Reliantly Unhelpful

The abyss of customer service gets deeper

"Unfortunately, I'm the only person in the office at the moment."

Okay, let's think maybe outside the office.

"I really think she would have to be the one to make the statement on that, though."

We're trying to give free publicity to one of your members! Come on!

"Really, it would have to be her that you speak to. She's more familiar with our membership and such."

President Shaw never did get back with us. Maybe she was too busy shopping at the newest, and proudest, member of the Brazoria Chamber of Commerce. (According to their Web site, they're featuring cock rings this week!)

Horse of a Different Color

Pelican Publishing Company has reissued the children's book Best Horse on the Force, by Sherry Garland. The "force" in question is the Houston Police Department's Mounted Patrol, located in those stables by Loop 610 and Memorial.

According to Pelican, the book is "a coming-of-age story [that] features two young boys who find themselves attempting to correct a practical joke that goes bad. As they try to make things right, their adventure begins, involving cops and robbers, a high-speed chase, loyalty and bravery."

That's a lot to pack into 104 pages, but Best Horse on the Force manages to pull it off. We've read our share of books aimed at the elementary school crowd, and this one could be worse. (We see the cover blurb now: "Could be worse!!" -- Houston Press.)

Still, author Sherry Garland's tale sometimes seems a little divorced from reality.

Brandon and Wayne, our two protagonists, are 12-year-old boys who work part-time at the HPD stables. One of the officers, Chris Parker, likes to play practical jokes on the lads.

Fair enough. And there's this, from narrator Brandon: "We stepped into the trailer, expecting to see Ginny, the policewoman who was on office duty this month. But instead of her usual pretty, smiling face we saw the sour puss of Chris Parker."

Which seems sexist enough, but then again here's a 1997 Houston Chronicle story on the verdict in a federal lawsuit, describing events that occurred about the time Best Horse was first released: "Officer [Patrice] Sharp said [fellow officers] Hankins and Bice harassed her in 1991 while she was a member of the Mounted Patrol. She said Hankins unzipped his trousers and made comments about her having oral sex. Bice, she said, referred to her breasts as 'headlights.' "

Geez, if publishers are gonna bitch about how they can't get young boys to read books, they can't go around ignoring gifts like that.

Then there's the climax of the book, a thrilling high-speed horse chase through the hiking trails of Memorial Park. Brandon puts aside his fear of horses to charge down the densely foliaged paths to chase The Ponytail Robber.

Along the way, his horse startles exactly no gay guys cruising. That ain't the Memorial Park we've always heard about.

Then again, maybe Garland is on to something, if the "Heads Up!" section of the Web site www.cruisingforsex.com can be believed. A July 15 comment: "Cops on bikes and horseback are aggressively working the parkÉBe very careful out there."

"On horseback"? Another great opportunity missed.

Tales from the BBB

There are a million sad stories in the files of the Houston chapter of the Better Business Bureau. Well, maybe not a million, but there are quite a few. And here is one of them: Career Awards of America, based in Sugar Land.

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