The Email Suggestion – Pointless Letter #3

With the Internet businesses I run, I receive a lot of feedback emails. The majority are really pleasant and useful, and I reply in-kind. But, just occasionally, I receive one that gets my goat. I mean, it’s not difficult to be pleasant, is it? So, today, because I was in a funny mood, I decided to reply with one of my pointless letters. His email was about the search engine on one of my websites.

Here is the email I received…

I entered the sought after abbreviation with a few leading and trailing spaces. Your search engine failed to find any expansion.
This is a very poor show on your part. It’s the programmers’ duty to remove leading and trailing spaces, Not the users’. Please let me know when this has been fixed.

My response:

Dear X,

Thank you for your email. Your suggestion to remove spaces is one of the best we have received this week, second only to the idea of strapping flapjacks to pigs, which we are currently looking into (you should see the prototype, it really is something to behold).

Far from being a company who simply jump in and adopt every suggestion that comes our way, we like to take time to assess the positives and negatives of every suggestion. Yours is no exception. I’m excited to be able to tell you that we only found one negative, and it is this. As I’m sure you’re aware, several spaces in a row can make an abbreviation in itself. It is commonly used for giving a person time to think and breathe. Without these spaces, people may be forced to not take pauses between words or sentences, whichwouldbeterribleandmakeitverydifficulttounderstandwhattheyaresaying.

Despite coming up with that particular negative, we can see no others. So, I’m delighted to be able to tell you that we have taken your feedback onboard and have updated our search system to include this fantastic new feature. Now, although I’d like to take the development of our search engine a step further in assisting you and make it prepare you a mug of Bovril, massage your feet at the end of a long day and wipe your bottom for you, i regret that I won’t be able to do that. Still, don’t let that stop you from doing those things yourself, eh?

Please don’t let what I’ve said detract from the fact that your suggestion was a very good one. I have no doubt that it will improve the lives of tens of people throughout the world, all of whom might have been unable to fathom the idea of removing a space from before or after their search term before carrying out their search. May they be eternally grateful and send you Christmas cards year after year… assuming they can lick their own stamp for the envelope…

Robert Has A Hot Stone Massage…

Having really enjoyed my Swedish massage earlier in the week, I decided to go the next step and book myself in for a Hot Stone Massage. If my fear of the Swedish massage involved an Abba tribute band, perhaps this massage might involve Fred, Barney and Pebbles from the Flintstones?

The morning of my hot stone massage arrived. Having awoken late, and with the massage due to start at 11am, I thought it best not to go overboard with breakfast. One full English breakfast, a mound of toast and fifteen pastries later, I was questioning whether I’d overdone it, as the waiter wheeled me out of the restaurant in a wheelbarrow. I was soon to find out – my massage was due to begin in 30 minutes.

Arriving in the massage suite, I was greeted by a cheerful lady receptionist – a change from the man that was managing the place two days earlier. The lady handed me a disclaimer form – exactly the same one as I had filled out two days previous. I was able to re-assure her that my name was exactly as it was then and that my gender was also the same – I hadn’t had a sex change during those two days in between. Perhaps she had though – maybe this lady had been a man two days ago. I didn’t feel it was fitting to ask. I signed the form and placed it back into her hands – her big, hairy hands…

After completing the paperwork, I was led into the massage room and was, as last time, instructed to remove my outer layers and lay on the couch, covering myself over with the large brown towel. I did so, placing my suit of armour, sword and helmet on the appropriate wall hooks, and waiting for my masseuse to re-enter. She crept back into the room quietly, as if she was the tooth fairy coming in to remove a small pearly white from under my pillow and replace it with a large, silver coin.

As I was laying face down on the couch, with my head looking through the headrest at the floor, I could hear the sound of my masseuse heating up water in the background. I wondered whether she was making herself a Pot Noodle.

Now, thinking about food was probably not the best idea at that particular moment, laying on my full stomach. My regret for consuming that extra piece of toast (the one with the face resembling Lady Gaga) was growing by the minute. I checked out the masseuse’s shoes to decide whether they were expensive and would be ruined if I lost control and covered them in a full English breakfast (and fifteen pastries). I felt relieved – they looked cheap. Cheap and tacky, in fact. She clearly hadn’t made an effort…

And, then, suddenly, my back was on fire…

Wow, that’s hot. No wonder it’s called the ‘hot stone massage.’

My masseuse rubbed the oily, hot stones up and down my back in sweeping motions, before placing a stone near the bottom of my back. In the back of my mind, I feared that the stone might actually burn its way through my stomach. I had visions that I might be walking back to my room resembling a Polo mint.

The massage was relaxing – very relaxing – and I began to drift off, listening to the sound of Enya’s voice. Then, abruptly, the music stopped – mid-song. Enya had been cut off in her prime. She wouldn’t be too happy about that, I’m sure. The sound of silence remained for a few seconds, only to be broken by the noise of a frustrated man giving the music machine a good kicking out in the reception area. The guy clearly needed to chill and relax – perhaps a hot stone massage might help him? A minute or so later, the music resumed.

After my masseuse had finished on my back, I turned over. We were half way through and I was feeling very relaxed. So relaxed that even the sound of someone dragging a vacuum cleaner around in reception (perhaps vacuuming up pieces of music machine) hardly affected me much at all.

As she worked on my stiff legs, I could feel my leg muscles loosen. I can wholeheartedly recommend that if you’ve had a hard day playing sport, you place a couple of rocks into the microwave and massage them over your legs with some oil. Obviously, I’m joking about that – it’s dangerous to put rocks in the microwave. Put them in the toaster instead…

With the leg work over, my masseuse glided smoothly around the massage table and began working on my fingers; pulling each one. My mischievous side thought about letting out an enormous fart as she pulled my index finger. But, I just didn’t have it in me. Well, I did have it in me – eggs and sausages saw to that – I just didn’t want to spoil the atmosphere, so to speak.

After finishing with my arms and hands, my masseuse began prodding my stomach. Now, I don’t quite know what the point of it was, but I think she managed to find two sausages and two rashes of bacon. She was clearly a keen breakfast detective and was sniffing the scent of a major food crime. After the stomach prod, she moved on to my face. She added two small, warm stones onto my eyes. As she did this, a feeling of contentment washed over me. I was half way to achieving my life-long ambition to be a snowman. All I needed now was the carrot nose…

Fifteen minutes passed and we were in the latter stages of the massage. Throughout, she had been placing strategic pebbles on various points of my body (no, not on *that* one, before you ask. Cheeky!), By the end of my 80 minutes, I was beginning to resemble a pebbly beach. An oily, pebbly beach. I didn’t get the chance to dwell on how it felt to be a beach for too long before she began removing the stones. It was obviously time to start wrapping things up. Quite literally, in fact, as she wrapped a towel around my head.

After removing all of the pebbles from the various parts of my anatomy, my masseuse whispered to me that my massage was over and that I should take my time in getting up and getting dressed. I did just that – slowly sitting up and putting my suit of armour back on. I then checked under the pillow to find no large shiny coin. She wasn’t the tooth fairy after all. Damn her for lulling me into a false sense of security on that one. Still, I felt slightly contented that it could have been worse – whilst I was laying with the towel around my head, she could have stolen the money from my wallet and replaced it with a load of teeth…

With my clothes back on, and feeling suitably relaxed, I took one final glance around the room and spotted the equipment she had been using to heat the rocks. Silly me, she hadn’t been using a microwave at all, or a toaster… it was a Tefal Steamer!

Yabba dabba doo…

When Panic Buying Goes Wrong…

I thought I was being clever when I visited my local supermarket at midnight on Friday. With snowy weather forecast, everyone in the entire country was hitting the supermarket during the daylight hours to pack their house, garage and garden shed full of bread, milk and carpet shampoo. So, to compensate for this, and to ensure that I didn’t go without clean carpets, I decided to make a quick stop to my local Tesco on my way back from a night out on Friday. It was shrewd thinking – the supermarket would be empty and I could get in and out of the store really quickly. What could possibly go wrong?

Well, tiredness and hunger meant my decisions were slightly skewed. I managed to buy Easter eggs for the entire street, enough cereal to feed a small African village, 24 bags of of cat litter (I have no cat) and 15 boxes of tampons thanks to a special offer that I just couldn’t find the energy to turn down. So, ladies, if it’s that time of the month, you’ve got a cat with mild bladder weakness and you like cereal, mine’s the place to be…

Note: Please let me vacate my flat before you arrive, as I can’t bear to argue with you over which Easter egg you want most…