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A Tale of Rotten Apples

I have a tale to tell you of rotten apples, both literal and figurative, so please bear with me because this is a story I just cannot keep to myself.  Not that I have kept it to myself, but I think this story deserves a wider audience than my immediate friends and family.

I wanted to send my mom a really nice gourmet  gift basket for her birthday.  I contacted a well-known floral company and ordered a not-inexpensive gift basket.  I’ve always been happy with the quality of the goods from this company and didn’t think there was any reason to think things might be different this time out.  But when I talked to my mom on her birthday and asked if the basket had come, there was a slight hesitation before she said yes.  Uh-oh.  I know that hesitation.  I know that tone of voice.  I know this means there is a problem.  So I asked.  My mom didn’t want to upset me and tell me there was a problem, but I persisted.  Now, let me mention again that this was supposed to be a gourmet food basket that included apples, pears, grapes, cranberries, cheese, crackers, etc.  The operative word here is gourmet.  The next operative words are, not inexpensive. My mom finally told me that the two large apples that were included in the basket were rotten.  Yes, rotten.  When she took the wrapping off the basket, she discovered – truly – two rotten apples.  She had already called the local florist who had made the gift basket to tell them about this problem.

Now, you might think the florist would be apologetic about this, but he seemed to be confused as to why she was complaining!  But he said he would send replacement apples in the morning.  I then asked what else was in the gift basket.  My mom reluctantly told me and I almost fell over.  Not only were several promised delicacies missing, but instead of what most people would consider gourmet cheese and crackers, the crackers were a well-known, inexpensive brand of crackers and the cheese was pretty much an amalgam of processed ingredients labeled as cheese.  I guessed that this florist had sent the high-school kid who I’m imagining works there, to the supermarket with a fistful of one-dollar bills, and instructed him to grab some apples and other fruit, cheese and crackers without any explanation of what constituted a not-inexpensive gourmet gift basket!

I contacted the floral company myself and complained about the poor quality of this basket and said I could have gone to the grocery store, spent about ten dollars, and gotten nicer items than what they had included.  The rep apologized, offered to give me a 30% discount, and told me they would tell the local florist to re-do the basket the next day and deliver the new basket if my mom would return the one she had received.  I said that would be fine but they should make sure the florist understood how egregious his error had been and that he needed a quick tutorial on putting together a gourmet gift basket.

You might think the story would end here, happily resolved – but you’d be wrong.   I called my mom the next afternoon, sure she would be gushing over the replacement gift basket, and how amazing and beautiful and delicious and gourmet it was.  Once again, I got the hesitation.  Oh no, I groaned.  To myself, of course.  What happened?  Didn’t they fix it?  Didn’t they deliver a fabulous new basket?  She didn’t want to tell me.  I insisted.  No, they didn’t.  They didn’t even take the old basket, which had been sitting on a table, waiting to be taken away all day.  No, what they did was – to bring 3 tiny Delicious apples and, are you ready – a bag of Oreo cookies!  Now, I have nothing against Oreo cookies – they are quite delicious and very popular.  But forgive me if I say, they are not a replacement for missing items in a very not-inexpensive gourmet gift basket!

I called the floral company again, insisting on talking to a manager.  I got one.  She listened to the whole story in silence – I think she was in a state of shock as I recounted the story, including the fact that the driver was annoyed that he had to make another trip – and, when I got to the part about how they supposedly rectified the situation with the 3 little apples and the bag of cookies, she actually gasped and said, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”  I assured her that I wasn’t kidding and that I never wanted to use them or their florist again in this lifetime or any other lifetime.  She understood my frustration and said that she would not only give me 50% off the original price, but would have another florist deliver a spectacular new gift basket the next day.  I told her I would give them one more chance if she promised that the original florist would never again be allowed within 100 miles of either of my parents and, that the new florist understood the word gourmet.  She promised.

So yes, the story did end happily – my mom got her spectacular, delicious, truly gourmet basket several days after her birthday.  And she and my dad enjoyed it very much.  It ended up being way beyond what I actually could have afforded.  So, in the end, I guess you could say we turned lemons into lemonade.  Or, rotten apples into gourmet Brie cheese and Belgian chocolates.

Copyright Nancy Machlis Rechtman, all rights reserved

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