Living the Dream

This is how you get what you want…

How to be assertive without being a bitch October 5, 2007

Have you ever been taken for a “ride” by a cab driver, been treated poorly by sales reps, had to wait for hours cuz your flight got delayed, or had your order botched at a restaurant? These are all things that we put up with that we don’t have to. Feeling like you just got screwed over sucks. Now don’t get us wrong- we’re not suggesting that you make a fuss over every little thing that’s not to your liking. Human beings make mistakes, and many times it’s a deal-able situation. For instance, if on your sandwich you get provolone cheese instead of the Swiss that you ordered, it might not be fuss-worthy. That said, if you’ve got a hankering for Swiss, and you indeed ordered it—get it! In addition, there is a class of behaviors, or lack thereof, that is just plain inexcusable. For instance, you get in a cab and the meter says $42, 309 (which is what happened to The Dream Team last weekend). WTF is that about? Unaccepts for sure! In this instance, The Dream Team asked the cab driver what was up with the meter and laughed with him about how it was clearly broken. He said he’d charge a flat rate to our destination, which was a few dollars more than what the frequently Mammy-travelled route would usually cost. The solution in this case was for us to realize that his requested fare included his tip– done. There is a way to go about these situations without being a jerk. You need to behave with a sense of calm, confidence, assertiveness, and grace. It doesn’t have to been an awkward confrontational situation, the fear of which prevents most of us from asking for what we want. The Dream Team proposes the following recommendations.

Taxi drivers who overcharge

Only challenge the fare when you’re certain that he overcharged you on a route you travel frequently. Keep in mind that gas prices increase, so if you haven’t ridden in a cab for a while, this could be the reason for an elevated fare. Getting a lower fare can be difficult because often cab drivers doggedly defend their fares when they’re clearly just trying to get a few extra bucks. When you arrive at your destination, what you need to do is stay calm, and state with confidence that you travel the route frequently and it costs $x. Tell him you’ll give him that amount. If he tries to argue with you, repeat yourself until he backs down. Mammies have successfully used this strategy countless times. Which brings up a whole other issue– Why all the shady cab drivers?!

Dealing with online order problems

Consider that if your order involved postal service delivery, the mail may be to blame, and it might be inappropriate to use the approach below. Follow these guidelines only after you’ve determined that the order company is clearly at fault.Email customer service with your complaint, and make sure you include all the relevant details (order # and such). If you don’t hear back from them within a few business days, simply forward your original email to them. If a week passes and you still haven’t gotten a response, resort to the use of threat. Email customer service again, notifying them that this is your third attempt to get in contact. Copy and paste your complaint, and let them know that you’ll be contacting the Better Business Bureau if you don’t hear back from them within a week. Usually this will result in a swift move to appease you. The key here is to use email as a way to document your attempts to contact them.

Airline delays and baggage problems

You can get a free ticket, or frequent flier miles, for certain types of delays. Delays due to weather conditions won’t get you anything, since (clearly) these are out of the airline’s control. However, mechanical failure falls under the responsibility of the airline, and you can get something out of this. For instance, due to mechanical difficulties, Mammy’s recent flight was delayed by 3 hours. She couldn’t get on any stand-by flights to the original destination, but she did manage to get on a standby flight to an airport near the original destination. Of course there was the luggage concern- Mammy’s luggage ended up at the original destination. The ticket agent at the departing gate had told her she wouldn’t be able to have the luggage sent to her house. Mammy refused to accept this and took matters into her own hands. Mammy got her bags delivered to her home that evening, free of charge. She also received frequent flier miles for the delay. Here’s how you can do it:

Getting bags delivered. At the arrival airport, calmly explain to the baggage claim agent the situation. There’s no harm in telling him or her (calmly) that you are frustrated with the situation. Just remember to be friendly, calm, and treat the agent with kindness. Use your manners – “please” and “thank you” will get you a long way.

Getting miles. Write and mail a hard copy of a letter to the CEO of the airline (contact information may be found on websites), explaining your frustration with delay situation and how it ruined your plans for the day. Keep in mind that it can take up to 6 weeks to receive a response.

Sending food back at a restaurant

Mammy is constantly asking for exclusions and substitutions in her restaurant orders, so often her orders arrive at the table messed up. Mammy’s protocol for handling this situation:

1. If it doesn’t come naturally, express the disappointment on your face.

2. Remain calm, and explain how your order differs from what you really ordered.

3. Say you’re sorry for sending it back, and acknowledge that it wasn’t the server’s fault.

4. Smile and say thank you.

5. Wait for your correct order to arrive. Possibly steal a French fry or two from your companion’s plate to hold you over.

Easy. And what’s more, many times your meal will be comped without you even having to ask. Should this occur, add to your server’s tip at least half the price of your meal. If you have to wait an excessively long time (please use your judgment here) for your meal to be delivered and perhaps go hypoglycemic, ask for the manager and calmly explain the situation. Tell him you don’t think you should have to pay for your meal. 9 times out of 10, you won’t have to.


Frenemies September 26, 2007

Filed under: Archives,Friendship — mammyflop @ 7:51 pm
Tags: , , , ,


We’ve all got them. Acquaintances, typically of the female variety, who go from friend to enemy in 4 seconds flat. Ok, sometimes the shift isn’t so abrupt- there are certainly various Frenemy types. However, Frenemy’s disregard for your feelings is usually directly proportional to the closeness of your relationship with her. We originally decided to blog this because we had to vent about a few real Frenemies in our lives. We cherish our Frenemy relationships, but at times they’re really frustrating and we don’t know how to deal! We hope to provide comfort to those of you who can relate to us on this. We’d also like to hear about your experiences with Frenemies, and how you deal with them. Please vent here with us!

The flip flopper

I’m really irritated with Frenemy M. One day she’s complaining, bitching, and moaning about mutual friend S. She’s telling me all these horrible things about S that frankly I don’t want to hear about. It drags me down to hear crap-talking, especially about somebody with whom I’m close. But I do want to be a source of support for M, an active listener. Arg, I’ve made my bed and now I lie restlessly in it. It sucks because I really don’t want to hear about the beef M has with S! I ain’t got beef with S, and I’d rather not let M’s beef influence how I perceive S. My usual solution is trying to get M to focus on discussing how she feels rather than on specific details about S’s transgressions and character flaws. Doesn’t always work. As I’ve harped about, the situation is super uncomfortable for me. My discomfort morphs into straight annoyance when-Today I call M and she’s hanging out with S as if no beef ever existed. Yep, that’s right, all is fine- peaches in fact!! It’s like M & S are in some kind of sorority, operating under the pretense that there was never a conflict and everyone gets along famously all the time. The conflict that created such discomfort for M and for me has been power vac-ed up and rocketed off to the Andromeda Galaxy. Did they have a discussion about their conflicts? Nope. Does M ever address with me the fact that she’s gone from verbally crucifying S to being besties with her? Of course not. I’m confused. How does M flip flop with such ease?!?Bottom line: people don’t like conflict. Instead of addressing issues directly and assertively, “passive-aggressive” interactional patterns frequently emerge to the detriment of many friendships. Please don’t be a flip-flopper- if you’ve got beef, evaluate your reasons and if worthy, address them with the person directly. Venting can be tremendously helpful in dealing with frustration, but try to restrict your venting to unaffiliated third parties.


How about the friend who just about requires you to send her a singing telegram to maintain her friendship? She makes you feel guilty for things and you never know why. God I get so effing annoyed with S. I call her, and she doesn’t call me back. Then she complains to mutual friends that I don’t call her! I imagine her sitting next to the phone, screening my call, and then turning her nose up when she sees my name on her caller ID. She chooses not to answer, gets upset with me, and then goes and complains about me to mutuals. Why? I haven’t an effing clue!! It’s really frustrating!! I feel like I can’t do enough to try to be her friend. I really think that she wants me to chase her, like she’s playing hard to get or something. Sorry S, I’m not trying to date you. And it’s no coincidence that you have never been in a relationship if you expect pursuers to run a frickin marathon to get you. I get tired! We all do! I’m not the type to badger a friend into answering my calls. I’ll call once or twice, and wait for a return call. I don’t have many friends who won’t call back. Yet..Frenemy S insists on ignoring me. And her stony silence is quite effective in communicating to me that I’ve done something wrong. She must be mad at me, or she would call me back. Ohhh the silent treatment, so cold. The conclusion of this is generally that I end up eventually running into S, and she behaves as if there are no hurt feelings. I joke that she hasn’t called me back, and I get the standard “I’ve been meaning to but I’ve been so busy” speech. Throw me a freaking bone here S. At least have the decency to explain your reasoning behind not returning my calls. The worst part about the situation is that S is a super fun girl and I truly enjoy her company. If only she could find it in herself to be assertive and to discuss conflicts with me. Sigh. Bottom line- see above.

The guilt-tripper

Frenemy Y only calls you when it’s to return one of your calls. There’s never a spontaneous call. And related to spending time together, she has her entire calendar booked except she graciously offers to squeeze you in for 22 minutes in between her dog’s nail appointment, coffee with friend #31, dinner with grandma, and going to the mall with friend #18. Don’t you feel special that such an in-demand person is taking the time to fit you into her overbooked sched? The worst part about L is that she ½-jokingly scolds you for not calling her! And regardless of what you say, your excuse is never valid in her eyes. Here’s some shocking news: the door swings both ways, Y. Oh, and what’s that other idiom? Oh yeah, the phone works both ways. Apparently clichés are (sometimes) applicable to life.

Got a frenemy of your own to vent about? Mammies certainly constitute an unaffiliated 3rd party. Comment here!


The Grass Isn’t Always Greener: Stay on Your Side a Bit Longer September 25, 2007


I have trouble staying up late these days. Going out two nights in a row is no longer my idea of fun. Sometimes driving a couple of miles to the grocery store seems so effortful that I don’t make the trip. As if getting old weren’t bad enough…I look around me and all these people I know are getting engaged and married! Recently, Mammie and I sat down and counted, and between the two of us we know of 35 couples- that’s 70 INDIVIDUALS – who have gotten engaged or married since January ‘07. That’s nearly one per week just this year! The Dream Team realized that we were in the SLOW LANE (maybe even riding the right shoulder) with the whole marriage department.

The Dream Team got into a related conversation today on my way home from school. We were wondering how 70 people had found the loves of their lives and we hadn’t. We were feeling left out and a little discouraged about our future love lives. What was wrong with us? Why were our peers getting married, why were they getting the fun ceremonies and honeymoons, and we weren’t? Then I recalled the videos of marital therapy I’d been watching in class earlier in the day. Let me tell you…the interactions between these couples were not pretty. Most of the couples were older and had been married quite a few years. They argued heatedly. One wife threatened divorce, another, suicide. Several husbands refused to help their wives with the kids or with chores around the house, one husband had complete control of the finances and would give his wife an “allowance”. I was horrified to see the lack of respect the partners had for one another. It was downright scary to see how intensely they bickered and how they repeatedly failed to resolve conflicts.

And then I realized….not all the people I know who are getting married are marrying the “right” person. In our case, what Mammie and I were feeling left out of wasn’t really as good as it seemed.

Think about the couples (married or not) in your circle of friends. How many of those relationships are mutually beneficial? Of course all relationships have strengths and weaknesses, but overall, do you think a majority of relationships that you’re familiar with are good for both parties? What’s keeping them together? In some cases is it just comfort or fear of change? If you’ve read “Who Moved My Cheese” (if you haven’t, please do- it’s like 70 pages – you can knock that out in a weekend if not a day), you are well aware that fear of change is NOT a sole reason to continue with the status quo. Often relationships continue for reasons aside from happiness, romance, intimacy, and love. Waitaminute…..I thought those were some main reasons why you would get married in the first place!!…. I’m confused. Well, Mammie and I decided that when you get married relatively young, you might miss out on “researching” what you want in a life partner. This is not true for all young couples- some are serenely happy, and it’s wonderful that they found that special person so early on in life. For the majority of us, this won’t be the case. The more experience we have dating people, the more we find out about what we want and what we will not accept in a relationship. And when you find the “right” person, you treasure him/her because you appreciate the rarity of finding a good match. We advocate patience in finding a marriage rooted in love. Don’t force it. Don’t settle. We have the rest of our lives to be in a relationship.