Cut to next visit with my youngest daughter, Eva. Eva is four and she is the last one left at home. Every night she wants to know, "What are we doing tomorrow?" and then I have to promise her some act of kindness on my part, or a special trip to someplace that can double as an errand. Luckily, one of the things she likes to do is hit up the buffet at The Giant Eagle Marketplace.
So, after my workout, conveniently on the way home, Eva and I stop at about 10:45 for lunch there. This is what they did for us. Eva likes rice, but she did not want any of the vegetables they offer at the wok station or whatever so they walked over with her to the cold bar (filled with cold veggies, ya dig?) let her pick out whatever she wanted, and then stirfried it all up for her with this delicious sauce. And here is the clincher, they charged us $1.00 for it. Magically, they stuck one of those customer appreciation stickers on her carry out container and I was positively giddy!
You see, that is where you can get in trouble with the cold and hot bars with your kids. They load up with everything they can find that weighs more than it's nutritional value and then your bill at the register is more than if you had dined out with a waitress, and cloth napkins and everything. It was explained to me at an early age, that you get the dressing on the side because it weighs down the salad and they charge you more. I tried to explain this to my kids, but unlike me as a child, THEY don't listen. Anyway, here is what I do when we are all eating.
First, I go purchase one of those wine tasting cards. IMPERATIVE if you are trying to get through a meal with my family and sharing ANYTHING. They all get waters and I talk up the value of that because The Giant Eagle Supasto" has that awesome "rabbit poop"-shaped ice that they love. I get a large soup and three small bowls. I get one stirfry meal and one salad bar, Ranch on the side, natch. They provide extra containers at the beverage and utensil station, AFTER you purchase, which I appreciate so I don't seem as hard up as I am.
Of course, we always have to go upstairs, because my children enjoy watching me balance anything for long periods of time. From there, you split everything up on four individual containers and soup bowls. (Notice here, I just say four, here. Brad would never endure this shit and he would make me crazy if I forced him to.) If you are my children, you also make sure to make three individual bathroom trips, where I ask all of them on each visit, if anyone else has to go and the remaining two always say "no". When you get back from one of the trips, one-fourth of your place is gone, no, not a section, but picked at, as if a raven flew in and pecked at your plate for a while. ( Enter solo wine tasting option.) Finally, if everyone eats everything, you treat them to the sweets section for a free sample afterwards. That is how it is done, my friends. Boom.
Ok, now my final insane customer service experience was so great that I actually called the Giant Eagle Headquarters to sing "Erik"'s praises. When was the last time you did that, if ever? I haven't been on time for my children's annual medical appointments since they were five, and I am calling a customer service hotline. Insanity.
Anyway, I am in the checkout line and they have all this cool shit that makes your life "just a little bit easier". It is their "patent pending" aisle, if you will. Well, they have these things that clip onto your pots and pans that have a hook to hold your spoon and I am gabbing away to Erik about them like he is my best friend and we are in the middle of a Sex and the City episode having brunch.
"You know what are REALLY great," he confides, "are those Rachel Ray spoons that have an upside down "U" on the shaft." We both giggle at the word "shaft".
"Oh, really," I say as Eva "helps" me remove things from the cart, that are filled with liquid and are too heavy for her.
Before, I know what is happening, "Erik" gets on the bat phone and is saying something about "customer service" again and he asks me what is my favorite color.
I yell out "GREEN!" a little too loudly, anticipating yet another fabulous customer service moment.
This girl comes out of nowhere and hands him a set of TWO spoons, one is a ladel, with Rachel Rays picture on the packaging.
"This is a $22 value," Erik winks at me,"just for you. Let me know how you like it...or better yet, you can let my management know by calling this number."
I thanked him profusely, and called his management on the way home, because if I didn't, it would leave my brain by the time I put the first item from he grocery into my fridge. For once, "chatty" paid off for me. Go figure. All those years of my Dad telling me to be quiet and now I am getting something FREE for talking. Free is something my Dad covets more than anything. The irony. I couldn't WAIT to tell him.
"No, kiddin'," he says at the other end of the line. "That's great, hon. I'll get your mother." The dialogue in print does not do the conversation justice. My Dad hung up that phone and was "proud" of me, I just know it!"
OK. confession time. I get the prepared meals at The Giant Eagle Supasto' for Holidays. There I said it. My first AA Meeting was not that hard. (joke, GAWD!) They are yummy, and reasonable and you just have to heat them up. They are GOURMET, too - I have had Prime Rib for Christmas Eve and Lamb for Easter, beeeeaaaaccchhhees! I am hooked and you should be, too. Consider me your drug dealer, of sorts, only I am selling Supasto's, instead of dime bags. I think they should have the "special events" counter at the end of a long dark hall in the back of the store, accented only by dirty, sometimes broken lightbulbs. The way people hide things in this town, they would do a lot more business if they were more discreet.
Ok. when I think of the spoon scene above, I can't help but think of that skit where Eddie Murphy cosmetically transforms himself into a white person, only to discover that white people give each other things that should cost money. Check out the link above. I know I reference SNL too much, but I don't care. I have been watching it since it's inception. Yes, innappropriate, again, I know. What did you expect? I didn't get this way by watching "Leave it to Beaver". He He He....Beaver.