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A Letter to my Dad on his Birthday

9 Mar

Sorry my blog has been so quiet as of late. It’s been a stressful few weeks and also I just got back from a week long trip in Peru!  It was so fun.  Stay tuned for some adventure stories but for now, I have someone important to write about.  My dad.  Today is my dad’s birthday, AKA the second best day of the year (the first best obviously being my birthday which, in case you were wondering when to send gifts, is on July 19th), and so I figured I would write him a letter.  So, here goes.

Dear Daaaaad,

First thing first: happy, happy, happy birthday.  Since you are not having a big birthday party this year and I therefore don’t get the chance to bail you out of a botched speech with my own impromptu genius, I figured the next best thing would be to write you a letter.  You, Dad, are one of my favorite people in the world.  I’m sure there were times growing up when I was mad at you or when we got in fights or maybe when, in the heat of the moment, I told you that I hated you, something which all children do at some point I think, but sitting here at my computer right now I cannot conjure a single negative memory.  There are plenty of things that I do remember, however.  I remember us watching PeeWee together and am still sad I couldn’t get us tickets to his one man show on Broadway.  I remember us going to the car dealership to buy something moderately practical for a family of five and ending up returning home with a Mercedes convertible with only two seats.  I remember us, year after year, going shopping for mom’s presents at the last possible moment and always coming back with something awesome.  I remember watching that episode of Ren and Stimpy where there is a fire in the building and this woman is throwing all these things out of the window – an elephant, her huge baby, a walrus, herself – and laughing so hard that we cried.  I remember the countless pep talks you have given me over the years when I have had a hard time and doubted myself.  I remember sock puppet which, I believe, is still stuck in the pocket of one of your jackets, just waiting to make another appearance or brag about another trip to the Bahamas.  I remember us sneaking off in Disney World and going to eat sushi, coming up with the genius code word “the booths” so Mom and Lucy wouldn’t know where we were.  I remember your swordfish license plate.  I remember labeling all my leftovers “Dad: Do Not Eat!” so I wouldn’t come home with expectations of delicious food and find, well, nothing.  More than anything else, I just remember laughing.

I know that there are other dads in the world who are great, but I think Lucy, Aaron, Claire and I really got the best one.  There are so many people who didn’t have fathers, who didn’t or don’t have good relationships with theirs, and I really cannot imagine what that must have been like for them, what that continues to be like.  I just feel so god damn lucky.  When I think about the things that I have done and the person who I am, a person that I am proud to be, I really think that so much of the credit for all of that has to go to you and to Mom.  You guys created such a loving and supportive household, a place I am still so happy to return to.  You guys created an environment where, as long as I was trying and as long as I was kind, you would always be proud.  I know, no matter what I do in life I will always have the two of you in my corner cheering me on when things are great and cheering me up when they aren’t.

So, thank you, Dad. I know you know how much I love you, but sometimes it is just nice to have it in writing.  You are the best Dad, and one of the best people, in the entire world.  So happy birthday, Dad.  Here’s to so many more years of laughter.

Love always

Bekaaaaaah

PS  King Triton doesn’t have shit on you.

PPS  Where is that star tie I gave you for your birthday in the 2nd grade?  Best tie ever.

A Letter to the New President of the MTA

8 Oct

Dear Carmen Bianco,

Hello, sir, how are you? As the newly appointed president of the New York City Metropolitan Transportation Authority, I must say I have a few bones to pick with you.  I understand that your appointment is, officially at least, very new, occurring only on the 18th of September of this year.  However, after doing a small bit of research I found that you have actually been the acting president since this past April and, perhaps even more damning, you served as the Senior Vice President of the Department of Subways, overseeing the entire subway system since 2010.  My gripes, therefore, land squarely in your backyard.

I suppose I would like to start by disputing your predecessor Thomas F. Pendergast’s recent statement that you are an “advocate for the customer.”  How many times in my life have I heard different permutations of the idea that those in power should lead through action?  Too many to count, I suppose.  And yet your words, at least in my years of experience of utilizing the New York City public transportation system, the largest mass transit system in North America, have not been sufficiently proven through the actions of the MTA.  I don’t feel that, on a regular basis, you are much of an advocate for the customer at all.

Let’s talk about the monthly pass, shall we?  When I first moved here to New York City in June of 2005, the monthly pass cost $76, an increase of $6 from the price that had been most recently set in 2003.  I remember that, making barista wages, I balked at the price, and considered the option of walking everywhere.  But then my friend said to me that the investment was worth it.  That deciding not to purchase the card might make me less likely to try and experience all the things the city had to offer.  I took her advice and and never looked back.  As time has gone on, however, I have seen the price of the monthly pass rise again and again, to $81 in 2008, $103 in 2009, finally landing at the $112 that we New Yorkers pay today.  With a single ride costing $2.50, straphangers have to swipe their cards 45 times in 30 days to make it worthwhile.  For me, the cost just is not worth it.  But that isn’t even what I am here to write about.  What I am here to write about is that while the price of a ride has increased, the service we New Yorkers are provided seems to have gone downhill.  Let me give you a recent example.

I work on the weekends.  I understand that, percentage wise, more people work on weekdays than on the weekends and so if you are going to schedule your work during daylight hours, the weekends are simply a better option.  But sometimes I feel as though there is an MTA-wide campaign against getting me to work in a reasonable amount of time.  About a week ago, the F train that I waited 10 minutes for stopped at the Carroll stop due to a switch malfunction.  I sat in the train car for 10 minutes before I decided to give up and hoof it to work.  This past Sunday, I walked to my F/G stop to find, after I had already swiped my not unlimited card through the machine, that neither the F nor the G were stopping at my stop, and that I would have to take the train one stop in the other direction, transfer to a Manhattan/Queens bound train and get to work that way.  I bounded up the stairs to find the doors of the G train slamming shut in my face.  Normally I would have begrudgingly taken the R train but, wouldn’t you know it, the R was running express from Dekalb Avenue to lower Manhattan, effectively bypassing the stop I required to get to work on time.  I was already running behind, angry and sweating.  I called a cab.  Which, when added to the unused $2.50 swipe and the tip for the driver, ended up costing me $12.50.  I feel as though the MTA should be required to reimburse me that amount since you made it impossible for me to get to work in a timely fashion.  This is not the first time this has happened and I fear it is not even close to being the last.

Oh, and while I am at it, I have a few more gripes.  About a month ago I went to my subway stop, again en route to work, and put $10 on my card.  The machine did not give me a receipt.  When I then proceeded to swipe my card at the turnstile is said I had insufficient funds.  Due to the financial cutbacks of recent years, there is no subway attendant at that entrance.  I was forced to cross 4th Avenue to find the remaining attendant at the other entrance, and attempt to explain to him how the MTA machine had just stolen $10 from me.  He swiped my card and told me I had insufficient funds and asked for my receipt.  I told him the machine I used had refused to give me one.  He told me my card has insufficient funds.  This conversation went around in circles for about 5 minutes before he finally relented and allowed me to pass through the turnstile without paying.  It sort of added insult to injury because for years I have kind of felt as though the MTA has been stealing money from me, and then on that particular day it actually stole money from me.

Just to be clear, I want my $10 back and I also want more subway attendants at the entrances.  As a women who often rides the subway home alone at night, the presence of cameras at the subway stops does not make me feel safe.  Few if any of the remaining platform telephones work, leaving someone very few options if something bad is to befall her.

I get it, things cost money.  And I understand that you are trying to expand the subway system.  But why are you expanding the system when you can’t even seem to stay on top of the lines that are already in existence?  Some of the train cars, specifically the ones that stop in lower income areas, could use replacement before you go making some fancy-pants 2nd Avenue line.  And while I am at it, what took so damn long with the Smith and 9th Street station?

And in summation, I know that I am not an economics savant but an average of 7.5 million people ride the subway, bus, paratransit* and Staten Island Railway every day.  At $2.50 a swipe that’s a lot of coin. I understand that the MTA has some budgetary problems, that it is a huge system, that I don’t understand all the ins and outs.  And to be honest, although I would love it if the fares didn’t keep going up, I don’t really know enough about the specific financial situation to make a clear cut and well-argued point.  But what I would really appreciate is that if I am forced to continually pay more and more, that I pay more and more for the same or preferably better service.  It should not take me the better part of an hour to get from my house to work, a distance of less than 3 miles.

Thank you for reading and also, for saving those kittens.

Best

Rebekah, Frankly.

*Just for the record, our transit system is not terribly kind to the disabled.  I am an able-bodied person and I find a lot of the stairways rather treacherous.  Just saying.

Dear Restaurant Manager, Your Restaurant Sucks

13 May

I don’t like Yelp because I feel like people go on there and write bullshit about bullshit, like the time when I got a bad Yelp review for using the house vodka in our $5 Sunday Bloody Mary specials.  (I will give you a moment to digest that little nugget.)  But sometimes an experience is so bad that I feel the need to go back to the roots of this blog and write a letter to the manager about it.  So, that is what I have done.  Enjoy.  I’d be happy to tell you the name of the restaurant if you also want to have an awesome (read: horrific) dining experience.

To Whom It May Concern

This past Friday night, May 10, my boyfriend and I visited your restaurant for a glass of wine and some appetizers.  I had just finished writing my last paper for my graduate degree and was really in the mood to celebrate.  We decided, after a long amble north on Fifth Avenue, to try your spot out as we had discussed going in for a while but had never gotten the chance.  We were really impressed by the interior and I was excited that you had not one but three Gruners by the glass.  Perfect!  So we ordered a glass each, figuring if we enjoyed our snacks (which we did, very much — that tomato bruschetta situation was really fantastic) we would stick around for awhile.

Unfortunately, the tastiness of the food and wine was not enough to make up for the truly abysmal service we received.  Perhaps I made a gaffe by ordering the Gruner by the price, but I do not speak German so I figured it best not to try to pronounce the name.  Perhaps it was that my boyfriend informed the bartender that we were going to just have some appetizers and move on for dinner — I am a vegetarian and lactose intolerant so my food options are quite limited.  Or perhaps it’s just that the bartender is an asshole.  I have been in the service industry for 10 years — I am a bartender in the neighborhood — and understand that the job can be grating at times.  I understand when your customers are rude being cold is the only thing you can do to keep yourself from telling them what you really think about them.  The thing is that I am over-the-top friendly to industry people so when I am treated poorly it is really shocking to me.

The gentleman behind the bar did not seem as though he wanted to have a conversation with us or anyone else sitting at his bar, and would rather converse with his co-workers, that’s fine.  I certainly cannot fault him that.  But if you ask me how my food was without making eye contact and then walk away while I am in the middle of praising it, that is a problem, albeit one I could forgive.  What I could not forgive was when he snatched my and my boyfriend’s glasses, mine unfinished, and snapped “can I get you anything else?” without even stopping for a response which was, after our experience, a resounding no.  I felt as though I was being kicked out of the restaurant and I could not for the life of me figure out why.

So, we left him a bad tip that, even given the rude treatment, I still felt bad about.  Get what you give, I suppose.  We will not be returning to your Park Slope location, or any of the other ones, but hope you can iron out whatever staffing problems you have so you don’t lose any more customers.  Also, and normally I would not say this except the bartender was really awful, I don’t like to look at my bartender’s underwear or unwashed t-shirt while I am eating.  Tell him to buy a laundry card and a belt.

Sincerely,

Rebekah

PS  The woman with whom I spoke to get your email address was incredibly friendly.

An Open Letter to my Student Loan Provider

28 Mar

Dear Nelnet, (Or, as I affectionately call you, Numbnut),

I would like to begin this letter to you, Numbnut, by pointing out that I have in fact been making regular payments on my student loans despite the fact that I have yet to go into repayment — well, until last week and without proper warning.  I have been expecting some sort of appreciation, some sort of lowering of my monthly bill that at this point must be paid starting on January 1, 2014.  But do I get any recognition?  Any significant changes to my AutoPay amount?  No.  I get pointless and angering emails.  Which is why I am writing to you today.

Yesterday I received an email from you entitled “Questions about paying your student loans? We can help.”  It seemed promising.  I opened the email, hoping against hope for the message to reveal something like “Out of millions of indebted students in the United States, Warren Buffet has chosen you to be the recipient of a grant that will pay your loans off in full and allow you to travel the globe for the foreseeable future.”  In lieu of that news, I would have taken some advice on ways to scam the system and somehow lower my 6.8% interest rate or some tips on working my loan payments into my monthly budget without skimping on the things I love (books! wine! overpriced clothes from Made Well!).  But no.  What I got was a few phone numbers and the following statement of email intent:

“We wanted to check in to ensure you are having the best student loan experience possible.”

Well, since you are “checking in,” let me be honest with you.  No, Numbnut, I am not having the best student loan experience possible.  You know what would make it better?  The aforementioned note about Warren Buffet.  Or perhaps having someone explain to me why it is that I am paying 6.8% on the cost of borrowing money to go back to school (which you all said we should do because the job market was/is terrible and this will better prepare us for the future meanwhile the future is here and, um, where’s your half of the agreement?) while the interest rate on my savings account is at something like .7% AKA nothing.  Maybe you could tell me why I took money out with CitiGroup, had it bought up by the government, and then somehow had it sold to you, Numbnut, without my approval or consent.  Maybe rather than taking on systemic issues, you can explain to me why, although the people I talk to at your call center are unbelievably friendly, they have absolutely no idea what they are doing.  When I called last week to inquire as to why my interest payment, which had been hovering around $35-$45 every two weeks or so suddenly shot up to $150 after a mere 10 days I was put on hold for at least 5 minutes — a cost I was paying because you are not toll free — at which point the very friendly, though ill-informed, call center guy hemmed and hawed through an explanation that basically amounted to “I have no idea.”    Maybe you could use the exorbitant interest rates being paid by me and my co-students, the interest rates you are presumably making money on, and actually teach your call center people how to do their jobs.  It doesn’t help that they are available 24/7 if they are completely ignorant, like the rest of us, about what you do and how it works.

I could keep going, Numbnut, but I think you get the point.  I think you and your cohorts are hustlers taking advantage of millions of people who wanted to propel themselves forward by getting their BA, BFA, MA, MFA, PhD, JD, MD, DVM and whatever other combinations of letters people might want to acquire.  I think this whole system is going to blow up in your face and mine when countless students default on their ballooning student loan debts.  I think when that happens people are going to bemoan the fact that we are awash in bankrupted lawyers and doctors and librarians when what we really need are people with “real skills.”  Honestly, I think this whole thing is a racket that will only serve to increase income inequality and lower the quality of life, not only for people who can’t find jobs but for those that can — with student loan debt amounting into the hundreds of thousands for some people, job choices becomes less contingent on what you believe and more contingent on your ability to pay off your monthly loan bills.

So, no, I am not content.  I will grumble every single time I make a payment, as I have been doing for the past year, because I am fully aware that I am being hoodwinked and that there is nothing I can do about it.  So don’t insult my intelligence.  This system is rigged in your favor and you will benefit for as long as it continues to function.  Do your thing.  But don’t act like you give a shit about my “experience.”  All you care about is the money.  That’s called capitalism.  You can expect your next payment at the beginning of the month.

Sincerely,

Rebekah

A Beefcake Ruined my Workout

24 Oct

Today was the first day of my training for the New Orleans marathon which is exactly 4 months from today, on February 24th.  The plan I downloaded suggested that I run 5 miles at a 9:02 pace.  Okay, that’s not bad.  I decided to head to the gym and run on the treadmill because the idea of running the better part of a mile uphill to run a loop of the park (involving another hill) was just too much to handle.  I was feeling runner-lazy.  Obviously I am taking this process very seriously.  My goals are to make it to the start line prepared and injury-free and to complete the full 26.2 miles in under 3:45.  I think it’s possible.*

After my run, I decided to try and get into the groove of lifting weights, something I know is necessary but I hate with the strength of a thousand suns. (Did I get that saying right?)  I headed over to that weird dip thing and did some leg lifts.  Then I decided to do squats.  As I was walking towards the area with the body bars, dumbbells, and kettle bells I saw this rather beefy guy looking at me.  I half smiled at him in what I hoped was a dismissive yet friendly way, turned my music up, and grabbed a body bar to commence the squatting.  I could see him watching me in the mirror.  Then I saw it.  A little condescending smirk and a slight shake of the head, and then he motioned for me to take off my headphones.  I pretended I didn’t see him.  He did it again, this time in a more obvious manner.  I couldn’t ignore him.  I could have just shook my head “no” and went about my workout but I hate to be rude when I’m not (a) working and faced with some drunken asshole who I have to handle or (b) on the move, thereby escaping from the look of shock upon my response to the offensive cat calling or, my favorite, the “god bless you” whisper, I had to endure.  Shudder.  The conversation went as follows:

Beefcake: What do you do?  Run?

Me: Yup.

Beefcake:  Mind if I give you a few tips about that squat?

Me:  (Yes) Um…I guess not.

He then, without getting up, began instructing me on the proper approach to the squat which, I have to say, was exactly the opposite of how everyone else ever in the history of me has told me is the proper way to do it.  Whatever, I indulged him.  I just wanted him to stop talking to me.  He then proceeded to lecture me about the importance of working out my abs and back to make me a stronger runner.  I tried to explain to him that I already know all this, that I just hate the gym but that I am working on it but he was on a roll and wouldn’t really let me get a word in edgewise.  I figured it better to just let him run out of steam and move on.  And then,

Beefcake: I’m a trainer here, that’s why I was giving you tips

Me:  Yea, I figured.

Beefcake:  I’m really good with faces.  I haven’t seen you here in awhile.  You been going somewhere else?

Me:  A little I guess. I just really hate the gym.

Beefcake:  Really?  Why?

Me:  (Because I am stuck talking to people like you?) I don’t know.  It smells.

Beefcake:  Oh, well, do you remember seeing me?

Me:  No.  I don’t pay attention to people in the gym.  I just workout and leave and don’t look at anybody or talk to anybody. (Meaningful stare.)

I guess he got the picture because he walked away.  But then I was too self-conscious to do the rest of my squats because he was nearby, doing all his fancy pull-ups and shit and I knew he was watching and would swoop in and correct me at any moment.  And here’s the thing, I guess I wouldn’t have minded some tips if it weren’t for the following two things.  One, that smirk.  That cocky, rude smirk and that little dismissive head shake that communicated to me not concern for a possible knee injury, but a “you silly girl, let me show you how it’s done.”  And two, the obvious lie that he told me when he noticed me doing my squats ‘wrong.’  I saw him see me walking over from the dip machine, which is located behind a pillar.  He was just watching, and waiting.  I could have done a toe-raiser and he would have corrected me.  So, Beefcake at the gym, I write you this letter:

Dear Beefcake,

If you want to help someone out with something, kindly be a little less condescending and a little less of a liar.  You ruined my workout.  Please never talk to me again.  Ever.

From

The Runner with the Long Hair

*Just a little side note.  I will not, going forward, subject you, dear readers, to the ins and outs of my marathon training.  I might make reference to it here and there, but that’s about it.  So, worry not, details of my Yasso 800s will not take the place of my ranting about peeping toms, people making shitty comparisons to Hitler, or Donald Trump, who easily makes my top 5 least favorite people list.

An Open Letter to New York Road Runners

2 Apr

I wrote this letter last week after a discussion about race fees with two of my running friends at the bar in which I work.  One of those running friends, it just so happens, is also a blogging friend  — Grilled PB&J — and has also written a letter which can be read here.  For a little reference for those of you who don’t run, or who run and don’t race, or who run and race and don’t live in New York, the entry fee for the NYC Marathon this year is something like 240 bucks.  When I registered to run in 2006 it was decidedly not $240.  It was under $200…and I think under $150.  The details aren’t important really.  Just read the damn letter.

To Whom It May Concern:

I am a person who needs time alone, time outside, and time outside alone.  In this city that can be hard to come by.  Luckily for me, I am a runner who lives close to Prospect Park.  Upwards of six days a week I lace up my running shoes, forgo my headphones, and run a mile, mostly uphill, to lope around the park.  Most days, I don’t take my running too seriously.  It’s just something I do to work off some of my extra energy, to get some much-needed space from the honking of cars and the buzzing of my cell phone.  It’s a pleasure and a passion but not a conscious pursuit.  By virtue of sheer repetition, I have gotten faster.  I’ve watched my mile times drop, first by seconds then by minutes, over the years.  I’ve arrived back home, red-faced and proud because I clocked a time that only a year before I never would have thought possible.  And all of this is for me, because I love to run.

In your Mission Statement it says, “it is our goal to give everyone on the planet both a reason to run and the means and opportunity to keep running and never stop.”  I must say that is a very respectable goal especially since the reason a lot of people start running in the first place, the reason I did anyway, is that it is a cheap sport.  All you need, really, is a pair of shoes and some old gym clothes and you’re on your way.  Of course you can always buy other, more fashionable and high-tech things:  GPS watches, quick dry clothing, training books.  I must admit, as a four-season outdoor runner, I have a rather extensive running wardrobe.  But the essentials, a pair of shoes and some open space, are accessible to most people.

I’m not quite sure how to proceed to the point here so let me tell you a story.  I have this friend, let’s call her Sammy.  Sammy is a very talented, very motivated runner.  She has a full-time job but somehow, by utilizing her lunch break, she manages to run 100-plus mile weeks.  She’s been working hard for a long time in hopes of making waves, in hopes of getting someone to notice her talent.  The thing is, she needs to run races to get noticed and the races, well, they’re too expensive.  She’s a unique girl with the same old story:  endless promise but crushing student loans, high tax rates, New York rent.  Her ticket out of her situation might very well be running.  The thing is, that for a sport so cheap the barrier to entry is just too high.  And she’s just one of many.  We might all not have the potential to win a race, but we certainly should have the opportunity to try and run one.  We gritted our teeth as you raised the price of the New York City Marathon, over and over again.  We understood when you said the costs of permits were increasing.  But, we ask, why are the prices of races in the park escalating as well?  I guess what I’m saying is that if you want to give everyone the “means and opportunity to keep running and never stop” then you need to reassess what you mean by everyone because right now, you are leaving a lot of us behind.

I’ll Push You Down the Stairs, Susan

1 Feb

Today in New York City it is a blistering 60 degrees on the 1st day of February and I am in an icy, icy mood. Why, you might ask?  Well, Susan G. Komen For the Cure, the originator of the ubiquitous pink ribbon campaign, has decided to jump on the evil, woman-hating bandwagon and defund Planned Parenthood.  This seemed rather counter-intuitive to me at first.  This organization has spent its more than 2 decades in existence raising money to try and find a cure for breast cancer and yet it has defunded an organization that provides something like 750,000 breast exams annually.  And why, you might ask?  Well, it appears as though there are two reasons for this.  The first reason, and the one cited by the organization itself, is that the Susan G. Komen foundation has recently changed its policy to say that any organization that is the focus of a congressional investigation will no longer receive money from the Komen coffers.  Planned Parenthood, it turns out, is in the middle of just such an investigation.  And what a strange coincidence this is considering the second reason for the defunding:  the recent appointment of former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Karen Handel as the vice president of Susan G. Komen.  Karen Handel is against gay marriage, civil unions, and adoption of children by gay parents.  Karen Handel supports an Arizona-style immigration law for Georgia and, presumably, for the entire country.  And, not surprisingly, Karen Handel is aggressively pro-life (she does, however, make exceptions to her stance in the case of rape, incest, or danger to the health of the mother…wow, thanks).  Karen Handel has now, through this ill-motivated action, made it even more difficult for low income women and those lacking health care to have access to low-cost breast exams.  She has allowed her “family values” to condemn countless women to a fate her new found home has worked tirelessly to cure.  And, sadly, Susan G. Komen has allowed her to tarnish its reputation by permitting this obviously politically-motivated move.  Bravo.  As a result, I have written a letter to the foundation.

To Whom it May Concern,

When I was a sophomore in high school, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I remember every detail about that day as if it happened yesterday rather than nearly 13 years ago.  I was scared and angry and devastated.  My mom was, and is, my best friend in the world.  She is a survivor and I cannot help but think that efforts of organizations such as yours aided her in overcoming her disease.  That is why I write to you today.  My mom is a survivor not only because of all of the research that went into, and continues to go into, the fight against breast cancer but because her cancer was detected early thanks to a routine visit to her doctor.  Luckily for my mom, and for those who love her, we had health insurance and access to a good physician and a great hospital that aided her in detecting, and later in curing, her cancer.  So many women, however, do not have that luxury and that is why I write to you today.

I am certain you can imagine my utter dismay when I turned on my computer this morning and was confronted with an article that your organization, one that works tirelessly to help women overcome breast cancer, has cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, an institution that provides 750,000 breast exams to uninsured, low income women yearly.  How many of those women, I cannot help but wonder, received life-saving information that allowed them to seek proper treatment?  How many women, as Planned Parenthood clinics close across the country, will no longer have access to regular breast exams?  Cancer, as you know, is not something that decides who to infect according to class lines.  It is estimated that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.  Of the 750,000 women Planned Parenthood screens annually, that means roughly 9,000 of them will be diagnosed with breast cancer.  By cutting off funding to Planned Parenthood you have effectively abandoned those women.

According to a number of sources, your reason for cutting off funding is a result of the congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood’s spending of federal dollars.  You know as well as I do that this investigation is nothing more than a witch hunt designed to outlaw abortions nationwide.  The problem is that only 3% of services provided by Planned Parenthood are abortions.  Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, do not let that 3% cloud your mind to the thousands of women saved annually by early detection of breast cancer.  Reinstate funding.

Sincerely,

Rebekah Frank

What I really wanted to send to my friends at Susan G. Komen was something way more angry, and way less reasonable, than the letter I sent.  What I wanted to say to them is what my friend Beth said to me this afternoon in an email:  Seriously, stop hiring women who hate women.  If only.

Got angry. Wrote email.

25 Oct

Sometimes you get used to unpleasant things and sometimes you don’t.  For example, I am used to waiting 20 minutes for the R train during rush hour.  I am used to grey, and sometimes yellow, snow that persists weeks after a big snow storm.  I am used to being nearly blinded by over-sized umbrellas because New Yorkers, as a general rule, have no concept of umbrella courtesy.  I am not, however, used to being whistled at, honked at, stared at, god-blessed at and all the other degrading ways men decide to prove to women that they do have penises and that their penises would very much like to make your acquaintance.  That is why I have decided to, whenever possible, take the fight to the next level.  No longer will I yell back.  No longer will my middle finger shoot up before I give it official permission.  No longer will I (untruthfully) tell especially pesky construction workers that I am the owner of a pistol.  I am turning over a new leaf.  Now, I am going to use my years of education, and the anonymity provided by the interwebz, to take my annoyance to the top.  I am sending emails to the management!

I am a bartender amd just down the block from my bar a new PetSmart is opening.  En route to work a recent Saturday morning, I was passing by the PetSmart, coffee in hand (hadn’t even had a sip!) when I heard a sound, tap tap, tap tap.  I looked over to find 3 construction workers who were building out the store staring at me, while one of them was tap tapping on the window.  Having gotten my attention they let out an onslaught of classic street harassment.  Whistling, tapping, kiss-y face making.  Since I couldn’t throw my scalding hot coffee on them (stupid window!) I decided to do the next best thing:  I shook my head disapprovingly, raised my left eyebrow in classic Rebekah fashion, and started drafting an email in my head to PetSmart.  Then, I wrote it and this is what it said:

This message is in regards to the new store you are opening on _______.  As the owner of two kittens, I was looking forward to the opening of your new location just down the street from my job. However, on numerous occasions on my way to work on weekend mornings, I have been harassed by the men building out the interior of your store.  I find this to be both insulting and wildly inappropriate.  As a result, I will not be frequenting your store and will instead choose places where I am treated with respect. I wish you the best of luck and hope that in the future you express to the men you hire that, when working for PetSmart, they are representing your company and therefore while in your employment should treat women with the dignity we deserve.

I did not expect a response because, although I looked and looked, there was no email address listed for the corporate headquarters.  All I could find was a form where I wrote my name and then filed my complaint in a text box.  Seemed very impersonal.  Lo and behold 4 hours after my complaint I got a response from a lady named Kate!  She informed me that she had filled out a customer complaint on my behalf and submitted it to the “management team” and said “we appreciate the opportunity you have given us to set the matter right.”  Huzzah!  I thought that was the last I would hear from the company and you know what?  I was okay with that.  Again, I was wrong.  I received the following email from the manager of the location about which I made the complaint 5 days later.  The best part of it pasted below:

My name is _________, I am the Store Manager of the new PetSmart opening in your neighborhood. Please allow me to apologize on behalf of PetSmart, and our store, for the behavior of the construction workers that you encountered during your morning commute. Such behavior is not acceptable, from members of our store staff, nor from our vendor partners. I have reached out to the General Contractor involved in building our store, as well as our internal project managers to make them aware of this report, and the conduct of some the employees of our vendor partners. Based upon your report, and the times detailed within, our General Contractor is working to identify which vendors had employees in the building at those times so that he can most effectively address the conduct of their employees. PetSmart has a zero tolerance policy towards this type of behavior. Beyond company policy, I also have a personal zero tolerance policy towards this type of behavior – we insist that everyone, customers and staff, be treated with dignity and respect at all times. That said, as we move forward, in addition to whatever steps the General Contractor takes to address this behavior, I will also be addressing the remaining construction workers as to our expectations moving forward. As our store team is now moving in to the building, please be assured that our management team has been made aware of your experience, and we will each be closely supervising the behavior of the vendor partners working in our store as we move forward with merchandising, and with the training of our new store staff.

Huzzah again!  Said manager then offered me a tour of the store and said I am welcome to bring my “furry friend if it’s the kind that ventures out of the house.”  I will be taking him up on this tour and I will be bringing my friend Carrie along. Not only does she venture outside the house, but she has a very full head of hair.  Not quite what he had in mind, perhaps, but I think I can justify it.   So, sometimes it works!  Yay PetSmart!  Details of tour to follow.