Take me to my city by the Bay

Dear Train,
I owe you a big wet kiss for this one.

Love,
Jen

P.S. This would have been the perfect theme song for the drive to Oakland — lyrics for me, music style a little more for him than, say, Lady Gaga.

It’s not me, it’s you

Dear Massage Envy:
It’s over.

I never should have started a relationship with you. If I hadn’t received an unsolicited gift card for that first massage, I would never have darkened your doorstep. That gift card coincided with my decision to make regular massage a priority, though, so…when you came on with the hard sell, I thought I’d give you a try anyway.

I should have walked out. I should have realized that the hard sell is your business model and that you have absolutely zero concern for your clients’ needs or preferences…as long as you have their credit card number.

(Just so you know, it’s in extremely poor taste to ask a client to leave a tip before a service has been provided.)

That first massage was a red flag, by the way. That guy was really, really awful. You should probably fire him. I redirected him and did not feel unsafe, but I came close…which, hey! stresses you out and completely negates the purpose of a massage. It was the first time I’ve ever considered walking out of a massage, and I should have just done it instead of being determined to give you a fair shake.

The second massage was with a woman who made me think of Jennifer Hudson. She was pretty good, and I thought perhaps I’d made a good decision after all.

When I called to schedule my next appointment with her, she was gone.

Instead, I was scheduled with Parcy, who is the only reason I haven’t dumped you before now. Parcy is an excellent massage therapist, if still young and learning. Her manner and technique are spot on — she listens and is responsive, and she has managed to dig out even some of the toughest knots in my back. I don’t know if massage was her first choice — in fact, I think it may not have been — but she’s really good at it.

The problem is, it’s gotten harder and harder to schedule appointments with her.

I’ve mentioned this to her, and she says that you load her up with new clients first rather than giving priority to her regulars. Although she has complained, that’s just your standard practice.

Oh, and I don’t actually believe you when you say she’s on vacation or out until a certain date. That explanation would work better if I didn’t hear you scheduling other appointments with her within that date range, or if you didn’t magically find a 90-minute appointment with her that I could take rather than wait two and a half weeks for a 60-minute one.

(I don’t believe anything your front desk says about a massage therapist anymore, anyway. All they do is ask what you want and tell you that the person they want to schedule you to see has that specialty.)

I tried someone else once, while she was out. His massage was barely passable (although better than that first guy) and he finished each upper back stroke by wiping the lotion on my hair, but at least he was a willing ear for my complaints.

Incidentally, he told me that you accept people who are not completely certified. You don’t tell clients this, but you make sure that those people only see same-sex clients. Frankly, I wouldn’t put it past your front desk to disregard that rule in order to close the deal on an appointment.

The long and short of it, Massage Envy, is that I don’t trust you. I don’t trust you, I don’t like you, and I don’t like Parcy enough to put up with your crap. I lost the battle and took that 90-minute appointment, but I’m winning the war and taking my business elsewhere.

Witheringly,
Jen

Meet Betty

Y’all, check out my new weekend wheels, courtesy of craigslist:

Toward the end of undergrad, I wanted a bike and I got one for Christmas. It died a slow, rusty death on our balcony for two reasons:

  1. My leisure time and transportation choices were not entirely my own.
  2. It turns out you can totally forget how to ride a bike if:
    1. no one ever teaches you how to deal with mountain-bike-level gears, and/or
    2. bikes just keep getting more and more complicated.

(Yes, I can drive a stick…and it would’ve been way easier to learn if someone had taught me the basics on a ten-speed first.)

Also? I didn’t pick that bike out, I wasn’t in love with it, I didn’t know how to care for it, and the seat hurt my tushy.

Oh! And I hate bike helmets. I recognize that my surroundings are more metropolitan and dangerous than the rural Vermont of my youth, but seriously? Do you know how fast people drive on dirt roads they’ve lived on their whole lives? If Mountain Road Markwells never hit me, why would I expect that my Del Ray neighbors would?

(Yes, I have a bike helmet. And a lock.)

This bike, which I have named Betty for her classic, mid-50s style, is much more my speed…by which I mean, there’s only one speed, and she has coaster brakes instead of handle brakes. And her seat doesn’t hurt my tushy. (Here she is in her “natural habitat”…although I wonder about that, as the company says to try to avoid getting sand on the chain.)

I looked at the cruiser bikes a couple of years ago and loved them, but they were so expensive — they were super-popular and I had that dead gift bike hanging over my head, preventing me from justifying a purchase, even of the right bike. And there were other claims on the “household” budget.

Betty comes to me from a woman in Dumfries who researched her, bought her, and loved her, but only put about 10 miles on her before deciding she wanted a road bike. She made a deal with her husband to sell the cruiser to make (literal and financial) room for the road bike.

And now Betty’s all mine — almost new, for a good bit less than new…recycled, even, into a new life in an eminently bike-able neighborhood, another piece of my growing plan to live more lightly, simply, and joyfully. I’m looking forward to Saturday morning rides to yoga, and rides home with all manner of yummy farmers market goodies in…

Oh, crap. I need a wire basket. A white one. Maybe with pink daisies. :)

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