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Rara avis


Good customer service, that rare beast, is endangered enought to warrant an official-sighting bulletin. So it is with great excitement that I present two consumer equivalents of the Ivory-billed Woodpecker, one native to San Antonio, the other a welcome migrant.

First, the invasive species: My husband gifted me with a purse I'd been coveting on Bluefly's discount-fashion site, but he was muy disappointed when I opened the package and it was a a different bag than the one he'd ordered. He checked his online order -- accompanied by a handy picture -- and sure enough, it was by the same maker, used the same beautiful fabric, but was a very different bag.

I loved it, though, even more than the one I'd originally been drooling over. When he called Bluefly to straighten it out, it turned out the bag they sent was significantly more expensive. He offered to pay the difference, but they said, "Our bad. Thanks for being a Bluefly customer." I've raved about this company before: every shipment comes with a handy, pre-printed return label, the folks on the help line are happy to talk you through a long-distance dress fitting, and the regular clearance and 70-percent-off sales are a boon to the pocketbook. (We like it so much, in fact, that we recently bought some stock in the company -- a defensive move, really, and not unlike an alcoholic owning a bar.)

Now, the native species: Any SA diner of some endurance has run into a signature local event: the sudden depletion of a menu staple. I've been at a Starbucks that was out of soy milk (in a town where the local groceryopoly has taken great pains to ensure you're never more than 5 minutes from an H-E-B). In an apocryphal story, a beloved bar and restaurant once ran out of salt. (Send your stories here. Specials don't count. It has to be a regular menu item or basic ingredient.)

On Luminaria night, my brother and I stopped in at Yokonyu's downtown sushi bar for a little fortification. It was shortly before the kitchen closed, and it was a Saturday evening, yet it was still somewhat shocking to be told that they had just run out of rice and we wouldn't be able to order from the regular sushi menu. What's next? I wondered. Oxygen?

But the message was delivered by one of the owners (I'm going to go ahead and call her hardworking, because she's several months pregnant and was running the house.) She immediately offered to pick up half of our food tab, and sent out complimentary appetizers. I wasn't wearing a press pass, so I don't think it was media control. Much thanks and praise to her. We were tired and hungry, and instead of leaving empty and irritated, we're planning a return trip next time my bro's in town. (The sashimi, rock shrimp, and edamame we had were snackalicious.)

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