Tweeting via Baked Goods

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 Keeping Customer Happy is a Piece o’ Cake

by Susan Ashline

     Someone, somewhere, is rocking my favorite bikini and matching shorts. The theft left a bitter taste in my mouth, but the folks at Darien Lake Theme Park in Upstate New York washed it down with a spoonful of sugar.

     Feeling happy shouldn’t be difficult at an amusement park, but I wasn’t laughing when my clothes and towel went missing at Darien Lake earlier this summer. The park unveiled it’s “Happiness Guaranteed” program just before opening for the 2014 season. It puts a promise on short ride lines and wait times, but what does it say about swiped goods?

     “While we’re technically not responsible for guests’ personal items,” said Mike Melaro, Marketing Manager at Darien Lake Resort, “it doesn’t remove our responsibility to ensure that everyone who walks through the front gate has an ‘incredible, memorable experience. Guaranteed.’ That’s our brand promise.“

     Cake fixes everything. Late night, my boyfriend and I went to the supermarket to get a buttercream frosting cake to help bury my grief and thumb our noses at the thief. We had a special message we wanted written on the cake, but the bakery was closed. An enthusiastic store employee, Ben, told us he’d be willing to give cake writing a try, so we let him. Before eating away my sorrows, I snapped a picture of the cake and posted it on Twitter with the message, “To the loser who stole my bathing suit & shorts @DarienLake”:

Susan Ashline Cake Tweet on Twitter

     Digital Media Marketing Coordinator, Doug Mandell, who runs Darien Lake’s Twitter account, saw the tweet when he started work in the morning.

     “My first thought was LOL,” said Mandell. “My second thought was – oh no. We need to do something.”

     By afternoon, I got a reply tweet from the park, “@SusanAshline When we say #happinessguaranteed, we mean business.”:

Darien Lake Amusement Park Cake Tweet on Twitter

     “Receiving customer feedback via cake was a first for us,” said Melaro. “We knew we had an opportunity to get creative with our response, and I wasn’t willing to let that opportunity go to waste. I talked to our Director of Marketing, Vince Nicoletti, about some options, such as sending a gallon of milk to go with the cake, along with the lost items.”

    They decided to reply in-kind, driving to the supermarket and having their own message written on a cake: “Sorry about that. How about free tickets and a new bathing suit on us?”

     This despite reservations from the bakery employee that, “I’m not sure I can fit all of that on there, but I’ll try!”

      Melaro said he isn’t concerned that replacing the items will set a precedent, because the park rarely receives complaints about missing personal items.

     The icing on the cake is that the marketing department not only capitalized on an opportunity to make one of its guests happy, according to Melaro, but they had fun doing it. And at the end of the day, the marketing team got its just desserts.

     “We were celebrating our intern Courtney’s last day for the summer, and she was the one to actually go pick up the cake earlier,” said Melaro, who explained that the cake ended up as their celebratory centerpiece.

    Rarely do baked goods serve a dual purpose of goodbye party and social media reply. Now that takes the cake!

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‘Twas a Flu-Filled Nightmare

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Originally published in the Democrat and Chronicle.

Sick on Christmas Eve
‘Twas a nightmare before Christmas when all through the house, my 5-year-old was vomiting, some flung on my blouse.

Reed couldn’t get nestled all snug in his bed, so he lay near the toilet while mom stroked his head.

The bucket was placed on the floor with care, too late for projectile that hit Teddy Bear.

And I holding Spray Nine, removing its cap, wouldn’t dream of settling down and taking a nap.

When from under his covers there arose such a clatter, my blessed boy’s cries had me worry, “What’s the matter?”

Away to his side, I flew like a flash, rubbed his back, kissed his face, while is complexion turned ash.

Dwelling on reindeer and new fallen snow, Reed feared his sickness would make Santa a no-show.

When what to our wondering minds it would appear – a hiatus to headache and upchuck was near.

More rapid than lightning my efforts became, I needed some meds but – what was the name?

To the top of the medicine cabinet – Tylenol! “Now dash away! Dash away! Fever and all!”

So to the TV for Christmas movies he flew, but I ordered him to bed – rest was what he should do.

Dressed in Sponge Bob jammies from his head to his foot, Reed’s clothes were all covered with – well, you know what.

A bundle of toys he hoped for in this shack, and I dreaded I’d catch flu before I could make Santa’s snack.

Cookie dough I reached for up on the shelf, and that’s when it hit me – I wasn’t feeling myself.

I spoke not a word, but went straight to work, disinfecting surfaces where germs tend to lurk.

And laying a tissue aside of his nose and giving a nod, made Reed take several blows.

He sprang back to bed at the command of my whistle, awoke 4 a.m., asked, “Santa bring my launcher with missile?”

But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he opened his gifts wrapped tight, “You were right, I needed sleep. I didn’t feel good last night.”

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Daughter, Mom Bond Over Race

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Originally published in the Democrat and Chronicle. 

Warrior Dash Windham New York
We might be cool, or just crazy.

I roped my 16-year-old daughter into joining me on an extreme event described as “3.2 hellish miles” of jumping over fire walls, climbing on cargo nets, scrambling under barbed wire and through pitch black pipes filled with mud, among other madness.

And I’m actually paying money to do it.

Not to suffer alone, I rallied friends, trying to get other common sense challenged athletes to join us.

The event – and training for it – will be great mother and daughter bonding. But how do we train for walking planks over a gulley and scaling slate walls? The first part of the Warrior Dash is running straight up a ski slope. I set the treadmill incline to the highest position and began to run. That lasted about two minutes before I lost balance and nearly fell off.

A friend offered to whip a rope at my feet to simulate the part of the race that involves speed stepping over hundreds of tires.

Perhaps I should follow training tips straight from the event’s website: “Find the dirtiest pond in your neighborhood and snorkel in it – in your slippers, without goggles.”

But more than likely you’ll find me running up and down Cobbs Hill with attached ankle weights – red-faced and panting.

My 6-year-old son saw video of the race and is pleading with us not to do it, afraid we’ll die by flames. Most people don’t even believe we signed up.

How can I get naysayers to understand the feeling of elation when I cross the finish line and course officials place a warrior helmet on my head (it’s really just a fuzzy Viking hat; but I’m all for the symbolism)?

It’ll be fun! Or, just plain foolish.

Besides, where else can you get a complimentary post-race shower in the form of a hose down by fire fighters? Or feelings of camaraderie associated with being surrounded by fellow mud covered martyrs eating turkey legs, dressed in clown suits and throwing hatchets into tree stumps?

We are – after all – warriors!

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“Kiss me or die!”

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For years, reporters in the WHAM 1180 radio newsroom in Rochester, New York, documented the wackiest emergency calls overheard on the police scanner:



Man blew a kiss at the complainant. Complainant didn’t like that. They argued. Man came back with a shotgun.”

Youths dropping lit matches into gas tanks on St. Paul.”

The occupant from the car is chasing the hood across the expressway.”

Pregnant cat in a box near Conrail.”

Frank and Paul aren’t getting along because Frank wants money and Paul won’t give it to him.”

The man with the shopping cart is now urinating on top of the garbage that’s in the shopping cart.”

Suspicious looking footprints in the snow.”

Two gentlemen fighting over darts at Spenders.”

According to the mother, the father was beating the child for medical reasons.”

DISPATCHER: “Long Pond and Lyell investigating kids in the dumpster.” COP: “10-4. Kids in the dumpster. Wear your gloves.”

Complainant ran over an opossum who is still alive and looking at her funny.”

Woman walking a dog in the middle of the expressway.”

Raccoon fell through the ceiling.”

Man’s been drinking for three weeks, requesting an ambulance for detox.”

Male, white, no clothes, covered in mud, walking around the rear of the War Memorial.”

He’s throwing bottles of shampoo all over the store.”

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Chest compressions! 1… 2…

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For years, reporters in the WHAM 1180 radio newsroom in Rochester, New York, documented the wackiest emergency calls overheard on the police scanner:


230 Lyell for a squirrel who fell off the roof and is injured.”

Female says the male has been there since 1900.”

The Hell’s Angel I’ve been having trouble with? He puts up a fight for a small guy.”

She puts on some kind of show for passing males.”

Apparently she has a hammer and is sitting in the kitchen.”

Male won’t come out of the pond. Apparently now he’s taken off all his clothes and swimming around naked.”

Porta potty on fire.”

Suspect’s hair was in two Mickey Mouse balls.”

Male wearing a mini-skirt.”

Report of burnt popcorn in the microwave.”

Naked female walking toward Driving Park. She’s now put her clothes on. She’s walking with a heavy set man.”

He’s a black male. Goes by the name of Cujo. Jay and Smith for Cujo.”

Guy is being a moron. We’re gonna wind up towing his car.”

He has one leg, and he’s tied to a bench.”

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Let’s Get This Party Started!

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For years, reporters in the WHAM 1180 radio newsroom in Rochester, New York, documented the wackiest emergency calls overheard on the police scanner:


The people on the party barge can’t get the boat started.”

The hospital put a cork in his nose, and that’s why it’s bleeding now.”

The jumper missed… and hit the dirt.”

Complainant says he’s been knocked over due to the wind.”

A 325 pound male says the devil told him he was going to die tonight.”

I decided not to arrest him, because I’m a nice guy. But I can go back there and arrest him if you want me to.”

There’s a man laying on the street under a green blanket, nearly hit by a street cleaner.”

Assault. She hit him with rubber cement.”

Woman has a male in her backyard, lying in her hammock. Now sitting in her chair.”

Suspect’s armed with a staple gun.”

She is now pregnant from the 18-year-old sister’s boyfriend.”

Can we get a tow truck? Apparently two guys were racing and didn’t know the road ended.”

There’s bats in the house. There’s no emergency, and police don’t respond to bats.”

A man at the residence pulled the phone out of the wall. He’s demanding they give him 20 dollars or he won’t give them the phone back.”

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“Apple sauce boiling over.”

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For years, reporters in the WHAM 1180 radio newsroom in Rochester, New York, documented the wackiest emergency calls overheard on the police scanner:


146 Park Avenue for the apple sauce boiling over.”

Trying to kill himself by drinking alcohol.”

Don’t bother us. We’re on the Ho Chi Minh Trail.”

Seeing little green men running out of the shower and tiny children running around the house.”

There’s an issue regarding poop from a dog.”

Male head-butting a road sign.”

The victim is described as being in his underwear.”

Male stole some things from the store. He’s hot footin’ it across the bridge now. He’s munchin’ on the ice cream he didn’t pay for.”

Reportedly took complainant to get some food. Wouldn’t let her out of the car. Pulled off her wig.”

Stole some Slim Jims from the store.”

Suspect seen rolling garbage cans down the roof.”

Man on telephone poll changing cable TV wire.”

Annoying kids on the trampoline.”

A 6-foot male crawling around on the parking lot.”

A man in a snowbank with one shoe. Apparently his friends left him there. He lives in Geneseo.”

Possible intox. Man standing at a parking meter. He’s been putting money in for about 20 minutes.”

Two people engaging in sexual activity on the hood of their car.”

Man yelling ‘Yo!’ in front of a building.”

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“A male driving inside a vehicle.”

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For years, reporters in the WHAM 1180 radio newsroom in Rochester, New York, documented the wackiest emergency calls overheard on the police scanner:


A male driving inside a vehicle.”

He’s having dreams that he wants to kill the President and whatnot.”

Man sent to Burger King by a temp agency, got beat up once he got there.”

Person hanging out of a window, person inside holding onto his feet, security watching.”

Suspect in car trying to push over a porta john.”

Male robbed something from the store. Left his shirt and ID behind.”

The squirrel was bitten by a dog, and now the squirrel is running around in circles acting strange.”

Roofers are threatening to tear off the newly installed shingles.”

Current bat policy – you don’t respond to anything, right?”

Suspects took the victim’s pants and boots, leaving him naked except for a hoody.”

Don and Mike are talking about Lonsberry.”

A left eye injury. Injured by a skunk.”

Resident believes someone in the mob is waiting to get him outside.”

Three male blacks dressed in women’s clothing took a 2-liter of Sprite.”

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“Arguments over who drank the last beer.”

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For years, reporters in the WHAM 1180 radio newsroom in Rochester, New York, documented the wackiest emergency calls overheard on the police scanner:


Arguments over who drank the last beer.”

Report of a man slumped over in a car. Slumped over but standing. Chewing on a straw.”

He put items into his pants.”

Three people passed the phone, they all said, ‘Hello,” then hung up on us.”

The suspect has some sort of tail, or hair on his back.”

The neighbor brat is harassing.”

His wife wouldn’t say why she’s doing it, but she’s tearing herself up in the store.”

The man’s got a book and a cane. He’s with a prostitute and they’re having sex.”

She asked the complainant for a few dollars. She’s not wearing any pants.”

Yeh, he’s flappin’ his yap as usual.”

Outside naked, asking for a beer and a cigarette.”

On a bicycle, pushing a lawn mower.”

Male rambling, talking to an officer, something about jail.”

Totally naked in a red sports car.”

Animals on her window. Thinks they’re raccoons because their eyes are glowing. Neighbor saw it, too.”

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What’s That I (Don’t) Smell?

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For years, reporters in the WHAM 1180 radio newsroom in Rochester, New York, documented the wackiest emergency calls overheard on the police scanner:


Emitting some kind of odorless odor.”

Two dogs are in the house. Yup, that’s what it says. I don’t know if they rung the bell.”

Family trouble. The in-laws pulled knives on them.”

Bite me.”

Inhaled foot powder and now he’s unresponsive.”

Complainant took off on foot. Name is Sweet Pea.”

Tried to rob the store with a rock.”

Woman with a beard sitting in the middle of the road not responding to car horns.”

Tried to throw Mom out the window.”

Standing on a corner wearing a brown winter jacket, asking people for money.”

We are investigating a guy jumping into a moving car window.”

Jumping in front of cars, walking in circles in the parking lot.”

I’m at Emerson and Dewey with a naked female.”

He’s a 61-year-old male known as Kurt the Troll.”

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