Monday, December 21, 2009

The Decline of Tim Hortons

Last weekend, Pastor Jack and I went to the local Tim Hortons in Embrun. They had just finished renovations. There was a whole new look and feel. For the most part it was good. But one thing was different that I didn't like: The sandwich bar was at the back, facing the back wall. It used to be off to the side, facing the customers. Now, the poor sandwich lady had to shout to one end of the store asking Jack about his bagel, then the other end to shout something to me about my sandwich.

I have watched Tim Hortons go from a really nice place to go for a snack and hang-out to a place I don't want to go to at all. It's time I blogged about it.

When I was in high school I used to go to Timmies all the time with friends. I'd get a hot chocolate and two oatmeal-raisin cookies. The hot chocolate was smooth and delicious. The cookies were big and soft. Over time the cookies got smaller and harder. They were no longer appetizing.

This was long before their switch to "Always Fresh" where they stopped baking the products at the local Tim Hortons' and started baking at a central location, freezing the product, and shipping it out to the individual stores.  I know a lot of people were disappointed with this change.  They felt the quality of the donuts, muffins, etc. really went downhill.

Then they got new hot chocolate machines. They used to have a dedicated hot chocolate machine. Then they got machines that would dispense hot chocolate and "cappuccinos". I suspect they got a new hot chocolate formula at this time too. The quality of the drink went down the drain. I switched from hot chocolate to tea.

The nice things about tea is that I can control how long the tea has been steeping in the cup, and it's one price no matter what size you get. I like weak tea. I like the fact I can take the bag out of the cup when I want.

Then they changed that! They introduced steeped tea. I got it once. Once was enough. I couldn't finish the stuff. I had to pour it out. Oh well, I usually got Earl Grey tea anyway.  Their Ear Grey tea isn't steeped.  It only comes in individual bags.

Then I went in one day ready to beat the system by getting a large Earl Grey tea. I could let it steep for as little, or long, as I wanted. Then I was charged extra for the large! A large tea is not any more product than a small. It's one tea bag! The only difference is the size of the cup and the amount of water! This was the last straw.  No more Tim Hortons for me!  Now I only go to Tim Hortons as a last resort. Unfortunately, in Embrun there really isn't much else. If I'm willing to drive to Vars I'll go to the Country Style by the exit. (It turns out Country Style coffee is way better than Tim Hortons coffee.)

Now, they've changed the location of the sandwich bar. Jack likes to get a bagel with butter. They usually put too much butter on his bagel for his taste, so he likes to tell them to go easy on the butter. Now that they're way over behind the cash, with their back to him, it's a lot harder to ask for that. Interaction with your sandwich artist is important. They have taken that away from us.

Another thing, which may be only at the Embrun Timmies, is they no longer have napkins on the tables. That is so annoying! You're comfortably sitting down, you get some schmultz on your hands, and you have to get up, and go over to the busy counter to look for a napkin.

To recap, the ways Tim Hortons has gone downhill over the last several years are as follows:
  1. The Hot Chocolate quality;
  2. The quality of the cookies;
  3. The "Always Fresh"way of providing baked goods;
  4. Steeped Tea;
  5. Greedy tea pricing schemes;
  6. Relocation of the Sandwich Bar; and
  7. No more napkins on the tables.

It hasn't been all bad. In that time, Tim Hortons has introduced cappuccinos, Bagels, Sandwiches, Soups, Chilli, and made all restaurants non-smoking.

All these complaints. Tim Hortons will never listen to me. Now, if only I had a friend who worked for Tim Hortons head office.....

Monday, December 07, 2009

Wake Up! It's Time To Sneeze!

Yesterday I was pretending to sleep for a long period of time. (Long story. Don't ask. Not bloggable. Yet.) Then something happened. I felt a tickle in my nose. It was coming. There was nothing I could do about it. I was about to sneeze!

There are things you can do to prevent sneezes. There are certain pressure points you can touch to stop the sneeze. You can stifle it. But you can't do any of these when you're pretending to be asleep. I asked myself "Quick! How would a sleeping person handle a sneeze?" I didn't have an answer.

I decided the jig was up.  My cover was blown.  (Pun intended.)  No more pretending to sleep. I covered my mouth with my arm (a move I invented, by the way) and let loose.

It got me thinking. Can you sneeze while sleeping? I don't remember ever waking up to sneeze. I don't think I've heard of anyone waking up to sneeze. I suppose you could sneeze in you sleep, but surely it would wake you up! When you're sick with gastroenteritis (a.k.a. "Stomach Flu"), you wake up to go to the toilet. But, what about sneezing?

I thought about asking Quirks and Quarks - a science program on CBC, but that could take too long to get an answer. So I decided to ask Mr. Google.

It turns out, you can't sneeze while sleeping - sort of. Sneezing is a neurological reaction to stimuli in the body. But the reaction is processed in the brain. When you're asleep, you're brain is in a different state than when you're awake, and it doesn't respond to normal sneeze-inducing stimuli - unless the stimulus is strong enough.

I guess the only thing to say now is "gesundheit!"