Monday, January 30, 2012

Innuendo? No; Literally, In MY Endo

Last fall there was a deal on Groupon that I couldn't resist: $39 for one colon hydrotherapy session. I'd been interested in having a colon cleanse for a long time - I love reading the testimonials from people who get it done, talking about all the crazy stuff that comes out of their butt.

I tried to do a home cleanse once, called The Royal Flush (thank you, Andi) and every time I pooed it smelled like burned tire rubber, so I at least got a little gratification that it was working. But that cleanse was several days, and I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything except apple cider vinegar and capsules of fiber and psyllium or something. I couldn't last the full seven days; I had to eat something solid. Like Burger King and cake.

When this deal came across, I jumped at the chance because it's normally much more expensive. And I was morbidly curious about what kind of crazy stuff would come out of my butt. If you need an explanation of what colon hydrotherapy is, I suggest you Google it, but be prepared for some gnarly pictures that might come up.

Basically, a tube goes up your butt, fills your intestines with water, and then you push it back out. I was not aware of that last bit; I thought it all would just drain out on its own. But I was sorely mistaken about that, and about a lot of things. After a few days have passed, I've been able to look back at the things that should have clued me in that this whole thing was one big mistake.

Clue #1: The "Wellness Clinic" was actually just her house.
Maybe I should've just turned around right then, because there wasn't even a business license on display anywhere, just lots of water features and bamboo plants. And a sign that told me to take my shoes off.

Clue #2: She was mad at me and scolded me repeatedly for arriving fifteen minutes early, even though she had no other clients there at the time.
Her "clinic" was in another town, I didn't know how long it would take me to get there, I expected that I'd have to fill out paperwork, etc, so I planned some extra time. I was only there fifteen minutes early, and she kept saying, "You're not even supposed to BE here yet..." Seriously? There was no one else there! She had more than one room to accommodate clients! But she made comments about how she'd have to put "Mike" in the other room because I wasn't even supposed to BE there. She was saying really snarky things, but she had some kind of accent, either Australian or South African, so everything sounded deceptively nice and sing-songy, but really she was being snippy.

Clue #3: There was no paperwork to fill out, no client history questionnaire, no nothing.
She didn't ask me about what I ate, how sedentary I was, if I consumed more than one jar of peanut butter a week...nothing. No discussion at all. I think she was too pissed at me for arriving early (the horror!) to care at all about my nutritional state.

Clue #4: She insisted on calling me Tara.
Even after I corrected her at least three times. "No, it's Sarah. Sssssssssssssssssssssssssarah." She'd respond with, "Okay, Tara." I mean geeze lady, you're sticking a tube up my butt, the least you can do is get my name right.

Clue #5: She had absolutely no sense of humor.
What a waste, considering her line of work. Since it was clear that she was making no effort to make me feel less awkward, I took it upon myself to try and cut the tension by making jokes. They were not appreciated, because apparently tubes in the butt is "very serious business" and "is not to be mocked at all."

Those things should have clued me in, but I was committed to the experience and I pushed through. Literally. Like when she stood next to me as I was laying there, being filled with water, and she asked me if I felt like I had to go.

Me: Um, yes? But I always feel like I have to go...
Her: Okay, I want you to PUSH IT OUT! PUSH! PUSH! GO GO GO!
Me: You want me to...go? Like, GO go? Right here in front of you?
Me: I don't know if I can do that...

I turned my head to the side as if I was being shamed, and tried to push. I felt like I was pushing, but when you have a tube up your butt, everything just feels wrong. I obviously wasn't doing it right because she huffed impatiently and ROLLED HER EYES. Then she pushed down on my stomach, and I'm really shocked that I didn't have a massive explosion.

Her: Well, you're very full, and you're belly is so distended even when you're not full, so I know you have to go. So, GO!

I glared at her because thanks lady, I KNOW I have a distended belly, that's why I'm here. Then I closed my eyes in shame, and pushed...and I heard a little trickle somewhere off in the distance. It was very faint, and there was an echo; like a garden hose slowly dripping into a big empty rain barrel. And I giggled, which apparently is not acceptable, because she glared at me, and said, "We're just getting a little spurt, and we want it to flow. We want it to flooooooooooow. So, when you feel like you need to go, I want you to GO!"

Again, nothing but a trickle. At which point she sighed again and literally threw her hands up. "Maybe you have a problem going with me in the room, so I'm going to step out."

Yes, lady, I have a very serious "problem" with pushing out my bowels while you stand next to me, yelling at me like a pissed-off cheerleader. Who WOULDN'T have a problem in that situation?

So she left me there in peace, watching a vegan propaganda video about how we should never ever consume any animal products whatsoever. I'll be honest, I didn't put much stock into it because it looked like it was produced in the '70s and all the "doctors" weren't really doctors.

She popped her head in every few minutes to ask, "How's it going, Tara?" and would pop back out without even waiting for me to respond. So that made me feel really special.

I knew exactly when her next client arrived, because they were right outside the door and I could hear every word of their conversation. Which means they could hear everything going on in my room. I had finally gotten into a groove of feeling full, pushing it out, and hearing a satisfying flow go into the mysterious bin (I still have no idea where it was, or what it really was, because everything was behind a curtain. And yes, I tried to look behind the curtain but there was only a sealed tank. It's all a mystery to me.)

I was told that I'd get an hour long session, but after thirty minutes, she came in and announced that I was ready to go off.
Me: Are you sure? Because I still feel pretty full. I think there's still some stuff up there.
Her: No, no, you're done. Just spray yourself off with that nozzle and you can go.

I kind of felt violated and confused about what had just happened. What had just happened? I didn't feel any different, and I didn't even get to see anything that came out, which I was really curious about. It was a total let down.

She ushered me out so quickly that I didn't have a chance to ask her any questions about aftercare (What should I expect over the next few hours? Should I have wrapped my seat in plastic before I drive away?) She said absolutely nothing except "Goodbye", making it very clear that she had no time for questions.

I walked out to her driveway and saw that there was a shiny new Mercedes parked behind me now. I immediately became paranoid about hitting it, and I was so focused on using my side mirrors to back out perfectly straight, that I backed straight into the huge tree that was directly behind me. Right into the huge tree that I would've seen if I'd bothered to even glance in my rear view mirror, instead of depending solely on my side mirrors.

Adding insult to injury, when I hit the tree, my body jolted forward and hit the horn. So I had made it impossible to just quietly hit the tree and sneak off. I cussed loudly, jumped out to check the bumper (scratched but not dented), did a fifty-point turn to get out of the driveway, and burned rubber getting out of there. Humiliating, because I'm sure she just watched the whole thing unfold from her window.

I thought maybe I should've gone in and told her that I backed into her tree, but then I realized, what's she going to do? I can just drive away and she can spend the rest of her life trying to track down Tara.

Good luck with that.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Teach Me How to Bone

A lot of people have asked me how I always seem to get my way when there's something I want. I don't say that in an I'm-a-spoiled-brat kind of way; I say that in an I-fight-for-what-I-want-and-I-usually-win kind of way. Which probably sounds just as bad as being a spoiled brat (or worse) but the facts don't lie: more often than not, I get my way.

I'm here to tell you that you don't have to be a raging bitch to get what you want. You don't even have to fight for what you want, but there are a few tricks I've learned over the years about how to do this, especially when it comes to businesses. I'll use my recent experience with Big-O Tires as an example. Judge me all you want, but this is just how I roll.

1. Boobs have nothing to do with it; neither does being female. In fact, these things usually work against you.
Let's just get this out of the way up front, because it's always the first reaction I get when I recount my latest victory. "Oh it's just because you have boobs." "Oh it's just because you're a girl." No, it's not, because these are the things that people instantly use as an opportunity to take advantage of you. Guys, think what you want, but my experience has been that as soon as I walk into a car dealership, mechanic, or any other predominantly-male environment, I'm viewed as an easy target - until I open my mouth. I do not rely on my chest or gender to get me what I want. Which brings me to point number two.

2. Go in prepared, or at least act like you are.
Knowledge and confidence are the most important things that will work in your favor, especially when dealing with places like mechanics. They are banking on the fact that they know more than you, and that they are the expert. You need to be the expert. Knowing as much as you can about the matter will always give you the upper hand. Wait, scratch that, you don't even need to really know that much, but if you act like you do, it's almost as good. This is where the confidence comes in, because if you act like you know what you're talking about, and if you assert yourself and speak with confidence, it goes a long way.

But it definitely helps to be prepared. Know thy enemy, right? Like when Big-O told me my alignment was off, I jumped on my phone to brush up on the differences between the caster, camber, and toe; because when they threw these big words at me, they were counting on me to be clueless. I quickly became an expert on all things alignment, and I was ready when they came at me.

Let me preface this by saying the only reason I went to a chain like Big-O is because I got a good hook-up when I bought new wheels and tires, and at the time I was told that everything was covered under a full warranty. And they gave me four free snow tires, but that's a whole different story. I don't like to deal with chains - the only reason I go to the Ford dealership is because everything is still under warranty. Otherwise, I avoid the big name shops and prefer to stick to the one-man-bands.

So when I noticed that my right front tire was low, I reluctantly took it to the nearest Big-O, figuring they'd do a standard patch job and I'd be on my way. Boy was I wrong. I'll try my best to make a long story short, so here are the facts as they were presented to me by the manager:

Him: "There's a screw in your tire, but the whole tire needs to be replaced because the tire has separated from the wheel in this one spot, and that's because there's something wrong with your alignment that's causing the tire to wear unevenly. See how your tire is completely bald just on the inside edge just in this four inch strip? So we can order you a new tire, but it's not covered under warranty, and you'll have to pay a prorated amount for the wear you've already put on the tire."

Me: "These tires are supposed to have a full warranty for the life of the tire."

Him: "Yeeeeeeeeeeah, I don't know who told you that, but they were misinformed."

Me, pointing at my warranty documentation: "Well, see, it says right here, there's a full manufacturer's warranty for the life of the tire."

Him: "Yeeeeeeeeeeeeah, but that's only if there's a defect in the tire itself, not if there's a defect with your car."

Me, fighting the urge to respond to the 'your car has a defect' comment: "Well, based on what you're telling me, the tire is wearing only in that one spot because my alignment is off, right? I haven't noticed any pulling in the steering..."

Him: "Yeeeeeeeeeeeeah, um, if the alignment isn't noticeably off, the tire has probably worn down so much because significant mileage has been put on it in while it's been in that position, and you haven't rotated it enough."

Me: "So any tire in that position (the right front) would wear the same way, right?"

Him: "Yeeeeeeeeeeeeah."

Me: "Well that's interesting, because none of my other tires have worn like that, and I just had them rotated 2,000 miles ago, so if the alignment was off by that much, wouldn't the other tires have worn the same way when they were in that position? And based on what you said, the alignment would have to be significantly off for the tire to have become BALD in one FOUR INCH SECTION after less than 2,000 miles right? If the alignment was the problem, wouldn't you have noticed when you rotated my tires? Wouldn't you have noticed if another tire was wearing like that?"

Him: "Ummmmmmmmm..."

Which brings me to my next tactic:

3. Question, question, question until you fully understand.
I was trying to get him to explain it to me like I'm a four-year-old, and so I could then throw it back in his face.

4. Throw it back in their face.
Me: "It sounds to me like this is a defect in the actual tire, not the car, so it should be covered under the manufacturer's warranty."

Him: "Um, you'll have to pay for the wear you've already put on it."

Me: "Yeeeeeeeeah, I'm not going to pay for anything, because it clearly says here that there is a full manufacturer's warranty for the life of the tire."

5. Rinse, restate, rephrase and repeat as long as necessary.
This is when most people give up because they're just tired of dealing with the problem or the person. You have to be willing to either go the distance, or be okay with not getting what you want. Honestly, this is the principle at the heart of Boning someone - I'm never willing to give up and be okay with getting less than what I feel I deserve (or paid for). I will question, debate, repeat and rephrase until I'm blue in the face. This is how I got my car for thousands below MSRP, along with a custom paint job, two custom grilles, an extended warranty, and free oil changes for a year. Not because I yelled and kicked and screamed (that didn't come until later, when they tried to back out of their promises) but because I was willing to sit there and go fifteen rounds with them. And up until this point, I don't even have to raise my voice, bob my head, or jab my finger. However...

#6. When all else fails, don't be afraid to cause a scene.
It doesn't usually come to this, but I have no shame. Because here's the thing: I am fiercely loyal when I'm treated well. I've followed the same one guy from shop to shop for the last ten years because I like the way he deals with me. Wherever he goes, they get my business because he treats me right. But I'm also fiercely vindictive, because if you cross me, I won't just quietly take my business elsewhere. I'll obnoxiously badmouth you as I make a production of taking my business elsewhere.

No place of business, especially a crowded place of business, wants negative attention drawn to them. And Big-O, on a Saturday afternoon with a sitting area full of people is the perfect place to throw a fit if steps #1-#5 didn't get the job done. And no, I'm not above raising my voice, bobbing my head, slamming my hand on the counter, drawing attention to myself - whatever it takes if reason and logic didn't get through the manager's thick skull.

This is how I ended up getting what I wanted, which is two brand new tires (because it's kind of pointless to replace only one). This after I demanded that they test the alignment on my car, which proved to be absolutely fine, which led to him admitting that it was a defect in the tire, and would thus be covered under the manufacturer's warranty. This in turn led me to "suggest" that they adjust my alignment from the preferred manufacturer's settings (normal) to a performance alignment, which will give me better tire tread life as the 'Stang corners like it's on rails. The look on his face was priceless when I explained that I wanted maximum negative camber, maximum positive caster, and preferred toe settings, and that I wanted it for free because of the hour-long hassle they'd put me through. Because then he really knew that I knew what I was talking about, and I meant business.

So, the best advice I can give you when fighting for your cause is to remember G.I. Joe: Knowing is half the battle. The rest is not giving up, and not being afraid to draw a little attention to the situation.

And that's how Bone does it.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

One Year Derbyversary

Today marks exactly one year since I strapped on my gear and skated with the Rockettes for the very first time. I can't believe it's been an entire year, and I can't believe how much my life has changed because of joining the Rockettes.

A year ago, I could barely stand up on skates, let alone take a hit, and forget hitting someone. I couldn't fall properly, which I learned the hard way by falling all. The. Time. I was scared of everything, and was terrified of being a failure.

A year ago, I had a handful of close friends and I'm pretty sure they were all growing weary of my constant neediness. I'd been working three jobs and had no balance in my life - pretty much all I did was work, eat Burger King, and have emotional meltdowns. My poor sister - between trying to make me stop crying, and trying to make her two-year-old daughter stop crying; she had her hands full.

Then all at once, things started to change, and now I know why. I was offered a position at work that allowed me to finally cut back to one job for the first time in years. My previous schedule had me going from a full-time day job straight to a part-time night job Monday - Thursday, and then a different job on the weekends. Suddenly I had all of my nights free and I had no idea what I would do with myself. Then Gina brought up the idea of roller derby, the stars aligned to get me my first pair of incredibly sucky Big-5 skates, and the rest is history.

But it's more than just history. The Rockettes have become such a big part of my life that it's impossible to imagine my life now without them. Learning how to skate and play derby has been one of the most challenging things I've ever done. It has been both the most inflating and the most deflating thing to my ego. There were times when I cried the whole way home after practice, and times when I've wanted to cry out of sheer elation. I wanted to quit more often then I'd like to admit, but every time I go back, I can't imagine ever leaving.

Now I find myself surrounded by friends, and not a day goes by without a chat, text or phone call from at least one derby girl. I found an entire community of people who support, love, and encourage each other. Sure there's drama - good luck getting fifty girls together without there being some kind of drama - but none if it matters in the long run. It's impossible for me to express my thanks to everyone.

To keep this short and sweet, I'll end on this note: there's a popular phrase that says, "Roller derby saved my soul." As nice as that sounds, I don't agree with it; because with all the ups and downs, confidence highs and lows, blood, sweat and tears, it isn't roller derby that saved me - it's the Red Rockettes.