Shopping

Road Tripping It All the Way Up to Maine :)

Maine’s motto, ‘The way life should be’, really says it all.

On Wednesday I hit the road from North Carolina to Pennsylvania, stopping there for the night and picking up my mom.  Murph, Dakota, my mom and I then headed north on Thursday until we arrived in Topsham, Maine to celebrate my grandmother’s 80th.  Maine has been a summer trip every year since I can remember, and since I’ll be missing the August trip we decided to make it happen in May.  Unfortunately Maine summers don’t really get going until July, so we won’t be visiting camp (our family lake house) this year 😦  But, Maine still has plenty to offer 🙂

SHEETZ CARD: 9

Sheetz is an important part of every road trip, and clearly I stopped immediately upon leaving Wake Forest on Wednesday to grab a coffee.  The woman there told me about all the benefits of the Sheetz card, but they didn’t have any so I continued on my way.  During my second stop they had some available, and she informed me of the gas discounts (with enough points collected), permanent coffee and fountain soda discounts (totally key since that’s why I stop in the first place).  My first coffee with my new card was even free 🙂

-1 because the first Sheetz I hit up didn’t have any left, leaving me discountless for one of my stops.

HARRASEEKET’S: 6 (How do I keep messing up such simple math?!?)

As soon as I arrived in Maine I planned my visit to Harraseeket’s, one of my favorite places to get seafood and lobster in Maine.  Right on the water in Freeport, you order at a window and get to enjoy outside at picnic benches, surrounded by boats and other ‘Mainey’ things.  Perfect atmosphere 🙂

I must say, however, that unlike normal the service was BAD.  The girl taking our order at the counter got all confused by our order (a bit understandable seeing as we did add/change quite a bit).  I did make a point at the end of clarifying we wanted 5 fish sandwiches, 2 with cheese, all with tartar.  Well, when the food came out they all had cheese (bleh!  Who puts cheese on fish?!?), and none had tartar.  Interesting… additionally, they brought us out a huge order of onion rings that no one ordered.

When we found out they cost an extra $4, we decided to return them (which she had offered when she delivered them and realized there had been a mistake).  I offered to take them back, and dealt with a woman who basically accused me of lying about all of it, the original girl suddenly denied she had made a mistake, and basically I felt stupid even though I had done nothing wrong.  I hate complaining about a place I love, but when you’re that rude to me I have no choice.

Luckily the sandwich was still pretty good (despite the cheese), and the company and atmosphere was as good as usual.

-4 for the bad service.  Above 5 as I’ll obviously be returning 🙂  Hopefully that girl gets fired  by then…

Once we were done eating we headed outside to take some family pictures, and hopefully harass Kyle, my other cousin, a bit while working at the Marina.

TIME IT TAKES TO MOBILIZE MY FAMILY: 2

It took me about 45 minutes to get them all out of the house in the first place, and about another 45 to get them out of the stance you see below…

One thing after another, every time you think you’re about to move on to the next thing they have something else to talk about.  Geez oh pete!  I suppose it provides a good opportunity to work on my patience…

Finally, we made it off to the Freeport Outlets, where I scored tons of goodies, including these:

MY NEW NIKES: 10!

Can’t wait to start rocking these 🙂

Until then, just living for the tens!

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Abercrombie Experience

First of all, I’m a bit embarassed to admit I shop at Abercrombie.  But, in the true spirit of transparency, I couldn’t resist this opportunity to rate.  I do want to be clear, I only shop there when in desperate need of jeans, as their jeans fit me better than any other store.  AND, I only shop there when they can promise me a pair with no holes and at clearance prices.

That being said, I stopped by this past weekend hoping to find a new pair.

SCOTT’S HELPFULNESS: 10

A true test of a great guy is his patience while shopping with you.  And Scott most definitely passed that test.  To be honest, I couldn’t have done it without him.  For those who have never shopped there, their jeans are on shelves with the smallest size at the bottom.  We’re already at my waist by the time we’ve hit size 2 (there is, after all, a rack for 00 and then a rack for 0).  So without a 6’4” tall guy accompanying you, I would have had to do some rock-climbing to make it up to the gigantic size 8’s.

After Scott exchanged many styles, sizes, lengths, etc. I finally found a pair I loved, on clearance, with no holes.  SCORE!

However, two days later they had completely stretched out, to the point where they were almost a size larger.  No longer quite as cute or perfect fitting.  As a full-time student I couldn’t afford to drop $40 on a pair of pants that need to be washed every time I wear them (especially considering how often I do wash…).  Luckily I was raised well, and decided to see what happened when I attempted a return.

This brings me to…

ABERCROMBIE’S CUSTOMER SERVICE: 10!

I couldn’t have asked for anything more from the store manager.  She asked me what was wrong with the jeans, and I told her exactly what happened.  She looked them over, asked me what I was hoping for, and when I said a full return she gave it to me.  No further questioning, no push back, just old-fashioned excellent customer service.

They’ve earned a couple extra points in my book, which is good for them, cause if we’re rating the store as a whole, they’re gonna need ’em.

AMOUNT OF TIME WASTED ATTEMPTING TO FIND A PICTURE TO INCLUDE IN THIS POST THAT DIDN’T INVOLVE SIX PACKS OR NUDITY: 1

I finally found one (boring as it may be) but I must have wasted about 5 minutes looking for it.  Not cool.

Bargain Shopping…

turns out to not always be much of a bargain.

SHRIMP SALE: 0

After the framily dinner I stopped at Harris Teeter as I heard about an awesome shrimp sale they’re having and wanted to check it out.  Word on the street is that it was Buy 1 Get 2 Free.  WHAT?!?!  Never heard of such a thing but already liking it.  Anytime I get more for free than I actually had to pay for, I’m a happy camper.

Well, that is until I find out the one bag of shrimp is $25.98!!!  Seriously???  I realize I’m a bit of a novice shopper (unlike all those moms who know exactly how much everything is at which stores, which coupons will save you the most money, which fruits are in season and therefore the cheapest, etc.), I know that I don’t want to drop $25.98 on a bag of frozen shrimp.

Needless to say I skipped the shrimpies.

So then I decided as long as I was there I’d look at their other sales.  And spotted this one:

SCORE!  I eat chicken all the time, but have been out since break.  Went to find them… and couldn’t 😦  They were all gone.

So there I was, empty-handed, completely striking out at this week’s Harris Teeter sales.

HOWEVER, +2 because I discovered the awesome sales that are possible there.  I always viewed them as the expensive grocery store so never check them out, but now I know they sometimes have some killer deals.  Will get there earlier in the week next time 🙂

Best 4 Minutes of Shopping EVER

Saturday night we headed down to Greensboro to meet Rodney and Kim for dinner, a nice compromise between Charlotte and Durham.  Many highlights of the evening, including the Blueberry Martinis at the Village Tavern, the company, and four incredible minutes spent at the Four Seasons mall.

After a fabulously delicious dinner (rated a 9.  Who puts capers on Bruschetta? And more importantly who enjoys that?), we headed over to the Four Seasons Mall to do some Christmas shopping.  First of all, I can’t help but comment on the fact that it closed at 9 pm on a Saturday night during Christmas season.  You have got to be kidding me.  When did malls start closing before 10?  And on Saturdays, aren’t they supposed to stay open later for the teenagers who can’t drive and need to be dropped off somewhere to hang out with their friends?  And shouldn’t  malls be open even later during the holiday season?  By my estimation it should have been open until at least 12.

Nonetheless, we arrived at 8:56 and sadly discovered it was about to close.  I quickly darted into the Dollar Store to see if they had any toy microphones (to practice my karaoke and lip syncing, clearly), and in four minutes found all this:

Included are:

  • A cake container (please see my last post)
  • A new dog leash (Murph’s old one accidentally got chewed, and I got to replace it for only a buck!  AND it has reflective tape on it!)
  • Tall toe socks (I was worried how running in my Five Fingers would go in the wintertime without socks, but now my problem is solved)
  • Last, they had glass rings for only a buck!  My all time fave, I have a collection that I wear pretty much all the time.  I’ve broken a few, and because the originals were from Italy they were a bit hard to replace.  I’ve since found some in Boone at an arts store, and now apparently at the dollar store.  While not quite as meaningful, it’s still awesome and you gotta love the price when you’re a full time student…

Bottom line= these four minutes of shopping are a strong 9.  -1, of course, for the lack of a microphone.

This Year’s REI Yard Sale

Those of you who have been following the blog for over a year now (can’t believe it’s been that long!) will probably remember last year’s experiences at both the Durham REI yard sale and the Cary REI yard sale.  I started off the season with Durham, where we were in the top 10 there, arriving at around 5, and topped it off with Cary (the biggest of the three around here), spending the night in the parking lot (tent and all) and ending up number 1 in line!

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This year I wasn’t around for Cary’s, but when our trip to Red River Gorge got rained out this weekend (which I rate a 2) I was unexpectedly around for Durhams.  While I attempted to recruit some folks for camping, the forecast of rain scared us off.  Paul, however, was game for getting up at 4:30 and heading over, which I thought would be perfect.  However, we ended up 21 and 22 in line!  We arrived to find two large tents, two hammocks (one with a tarp roof set up) and some random peopel in sleeping bags right in front of the front door.  We threw our name on the list, put the seats down in the back of my Suby, and used my crashpad as a bed.  When I say ‘we’, I mean Murph and I, since Paul stayed up in the front seat running down my car battery.

At about 8 we got our official numbers and headed out to breakfast while we waited for the store to officially open at 10.

After digging for a while we found some goodies, exited the back and headed to try on/try out all our fabulous goodies.  I ended up with a present for Dakota (see below), some more cheap hiking socks, a couple spare bike tubes, and a new climbing top for Hound Ears 🙂  (Speaking of Hound Ears, if anyone not going would love to hang out with two incredible pups for a couple days, they’re not allowed at the comp and so far haven’t found anyone in town.  I’m getting desperate so I don’t have to bail on a comp I’ve already paid for… I will rate you a 10 forever.  I swear.)

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All in all I’d rate this year’s Yard Sale a 7.  Found everything I wanted minus a bike jersey, and didn’t spend too much unnecessary cash.  Next year, however, I’m sticking with the camp out.  I think I can make it happen once a year.

MURPHY’S ABILITY TO HANDLE EXCITEMENT: 5.  Murph needed some alone time, as he’d clearly been in a slump since spending so much time with Maggie, and then returning to still find Dakota around.  So this morning I decided he’d accompany us to the REI yard sale.  He did great, and was super friendly to everyone he met, but boy did it tire him out.  He’s done nothing but lie around all day, half the time in a DEAD sleep.  It’s been nice, I won’t lie 🙂

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LAZY RAINY FALL DAYS: 8.  I love them.  I don’t know what it is about the rain that somehow makes it better, but I think it might just be the mandatory laziness.  No long dog walks (although we did sneak one in right before the predicted rain), no bike rides, runs, tennis, etc.  While I love all those things, sometimes I like the forced relaxation.  So far I’ve spent all day watching college football, studying for my midterm, and enjoying my new wool socks.  Some days like this can make me crave people interaction, but since I had QT with Paul, Laura, Jay, Lisa and Richard this morning, and am spending tonight with Lauren, I am totally thriving on the me time.

Headed to climb at Pilot Mt. tomorrow if weather permits, and while I’m loving the rain today, any extra prayers that it will leave in time for tomorrow would be much appreciated!  Until then, GO STATE!!!

The Mountains to the Beach

One thing many claim as an awesome part of living in the triangle is the idea that you can travel to the mountains or the beach all in one days time.  Well, since I decided to do some schoolwork last weekend during Labor Day, I decided to celebrate the 3-day weekend this week.

On Friday night I headed out the mountains of Western NC with some incredible women in my life.  It was a bit last minute thanks to Allie’s incredible colleague who owns a condo in Banner Elk and was kind enough to let us stay for the weekend.  We left Friday night, celebrated some quality girl time that evening, and then explored the nearby towns the next day.  We walked around downtown Boone, which was alive with school spirit due to the home football game that day, and headed home that night to a nice home cooked meal and relaxing in the incredible condo on the mountain.  Some ratings from the trip…

LAURA’S CARE PACKAGES: 10.  As Allie and I arrived at Laura’s to pack up the car and head out to the mountains, Laura surprised us with little trip care packages.  After my blog post post-care package in LA, you probably know how I feel about unexpected surprises like this.  The idea is incredible, and reminds me of the days in college when I’d be beyond excited to receive the familiar Fruit-of-the-Month box from the front desk (and never was it actually fruit of the month, but instead a recycled box filled with baked goods, dorm decorations and candy to keep me entertained while away).  Care packages are even better when they contain incredible chapstick, homemade soap, and delicious raspberry chocolate.  What a great start to the trip 🙂

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Allie and I with our goodie bags (along with Laura, the awesome creator)

THE GREEN BEETLE: 8. The instigator for this whole trip was Allie, who is lucky enough to have a fabulous colleague/mentor who owns a condo in Banner Elk, NC.  It turns out it hadn’t been rented to anyone this weekend, so last minute he offered it up to us for just the cost of the cleaning afterwards.  As you can imagine, we were all over that.

When we arrived we resembled the cast of the Real World, upon arrival at their brand new fabulous mansion.  We went from room to room oohing and aahing over how fabulous it was, and literally screaming several times with joy.  The whole place is woody, exactly how a mountain condo should be, spotless, beautifully decorated, and homey.  There’s a brilliant patio outside, two beautiful bedrooms, two bathrooms (one with an incredible shower that I fell in love with), an incredible kitchen (completely equipped to cook in, no less) and a cozy living room with a fireplace.  On top of all this, it’s a ‘green’ condo, and all cleaning supplies, etc. are completely environment friendly.

-.5 because there’s no hot tub (and that’s not minus a whole point because there IS a jacuzzi tub in one of the bathrooms), and -.5 because there aren’t any speakers to play music.  We survived with just the laptop, and to be honest I should have brought them myself, but I did miss having a soundtrack at parts.  If you’re ever headed to the Boone area and need a place to stay, you should definitely look into this one.  It comes HIGHLY recommended.  Check it out here.

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On Saturday we headed to downtown Boone to explore and do a little shopping.  Many good things were to be found…

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OUR PARKING SPOT: 10.  Honestly, can’t think of a better one.  Right as we were strolling (and by strolling I clearly mean slowly driving) down main street we saw someone ahead of us pull out of a spot RIGHT in the middle of town.  Because it was game day we were expecting to have to pay a fortune to get a spot, but here it was.  The perfect spot, and for nothing.  We double checked with the parking guys on how long we could stay, and to verify it was free, and his answer was “Yup” and “All day”.  I’m loving it.

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The Shoppes of Farmers Hardware: 8.  There are a couple stores like this in Boone that I love.  It’s basically like a mini Arts Fest inside a store.  The store is broken up into a bunch of different ‘booths’ that local artists/merchants can rent out to sell their things.  Therefore inside you find a complete hodge podge of everything from wood furniture. to jewelry, to purses and shoes, to Christmas decorations.  I dig the variety, and am totally into the idea of making it easy for local artists to sell their stuff.  Part of what makes Boone Boone. -2 because I didn’t find a ton of stuff that I personally loved or wanted to take home with me, but I’m sure that’s definitel not true for everyone.

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THIS WEDDING DRESS: 8.  For those who know me well, I’m not exactly the type to plan my entire wedding ahead of time.  Have I thought about it?  Sure.  What girl hasn’t?  Do I spend every waking moment thinking about flowers and dresses and guest lists?  Heck no.  So I even surprised myself when I was so in awe of this dress on display in one of the stores downtown.  But I couldn’t help it.  If I were ever the type to wear a fancy dress (which I’m pretty sure I’m not), I’d want it to look just like this.  -1 because it would require a formal wedding to go with it, and -1 because of the long train and length of the dress, both which would rule out flip flops.

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AVACADO SANDWICH AT ‘OUR DAILY BREAD’: 9.  After doing some lite shopping (that’s right, the heavy stops were coming post-lunch) we decided to stop at the terrific sandwich restaurant in downtown Boone called Our Daily Bread.  We were definitely disappointed at first when our waitress informed us they were out of tempeh (one of my favorite parts of Boone is the large number of restaurants that use tempeh in everything- especially this one which has at least 8 different choices), but I soon forgot all about this as I dove into my brilliant looking avacado sandwich.  Fresh avacado, provolone cheese, sprouts, cucumber, onion, tomato and lettuc, all on whole wheat bread, MADE MY DAY.  I’m seriously in love, and have decided this would be easy enough to recreate at home.  -1 because the provolone wasn’t melted.  I had a great avacado sandwich the other day at Mellow Mushroom where the cheese was melted, and it was FABULOUS.

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STORE NAMES IN BOONE: 6.  I’m not really sure that I love them all (especially the name of this law firm) but I definitely found them entertaining and fun to keep an eye on.  It seemed as if it was almost a requirement to opening a store in Boone is coming up with a clever name…

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FEELINGS OF FALL: 7.  Feelings of fall were everywhere in Boone this weekend.  We saw one red tree on the side of the mountain, felt the crisp mountain air in the mornings, stopped by a local store with pumpkins, gords, dried corn, fall decorations, etc all on sale (and there were several more where this came from), and I smelled fall once or twice while there.  -1 becuase it seems a bit early for pumpkins, -1 because the crisp air was a bit of a tease in the morning as it got hot in the afternoon, and -1 because it got me too excited to then return to 85 degrees back at home.  Overall I’d confidently say I’m ready for fall 🙂

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CHEDDAR CHIVE CHEESE FROM EARTH FARE: 9.  They had small samples out to try in the store, and while I love almost all cheese, I REALLY loved this one.  The sharp cheddar taste was delish, and then add the cut up chives and oniony aftertaste and I’m in heaven.  I decided I didn’t need to splurge on good cheese, but Laura and Allie surprised me with it.  Was a great appetizer with crackers while we were cooking dinner.  I wonder if Whole Foods has some around here…

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WOLAVER’S ORGANICE PUMPKIN ALE: 5.  As a result of all the hints of fall around Boone, I felt it necessary to pick up some Pumpkin Ale for dinner on Saturday night.  At Earth Fare they had one option, one I haven’t tried before, so we picked up a 6-pack.  Overall I’d say it was alright.  I’d get it again if it were the only one at the store (something just feels so right about drinking pumpkin beer this time of year), but if there were alternatives I think I’d try those first.  A bit too ‘aley’ for me, and I didn’t taste enough pumpkin to be honest.  But it did the trick, and was a solid complement to dinner 🙂

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HOME COOKED DINNER: 8.  I’ve cooked butternut squash enchiladas a lot before, but this was only my second attempt on my own.  Without a food processor the insides came out a little bit less creamy, and I forgot the chives, cinnamon, and another spice I didn’t have on hand.  -2 for this, but overall I’d say they came out pretty well.  We picked up some spanish rice and refried black beans (first time trying these and I must say I’m a fan) which added a nice complement.  Overall I’d say we did good 🙂

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After an incredible dinner and great conversation Saturday night, we hit the sack and left town the next morning.  All in all a pretty fabulous mountain trip 🙂

As you can imagine I’m now exhausted from the long weekend so am headed to bed.  Will blog about the fabulous beach adventures tomorrow!

Burnt spaghetti and Kroger Savings

CLASSROOM TECHNOLOGY: 7

Some will be shocked by this rating.  However, as much as I love what it has to offer education, I am also constantly frustrated with it.  Teaching in a classroom with tons of technology I dealt with everything from having to align and realign my SmartBoard (constantly!), fix computer screens for students who had ‘accidentally’ turned them horizontal (and were then working with their head at a 90 degree angle) to the blue screen of death.  Whenever I finally felt like I had things under control something else would happen.

I was reminded of my constant battles in class last week when my Professor whipped out the ‘blue clickers’.  Immediately I was reminded of the guilt I felt for two years knowing that I had these at my disposal in my classroom and couldn’t for the life of me ever get them to work effectively AND efficiently (which is key in a middle school classroom).  I soon felt better when he struggled with them as much as I did, and I questioned if they were even worth using.  The first class lots of batteries were dead, so half didn’t work very well, and the second class something was wrong with the program, and he spent 20 minutes (literally) at the beginning of the class trying to fix it while we were asked to chat with each other.  Again, never would have been feasible in middle school, so my guilt was taken care of.

Still above a 5 (clearly) because this is only one example, and there’s so much that causes few problems and enhances instruction in a huge way.  Plus, the kids love it and what more can I ask for than that.

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BELAYING BIRTHDAY PARTIES AT VERTICAL EDGE: 4

I’ve never loved them, but the benefits have usually outweighed the disadvantages.  Potentially until now, that is.  Vertical Edge used to give out 2 free passes/birthday party worked, plus a free climb that day.  Now they’ve changed it however to 1 free pass and a climb that day.  While this is what Triangle Rock Club offers, TRC also charges a lot more to get in (understandably so as the gym is a lot newer and nicer), so therefore the one piece is worth more money saved.  I pay $8 every Tuesday at Vertical Edge, so now that’s all I’m getting paid for 2 hours, and in my mind just isn’t worth it anymore.  I think I may stick with TRC.

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THIS WEEK’S BATCH OF ROSEMARY BREAD: 7

This time around I couldn’t seem to find my classic recipe on my computer, so I had to go with a new one online.  A benefit was that it didn’t require dried milk (or whatever that stuff is), which miraculously disappeared in all my packing/unpacking this summer.  A downside was that it only called for 1.5 tablespoons of Rosemary (half of what I normally use) and I listened, assuming proportions were different.  However, in the end my apartment didn’t smell like Rosemary like it normally does, and the taste wasn’t nearly as delicious.  I also need to ignore salt requirements, and always cut it in half.  Forgot about that too.

But some bonus points for the fact that it was made for Laura and Snooky, with Rosemary they gave me from their own garden 🙂 Overall it was still pretty delish.

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BURNT LEFTOVER SPAGHETTI: 3

This week I had Laura and Snooky over for dinner and prepared a pretty classic spaghetti with a vegetable sauce dish.  As usual we ended up chatting for a while out on the porch, and then inside over some delicious blueberry pie, and I completely forgot I had left the burner on.  Pretty classic Janice (last framily dinner I found the oven still on 3 days later), and unfortunate because I now have no pasta leftovers. But entertaining as this is what it looked like:

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THIS WEEK’S KROGER SAVINGS: 8

Things like savings and gas prices are always hard to rate, as a 10 would be 100% savings, or $.00/gal.  However, I was pretty pumped when I saw this at the bottom of my Kroger receipt this week while grocery shopping.  Looks like my new frugality (being a grad student isn’t cheap!) is paying off 🙂  Pun totally intended.

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DAKOTA’S WILLINGNESS TO STOP AND DROP ANYWHERE, ANYTIME: 1

Dakota has no sense of propriety when it comes to his pooping.  In fact, if he has to go he goes.  Regardless of where he is.  Murph, on the other hand, searches constantly for the perfect spot.  Really it doesn’t matter that much, except when Dakota is literally in the middle of the street when he decides to go. Poops for so long a car literally has to come to a complete stop waiting for him to finish and me to pick it up.  Not ideal.

The good news is he’s always sure to get it out before returning to the apt.  That would be a definite 0.