Tag Archives: Noodles & Company Fairfax

Three Things (this is not about my kids!) Thursday 2 – Art, Apps and Apologies


This is not a weekly “column” about my kids. This is a weekly column (there, I said it) about three things I think you’d like to know about, but even more so, it’s three things I’d like to share. Here’s last week’s when I wrote about wiper blades, hair color and love: https://mollyfielddotcom.wordpress.com/2013/01/31/three-things-thursday-1/

I’ve refined it since then: The three things will be attuned to three very elemental parts of ourselves — mind, body and spirit — we need to enrich to live fuller lives. I will try to keep these posts to less than 750 words.

Here we go.

Mind: Art.

Last weekend, my fam was in town. It was glorious to see them all. We went to the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC. Specifically, we went to see the exhibit of Chinese dissident artist (and all around freakin’ badass) Ai (“aye”) Weiwei (“way-way”). He is a proud middle-finger upper at the White House and Tiennenman Square and has the shots to prove it. Weiwei was beaten for attending a protest in China and turned the resultant brain scans showing the injuries into art. His work is a giant (swear alert): up yours to the Chinese government and any government which oppresses. He has dropped a Han Dynasty Urn (crazy value of something like $50,000) just because he could and his expression is so flip about the whole thing I admire it. You can see an interview and a clip of the exhibit which aired on CBS here (the narrator’s voice makes me want to run and hide, so … uh, sorry). This exhibit is in DC until February 24… you have 17 days. GO NOW. Plus, it’s free.

Below are just some of the photos I took. I could grab photos from the site, but they are too austere; they don’t have people in them (I think he would prefer having people in the shots). Some are blurred because we couldn’t use flash.

He made a snake out of 5,000 backpacks, similar to those worn by the children whose lives ended in an earthquake in Sichuan province in 2008 when school buildings collapsed on them due to shoddy engineering and government corruption. Despite the fact that you’re in another country, you can’t shake the feeling that you are on hallowed ground:

This backpack reptile winds down the ceiling of the gallery for another 75-100 feet.

This backpack reptile winds down the ceiling of the gallery for another 75-100 feet.

Aside from the snake was this, a wall emblazoned with a poster displaying all the victims’ names, ages and genders in a spreadsheet. As you walk beneath the snake and view the wall, a recording of the names read by various voices of surviving loved ones plays in the background:

note the empty cells nearest the camera.

note the empty cells nearest the camera.

I was struck later, upon viewing my photo that he left empty cells open in the spreadsheet; a reminder of our own mortality and the lives not yet lost due to the corruption. The recording lasts 3 hours and 41 minutes and plays continuously. The placard beside it said:

A name is the first and final marker of individual rights, one fixed part of the ever-changing human world: no matter how poor or how rich, all living people have a name, and it is endowed with good wishes, the expectant blessings of kindness and virtue.

Another installation in the exhibit, “Straight” was a collection of 38-tons’ worth of rebar from the site that Weiwei re-straightened himself after the catastrophe:

"The tragic reality of today is reflected in the true plight of our spiritual existence: we are spineless and can not stand straight." --Ai Weiwei

“The tragic reality of today is reflected in the true plight of our spiritual existence: we are spineless and can not stand straight.” –Ai Weiwei

“Cube Light” – my video. This particular piece is amazing; it’s close to 12’x12’x12′ … you can get lost inside the cube from outside it. You’ll see my camera lens experience the same phenomenon; it doesn’t know where to focus. That munchkin chatting in the background is my nephew.

It's gorgeous and it sucks you in. As much as I wanted to say, "Well, I  guess anything can be called 'Art' these days, I was eventually humbled to believe that I was in the presence of greatness.

It’s gorgeous and it sucks you in. As much as I wanted to smugly say, “Well, I guess anything can be called ‘Art‘ these days,” I was eventually humbled. I was in the presence of greatness.

In this picture above, shown for perspective, is my loony and awesome brother lying on the floor showing his artistic genius. I don’t know what his pic looks like, but I love taking pictures of people taking pictures of the same thing I am.

Body: Apps or Alarms

I don’t like being woken up abruptly. I don’t know who does. I have a progressive alarm clock. The difference between a standard WAKE THE HELL UP!!! alarm clock and a progressive one is that the progressive one gently rouses you. They all operate under the same standard: don’t traumatize the sleeper. For travel, I also downloaded a progressive alarm clock app for my kids to use when they wake. If you have a Droid, go to the Google Play app market and download, “Nature Sounds Alarm Clock” and it should be free; if you have an iDevice, go to the App Store and download “Progressive Alarm Clock”; I paid $1.99 for it. Two words: Life Changing.

Or if you’d like one in person, they can be lovely (and pricey), go to Now and Zen and check them out. I have the brass bowl on a cherry stand and I love it. Not cheap, I saved my milk money for two years for it and I use it for meditation timing; my cleaning ladies like to put the hair ties and change from my dresser in the bowl. nitztagrbikfragalratzen…. By the way (wei), I get paid nothing nor am I compensated for any of these items I share with you.

Spirit: Apologies

Mad props to national chain Noodles & Company for their accountability last month after I was treated like burnt tofu at their restaurant near my home. I shared that blog post with them (highlighted in red above), they sent me an email, then they called me, and a few days later, I received THIS in the mail:

This was lovely: a cutting board, a water bottle, some free meal cards and a tote bag made from recycled billboards. Let's have mad respect for Noodles, y'all.

This was lovely: a HANDWRITTEN thank you card, a cutting board, a water bottle, some free meal cards and a tote bag made from recycled billboards. Let’s have mad respect for Noodles & Company, y’all. That’s awesome.

They thanked ME! Last night, we cashed in those OOPS! cards and here is the result (caption) in an email I sent to their area manager:

"Garry,  Tonight was like the old nights. NOODLES IS BACK!!!  The penne rosa was fresh, hot, abundant and delicious. We couldn't wait any longer to use the cards, sinus infection or not.  I hope you see the smiley face in my EMPTY bowl. Thanks again for everything. Love is in the air. Molly

“Garry, Tonight was like the old nights. NOODLES IS BACK!!! The penne rosa was fresh, hot, abundant and delicious. We couldn’t wait any longer to use the cards, sinus infection or not. I hope you see the smiley face in my EMPTY bowl. Thanks again for everything. Love is in the air. Molly

The thing about apologies is this: they work. What works more? apologies and action. Noodles & Company proved that they are sincere last night. I’ve written about apologies here. Don’t bother making an apology unless you’re ready to back it up. Then it will be good for everyone’s soul.

Well, I went over by about 300 words. Captions. Sorry.

Thank you.

Rant: Burnt Tofu on MLK Day


I’m not one to rant and go all preachy consumer-advocacy on my blog. I save that for the phone calls to the customer service lines of the places where I receive bad service.

But this time… the place deserves it.

My long-time, beloved and local Noodles & Co., has earned my wrath.

I ordered Pad Thai with extra tofu. I knew this was a gamble, because I’ve had it before at this restaurant and it’s been pretty subpar; but their other stuff is usually quite good, so I went against my better judgment. I love N&C. When I was PTA president, I used to arrange our dinners out fundraisers there all the time. It was a great relationship. But these elegant café places are sort of all the same now: explosive growth, good food swiftly prepared and you’re out in less than 40 minutes, because we all have to get back to texting and instagram.

After ordering we sat down with the number placard which designated our order. All our meals arrived and all my tofu was beneath the Pad Thai noodles. About halfway into the meal, my stomach started to hurt. So I stopped eating. I “searched” around into my bowl and discovered my tofu was seared scorched. It was beyond overcooked, it was past its peak and it was inedible, hard and bad tasting.

I decided at first to let it go and just move on. But then I thought better of it and I walked up to the counter with my bowl and I presented it to a staffer. I’m not sure he was the manager, but he looked to be the oldest in the restaurant.

He asked me if I needed assistance and I told him my food was overcooked and showed it to him. I should have taken a picture of it, but I didn’t. My phone was in my car and I’m really starting to get skeeved out by all the photo sharing all over the internet and the way things are taken out of context.

I said, “This is overcooked; not only is that the problem, but it’s singed, burnt. It should never have been served and someone served it anyway.”

“Why didn’t you tell us about it earlier?”

“Because it was hidden beneath the noodles and my stomach only started hurting moments ago. Does it look burned to you? Does it look like it should be served?”

“Would you like another one? How about dessert?” he said, gesturing to the piles of brick-sized rice krispy treats and 6″ cookies in a basket on the counter.

“No. Thanks, no. My appetite is shot. I just wanted you to know. It’s too bad; this place used to be my go-to but lately, in the last six months or so, it just seems to have gone downhill; become lazy and this burnt tofu is sort of a sign of that. You all have let things slide.”

“Would you like something else? How about taking something to-go?”

I tilted my head. I didn’t want anything in return. And here’s where I started to realize that I was talking to a script reciter. This person had no … interpersonal skills or training. No empathy, well, that was just a hunch until he said this when I asked him if he’d eat it…

“Well, I don’t like Pad Thai,” smirking. I hate smirks. They’re symbolic to me of peoples’ inability to feel whatever they’re feeling and behave authentically.

My eyes became as big as saucers. They popped out of my head, bounced off the counter, landed on the floor, and rolled about 12 feet to a nearby table. While my kids scrambled for them, I did my best, “WHAT?!”

“You don’t like Pad Thai? Tell me you didn’t just say that. Well, then do you like your food burnt? We’re not gonna really go there, are we?”

Sheepish smile, clear discomfort came over his face and he sort of snorted in spite of himself, “Well, I uh, no. I don’t like my food burnt.”

He was looking at me (my kids were holding up my eyeballs for me, like Mr. Potatohead would do for the missus when she lost her eye) and he said, “Well, what do you want me to do for you?”

I said, “I realize this makes you uncomfortable. You don’t have a solution that will address this; my appetite is ruined because of the burned food your kitchen concealed beneath the noodles; I get that. I don’t want money, I don’t want food. I just want you to say you’re sorry and that regardless of whether you like Pad Thai, that you hear me. That you understand how I feel and that laziness contributed to this experience.”

“Yeah. I guess it did.”

That was the best he could give me. It’s not that I wanted more or that I needed I needed I needed, it’s that there’s something wrong, something missing, a chip maybe in someone who can LOOK SOMEONE ELSE squarely in the face and ostensively tell them that their complaint doesn’t jibe with them BECAUSE it’s not identical, because it’s not their comfort at stake, because it’s not ABOUT THEM. They can’t … empathize.

I’m sure this is part of what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. meant when he talked about service, when he talked about doing your best to further humanity and social progress. I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean for a 20-something manager behind the counter of a restaurant to slough responsibility and avoid apology (which he still had yet to do; the words, “You’re right, this is bad, I’m terribly sorry about it” or even their ilk never crossed his lips). What did cross his lips? Compensation, a product replacement, an actable solution; corporate policy.

Sometimes, all someone wants is to be told their concerns are valid; that they matter and that they were right to want an apology. I’m sure that isn’t asking too much; if it is… we’ve got big problems.

Thank you.