November 24, 2012

A Letter to Rolling Thunder Skating Center

This post has nothing to do with parenting, but this is the vehicle that I have at my disposal to spread the word.  Please share it with people who skate, and/or live in the Philadelphia area.

Last night, Sara and I, with the urge to skate, went to a rink in Philly where I grew up skating.  The experience is summed up in the following letter that I wrote to the management, because I'm a good liberal and writing letters is what we do.

I grew up in the Philadelphia area and remember skating at WOW when I was younger.  When my wife and I came to town for the Thanksgiving weekend, I was pleased to see that you had reopened and we came out to skate last night.  My wife and I are both members of the Westmoreland Roller Derby League and skate several times a week, she as a derby girl and myself as a referee.  The idea of being able to skate while on vacation made us both very happy.

I am saddened to say that it was, by far, the worst skating experience that I have ever had.  With one disconnected young woman at the check-in counter, it took her 12 minutes to get 2 groups of people in and paid for.  She seemed to have no interest in customer service whatsoever, nor did any of the managers who walked past, saw the line out the door and their employee moving at a snails' pace, and did nothing.

After we paid, which seemed unnecessary since no one was taking tickets or looking for bracelets, we wove our way through the massive crowd, put our shoes in a locker and attempted to make our way to the rink.  I say attempted because there was a clot of people blocking both the single entrance and the single exit.

Finally reaching the rink, we discovered what could only be described as rolling anarchy.  Children and adults alike were skating in whatever direction they chose, backwards as well as straight across, with no regard to order or the safety of other skaters.  People who fell on the track were left to their own devices as people fell over them, rolling away and spreading out in a widening pool of bodies.

There were multiple people on the ring without skates, some of whom were parents walking with their inexperienced children, but several of whom were older children and young adults, seemingly out for a stroll, many of whom were eating snacks and dropping things on the rink, making themselves and their meals a hazard to everyone around them.

With all of this taking place, we saw just one staff member on the rink and it was, apparently, not his job to keep people moving or safe.  It was, apparently, his job to help beautiful women back to their feet.  Repeatedly, he skated past the people wandering the rink without skates, saying nothing about how dangerous that activity was.  Repeatedly, he skated past the young man who decided that he liked the song being played by the DJ and thought it would be a good idea to stop skating and dance in the middle of the rink, forcing people to skate around him.  Repeatedly, he skated past downed skaters, including small, screaming, crying children, without a thought of helping them up.

After 10 minutes, my anxiety was so high that we were forced to leave.  When we went back to the lockers to get our shoes, we were forced to slowly pick our way across a floor littered with discarded skates.  Without having a policy of making your patrons trade shoes for skates, there was no incentive for anyone to return their skates, and so left them scattered wherever they fell, once again, creating a hazard for everyone else.  Your staff appeared to accustomed to this policy as we saw a young man pushing a shopping cart, collecting skates and returning them to the rental counter.

At that point, we left and drove up to The Palace Skating Rink and enjoyed a well-lit, organized, and safe remainder of the evening.

This experience has so soured me to your establishment that I will never return.  I understand that I am one person who lives far away and my lack of attendance will not hurt your bottom line.  You clearly are doing something right as the building was packed solid with people who appeared to be enjoying themselves.  I have no illusions about how my boycott of Rolling Thunder will cause you to lose sleep.

My complaint is not that your establishment was not fun, although it wasn't.  My complaint is that the level of danger involved for skaters and non-skaters alike was so high that my conscience will not allow me to let it go uncommented.

I write this letter merely to relay my experience and to express my utter disappointment.  I will be posting this letter here as well as on the website for our derby league.

Rolling Thunder (Please excuse my shoddy cinematography)

The Palace (Please notice the difference)

November 14, 2012

My Daughter, Dentally Unsound

A few weeks ago, we noticed a black spot on one of Harper's teeth.  After weeks of trying to make an appointment with a pediatric dentist, we finally got one.  Sara took her over and came back with news of what terrible parents we are.  From Sara's telling of it that afternoon, the conversation went like this:

Dr.: She has 300 cavities.  We will need to pull all of her teeth, replace them with wooden nails and tiny railroad ties.  We will also need to tattoo on her arm a warning to all other children not to go near her because they may catch Crappyparentitis.
Sara: Oh no!  What can we do to prevent this in the future?
Dr.: I strongly suggest that you put your other child up for adoption before you and your husband accidentally kill her.

She may have said that Harper has 4 cavities, two of which needed to be crowned, but I know what I heard.

It was recommended that we use IV sedation to knock her out while the work was done.  In the time it took my ears to hear this and register that this was probably a good idea, my mind filled with images of Harper screaming at the top of her lungs, bolted to a chair while Bela Lugosi slowly closes the door.
"Show me your molars!"

When I look around at people's teeth, it makes me wonder about causality, specifically the idea that correlation does not imply causality.  I know that people don't visit the dentist as often as they should, as indicated by the retched state of the visual incisors, stained, chipped and rotting.  When we called to make an appointment for Harper, and were told they might not be able to get her in until January, I wondered if there were a lack of dentists because demand was so low, or if people don't go because a two month wait to have a painful problem corrected is unreasonable.

In any event, we managed to magically get her in yesterday.  The office called as Sara was on her way to work to say "Be here in 10 minutes!  You should have anticipated the fact that we don't care about your schedule at all!"

She did well and got her teeth fixed with a minimum of fuss.  Meanwhile, I was being a good liberal and trying to learn all I could about the issue.  I learned that 40% of children under the age of 5 have multiple cavities and it usually is not the fault of the parents.  Parents out there will note how difficult it is to brush the teeth of an unwilling child.

"I won't let you put on my shoes.  What makes you think I'll let you in my mouth??"

We had her on soup and light liquid yesterday so the anesthesia wouldn't make her sick.  Today, I sent Brynn to day care and stayed home with Harper.

This was my hope for the day.
As I was getting lunch ready, I put the baby carrier on the sofa and went out to the kitchen.  I turned around just in time to see that Brynn had crawled into the carrier and was rocking it off couch.  I managed to get there and grab the carrier just in time to cause more damage to my kid by grabbing the edge and causing her to slam her face on the handle.

Go me!

I managed to get her to school without any more issues.

Harper and I went over to the park and played for a total of 8 minutes until she got too cold.  Then we went to Barnes and Noble where Harper sat and played with Lego, building buildings and houses and towers.  Then she decided that she wanted to play with the trains, so we did that.

In the mean time, I got a frantic call from the day care.  I am, apparently, not only a crappy parent in terms of dental hygiene, but also in terms of responsibility towards other adults.  When I dropped Brynn off, I had apparently neglected to tell them that Harper would not be staying.  After 15 minutes of turning the place upside down and not finding her, they called to ask me if she were spending the day with me.

How many heart attacks can I cause in one day?

I bought a book for her, another for me to read to the girls and a book for me.  She didn't want to wait to read it.
The unicorn king is named Unicornio.  Really.
This was followed by lunch at Panera and now her napping while I try to remember all of the things I wanted to write here including all of the jokes and references that I missed.

Let me once again, reiterate what a terrible parent I am in the form of a list of things that have happened over the past week or so.

1) I let me 3 year old get multiple cavities so badly that she needed crowns
2) I watched as my 1 and a half year old jumped off the sofa and smashed her head into the air return, giving herself a giant goose egg and an ugly cut
3) I let my 1 and a half year old climb into a plastic death cage and roll herself off the couch
4) I grabbed said plastic death cage and hurt said child worse than if I had just left her alone.
5) I forgot to tell the caretakers of my children that one was not going to be there, causing panic
6) I also slammed Brynn's fingers in a drawer last night.

I'm going to spend the afternoon wallowing in my own self-pity and watching TV.  I expect around 4, I'll realize that kids are pretty accident prone and these things happen.

Then I'll just be happy that I got to spend a really great day with my daughter!

You know what?  Forget the self-pity!  Today was great and I'm glad I got to hang with her!



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