Thursday, August 30, 2012

Stop Stealing My Pennies

This week it came to light that Chipotle, in the interest of time, is rounding checks paid in cash for some of their restaurants. Chipotle claims they aren't making money on the scheme of rounding each check to the nearest nickel, cutting out the lowly penny. I would be ok with this concept if they rounded down, but they don't. They round up and down, claiming it is a wash.

I can't help about the tens of thousands of Chipotle transactions per day. Let's say they make a penny on each. Seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. And that is being conservative.

When you charge me even a penny more than what is due, that is not a wash. That is stealing my pennies. Yes, yes, I know it is *just* a penny. My argument is those pennies are mine and they add up. By March, I expect to have enough for a Shamrock Shake.

Chipotle is being lazy. It doesn't take any more time or effort to give someone two pennies as it does a nickel. Sadly, the tasty chain restaurant is not the first to employ this tactic.

I was a server for *years* putting myself through school, scraping by. As a server, restaurants require you to bring your own "bank" so you can make change for your tables and not bug the managers. Usually the only change managers wouldn't get snarly about was for a $50 or a $100 bill on your first table. If you asked your manager for coin change you could count yourself on oil changing duty. Based on experience, I can assure you, cleaning out the fryer oil is no fun task.

Lazy servers had no time for change, forgot their bank or just didn't care. Most of the servers I worked with would round in your favor, some only carrying quarters with them (very convenient for laundry). The hope was you would leave them the quarters in addition to your tip. I however, never did this. Those pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters add up. I save my change all year, toss it in my piggy bank and that pays for my vacation.

Fair warning, if you steal my pennies I will call you out on it.

Have you had an experience with change thievery? Leave me a comment.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lance Armstrong - Hero or Cheater?

Lance Armstrong gave up.

The man that beat testicular cancer, started a foundation that has raised over $500 million to fight cancer, won 7 Tour de France races and was clean for 560 random drug tests throughout his career gave up.

Armstrong announced that he would no longer fight the USA Anti-Doping Agency and its allegations that he used performance enhancing drugs in his career. By giving up the fight, he was stripped of his 7 Tour de France titles.

But what does it mean? Well, first, it means that I go back to not caring about cycling and being irritated when it is on instead of curling tryouts. Second, it means that there will forever be an asterisk by his name, a foot note explaining he won - but his title was removed for doping allegations. He will be in the same record books as Barry Bonds and the rest of the steroid accused sluggers.

By giving up the fight, he is allowing rumors to grow and swirl that he is guilty - that somehow he beat the system and was afraid he couldn't run anymore. Or, by giving up the fight he is saying you have accused me for years and chased me down over 500 times for random drug tests all over the world, at all hours, and I was always innocent and I am done with you.

Because Armstrong stopped fighting and didn't have his last day in court, there will always be lingering doubt of his innocence. Whispers that if he wasn't guilty why didn't he fight more.

But does it matter? Lance Armstrong more than a guy who is awesome riding a bike. On an average day, his foundation, Livestrong, receives a little over $3,000 in donations. Nothing to sneeze at. On the day Armstrong announced he was done fighting, the foundation received about $80,000. No, I didn't get excited with additional zeros there. Almost $80,000 came flooding in the Livestrong doors in response to his statement.

I don't know what I would do in his situation. Spending countless hours and millions of dollars defending myself might be enough to make me say forget it. Armstrong has never wavered in his declarations of innocence. Sheryl Crow spoke out years ago about the drug test folks showing up at all hours during vacations, trying to catch Armstrong in a moment of weakness. I hate the fact that he will always be questioned.

While sports purists were up in arms, there were millions of people that could have cared less. They see Armstrong and his yellow rubber wristband as a beacon of hope. They see him as their big brother in their very personal fight against cancer.

Whether or not Armstrong cheated is something we will never know for certain. I'm sad that we don't have proof of his innocence, but I would be much more upset with proof of his guilt.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Time For Chris Perez To Be A Pro Or Go

Manny Acta and Chris Perez.
The time for Chris Perez to be a professional or get out is now. Speaking for myself, he needs to get a severe attitude adjustment or take his talents elsewhere.

In case you missed it, Chris Perez has had some public relations issues lately. Previously, Perez took to twitter and the air waves to blast fans for not coming to games. Fair enough. Things took an ugly turn when he attacked Browns fans. He wondered aloud how Cleveland could be so hungry for a championship yet support the "Waiting For Next Year" Browns. As you can imagine, that did not sit well with fans, certainly it didn't sit well in my already nauseous tummy (read my take here).

In Perez's defense, he decided to get involved in the community and the fans by giving away random pairs of tickets to home games if someone on twitter can answer some random question, like what was his favorite song in the third grade. 

What happened last night has put Perez in a whole new realm of angry, pathetic behavior. You can read the transcript and see the video here, but in short, a fan heckles Perez hardcore and Perez comes over to the fence running his mouth. Perez drops several f bombs and then instructs the fan to do something that I believe is anatomically impossible.

Snooki having a cocktail.
My stance is Perez is a professional and while uncalled for, he needs to deal with heckling. Fans booing him and screaming at him is part of being a professional athlete. As he is fond of pointing out, he makes the big bucks. The more I watch him, the more I think he has some sort of misguided notion that by sheer virtue of him being an All-Star, he should be revered.

There are those in the media that are making excuses for Perez - that he finally snapped. What would you do if someone was screaming at you at work they wondered? Well, glad you asked. I will tell you.

As a bartender at major concerts, Final Four, NBA and NFL games and at the Brickyard 400, you name it, I've seen it. I've been a booze slinger at weddings and gobs of special events, witnessing the best and worst of humanity. Part of my job was to cut people off and let me be the first to inform you, most people aren't too excited about the drinky poos drying up. I have been called everything but the name my parent's gave me. I have been screamed at, sworn at, threatened and even had nachos chucked at me. Drunks have questioned my intelligence, my heritage and even my ability to get a date. Some nights, in that exact order.

What did I do? I smiled and moved on to the next person.

I turned around and walked away. Maybe I muttered, but I walked away. And I never, *never* cussed a guest out.

Was I furious at times? Absofrigginlutely.

But, I liked my job and I knew that some drunk chucklehead wasn't worth me getting canned over.  I know that isn't $4.5 million a year decision, but not bad for 6 bucks an hour.

Perez needs to grow up and start taking his job seriously.  When he goes out on to the field, he represents the Indians and the city of Cleveland.

For crying out loud, how about next time going over to Indians fans to sign autographs instead of focusing on fighting the opposing fans?

Be a pro or just go.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Will A Dome Save Cleveland?

A moment after it was announced that the Cleveland Browns were sold to Jimmy Haslam, Clevelanders were begging for a dome. Fans want a dome or retractable roof on Browns Stadium because they believe that it will bring the SuperBowl to Cleveland and will bring conventions and concerts the likes of which we have only dreamed about.

I say don't start making plans yet. 

Putting a roof on Cleveland Stadium will not turn the city into a shining jewel anymore than me putting a fez on and turning into a member of the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes.

Indianapolis was an amazing example of a SuperBowl host city. The effort they put, as a community,  into the event is something to aspire towards. Just putting a roof on the stadium did not make the city attractive to outsiders.

Since Cleveland fans want to talk about Indy, let's do it. I lived in Indianapolis and I worked at Lucas Oil Stadium as well as the old RCA Dome. I was downtown for playoff games, and big deals of every sort.

The city of Indianapolis is a regular host to major events, whether the Indy 500, Final Fours or, yes, the SuperBowl. Parades, traffic, hotel space, meeting space, police, catering, bars, restaurants - you name it and they work together in Indy. Even the way the city is situated is conducive to major events.

As much as I love my city, until we can handle a snow storm, we aren't ready.

The view out the window of Lucas Oil Stadium is one of the best in the city. Sadly, the window is rarely open. The roof is frequently closed as well. The NFL has specific rules in place regarding retractable roofs and it needs to stay open or stay closed during an entire game. Rumor has it the Peyton Manning hated the shadows on the field so the roof stayed closed.

It was pretty funny though to hear fans gripe about the roof being closed (and they were cold) to the roof being open and the sun was in their eyes.

Dome's aren't all they are cracked up to be.

The infrastructure of LOS was created with events in mind. This pic is from a Firefighters trade show that I worked.  If we want a new roof on Cleveland Browns Stadium, we may as well doze the thing over and start new.

If you have ever tried to send a text message to someone on the other side of the field, you understand completely. 

I would love for more visitors to come to Cleveland on business and come back to play. I think we are all on that page, but simply adding a roof won't do it. Adding a concert or two won't bring Cleveland back from the economic edge. 

We need to start going back downtown. Continue to think of new ways to use the areas that we have. The Indians stepped up and created Snow Days as a way to create an alternative use for the property. I realize they are doing away with it now, but it was a first step. 

Of course winning sports teams would help...but think about it... if we took more pride in our city, supported our local businesses, it would be a step in the right direction.