Losing My Religion: Forrest and Harold

Two months ago we spent a weekend in New York City. I’d never been before, and while exploring the city was fun, it was quite a bit different than I expected. It’s not exactly what you see on TV: for one thing, I didn’t find any salsa companies there.

Transportation around the city was difficult. I’m told we should have used the subways, which were scary and foreign to us. We ended up using the Yellow Cabs and Lyft to get around town. They were slow and expensive, in general.  Next time we go we’ll figure out the whole subway labyrinth. Seems way more efficient.

It didn’t help that we flew into LaGuardia, which I’m convinced is one of Dante’s circles. I’ve never seen a more miserable excuse for an airport. I’ve never seen an airport bathroom with only 2 stalls. LaGuardia feels like a performance art project on human misery.

Pictured: Hades

New York is also very much a cash-based city, which I’m not used to. I’m pretty sure it’s to dodge taxes, but for whatever reason, many of their businesses don’t take credit. Here in Austin, everyone takes credit cards. Food trucks, street vendors, t-shirt shops, bars, Everyone. It’s very convenient for me, as I don’t normally carry cash. My bank in not located in Texas, so getting cash means fees, and I cary a front pocket wallet with no space for it.

We had a hell of a time getting a slice of pizza. I don’t think we ever actually got one. We got a bagel, though. Don’t let anyone from New York lie to you: it’s just a bagel. It was a good bagel, but it wasn’t like, head and shoulders above any other bagel. Tasted pretty much like every other bagel I’ve ever had.

I don’t understand having cash: it just seems like something that can get lost. If I lose a credit card, no harm: I just cancel the card. Losing cash is just money down the toilet. But there’s another side of me that wants to have that freedom. I’m always afraid of having eaten at a restaurant to find out afterwards they only take cash. That’s a nightmare.

Upon leaving, sometime between getting out of the cab to the third pit of hell and getting to the front of the line to drop off our bags, I lost my Drivers License. I’m sure you can imagine the panic that overwhelmed me in the moment I noticed. It seemed that holding my hotel key in my wallet, behind my license, stretched it out enough to allow the license to slide out somewhere. Some say it’s in LaGuardia to this day.

So when we got home, after dealing with extra scrutiny at the airport, and then later the Texas DMV, I decided that this could never happen again: I need a new wallet. So I jumped on Facebook and refreshed until I found an ad for someone that sold wallets. I fell upon Forrest and Harold.

These wallets are pretty cool. I went with the Signature Money Clip Slim version.


It has a money clip for me to carry cash. They have different color combinations, as you can see. That’s a good look: I bought the version above, the inside is a nice shade of blue. It also has an external pocket on the back side, which is a nice touch. It’s holding 7 different cards, plus a dollar in the clip very comfortably. It could hold much more cash, and probably a few more cards if I wanted to overfill the slots. The best part is I only paid ~30 dollars for it. That’s a decent price for a nicely made wallet.

Check Forrest and Harold out. Good stuff.


The Emperor’s New Pants: Mott & Bow

I’m not what you’d call high fashion.

I wouldn’t mind being more fashionable; I have nothing against the concept. But, I lived in a beach town for many years, and wearing a blazer would get you questioned about whose funeral you attended. I knew one guy that bucked tradition and wore suits out, and he pulled it off, but he was definitely the odd man out. I’d rather blend in, just in case I need to make a quick exit. You never know when you need to not be noticed. So, jeans and t-shirts. It always works.

People dress a bit better here in Austin. Sure, it’s nowhere near New York or Western Europe, but there is some sense of hipness and style among the hipsters that does not go unnoticed among the aforementioned jeans and t-shirt guy. I sometimes yearn for that stylistic eye. I want to layer. Hats are a mystery that I’d like to solve.

Not so much that I would actually go to stores and buy clothes, however. There’s way too much that goes into that, and I’m a busy man. I’ve spent many hours walking through malls and finding small shops, just to find a pair of jeans that fit nicely and won’t fall apart. I can’t do it. How do they do it???

I found Mott and Bow (pronounced like the applesauce and the front of a boat, respectively) on one of my daily treks through posts about politics and Thanksgiving. I had been needing new jeans for a while; my fiancé has a simmering hatred for one of my three pairs of jeans that I currently wear, which she mentions every time she notices they’re on. I needed new pants, if only to replace these baggy old ones, and Mott and Bow looked ready to provide.

I felt like searching through their website was easy from a product standpoint. However, for a person that is maybe not as stylistically inclined, differentiating between the products was something of a catch. I can see that the things are slightly different colors, but I can’t really tell why those things have different names. The cuts, I get. I know what a skinny jean is, and I know that as a large man I’d better stay away. I went with the strait leg, which is a style I’ve worn before. I ordered the “Rivington”, because I liked the color. I paid 88 dollars after tax, which is a little expensive, but not the most I’ve ever paid for jeans. I feel like jeans are a thing you should spend more on, because they end up lasting a very long time.

Buying jeans online is a risky venture. You have no idea how the jeans will fit. Luckily enough, though, Mott and Bow offers a “try-on” option, where they will actually ship you 2 pairs of jeans, you try on both, and then return one for free with the sticker provided. That is a superbly cool idea. However, these pants had no sizes close to mine, so the try-on option was a no-go for me. I wanted “Rivington”! I wanted it now!

Shipping took forever. I chose the base shipping, which I found out afterwards is SurePost, meaning UPS ships to USPS and USPS delivers to your door. This ended up taking 16 days to get to me from Order to Received. That is an absurdly long time to wait to try on pants. If I would have known, I would have sprung for the 2 day shipping option, but even so…you’re sending 90-100 dollar products through the mail, Mott and/or Bow, how about we get traditional ground shipping, at least?

And then the worst news. They didn’t fit. They weren’t even close. They made me question my reality: I went and checked the sizes on other pairs of jeans I owned. Yes, I ordered the right size. For those who don’t know, men’s pant sizes are actually measurements, so I’d expect it to at least be close. It was not close. After 16 days of waiting, I had to return them.

The product seemed really solid. I would have liked those jeans. One more thing I noticed on the washing label is that these were something called “Raw Denim”. I had heard that term before, but to me it was shrouded in mystery. I read that I was supposed to hand wash these jeans. And that, my friends, is where I said “Nah”. I’m not hand washing anything, this is what machines are for.

The return process was seemingly easy. I went online, marked that I wanted to return them, and then put the sticker back on the box and dropped it off at UPS. Pretty straight forward. Mott and Bow then sent me an email a few days later, asking for a review, and I gave them the honest truth: They didn’t fit, and I wasn’t going to hand wash jeans, so I’d rather just return them. To my surprise, they replied. The nice people at Mott and Bow said they had another pair of jeans, something called a “Mosco”, that was similar to the “Rivington”, but stretchier so it should fit better, and didn’t need hand washing. I still needed jeans, and this customer service rep had just gone above and beyond. This all happened on December 13, 2016.

So I waited. And waited. Through Christmas, through New Years, I waited for these jeans to be delivered. I checked my account, still pending. I finally followed up with an email 3 weeks later. “We are very sorry, we had an issue with our processing. Your returned jeans have been received, and we should be sending out your new jeans shortly. Please take a 10 dollar credit for your next pair as our apology“. Awesome. I waited. And waited. I emailed again, a week later. No response. Wait a few more days. Today, January 16, 2017, I called. “We don’t see any problem with your account, I’m not sure why they haven’t been sent”. After threatening to do a charge back on my credit card, today they have set my jeans “Ready to ship”. If the timeline sticks, I’ll be trying on a new pair of jeans that I wanted in November sometime in February.

But hey, they gave me a 10 dollar credit on my next pair of jeans. If I order now I might have them in time for shorts weather. Maybe they sell cutoffs.

Mott and Bow has the illusion of great customer service in an online company. They have responsive CSR’s and a great save the sale technique, which should really be admired. But it seems like they have forgotten the biggest thing you can do in customer service is get your product in front of the customer in a timely manner. Without that, none of the other stuff matters. I won’t be ordering again. I wouldn’t suggest anyone else order either.