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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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My Cat

My cat recently underwent pretty serious surgery. It was serious enough that my vet was not comfortable doing it himself, and he referred her to a specialist. After extensive blood work, tissue samples, diagnostic scans, x-rays, and mucous cultures, it was decided that she had a giant tumor in her head that needed to be removed.

The surgeon opened her up by slicing open her neck and going in from the bottom of the skull. There was no tumor. Instead, it turned out that my cat’s middle and inner ear were no longer, and were replaced with a massive infection that was about to burst. So, the surgical procedure was not at all what was planned, but it was extremely timely. I’m thankful for that since it was preposterously expensive and extremely dangerous. Out came my cat’s entire inner and middle ear, and a bunch of skull and tissue that had become infected nearby.

Given the circumstances, she’s doing pretty well. She has a permanent tube installed for drainage now, and while she is suffering from neurological trauma, the hope is that she will see a relatively positive outcome in the long rung. In the short term she’s on a heavy course of antibiotics to clear up two infections; one a tenacious pseudomonas infection, and the other an opportunistic rider as of yet unidentified. She’ll never experience hearing on the right side again, if she was even experiencing it prior to the surgery in the first place. She’s never liked blood being drawn from her ears (different disease, another day); maybe it has something to do with this.

So, I had to leave work early Monday night to visit her for the first time since her procedure; she’d just had her IV and catheter removed, and she was groggy and pretty cranky, but she was my cat, and doing better. She made herself at home inside the litter box in the hospital cage, which while somewhat disconcerting, allowed her support and the ability to stay somewhat upright.

In any event, this isn’t a bid for sympathy, but I use it as the first of several prefaces to give frame for my mental state in what’s going to amount to a rather rambling and unfocused diatribe.

Broken Washer

So, I’m doing some laundry Monday night, after hanging out with my cat for a little while. I was about to get something to drink when I noticed that the kitchen was flooded. The washing machine was draining all of its water during the spin cycle onto the kitchen floor.

This has happened before. I live in a really shitty apartment complex that is poorly maintained, supported, and constructed. I’ll tell you how I really feel later. In any event, this happened before and filled my kitchen, creating a small lake. I mopped it up as best as I could that time, called the emergency line, and somebody showed up an hour or so later. Having worked frantically to mop all of the water up, and given a lot of time, it didn’t look too serious anymore, and the maintenance guy agreed to fix it the next day.

The next day I got home at 6 or so, and the maintenance guys were just getting started. Seriously? But, okay, they were working on it. They found a hose that had come loose, re-attached it, and all was well.

Until this Monday, that is, when the same hose came loose. Obviously, one should fix it correctly the first time. That’s asking a lot, though, when you live in something that’s somewhere below an Avalon on the steaming pile of shit scale.

So, having been through this once, I mopped up the water and didn’t bother calling the emergency line, since they sure as hell weren’t going to do anything about it tonight. I didn’t bother filing an electronic service request, because I’ve discovered in the past that those are just completely ignored. Instead, I called the leasing office, and talked to Janice, just after nine. Janice is not the individual’s real name. Janice is perhaps 34 or so in line of people that have worked in the leasing office since I first got this apartment 2.5 years ago. Leasing office turnover is a good sign of how much an apartment complex sucks, I think.

Anyhow, I tell Janice that my washing machine is dumping all of its water on the kitchen floor, that this has happened before, and I would like it fixed. She rushes me off the phone, and all is well, I assume.

All is not well when I got home Monday night, after visiting with my cat. The washer is still broken, and my apartment has obviously not been visited. I storm down to the leasing office and throw a fit. Janice says she filed the ticket, and I find the property manager, Wallace (also not his real name). I ask Wallace when my issue will be fixed, and I’m told “by tomorrow.”

Okay, fine, they fucked up, and I’ve got soaking clothes and a swamp in my kitchen, but it’s going to be dealt with. I can deal with “we fucked up, we’ll fix it.”

The Turn

Of course, I don’t trust people, so I went and checked the online service ticketing system, only to discover that my service request was entered as:

Washing machine is draining into the sink.




I take this opportunity, as it is now after hours, to directly write my property manager and service manager and explain that my washing machine is not draining into the sink. I politely go on to explain the situation, how it’s happened before, and how Janice should be the newest in the long string of attrition in our leasing office.

Anyhow, I picked up my cat (she’ll be more comfortable at home, and I can just bring her by between 5 and 6 (ugh) each day for injections), got home just before the leasing office closed, and discovered what you’d expect — nothing has changed.

Down in the leasing office, I walked up to Janice’s desk and said “my washing machine is still not fixed.”

After some uncomfortable time passed while she stared at me nonplussed, she said “you have a ticket filed?”

“Yes, I filed it yesterday, and confirmed with you and Wallace both last night that it would be fixed by today.”

She rolled her eyes and then asked me who I talked to yesterday morning to file the ticket?

“I talked to Janice. She entered the ticket incorrectly.”

“That’s me.”

“Oh, I realize this.”

“The system forced me to enter it that way.”

“No, it didn’t, I’ve used it before.”

Yeah, it was an awkward moment. For many reasons.

The point of this is that when you completely fuck up at service, just own up to it. Fix it. But don’t plead either ignorance or abdicate your responsibility. It makes you less than worthless.

Jance stared helplessly at her colleague, who mouthed a “yeah, I don’t know what the fuck to do either” until finally her colleague recovered enough from her paralysis to radio the service manager.

Things Get Better

An hour later the service manager made it to my apartment, opened up my washer, and agreed that his previous fix didn’t work. He disappeared for another hour, during which it turns out he ran to the hardware store and bought a part to fix it.

I really appreciate him going above and beyond to do this. It was well after hours (approaching 8) by the time my washer was fixed, and he all but promised “I’m sure I’ll be in here to fix something else soon, but it damn well won’t be this washer.” I like the guy’s spirit. Now, why he didn’t come by sooner? “I checked it yesterday, it just said your washer was draining into the sink, which isn’t a big deal, never mind that it doesn’t even make any sense.”

Yeah, I know.

Bar Rosso

So, anyhow, that brings us to tonight’s dinner. Because of how long it took to resolve the service request, I couldn’t make it to my regularly scheduled beer and pizza dinner. In a sour mood and not feeling like cooking, we walked to Bar Rosso, the newest creation from the Napa & Co folks. I was intrigued by the idea of a somewhat cheaper Napa & Co experience that was focused on Italian cuisine (which is at least ubiquitous in its mediocrity, and a great opportunity to surprise given only minimal effort) and wine.

It was easy to get a table, we were seated upstairs immediately. It was loud, though not as deafening as the ground floor. The restaurant is very open and full of hard reflective surfaces. Don’t even bother if you want to have a quiet romantic conversation.

We were immediately asked for our water choice, our water glasses were filled, and drinks were offered. We ordered two cocktails and our waiter disappeared. Five minutes later another waiter appeared and asked if we’d had a chance to look at the menu or if we had any questions. Completely confused by what was obviously a case of two waiters trying to serve one table without any communication, I stood mute and dumbstruck, and the second waiter offered to come back in a couple of minutes to take our order.

The second waiter never returned to the table, the first waiter arrived about ten minutes later with our drink order, and promptly disappeared. Long before this, four small chunks of foccacia and some olive oil showed up and were consumed. The bread and oil were both good. The drinks were good, but not great. Ambitious on the menu, they were somewhat bland in the glass and the preparation was not particularly attractive or inventive.

We must have sat there another 15 minutes working on our cocktails, clearly staring up at the sky and waiting to place our orders. Several tables around us were visited by both of our waiters.

Alas, things eventually got ordered, and the appetizer showed up in reasonable time. We selected prosciutto, speck, and house-made mozzarella. All were quite good, though the ounce or so of mozzarella was insultingly small, house-made artisan effort or not.

Our silverware and plates were cleared in a timely fashion, by which I mean the used silverware was actually taken, and new silverware was provided. Dirty retained utensils being one of my pet peeves; Bar Rosso definitely got a gold star on this point.

I don’t know how long we waited after this point. 25 minutes, maybe? The couple that was adjacent to us and that ordered comparable fare (charcuterie at first and then pizza) was served far earlier than us. To his credit, our waiter showed up about 15 minutes after my cocktail was empty and asked if I’d like something else. I asked for a medium to full-bodied old-world red that was dry and high in acid. I ended up with a Sicilian Syrah, which was a decent attempt, if a little flabby and low in acidity in this particular specimen.

On the upside, Bar Rosso has numerous glasses of wine by the glass. Most are young and inexpensive. They also have a good selection of inexpensive bottles that aren’t bland and ubiquitous. I get the impression that they’ve put a lot of attention into curating their wine list.

The pizzas were a mixed bag. The crust was pretty damn good in both flavor and texture. The toppings were a miss. Sausage, broccoli, and hot oil came white and tasted like something was missing. What should have been a very flavorful and typical combination of ingredients turned out bland and anonymous. Meatballs and roasted peppers seemed interesting at first; the roasted peppers tasted strongly of chocolate and rich earthy peppery (surprise surprise) notes. The meatballs were delicate and lovely. Together on a pizza the end result tasted like … roasted peppers. A better effort than the first pizza, but still didn’t have much to say for itself other than its texture.

Long after finishing our waiter attempted to avoid the table intimating we were still working on the pizza. I’d obviously moved my excess slices to the other and we were doing our best to mime our boredom at staring at the long-cold slices in front of us. We asked for a box (humorously, their pizza to-go box is an inverted pizza to go box to try to hide the kitchy illustrations; as a result of inverting it, it doesn’t fit together well and is rather awkward) and I asked to try a sample of their cherry bitters.

The bitters tasted roughly like spiced Luxardo — not bad, honestly, and at $4 a reasonable treat. Prior to tip, the total was under a hundred bucks.

I’m glad I tried Bar Rosso, but I wouldn’t return for dinner. Maybe I’d come back just for drinks (wine, preferably, since it’s pretty simple service-wise) or to pound back a few bottles with friends with some appetizers. It should be a somewhat quieter retreat from Capricio once they finish their outdoor terrace on Spring street. In the end, it’s an overly conceptual experience that’s a bit overpriced (though not as offensively as Napa & Co), comes with shitty service (just like Napa), and does nothing well enough to recommend it. Worth it if you’re feeling the wine bar and overpriced Italian mediocrity thing, but don’t bother otherwise.