Posts Tagged assistance

No Day at the Beach

For one, I was really enjoying the company of my new friend, The Navigator. Secondly, the weather was amazing. I couldn’t have been happier to be away from the cold weather on the East Coast.

Contrary to my plan, the weather wasn’t fully cooperative. The closer we got to the coast, the cloudier and colder it got. I didn’t care how cold it was, I was not putting the top on the convertible back up. I did, however, turn the heat up. That kept us cozy while we acclimated to the new weather pattern.

We drove around for a little before finally finding a parking spot. We walked to the beach, and we spread out the blanket I asked him to bring. He sat down, and he started pulling out the other provisions he brought — A bottle of Sprite, a bottle of Absolut, and some snacks and granola bars. I think I was falling in love. He was spontaneous and courteous. I added the provisions I grabbed at the gas station to the pool.

We sat next to each other commenting on how much the weather deteriorated and chatting about some of the surfers. We were among sparse company. The only other people brave enough to hit the sand that day were the surfers we both scoped out.

We relaxed and the conversation from the car continued. He talked about his family and his background. I learned he was a Jehovah’s Witness. He wasn’t very passive in his faith either. He had the prestigious honor to attend a bible college in Brooklyn. While there, through a slip up, it was discovered he is gay. He was excommunicated from the religion and has very limited contact with his family.

My heart was breaking to hear this sad story. He was an incredible man for surviving all that, and even more impressive for his comfort telling this to virtually a complete stranger. I told him about my religion, and my new outlook on it. I told him about my conversation with my mother on Christmas Eve, even though it was nothing compared to what he went through.

As if his story couldn’t be more complicated, I learned his brother is also gay and struggling with his religion. He was actually finding men online and hooking up with them at rest stops until he was nearly caught by police. His brother chose to take a different route in dealing with this. The Navigator tried to suppress his homosexuality with the aid of his religious elders, but came to accept who he is. His brother was not as fortunate to have the mental confidence to know himself. He was going through conversion classes to help him become heterosexual. They were trying to brainwash him. My skin was crawling at the sound of this.

After leaving his religion, he moved around a lot. One move was for a man, but obviously that didn’t work out. He’d been in LA for roughly a year and was still settling in.

I was really enjoying his company. We took turns making trips to the restroom, and when he stood to walk away, I took the opportunity to check him out. In the back of my head, a voice was screaming, “Be careful! You’re on vacation. You can’t fall for another West Coaster!” My heart was not going to be so easily convinced. I was cautiously proceeding. I really liked this guy. If he lived in New York, we’d definitely be dating. He was just what I was looking for. A masculine man who had his life together and knew what he wanted in life.

When we sufficiently froze our a$ses off, we hopped back in the car and made our way back inland. While we drove back to Glendale, I realized I’d already used up all my condoms and almost all the lube. I would need to stop for provisions along the way, but it wasn’t going to be easy with The Navigator with me. I decided to stop at a CVS. While he looked for the bathroom, I looked for the condoms and lube. I told him I needed to buy sunscreen, which I did, but that was very low on the priority list.

When I finally found what I needed, I realized they were under lock and key. I had to push a button that made the announcement, “Assistance needed in the family planning department.” Family planning couldn’t be further from what I was looking for. The irony was killing me. As Broadway always joked, “Butt babies don’t live.” I wondered what I’d done recently to deserve this karma. It was going to be nearly impossible to pull this off without him seeing what I was purchasing.

Someone came to unlock the case, and he turned his head in an attempt to give me my privacy. That was long gone. I grabbed what I needed and quickly walked to the checkout counter. Of course, when I arrived, there was a long line. I took my place in line behind an old man and hoped The Navigator was still looking for the restrooms.

I was next in line. Maybe I was going to get away with this after all. It wasn’t in the cards for me. The old man in front of me was taking FOREVER! Every second that passed was nerve-wracking. I didn’t want him to see what I was purchasing because it may have been perceived presumptuous.

Just then, he walked up behind me. My cover was blown. I tried to hide the products in the crooks of my crossed arms, but there’s a really good chance he saw what I had. Of course, this was also the moment the next register opened up. I walked up and purchased my items. I paid, and we walked back to the car without mentioning what I bought at all.

We talked the whole ride back to his apartment. When I turned onto his street, he turned to me and said, “Sooo, do you want to hang out some more?” Without hesitation, I shouted, “Yes!” He asked if I want to go back to my hotel room and hang out, and I agreed that was a great idea!

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Ozzy Bonobos

Today, I am bringing you a tag team post created for you by myself and another one of my faithful Australian readers, J. Argenta. I hope you enjoy.

Recently, I posted about Bonobos. As a result, one of my readers, J. visited the site and did a little shopping.

“I’m one of his avid readers and couldn’t help but check out the Bonobos site after he spoke so highly of it! I found some great stuff on there, but when I got to the checkout and it was $91 to get stuff shipped to Australia! — More than the pair of pants I was going to get. I was basically a stranger and hoped what I was about to ask wasn’t too strange, but I asked if he wouldn’t mind placing the order for me and sending it over for me? I offered to transfer you the money to cover it all and do so before he placed the order. I just don’t happen to know anyone in America and figured the shipping would be cheaper this way. I knew it was a long shot, but I hoped he would be comfortable with this.” – J. Argenta

This posed many challenges. I wanted to help him out. I was totally game to do whatever I needed to do, but this would certainly force me to give up anonymity. He would need to know my name and address to mail me payment. I didn’t feel comfortable breaking down the fourth wall.

I thought about how else I could help. I knew as a blogger, I had a certain level of power. I could reach out to the Bonobos PR team and see if there was anything they could do. I sent them an email:

Hey there Bonobos PR team. 
I am one of your biggest fans (I bought the Shortboards – Lapis Lazuli and ABSOLUTELY love them! and have since bought some pants and hats because I love how everything fits me well. I digress) I have an odd request to make. I am a blogger. My blog mainly (but not limited to) attracts a specific audience, but one that fits well with the Bonobos brand — the gay community. You can check out my daily blog at onegayatatime.com. That being said, I love Bonobos products and am not shy about telling my readers about this. In one of my posts, I mentioned your brand and how much I enjoy it. Afterwards, I received an odd email from one of my readers in regards to your products. 
[I attached his original email]. 
I’m not 100% comfortable making this transaction for him, but I was hoping maybe by reaching out to him I could help him solve his high-priced shipping problem. I told him I would reach out to you and see what you could do for him. I work in media, so I know the value of word-of-mouth. You can expect me to continue to speak positively about your products in my blog and can be assured I will make special note if you find a viable solution for my reader. Thanks for your assistance with this issue.
I look forward to hearing from you!   
— O.G.A.A.T.

I was CC’d on an email to the Ninjas who take care of this, and they replied back, “Done. Thanks.” I was surprised how brief the response was, but I decided to wait and see what they sent to J. Argenta. I also asked them to keep me up-to-date with what they were doing so I could share the positive story. I got an email in response:

Sure no problem. Sorry about the curt email. Your message was forwarded to us from the PR team so I though I was giving her a direct reply. My apologies if that came off as short. I can definitely keep you updated. I didn’t know your friend/fan’s name but I shot him an email outlining our international shipment options (we actually pay for outgoing shipments but have to do it manually due to shipping negotiations and site shortcomings). 
Thanks for reaching out on this.
Cheers.  

— Nick

“I told O.G.A.A.T. they offer free international shipping, but because of ‘how the young program is and various logistic negotiations/planning/tweaking,’ Bonobos covers the cost of shipping manually in the form of store credit. Nick also said I would have to cover customs charges, but I’ve never had to do this with other international orders from other sites. I’m not sure if other sites maybe cover this cost or just include it in their selling price.” — J. Argenta

I emailed the Ninjas again and told them the issue:
Because of this, I think you may be losing a sale and a customer, and I am disappointed in how this problem is being handled. I was hoping to report a viable solution on my blog with a happy story of great customer service to match a great product, but as of now I can’t do that. A store credit of $91 doesn’t sound like a viable solution to me. The problem would just represent itself when he attempts to apply said store credit. I would hope you would further investigate this issue or possibly escalate it to a higher level. I look forward to hearing a happy ending to this story.
Thanks for your help!

This is when Nick really went above and beyond to clarify the situation and make sure he had a satisfied customer. He quickly sent me a reply:

Hey again,
Let me start off by saying that I don’t think your friend will have to pay duties. Sorry about the confusion here. I think maybe there was a miscommunication on our part. Basically the deal with customs is that we (or any company/site/vendor) have no control over duties and customs charges. These are determined solely by the host countries and reimbursing recipients for customs/duties is a legal ‘iffy’ area.
[He then went into detail on international shipping and customs policies, as well as breaking out costs and examples].
So basically our feeling was since we lack the ability to predict or control customs costs in other countries we would make it up to the customer by not charging them for international shipping a la the store credit option. I think the confusion here might have been due to when and how the store credit is applied.
The idea was that the most viable way of compensating for our systems/logistics shortfall was to offer a free shipping service until we could finalize a partnership with an international shipper.
Sorry for the long-winded email, I just wanted to make sure I was specifically answering your concerns in regards to, “The problem would just represent itself when he attempts to apply said store credit,” since the store credit actually resolves the problem of shipping costs, not make it worse.
I know it’s a bit of hassle if you’re an international customer which is why we really do try to do as much as we can at the moment given the resources available to us. It’s a big headache on our end as well as we would love to develop an international customer base (pants = the universal language). It’s just proven to be a much bigger bag of worms than anticipated and therefore has been much slower going in terms of negotiating with a shipping agent.
The short answer for your friend is that he will only pay for his clothes, we will cover shipping, and as far as I can tell he won’t have to pay for duties (though again, my knowledge of Australian customs law is cursory at best). The only catch is that he has to shoot us a quick email or give us a call so that we can drop the credit to cover shipping into his account. 
If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to shoot us another email or give us any feedback. I always love talking shop. 
All the best.
— Nick

I was duly impressed, and I let him know:
Hey dude. Thanks for the explanation. I indeed appreciate the long-winded email. You know your sh*t. I also appreciate the time it took to write and explain. I’ve passed along the info to my reader. I will continue to give nothing but rave reviews going forward of Bonobos and will not the extra effort you made to make a customer (and myself) happy.
THANKS!

He replied once more:
No problem dude. I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page. We’re definitely a little behind the eight ball when it comes to international shipping so your (and your friend’s concerns) were well founded and we appreciate you keeping us honest. We’ll be in touch and feel free to give us a holler any time you have a question.
Best.
— Nick

I relayed this information to J. Argenta to make sure he knew how this would go down.

“I finally understood what they were talking about. It all sounded good! All this for a pair of pants! But, I thanked O.G.A.A.T. for being so persistent and placed my order. It’s nice to know there are people out there willing to help out a stranger in need (of some new pants).” — J. Argenta

I was happy to hear the transaction come to a positive outcome. I am happy to bring the story to you and highlight Bonobos customer service on this issue. They once again proved they are a company with not only top notch products but also top notch service. They really went above and beyond to help an Ozzy out who needed a pair of pants…

I’m Jason by the way. I live in Australia, obviously! Hello! I’ve got a blog as well — Not one that I advertise much at all, but I’ve sort of been branching out a bit with it lately. Not sure if it would be your type of thing — It’s a bit random really, just about everyday goings-on, and things that I find interesting like racism and gay-related things. I wrote my own little gay life story a few posts ago after coming across so many gay-related blogs. Anywho, check it out if you like — jaargenta.blogspot.com – and I’ll look forward to hearing from you!

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Lazy Morning

Today is another Fast Forward Friday!!!  

Hope you are enjoying these. It will help bring the blog a little closer to real time. If you’re keeping up with the stories chronologically, please skip down to this morning’s post first, then read this one. I think it’s a good one! Enjoy!

Back to your special edition of One Gay At A Time…

 

Smiles and I had a very special night together sharing dinner in my apartment. We went to be happily in each other’s arms after being away from each other for some time. I’m not entirely sure why, but I felt he’d finally come around to me.

The next morning, we woke up late. I knew I had a very light workload that day, so I was in no rush to wake up. I was also feeling frisky. I tried to seduce Smiles with a back rub. I instructed him to roll on his stomach as I lifted his shirt and began massaging his back. He commented on how my hands can completely cover his back from end to end. This was one thing my big hands specialized in, so I was content putting them to good use. I began to reach my hands under him grasping his pecs in a sensual manner.

The massage didn’t last long and the seduction failed to the grumbles of Smiles’ stomach. I should have remembered that was his first priority in the morning.

We went into the kitchen and brewed coffee while I made us steak and eggs (some of the left over beef from the night before). He continuously hugged my while I cooked. Cooking at the stove for a sexy man while he wrapped his arms around me — What more could I want?

We sat at the kitchen counter and ate while we chatted a bit about what we had to do the rest of the day. I also caught Smiles up on some of the events going on around the world since he didn’t have cable and wasn’t the best at staying informed.

After breakfast, we returned to my room. I needed to get ready for the office, and Smiles needed to get dressed to head home to begin his workday. We started to make out a bit until I pulled him towards the bed. “Do you want to have sex?” he asked. I giggled with a big grin and replied, “Of course. Why do you think I was trying to seduce you before? I always want sex.” That was also my subtle way of letting him know I wanted to have more sex.

During the summer of 2010, after my breakup with N, I was having a lot more sex. I decided to be more economical with my condom purchases and bought a forty pack. I kept them in my nightstand drawer next to the bottle of lube I purchased. Smiles had been in the drawer before, and I’m sure he’d noticed the quantity. But, he never said anything about it until now. He made a comment on how many I had. “Does it intimidate you?” I asked. He simply replied with a “No.” I then gave a not so subtle comment hinting about how I’d like to have more sex. “Well, we could just use them all, and then there won’t be so many,” I exclaimed. Apparently, our conversation about the state of our relationship gave me the confidence to speak my mind when it came to our relationship going forward.

Warning: The following may be too graphic for some. I was already on my back with him on top of me, so I could only assume he wanted to top this time around. I topped the last time, so I only thought it fair to receive this time. I slipped the condom on him as he made a comment questioning whether I was doing it right. “[Smiles]. This isn’t my first condom, obviously,” I quipped.

I lubricated myself and laid back. I hadn’t thought much about my inability to finish with Smiles in quite some time, but I was going to try a new technique this time around. I was going to completely relax and try to enjoy every minute of it. I usually derive no pleasure from bottoming, but for some reason, this time it was working. He felt great, and I could tell he was enjoying himself as well.

I was getting very close as I pleasured myself while he penetrated me. Just as I was about to climax, he said, “I going to cum.” I quickly responded, “Me too.” And with that, as close as I was, I was a mile away from finishing. In that split second of him distracting me, I lost it. I could feel my muscles quivering just before he said anything, but it was gone. Now, it was top of mind, and I knew it wasn’t going to happen.

Smiles would have been so happy. He’d wanted to make me finish for so long, and he would have been the first to do so from topping me. Alas, it wasn’t meant to be. When it didn’t, I could see him looking into my eyes with compassion. The sex was great. There was no pain or awkwardness. I wanted to show him how much I enjoyed it, but I couldn’t. My mental block got in the way once again.

After we relaxed and kissed a bit, he suggested we clean up in the shower. He was getting ready to hop in, and I told him I was coming in with him. My shower has two shower heads and a seat. Everyone that has seen my shower has made sexual comments about it, and I was going to finally get some use out of them.

I wanted to have some more sensual time together, and when I hopped in, Smiles began to wash me. I was very turned on by this. When he finished, I tried to do the same for him, but he wasn’t interested. He rinsed off and hopped out of the shower to dry off. I watched him as he toweled off, and immediately got extremely aroused. He put lotion on his face with his towel on the floor while I pleasured myself in the shower at the sight. When he left my bathroom, I beckoned him to come back in the shower and help me finish. I wanted him to be a part of it. He climbed in and I pressed myself against his back while I tried to finish. Once again, failure.

When we ran out of hot water, we hopped out. He finished applying lotion and brushing his teeth while I masturbated on my bed. I needed to finish somehow or work was going to be hell for me! He came and joined me in the crook of one my arms while I pleasured myself. FINALLY, it came. I thought of him dropping the towel in the bathroom, and it set me off. I was disappointed it wasn’t a direct reaction to something Smiles did, but I was relieved he was there to witness that it was possible and that my climax was something pretty special 😉 .

We quickly finished getting ready and walked to the PATH with my roommate chatting the whole way. The conversation wasn’t as free-flowing between us as much as when it was just the two of us. I wondered if Smiles had issues with PDA and public discussion. It just felt a little awkward.

When we got to his stop, I gave him a peck on the lips to say goodbye. I thought about that morning all day. I was happy to finally finish with him in the room, but I wished it came at Smiles’ hand. I think it would have been an ego boost for him and a big step forward for the two of us. However, it was progress — Baby steps. This something I was going to conquer, hopefully with Smiles’ assistance.

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