Posts Tagged challenges
It was a bit of a stressful weekend with CK, but we managed to survive. In the meantime, more people were coming into our lives.
CK’s apartment was already occupied by two men. One was a bit crazy and not the easiest person to gauge. He kept his cards close and was a bit of an enigma. The other roommate was an Italian workout fiend. Whenever I saw him, he was coming or going in running gear. I didn’t take too much time to get to know him either because he was only around for another month before moving to a new place. They already had a new roommate lined up to fill the room. I’d get to know him soon enough. I was trying to tread lightly with them. I know it’s a rocky start with new roommates, and I didn’t want them to have the perception I’d be the fourth roommate right off the bat.
However, we didn’t really have to worry about that much because CK still didn’t have a bed. In the meantime, his roommate moved a futon into his room they were getting rid of. While this was sweet of him, it actually became a hindrance in the room. It was just one more thing to navigate while trying to unpack his boxes. It was not in good shape and obviously not something we could sleep on. After much discussion, CK and I took a trip to Macy’s to purchase a bed that weekend. When he tried to schedule delivery, the earliest they could deliver it was the following Sunday.
As a result, CK moved in for a week. Obviously, this could be very detrimental to a fragile not even two-month relationship, but CK and I had faith in each other. We would be spending every waking moment together with the exception of our workdays. That’s a whole of lot me! He packed up a serious overnight bag, and we made our way to Hoboken.
I’m not gonna lie. There were plenty of challenges here. For instance, it took a lot of diligence to make sure our living space didn’t look like a bomb exploded. We made space in one of my drawers for his clothes, tossed his shoes in my closet with my shoes, etc. With spending so much time together, we were both walking on eggshells to not set the other off.
As much as there were downfalls, I walked away from our week together pleasantly surprised how smoothly it went. We had discussions, but we didn’t fight the whole week together. I actually came to enjoy the time we spent together. I felt comfortable and looked forward to coming home to him. It also gave me great faith we could someday live together in bliss. I got so used to sleeping with him every night in my bed that eventually, when he wasn’t there, I had a hard time sleeping. My body knew it was missing something.
As far as test runs go, this went swimmingly well! Not only was I looking forward to the day I no longer needed to share my space with inconsiderate roommates, but also, I was looking forward to sharing a living space with the man I love, CK. Perhaps that living space might also be shared with a new puppy. Regardless, he was home for me. For me, it didn’t matter where we were — When I was with him, I was home.Follow @onegayatatime
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!
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.
“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:
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.
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.
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.
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!Follow @onegayatatime
Friday arrived, and I was starting to nail down plans with Smiles for the night. He had things to do all day, so we planned to grab dinner and then head to his friend’s birthday party.
This meant I had time to kill after work. My good friend A asked me to grab happy hour drinks with her. She recently moved our of Hoboken into the city with her boyfriend, so I was already seeing a lot less of her. We were due for a catch-up.
She picked a place in the Flatiron District that’s known for their happy hour. We cozied up to a spot at the bar and chatted about our new situations. It had been a while since I caught her up on the status between Smiles and I. I took her for a ride on the roller-coaster ride of emotions I’d been through. She gave me advice on how I should proceed and things I should watch out for. After five years, she knows me quite well and can predict a lot about me, so I’ve come to listen intently to what she says.
She also took the time to talk about the new challenges she faced moving in with her boyfriend. I tried to give her my two cents for what it was worth. My biggest advice to her was to pick her battles. On the things she could let go, she should, but on the things she really cared about, she should make a stink. That way, he would realize with more poignancy when he was doing things that got under her skin.
In the middle of our conversation, Smiles called to discuss dinner. He chose a place about two blocks from where we were drinking, and we agreed to meet in a half hour. When the time came, and A and I had our fill of cocktails, we walked to the restaurant Smiles chose. I coerced her into coming along to meet him since none of my friends had the opportunity yet.
I introduced them to each other, and Smiles invited her to join us for dinner. A had plans to meet her boyfriend for dinner, and I could tell she was looking for a quick exit, so she agreed to sit with us for a few minutes. She was already running late. I appreciated her making the extra effort, and gave her the out she needed. I told her to get on her way.
After she left, the conversation with Smiles was slightly forced and awkward. I was having a hard time breaking through and there were periods of silence. I learned he was feeling very sick and his stomach was bothering him. He had issues with his appendix, and it was inflamed and bothering him again.
Now, I was worried. I genuinely cared for him and my paternal instincts kicked in. I was worried for his safety and said, “Don’t be a hero on me here. If you aren’t feeling well, we can go at any time. Don’t soldier on on my account.”
“Thank you for your concern, but I’ll be fine,” he replied.
The rest of the meal was pleasant, but quiet. I reached my hand under the table to rub his knee to try to make a better connection while we chatted. That, and I was still worried about his condition.
When we finished dinner and desert, we had some time to kill. Smiles walked around the neighborhood looking for a massage parlor (legit, not sexual) in which to kill time before the birthday party. We couldn’t find one still open to take advantage of, so we hopped in a cab and made our way to the party.
When we arrived at the party, I was slightly overwhelmed by the crowd. I’d never been to a party so heavily skewed male in my life. I learned the birthday boy was gay, which answered a lot of questions for me.
We found a comfortable spot to plant ourselves and each grabbed a drink and something to nosh on. We made a friend and chatted with him a bit. He was an extremely jacked and cut black man who is an interior decorator. It was interesting hearing him talk about his occupation, all while looking at someone who looked like a personal trainer.
After some time, this man turned to us and said, “Oh. Are you two together?”
Both their eyes focused on me. The pressure was on. I didn’t know what answer Smiles was looking for, but I saw this as an opportunity to gauge his reaction. I tilted my head slightly to the side nodding and said, “Yeah.”
Our new friend called attention to and questioned my head tilt heavily. I pointed out we didn’t know each other all that long. I still look back and wonder if Smiles was actually looking for me to say yes. I still wonder if he was being distant because he thought I wasn’t fully invested in our budding relationship. Of course I wanted to say yes, we were dating, but I didn’t know where his head was at the time. I didn’t want to scare him off by being overzealous.
We were nearing the time to head out for the night, but I needed to use the facilities first. That was particularly a challenge because the bathroom was being used by a few to sign a birthday book photo album. Finally, I gave up and assumed I could go when I got back to Smiles’ apartment.
We went downstairs and hopped in a shared cab with one of the female guests from the party. As we progressed, I learned I would not be going back to Smiles’ apartment. My destination was the PATH to go home. I was slightly shocked and annoyed. It was a Friday night. Why wasn’t I being invited back to his place. I know I’d never been there before, but this was a bit ridiculous. It was around midnight, and I was dreading my trek back to Hoboken.
He hopped out of the cab with me. We said goodbye on the street with a quick kiss, and I was on my way home. I’m not gonna lie. I was hurt. I felt rejected. There was only so much rejection I could take.
As I walked, I pulled out my phone. I called Boston, but of course, he was still ignoring my calls. I left him yet another voicemail. I also called my new friend to see what he’s been up to. No answer either. Finally, I texted the Principal. It’d been a while since we chatted, so I thought I’d given him enough space. We began texting, but I told him I’d have to continue the conversation on the other side of the river.
While waiting for the PATH, I nearly p*ssed my pants. The train going into the city dropped off a tranny who felt the need to flirtatiously wave at me and say hi. When it finally arrived, I leaned my back against the wall and closed me eyes to concentrate on something other than my bladder. Two women were in front of me on the crowded train, and around a turn, one fell into me. They started arguing with each other and engaged me in conversation. Though not stated outright, I learned they were a lesbian couple, and they were hot. We had a long conversation, and when we arrived at the Hoboken stop, they invited me to come hang out with them. They had no idea my preferences fall in the men category, and they were inviting me back to their place. I used my bladder as an excuse and said goodbye. It was early enough, but I was not in the mood to play.
While speed walking home, a very large black girl grabbed my arm, pulled me towards her, and shouted, “TAKE ME HOME WITH YOU!” I ripped my arm free and continued to walk home, all the while texting with the Principal. I was flirting slightly, but not to the point of crossing the line with him. I missed talking to him and our flirtations. I really did like the guy, but the distance was still killer.
When I got home, I relieved myself and hopped into bed. I was disappointed I was there alone, but I opened up a whole new can of worms with the Principal. He still wasn’t over me, and I just scratched open that scab again. I even went as far as to pull up Grindr again for the first time in over a month.
It was just my luck. The one I wanted to be spending my night with just sent me on my way, while everyone I didn’t want anything to do with seemed interested in me.
Furthermore, I wouldn’t be seeing Smiles the following day. Originally I was planning to go to a horse race in New Jersey and invited him to join. When the day was approaching I was no longer interested in going and sold my ticket. I was hoping to spend the day with Smiles, but I learned he was going to Six Flags with friends — without me. I understand he has a life of his own, and I don’t have to spend every waking moment with him. But at this stage in our relationship, I wanted to spend more and more time with him. I certainly would have invited him on a fun trip such as the one he was going on. Apparently, he didn’t feel as strongly for me. A clearer picture was being painted for me. Maybe he just wasn’t that into me.
I realized things weren’t going as smooth as I would have liked, so I set myself on entertaining other ideas…Follow @onegayatatime