Friday, March 28, 2008

10 Fool-Proof Ways to Piss Off Your Customers

Lately, it feels like I've been plagued with the worst customer service (EVER!!) lately. And believe me, I'm not on a high horse here. Waiting tables, bartending, and pushing designer jeans--I once did it all as a starving student so I've had my share of nightmare customers. You know...the ones who seem to thrive on making your life a living hell during that brief time you spend together:

Scenario #1: Hell's Kitchen

MEANIE: It isn't like it's rocket science! I asked for a blue rare steak--

ME: Uh...sir, that is a blue rare steak...


ME: Well, the steak was just briefly seared on both sides so the the centre is supposed to be cool...

MEANIE: I want a new steak NOW!!!

ME: Sure, no problem. I'll have a new striploin for you in a few minutes.


Scenario #2: Rodeo "Dive"

TEEN MEANIE: Hi, I wanna like..return this bikini.

ME: OK, was it defective?

TEEN MEANIE: just changed my mind.

ME: I'm really sorry but swim suits are a final sale unless the garment is defective. We even stamped your receipt when you bought it.


ME: Um...bikinis are like undergarments so our policy is because of sanitary reasons.

TEEN MEANIE: But I didn't it! I just wanna get my money back!

ME: Well, your receipt says that you bought the bikini over 3 months ago...and looks like you did wear it. I'm sorry but it is still a final sale.

TEEN MEANIE: I wanna talk to your manager!

ME: I am the manager my dear...

I'm sure you get the idea, right?

What I did learn from working in both the retail and restaurant industries is that it's one big play and you're the star of the show. You swallow your pride because a) you're getting paid to do it and b) good tips are usually a huge incentive. Difficult customers may require you to use every ounce of willpower in your body to suck-it-up but most of the time, customers are usually pretty easy going so a good sense of humour and kindness go a long way. They are paying for the experience after all...

And now that I am on the other side of the equation, it feels like I've just been getting shafted. Rude and incompetent seem to be the first words that come to mind when describing my most recent customer service experiences. Seriously, I'm a damn good tipper and really laid-back so what gives?! If I'm dropping $100 for a nice dinner or for a pair of jeans I demand good service dammit! So instead of actually confronting these servers and retail workers who clearly detest their jobs, I've decided to exorcise my angst with the following list:

10 Fool-Proof Ways to Piss-off Your Customers

1. Don't smile and make sure to speak to your customers in a really RUDE tone.

2. Act like your customers just asked you to cut-off one of your limbs when all they really wanted was another Coke.

3. Make sure to trash-talk your "bitchiest" customers out loud in a fitting room filled with other customers.

4. When your customers have waited over half-an-hour for their food, make sure to completely abandon their table and don't refill any of their drinks.

5. Don't apologize when the food finally arrives cold and a customer is missing his meal because you forgot to punch in his order.

6. Rudely stare your customers down when they walk into your clothing store.

7. When a customer calmly confronts you about over-charging her $10 for a pair of jeans, make sure to a) rudely argue about it and, b) not to apologize when a calculator proves you wrong.

8. Make your customers wait at their table for nearly 15 minutes before you greet them or take their drink order.

9. Absolutely chat about your sex life with another employee within earshot of a customer.

10. Make sure your customers know how much you hate your job. This may entail: rolling your eyes when asked a question, telling them that you're sooo hungover when they ask how you are doing, and looking like you would rather be cleaning subway toilets than serving their table right now...

Monday, March 24, 2008

When the Well Runs Dry...


Considering that it's responsible for sustaining all life on Earth, humans have become rather ingenious in manipulating this precious resource.

And this is not a new phenomenon.

From the Mesopotamians to the Aztecs to modern-day North Americans, we have all successfully conquered water with our elaborately constructed canals and irrigation systems. We've re-routed entire waterways with dams and levees, built golf courses and orange groves on deserts, and have filled swimming pools like they were going out of style.

Clearly, with our seemingly endless supply of H20, not a lot of thought was put into the fact that the well might actually run dry...

A few years ago, Marq de Villiers's Water: The Fate of Our Most Precious Resource really opened my eyes to inevitability of this scenario. By exploring the geological and geopolitical implications of a global water shortage, de Villiers' message is clear. The world's water levels have remained constant since the beginning of geological time, and now the demand for this essential resource far exceeds the supply. Not surprisingly, those most vulnerable to this impending shortage are at the bottom of the supposed "water chain."

As the sub-Saharan desert continues to spread at an alarming rate, this desertification has exasperated the region's already overburdened water system. This, in conjunction with the fall-out of failed Structural Adjustment Programs, unstable governments, and weak economies continue to fuel famine and conflict within the region. According to "Water Stress in Sub-Saharan Africa, " Christopher W. Tatlock sheds light on the role water has played in the war in Darfur: "The crisis...stems in part from disputes over water: The conflict that led to the crisis arose from tensions between nomadic farming groups who were competing for water and grazing land—both increasingly scarce due to the expanding Sahara Desert."

And even though North Americans continue to believe that we have all the water in the world, shortages have already become a reality in California--a state that perfected the art of bringing the water to them. While Californians are no strangers to droughts, water scarcity now appears to be a long-term concern public officials are starting to address.

In the beginning of the 20th century, California began diverting watersheds from the Owens River to the San Fernando Valley by way of the Owens Aqueduct. Since this supply would only be used to irrigate agriculture, Los Angeles needed to find yet another source to quench the thirst of its residences. By the 1930s, the state had secured additional supplies from the Colorado River through the construction of a 400 mile aqueduct. So as we speak, Southern California depends exclusively on these imported reserves in order to sustain itself.

So what's the problem?

Well, it so happens that the Colorado River also supplies Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Arizona, and the country of Mexico with water. And complicating matters even more, the river has been suffering from a 5-year drought and there doesn't seem to be an end in sight. This imminent crisis has many calling into question the sustainability of this water system since the worst is still yet to come. So as a result, counties in Southern California have begun to look into alternative water sources in order to drought-proof themselves.

Orange County has decided to take the road less travelled in their search for water by spending nearly $500 million on a plant that purifies waste water into drinking water. NPR elaborates on this intricate process:

Engines push the water through the plant's microfilters. Using high pressure, reverse osmosis, it's then forced through a thin membrane. Finally, the water is injected with peroxide and blasted with ultraviolet light to remove lingering hormones and dissolved pharmaceuticals...At the end of every day, 70 million gallons of drinking water — 10 percent of what the county needs — get pumped back underground into the aquifer.

While this "toilet-to-tap" system may trigger our gag reflexes, all the water we consume has been recycled an infinite amount of times over the last 4 billion years so the idea isn't that far-fetched. Also, the project proves to be more sustainable than the former water transferring system by emitting less carbon into the atmosphere.

CBC's California Dry does a fantastic job in exploring the alternative water plans in Long Beach as city planners toy with a more controversial solution--converting sea water into drinking water through desalination. While in theory, the process sounds like a godsend, in practice, some argue that a large-scale desalination plant is only a short-term solution that can upset ocean pH levels, devastate marine life, and result in heavy carbon emissions.

However, proponents of a desalination project claim that negative implications have been carefully considered. City officials ensure that only the most efficient technologies will be used in the process, while certain marine habitats will even be reconstructed (ie. fish farms) in order to offset the destruction of their natural environments.

So even though sub-Saharan Africa and California are only two out of the many regions currently grappling with water scarcity, they can be seen as significant microcosms of times to come if we don't start conserving and fairly distributing the world's most valuable resource.


California Dry--CBC documentary (watch it online)

"Low flow in the Colorado River Basin spurs water shortage discussion among seven states"

"Stepping Outside the Box:Water in Southern California"

"'Toilet to Tap' Planned for Orange County Water"

Water Education Foundation

Water Stress in Sub-Saharan Africa

Friday, March 21, 2008

Video Cop-Out: "Bohemian Rhapsody"-- amazing acapella cover

In this latest installment of Video Cop-out, I thought you would all enjoy the UC Men's Octet acapella rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody." Seriously, you have to check it out because it's really impressive...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tag Teamin' and Sporadic Posting

Happy St. Patty's Day everyone! I apologize for my sporadic posts. I've been really busy with family and work-related stuff so I'm hoping I can get back to my regular blogging routine very soon. In the meantime, perhaps you'll enjoy learning some very trivial tidbits about me a' la memes as both Ivy and Zen have tag-teamed me.

Since I am now officially IT...

I'll start with Ivy's alphabet meme in which I tell you 26 random facts about myself that...if you haven't already guessed...correspond with each letter. Since this a lot more difficult than it seems, I thought I'd narrow the field by sharing some of my favourite movies instead:

A- Adaptation, Apocalypse Now

B- Blow

C- Clerks, Chasing Amy, and Canadian Bacon

D- Dogma (Can you tell I'm a big Kevin Smith fan?)

E- Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind, Empire Strikes Back

F- Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fight Club

G- Gardenstate

H- High Fidelity

I- I ♥ Huckabees, It's a Wonderful Life

J- Jackie Brown, Jacob's Ladder

K- Kill Bill

L- Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

M- Magnolia

N- National Lampoon's Animal House

O- Office Space

P- Pulp Fiction

Q- "Queen Bitch" --Yes, as in the Bowie song because I can't think of any movies...

R- The Royal Tenenbaums, Rushmore, Return of the Jedi

S- Swingers, Say Anything

T- Thelma and Louise

U- Usual Suspects

V- Van Wilder

W- Wizard of Oz, Wayne's World

X- American History X (I know, this doesn't start with an X but close enough...)

Y- The Yards

Z- Zoolander

Now moving on to Zen's 5 things meme, I have to match each category with my corresponding post:

1. Family: I think "Ode to El Familia" is an obvious choice.

2. Friends: I try not to trash-talk my friends too much behind their backs so they are often spared from my blog. However, I did make an exception for "What Happens in Mexico, Stays in Mexico...until now" since it was definitely a story worth telling!

3. Myself: Seriously? Like Zen, I'm a vapid narcissist (kidding) so my blog often revolves around ME. But if I had to choose a fave, I suppose it would be "Oh! Yeah! I wanna riot!--Slam Dancing to Pinoy Punk Rock."

4. My Love: Much to his dismay, I usually steer clear of blogging about Mr. Bamboo so this is a work in progress...

5. Anything you like: Well, in that case here are some of my faves--"The Quest for Cool", "The View from Baghdad", and "Tenenbaum Truths".

So here's the moment of truth. I'm tagging Wil, Yuk0, Soup, Divinyl, and any of my friends at Pax Compoundia. Just choose whatever meme fits your fancy and tag away. Oh yeah, and make sure to enjoy a couple of green pints today...

Thursday, March 13, 2008

What's your heritage?

When I first started my blog back in November, it felt like I was this leaky faucet just dripping with ideas. My inspiration stemmed from my desire to explore the unique faces of the Pinay identity. It was a way of reaffirming my own sense of self since coming into my mixed Filipina Canadian heritage had definitely been a work in progress.

Throughout my youth, I had convinced myself that I was a Canadian that just happened to be Filipino. So being a Filipina was merely a consequence of my ancestry. Whenever I answered the well-played-out What's your heritage? question, I always felt the need to emphasize my Canadian-ness in my explanation: “I was born in Canada but my family is from the Philippines.”

It was a reflex I had developed over the years in order to convince people that I really was one of them even though I didn’t look like them. It was a second skin I had grown way back in elementary school when kids would shrug their shoulders and crinkle up their faces in puzzlement whenever I said I was a Filipino, as if this was synonymous with me saying I am a Martian. And at the time, it was my way of resolving both my Filipino and Canadian identities since I perceived them to be two diametrically opposed entities.

Complicating matters even more was the way my family always seemed to blame my teenage shortcomings (ie. cutting classes and missing curfew) on my Canadian (ahem...White) friends, convinced that all of my own free will suddenly flew out the window when I was in the company of these infamous ringleaders.

While peer pressure obviously played a large part in my teenage rebellion, I'm pretty sure that race had nothing to do with anything considering I knew a bunch of Filipino kids, and Chinese kids, and Indian kids who used to smoke cigarettes and cut classes all the time. It was like a right of passage or something. But before I get carried away here, my point is that my family had harnessed these discriminative notions of Canadian culture from their own coming to America experiences. To them, I was doing my Pinay heritage a grave injustice by behaving more Canadian. What that really meant was well beyond me and somehow I felt like I was a square peg trying to fit into a round hole.

So with all sob stories aside...

I started to figure things out. Seeing the amazing work done by Dr. Melinda L. de Jesus (Pinay Power Peminist Critical Theory: Theorizing the Filipina/American Experience) and Sabrina Margarita Alcantara-Tan (Bamboo Girl) made me realize that I was walking down a well-worn path paved away by millions of other Filipina Canadians and Americans. We were nurses, and punks, and teachers, and queers, and professors, and activists. Some of us could speak Tagalog, while others could barely utter a single sentence in our ancestral tongue due to highly held values of assimilation. Some of us were raised in strict Catholic households where girls were just girls, while others were taught the values of Pinay Power. But despite our uniqueness, we were all Filipinas.

As I began to connect the dots, I couldn't help but feel this overwhelming affinity for all of the women in my family.

So what's my heritage?

While I was the only Filipina at those punk rock shows, my aunt was the first Filipina nurse to arrive at Winnipeg’s Health Science Centre. As I crowd-surfed my way closer to my favourite band, yet another aunt carried her sister on her back as they fled from the Japanese during the Second World War. And even though I had earned my own shred of street credibility, my mother was busy earning two academic degrees and balancing the responsibilities of single motherhood.

That's who I am...

**Note: A section of this post was previously published in my article,"That's What a Filipina Is!", which appears in the latest issue of RicePaper Magazine.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

International Women's Day--A 10 Year-Old Girl's Afghan Vision

At only 10 years-old, Alaina Podmorow of Kelowna, BC is proving that emerging generations of women are already becoming visionaries ahead of their time. After attending a lecture where journalist and human rights activist, Sally Armstrong, educated the audience about the blatant oppression of Afghan women and girls under Taliban rule, something all of a sudden clicked for the young girl.

Alaina couldn't believe that many Afghan girls had been denied an education under the strict religious laws. Even after the fall of the Taliban in Afganistan in 2001, many families still feared sending their daughters to school due to serious safety concerns. And since cultural norms dictated that girls be taught by female teachers, the shortage of this demographic within the work force stood as a further obstacle between Afghan girls and their rights to an education.

So from these new dark truths emerged Alaina's epiphany: "On the way home, I was telling my mom how moved I was and I decided I wanted to start my group, Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan." And so her movement was born...

Shortly after, Alaina organized a club of the same name at her elementary school. She successfully recruited 18 members, all young girls from her fifth grade class. Meeting every lunch hour to discuss group activities, the girls decided that Little Women for Little Women (LW4LW) would organize a series of fundraising campaigns in order to raise enough money to pay for the wages of female teachers in Afghanistan. According to this reasoning, educated Afghan women would become encouraged to become teachers if they commanded a higher salary.

During LW4LW's first fundraiser, Alaina's group raised $750 by selling donuts and recycling. This initial achievement motivated Alaina to strive for bigger and better things. She set her sights on raising even more funds through a community potluck. And after it was all said and done, all of the hard work paid off--LW4LW received $1500 in donations.

From these humble beginnings emerged and unstoppable movement. Alaina's original vision inspired Canadian girls nationwide, spawning other LW4LW chapters throughout the country. While the group has collectively raised $30,000 to date, this number was about to grow exponentially.

The Canadian government had heard Alaina's story and invited the young activist to a International Women's Day gala in Ottawa on March 6, 2008. Since her enormous contributions to the community and abroad have resulted in the employment of dozens of female teachers within Afghanistan, the federal government agreed to match all of LW4LW's earnings dollar for dollar.


In order to encourage other Canadian mothers and daughters to get involved with LW4LW, Alaina posted letters to Mum on the Women for Afghan Women website. I would like to leave you with one of her letters:

Dear Moms,

I would like you to take a moment and visualize a little girl in Afghanistan. In her heavy black dress, no shoes on her feet, she walks for 4 hours to get to school. She feels like she is being watched as she walks along the path. At any second somebody could attack her. She frantically looks behind her but she continues on because she has to get to school. She is not being forced to go - she would do anything to go. Now visualize her face. Now visualize your daughter is that girl. Isn’t that frightening? It is hard to imagine girls just like your daughters, are in danger. What’s the best thing you can do? Keep teaching. What’s the worst thing you can do? NOTHING!

I challenge all Moms to tell their daughters to make a difference. I would like to see little girls across this country go to meetings with their moms for women in Afghanistan. I have started Little Women for Little Women in Afghanistan in my chapter of CW4WA in Kelowna BC. My dream would be to see little girls do the same across Canada. If your daughters want to start their own chapter in your area please contact me at

Sincerely, Alaina

CBC News--Video Featuring Alaina

Little Women for Little Women Official Site

Women for Afghan Women Official Site

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Video Cop-Out: Stephen Colbert on The O'Reilly Factor

Stephen Colbert cracks me up and his appearance on Bill O'Reilly's show is priceless! According to the Conservative commentator, The Colbert Report is a "very successful program that owes everything to me." Uh-huh...I suppose if you believe it, it's true Mr. O'Reilly...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


I thought I'd kick the week off with our big-ass cat (barely) balancing on her little perch. She's scoping out one of her many arch nemeses--a bird, squirrel, or another cat--that she's just dying to pounce...

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I used to friggin love this game as a kid!! You have to play at least one game!