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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sometimes going through the poop is worth it

What we needed was an actual night of family holiday fun.  And a trip to Santa.  I told the boys happily in the morning that we were going to FINALLY get to the mall to see Santa that night (thinking this would thrill them, of course).  Well, I didn’t get the reaction I anticipated.  Matthew bursts into tears.


“I don’t WANT to see Santa,” he sobbed. 


After I got over my shock from this unexpected reaction, I listened to him continue on, “I just…I’m just so nervous…I just don’t know what to say!”


Great, here we’re at our first year where chances are good that Kayliana won’t cry but now I had to worry about my ten year old falling apart.


In the end, visiting Santa, went well.  All kids smiled and talked to him (though the picture – of course – didn’t turn out ideal, it was at least tear-free).  After, our Santa visit, we went downstairs to a sitting area of the mall while we decided what our next activity would be. And that’s when it happened.  The unimaginable.  The inconceivable. 


I sent the following letting to the mall info email address the next day.  I will let my email deliver to YOU the news of what happened to us on our much-needed holiday family outing.


“I'm sorry to write an email like this, but our night was ruined this evening by a surprising and disgusting occurrence while at Bellevue Square.  We took our three young children to Santa and for a photo.  Afterwards, we were resting for a moment in the small cluster of chairs and sofa just outside of Helzberg Diamonds.  I was sitting in the chair, when my seven year old discovered a huge pile of dog poop on the ground right next to me.  This wasn't just dog feces that someone had tracked in on their shoes, this was 'a dog had full on done its business on the mall floor' dog poop.  Now, normally, I'd be able to think, "Well, hopefully it was a service dog and the owner was unaware or unable to clean up after it." 


However, we'd seen not one but two NON-service dogs in the mall before we saw the dog pile.  One dog was sitting on a chair with its front paws on the table outside of Specialty's Café and Bakery.  I wouldn't want to be dining at a table that had a dog on it.  Again, this was no service dog.  It was a little lap dog. 


Earlier, when waiting in line for Santa photos, our son pointed out the sign that said, "No pets allowed."  Well, two groups after us, people exited after having their photo taken with Santa -- along with their holiday sweater vest-wearing dog.  Again, not a service dog but this time a small chihuahua. It sure gives a mixed message when a sign says, "No pets allowed," and a minute later people are leaving after having their dog's picture taken with Santa.


Now, sorry, to be descriptive, but the pile of dog poop we saw probably couldn't have come from either of these small dogs, but I was already astounded to see dogs so freely allowed in the mall.  Is this a new policy?  If it is then I suggest you supply dog mess clean-up bags that are provided at outside parks.  I'd also request that you supply santizer wipes everywhere as, after discovering the dog poop -- a little too late -- we found that one of our children had dragged his coat in it.  And I'd set my purse down next to the chair in some of it that someone else had tracked from the bigger pile.  By the time we got home -- our car stinking of dog feces -- we found dog poop on my purse, my wrist, my shirt, my 10 year old's pants' knee, my 10 year old's coat hood, my 10 year old's hand and my 7 year old's shoes.  We're not idiots.  We didn't roll around in the pile of poop, yet it being where we weren't expecting it caused a major problem.  This was like a full-on dog poop attack and it ruined our night out for some holiday family fun.


After discovering the feces, by the way, my husband, placed one of the chairs over the pile so others would not step in it.  We also went straight to Guest Services and informed them of the mess. 


Please put an end to the poop problem -- pronto!

Thank you”


So, yeah, that’s how our night went.  The next morning, the boys and I were rushing out the door to get to the bus.  Zach’s shoes were still wet from being depooped and cleaned.  He got in his rainboots.  Matthew pulled on his tennis shoes only to discover that somehow a rather large poop situation still lingered on one of his shoes.  I told him to grab his old shoes and we ran out the door.  We ran down the hill to the bus stop and made it JUST in time.


I told a couple of the moms about our poopy experience the previous night.  One gal said, “Oh! I was just at JCPenney a couple of days ago and totally saw someone walking their dog through the store.”  She also went on to tell me that she’d worked at a winery for a while and the dog situation had become quite a problem there.  People take their canine companions into stores, restaurants, establishments, etc. knowing that most of the time the establishment won’t say anything for fear of being accused of discrimination lest the dog actually be a helper dog.  She said, “Oh yeah, people will just say, it’s my comfort dog…I have stress.”


“Then I’m going to start carrying around an open bottle of wine and telling people it’s my comfort wine…I have stress,” I said.  Plus, as someone pointed out upon hearing my new plan: the bottle of wine won’t leave a trail of poop.


As I walked home from the bus stop contemplating all this poop business, I looked down and noticed a rather fresh pile of the exact substance about which I pondered.  “Oh…poop,” I thought.  “I wonder if the boys and I ran through that on our way to the bus.”  My shoes were clean though.


When Matthew got home from school he glumly told me, “When I got to school, I found some MORE dog poop on my shoes that were supposed to be the clean ones.  When I went to wipe them on the grass, I looked down and was wiping them next to another huge pile of dog poop.”


OH MY GOSH.  There is a dog poop curse upon our family right now.


After all this frustration, I was amazed and in awe when I received a quick response from the mall.


“Jenny,                                                                                                                                                               Thank you for bringing this to our attention.  I am beyond disgusted for you.  We do not allow pets in the shopping center and we absolutely do not allow them in the Santa booth.  I actually made those No Pets Please signs myself after there was an issue with someone bringing their dog in and the staff there feeling “uncomfortable” saying no without the signs.  So to find out that they’ve been ignoring this rule again, is frustrating to say the least.  I am contacting the proprietor this morning to… discuss.

As far as the dog with the paws on the table… I really don’t know what to say to that.  I’m dog lover, but I just don’t understand this bringing your pet to the mall thing.  I have forwarded your email to our Facilities Director who is currently working on the best way to provide sanitary wipes for customers in convenient locations for times when our facilities staff is not in that particular area to clean a table or seating area.

I also sent this to our VP of Security to have him reinforce with his staff our rules and what they should be telling people who bring their pets in.  My  General Manager and I would like to send you $200 in gift certificates and a free car detail service.  Also, if you could let me know how your experience at Guest Services was reporting this, I would appreciate it. 

Please give me the best address to send the certificates to.                                                                                       Best Regards, Anna”

A Christmas miracle, indeed.  I immediately emailed Anna back and started with this: “Anna,

We're touched and so pleased with your genuine concern, response and generosity in making it up to us.  I didn't share this part of the story, but yesterday marked three weeks to the day that my dad suddenly passed away.  (He -- in perfect health -- had a massive and unexpected heart attack on November 26th).  My parents lived (my mom still does) walking distance from Bellevue Square and every year we make an outing to Santa and many trips to Snowflake Lane a tradition.  Yesterday, was the first chance we had in the three weeks since my dad died to actually take the kids for the fun outing.  So, needless-to-say, the frustration we dealt with was just extra...frustrating.  Thank you SO much for your very kind reaction.”

She, yet again, responded with such sweet sincerity and went on to tell me the changes that they’d made just since receiving my email.  The security staff had already had a meeting, someone was busy at work producing bigger signs explaining the dog policy, they would be providing more kiosks with hand sanitizing wipes (you know, just in case) and they’d researched the ADA/Service Dog laws so they know how to ask someone without risking lawsuit or complaint.  BOOM!

Now THAT, my friends, is customer service. 


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