Month: July 2017

45 Minutes

 

So my family was in Michigan recently. While strolling around a town one evening, we decided to eat at a restaurant. I won’t say the real name of it (to not falsely incriminate them), so let’s call it Milky’s. Milky’s looked fairly busy, so I figured that I’d run in, to see what the wait time was for a table. With a seven and a five year old, along with a baby,  plus a hungry wife, timing is everything. If the wait wasn’t too bad, I’d put my name on the wait list; otherwise, we would go somewhere else.

There were four employees standing around the front area in Milky’s, and the place looked at most 3/4 full. There were only a couple of kids hanging out in the waiting lounge, too. I asked one of the hostesses how long it would be for “a table for five, but one just needs a high chair”.  The four of them talked quietly among each other, then one wandered off towards the back area. When he returned, I was told that it would be at least a 45 minute wait. That seemed a bit long, so I said thanks but no thanks, and left.

I told the family about the 45 minute time. After talking to K, we realized that by the time we walked to a different restaurant, and got seated, it would probably take at least 45 minutes, anyway. As such, we decided to add our name onto the wait list at Milky’s. Or, more specifically, because I felt sheepish about going back, K headed in to put our name down.

As K went inside, B said the following:

“If mom gets us a table, then this place is racist!”

B’s seven years old. The whole subject of racism wasn’t one that I had touched on with him yet. Needless to say, my jaw dropped at his remark, so my knee-jerk reaction was to defend Milky’s. I told him it was really busy, it didn’t matter who you were, you would have to wait regardless, and so on.

I looked up, and saw K waving us in.  She said there was a table ready for us now!  B then said to me:

“See? I told you this place was racist!”

Once again, I was speechless.

This incident sucks, to be honest. I want to give the restaurant the benefit of doubt here. K did tell me that she asked for “four people plus one high chair”. This wasn’t like how I asked, so maybe they had a different set of tables in mind for my request, than hers. Waiting 45 minutes or longer isn’t that big of a deal, as long as everyone is in the same boat.

And yet…..

A black guy wearing jorts, a baggy shirt and a fitted hat (yo, I never said I dressed well, people) gets the ‘take a hike’ time, while the pretty blonde woman walks in right after, and gets immediate service?  The table that we ended up at was in the same area where the employee had went to, when I inquired.

So the time to be seated there went from 45 to zero, real quick?

Man, the optics are sketchy. It’s entirely possible that Milky’s rationale for this was perfectly valid. However, it’s plausible that their reasoning could have been discriminatory-based, too. I don’t know for sureAnd that not knowing part sucks.

Worst of all was B’s reaction, obviously. Your number one job as a parent is to protect your kids. Unfortunately, though, there are some things in our life which you just can’t protect them from.  Death, for example. Or the cold, hard truth about Santa Claus. Or, when you are a visible minority, the fact that there are people who will hate you because of the colour of your skin. I thought seven was too young of an age to be exposed to racism, but I was wrong.

I was a little bothered during dinner. I wanted to give it some thought, before talking to B.  So later, when we discussed what had happened, I asked him where he learned about racists. His response?

“Well, Donald Trump, because he doesn’t like black people”

WTF!

Look, don’t get it twisted, I’m not throwing shade at Trump.  B apparently heard things from his friends at school, and ran with it. I just think it’s messed up that a little boy visits the USA, and because (in his mind) the President of that country doesn’t like his skin colour, he can expect to go somewhere and be discriminated against. To reiterate, I’m not claiming Trump or Milky’s are racist. I’m saying that it sucks that my seven year old son somehow came to this conclusion, and I couldn’t entirely dismiss him, when he called out Milky’s on their tactics.

It’s on me now to work on this mindset with my children, I get that.  I can’t fix racism, but I can at least instil confidence and hope in my kids about who they are, and what the future holds.  Without going all John Lennon on y’all, imagine a world where you never have to think that the colour of your skin is going to hold you back from doing stuff. Pretty crazy, eh?

And yet, why is that crazy?

Anyway, that’s my story for today. For what it’s worth, if you can deal with the possible discrimination at Milky’s, I highly recommend the fish tacos.

 

 

 

 

#GoNuts For The Lansing Lugnuts!

(Note:  The city of Lansing, Michigan hooked me up with accommodations and tickets to a Lansing Lugnuts game, in exchange for me writing about my experience in the city. The opinions given are my own, unbiased thoughts. Enjoy!)

Now, I’ve mentioned before on here that my family are pretty big Toronto Blue Jays fans. The last couple of seasons, we’ve even done road trips, to watch them play in Cleveland and Philadelphia. This year, since the Jays aren’t having such a great season, I decided to do something a bit different. We packed our bags and made the trek to Lansing, Michigan, to check out the Lansing Lugnuts!

 

See, the Lugnuts are a Class-A minor league baseball team who are affiliated with the Jays. Notable alumni include Carlos Beltran, Noah Syndergaard, Marcus Stroman, Aaron Sanchez,  and Superman himself Kevin Pillar. Most recently, two of the top prospects in Major League Baseball, Vladmir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, played there. Really, it’s a great opportunity to see some potential future stars on the come up. Throw in the fact that Lansing is only like a four or five hour drive from the Greater Toronto area, which is perfect for a weekend road trip, and attending a game should be a no-brainer, for any Blue Jays fan.

I’m used to watching ball games at the cavernous Rogers Centre, but the Lugnuts’ ballpark, Cooley Law School Stadium, is on a whole different level. Quirky is probably a good word for it. One of the seating options is the lawn aka the grass behind the outfield, for example. The home run fence also varied a lot in height, across the field. It reminded me of Tetris, where it’s like a few more pieces are needed, to make the walls complete. The quirkiest part, though, were the apartments in the outfield. For real, you can actually live in a baseball stadium!

We went on a Sunday, which was “Kids Day”. In terms of maximizing the fans’ experience, the Lugnuts do a top notch job.   When we arrived, a table was set up near the entrance, which had a bunch of animals on it, like snakes and rabbits, that you could pet. Near that table was a face painting station, for the kids. Players were on the concourse signing autographs, as well. It happened to be Minions Day at our game, so Minions were wandering about, doing Minions things, and taking pictures with the fans. While we didn’t make it in time to partake, if you arrive early enough, you’re allowed to go down on the field, and play catch. Kids were also able to run the bases, after the game.  Behind left field was an awesome play area, too, which featured a couple of inflatable bouncy castles. Between every inning, something entertaining was always going on (word of advice -be sure to make friends with some of the staff there. The Lugnuts ran a ton of in-game contests, so who knows, if you play your cards right, you might get picked to participate in one!).

 

In terms of pricing, the costs of the tickets ranged from $9 for the outfield lawn seats, to $15 for executive box seats. The food choices were pretty varied (we stuck to hot dogs, chicken tenders and fries, but I heard that there were some more funky options throughout the concourse), and the pricing was about average.  All things considered, my whole family thoroughly enjoyed the game. The fact that the Lugnuts won was a bonus (a Blue Jays team that actually wins? Crazy talk!). It’s good value for your money, especially when considering the other stuff there, which engages fans and non-fans, of all ages.  It’s the type of place that you could take your family and happen to watch a baseball game, while you’re there, if that makes sense.

 

Other Thoughts

  • Cooley Law School Stadium is located in downtown Lansing. There were a bunch of restaurants and pubs near the stadium, if you want to take in the night life after a game
  • Also downtown is Impression5  Science Center. Timing wise, we weren’t able to go, but it sounds like a ton of fun, and I think my kids would have loved this place.
  • We did make it out to the local zoo, Potter Park Zoo.   Besides the nice variety of animals and displays, the best part about it was the size. You could walk through and see everything in a couple of hours, which when you’re chasing after two hyperactive kids while pushing a stroller, is just about right. 
  • Lansing is also home to Michigan State University, which we checked out for a bit. Having never been to a “big-time” American university before, I was impressed with the facilities and how beautiful the campus looked.
  • We stayed at the Fairfield Inn and Suites Lansing at Eastwood.  It’s one of the city’s newest hotels and definitely the most modern hotel that I’ve stayed in. Very clean, very friendly, patient staff, and a very tasty hot breakfast! It’s conveniently located, too.
  • There’s a lot more going on in Lansing than I haven’t even mentioned. Bottom line, if you like baseball and cool little cities, why not make the trip there and #GoNuts ?

 

For more information about Lansing, please visit www.lansing.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

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