Monday, May 19, 2014

Working for Tips

This is the first of what may or may not be a sporadic feature in which I spend a lot of time asking questions instead of AskJeeves-ing the answer. 

Scene 1: My wife and I go out to a restaurant for dinner. The waiter is courteous, attentive without hovering, refills our drinks as needed, is prompt, polite and does an excellent job.

Scene 2:  My wife and I go out to a restaurant for dinner. The waiter is courteous, attentive without hovering, refills our drinks as needed, is prompt, polite and does an excellent job.

No, there wasn't a trick in there. It's the exact same scenario.  But for some reason the location and cost of food at the restaurant determines what kind of tip I'm supposed to give the waiter despite the fact they did the exact same thing. The Exact. Same. Thing.

But because dinner at Restaurant 1 costs 15% more than dinner at Restaurant 2, the waiter at the first place is supposed to get more than at the second? Why is this? Seriously, someone explain this to me. I get that it's always been done this way, but I want to know why? Where did this idea come from that the cost of the meal is what we should base our tip to the server on and not the quality of the service, especially when two people do the same thing.

And to be clear, I'm not opposed to tipping. Granted, I'd be happier if restaurants would actually pay their wait staff a living wage, ban tipping and reflect that cost in the price of the meal. I realize doing so would mean the end of movies like "It Could Happen To You," but that's a price I'm willing to pay.

And I'm not talking on an individual level here. I'm sure some of you do tip based on service and not price. But from a societal level, why is this standard practice?

Friday, May 16, 2014

Oh the places you've been

It's a gift 16 years in the making. One that he may not truly appreciate for another 10 years after that, but I love the idea. My only regret is I thought of it too late for it to be completely comprehensive, but hopefully he won't mind.

So here's what we're doing. Each year for the past three, we've asked our son's preschool teacher to write a note to him in Dr. Seuss's "Oh The Places You'll Go." We'll continue asking his teachers from kindergarten through his senior year of high school to do the same and then give it to him when he graduates. Sadly, we missed his first preschool teachers and have since moved away. Hopefully he doesn't mind.

I feel like if my parents did this for me when I graduated high school I'd have been like "eh, cool, whatever." But by the time I turned 28 I think it would be something I really treasured. We all have yearbooks that we got signed by our friends and classmates (and now conveniently stored in boxes in the attic), but I don't know many students who took the time to ask their teachers to write something for them. Maybe they did and I just didn't notice.

We gave the book to his Pre-K teacher earlier this week. I'm anxious to see what she writes. I'm more anxious to see what my son thinks in 25 years about what she writes.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Open Late

One of the complaints people have about living on the East Coast is that games, particularly baseball games, start too late when they’re played on the West Coast. Typically night games start around 7 p.m. local time, which means for a Braves’ fan wanting to see his team play the L.A. Dodgers, the game won’t start until 10 p.m. back in Georgia.

This is crazy talk. Well, not the facts about start times, those are actual facts, but the complaints about it starting too late are crazy talk.

I love the West Coast games. Not because I stay up until 1 a.m. or later to watch the end of them, but because I have the option of staying up until 1 a.m. to watch them. To me, there’s something about staying up way later than you should to watch a game that you know you can check your phone when you wake up in the morning and see the final score. Even though I'm an adult, I still enjoy getting to stay up late on a school/work night. Only now, I can ingest copious amounts of caffeine if I need to in order to get through the next day.

I can’t imagine living in Oregon somewhere and knowing my sports day ended at 10 p.m. I mean, I guess I would probably get more reading done or catch up on those television shows I put off during baseball season if I had from 10-11:30 each night not taken up with sports. I could write that book I keep telling myself I need to write* or take time to actually call friends and family and just see how they’re doing.

*I don’t actually keep telling myself that I need to write a book.

 But I enjoy having the option of knowing I can find a random regular season Mariners/Angels game at 10:05 and can turn that on and fall asleep to it. Or I can turn on that random game and stay up until 1 a.m. enjoying both the game and late night baseball twitter, which is always fun.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Progressive racist upset with Michael Sam being drafted

HAYS (Kan.) - Local man Tim Walsh was initially supportive of the St. Louis Rams selecting Michael Sam from the University of Missouri.

"He's an excellent athlete and was Co-SEC defensive player of the year," Walsh noted. "To get him in the seventh round is a steal. I'm excited to see what he can do for our team."

But Walsh's excitement quickly turned to disgust moments after the pick when Sam was shown kissing his boyfriend in a celebratory embrace for being the first openly gay athlete selected in the NFL draft.

Michael Sam (left) kisses his boyfriend upon being selected
in the 7th round of the NFL Draft.
Unlike many who took to social media to express their displeasure, or worse, at an openly gay player being selected in the NFL, Walsh had no objections to that.

"I ain't got no problem with Sam being gay," Walsh said. "I figure that's how the good Lord made him and it ain't for me to judge."

No, instead what Walsh found offensive was Walsh's choice in boyfriend.

"Sam is black. His boyfriend is white. Now if you ask me, that just ain't right," he said. "Being gay, that's fine, that's how your born. But a black man dating a white man, that's just wrong. The Lord made the races different for a reason and they should each stick to his own kind."

He went on to explain that an interracial relationship could be a distraction for a team that doesn't need any distractions as they look to improve on their 7-9 season.

"The media is going to be asking about it all season. I don't think (Head Coach Jeff) Fisher wants to spend all his time answering questions about Sam having a white boyfriend. And I'm sure the players don't want to either."

Reached for comment, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said he doesn't care what race the people are that his teammates date.

"Seriously, is this the 1950s?" he said. "I thought we moved past all that."

Friday, May 9, 2014


I didn't always want to be there. There were times I faked my way through it, enthusiastically cheering on kids while they practiced dribbling the soccer ball or shooting it in the goal when all I really wanted was to be laying on couch watching a ball game and essentially being left alone.

Despite those days, which were few and far between, I absolutely loved the past few months coaching (well, co-coaching) my under-6 soccer team. Yes, it's essentially watching a herd of kids swarm around the ball and if it squirts out, the herd quickly scurries to it. But it's also seeing kids who don't care about the score and just want to run around and have fun.

It's a little girl who, when the season started was hesitant about even stepping on to the field who by the end did everything we asked her to do and did it with the biggest smile. The girl who has a smile that is infectious that people she doesn't know comment on it.

Or seeing my son, who last season's most memorable moment was when he decided he wanted to see if he could run faster than the flock of birds flying overhead, figure out the game and this capped off the year by scoring five goals in a single game and seeing his confidence increase throughout the season.

It's the start of practice where before we did anything with a soccer ball, we'd ask what their favorite color/ice cream flavor/movie was. And it's being out on some of the finest soccer facilities in the state underneath the warm sun on a spring evening and just laughing and playing. It's interrupting practice when we see an airplane fly overhead so we can all wave and say "hi airplane." It's ending every practice with a game of "get the ball from the coaches" and having them swarm around us as the other coach and I would use our (fading) soccer skills from high school to keep it from them as long as we can.

But ultimately it comes down to something we were told at our coaches meeting before the season. The Georgia Southern soccer coach told us for kids the ages we were coaching, there was really only one measure of success - did the kids have fun and  as a corollary, do they want to keep playing soccer? While I don't know if they'll all play again, every player on our team said they had a great time playing.

And I appreciate the opportunity I was given to coach them.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

I want my MLB.TV

Today it rained.

This in and of itself isn't necessarily important other than the fact it meant my kid couldn't go out and play today. So there we were, stuck inside and like most people in south Georgia, we figured we'd watch the Pittsburgh/Baltimore game, because it was raining and that seemed like the logical thing to do.

Unfortunately, when we went to to watch the game, it said we were blacked out.

For the uninitiated, blackouts for Major League Baseball are essentially the way the league ensures that the cable channels that paid millions (and in some cases, billions) of dollars for the rights to show the games are able to recoup their investment. You've got to have cable or satellite (and pay the fees for that channel through your bill) for access to the game and the commercials that come with it. Obviously, this is usually for local teams, though local can be a tricky thing to figure out when you live in, say, Iowa where there are as many as six teams that are blacked out due to its proximity to those teams.

Needless to say, the Pirates and Orioles are not the local teams for me and shouldn't have been blacked out. So like anyone else would do, I took to social media to get the problem resolved. I tweeted the MLB Fan Support account and let them know there was an issue. Within two minutes, I'd received a reply asking for my account information and how they could help. After about six messages back and forth and maybe five minutes, the issue was resolved and we could watch the game.

It was phenomenal service. Courteous, polite, responsive. At one point they needed my IP address and when asking for it, provided a link for me to find out what it was. 

There's no overarching theme for this post. No grand lesson I'm trying to get across. Just some praise for some really good customer service.

Oh, and as for the game, it went in to a rain delay about 15 minutes after we turned it on and we ended up finding something else to watch.