Holiday Service

The people I have encountered in Houston are so nice, and the service I have been receiving is above and beyond.  When my veterinarian provided me a ride home so I wouldn't have to bring my cat in a cab, I was astounded.  The following week it happened again at my neighborhood liquor store.  I walked there since it was only two blocks away.  But after I decided to buy more than I could carry, they insisted on driving me home instead of letting me go back to get my car. I was pleasantly flummoxed; it seemed that Houston might be the best-kept secret in the U.S.

Tis the season for customer service.  At this time last year, I was working to provide good customer service at the new Anthropologie in Calgary.  I can't lie, it was a terrible Christmas.  The store was unprepared for the grand opening Christmas week, and shoppers were mostly not in the mood for our missteps.  This year, moving, in addition to the holiday season, has provided many customer service experiences.  In addition to the exceptional gestures from my vet and liquor store, I have received friendly and helpful assistance while running holiday errands at the stores in my neighborhood.  Even if you technically don't celebrate Christmas, in our culture you are going to have to be involved in some way, since no corner of this land is untouched by it.  So I really feel for all of those who work during this week in order to keep things up and running.

The magical Houstonian service I receive seems to not extend through all companies; it turns out that AT&T remains AT&T.  We signed up for their wireless service after our landlord recommended a switch from his own lackluster Comcast experience.  We hesitated, as we had disliked AT&T for our phones a few years back.  But, believing in second chances (foolishly), we went ahead with AT&T.  Since then, in two weeks, I have enjoyed two lackluster repair appointments, two lackluster phone experiences, and two unhelpful online chats.  Their left arm definitely does not know what their right arm is doing.

Anyway, now I'm off to reward my exceptional vet with some holiday treats.  It's not every day anymore that neighborhood service is available and exceptional, and people like that give me a warm holiday feeling.

Merry Christmas!  Especially if you are working this week.


I follow a fairly consistent order of operations when we move.  First comes the procurement of a new home and therefore address, after which home and car insurance can be obtained, with which you can secure a local driver's license, which is necessary to get local license plates,which you can always put off getting until your old tags expire, but it's a little dicey to let them lapse.

After I can prove that I legally live in a new place, things like internet and electricity can be set up, and then I can usually relax and unpack and try to figure out how many new shelves will be necessary, and how few trips to Ikea I can get away with.  After the kitchen and closets achieve a level of basic functionality, I turn my attention back outside of the house.  I try to find at least one doctor before I'm actually sick, so that when I have strep throat or something uncomfortable I don't have to try to figure out how to log into some untouched health insurance website.  Dentists don't usually get looked up until much later, and, unfortunately for the cat, finding a new vet normally gets shoved pretty far down the list as well.  In fact, we avoided it altogether in Calgary.  This move to Houston may have created a new template, however.

House cats are typically happy in their own environments.  They like familiar smells, familiar views and perches.  Moving can be stressful, so I have been worried about our cat during this entire month.  She rode with us in the car from Calgary to Minnesota, and stayed with my parents while we house-hunted.  She remained there while I finished packing in Calgary.  She sustained two more days in the car, with a Holiday Inn overnight in Wichita, on the way down here, and then she had to stay in our bedroom for three days while we waited for the movers to come.  November was probably not her favorite month.

By the time the movers finished unloading the boxes, I was ready to just sit for a minute in the new place and enjoy not being in motion.  My husband was at work with the car, and the cat was shut up in a bathroom with her water and box.  At last, I released her to roam around and I made a cup of tea.

I was sitting with my tea at the kitchen table, surrounded by boxes and blissful quiet, when suddenly I saw the cat falling through the air.  Our home is arranged in a tall and skinny fashion; it has four levels organized around an open atrium and stairwell.  The stairwell was one of the features I loved about the place, and suddenly here was my cat falling through it.  It was so unnatural, and also quiet.  She didn't scream or anything.  She fell from above me, so I will never know exactly what appears that she misjudged a jump or tried to get into a windowsill that was just out of reach.

Regardless, everything that happened next was about that.  I ran to see her, but she wasn't where she fell; she had landed in the foyer and run to hide in a nearby bathroom.  I was desperately scared and horrified.  After a scramble and a few phone calls, the cat and I were on our way to a nearby vet in the cab of a luckily genial driver.  My friend helped me over the phone to find the vet on short notice, and he turned out to be fantastic.  He was ten blocks away and the cat and I received amazing service.

She turned out fine.  She had a minor nosebleed which quickly resolved and a fractured tooth which ultimately required a root canal.  She approaches the stairs with caution, and we make sure to take extra care to know where she is while she gets used to our new home.

Aside from the cat disaster, I love Houston so far.  The people are friendly and I am really happy with our new home and neighborhood.  Also, the things that we went through with the cat put on display a really nice feature of Houstonians: their incredible friendliness.  My vet new vet even gave me a ride home so I wouldn't have to call a cab again.  And, as horrible as it was that Bean fell, now we already have a great vet for her in the neighborhood.  I hope that there is not another move next year, but if there is, I may put the task of locating a vet in a higher position in the order of operations.