PROBE: Jan. 18, 2002

January 18, 2002

QUESTION: Today as I was driving my son to De Anza Elementary School, a kid on a skateboard zipped off the sidewalk in front of my car. I slammed on my brakes in time to avoid hitting him. The guy driving his car in back of me had to hit his brakes to avoid me.

I am really shaken up. I came within inches of hitting that kid!

Do parents teach their kids to cross streets at signal lights or in crosswalks? Do they know it's illegal to ride a skateboard (or a bike) without a helmet? Do they know it's also illegal to ride double or triple on a bike? — Shaky Parent, El Centro

Have a cup of tea and settle down. Most parents know the rules of the road and we expect most lay down the rules — and hope for the best.

Kids will learn if they live long enough. It only seems that kids never learn because there's always a new crop of kids riding double on bikes and shooting into traffic without looking.


In the meantime, responsible drivers, keep an eye peeled for the kids and a foot close to the brake.

FOR A STRONGER TEA — If the person who wants to drink tea for her health needs to learn to make it, she should boil the water, put it in a teapot, drop in the tea bag, cover the cup and let it steep for a couple minutes. That will make the tea stronger — and save a little money. — Tea Drinker, El Centro

Good. But for a real money-saving tip for serious tea drinkers, who hope to get the cancer protection that drinking tea can bring, we found a source of bulk tea at a reasonable price.

Peso Market in Calexico carries black tea in a 5-pound bag for $9.99. At that price you could keep a tea pot steeping all day and all night for months, maybe years.

That's cheaper than having our Texas friend buy us a 5-pound bag for $7.50 and ship it out to us. Unfortunately, our friend bought us not 5 pounds but 12 pounds of tea. We may have to give up coffee.

SERVICE WITHOUT A SMILE — When my friend and I turned into the drive-through for lunch at a fast food place, I ordered the 99-cent chili. I asked the server at the window if she would fill the container to the top. She didn't respond and closed the drive-up window in my friend's face.

When the food came she handed the bag to us without a smile or a thank you! How can people be so rude? I say if you are not happy with your job, get another one! Don't take it out on the people who keep your store busy and keep your paychecks coming — Angry Customer, El Centro

Although you didn't name the restaurant, we know the place. You should have marched inside, filled out a "comment" card and relayed your complaint. We think there's an 800 number to call if you need to hammer home your complaint.

Is it possible you fueled the rudeness when you told her to fill the container to the top? Were you smarting from an earlier visit when you felt shorted on chili? There was an edge of hostility in your request, an implied expectation the employee would give you less than your share of chili. Hostility breeds hostility. Employees don't always have control over serving sizes.

If you had turned on the charm, you might have had her fudging the rules to give you a little extra chili or maybe a couple extra crackers.

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