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Things Nobody Told You About Food Delivery Services

I knew it! I would have sworn on a stack of courtroom Bibles that when people order food for delivery, the drivers sometimes tamper with the food. Even if they do nothing more than peek inside the container, that’s a no-no.

Some recent media outlets and a report broadcast this morning on HLN’s Weekend Express confirmed what I have long suspected and did not need a study by US Foods to reveal. That one in four food delivery drivers, 28 percent, admit to tasting or even taking a bite out of the food before delivering it to the unsuspecting purchaser.

Do you order from a food delivery app? I used a food delivery service only once. That was a couple of years ago. After the driver of UBER eats took an unusually long time to deliver my food, I contacted the eatery from which the food was purchased and learned that the driver had left there 30 minutes earlier. I knew this place well enough to know that it should have taken the driver no more than 15-20 minutes to drive to my home. Shortly after I hung up from talking with the counter clerk, the UBER eats driver called to say that he had gotten lost and would arrive shortly. Really? I thought. (Wide-eye roll.)

I was watching from my window and could see his car when it pulled into the lot. The driver didn’t see me when I first walked outside to retrieve my food. He was too busy talking and laughing with the female passenger seated beside him. Both of them were smoking cigarettes. As soon as he saw me approaching, he hurriedly climbed out of the car and greeted me as did the stench of cigarette smoke following him. He flashed a huge phony smile, opened the rear door, and took out my food that was browned-bagged and sitting on the back seat alongside two others. He handed it to me. Through tight-lips, I mumbled, “Thanks.” Then I tucked the tip folded in my hand, that he would have received, into the pocket of my jeans.

“Never again,” I promised myself as I walked back inside.

I immediately lifted the lid on the Styrofoam container and began inspecting my meal to try and determine if it had been tampered with; of course, I had no way of knowing for sure. What I noticed when lifting the container out of the bag is that the bag reeked of cigarette smoke.

That is the only time I have used a food delivery service. Since my one unpleasant experience with UBER eats, I don’t feel comfortable having ready-to-eat meals delivered. I admit that I periodically order Chinese food from a neighborhood carry out that I have frequented for years. My food is always delivered by one of the employees. Usually, it’s the same friendly older man who has been there for some time.

If you use food delivery apps and have never thought about it before, ask yourself, how would you know if your delivery driver snacked on a few fries or had a sip of your drink on the way to your home? Most likely, you wouldn’t. reports that “When asked if they minded if their driver snagged a few fries, the average customer response was an 8.4 out of 10; one represented ‘no big deal,’ and ten signified ‘absolutely unacceptable.’” As I see it, tasting aside, even opening the container is ABSOLUTELY UNACCEPTABLE!

As restaurant business owners are beginning to understand the problems involved with food delivery, the foodservice industry is working to address these concerns by developing tamper-evident packaging for to-go meals. Some businesses seal takeout containers with a peel-off sticker over the lid or an adhesive that will tear the bag holding the container when opened. Some containers have plastic seals that have to be broken to remove the food and cannot be replaced or resealed once that seal is broken. Tamper-evident does not necessarily mean tamper-proof, but I suppose anything is better than nothing.

In our busy world, everyone is looking for ways to save time and energy. Not having to come home after a busy workday and prepare dinner is certainly one way of doing that. Surely, anytime you don’t feel like cooking, a nice hot pizza delivered to your door is too tempting to refuse. Food delivery is convenient, and it is probably here to stay, but we all know human nature and the nature of some unscrupulous humans is fouler then rotting meat. People must understand the risks and realize that their food could be minus a few bites when it arrives. And if you are inclined to bless your meal, pray that the culprit had clean hands and no disease transmittable through saliva.



Minding Manners

When I was a child, my mother taught me that whenever anyone gave me a gift, it was imperative to thank the person for it. If the gift was a face-to-face delivery, a heartfelt thank you might suffice. But if someone took the time to mail me a gift, the least I could do would be to write them a note or send a card expressing my gratitude. I do that to this day.    

I taught that practice of expressing gratitude to my children. And I’ve noticed that many – although not all – people I know who are in my age group were also taught that courtesy while growing up or learned it after they were grown. But from Generation X, the Millennials, Gen Z and on down the line, the courtesy of expressing gratitude in return for a gift, service, or favor is vanishing faster than landline phones.

Are people just out-and-out thoughtless or do they take it for granted that courtesy requires no reciprocal action?

Surely, I am not the only one who remembers that, years ago, if you sent someone a birthday card, a wedding or baby shower present, or even a sympathy card, especially if the card contained a monetary gift, we’d usually receive a thank you card in return. It was rare not to hear anything from the recipient, and frankly, it was considered downright rude. Today count yourself lucky if someone acknowledges having received your gift without you having to ask them if they got it. As I see it, the lack of good manners is just another sign of deteriorating behavior in a society that becomes more uncivil every day.

Lest you make the wrong assumption, I don’t give gifts merely for someone to thank me in return. I do it because either I like the person or want to do something nice for them to recognize a special occasion. But I dislike feeling that my kindness is taken for granted. An acknowledgment is not only the right thing to do, its common courtesy. Unfortunately, I must agree with Whoopi’s implication that we are veering away from a do-right society.

Granted, things get lost in the mail, and packages get stolen off of people’s front porch. But if you live close enough for me to bring an envelope to your home, give it to one of your family members, or slip it beneath your door, then that destroys the “lost mail” defense. And if you do nothing more than holler across the street when you see me, “Hey, I got it!” or give me a thumbs up signal, I might consider that action a bit uncouth, but no acknowledgment is undeniably rude.

The practice of saying thank you is so deep-rooted in me that – you can bank on this – if I receive a gift from someone and do not thank them, then I am either incapacitated or dead.

It’s embarrassing to me to call someone to ask if they received a gift I sent. That’s almost as bad as lending someone something and after months of waiting to have to ask for it back. I can easily overlook giving away a couple of eggs or a cup of sugar, insignificant things like that. Most likely, I’ll say, “Keep it.” But when it comes to lending a household item, let’s say a punch bowl, a hammer, even a book (especially a book) I want it back. It was a loan, not a gift. Judge Judy would attest to that. And wasn’t it Shakespeare who wrote: “Neither a borrower nor a lender be?” But that’s another subject for another day.

Several months ago, I sent a sympathy card containing a check to a long-time neighbor after I learned that her mother had recently died. She didn’t phone or send a thank you note. I’ve seen her in passing at least three times since then and has she ever said thank you? Can a paper doll walk a runway?

We are all busy, so being too busy to say thank you is a lousy excuse, and I’m sure that by now you realize that thoughtless thanklessness of people is one of my peeves. Whether someone holds a door for you or shows kindness in some other way, the least you can do is say thank you. Expressing gratitude is more than just a social nicety it shows civility and reassures others that their gesture was appreciated. That being said – I appreciate you taking the time to read my rant and patronize this blog. Thank you!



My iPhone died. The official cause of death was drowning. When I told that to the sales consultant at the mobile phone store he didn’t raise an eyebrow. I guess he had heard the story of the big slash before.

I’ve owned an iPhone for several years. Before I had the smartphone, I had a few dumb ones. Never in the history of my mobile phone life have I dropped a phone. Not the brick size. Not the flip top. I’ve dropped calls but never dropped a phone – until I did. That adds credence to the truth that there is a first time for everything.

It wasn’t so much that I dropped the phone or how I dropped it. It didn’t slip out of my hand, bounce on the table top, and then slide to the floor cracking the screen like an egg on the sidewalk. No, nothing that sanitized. I dropped the phone in the toilet.

Before you gross-out, it wasn’t like what you may be thinking. And technically, I didn’t drop it.

Let me explain.

Whenever I leave home, I rarely carry my cell phone in a purse. I fear that if the purse gets snatched the bad guy will have one of the three most valuable items that I carry. Instead, of putting the phone in my purse, since I almost always wear jeans with deep pockets, my phone is usually tucked in one front pocket, my wallet and keys are in the other. Only when jeans are inappropriate for whatever event I am attending do I carry those three items in a purse.

The one place I never, EVER carry my phone is in my back pocket. I’ve seen other people do it and I always think how easy it would be for a pick-pocket to bump them from behind and take the phone before they realize it’s gone. (To outsmart criminals you must learn to think like one.)

Recently, I purchased a new pair of jeans online. I liked the fit and the color. The only thing I disliked was the short front pockets. The back pockets had plenty of depth. But there was no way I could tuck my phone snuggly into either of the front pockets no matter which way I turned it.

I made a mental note to call the retailer from whom I purchased the trademark jeans or leave a review on the website making it known that the pockets are too short for my liking. I hope that enough complaints from different people about the same issue might prompt a change in the pockets because I like the jeans.

Now you are probably wondering what do jeans have to do with my iPhone so I’ll get to the point.

I was preparing to go out one day and was wearing the new jeans. As I rushed around tidying up the place and trying to make sure that I didn’t forget anything, I temporarily stuck the iPhone in my back pocket knowing that I would remove it and place it in my backpack purse before leaving home. But then I forgot it was there.

Just before heading out the door I tell myself that I’d better answer nature’s call. (I’m sure you readers are ahead of me now and know what happened, but for those who may be a little slow, here’s the deal).

I go into the bathroom, pull down my jeans and as I am preparing to sit on the throne I hear “plop.” I know – before I even turn around to look – that the phone has slipped out of my back pocket and somersaulted into the toilet.

My immediate reaction is to grab the phone from the clear water, wrap it in paper towels and then shake it. Shake. Shake. Shake. Get that water out of there. After several seconds, I unfold the paper towels and look anxiously at the screen. A sigh of relief. It looks fine. All of the colorful icons are there. Yes! I saved it. Or, so I thought – until seconds later, right before my eyes the icons all dissolve. In their place are squiggly horizontal lines on a pale background. After a few seconds, more lines appear, and then poof! the screen turns black. “Nooooooo!” I scream in my head. Watching a phone die can be traumatic.

I snatch more paper towels off the roll and rewrap the phone, shaking it again several times. Before discarding the paper towels, I look at the screen. Nothing but blackness. I slide my finger across the place where the “slide to turn off” message usually appears. Nothing, again. And then suddenly, the flashlight pops on, and I think, “Now, we’re getting somewhere.”

Wrong! Although the light on the back of the phone is glowing brightly, the face of the phone remains dark. I stare at it, wishing that I could rewind the hands of time back about 5 minutes, to seconds before my phone took a dump.

The phone light glows brighter and the brighter the light gets the warmer the phone feels in my hand. Using the little button on the side of the phone I switch it, trying to do a hard shut off. Nothing, again.

I suddenly remember stories I’ve read about exploding phones, and at that moment fear sets in as I think drop the phone and run for cover. I didn’t want to drop the phone and risk setting my place on fire, so I run with the phone to the kitchen. I lay the phone on the counter and from the cabinet, I grab a small ziplock bag and a bag of balsamic rice. (No, I did not take time to look for the cheaper bag of rice because I didn’t know how much time I had before the phone would go kaboom!) I put the still glowing phone into the plastic bag, quickly pour rice over it, place the potential explosive in a small pot, cover the pot with a lid, back away and wait for the explosion that I fear is imminent. I am hoping that the blast will stay contained within the pot.

I have read that if you place a wet cell phone into rice, it will dry it out and save your phone. After a few minutes of nervously waiting, I lean back so the phone will not explode in my face as I extend my arm and slowly lift the lid from the pot. I peek inside. The phone flashlight has dimmed significantly, but it has not gone out. I touch the phone through the bag. It is cooling down. After a few more minutes the light goes out.

I conjure up enough nerve to remove the rice-bagged phone from the pot. Hopeful that I have resuscitated it, I try turning the phone on. No luck. I make a few more attempts before placing the phone back in its plastic bag coffin. Then, I get an old, tiny purse from the closet and place the zip-bagged phone into the purse and the purse inside my backpack. I sling it over my shoulder and head out the door.

Since I was planning to go downtown even before the phone mishap, I decided that while I was down there, I would buy a new phone. It was a several hundred dollar expense that I had not planned for, nor budgeted.

When I walked into the mobile phone store, the clerk greeted me, “How can I help you today?”

“My phone drowned,” I said somberly. I didn’t overshare information with him as I did with you readers, I just told him that I accidentally dropped the phone into water and let him imagine the rest. Then, I pulled the phone out of my backpack to show. “I riced it,” I said. “But I still can’t turn it on.”

“First of all,” he said. “That’s not enough rice. You need to completely cover the phone in rice and let it sit for about 48 hours to thoroughly dry out. There’s still no guarantee that will work. And if you can’t turn it on now, it’s likely short-circuited, i.e., totally dead.” I did not say what I was thinking — smart ass.

I brought a new phone. The only good thing to come out of the debacle is that I was able to retrieve all my phone contacts, photos, etc. because I had saved that info in the iCloud. I only started saving in the cloud about a month ago. That was clearly a predestined move.

According to the Daily Info website “nearly 1 in 10 people have dropped their phones in the toilet.” Let my experience be a warning to you. Avoid carrying your phone anywhere near water. And never, EVER carry your phone in your back pocket.


Tolerating Civil Servants and Other Public Service Providers

Raise your hand if you enjoy going to the DMV. Come on. Someone. Anyone. No one?

I feel you. It is no secret that most people would rather have a root canal than go to the DMV or any other government agency and have to interact with a civil servant. Although numerous services are now available online, sooner or later you may have to travel that road to aggravation and visit a public service office.

Some folks try to avoid the visit by making a phone call. I assure you that calling and engaging in the press button marathon is often just as exasperating as going there. You dial an agency’s number and the phone rings. And rings. And rings. When and if an automatic answering service responds, a recorded announcement asks you to press or say this number and that number so many times that by the time the number to the extension you need is announced you’ve forgotten why you called. And even when on rare occasions you are lucky enough to get a live person on the line right away, you may be asked, “May I put you on hold while I pull up your records?”

“Sure” you answer knowing that your choices are limited.

Whenever that happens to me, I imagine that the person who leaves me hanging under the pretense of searching the computer files is chit-chatting with the person in the next cubicle about non-job related issues like her date or his score the night before.

A bad attitude seems to be the modus operandi for many civil servants whether they communicate with you over the phone or in person. Do you ever wonder what is wrong with them the reason many display such insolence when all we want to do is take care of business?

Before you presume that I am lumping all civil servants into one barrel of incivility, I promise you that I am not. And I admit that sometimes I am caught off guard when one of the “govies” displays a pleasant disposition.

Following the longest government shutdown in American history, I had a problem with my social security payment. Having no desire to visit the office, I made numerous phone calls to various offices within the department trying to resolve the matter. That futility went on for over a week. Each time I called the Administration an automated service answered, and, of course, asked me to hold on. I’ve learned to always check the clock whenever I am asked to hold. And then I imagine how nice it would be if agencies were required to pay callers a dollar a minute for hold time.

My time is as valuable as theirs, so instead of idling, I would press the speaker button, set the phone on a nearby table or place it in my pocket and go about doing housecleaning, computing, or whatever I needed to do, all the while listening to corny hold music and waiting for an agent to pick up. The longest wait-time I logged one day was 58 minutes, after which – you guessed it, I hung up. Fifty-eight dollars would have been nice compensation for my time.

On the days when a live person finally came on the line that person sometimes transferred me to someone else. I admit that I found at least a couple of the govies were courteous, professional and helpful. Eventually, I got the issue resolved without having to spend 3-4 hours downtown at the agency.

Flashback to the dreaded visit to the DMV. A few weeks ago, after my grandson misplaced his wallet, he had to go to DMV to get another ID card. Before going there, he prepared by heeding my advice. “Carry everything and anything they might ask for to prove your identity and residency so you won’t have to make a return trip.” Birth certificate, social security card, lease, utility bills, bank statement, official mail from any government agency. You might as well throw in the kitchen sink.”

I was flabbergasted as my grandson said he was when he later told me that the experience was “not bad.” No long wait time. No hassling by a disgruntled clerk. A young man who he described as “pleasant” asked for one – yes, only one – of the numerous documents he had brought with him. (Of course, we know that had he only brought one document, he would have been asked for everything that he didn’t bring.) My grandson was in and out of there within 45 minutes. Surely that must be record time for a trip to the DMV.

Unlike private sector businesses where dissatisfied customers have the option of going elsewhere for service, state and local government offices hold the monopoly for dispensing driver’s licenses, passports, and other official documents as well as administering various social services. Civil servants had a reputation for nastiness long before this country entered the “season of being mean.” The question is why are some bureaucrats so darn unpleasant?

Perhaps the answer lies within a study done by Gallup in the summer of 2009. It revealed: “The fact that public employees have stronger job protections, even in nonunion organizations than their private-sector colleagues, makes it more difficult to deal with poor performers.”  Does that give government workers license to treat patrons like crap?

Another study I discovered was done by researchers from USC, Stanford Graduate School of Business, and the Kellogg School. It was conducted to test how power and status determine behavior. “The results showed that when low-status individuals [i.e., customer service reps] are given greater power, they are more likely to abuse that power.” To the contrary, people who hold positions of high power and high status often behave more professionally than those in lower status position. (Of course, as has been evident in the political milieu during the last two years, there is an exception to every rule.)

My early job history included seven years of employment with the federal government before I decided I’d had enough and fled to the private sector. Because the offices where I worked did not involve direct contact with the general public, I did not see much animosity by my coworkers directed against callers. However, I did witness the arrogance that some upper-grade staff members levied against their subordinates, so I easily understand why lower lever workers might take out their frustrations on their clientele.

The next time you absolutely must interact with a civil servant who is providing customer service at a government agency (or any place of business) as soon as you perceive that she or he is about to cop an attitude, disarm the person. Instead of escalating the situation with a put-down, “If your brains were dynamite, there wouldn’t be enough to blow your wig off,” show your pleasant side. I know this may be difficult to do. The urge to give as good as we get is often irresistible, but it’s worth a try. Keep in mind that the person serving you may have nothing to lose, and all you want to do is accomplish what you came for, leave, and pray to God that you never have to return.


Planting Memories

I don’t have my mother’s green thumb, but I surely inherited her love for flowers and house plants.

For years, I’ve told my daughter about how, when my siblings and I were growing up, mother kept an indoor garden of beautiful house plants. When I was still in grade school, most of those flowers flourished year round on the windowsill in our living room.

The one plant that was too large to sit in the window occupied a place on the floor beside the roll-arm upholstered chair. Its sturdy, bright green leaves must have been at least three feet tall. It was a Sansevieria trifasciata. (“What the…,” you say. My thought exactly, that’s why I prefer to call it by it’s familiar nickname “mother-in-law’s tongue” or “snake plant.”)

The snake plant is native to the tropics of West Africa, and while its average lifespan is 5-10 years, some have been known to live as long as 25 years.

I’m not sure if that particular plant was my mother’s favorite, but it sure was mine. The beautiful flower thrived for years, even surviving the move our family made from the cramped apartment in LeDroit Park to our more spacious house in Petworth; but like all living things, it eventually died.

Some weeks ago, my daughter surprised me when she presented me with the snake plant pictured above. “Had she grown tired of hearing me share memories about her grandmother’s snake plant?” I wondered. No, she’s just that kind of thoughtful person. I almost cried because the plant resurrected old memories. I purchased a snake plant early last year, but it came to an early demise shortly after I brought it home, probably due to my overwatering it. I didn’t know then, but I do now; water is not the snake plant’s best friend. (I did say that I didn’t inherit mother’s green thumb, remember?)

I am not one of those eccentric people who name their plants. However, I made an exception and named this one Millie, after my mother, Mildred, because my childhood recollection of my mother’s beautiful snake plant is as vivid as if I were standing in front of it today. Isn’t it strange how things that some people would consider insignificant are, for others, a lasting memory?

Lately, whenever I walk past and look at that plant gifted by my daughter, I think of my mother nurturing her plants with the same tenderness that she bestowed on her children, all those years ago.

Next month, May 12, is Mother’s Day. When that day comes, mother won’t get flowers from me as she did for many years, because (as some of my readers know) she deceased four years, nine months and 20 days ago. But this year, I’ll look with gratitude at my daughter’s (early Mother’s Day) gift, and smile as I always do, because it rekindles pleasant memories of my mother and her fondness for plants.

Plant-lovers will tell you that plant tending takes root in our mind, and just like every pleasant moment in our life plants sow something sweet in our soul.