Saturday, January 26, 2008

My First Let-Down

Well, based on a un-normally distributed vote, (where "n" is less-than 30), I've decided to start at the very beginning. When I was screwed as a ten-year old. (a.k.a. My First Let-Down). Let's Go!

"THE MIRACLE OF NATURE", read the ad's headline I stumbled upon in Sports Illustrated.

I salivated.
Little did I know this miracle would lead to my first life-long non-dream of being "TWOCV" (The World's Original Consumer Victim).

For $5.98 - or $7.98 "post-paid," I would receive a miracle incubator from GQF - that's the Georgia Quail Farm - in Savannah, Georgia.

Pictured at right, the incubator was pretty simple: a plastic device that kinda looked like a spaceship. Inside, there was a small heat-producing light bulb and some foil that could be positioned to deflect direct light from the eggs.

This thing would ensure me a miracle?

The instructions seemed to say so. You see, should I choose to follow the directions to a "T", in about 21-24 days, I'd have five baby quail hatch before my eyes: thus, the true "Miracle of Nature!"

My eyes couldn't have been bigger. Nor my heart beating any faster.

I happily drummed-up the $7.98 for the miracle to-be and stuffed the money in a #10 envelope. Including change. Yes, change. Surprisingly, in a little over a week my to-be miracle showed-up via United States Mail at my very own front door.

I read the incubator's instructions. I folded the wire just so. I tested the light and ensured the humidity level was ever so perfect. I was scared into perfection because (per the instructions) too much humidity during incubation would "drown" the baby chicks when they tried to release themselves from their egg; too little humidity and the baby chicks would be stuck to the egg and unable to get out of the shell-like prison.

A few days later, I bolted home from middle school and lo and behold, there was a baby chick in the incubator!

What was I doing at school when there was a miracle similar to the Baby Jesus
going down in my house? The baby Coturnix quail was so cute. (miracle sample picture at right, multiplied by many). About the size of a marshmallow, it was my newest best friend.

I was one proud pappa.

I must have seemed like "Godzilla" to the baby chick. But I was all it had. I'm sure it was bored sitting in it's bright yellow plastic space dome-home. "Let's get outta this dump and do something!", s/he must have thought.

A few hours later, I was graced with the presence of yet another miracle - #2! Yep, another baby chick hatched and I was just as eager to welcome this little baby into the world as if it were my first.

The next day after school, I tore straight for home to welcome #3, #4 and #5 into the world. But to my dismay, when I rounded the corner in the upstairs "playroom turned holyland", there were still just the two miracles.

Just the two of five "miracles."


Another day and another day after that passed and no more miracles.

I was jipped.

After all hope was lost, my disappointment turned to rage. My rage incubated like my un-hatched miracles. Rage then turned to the typewriter. An IBM Selectric, to be precise. I did the only thing I knew: I wrote the Georgia Quail Farm one nasty letter (keep in mind I was ten years old).

I told the GQF a thing or two. I told them how I supervised my eggs. How I carefully hand-turned the eggs multiple times daily. Ensured the heat was just so. And the humidity was "on the dot." Despite all that, three of my eggs were un-miracles! How could this be?

My parents applauded my nasty letter. It was the first sign that I would not be bullied around in the big, bad world.

I was ten. And I felt ten feet tall.

I mailed the letter off in my pre-teen rage, not expecting a response (Yes, I was jaded even before puberty).

A few days later my mom said something came in the mail for me.

A catalog, I thought? No, it was a special box. And in it contained a miniature egg crate complete with two dozen quail eggs.

24 quail eggs!
My joy was soon replaced with sheer fear. What was I going to do with all these eggs of joy to be? The miracle incubator only held 5 eggs... 7 eggs at the most!

So I did what any normal American kid would do... I tugged on my dad's sleeve and presented my case: I needed a bigger incubator. And his wallet was my only hope.

We took a quick trip to a downtown San Antonio "feed and seed" store to look for better incubator. Screw the bright lightbulb and the limited square footage. My eyes and hopes rested upon the Mother Load: the Mercedes of incubators. This uber-techno incubator held more than 24 eggs, was ergonomically-designed, had an electronically-controlled thermostat and if I so chose, an automatic egg turner!

All this for just $40 United States Dollars.


Days later I had so many "Miracles of Nature," I didn't know what to do!

Raising quail had became my special hobby. I was ten and I had ten times ten-fold the miracle-babies in my backyard turned farmyard. Each Easter, me and my family colored the miniature brown-spotted eggs and I reveled in the fact that I had made these miracles materialize. And they were just steps away in the yard.

My yard.

Although the Georgia Quail Farm was my first "nemesis," I look back now with fond appreciation. Whomever sent me those 24 eggs probably didn't think s/he'd foster and propel a love for animals in a little kid. During this special time of my life, I learned my heart could grow and love as many animals as I could acquire.

But let's be clear: those 24 eggs were the proverbial "middle finger" of customer service.

Someone who probably thought "Here's your eggs, Mini-Mo-Fo!"

But oh, how customer service has deteriorated ever since.

It's not a surprise the Georgia Quail Farm is still in business. Tonight I visited The Farm for the first time. Online. You see, back when I was a tiny tot, the Internet was non-existent. Visit the GQF online and pay them some respect for they give our wee-ones hope in an time filled with violence, bad news, and unthinkable acts, like 9/11.

Hats off to The Georgia Quail Farm!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

My First Post!

I'm 41 years old and I just created my first Blog! Weeeee! Thanks, Blogger!

I'm not sure really where to start other than to say that I'm going to test the waters with this puppy and see how it goes. I hope at some level those of you reading this will find some peace knowing that my life will always be more tragic than yours. Don't get me wrong - I have a great life - but the experiences I've shared as a consumer victim aren't anything I'd wish on anyone. For that reason I'm proclaiming myself THE WORLD's GENUINE CONSUMER VICTIM. Sorry, Rosa.

This week, a co-worker urged me to start documenting my consumer nightmares-turned-life-dramas because they, well, were just so damned hilarious that certainly I'd want to share them with others.

I think most of my "vignettes" (let's call them that for now) are best served in person with the style, conviction and sweaty brow that is all my own. Some say I missed my calling for stage but I think I'm probably better off serving those of you on the streets of America. After all, if only the fun people were on stage or TV, how much fun would it be, say, chatting by the company water cooler or perhaps waiting in the check-out line if the "blue-collar performers" like me weren't there?

To that point, I think it's appropriate that I develop some code of honor for this Blog. Something to help steer it in a positive direction. Something like this:

" I, Patrick, being of self-proclaimed
sound mind and moderate health, do hereby
promise to report the truth and only the truth.
I will ensure I "keep it real*" when reporting
the chuckholes of my life.

I yearn to be a great protector of the unfortunate
from the big, bad entities (be them people, or companies
comprised of people) who try to get away with something
at other's expense."

* All great statements have legal associated with them and my statement above is no exception. First off, let's define what legal is. Legal is the small text (like this) that accompanies type that is set in a teeny-weeny font and is hidden somewhere obscure so that lawyers "cover off" on the exceptions to great marketing statements or claims. Trust me, I know. Legal is small because they hope you don't read it. But things called "law suits" make legal a tedious necessity. Thus, all legal disclaimers result in huge blocks of small text that nobody reads because if they did, their heads would explode. Legal is the reason we wear glasses. So, to sum it up, "Legal has ruined my vision." I'm sorry I had to sink to their level by typesetting this in a small font, but I have to prove a point. So, if your eyes are ruined, like mine, the next time you receive a great offer, IGNORE THE BIG FONT and read the small font first - this is the "real offer" you will get.

That all being said, by "real" what I mean is that I will pepper no more than 8% (+ or - 2%) of my stories with unadulterated bullcrap. Bullcrap is defined by me as the spice of life. The nuts in ice cream. The beer at the end of a long day. The "wiggle room" of the truth. Why we get up each day. The reason you are reading this now.

There. That's not bad, huh?

Well what about you? What kind of commitment are you going to make to me? I mean, I'm not charging for this thing, am I? I'm not going to put myself out there if you have no responsibilities. Well, then - here's what I expect of you:

" I, [ insert your name here ], being a guest of
Patrick's Original Blog
do hereby promise to read Patrick's life drama and learn from it.
I will laugh, and/or cry and share his experiences with the people
I care about whether they be known or unknown.

Real. Or "mostly-real."

There. That's good. Light and fluffy crap.

Well. On with the show! Stay tuned for my first tragedy. Read it for what it is and comment (or not) as you see fit.

Blog Update: 2/24/08:

How interesting the results from my first Consumer Victim Poll (shown at right)! A full 100% of you voting about legal disclaimers felt that they were confusing or subjected you to something you were not aware of!

The "Proof Is In The Pudding" as they say and legal footnotes, although "helpful" or "required" from the inside of corporate America are, in fact, misleading and damaging from a consumer perspective.

Keep reading the legal, folks!