Monthly Archives: October 2014

Norma Rae?

It seems the blog post that I wrote about Ecolab’s requirement that we purchase $75 a month of chemicals a month whether we need them or not has caught the attention of Ecolab’s corporate headquarters.  And today, Ecolab sent a district manager to PJP Buttonwood to discuss all things related to dishwashers, chemicals, and my righteous indignation.

The district manager brought authorization to waive our past three months of unpaid chemical fee charges.  At an average of $75 a month for minimum chemical purchases, we currently owe $225 (plus our $99.37 a month lease fee).  We hadn’t paid the $225 because we didn’t need any chemicals and we weren’t aware that we were mandated to purchase the chemicals or pay the $75 a month regardless.  You can read the entire story here:

So, the district manager was super happy to announce that he could make the $225 go away and then we would pay the $75 a month from here on out.  And he even brought a catalogue of the entire line of Ecolab cleaning products to highlight the many, many, many options to purchase to meet the $75 a month requirement.  And here is the honest truth…the entire situation completely irritates me, but that said, there isn’t much we can do about it except pay the stupid $174.37 a month until the one year contract ends in March.  So I was willing to move on…


Until the district manager said something along the lines of “so we are good now and there won’t be anymore blogging or Tweeting about this, right?”  AND HE WAS SERIOUS.



What followed next can only be described as a pointless conversation that went in a vicious circle with no end.  Whomever came up with the phrase “let’s just agree to disagree” must have had my conversation today with the Ecolab district manager in mind.  As much as he was righteously indignant that the forgiveness of the $225 should end the dispute, I was righteously indignant that the entire concept of charging a customer $75 a month for chemicals they don’t need is insane.  (I might have said it was “dumb” in the heat of the moment.  I still stand by that comment.)

So, Ecolab corporate, if you are reading this, here are my pertinent thoughts:

Don’t charge me $75 a month for chemicals I don’t want or need.  I don’t care if you make an “awesome floor cleaner” or an “amazing product that soaks grease off pans” or if your employee’s wife refuses to clean her granite with anything but your lemon scented granite cleaner.  That is all awesome information, if I needed some cleaning supplies.  On two different occasions, your employees have told me the company doesn’t make any money on the actual lease of the machine.  That isn’t my problem.  If you set the price at $99 a month and offer free shipping and that causes you to take a loss, then you should probably rework that business model instead of relying on your line of chemical products to pick up the slack.  According to your 2013 annual report, your company made over $13 million in net sales, so I’m guessing something is working for you.

Everyone today from your company was very concerned that I acknowledge the forgiveness of the $225 past debt from our dispute, so I hereby say thank you for allowing us to wipe the slate clean.  As we move forward, I’ll buy the chemicals each month until our contract is over and you can cash the check.  But I won’t like it, agree with it, or support it…or even pretend that I do.  Because under the protections of the First Amendment, I don’t have to.  That is how this free-speech, free-market, net $13 million in sales democratic system works.

And all that said, that my original blog post gave you pause and motivated you to send a district manager our way?  Well, I AM HONORED, INDEED.  Maybe I should change our name from Peggy Jean’s to Norma Rae’s…


What I Know…

I write a lot here about what I don’t know…and probably because that list is exceptionally longer than any other list I could write.  So for a change, in no particular order, is a list of things we know to be true at PJP Buttonwood…

  1. We are perpetually out of something at PJP Buttonwood at any given time.  I’m telling you now that we are getting ready to enter the great “Ummm…We Have No 9-inch Pie Boxes” Crisis of 2014 in a day or so unless some sort of Amazon Fulfillment Center miracle happens in the next 12 hours.
  2. We legitimately would like to purchase a golf cart at PJP Buttonwood to use in our twice daily trips to Hyvee.  Jeanne launched into an entire soliloquy today about how she would chain it up to the fire hydrant behind PJP Buttonwood when we weren’t using it.  And also how she would decorate it and build coffee cup holders for our morning trips to Caribou.  And I don’t know why, but all I could think about was PeeWee Herman and  his bike…giphy-3
  3. All that said, working with your mother helps you to know her on an entirely different level and for that opportunity, I am most grateful.
  4. If you need the Sysco truck to show up at 8 am with a 30 pound box of gooseberries, said Sysco truck will likely show up at 2 pm.
  5. If you pay $99.37 a month for a sketchy dishwasher, Jeanne will just most likely wash all the dishes by hand regardless.  She has a dishwasher in her house that has been used twice.  By me.
  6. Opening 10 pound cans with a manual can opener purchased at Wal-Mart can literally make you break a sweat.  We basically have forearms of The Incredible Hulk at this point.
  7. Using the shop-vac makes me oddly happy.  It is like vacuuming plus.
  8. Paying someone else to wash our aprons is without question the best $27.00 we spend a week.  Until I think about the apron I have on and who had it before me and then I basically make my brain implode with all the what-ifs.
  9. If someone official calls to let us know that they will be inspecting our grease trap soon, answering “uhhhhhh….ok” will make the person on the other end of the line laugh.  And then likely tag our file with note that likely says:  “Completely Clueless”.
  10. Laughing until you actually cry while at your job is really the best thing ever.  And I’m a lucky girl.

Friend Me?

We are at the point in the fall semester that we have MU journalism students flocking to PJP Buttonwood to practice interviews, videos, photography, and on occasion, a convergence of all three mediums.  It isn’t terribly uncommon for us to have three or four students a week hanging out with us during the day and quizzing us from a list of tediously prepared questions while recording our responses on their iPhones.  We are pretty used to telling our story and answering the most common questions, but sometimes a student will surprise us with a totally unexpected question.  Last week, one asked me:  “What is the most unexpected part of opening your business?”  And here is the honest truth…I had no idea how many new friends we would make at PJP Buttonwood.

Here are some of the stories of the kindness we’ve been shown at PJP and evidence that we are perhaps the very luckiest girls in the world…

  1. We receive countless number of kind comments directly on the blog and on Facebook about the content of the blog…even when I share our shortcomings, our failures, our mishaps, and our self-doubt.  Some mornings, we read over those comments together and are completely humbled by the support.  And amped up for another day to tackle World Pie Domination because of your support.  #WPD
  2. Not long ago, a blog reader (and long-term friend) mailed us a gift card to Starbucks so that we would get something in the mail besides bills.  I spent a lot of time thinking about whether I am nice enough to ever do that for someone…or to actually deserve it in the first place.  And probably no on both counts, but she saw past all that and sent a small ray of sunshine to accompany our daily stack of bills.  And while we appreciate the gift card immensely, that she thought of us at all made us feel all the joy of a piping hot milk chocolate mocha on a nippy fall morning.  Now I’m looking for someone to send me a note that says “DOWN WITH ECOLAB” so that I can feel continually justified in my righteous dishwasher-related indignation.
  3. We know things about our customers…their sick mothers, their newly adopted children, their travel plans, their home improvement plans, their favorite pies, their feelings about coffee, their feelings about wine…that make our friendships mutual.  A lot of our customers have friended my personal Facebook page and it makes me so happy.  It is like a little note that says “hey, I don’t just like pie, I like you too…and now I’m willing to look at a lot of random posts about your dog to prove it.”  I bet they would friend Jeanne too, but they know us well enough to know that Jeanne doesn’t really Facebook.
  4. Last Friday during our DAY OF EPIC FAILURE, a good customer knew that I had to whip up a mocha frappuccino costume for my nine-year-old daughter by 4pm (and if you are thinking, “huh, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in that household”, you would be totally correct.)  The customer actually offered to go and get the supplies that I needed while I stayed at PJP and tried to keep the pie production flowing.  If I hadn’t been so busy scratching my anxiety-induced hives, I probably would have cried from all the kindness.
  5. Today, a customer stopped by with a gift for Jeanne and I.  She likened us to “pie-rates” given our rogue-sail-the-seven-seas approach to running our business.  And like all legit pirates (or pie-rates), we needed eye patches.  So she just made us some…complete with lattice.  I know, right?FullSizeRender-7

And so look, obviously this post doesn’t begin to touch on the hundreds of acts of kindness we’ve been shown.  Nothing escapes us and each warm wish for our business, each spark of a new friendship, each kind act, each moment taken to read the blog, each time you tell a friend about our pies, and each time you let us be a part of your life…well, all those things make our hearts almost burst with gratitude.

We could never say it enough, but thank you.  Thank you for being a part of this with us.  World Pie Domination starts here…