Wait. What? (The Bob Evans saga continues.)


I never emailed these names.  Seriously.  Someone must have sent Jon the text of my blog, or a link to my blog.  My original email contained the names which I then changed to something I thought would be ridiculous and obvious, so I didn’t accidentally call out another real employee.

Am I being trolled?

On Thursday, November 19, 2015 8:54 PM, “0503, BER” <Unit_503@bobevans.com> wrote:

Hello,

                I am following up on a bad review that we had charge to our store.  I was hoping to get some more information, as we believed our location received this review in error.  We don’t have servers by either name mentioned in the review (Maleficient and Lincoln), and would like to find out which store you were actually at.  Then we can send this along to them, so that they can address these issues.  Thank you for your time.

Jon Herrmann
General Manager
Bob Evans #503
Bridgeville, PA
(412) 257-1369

Shenanigans. ☘

I wrote back.  Nothing interesting besides pointing out that I never sent those names in an email.

I also got an email from LeAnn confirming our Dormont address, so I passed along the new one.  I wonder if I’ll get a T-shirt?

If it’s gift certificates, does anyone know of a charity that accepts them or of a family in need?

Maybe they’re sending someone to dispatch of me.  Maybe I should ask King’s to weigh in?

This still makes me laugh uncontrollably:

YOU GET A CRAYON!

Smiling & coloring rule.

I did get a really insightful comment on the last post though. Doesn’t seem like it’s gone down that way so far.

 

All we wanted were some crayons.


So, this past Saturday night we had an interesting experience at the local Bob Evans.  I have blogged about one of our experiences with an angry server there before, but haven’t touched upon the 3 or 4 other times that “the kitchen held up the order” while she talked to other customers at great length about slot machines at the Meadows, or the time that she rolled her eyes at me while the wife and I were discussing the seasonal shrimp on the menu in regards to where it was cooked and my allergy.  This time we were most likely doubly annoying as we had two small children with us.  The saga begins…

From: Eric Carroll <me@my.email.addre.ss>
To: Leann D. Purdy, Nathaniel A. Riggs, BE-mail

Hello Leann and Nate,

I hope this message finds you well, and that you’re both still with the Bob Evans team!  You may remember that I had contacted you in the past about the #jelly3x rule and a bad experience at the Bob Evans in Bridgeville Pennsylvania, and blogged about that alongside your enthusiastic response, and even more thorough follow-up.

We have since had a few other experiences with that waitress, including one where she rolled her eyes at me and said “well, you don’t have to order it” when I was discussing the shrimp stir-fry available seasonally.  Clearly, she has absolutely no grasp of cross-contamination.  The running theme with her seems to be that the kitchen is always late & to blame with any service issues.

Being that we have generally excellent food & service at the Bridgeville location, and it’s now even closer to home since we have moved to Bridgeville, we have gone in to dine and simply requested with the host or hostess to not be seated in her section.

Sadly this weekend, we didn’t spot her upon our arrival and did not inform the hostess of our preference.  We were quickly welcomed by the hostess, seated in her section and decided to go with it as it had been a while since we had Maleficent as our server.

Nowadays, we have a 2½ year old and a 7 month old in tow.  Bob Evans is a great place to get a full meal for a family without breaking the bank, yet another notch in the proverbial “pro’s” column.  (I mean, have you spent the same amount of money at Panera or Steak n’ Shake? It’s not even half of the food.  Maybe local heroes Eat’n Park can almost compete.)

Maleficent quickly came to the table and took our drink orders.  Our eldest ordered apple juice, I asked for an iced tea, and the wife went for water.  Our drinks were brought quickly and our waitress shot a nasty look to the table beside us as the hostess sat another family with 3 older children as she set our drinks down.  She came back a bit later to take our food order and my wife politely asked for straws which we didn’t get with our drinks and some crayons that weren’t included with our kid’s meal place-mat menu.

Maleficent Immediately huffed as she slammed down the straws and remarked that she didn’t have time to get crayons because she just had two other tables seated in her section.  We were only wanting crayons because it had taken her a while to come back and take our food order, well before anyone else had been seated in our section.

I forget exactly what the exchange was that followed.  I know my wife had mentioned that we had had several problems in the past with her service. I was pretty much shocked into jaw-agape silence at that point.  My wife ended with standing up to go speak to the manager, and Maleficent yelled (yes, yelled) “Lincoln, take tables 54 and 56!” or something to that effect.

After my wife came back from a conversation with the manager, one of the aforementioned customers beside us said “Wow. I can’t believe she told you no on the crayons.”  We gave the super-condensed version of our history with Maleficent as they continued in their wide-eyed disbelief.

Maleficent continued to serve that family, but we and another nearby table had been reassigned to a young man named Lincoln (Linkin?), on either Maleficent or the manager’s authority.  I wasn’t present for my wife’s conversation with the manager, but it was apparently full of knowing nods and angry head-shakes as she regaled the manager with tales of our past adventures with Maleficent.  I do know that my wife apparently characterized me as a madman about to lose all patience to bolster her point.  Perhaps that’s why the manager never came to the table to offer either an apology or an explanation.

Now, reading back on this, the story so far does sound like we are being absolutely ridiculous over the exclusion of two crayons for the amusement of our child who’s behavior, rearing, and amusement are wholly our responsibility.  Do you also see how the past history and an apparently poor attitude towards customers and a potential tip factor into this moment?  It must have been some serious shenanigans in order for the next table to notice.

The lesson I have learned is that we will keep crayons and a coloring book in our family vehicle for just such a purpose.  It is not Bob Evans’ responsibility to develop my child’s creativity and fine motor skills, nor to provide a means to pacifying the insatiable need for constant activity or the lack of patience to wait for a delicious prepared meal.  Despite evidence to the contrary, we were indeed prepared parents with our own plastic mess-prevention and environment-sterilizing place-mat for our son.  He can’t color yet, but he can shovel tiny bits of food into his mouth at a rate destined to require another kid’s meal sooner rather than later.

This leads us to Lincoln (Linkin?). Lincoln was certainly on top of his game after being saddled with two more tables in addition to his already presumably busy/full section.  He came through and delighted our daughter with a two-pack of pink and purple crayons. Lincoln took our order with a smile, brought the food out quickly with no conspiratorial kitchen issues, and was just all-around pleasant.  We even had to ask for a replacement fork as we had somehow lost one.  It was brought out amid a flurry of what I presume to be normal Saturday restaurant activity with no hesitation, and rather quickly.  We even got jelly on one request.

After our meal, we thanked him for being such an incredible server, and I remarked that I was glad he was so understanding because I was nervous about being labeled as some sort of problem after requesting a new server.  He indicated that it was not a surprise, happens regularly, and that he didn’t come to us with any preconceived notions.  He also added that people inexplicably (my words, not his) come in and request to be seated in Maleficent’s section and Maleficent’s section only.

We will request Lincoln’s section in the future, and barring that option we’ll just request not be seated in Maleficent’s section.  I can play that game.  We cleaned up as best we could from our inevitable child-induced mess, left close to a 50% tip, and found the errant fork before we left.  The table directly beside us (I assume the other table taken by Lincoln at the same time we were handed over) also rather audibly and publicly thanked Lincoln for being such a great server.  I’m not sure if they also had issues that we weren’t aware of?  I told the cashier how happy we were with our service upon checkout.

I don’t want to pick on a server.  I do want to illustrate the contrast between what I see as poor service as it relates to incredible service and how it didn’t seem to be any more difficult than you make it.  I do hope Lincoln is rewarded for a job well done and his overall attitude.  I’m sure it reflects in his work effort and in his gratuities.  I would hope that you can again pass this email along to all of the appropriate parties.  Area coaches and the store management, correct?  I really feel like we were nothing but polite and reasonable up until we were denied crayons, and we remained polite and reasonable immediately after that whole exchange.  That seems like an absolutely insane sentence for one adult to write to another.  Do I have a valid point, or am I just super way out of line here?

I would just drop the entire issue and move on, but Bob Evans is one of the few places that I can safely get a meal with my shellfish allergy, I can comfortably order anything on the menu (outside of the seasonal Lent-deathfish), it’s very close by, and I feel like we really get great value for a dollar when we dine at your establishment.

Last time you sent out some gift certificates.  Please save them this time.  I don’t want free food, I just want a stress-free dining experience.  If you must send gift certificates, can you direct them to a Pittsburgh charity that can give them to people who do perhaps need a free meal?  Thankfully I can put food on the table for my family while many others struggle to do so.  We need to get our butts out on a kids-eat-free promotional night if we want a free meal.

I realize that in the grand scheme of things, my complaints are trivial.  I realize that some would enjoy any meal regardless of the way in which it was delivered.  What if though, this had been that meal for someone?  What if this was one night out that they looked forward to and it was met with the kind of service that we regularly receive from one apparently disgruntled waitress?  Is this how Bob Evans wants to be perceived?

I plan to blog this adventure also.  I do less of that these days, but this seemed to be appropriately entertaining.  Of course, the names will be omitted or changed.

I also look forward to your response and insight.  Thank you once again for your time and assistance!

Just crayons?

-Eric

https://aixelsyd13.wordpress.com

me@my.emailaddre.ss

I can’t wait for a response.  Sadly, I see from the Yahoo! mailer daemon that Nate is no longer with Bob Evans.  I think I knew he outgrew them a while back.  I may try to ping it out to a few more people.  I have contacted others at Bob Evans in the past, during my pre-Wordpress days.  I even had someone send me a “safe” list of where things were cooked and what would be OK for me to eat while they had shellfish on the menu.  Overall they have stellar corporate customer service, but we just have this continual issue with a crazy server who reminds me of the mailman in the movie Funny Farm.

Bob Evans - Tuesday Night is Family Night

Tuesday Night is Family Night

SATURDAY! Star Wars, Guitars, and Antiques …all in one place?


A while back, a friend of ours who is a teacher invited my wife & I to a Learning Festival that’s happening at her school this Saturday (May 12th).  I can’t wait to go check it out!  All of my favorite stuff is going to be in one place.  Garrison Carida of the 501st Legion will be walking around in Star Wars attire, there will be a dude showing his guitar collection (there’s 50 of them!), they’ll be raffling a Fender Stratocaster from Moonlight Music, there will be free appraisals of collectables, and much much more!  Looking at the flyer, it’s like I put the thing together with all of my favorite stuff.

Our friend is taking her 7 year old nephew, my wife is taking me.  Ha!  At any rate, I know other geeks read this that may be interested.  Here’s the official flyer:

Apollo-Ridge Education Foundation Learning Festival

Apollo-Ridge Education Foundation Learning Festival – Sat. May 12th, 2012 (Click the image to go to their website.)

So, that’s Saturday 10:00am to 4:00pm at Apollo Ridge School District.  Admission is free, and it’s located at…

1825 State Route 56 East
Spring Church, PA  15686

Check it out, maybe we’ll see you there!

The One Hour Dry Cleaning Myth


Don’t ever go to Century Cleaners on Brookline Blvd. in Brookline.  They’re incredibly rude, unprofessional, and a bunch of false advertisers.

Perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself.

We had a large amount of things going on this past weekend.  My wife’s grandmother passed away early on Thursday morning, her parents were set to close on their old house (her childhood home) & the new one on Friday, we were helping them move along with some extended family on Saturday, there was the viewing Sunday and the Funeral was Monday.

I had just worn my suit in a good friend’s wedding last Tuesday morning, which is another story entirely… but I needed my suit cleaned.  No one wants to be the smelly kid, & I had some wrinkles on the butt of the jacket.  I wanted it to look sharply pressed for the weekend.  Unfortunately, I only have one suit, and planned to wear it twice this weekend with a different shirt & tie.  With the frequency which I actually wear it, one has suited (pun intended) me well.  Perhaps another is in order.

Bethany had the day off on Friday to process everything going on with her Grandma, her parents’ move, & more… so she decided to use it to get some errands done.  I found what I thought to be a one-hour cleaner or at least same day service cleaners online Thursday night, as Model Cleaners (where regularly take stuff) doesn’t offer a same-day service.

I quickly came up with the Century Cleaners profile at the Dormont-Brookline Patch, and this is the description I read:

Dry cleaning establishments have long been a fixture at 1200 Brookline Boulevard and Century Cleaners has done business in this location for eight years. They offer same day service, as well as alterations, drapery cleaning and rehanging and wedding gown preservation. All of Century’s work is done on the premises.

  • Hours: Mon – Fri, 8am – 6pm; Sat, 8am – 2pm
  • Parking: Free lot, On-street: free
  • Services: Alterations, Dry cleaning, Ironing, Leather cleaning

These were among the photos that I saw at the listing…

Century Cleaners - False Advertising

Century Cleaners’ Blatant False Advertising (Photo Credit: Annette Bassett Sanchez, Dormont-Brookline Patch)

So, that little sign on the side advertises “SAME DAY SERVICE” pretty largely, right?  The neon sign right in the middle of the name above the door boasts “1 HR. DRY CLEANING“, right?

They clearly had no intention of providing either service on Friday.

My wife was there in the 9:00 hour, and asked about the 1 hour service.  This was the first of several local errands for the day.  Right away she was met with resistance, and asked what the suit was needed for.  At this point, what does it matter?  Whether it’s needed for a job interview, a funeral, a wedding, a TV appearance, for first contact with aliens at midnight, or just lounging around the house… urgent completion was requested.

She then asked about same-day service.  Again, “When do you need it by?”

Again, what does it matter?  Whether we’re meeting the pope and the president this afternoon or going to shoot a porn movie, what business is it of theirs?  She requested one hour service, is now deferring to same day.  It was 9:00am and the were open until 6:00pm.  The sign boasts that they do the work there & don’t send it out.  Surely that would be enough time to clean a suit… even if there were many other urgent cleanings ahead of us in line?

I could almost see being denied same-day service at 4:00 or 5:00pm, but 9:00am?  That’s just ludicrous.

Already harrowed from everything going on, and in shock from being argued with by someone behind the counter at a service-oriented business, she told them that we needed the suit for a funeral on Saturday, and they negotiated to a pickup first thing in the morning.  She asked what time they opened on Saturday and they said 7:00am, so that was that.  We thought.

We were to be at her parent’s old house by 7:30am that Saturday to start to help with the move, so 7:00 was cutting it close.  We stopped & bought donuts, got some ice for the water in the cooler, and were parked on the street in front of the dry cleaners’ at 6:55am.  A woman arrived shortly before seven, propped the door open, & went inside.  I gave her a few minutes to get settled then walked in shortly after 7:00am, ticket in hand.

The woman was in the back of the room behind miles of clothing hung on racks, and I had a few minutes to soak in my surroundings.  Paint and/or wall-paper of several different layers was peeling from the walls.  There is a cluttered desk by the front window that must serve as the office… not sure why it’s not behind the counter or the counter isn’t adjusted to make it fit.  It seemed rather unclean for being a professional cleaning service.

The woman wove her way up front and greeted me friendly enough.  I handed over my ticket and declared that I was there to pick up my suit that had been dropped off yesterday.  She looked at my ticket, and then at a ticket hanging by itself on a wire behind the counter next to a few articles of clothing that held their tickets.  She looked at the ticket hanging by itself, then back at me.  She asked what it was for.

I was exasperated at this point.  What does what it’s for have to do with anything?  Maddeningly irrelevant questions and repetition of questions are the two things that get under my skin instantly.  I remarked that it was for a funeral.  She said “oh, it’s not for a wedding?”

This has nothing to do with the location of my suit, or why its matching ticket was hanging alone on a wire behind the counter.  I reaffirmed that it was not for a wedding, but a funeral.  My answers undoubtedly became short and quiet at this point, but I remained polite.  Seeming to be the only one capable of asking relevant questions I asked “So, where’s my suit?”

At this point, the phone rang and she was asking someone about the suit.  I told her that my wife had been there at 9:00am the previous day, had requested one hour, then same day service… and was told the earliest we could get it was upon the shop opening in the morning.  She asked what time I was told we could get it.

Wow.  I reiterated that we were told it would be ready at 7:00am.  I’m sure I was visibly agitated at this point.  The woman looked at me like I was a bomb about to go off.

After a hushed conversation with the mystery person on the other end of the phone line, she disappeared into the mass of clothes hanging behind the counter.  She eventually popped back out with my suit.  It wasn’t on a hanger.  It was much more wrinkled than it was when Bethany had dropped it off.  It was apparently on the side of a bin or on the floor somewhere in the back overnight.

She stuttered as she told me that it hadn’t been cleaned and asked when I needed it by.

Really?

I said, “Well, yesterday.”

If I was going to be asked stupid questions, I was going to give stupid answers.

Pointing to the sign in the window, I asked how they could advertise 1 hour service if they clearly have no intentions of providing such a service.

The woman muttered something about it being an “orange” ticket and it meant it was a rush… but then it trailed off. She never even acknowledged my question.  She picked the pinned tags off of my suit and placed the rumpled mess on the counter.  I wasn’t offered any solutions.  I wasn’t offered an apology.  I wasn’t offered a free service.  I wasn’t offered a rush cleaning & delivery.  I wasn’t offered anything but my suit in a ball of wrinkles.

I never raised my voice.  I never uttered a curse word.  I never asked her how she was going to rectify the situation… because at this point I had absolutely no confidence in any service that they could possibly hope to provide.  The only acceptable thing at this point would have been for them to pay for one hour service at some other dry cleaner… but I’m sure that wouldn’t be an option to them.  They could offer me free dry cleaning for life at this point and it wouldn’t get me to ever drop anything off there.

Even if they had offered to clean it, they closed at 2:00pm, and with the move happening on the northern end of town, there was no way I could be back by then.  I mean, we had to go through a tunnel and over a bridge.  This is insanity in Pittsburgh.

I got back into the car and uttered something to the effect of “I can’t believe it, they didn’t clean my suit.”  Although, it was peppered with and punctuated by expletives.  My wife looked at me like I had just told her that I was Batman.  It was a look of utter disbelief.  She knew I wasn’t joking because I was quiet.  Generally I get quite quiet when I’m angry.  She said that she shouldn’t have left it there in the first place… but what were we to do?  They were the only place that advertised 1 hour or even same day service… even if they didn’t deliver.

We swung over to another local cleaner in Dormont.  They don’t advertise 1 hour cleaning or even same day service… but I thought it may be worth a shot.  They didn’t open until 7:30, and it was still only about a quarter after.  I had my wife call her dad because he had told us of a place in the north hills that does do same-day service as advertised.  That was the direction we were heading, so it was probably the only chance I had of getting a clean suit at this point.

My father-in-law recommended Don Royal Cleaners on Mt. Royal Blvd. in Shaler.  That’s where we went.  It wasn’t far from where they were moving, so it wasn’t too out of the way to make the drop-off.  My wife called the cleaners as we were en route to make sure they they did indeed offer same day service and what their hours were.  They were open.  We stopped.  The place was spotless & had elegant marble counter tops.  The girl at the register was friendly.  She took my wrinkled suit and smiled when we asked what time we could get it back that day.  I think they told us 2:00 or 3:00pm.  They were open until 8:00pm, so that gave us plenty of time to help her parents with the move & to swing back down to Shaler on the way home to pickup my hopefully clean & pressed suit.

The move went off without a hitch, and the suit was picked up without a problem.  We attended the viewing & funeral in Fairchance on Sunday & Monday and I was looking like a car salesman or like I was about to knock on your door & hand you The Book of Mormon or a Watchtower pamphlet.

Perhaps I should have had my weekend itinerary typed up for Century Cleaners?  Was it my error?  I could have pinned it to the suit or put it in the pocket.  I’m going to have to work on some amusing answers if I’m ever asked such irrelevant questions in the future.  What’s the suit for?  It’s for a a con scheme where I have to appear well-dressed and wealthy in order to swindle someone out of their money.  When do I need it by?  1:15am, on October 25th, 1985.

When you order a pizza, the person taking your order doesn’t ask what it’s for or when you need it by.  Can you imagine calling a pizza joint and them asking “Is this for a birthday party?  Can you pick it up tomorrow?”

How can these places advertize that they’re “1 hour” or “same day service” when they clearly can’t handle it, or don’t even intend to?  Do they think you’re padding when you need something by?  It shouldn’t matter.  You should get it when you ask for it to be done.  You’re paying them to provide a service.

I’ve run into this years before with a cleaner in Murrysville (They have a different name/owner now, so I won’t call them out).  They too never answered the one-hour question.  They just stared at me blankly.  I believe that was just a shirt & tie… not even a full suit.

Is this a conspiracy?  Does it involve the Freemasons & the Illuminati?  Should we call Brad Meltzer and the History Channel?

I see from searching online that another place nearby does offer same-day service… Has anyone dealt with Suburban Dry Cleaners?  They look rather reputable and they have a nice clean website… something Century Cleaners lacked.  Then again, I can’t find one for Don Royal either, and they were great.

So, how should they have handled the situation?  What should they have done as compensation?

Should I write them a letter or send them this blog?  Should I write & ask why they don’t provide 1-hour service?  I could call, but that’s not entertaining for the reader unless I can learn to record my phone calls.

Should I just put up a bad review on every review site I can find?

Should I complain to the Better Business Bureau?  How does that even work?  It’s only the cleaning of a suit, it’s not like they lost or destroyed it… or it was a thousand-dollar service.  It’s just incredibly aggravating.

Should I write to other dry cleaners and ask them how they would have handled such a situation?

Has this ever happened to you at the dry cleaner, or anywhere else?

How would you handle or how have you handled this situation?

Does 1 hour dry cleaning even exist anywhere?  How can they get away with advertising a service that they can’t or won’t provide?

Inspiration from Hoke·E·Geez (My new ‘New York Pro’ Strat copy)


So, I bought a guitar this past Saturday.  I wasn’t looking for a guitar.  This guitar was looking for me.

Hoke·E·Geez | INDOOR FLEA MARKET · CRAFTS

...and SO MUCH MORE.

Some of my extended family had rented out the lodge at our church camp for the weekend.  My cousin & I were out killing time and exploring while the ladies stayed in for their main objective; scrapbooking.  When in the area with time on my hands, a trip to Hoke·E·Geez is an absolute must.  It’s located right on Route 30 in Bedford PA by the Sheetz(Sheetz is a good bright red & yellow landmark, right?)

In what was once (perhaps obviously for people my age and older) an Ames department store, rests the one of the craziest/coolest places I have ever been.  My first trip there was in search of antiques… I collect old Coca~Cola & other glass bottles.  I had no idea what I was in for.  Hoke·E·Geez is full of …Everything. 

Stuffed Squirrel on display (& for sale!) at Hoke·E·Geez (Bedford, PA)

"Help! I'm not dead! Some redneck just stapled my nuts to this driftwood!"

It’s got crafts, antiques (from old pop bottles to the machines), furniture, a weird leather biker-jacket section, a hardware section like someone emptied a Harbor Freight in 1978 and dumped it there, of records, new stuff made to look old (think the store in Cracker Barrel), toys, tools, books, records, a section chock full of cassette tapes (mostly hair metal), musical instruments of all varieties, a stuffed squirrel that my cousin photographed with his phone, nunchucks, swords, toilets, knives, flooring, gun parts, cabinetry, pistol crossbows, stuff you’d see in a thrift store or at a garage sale, a Weinermobile pedal car, … and other scattered oddities/treasures.

Yeah, I said musical instruments.  Of course, I flock nearly immediately to the old guitars.  Hoke-E-Geez also serves as an aged acoustic graveyard.  They have several dried out yet beautiful acoustics ravaged by time & strings that pull the neck past the point of no return. They would be great as decorations, or for this…

Guiar Fail | Acoustic Guitar Recycling

Guiar Fail | Acoustic Guitar Recycling

There I Fixed It | First Smash, Then Season

There I Fixed It | First Smash, Then Season

In fact, if I ever find one for the right price, it might make a cool antique bottle shelf… with some glass shelves & a light or 2.

Back to the story at hand though…  There we are strolling through the wonderland that is Hoke·E·Geez, like a bee doing its “tell the others where the honey is” dance. We were exclaiming “Woah!”, “Look at that!”, or “What is that?” with each erratic hop to the next section.

Toy Accordion (or Button Box?)

I can already play "Iron Man" and "Happy Birthday" (very poorly).

The first beauty I spied was this toy accordion for $12 and change.  It seems ridiculous and awesome.  Maybe I’ve seen The Bloody Seamen one too many times lately.  Looking online, it seems to be a fair price… and not difficult to master. I’m not sure of the name brand.  I have no idea if it’s a Hohner, Schylling, Barcelona, First Act, or something else.  I have found a bunch online that look similar.  This doesn’t match the colors of any others exactly, and of course it has no brand/name/logo in it.  Also, it appears that I have been shorted a book.  Also, is this really an accordion, or is it just a button box?  What’s the difference?  Are the butterfly-like designs up top too girly?

The next thing of interest that I saw was this beautiful New York Pro Strat knockoff…

New York Pro - Natural Finish Strat Copy
“Psst… you, yeah you… buy me. Yeah. I know I’m not a goofy guitar, but you need me. Look at my woodgrain. It’s not fancy or elegant, it’s just ‘there’. Buy me. I probably have really crappy electronics and hardware. Buy me. I bet no one has ever heard of ‘New York Pro’ or knows where we’re made. Buy me!
New York Pro - Strat Copy

New York Pro - Strat Copy

Well, the photo to the left is the photo that I sent to my wife along with the price, asking (only half kidding) if I should buy it.  There was some other black no-name Strat copy behind it.  The body on that black POS wasn’t nearly as solid, hefty,  or well-cut.

My cousin pointed it out I believe, & remarked on the natural finish.  I was stuck drooling over the $95 price tag since the neck was straight, there were no cracks, and it was nice solid body.  This was about the time we got into a conversation with a local cat who was into weird guitars and punk rock… and actually in a punk rock band up that way.  I can’t remember the name of the band.  I need to pop stuff like that into my phone.  The guy stopped & asked if I really had an accordion in the box marked “Accordion”.  I showed it to him & he’s the one that remarked that it was a button box & not an accordion.  After talking forever about weird guitars, rocking out, and goofy venues… we moved on.  He mentioned that there were other guitars “over there” pointing to a little music store-like area within the hallowed walls of Hoke·E·Geez.

This is where we happened upon some beast, made by a local cat that goes by Merle Kegg or Merle R. Kegg.  One of his custom-built axes had the letters “M R K” on the headstock.  The first one I spotted was a doubleneck… one 6 string guitar & one mandolin neck.  Yeah.  You read that right.

Merle R. Kegg - Guitar/Mandolin Doubleneck

Merle R. Kegg - Guitar/Mandolin Doubleneck

I apologize for the horrible quality cell phone photos, but I’m sure you get the point.  I find it an odd placement for the pickups… but then again some people like that neck pickup sound.  I generally stick as close to the bridge as possible.  The custom cases are pretty cool.  Then I came upon this one…

Merle R. Kegg - White Guitar

Merle R. Kegg - White Guitar

It caught my eye, and I believe the price was only $64 or $65… but I didn’t even take it out of the case once I got a closer look.  If there was a Regretsy-like site for homemade guitars, this may top them all.  I mean, I love the shape… and I respect the intent and the labor that went into this beast, but… wow.  The placement of the bridge directly up the neck’s ass is crazy.  The pickguard looks like flooring or wall tile.  I’m hoping this cat is Amish or 97 years old or has 7 fingers total or something.  I hate to be so harsh, but when I think a guitar is ugly, we have a problem on our hands.  There was no attempt to smooth out the edges or anything… the paint is applied like it’s the side of an outdoor shed… not a guitar.  Wow.  I’d like to see more of his work, maybe these were the odd ones out.  If you know anything more about his work, please post in the comments!  There were some other cool guitars (not made by Merle), ukuleles, mandolins & other stuff in that section.

I still hadn’t received a reply from the wife.  I got the accordion, my cousin picked up a few things, and off we went.

When we got back to camp, I asked my wife if she had seen the text with the photo.  She hadn’t.  She checked it out & liked it.  She asked that if I got it I could place it on the stand in the living room instead of my Batman Logo guitar.  She liked the wood (which I have since come to learn is mahogany).  We talked it over and she suggested that I go get it.  I told her it would need new guts, but she was still behind the idea.  After lunch, my cousin went to a nearby farm to hunt coyotes, and I went back to Hoke·E·Geez to hunt that guitar.

I came back with my prize:

New York Pro - Stratocaster Copy

New York Pro - Stratocaster Copy

I also managed to stop by the Bedford Banjo Shop.  It was small but very cool and reasonably priced in there.  They had banjos, guitars, ukuleles, mandolins, & more.  They were also very friendly and quite busy.  I tried to stop by another store nearby, but they were closed as it was after 2:00pm.

I have plans for this guitar… GFS Lil Killer rail pickups, some wooden knobs, a leopard-print pickguard, black hardware (& bridge & tuners), and I guess a leopard-print strap.  As soon as I put away some money, I hope to get all this stuff & have it all set up nice & pretty.  My go-to guitar guy has been Aaron at Lawrence Music lately.  He helped set up the Batman Logo guitar… and dropped in my Seymour Duncans.

Oh what I'm gonna do to this guitar...

Oh what I'm gonna do to this guitar...

You didn’t think I’d leave it alone did you?  It needs something in order to fit in with my other guitars.

I’m still at a loss with any concrete information about the New York Pro brand.  I’m not sure if it’s pumped out of a Chinese factory that puts many different brands on the same guitars?  They do have an odd cut in the top of the headstock that seems to be on every NY Pro guitar I’ve seen online.  I’ve seen them as kit guitars, for $99, for $149.99 and for $279.95.  Maybe they’re made by Galaxy Guitars and the same as their Starfire line?  It looks like they might call it the “Galaxy New York Pro Star Gazer”.  They may be distributed by Lou Capece.  I may have to write to them for more information.

If you have any comments/stories about Hoke·E·Geez, any information about the accordion/button box, any info on that other guitar store in Bedford, any information about the New York Pro brand, or any comments/suggestions about my plans for the guitar… I’d love to hear ’em!  Please share in the comments below!

Sat. Feb. 5th at Excuses with the Hang Lows! (via Ernie and the Berts)


Feb. 5th at Excuses… you really ought to come out to this one. The Hang Lows are cool dudes, and ska bands are always a great time!

Sat. Feb. 5th at Excuses with the Hang Lows! So, we've got a new sort-of last minute kind of gig.  Details just got pulled together, but they're all below.  Keep in mind that this is an early one… it starts at 8:00pm and will most likely actually be an 8:00 start with us on first, and the Hang Lows hitting the stage around 9:00pm.  We hope to see you there! The Bands: The Hang Lows – Facebook / MySpace / Reverb Nation / Twitter Ernie and the Berts – Facebook / Reverb Nation / MySpace / Tw … Read More

via Ernie and the Berts

Blowin’ in the wind.


If you live in the ‘Burgh, you know we got some serious storm winds & some damage on Friday afternoon.  The storm hit one of my favorite places to take photos, Dormont Park.  So, of course I got some pictures of some trees knocked over and a utility pole down.

To see the whole album, check it out in slideshow or grid form.  We were without power for about a day and a half… and no damage was done to our place, so it could have been a lot worse.  I just thought the twisted broken trees made for some good photo subjects.

I reported the downed utility pole to Duquesne Light on Saturday right after I saw it… went back to look around today, it was still down… no caution tape or anything up, so I called the Dormont police.  Hopefully they send someone in to clean up, there’s usually a decent amount of people in the park, hope no one would come across the stuff & get hurt.

Also, in the same set of photos… nothing really to do with the storm, we hit up Chick-fil-A for breakfast & the use of a power outlet to charge our phones on Saturday morning as our power was out, I happened to have my camera in the car… I saw some kind of hawk or falcon on a light pole near the Chick-fil-A in South Hills.  At first I thought it was an owl, upon a second glance I really wasn’t sure at all.

Anyone know what it is?

Some kind of bird of prey outside Chick-fil-A in the South Hills...

3 shots of the Chick-fil-A Bird...