Sunday, February 2, 2014

Keke's Breakfast Cafe - Altamonte Springs, Florida

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Subject: Customer Feedback

Hi there,

We came for breakfast this morning about 9am. This was my first time there, but I have to say I don't think I will be back because of the poor first impression.

We were a two top, and didn't have much of a wait to be seated, though there were a lot of other people who were waiting.

What was very surprising to me was the amount of people waiting  - in conjunction with the amount of tables that were open and either hadn't been bussed yet, or simply hadn't been seated. Our first thought was,  "Wow the owner of this restaurant would be making a lot more money if their staff was more efficient at the turnaround time."

On the note of making more money, I understand wanting to provide a comfortable place for your customers to wait to be seated. but the size of your waiting area inside is so excessive. While people are sitting there waiting to be seated they could be sitting there eating if the space was, instead, used for tables.

People don't mind waiting, even if it is outside, if the food and the service and the overall "experience" is worth it to them.

There were no issues with my order or my food, but this was not the case with my husbands.

He ordered a cheese steak
omelette, but stipulated no green peppers, along with one of the waffles.

Our server, I believe his name was Stephen, read back or order, including no green peppers.

When our food was brought out, the omelette was covered in green peppers, which my husband can't eat. (Someone else was carrying out the omelette plate.) The server apologized and asked if he could get him something else. My husband said he didn't want anything else and to just take it off. The server again apologized. Our server was fine, we don't have any complaints about him, but it appears the kitchen has some issues. Since the server read back our order correctly, I assume the kitchen made the error.

My husband was just going to eat the waffle he ordered. But, after eating 1/3 of it, he found a hair on the plate under the waffle. Being under the waffle makes it pretty clear that is a kitchen issue. (It wasn't my husbands hair - he is bald.)

Our sever again apologized several times more during the rest of our stay. We told him we knew it wasn't his fault. But, after the error with the omelette order and then finding a hair on his waffle plate, my husband no longer had an appetite so he basically had a drink for breakfast and thats all.

I don't know if this place is ran my the actual owner, or what, but obviously who ever manages this place is a lot of the problem. A proper manager would notice the seating turnaround time and would also try to be more proactive when there is an issue. We saw our server tell the manager about both the green peppers and the waffle hair, because they had to be removed from our bill. And the manager didn't even walk over and say anything to us. We were actually very surprised about that. Obviously, the manager doesn't really care if we come back or not.

I am not writing this to try to get anything free from you. Like I said, I probably won't be back anyway. The food was "normal." It's was good enough, but I can get the same thing elsewhere. And it was just an overall bad experience for me. BUT, we live in Altamonte Springs and I like to see our local businesses prosper because it is beneficial to the whole community.

I wish you much success and hope that you will take these things into consideration. A lot of people simply don't take the time to voice their concerns with an establishment. If I didn't want you to succeed, I would be silent.

I must also be honest and tell you this letter ( and any responses ) will be shared publicly on my blog.

Thank you for your time.

Misty Walker

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Back is my Boss. At least for right now: "Unfriending Fitness"

A week and two days have passed since my surgery. I had a Lumbar Microdiscectomy. I’ve reached the point now where I still have to stay at home and finish healing, but I feel well enough to get up and do some things while I’m healing… like sit at the computer and write.

I haven't written much in a couple years, really. People have asked me about any new writings and I’ve just answered “I haven’t really been inspired to write anything.”  That actually is a false statement. I had been “inspired” to write about a great many things. I always have an on-going list of things that I’ve encountered or experiences that I felt inspired to write about. But, the writing ideas simply hung out on the note pad in my iPhone and never made it past there. Sadly, after they are on there for months after months, I will eventually delete the list. And the cycle will then repeat itself.

The thing was, once I got home after being gone all day at work, I simply did not have the mental effort that it took to think about something enough to write about it. Or, often, the physical effort it took to simply sit some more after doing so for eight hours at my desk at work. My body just hurt all the time, and it’s just so very tiring.

It really wasn't until this past week that I’ve truly thought about and realized just how much my screwed up spine had affected pretty much every aspect of my life these last few years.  Sadly, my younger years were screwed up a lot because of the flaws in my mind. Now I’m 40, and darned if my body isn't trying to screw up the rest of my time here. Like the “mind flaws” were, my “body flaws” are a constant and every-day struggle.

I sat here quietly for a while, not typing, just staring at the computer screen, wondering if I should even continue writing. “People that have never had chronic pain never really understand,” is what was running through my mind. “They’ll just see this as an attempt to validate all of my “excuses” I have for not being more fit.”

Back to writing… I have to say, I don’t think I've ever written anything for anyone else. It’s always been for me. Releasing things from my own thoughts to the written word and allowing it to float anywhere to land wherever it shall land (someone else’s eyes) is what helped to recognize, evaluate, and heal my own “mind flaws.”  So, why exactly am I even considering what people will think about what I have to say? That has never stopped me before with the book or anything else. So, moving on…

That last sentence above of what I was thinking when I stopped typing, “They’ll just see this as an attempt to validate all of my "excuses"… brings me to where that actually comes from…
In November, my pain had started slowly getting a little worse and a little worse. That past year, I had been going to a chiropractor, instead of an MD, for my back and other pains that my scoliosis caused. It had been keeping the severity at bay, meaning I still had pain all the time, but I had not had the “severe episodes” that forced me to miss numerous days of work, etc. But, now the chiro visits had stopped helping at all.

By, the first week of December, John drove me to the first of five visits to the Emergency Room due to the severe and  extreme pain that would surface by simply moving a certain way. The fifth visit to the ER was by ambulance, though I have very little recollection of that trip.

Sometime between November and that first visit to the ER, I had unfriended anyone on my Facebook page that was in the fitness industry, or that posted physical fitness motivational stuff, etc. (Of course, this did not include my body builder husband, John, who is a personal trainer and a weight loss inspiration to many.)

I just couldn't subject myself to the posts anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not that bitter person that hates anything they can’t do, etc. It’s not like that. I realized that it simply became unhealthy for me to follow them. Let me try to put it in a different way by telling an unrelated story where I made a change for kind of the same basis as my Facebook changes.

I used to be a pretty avid watcher of the TV show Long Island Medium. I’ve always been drawn to any shows  (whether fiction, non-fiction, or what have you) about our world somehow connecting or communicating with the dead, including detective shows that find the “voice” of and “communicate” with victims by solving their murders, etc. Now, knowing my back-story, you know why that makes complete sense. (My back-story is the header of this blog, so I won’t go into detail.)

Several months back, there was a special live presentation of Long Island Medium, and there was a chance to win a free reading from  Theresa Caputo, the star of the reality show. All you had to do was watch the special show, and post tweets on Twitter and tag her and the show/ network in the tweets.

(I know, I know, it’s a great marketing trick, right? Yes, I fell right into it and ate it up like a starving orphan at their first Thanksgiving meal. And I know alot of you are saying to yourself that the whole medium act is a crock. That is neither here nor there.)

I was posting Tweets like a freaking idiot. After the show was over, I realized what I was doing to myself was unhealthy. And I knew this because I’d had the same feelings in the past, and I knew it was something that could literally take over my life… again. I knew I was not going back to that. I deleted all of my tweets, deleted the related Facebook pages that I followed, and I haven’t watched the show since.

The past feelings that I’m speaking of is when I was obsessed with finding out what happened to my Mother. The feeling starts out with a simple hope, but grows into a severe longing. The longing for all of the answers... Longing for something even though it has been proven to be all but completely unattainable. This is what I am speaking of.  And also envy. I’m sure envy can be thrown into the pot, as well. Envy of those who heard words from their dearly departed, via the medium. And also, I wanted to protect myself from disappointment. What if I actually did get a reading, but I didn’t hear anything that I was longing to hear?
The longing was something that lived in my heart and grows well past hope, and goes into an obsession. So in the end, you have all three of these things and they all feed off of each other. Once you reach that point, there’s not room in your life for “yourself.” Instead, you live and breathe and work only to enable and feed the hope, the longing, and the obsession.

Now, I am no psychologist or therapist and I have not and will never claim to be anything of the sort. Whether this trail I speak of is in an actual documented progression of emotions, well I’ve already established I’m no professional, so how should I know?  This is simply how I feel. It is how I see things, as it pertains to my own past experiences as it is compared to my own present experiences, and is not in any way related to anyone else’s.

I’m not sure if that entirely explains why I deleted the fitness people, or if it explains it even a little. I will come back to it later. Simply put, I just needed to do what was best for ‘me’ and this was something that was part of the process.  I try to nip things in the bud as best I can.

Speaking of nipping things in the bud, I’ve been wondering to myself how long I actually had this severely herniated disc and how much damage I may have caused myself by not seeking medical attention sooner. I mean, I had seen doctors, but just the symptoms were treated.

In the last few years, I have to admit I had kind of lost faith in doctors when it came to my chronic pain. It was never really looked at as a “whole”. When I first saw an x-ray of my spine, all of my pain and fatigue made perfect sense. It wasn’t just lower back pain, it was a multitude of things that were a result of my scoliosis. Some doctors have said, “Well, comparatively speaking, yours isn’t as bad as it could be.”   (umm ok? And? Yes, there is always someone worse off than you no matter what you are talking about, but that does not devalue the severity of “your” situation.”

Some people have told me, “Well, I have scoliosis, too, and I’ve never had that problem.”


I understand doctors are human, too, and sometimes make mistakes.  Sometimes they say the wrong thing or just don’t fully understand. Or, they are just get aggravated with a patient that is always in pain and crying that they can’t seem to help. And sometimes I didn’t speak up and say what I should have said. Or maybe I said something in a way that didn’t truly convey what I meant. I don’t know.

I am grateful to the second ER doctor that I saw who fought to get an MRI done and found what was causing the horrible pain. It had become so excruciating it left me a crumbled version of myself that could at times literally do nothing but writhe and scream out in pain. I am sorry that my husband had to endure these episodes with me. But, I don’t know what I would have done without him being there by my side.

All of the nerve pain was completely gone after the surgery on my spine last week. It was truly amazing to me to have that lifted away immediately. It was such a relief to no longer be afraid to simply move. The relief may be temporary, or permanent. Just like the numbness in my leg and foot from the nerve damage – only time will tell.

But, one thing that I am sure of is I have to do what is best for me, in ways that are best for me that is best for my body and the way that I was made. I know now that I can’t follow the lead of someone who is not like me. I have to find my own way and make my own path and create my own goals.

Someone once told me I had been trying to live and go about life as if I was normal and just like everyone else even though I wasn’t normal and like everyone else.  This was one of the first people I had encountered that I felt understood my chronic pain, because they also had to deal with it. When you just want to be “normal” it’s hard to not want to follow the fitness leaders that tell you that you should do this, and you should do that, exclaiming that you “have” to “push yourself” physically and if you don’t you’re not doing it right.

You see, I believe them. And I want to follow those leaders. And I want to be like them! And I DO want to do what they do! Because I love it! At least, I did love it. Before. For a brief time. 

But, that is not what is best for me.

So, I removed that out of my newsfeed on Facebook.

About four years ago, I started going to a gym regularly and I started pushing myself. And I liked the way that it made me feel. The muscle soreness afterwards was confirmation that I had worked hard and that I had, indeed, accomplished something. I lost thirty pounds and I liked the way that I looked in the mirror when I was exercising. I took cardio kick boxing classes and step aerobic classes and lifted weights and did the cardio machines.  All of it just made me feel good all around, mentally and physically, and I felt better about myself. But, slowly the chronic pain began to show itself.

After just a few months, I didn’t go anymore.Even the simple repetitive motion of doing just ten minutes on a recumbent bike would have my back in severe pain for a week. Other people just didn’t understand how that could actually happen.
Once when I was standing in the bathroom blow-drying my hair, I just moved and took a step and felt something weird in my back. A few minutes later I found I could not put any weight on my legs without having such extreme pain that I had to throw myself into a completely horizontal position. I literally threw myself from a standing position to being flat on the floor. I was home alone and I could not get up and had to stay there until someone got home to help me. That first episode was a few years ago and it lasted a week. And all I was doing that caused it was simply blow drying my hair, and I just “moved.”

By then, “pushing myself” had changed from just one more set on the exercise machine, to going to both Wal-Mart and the grocery store in one day. I mean, seriously. Think about that.  Just that much walking… that’s all that it sometimes took to cause extreme episodes of pain. So, I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that I stopped trying to do any kind of exercising. (But, I still longed to be ABLE to.)

I’m not really sure yet what exactly “is” best for my body the way that it is in order to be “better.” After I’m healed enough, I’ll start with physical therapy and will just have to go from there.

Well, I’ve been sitting here for a long while and my back is saying it’s ready for a break.  And the back is my boss. At least for right now.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

The Dark Side of Dinner- Macaroni Grill

The Dark Side of Dinner
Misty Walker

Macaroni Grill
884 W State Road 436
Altamonte Springs, Florida

When we go out for dinner, we generally stay in Altamonte Springs, and usually go to the same few places. We decided to go to Macaroni Grill yesterday evening for something different. John had been there once, but I had never been.

The first thing that I noticed when we were walking up to the door: numerous benches outside, empty. And no one waiting outside, or inside, to be seated and it was 7:30 pm on a Saturday evening.

We were greeted and seated at a nearby table very quickly.

Our waitress was Bianca, which she aggressively scribbled across our paper tablecloth with a crimson crayon.  She seemed very young, inexperienced, a bit scattered and somewhat inattentive.

The atmosphere reminded me of a cafeteria. It was quite bright, open, and loud.

John's water glass was dirty. Our glasses sat empty for quite a while.

We ordered pepperoni flatbread as an appetizer. It was tasty enough.

I ordered the shrimp portofino. The entire dish was dry and unappetizing. I basically ate nothing but the mushrooms, and declined when I was asked if I wanted a box to take the rest.

John got a sirloin, that he also deemed unappetizing.

The live Italian Opera singer might sound like a good concept, but holy geez. Before I realized it was a live person singing, I kept wondering why in the heck they had "turned it up" so loud. Every time he passed us, we made sure to not make eye contact in hopes he would not stop to loudly sing "at" us.

Before our entrees arrived, John pointed out the view underneath the hostess station to me. From our table, we had a straight shot view. It was disgusting. The most disturbing part was it was on wheels. If they can't clean something that is on wheels, I don't even want to see the kitchen.

We were asked to do a survey online about our dining experience. We did, even though we will not be using the coupons that were received from doing the survey. Meh. We most likely will never go  back.

So, there ya go.... "The Dark Side" of our dinner. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

He touched us. Why didn't I tell?

This is something that was omitted  when I was writing Little Misty. I'm not sure why. Either I just didn't think about it when I was writing, or I decided to leave it out. I don't remember either way. But, for whatever reason, I was thinking about it last night and realized I hadn't written about it.  

When I was about eleven years old I was taking gymnastics at a dance studio on the west side of Evansville.

It was located in a small strip mall-type set up and for a while the store that was next to the studio was vacant and the they were able to use the empty space for some of the classes.

It must have been either late fall, or winter because I remember when we walked from the studio down to the empty space we wore jackets.

This particular class, I remember watching the male instructor that was teaching our class lock the door behind him, which I'd never noticed him doing before.

At some point during class the instructor told us to all lay down on the mat on our stomaches and to flex our buttocks. He said he wanted to do this because we weren't flexing right and added he was going to make sure we were, by touching us.

Every other girl in my class quickly laid down in a row like they were told and I was left standing there, alone and dumbfounded. I didn't understand why no one was questioning this. I looked at the door, as my first instinct was to just run out and go back to the studio where my Mom was waiting. But, I remembered I had watched him lock the door. 

The instructor started at the far end of the row of girls, touching their rears, and slowly moving on down the line. I remained standing there alone, looking at the front of the empty store that we were in. The whole front was glass, but the glass had always been completely covered with paper since we'd started having class over there. I realized we were completely cut off.

My friend from school, who was also in the class, said something to me to coax me to do what I was supposed to do and lay down with the rest of them. She asked why I was just standing there.

I opened my mouth to say something, and just closed my mouth again. In my head, I must have been the one that was wrong. Because everyone else was complacent without question. 

So, I took my place on the mat.

I still think about this periodically. Angry at myself that I never said anything to anyone about it. And still wonder why I was the only one that remained standing. Maybe it was because I was always a little non-trusting of men, in general, because of the void of a father figure in my household? 

I don't know. But, makes me sick to my stomach now.  I know there are so many children who endure so much more then something like that, and feel they are not able to tell someone. And that makes me so sad.

So, there ya go. I don't think I've ever told anyone about that.