A Southern Lunch at Work

Today everyone in the University Communication office at CCU was treated to a wonderful treat for lunch. To coincide with our Vice President releasing the Communication and Marketing Strategic Plan, my co-workers and I were invited to pick up a copy of the report and then indulge in a truly Southern lunch.

Our Director of News and Public Affairs, Martha Hunn, completely outdid herself and prepared a feast consisting of chicken bog, sweet potatoes, collared greens, and cornbread. When I say feast I mean it in every sense of the word. Martha made enough food to feed probably the whole university rather than just a single department. Well, perhaps I shouldn’t have put “probably” in that last sentence because it is a fact. As the lunch started to wind down we had numerous people from different departments come in to fill up a plate with some warm food. By the time they had all dished up we still had leftovers left!

Now I know the question on most of your minds right now is “What is chicken bog?” Great question! To tell you the truth, I had no idea in the world what it was until I went for my onsite interview at CCU in March. No other than Martha told me about the magical combination of ingredients while we ate lunch that day. When I was hired and arrived on campus I kept expressing to her how much I wanted to try chicken bog. She continually assured me that she would make some for me and today was the day.

This is the big batch of Chicken Bog that Martha made today.

This is the big batch of Chicken Bog that Martha made today.

Chicken bog is a rice dish mixed with chicken, sausage, and spices. It is not just a Southern dish but a South Carolina dish. If you talk to Martha she will tell you exactly how it should be prepared. The chicken needs to be cooked a certain way and for a certain time before you add your rice. Not all “bogs” are created equal…except for people like me. My eyes light up when I hear about a dish that combines chicken, sausage, and rice so you can bet I will scarf down any version that ends up in front of me.

Take a look at this amazing spread!

Take a look at this amazing spread!

I enjoyed the cornbread and the collared greens (first time ever having them) but I was blown away by the sweet potatoes and chicken bog. The potatoes had a sweet pecan top layer that tasted like candy and gave new meaning to “sweet” potatoes. The smooth and flavorful potatoes would have tasted just splendidly without the pecan layer but the combination of those two things made for a dynamite dish.

This is the plate (or should I say plates?) that I dished up for myself.

This is the plate (or should I say plates?) that I dished up for myself.

The chicken bog proved to be everything and more that I had anticipated over the past several months. For such a seemingly simple dish it tasted so good. In the past I have had jambalaya and I would say that the taste was similar. But the jambalaya was nowhere near the quality of Martha’s chicken bog. It had such a perfect consistency and a taste that wasn’t overpowering yet pleasant in a way that you kept wanting to take bite after bite.

I am happy to say that I will be able to take bite after bite for a little while longer. I was fortunate enough to take home a plate. I am already looking forward to eating it. All I can say is that I hope we start releasing strategic plans more often than once a year. Don’t Blink.

Don’t Ever Call Me This + 4

Today is the day I work extra hard and blog about five topics instead of one. Actually, I honestly save time writing briefly about five topics instead of an expanded commentary on just one. You know how I make these multi-topic blog posts even shorter? I barely say anything in the introductory paragraph. Let’s get to the content!

CCU Now a Pepsi Campus - Last week Coastal Carolina University officially became a Pepsi campus. Coca-Cola machines were taken out and replaced by blue machines carrying the flagship drink, Mt. Dew, Sierra Mist, Dr. Pepper, and the other regulars on the Pepsi lineup. You might think a beverage provider is not a big deal but let me tell you…it is! On the first day of the change I asked our social media audience what their favorite Pepsi product was and the response rate was crazy. Of course we just didn’t find out about their favorite Pepsi drink, we found out about their opinion on the beverage provider switch in general. The verdict? CCU is very happy to have Pepsi on campus. Personally I am too, I have always preferred Pepsi over Coke.

One of our new Pepsi machines on campus. This one can be found in  the building I work in.

One of our new Pepsi machines on campus. This one can be found in the building I work in.

Peanut Butter Pie - Last Thursday, Sidney brought over a homemade peanut butter pie for me. She handed me the pie and it seemed like it weighed ten pounds. Made with peanut butter, cream cheese, whipped cream, butter, and Oreos (for the crust) it tasted like absolute heaven. She warned me to just take a little sliver of a piece because of its richness but I couldn’t help but get more after that initial piece. One week later and I am proud to say that I still have some left. I wish I could serve all of you a piece so you could taste something really amazing (and definitely NOT low-fat)!

It has been a whole week and I am pleased to report that I still have some pie left!

It has been a whole week and I am pleased to report that I still have some pie left!

Heaven is for Real - On Tuesday night I watched “Heaven is for Real.” The movie deals with a young boy who has a near-death experience and visits Heaven. When he returns his family struggles with telling the story to others, especially the dad’s church where he serves as the pastor. The movie is based on a true story.

I personally thought the movie was okay. I wish it dealt more with the actual near-death experience itself rather than the fallout it caused the dad with his church. I was looking for more images of Heaven and more details of his visit. I am fascinated by NDEs, as I wrote about two years ago, so I am a little surprised it took me this long to finally watch this movie.

Managing Digital Assets Upon Death - The other day I read an article about the trouble that occurs when a person dies with a large online presence but no direction in his/her will about what to do with the inventory. E-mail accounts, websites, blogs, social media, etc. still exist when someone passes on. For several years now I have been adamant that if I bit the dust I would want my social media accounts deleted. I find it a little creepy seeing a Facebook page of a deceased user. Obviously that person can’t respond to posts, can’t do anything if the wall is taken over by spam, and is powerless if the account ever got into the wrong hands and someone started to post on behalf of the dead person…talk about an upsetting issue. I would like my blog to live on in cyberspace and I could care less about what happens to my e-mail accounts. But it is important to have directions laid out for when the time does come.

Don’t Call Me That, Bro - If there is one thing I despise getting called it is “bro.” You know the context I am referring to, right? The type of vernacular where it is tacked on to the very end of a sentence such as “You mad, bro?” You will find many people who will use it constantly and without any regard to who they are talking to. I have heard individuals refer to females and their parents as “bro.” It makes me feel disrespected enough getting referred to in that way, I can’t imagine how girls and dads feel. It just sounds so uneducated and trashy. Please don’t call me bro.

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Can’t wait for work tomorrow! My office is getting treated to a full out Southern meal with a very unique main course. I hope to write about it this weekend. Stay tuned for that and have a wonderful night. Don’t Blink.

The Pros and Cons of Renting from Redbox

This evening after work I stopped midway between campus and home at a CVS to drop off my Redbox disc. This specific location has almost turned into a routine stop for me as I rent a movie sometimes four times a week. Anyway, I got out of my car as the rain poured but the sun shined. I approached the kiosk and tried to quickly return the movie. Not happening. The rain had drenched the screen and taken away all the sensitivity of the touch system. It was impossible for me to select the “return” command and give back my disc.

Slightly annoyed I hopped back in my car and closer to my apartment complex I turned into another CVS. As I pulled up to the kiosk I saw the typed out sign that identified the machine as out of order. With the next Redbox kiosk out of my way at a Piggly Wiggly location I told myself I would just eat the nightly late fee and return home.

This little episode definitely irked me a little bit but it did give me this idea for a blog post. Like I said, I go to Redboxes multiple times during the week. Because of this, I think of myself as a Redbox snob. I think I have put much more thought into the system than the average person. Tonight I share these thoughts via Don’t Blink. Here are my pros and cons about Redbox:

PROS:

Cheap - Renting a Redbox provides cheap entertainment. For only $1.20 or $1.30 you can buy yourself a couple hours of relaxation inside the comfort of your own home.

Fast - The whole process of renting a movie from a Redbox kiosk is quick and painless. You simply approach a station and make a decision. You don’t need to worry about walking around a store, searching for a title, or dealing with employees.

Easy to Return - The beauty of Redbox is that you can return a movie to any kiosk, not just the one you originally rented from. This offers so much leverage and convenience. On a Sunday evening I might be at a supermarket that has a Redbox kiosk but is way out of the way from my work commute. No worries. I have the luxury of renting the movie there and then returning it at a different kiosk at an entirely different business on my way home from work the next day.

Great Social Media Team - The other day I took a photo of a BLUE Redbox inside of a Wal-Mart. I threw up the image on Instagram and said something about Redboxes turning into Blueboxes. Within just a couple minutes the Redbox Instagram account responded! Saying that there was no reason for alarm as it was just a cool way to give a nod to its corporate partner, the account assured me that most kiosks would remain red. I loved the timely and informative social media response.

Redbox quickly responded to my Instagram post.

Redbox quickly responded to my Instagram post.

CONS:

Pressure to Make a Decision - Nothing is worse than walking up to a Redbox kiosk and right when you click the “Rent Movie” prompt you sense someone waiting behind you. It is no fun making a decision on a movie when you know someone is breathing down your back. It causes anxiety and hasty decision-making.

Swipe Mania - More than once in my Redbox renting career I have swiped by debit card about 253 different times before my info was read. I would swipe up and I would swipe down to no avail until finally it registered and my movie popped out.

Finger and Screen Not Synched - Sometimes, like today, my finger swipes don’t register or line up with the Redbox commands. I tried over and over to activate the “Return Movie” command early this evening but it wasn’t meant to be. The wet screen couldn’t feel the touch of my finger. However, dry screens give me this problem at times too. I will want to check out but the screen is so out of sync that I will have to press in and around the command countless times before finally touching the sweet spot that will let me pay.

Deception About New Releases - I love renting movies that I don’t know much about. If I highlight a certain selection and the first two sentences of the summary draw me in I will rent it. However, this has caused me trouble in the past. I always assume that the movies offered under “new releases” are in fact new releases. They aren’t. More than once I have selected a movie, returned home, and upon putting the movie in my DVD player I discover that the film is 15 years old. What is that film doing inside the Redbox in the first place? So random.

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So I think that should just about do it for my analysis of Redbox. Definitely a subject worthy of a 800+ word blog post, right? Enjoy your future Redbox renting, just please don’t visit the one I am at. I hate people standing behind me. Don’t Blink.

Using Charity as a Front

I have the utmost respect for charities, the people who run them, and the people of the community who generously raise money to give to them. Establishing funding for the folks and the causes that need it the most in society is a very important endeavor. It goes right to the heart of the age-old words that tell all of us to “serve the least of these.” So please excuse me if I politely disagree with the people who use the charity front to not really serve the downtrodden but rather to serve themselves.

Take for a quick example Lebron James. Four years ago he staged the most self-centered television special in history, The Decision. Everything leading up to the egofest and everything during the catastrophic special itself oozed of arrogance and superiority. However, in a failed attempt to try to spin what he was really doing and salvage his reputation he claimed that he was doing the show for charity. ESPN allowed the Lebron Camp to sell commercial spots during the special and some of those proceeds (as far as we know) went to a single charity of Lebron’s choice. What King James did was never once in the name of good will toward others.

But very recently two fresh examples have come up, coincidentally both in athletics as well.

My new hometown has a Minor League Baseball team (Single A) called the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. I have gone to a couple games and have had a splendid time, the organization does a great job. But I am skeptical of a stunt the general manager has planned for Thursday night. At the end of last week the front office challenged the GM to get a prostate exam during the seventh inning stretch of Thursday night’s game while singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” if something specific happened: The Facebook page of a young child battling brain cancer had to reach 10,000 likes. The hope was that increased Facebook likes would result in more donations for her care.

Of course such an outlandish proposition garnered national media attention and the Facebook page already has well over 10,000 likes. The GM will get a prostate exam on Thursday night. My problem? For one, the whole exam during the seventh inning is down right crude. Secondly, the effort seems much more focused on the Pelicans and the GM rather than the poor kid battling a terrible disease. Don’t get me wrong, I love what the Pelicans’ organization does as a whole but I think they could have obtained 10,000 likes for the Facebook page through different means.

(Side Note: I am all for doing outlandish, non-crude things to shamelessly promote yourself but you have to be honest about it. You need to admit that you are in it for yourself and you must not use a charity to try to put a different spin on it. I wrote about a glorious example of self-promotion eight months ago).

The second example comes from the NFL world. Chris Kluwe was a punter for the Minnesota Vikings. He ended up getting cut. Not going down without a fight, Kluwe accused the Vikings of discrimination because of his views on same-sex marriage and gay rights. The Vikings took the allegations seriously and launched an investigation. They issued a report, suspended a coach, and made a $10,000 donation to a LGBT charity. They did this even when most believed that the punter was cut for his playing performance rather than his views.

However the concessions didn’t satisfy Kluwe, who has enjoyed great publicity over the last months. Seeking to further his time in the spotlight he has filed a 10 million dollar lawsuit against the Vikings. He has stated that he will donate the money to LGBT charities. Come on. If you have followed this saga you know it is not about gay rights and it is not about charity…it is about Chris Kluwe. He will do anything to drag this episode on to maximize his time on the pedestal, even if it means trying to act like he is doing it for a noble cause.

We just need to be true with ourselves and others. If we are genuinely doing something for a charity that is cool but if we are using one to try to make our self-initiatives look better we need to re-evaluate. If you think about it, most people who contribute to charities want to keep it low key to begin with. Don’t Blink.

Great Way to Pack Your Bar

In my effort to frequent pretty much every restaurant in Myrtle Beach I found myself in a unique spot with an even more unique promotion. Off Socastee Blvd. there is a dusty place in a mini strip mall with a couple other businesses. Called the Sun-Up Sports Pub & Grill it is your quintessential dive with greasy food and cold drinks. From what I could tell it has its regulars and most likely the place had not been updated in years.

Sidney and I recently visited this establishment for the first time. We sat down and played a trivia game against each other. We finished our trivia contest (in a game where you can easily rack up 13,000 points Sidney beat me by the smallest of margins…ONE POINT) and asked for our tab. With the check came four little raffle tickets. The bartender explained that the raffle tickets corresponded to the couple rounds we ordered. For each drink purchased, she explained, you receive one ticket. You then write your name on it, give it back to the bartender, and it is placed in a pot.

Here comes the interesting part. Tickets are gathered all week long and then on Thursday at 8 p.m. there is a big drawing. A Sun-Up employee reaches into the pot and grabs a ticket and announces the name to the whole place. If the person is present at the time of his or her name being called then the lucky customer receives a cool $500 cash prize. If the person is not present then the Sun-Up doesn’t have to worry about paying out five Benjamins.

The bartender proudly stated that this little charade packs the place on Thursday nights. She also said that about half the time the person is actually present who has his/her name drawn. Of course numbers rushed through my head. Even if they paid out the $500 every single week the Sun-Up would still most likely be bringing in a decent profit each Thursday night with a crowded bar. Heck, chances are the winner would probably be giving most of the money back to the place anyway by purchasing celebratory drinks and shots for everyone else. However, on the nights where a winner isn’t present the Sun-Up gets to take full advantage of a packed place without losing a dime. Even if you pay out or don’t the joint still gets the valuable opportunity to make a favorable impression on customers and increase the chances that they will come back through the doors down the road.

I love something as straight forward and enticing as this. You won’t see me rushing down on Thursday nights (I get up early on Friday) but I know a lot of people who would, even with only one ticket in the probably bottomless pot. In my opinion this a great example of a business doing something innovative to stand out among all the other similar establishments. Well done. Don’t Blink.

Watching “The Purge: Anarchy” With Idiots

On Friday Sidney and I went to the midnight showing of “The Purge: Anarchy” at the Broadway at the Beach movie theater. Before I talk about a certain issue in our theater let me first briefly discuss the film.

To those not in the know, “The Purge: Anarchy” is the sequel to “The Purge.” These movies depict a future America with a new government that sanctions one night each year where murder is legal. It is basically the biggest “holiday” on the calendar and is credited for bringing crime to an all-time historical low in the country. Although the second Purge movie is a sequel, nothing other than the concept of the Purge night is related to the first one.

I enjoyed the film on Friday. It is definitely not for everyone though. I get a rush out of the spooky/odd images, I find the concept of the Purge fascinating, and I am intrigued by the social economics of such an event. The second film dives much more into the class system and the resulting negative ramifications that the Purge creates. The second film also packs a lot of action, twists and turns, and jump out of your seat type moments. Though you don’t necessarily need to get your butt to the theater and watch this film ASAP I would say that if you liked “The Purge” you will definitely like “The Purge: Anarchy.”

Our movie tickets for "The Purge: Anarchy" on Friday night.

Our movie tickets for “The Purge: Anarchy” on Friday night.

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On to the issue I mentioned above. I can usually effectively block things out that might hinder my enjoyment of something and I think that is why I still enjoyed myself on Friday night. You see, I had never watched a movie with a ruder audience than the one I found myself sitting with during “The Purge: Anarchy.” From the start of the previews to the end credits it was as if everyone thought the audience was there to hear their special commentary rather than watch the featured film.

You can chalk some of it up to us watching a movie at midnight at a theater in a district of Myrtle Beach that is home to the coolest bars and clubs in town. Judging by the antics of most people around us, they more than likely had a few strong ones before entering the theater. But I am not about to excuse the behavior all on the possibility of alcohol and who knows what else. Rather, I think just a lot of immaturity, heightened sense of self, and lack of courtesy contributed mightily to the amateur comedy hour.

People all around us yelled, heckled, and laughed (it was a thriller/horror movie) the whole time. If they had something to say instead of just bothering the person next to them they decided to announce it to the whole auditorium. Besides other things, right off the top of my head I recall people hollering “Kill that B@#$% too,” “SHOOT HIM UP,” and “That dumb@$$ deserves to die!” Like I said, these comments never let up. I will give it to a very select few in the audience, their comments were witty, almost as if they had already seen the movie beforehand and then wrote jokes for their return trip to the midnight showing. However, I don’t care if what they have to say is Jimmy Kimmel type material, I don’t want audience participation during my movie.

I won’t get too worked up about this though. Very rarely does this happen when I venture to the theater. In fact, I guess every once in a blue moon you should expect a bad crowd when going to the movies. I mean l have to be honest, I have sat with bad crowds at sporting events, public ceremonies, and even church. It is just something that you have to block out when faced with. No more midnight movies for me. Don’t Blink.

Alphabetical Order

As per Thursday tradition on Don’t Blink it is time for the five topic scramble. But let’s bring some order to today’s edition and go in alphabetical order. Sound good?

Baltimore - I have my next (planned) trip locked up. Over the first weekend of August Sidney and I will be traveling north to Baltimore, Maryland. What will we be doing there? Baseball of course! We have purchased tickets to watch the Baltimore Orioles play a couple games. Ever since I became a baseball fan I have desperately wanted to see a game inside Camden Yards and in a couple weeks that wish will become a reality. I can’t wait to catch some action inside the ballpark that inspired the building of all the other modern day ballparks. Making the trip that much sweeter is who I get to see the Orioles play. For the first time ever I will have the opportunity to watch the Seattle Mariners in person in a ballpark other than the Kingdome or Safeco Field. Yes, I do plan on wearing Mariners gear to at least the first game.

Bowling - You know what I just realized? Since arriving in South Carolina I have not yet bowled. I guess all the miniature golfing has kind of filled the void. But really, I need to hit an alley soon and show off my famous 50 MPH straight line throw that has steadily gotten me low scores and weird looks for the past 15 years. I can put up with the embarrassment though just because I am curious to see what a Myrtle Beach bowling alley looks like. I am thinking that behind the pins there might be an ocean backdrop, the player tables might be beach chairs in real sand, and the music played is stuck on a Beach Boys loop.

CCUSA - We are now 13 states in on our CCUSA campaign where each day we feature a Coastal Carolina supporter waving a Chanticleer flag in a different state. So far so good! The photos we received have gone above and beyond. Today we featured Illinois and the rep had taken a picture with an Abraham Lincoln statue and a Stephen Douglas statue that commemorated their famous debates. A couple days ago it was Hawaii’s turn and that state’s rep took a photo with the flag UNDERWATER! Heck, my parents even got in on the act. They served as the reps for Idaho, nicely driving the half hour or so from their home in Washington state to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. To view the CCUSA website, click here.

The CCUSA campaign is off to a great start. States pictured in this montage include (clockwise) Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, and Florida.

The CCUSA campaign is off to a great start. States pictured in this montage include (clockwise) Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, and Florida.

Derek Jeter - Pretty much everyone knows that I am a New York Yankees fan. Because I am a Yanks supporter I am obviously a big proponent of Derek Jeter. With that said, the All-Star game on Wednesday went way over the top in making the game 100% about him. I know he has done a lot for the game and has earned a spot in Cooperstown but I thought this year’s Mid-Summer Classic did a disservice by doing every little possible thing to praise him. The interviews, the commercials, the ovations, the introductions, the easy pitching, the 3,587 shots of his family in the stands, etc. seemed overkill to me. But what can I say? All of the Jeter fanfare resulted in big ratings for Fox, the best for the All-Star game in years. It still rubbed me the wrong way.

Planet of the Apes - I admit it, I had my doubts about the new “Planet of the Apes” franchise. I assumed that these recent movies would have human looking apes doing geeky things in a hokey fantasy storyline that only diehard science-fiction fans and weirdos would like. Not so. After watching the first movie last Thursday night to prepare me for the sequel when I went with my co-workers on Friday evening I totally changed my tune. These movies are fabulously done with engaging storylines, top notch acting, and awesome effects. This is not your 1970′s Planet of the Apes! Give it a try and rent “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” I guarantee you will then want to hit the movie theater and watch “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.”

My ticket for "Dawn of the Planet Apes" from last Friday.

My ticket for “Dawn of the Planet Apes” from last Friday.

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Friday is just around the corner and I am excited. No big plans  for the weekend but you know how it is….I will most likely have a story or two to tell by the time Sunday night rolls around. Have a great weekend my loyal readers! Don’t Blink.

Take the Risk…Start a Blog!

Every now and then I have people ask me about blogging. They want to get into it themselves but they have some reservations. They are either intimidated, unsure, or clueless. I like to talk to these people and hear what their vision is for their potential blog. I then ask them what their concerns are. From there I usually tell them to calm their fears and really invest on a blogging adventure.

Listen to me right now: If you are committed and you got something to say, you can start a blog! I am serious. Although please note that the first requirement I pointed out is more important than the second.

If you want to write a blog I say go for it but you must dedicate yourself to it. You have to make a promise to yourself that you will write at least four times a week. You have to condition yourself to the point where if you miss a day of writing you feel sick to your stomach. Missing a day of blogging for me is on par with missing a day at the gym.

If you are in it to win it you are going in the right direction. If you have lots of things to say and you can articulate yourself in a fair enough manner you are golden. Quite frequently people will say to me “I am boring. I have nothing interesting to say.” Okay, but substitute the word “nothing interesting” for “something” and now read what you got. You see, you still have something to say and that fits my second requirement.

Take myself for example. I write entire blog posts on losing my keys, naps, and cemeteries. Talk about lame, worthless topics. However, I still have a large readership that grows by the day. What gives? People don’t mind if you talk about the most mundane things because in most cases they can relate. Majority of us out there live ordinary lives. We go through the same things and share the same experiences. What you term boring is exactly what the rest of us live each day. Relate your ordinary, common dealings in life 80% of the time in your blog and splash some experiences unique to you the other 20% of the time and you will have engaging content.

The key is to just have a voice. If you can express your personality in print you are good to go. Although I encourage most people I chat with to take the big step and author a blog don’t kid yourself…if you can’t write yourself out of a paper bag than save yourself the time, frustration, and embarrassment and bypass the blog idea. I have zero artistic talent…I am not starting a website for my paintings. I don’t know how to cook…I am not submitting recipes or dishes. Play to your strengths.

But if you do have basic writing skills and you meet my two requirements of commitment and content don’t let little things stop you from starting your blog. Don’t feel like you are a copying a friend, millions of people had blogs long before your friend did. Don’t worry about sounding stupid, if you are articulating something in a clear fashion people aren’t laughing at you. Don’t worry about the technical requirements of maintaining a blog, it is super easy. Don’t worry about whether anyone will read your blog, if you put effort into it and you are consistent people will take notice.

If you have any questions on starting a blog please let me know. I would be more than happy to help you out. To know that I had an influence in helping someone start something as meaningful as an electronic memoir we refer to as a blog is very fulfilling to me. Give it a try! Don’t Blink.

Scary Car Collision

The memory of an enjoyable and fun lunch with co-workers seemed very distant only a couple minutes after exiting the Mexican restaurant where we ate to commemorate the July birthdays of several members on our staff. On a day that saw the heat index rise to 106 I was negotiating a right turn out of the restaurant parking lot onto the infamously busy and dangerous Highway 501 of Myrtle Beach. With the lunch traffic heavy I had to swivel my head left to right numerous times to make sure the coast was clear. About ready to step on the gas I looked to my left one final time.

“OH S@#$!!! OH S@#$!!!” I yelled while looking to the right passenger seat where our student worker, Alexandra, just realized what had happened.

I turned left just in time to see a large full size pickup towing a massive trailer plow right into the passenger side of a Honda CR-V. The violent sound that was produced upon collision was bested only by the violent way in which the truck latched into the CR-V and plowed it off the road and into the grass where it ripped up the turf. All that I could see in those first couple seconds after impact was a deployed airbag and an elderly man hunched over the steering wheel.

The collision that started about 50 feet from my vehicle was now only about 30 feet away. I shut off my car right at the stop sign and rushed over to the carnage. As I was going over the man in the pickup truck, who was unscathed, reached the crushed CR-V and opened the driver side door. The elderly man, an Air Force veteran, was still hunched over the steering wheel but conscious. He was withering in excruciating pain and was badly bloodied. People started coming from left and right to try to help.

The man who was the driver of the pickup truck said “I don’t want to move him, his knew is busted.”
A woman quickly responded “Don’t touch him.”

I managed to snap a shot of the carnage.

I managed to snap a shot of the carnage.

Within just a couple minutes a state trooper arrived. Not that he had many options himself but he was of little help. He just told everyone to stay calm and that paramedics would be there soon. By this time I would guess that 15 people were now spread out around the vehicles, including a noticeably shaken Alexandra. With the sirens now audible, the crowd just getting bigger, and the grim reality of the situation setting in I told Alexandra that we should go. With vehicles lining up behind my parked car we hopped in and made the trip back to campus as emergency vehicles zipped by us.

A co-worker asked the two of us if the authorities needed us as witnesses. I didn’t think so otherwise I would have stayed. So many people converged on the scene around the same time I did. Truth be told, I only looked left at the exact second that the brutal collision occurred. I never saw exactly what happened but my guess is that the CR-V pulled out in front of the truck while trying to make a left turn into one of the businesses.

I have witnessed other car accidents before and I have been in one myself but I had never seen one like that. The sound, the impact, the length of the contact, and the crushed vehicles made this one scary. Add in the serious state of the man on a brutally hot day and I can tell you that I won’t forget this one for a long time.

I can’t find anything online that says if the elderly man survived or not. But please say a prayer for him and for the man and his wife in the pickup truck. Cars are very dangerous machines, please remember to drive safe. Don’t Blink.

An Interesting Restaurant Question

This past weekend I was reading Dear Abby and I came across an actually interesting conundrum. The reader asked Abby for her advice about a recent dining experience at a “chic” restaurant (for my Missoula readers think Plonk, Spokane readers think Twigs, and Myrtle Beach/Conway readers think the Bistro). This reader was celebrating a birthday with a large party. The appetizers had already arrived and the entrees were ordered when something happened.

The fire alarm went off. The whole restaurant was evacuated and customers waited patiently in the parking lot for over twenty minutes while the fire department arrived. A small fire had occurred in the kitchen. Upon re-entering the restaurant the reader and her guests had a lively conversation on what type of action should be taken by the business. It basically boiled down to the birthday guests taking one of two sides: The restaurant should comp the meals for all people in the place at the time or, on the other side, a heartfelt apology with other minor concessions would be sufficient.

A real good question! One that had me thinking for a little bit. After contemplating it for about fifteen minutes while driving in my car I came up with my answer: The restaurant should NOT have covered the bills for anyone in the restaurant so long as everyone still received their orders and it was satisfactory. In the long run, the people still received the product they asked for. Just because the restaurant did what they could to keep the diners safe by evacuating them it doesn’t mean that they should have to undergo a night of terrible monetary losses.

What I hope happened was that the manager or owner personally visited each table and genuinely apologized for the inconvenient disruption and updated the customers on what happened. Then, in a humble gesture, I would have advised the restaurant management to offer a free dessert to each person impacted by the fire alarm. Abby answered the question by deferring to one of her restaurant friends in California. This restauranter stated that he would personally apologize to the customers and make an adjustment to everyone’s bill to cover the inconvenience but that he wouldn’t flat out waive the entire check. What would you do?

As we are on the topic of dining out, here are two quick nuggets I witnessed in my own dining out adventures this weekend:

Please Smile: On Friday evening I went with some co-workers to the premiere of “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” Before the movie we went for food and drinks at the nearby Gordon Biersch. We had a waitress who seemed by all accounts to really hate her job. Either that or she was having an awful day. Whatever it was she seemed very troubled and seemed to have a permanent scowl on her face. About 45 minutes in we had a discussion at the table and agreed that we would enter into a friendly competition to see who could get her to smile first. She returned to our table and our Director of Creative Services made her smile after just a couple sentences. Honestly, even if you aren’t happy please just try to make the effort to seem like you are. People go out to eat because they want to have a nice experience.

Separate Tabs: Last night Sidney and I went to California Dreaming, a popular restaurant in Myrtle Beach. Next to our booth sat a large party of about twenty. When it came time for the crew to take care of the bill we watched mild chaos ensue. The table needed about ten different checks and according to the customers wrong items were put on the many receipts. We watched the poor waitress go back and forth, back and forth as she printed out new receipts to try to make things right. The ordeal kept dragging out and the trips back and forth kept coming. The patient server finally had enough as we watched her snap at a little boy who went up to ask her something in the hysteria of it all. My take away from this disaster is if you must split up a tab a hundred different ways take one for the team and just shut your mouth and pay for the extra side of nachos that incorrectly gets placed on your check.

A look at our meal from California Dreaming. Even with the commotion right by us, we still had an enjoyable time.

A look at our meal from California Dreaming. Even with the commotion right by us, we still had an enjoyable time.

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Tomorrow my office is celebrating the birthdays of several of our staff members by eating lunch at El Patio, a famous Mexican restaurant in Conway. It should be a fun gathering but would it be bad if I said I am kind of anxious to see if any blog worthy stories occur during the course of the meal? You can be sure that if they do I will let you know. Don’t Blink.