mall one minute ago, and came straight into this store – we have no merchandise on us. She advised that she understood, but as we made our way into the store, she continued following us. At this point, I’m starting to get pissed and I’m glowering at her. My wife says to not worry about it, obviously we haven’t stolen anything or whatever and this doesn’t matter.

About 30 seconds later, she comes up to us again and asks if it’s possible that our kids’ jackets might have anti-theft tags in them. I said yes, that’s very possible – as they were bundled up in the bottom of the stroller, I yanked them out angrily and quickly looked – there were no tags to be found. Thinking this would take care of her dire concern for the well-being of any lost pennies due to theft shrinkage, I put the coats back and looked on as my wife shopped.

Well, folks, that associate wasn’t done with us. She asked if it could be in the baby’s outfit. Now, I don’t need to clarify this to anyone who has kids – but I want this on the record – this is a 6-day-old boy. He’s bundled up in a polar-bear snowsuit, strapped into his infant seat, wrapped with one blanket, cozied up with another, and is wearing a toque and a hood for good measure. And he’s sleeping. This stuff takes time to arrange – I don’t have a fairy godmother that waves her wand and bippity-boppity-boo, my kid is dressed for the weather, strapped in and sleeping.

In complete disbelief, I said, yes I suppose that it could be in the baby’s suit, wondering to myself what kind of blunt-force cranial trauma this sales associate has experienced to lead her down this path of blunders. But again, she keeps going – and asks if she could maybe have a look. I said, you mean to tell me you want me to get all the blankets off him, unbuckle him, wake him up and strip him down to his one-sie so you can check if his polar-bear suit set your effing alarm off? I mean seriously, I know that’s now what she could have meant, but I was wrong again. That’s exactly what she meant. I essentially told her where she could shove her customer service manual and not gently and turned my back on her, but she just kept on going – she advised us that she was going to talk to her manager about this. I thought to myself, thank goodness – finally someone will take control of this situation. By now, numerous other customers had heard and seen what was going on, and were shaking their heads in disgust, and were voicing their support for us.

30 seconds later, The Persistent One returned, armed with an enormous orange scissor. She offered to cut out the tag from my son’s snow suit with it. I said no, you may not. I thought, in order to save my wife any further hassle and potentially ruin the one stop she wanted out of this evening, I will go ahead and do this. I started to take the blankets off little Andon, and as he jerked awake, eyes wide, startled by the movement and cold air, I decided enough is enough. I told the sales associate she was ridiculous and that this situation was out of hand. What I didn’t notice was that my wife was crying.

We left, disgusted. My wife’s one wish for the week after having a baby was simple – to visit a store she loves. This wasn’t meant to be, but it didn’t have to be that way. It may seem trivial, friends, but it isn’t. Think about the implication and put yourself into this situation. It was ludicrous.

I tweeted my frustration about it. I felt bad for a moment as I re-read my tweet and thought it misled people to think we actually had stripped our little guy down to satisfy Anthropologie’s requirements of us, but we didn’t. We weren’t given a choice in the matter, and so we felt our only other option was to leave. I returned to the store with my son in his stroller, leaving my wife out in the mall with our girls. I spoke to another manager who, after listening to the story, advised me that it is definitely not their policy to have people cut tags out. She said the associate was likely just offering the scissor to us for our convenience. I made it clear that Helen Keller could have communicated that intention better, and whatever she meant to say to us came out all wrong, as we felt all of the following at one point or another of the aforementioned conversation: a) accused of stealing, b) uncomfortable by having so much attention drawn to us in front of everyone, c) threatened by this sales associate suggesting SHE cut our son’s outfit tag out, and d) left with no option but to leave immediately for fear of being harassed further. To her credit, the manager did apologize profusely, and advised she would be discussing this with said associate. I told her that we have probably spent $5,000 or more at her store in the last year – she asked us to please come back, and I said well I don’t think you’ll be seeing us anymore, just on pure principle.

So, as is typically the case with me, this has become a long story – but it serves a purpose. I’m not sure what the pitbull associate was trying to accomplish, but clearly communication isn’t one of her strong points. I’m not sure what the manager she spoke to told her, but it appears that she was being backed up and supported in these extraordinary measures by that manager, which makes the staff doubly responsible for what I consider outrageous behavior. Yes, I could puff out my chest and proclaim that the salesperson and the manager and the whole store and the whole corporation needs to be boycotted and bitch-slapped with a dead fish, but really this next point is what matters most to me – I just wanted to see my wife relax and enjoy her first post-baby evening out, and wanted to see her smile light up as she found something that she really loved at Anthropologie. I feel sad, because my wife didn’t get that.

By the way, on our way out of the store in protest, AND when I returned to talk to the manager and left again – none of those three instances set the alarm off. Stark irony resides in the fact that it wasn’t even us who tripped the alarm in the first place.

Merry Christmas, Anthropologie in WEM, and peace and goodwill toward men. Heck, maybe even toward women and children who just want to shop there and aren’t stealing anything.

Edit, December 27, 2010:  I feel compelled to edit, or rather add to my blog entry.  The day after posting this blog, which has received an extraordinary number of hits, a manager from Anthropologie contacted me directly.  I’m not sure what caught their attention – my tweets related to the situation or this blog – it doesn’t really matter because neither were written for them.  What I can say is that the manager didn’t try to deflect blame, or point fingers – the company apologized, accepted blame and assured us that this was not their policy, and in this case, they had figured out which sales associate it was, and it was her first shift.  Regardless of first shift or not, the company indicated that their sales associates would be better prepared for the retail floor from hereon in.  After that, the local store manager reached out to us as well, sending us a very kind care package as a thank you for my wife’s loyalty and a hand-written letter – also assuring us that this was not typical, not their policy, that their associates would be trained somewhat differently in terms of these situations so this wouldn’t happen to anyone again.  The manager definitely apologized for the incident and even asked to meet with my wife.  I want to say that my wife and I are very satisfied with Anthropologie’s response – it was accountable, it made things right and as I sit back and think about this situation,  there isn’t more we can ask of Anthropologie.  We accept their apologies, we accept that these circumstances, though quite upsetting at the time, were extraordinary and not the norm for this company and my wife is looking forward to going back and continuing her relationship with this store.  Thank you, Anthropologie, for making it right.

 

Posted in get to know me, idiocy of epic proportions, my family | Tagged , | 7 Comments