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Dear LubePro’s

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Categories: Rockford, Uncategorized, Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The following is a copy of the letter I’m sending to LubePro’s President & CEO Ray Keating regarding an unfortunate customer service experience. My personal information has been redacted. Even if you don’t live in an area with a LubePro’s location, it’s worth a read in my opinion. Read it and weep (for the state of our civilization):

Ray Keating

President & CEO

LubePro’s International

1740 S Bell School Road

Cherry Valley, IL 61016

Dear Mr. Keating:

I write you today to inform you of the most appalling example of customer service and professionalism at your company’s location in Rockford, Illinois at 1701 E Riverside Blvd. Before I do, allow me to provide some background on my vehicle and me.

I purchased my 1999 Chevrolet Malibu used, with 35,000 miles on the odometer. In the years I’ve owned it, my oil change and minor maintenance needs have been met by various LubePro’s facilities in and around the Rockford area. With very few exceptions, LubePro’s have been my only provider of oil and lube services. I’m certain a quick scan of your records under my license plate number (redacted) will confirm this. Today, my vehicle has over 184,000 miles. In the near-decade I’ve owned my car, I’ve spent thousands of dollars with your company.

On Saturday, 28 August 2010 I was prepared to spend more money with your company. The serpentine belt on the aforementioned Malibu had slipped. Remembering serpentine belts are one of the items LubePro’s services, I called the location nearest my home to verify they could do the work. I was told only some vehicles could be serviced. Desperate to have my car working before my 70-mile commute on Monday, I gave the make, model and year for my car and was reassured that my vehicle could be serviced by LubePro’s. I then contacted my auto club to arrange to have my car towed.

Upon arrival at the LubePro’s on Riverside, one of the technicians climbed on the tow truck’s bed to look under the Malibu’s hood. After an examination that lasted less than thirty seconds, he returned to tell me that LubePro’s would not be able to replace the belt after all. I was irritated. I questioned the technician, telling him that I had called a half hour earlier to see if the work could be done. He gave the pre-packaged line “we can only service some vehicles.” I confronted the technician, now rather upset, with the fact that I had provided the year, make and model of my car and was told it wouldn’t be a problem to work on. His response was flippant and uninterested. I had, by this time, decided that LubePro’s obviously didn’t care to retain me as a customer, and I told the tech the company would lose my business. His response was a dismissive wave and the word “Peace.” The only person in a white shirt (the manager-on-duty, I presume) was well within earshot of our exchange.

While your employee’s callous disregard for me as a customer was frustrating and disappointing, it was routine lack of professionalism. What happened next, however, went beyond poor customer service by degrees I can’t even measure.

I was fortunate a general mechanic with a shop in the same strip mall as your LubePro’s facility happened to be working that Saturday. As I arranged to have the work done on my car by this other mechanic, my wife waited in her car nearby. I finalized the arrangements and my wife and I prepared to leave. It was then she informed me the technician from before had cast menacing glares at us from within the LubePro’s building while he worked. My wife told me she didn’t feel comfortable with my car so close to your company’s facility and the hostile employees therein. I reassured her that everything would be fine.

We left the strip mall and were stopped at the intersection of Alpine Road and Riverside Boulevard, heading northbound, a short distance away from the LubePro’s location. My wife glanced over and saw the same technician outside the building, still in uniform, apparently on a cigarette break. He noticed us too, and clearly raised his middle finger at us.

I was, and still am, shocked and appalled. This employee’s callous disregard for my wife and me, not only as customers, but as human beings, is astounding. Words fail to express how offended, stupefied and angry I am over this incident. Furthermore, this technician’s conduct calls into question the quality and safety of LubePro’s previous work on my vehicle. The lack of intercession by the manager-on-duty is an indictment of the organization as a whole. I would have returned to confront the employee and manager in question, except I truly felt doing so would have put my safety in jeopardy. The hateful look and behavior of the technician lead me to believe he was a person not above resorting to violence when confronted.

Not once was I offered a satisfactory explanation as to why I was given incorrect information over the phone, if indeed I was. I suspect, based on the behavior of the LubePro’s employees, that they simply did not wish to perform the requested service on my vehicle. Not once was I offered an apology by management for the rude and discourteous treatment I received from the technician who “examined” my car. I wish I could provide you with the names of the employees in question, but I cannot. I can tell you the incident occurred around 2:30 PM.

Your website says, “We are well known for our professional, well-trained, friendly staff, and our efficient operation. Customers appreciate our professionalism, which is why they keep coming back for our renowned 10-minute oil change and our thorough 21-point inspection.” I do appreciate professionalism and that is one of the reasons I have been a repeat customer of your company over the years. However, this incident has made me question if LubePro’s truly believes in professional, courteous service.

If I am mistaken, you are free to contact me via postal or electronic mail; I’ve included my addresses below. Thank you for your time. Sincerely,

Darius McCaskey


CC: Better Business Bureau

CC: Insider Pages

CC: Yelp

CC: Facebook

CC: Twitter

CC: Blog


So I Heard…


Categories: Family, Uncategorized

By now, I’m sure most of you have heard that I’ve moved. If not; I’ve moved. I’m not exactly thrilled by the turn of events, but it could be far worse, all things considered.

I am extremely grateful to my parents-in-law for allowing Tiffanie, Muirne and me to rent part of their home. I am also extremely grateful to the multitude of friends and family that helped us on moving day.

We are in the middle of the foreclosure process with the bank and are awaiting our bankruptcy discharge, which should be granted toward the beginning of February. Normally, I wouldn’t share an embarrassing personal detail like that with the world, but it’s a matter of public record, so it’s really not all that personal a detail. And if, for some reason, knowing that I was abysmal at managing money makes you think less of me as a person, I invite you to step out your front door and play “hide and go fuck yourself.”

You see, the reason that I’m not that upset that I’m losing my house and destroying my credit is that I have a child. My choice was to either maintain the status quo, raising Muirne in a house falling apart around us with creditors threatening to take my paycheck, or to file bankruptcy and find a home for her in a safe, secure structure. Tiffanie and I made mistakes with our money in the past: Muirne should not and will not suffer for those mistakes in the here and now. I am a pacifist, yet I know I would kill for that little girl: surely swallowing my pride and embarrassing myself should be no challenge.

So, in the event you find yourself questioning my motivation for anything I do, remember that my child means more to me than life itself. I will sacrifice anything to secure her safety, health and comfort.

Thanks again to everyone that has helped to make this difficult time just a bit easier for us. Here’s to clearer skies and smoother sailing in 2010!


My Favorites, 2009 Edition

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Categories: Bands & Music, Blackhawks, Blog, Gaming, Hockey, RPG, Shadowrun, Uncategorized, Writing

As we’re coming up on the end of the year, it’s traditional to look back and pick our favorite things from the year gone by. That’s kinda lame. Instead, I’m giving you a glimpse of my favorite things as they stand right now. There’s no particular rhyme or reason to the things I’m sharing here: I’m just tossing some things into the ether.

Favorite Band: Rush (This should come as no surprise to anyone that knows me. The seminal Canadian prog-rock group has been my favorite musical group since I was in high school.)

Favorite Rush Album: Moving Pictures (This record is full of classic jams. I must admit that I like the last two songs on the B side most of all. “Everybody’s got to [sic]evelate from the norm.”

Favorite Rush Song: “Freewill” (While not from the Moving Pictures album, this song speaks to me so much right now.)

Favorite Non-Rush Album: Cryptic Writings (As far as music goes with me, there’s Rush and everything else. This Megadeth record contains some of the most intense and personal lyrics I’ve ever heard.)

Favorite Non-Rush Song: “Little Earthquakes” (Tori Amos is a fabulously talented musician and this song is one of my all-time favorites. It’s such a passionate and beautiful piece of work. From the album of the same name.)

Favorite Book: Anthem (Thanks to the influence of Rush, this Ayn Rand novella quickly became one of my favorite books of all time. While a bit heavy-handed in its message, the ideas presented are solid gold.)

Favorite Role-Playing Game: Shadowrun, 4th Edition (I’m not a huge fan of the dice system, having cut my gaming teeth on 2nd Edition. That being said, the story elements are great and Catalyst Game Labs seems to be doing an amazing job updating the game for a new generation of gamers. I’m looking forward to what they do with FASA’s other great game, Earthdawn.)

Favorite Video Game: NHL 2K7 (Yeah, I know it’s three years old and I don’t get to play it very much, but the Charlestown Chiefs are in the running for the Stanley Cup thanks to their star forwards, Darius McCaskey and Toy Cesar [Mike Diamond is out with an injury].)

Favorite Board Game: Zombies! (This game is so much fun and so easy to play. I like that it’s as competitive or cooperative as the players choose to make it. I just picked up Dante’s Inferno, also by Twilight. I hope it makes this list next year.)

Favorite Food: Pizza (Goddamn, I love pizza!)

Favorite Drink: Coke Zero (This diet soda doesn’t taste like carbonated poo, so it’s epic win in my book.)

Favorite Hockey Team: Chicago Blackhawks (Sorry, Rangers, but I’ve officially committed to the Indian.)

Favorite Hockey Player: Jonathan Toews (Sid the Kid is great, don’t get me wrong, but Captain Serious is the anchor of the Blackhawks bench. Go get that cup, Tazer!)

Favorite Actress: Eliza Dushku (I’m sad that Dollhouse was canceled. The show reminded me of how good an actress Ms. Dushku is. And she’s certainly not too hard on the eyes either.)

Favorite Actor: Christian Bale (Bad Bat-Bale notwithstanding, Christian Bale is a phenomenal actor. American Psycho and The Machinist are in my top 10 movies, easily.)

Favorite TV Show: Star Trek: The Next Generation (I know it’s been off the air for about forever, but my Saturday nights were spent in front of the TV watching this show for a good part of my adolescence and teenage years. It’s one of those shows that makes you think that humanity’s not totally fucked up.)

Favorite Movie: Shawshank Redemption (Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins are superb in the ultimate prison movie. Anytime this flick is on one of the TV movie channels, I have to tune in and finish watching it, even if it’s halfway over.)


Two Steps Forward and Two Steps Back


Categories: Uncategorized

So the scale said I’m 222 this morning. >sigh<

I did miss most of last week’s working out due to the weather, but I’m still pretty bummed. However, this is one small hiccup in my quest, and what would the adventure be worth without some adversity, right?

I’m entering the next phase of my regimen, upping the resistance on the weight machines, etc. Hopefully I can get back on track.

Onward and upward!


One Little Victory

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Categories: Uncategorized

I now weigh 219 pounds. I have lost my first pound on my quest to become “A Shape Other Than Round.” Yay! This despite not attending 100% of my scheduled workout sessions. I’m sure that the weather this week will stifle my plans for working out just about every day, but I’ll keep plugging away at it. Huzzah!


Progress, Of A Sort

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Categories: Uncategorized

So I got on the scale this morning…

It’s the same scale I weighed myself at the beginning of my exercise adventure. I was wearing the same clothes and it was roughly the same time of day.

My weight was exactly the same too: 220 pounds.

I consider this “one little victory.”

I had a snafu last week that caused me to miss a day of working out in an already-shortened week. Thanksgiving and all the indulgence thereof was last week. Yet I didn’t gain any weight. This is a good thing.

More to the point, I fell pretty good about myself. It’s only a week into the quest, but so far, so good.

Sweet dreams, world. I’ll catch you later.


A Shape Other Than Round

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Categories: Uncategorized

I weigh 220 pounds according to my scale at home. This is unacceptable.

Those of you knew me in high school may recall that I used to weigh 145 pounds. A little quick math reveals that in the last decade or so, I have added almost another half of myself to, umm, myself. And not where it counts, either.

My waist has expanded from 30 inches to 40, 38 in a “relaxed fit” (read: fat guy) jean. My neck has mushroomed from 15 inches to damned near 18.

My blood pressure is on the low end of hypertensive and my resting heart rate is right around 90 beats per minute. I get winded climbing a flight of stairs. I probably could not finish a mile run anymore, much less do it in 7 and a half minutes (my previous normal time).

I used to be able to bench press my own weight (145 pounds). Now I can’t bench half that. I would probably die if I tried to bench my current weight.

I, of course, understand that I’m almost 30 years old and that trying to compare my physical condition now to what it was when I was 16 or 17 is asinine. I am not a professional athlete, nor do I expect to be one. (My dreams of being the starting center for the New York Rangers will have to be fulfilled vicariously through my daughter.)

So why am I telling you all this? My hope is that by sharing with the world, maybe, just maybe, I’ll get a few words of encouragement. (Yes, I’m fishing.) Perhaps by making myself partially accountable to the community at large, it will keep me honest and committed to my course of action.

So what is my course of action? What is my goal? To be blunt it’s this: to be a shape other than round. I hope to lose a pound a week. At that very achievable rate, I will hit my desired weight of 165 pounds in a little over a year.

I started my quest today. I got up at 4:30 AM today so that I could drive into work early, work out and hit the shower before the business day began. With a few minor hitches, my plan was successful.

I feel pretty good too. My arms are a bit sore and I’m sure I’ll crash hard later, but for now I’m alive and functioning.

I plan on updating you all with my progress weekly. If you don’t see an update related to my mission for better health, it means that I’ve given up and you should berate me fiercely.

Here’s to shrinking my plentiful gut!


Dear Santa

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Categories: Uncategorized

Dear Santa,

I would like the following for Christmas:

  • A customizable license plate frame (You can get them at Wal-Mart pretty cheap. They have letters so you can spell out your own message. I would like to add to the Punisher Malibu.)
  • An electric razor (Not that I don’t like my Gillette M3 Power, but it would save me some time in the morning.)
  • An iPhone (Yeah, I know, who doesn’t want one?)
  • An extra 3 hours every day (Once again, who doesn’t want that?)
  • My body, circa 1998 (I may have been scrawny, but at least I could walk up a flight of stairs without getting winded.)

I’m sure I could think of plenty of other things, but I don’t want to overload you. Plus, I’m not sure if I fall into the “nice” category, so I may be getting a lump of coal anyway.