Friday, March 30, 2007

It's Friday Night!

Just got paid, party hopping, feeling great. I think those are the lyrics. Either way I’m actually sitting on my couch this Friday night excited to be home and relaxing. I’ve had an extremely busy week and now I’m catching up on Tivo’d L&O’s and Oprah’s. It was such a nice day outside I decided to head home at 4:30 to begin my weekend and apparently everyone in the DC metro area made the same decision because it took me over an hour to get home when it usually takes me about 40 minutes.

Spring is HERE and you have no idea how excited I am about it. I got home, took the grill cover off the grill, cleaned it and grilled a piece of steak for the warm steak salad recipe the Creole Princess posted on her site a few weeks ago. Delicious and good for you too.

In the next few weeks I’ll slowly start planting herbs and flowers in my lil’ garden. In the next two weeks I’ll remove the covering off the outdoor furniture and relax outside while reading the Sunday paper.

Aren’t you glad spring is here?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fake ID

Sunday evening I took two girlfriends who are moving out of town to dinner to congratulate them since I’d missed the group festivities that occurred during the weekend. We decided on a Tex-Mex place that was near our respective homes because the weather was nice and they had a great large outdoor patio section. Unfortunately by the time we were ready for dinner it was too cold to eat outside so we settled inside and ordered drinks. I ordered a Margarita on the rocks and when the waitress asked for my ID, I was flattered and my friends thought it was kind of cool that folks still checked my ID. The woman took my license and examined it for several moments before looking at my other two friends who although black looked nothing like me before giving me a puzzled look.

“It’s me”, I said “with a different hairstyle”

Still she gave me a puzzled look and then I handed to her a credit card with my picture on it.

“You look different in this one too” she said.

“Well it’s me” I responded.

She walked off to I assume put in our drink orders and my friends and I cracked up about how she examined my driver’s license and how stupid she seemed since I was clearly over 21 even if I do look younger then my 32 years. I was slightly insulted that she’d think I’d give her a fake ID since I never resulted to those tactics when I was under 21 but I was more amused by her dumbness. My friends thought I’d handled the situation well although they admit that they would have been pissed and we change the subject.

Five minutes later a new waiter approaches our tables and asks if we’ve already ordered drinks. After we tell him we have he then asks me for my ID again. I think I saw red, I was pissed and while bitching and moaning pulled out every piece of ID I had with a picture of myself on it including my Carolina ID with my 1992 picture. I asked to see the manager and relayed how pissed I was that they’d think I’d give them a fake ID for a freaking Margarita on a Sunday evening. WTF!

I told the manager that I was insulted and although he explained that he wanted his staff to check ID (they didn’t check my friend’s ID for her glass of wine) I was insulted that they’d think I was giving them a fake one. I reminded him that black women often change their hair style and they’d better get used to it because I may return the next week with a different hair style but the same dammed driver’s license picture. I was trying not to come off as crazed angry patron and accepted my margarita and shut up. The manager did end up taking our order because I think he could tell that we wouldn’t have welcomed our original waitress to our table. One of my friend who was with me did mention that that particular waitress was a bit rude at times but I can’t fathom what in my opinion was an idiotic move since everything I showed them including my license has my name on it. With the new tamper proof licenses who has a fake ID with their real name on it?

I discussed this with a friend who said she would never return to that restaurant and although I would tend to agree a part of me wants to return and see if they’d try the same shyt with me again. I don’t believe it was an entirely racial incident but I do feel it showed the un sophistication of a restaurant owner/manager and his staff in a diverse city and neighborhood.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Almost Healed

A year ago I woke up and realized that I’d bumped my head and accumulated a credit card bill that I couldn’t pay in full at the end of the month or the next year. I felt like I was drowning and whenever I’d pay the monthly bill, half of what I paid was added back onto the total in interest charges. Looking back I can’t tell you exactly what I’d charged that accumulated into a pool of credit card debt. I do know that it wasn’t a car (still driving the silver bullet) or a bunch of fancy clothes. I do remember that some of the charges stemmed from a pricey and unexpected car repair bill, an airline ticket or two that I’d sworn I’d pay off with the next check but then needed the cash for something else. Numerous trips to Costco and who knows what else.

I remember telling a friend that I was working on getting out of credit card debt and she was shocked that I even owed more then $10 on my credit cards. I’m known as the frugal one, the one who has nice things but nothing too flashy, I usually don’t get on the new electronic gadget bandwagon until after some time has gone by and the prices have lowered. I was the one who graduated from college with only school loans and a $100 credit card bill. What happened in the 10 years to get me to where I was this time last year? I wasn’t vigilant, I wasn’t paying attention to my spending habits or I should say I chose to ignore what was happening and kept right on spending. Ever since I received my first credit card almost 14 years ago I’ve fought the battle of not using it unless I could pay it off in full. I usually win and can say in those 14 years I’ve really lost my head three times where it took me more then a year to pay it off but that was three times to many.

I’m constantly fighting a money management battle. I’ve had two examples growing up, my mom who is extremely fiscally responsible and my dad who is the exact opposite. That man has champagne tastes with a beer budget. I’d say I fall in the middle. When I was saving up for my house I cut a lot of unnecessary expenses out and put myself on a strict allowance so I know I can do it. It was just an extremely painful process and I am struggling to find a happy medium. About a year ago a friend introduced me to her financial planner and although I was skeptical about spending money to hire someone to do what I figure wasn’t rocket science I knew I needed help. I was tired of drowning and the vicious cycle hasn’t helped me build the kind of wealth I’d like to have “just in case”.

In a week and a half I will be completely debt free! Writing down the debt per credit card in a notebook made it real and crossing off cards that were paid off has been an extremely liberating experience. I’ve put myself back on an allowance and am looking forward to watching the numbers grow in my savings account. I have two vacations planned for this year and it’s going to feel amazing to use “cash” to pay for everything. It feels great to get back on track and I’m taking steps to make sure I can’t get myself into this situation again.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

On the Road Again

I’m on the road again for work after being home for about three weeks. To say I wasn’t looking forward to this trip is an understatement. First there are so many issues with this project I don’t know where to begin. Some of them are beyond our control but there are many that are within our control which is why I’m here. I’m supposed to fix everything during my two weeks here but since I don’t have magical powers or even a magic wand I’m not sure how much I can move things forward since a lot of the issues are personality driven.

I fly a lot and spend a lot of time sitting in the cattle car, otherwise known as economy class on long haul trips. I usually fly United and have enough miles that I can sit in that premium section of economy with the extra leg room. I know it’s not much but when you’re in economy you often end up with the person in front of you putting their seat so low that it’s in your face. Only problem with the premium section of economy is that it’s near business class and I have to sit and watch them get all the preferential treatment. I’ve also flown business a few times so I’ve had a taste for the good life. Forgive me guys, I’m just bitching and moaning because I could use my miles and upgrade but I’d rather save them to fly free around the country. I’ve gotten over it. Because my approval came at the last minute I wasn’t able to fly my usual route with United and ended up on a Virgin Atlantic flight to London.

As for the economy section I was not impressed. In fact after hearing so much great stuff about Virgin it was disappointing. Sure the Single beds they have in “upper class” looked great but I ride in the cattle car and they’re giving you a place to sit still for 8 to 10 hours and a bite to eat, yet I continue to expect more and am disappointed every time. The trend in the industry seems to be moving toward less passenger services and higher prices so I should know better. So far I’ve flown economy on United, American Airlines, Delta, US Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Virgin Atlantic, Macedonian Airlines, Austrian Air, BMED (a subsidiary of British Airways). My favorite so far in terms of service and amenities (i.e; quality of food and drink) has been BMED. Those of you who travel frequently what are your favorite airlines and why?

Apparently I'm not the only one concerned check out this article