Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Growth Spurt

Talking about my nephew, who Marvin hasn't seen for a couple of years...

Me: Yeah, so he's a little crackhead 6-year-old.
Marvin: Wow, he's six, now?
Me: Yep.
Marvin: I bet he's tall.
Me: He is!
Marvin: I bet he's taller than I am.
Me: Marvin, he's six. We're not feeding him human growth hormone sandwiches.

Thursday, January 22, 2004

I'm so hysterically punny

My mother, father, and I arrive at Joe's Crab Shack in Forrest Park to meet my professor and another alumn with whom I'm giving a seminar. We've never been there before. The parking lot is jam-packed. My mother and I remark that we might as well park over in the shopping mall lot and walk over. My father glides into an empty space right at the front door. My mother and I exchange exasperated looks.

Mom: You always get the best parking spots!
Dad (laughing): Hey, I don't know, just luck.
Me: He must have good karma.

Mom didn't get it ("car-ma"), but Dad and I laughed our butts off.

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One of my guests paid for their tab using a 1941 Mercury dime. I'm sure they didn't even realize it, but it's worth lots more. I kept it, and told Glenn about it later. I came upon him telling Aaron about it a couple of days later.

Glenn: Yeah, a Liberty dime, and it's worth, like, $5.
Me (walking up): Actually, I looked it up. Depending on its condition, it can be worth up to $50. And it's called something different - a Mercury dime, the Treasury department website said.
Glenn: Why?
Me: Because the figure is wearing a cap with wings on it. It's supposed to symbolize freedom of thought. I guess that wouldn't "fly" now.
Glenn and Aaron roll their eyes and walk away, shaking their heads, while I laugh at my joke. What's more funny is that no one else is laughing with me. It makes me laugh harder, while my co-workers walk by, probably wondering how I remember to dress myself in the mornings.

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Food is piling up in the window, and no one really gives a crap until it's their food getting cold. With a sigh, I begin plowing through tickets, looking for an order I can run out. Aha! Table 106 for Daniel. I kale the plates ("No kale, no sale!" If only I was clever enough to think of that, maybe then I could be a manager, too!) and then Daniel - who is always flipping peanuts at me and has this infuriating Matrix-like ability to dodge the handsful of peanuts I throw back - is beside me.
Daniel: Hey, thanks.
Me: No problem. Do you need someone to follow you out with the other plates?
Daniel: Yeah, that would be great.
Me (pretending to walk away): Okay. I'll go find someone.
He punches me in the arm. Ouch, it actually hurt.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Am I On Candid Camera?

Me: Hi! I'm Stacey, and I'll be taking care of you today. What can I get you to drink?
Guy: Whatchoo got?
Me: We have Coke products - Coke, Diet Coke, Pink Lemonade, Root Beer, Mr. Pibb, and Sprite - sweet and unsweet tea, coffee, and a full bar.
Guy: You ain't got no Mountain Dew?
Me (Did I SAY Mountain Dew?): No, sir. We don't carry Pepsi products.
Guy: Why not?
Me (Who cares?): I don't know.
There is a moment of silence as he looks at me. Does he want me to make something up?
Guy: Will you go find out?
Me (What?): Sure. Can I grab you something to drink while I do?
Guy: No. We'll wait.
Oooookay. I walk in the kitchen, put some bread in the oven, restock the soup, and walk back out to the table.
Me: Apparently, Coke offers a better contract.
Guy: How much better?
Me (I DON'T KNOW! I MADE IT ALL UP! WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DRINK IDIOT?!): I don't know. It's a corporate contract. The individual restaurants aren't involved in the decision-making process.
Guy: Oh. Man, I really want Mountain Dew.
Me: I know, right? I wish we had it, too.
Guy: Do you have Mello Yello?
Me (Did I SAY Mello Yello?): No, sir.
Guy: But that's a Coke product. You said you have Coke products.
Me: Yes, sir. I did. But we don't have all of them. We don't have Dasani water, and it's a Coke product.
Guy: Hm. Well, I guess we'll just have two sweet teas.
Me (Finally!): Great. I'll be right back, and I'll bring some bread.
Returning, I put the teas and bread on the table. They've had enough time to memorize the menus, so I hope we can get this show on the road. I want to get them out of here.
Me: Now, do you have any questions about the menu?
They both look at each other and shake their heads.
Guy: No. We're ready.
Me: Great! What looks good to you today?
Guy:Whatchoo got?
There is a moment of silence as I stop and look up at them. What does he mean?
Me: Um, well, our soup of the day is chicken and wild rice, our catch of the day is halibut, and our featured item is our 22 oz. porterhouse. I recommend it with a sweet potato.
Guy: What else you got?

Weeeellll, why don't you READ THE MENU!

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

It's 3 a.m., he must be lonely.

Me (groggily): Hello?
Chris: You said I could call whenever.
Me: Mmmhmm.
Chris: Are you sure about this?
Me: Mmmhmm.
Chris: I think that we can work through our problems.

Really? Are you going to stop trying to convert me to your particular brand of religion? Are you going to get off your stupid Everquest game every once in awhile? Are you going to stop assuming that I'm irrational because I have a uterus? Will you support me while I get my masters, and then my doctorate? I think the answers to all of these question is "No." Therefore, we can't work through our problems. They are ALL deal-breakers.

Me: I don't think so, Chris.
Chris: I think we can. Just think about it.
Me: 'kay.
Chris: Get some sleep.
Me: 'kay

Chris: I love you.
Me: Mmmhmmm.
Chris: Okay.
Me: 'night.
Chris: Goodnight.

Monday, January 12, 2004

I'm free, to do what I - why's my phone ringing?

Me: Hello?
Chris: Why did you just leave like that?
Chris: So, that's it?
Me: I don't know what else there is that I can say.
Chris: Oookay. Well, have a nice life.
Me: You, too.

Ten minutes later...

Me: Hello?
Chris (sniffling): Why are you doing this?
Me (sigh): Chris, I think it's obvious that we aren't getting along.
Chris: You left some stuff over here.
Me: Like what?
Chris: Shampoo, conditioner, laundry detergent.
Me: Okay, well, I'm going to work. I'll pick it up later.
Chris: Alright. Bye.
Me: Bye

Twenty minutes later...

Me: Hello?
Chris: Are you sure this is what you want?
Me: Yes.
Chris: 100 percent?
Me: No.
Chris: Do you think it's right to make a decision when you're not sure about it?
Me: It's just time.
Chris: Fine. See ya.

Twenty minutes after that, I'm at work, and feeling like crap about the whole thing. I need the money, but I give up my shift so I can go talk to him in person. This was no way to end a relationship, no matter how frustrating it is.

Thirty minutes later, I'm at his apartment. He answers the door, tears already welling up in his eyes. Why?! All we do is fight. But I can't stand to see him cry, especially over something this stupid, like, me. I stumble through an apology for the manner in which I broke it off.

Me: I just came by to talk to you in person, and to apologize for the way this went down (went down? What, am I a rapper now?). It wasn't right of me. You deserve more respect than I gave you, and I'm really sorry for hurting your feelings.

Chris nods.

We stand there while tears roll down his face. I am really, really uncomfortable. I stare at the floor. I look up. He silently accusing me. I hug him. He gives great hugs. I wish he would do something annoying right now.

Me: Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?
Chris (whispering): You can change your mind.

I gotta get out of here. He slowly releases me. I step back. He sobs. Good grief.

Me: I am really, really sorry.
He nods.
Me: I should go.

He shrugs.
I turn to leave.
He grabs me and hugs me again. Crap! It's a Magical Hug of Mind Control! I step out of it and close the door behind me.

Four hours later, I check my messages. He left one about 45 minutes after I left his house: "I miss you already, and I'm just calling to ask you to have some compassion and come back into my life. I'm not going to beg, but I love you and I know you love me - even though you never told me. But I know you do. Just... call me. Please."

I call him back.
Because I'm an idiot.

Chris: Hello?
Me: Hey.
Chris: Hey.
Me: I didn't feel right not returning your phone call.
Chris: Oh.
Me: I wish I could do something to make this easier. It's not easy for me, either, you know.
Chris: You still left some stuff over here.

Crap. Why can't I remember this stuff when I go over to get it in the first place?

Me: Okay... I'll come get it in a couple of hours.
Chris: I'm going to sleep at 1.
Me: I'll be there long before then.
Chris: I'll see you later, then.
Me: Okay.

I go over around 11. We joke around for a little bit. He shows me his apartment is all packed up. I tell him I am impressed, that I've never seen his apartment this clean. Sitting on the arm of his couch, he frogs me in the arm. I punch him back. His hand is on my thigh, rubbing up and down... can't... move... must... not... touch... him... why are my hands on his arms? Stop rubbing him back! It's what he wants! He's going to eat your brain!

Chris: I notice you're inching closer.
Me: I didn't mean to.
Chris: Oh, really?
Me: (a little breathless) No...

He hugs me. Kisses my cheek. My neck. I push him gently away. He sighs and drops his arms to his sides.

Me: I should go.

He follows me to the door, hands me the stuff I had once again forgotten. Oh, yeah. That's what I came here for. I put the stuff in my trunk, close it, and suddenly feel lightheaded. I lean on the trunk, swaying. The feeling passes after a moment. I stumble to my door. He's suddenly beside me, like a ninja. Where'd he come from? I didn't hear his door open or close, or hear him walk up.

Chris: Are you positive that this is what you want?
I nod.
Chris: You're sure?
I nod.
Chris: 100 percent?
Me: I think so.
Chris: You seem pretty confused right now.
I'm not confused. You just my brain stop working. Wait - what was I saying?
Me: I'm sorry. I don't mean to give you the wrong impression.
Chris: Are you sure you aren't doing this for an easier transition? Because I'm moving?
Me: No.
Chris: You're not sure?
Me: No, I am sure.
Chris: You don't sound sure.
Me: What?
Chris: I think you're too confused to make a decision like this. I think you have a lot to think about, a lot to consider, a lot of confusion. You should really think about how you feel about me, the way you felt when you came over. You have a lot of thinking to do.

Oh, wait. NOW I remember why I don't want to date him anymore. Because he's a condescending asshole. Suddenly, it's much easier.

Me: I have been thinking about it. We don't really get along that well. I like you, but we spend a lot of time being angry with each other.
Chris: Well, you should still think about it.
Me (firmly): I have.
Chris (tears in his eyes again): Call me.

I nod. He walks away. No way I'm calling him.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

I'm free, to do what I want, any old tiiiiiimme

Previously, in Stacey's life (fade from black): Stacey was sick on Monday. Chris refused to help her, but promised to stop by on Tuesday. He didn't. Stacey decided to break up with him, based on his lack of caring when she was too sick to take care of herself. We rejoin the program on Wednesday of the same week...

So, I called Tuesday afternoon. I called twice on Wednesday. I called on Thursday morning, before he would have been scheduled to leave for work. No answer, no return phone calls. Finally, Thursday afternoon, I get him.

Chris: How are you feeling?
Me: Much better.
Chris: Good.
Silently, I think: Yeah, no thanks to you, butthead.
Chris: What's wrong?
Me: Well, I'm a little irritated with you.
Chris (scoffing): Why?
Me: Because I really needed help on Monday.
There is a moment of silence, and then:
Chris (loudly): If you're going to get all mad at me because you were sick, you know, I've been on the road a lot this week, and really tired so not feeling too good myself. I offered to take you to the hospital.
Me: I didn't need to go to the hospital. I just needed some stuff from the drugstore and help getting up.

Blah blah, conversation devolves into him yelling at me, as usual, and me saying repeatedly: "I would appreciate it if you would lower your voice. I don't appreciate you speaking to me like that. Stop talking to me like that. You have no right to speak to me like that." Until, finally, I get some balls and tell him that he treats me like shit.

Chris: Well, you treat me like crap sometimes, too.
Me: When? How?
Chris (laughing): Oh, please...
Me: You know what? Whatever. Don't talk to me. I need my hairdryer. I'll be there to get it in a little while.
Chris: Fine.

I get to his house about 45 minutes later. He greets me at the door and walks into the living room. I walk into the bathroom, unplug my hairdryer, and note that he has all of my stuff in a plastic bag. I pause: Do I want to have it out with him, or just let it go? Do I have to have a big breakup scene, or can I just tell him goodbye and stop returning his calls?

I peek down the hall. He's obviously avoiding speaking to me, and I really don't care. I don't mean that in a defiant way. I mean, I really feel nothing about it. I pick up my bag 'o stuff and walk out the door. As I back out of the parking space, he steps out onto the porch and gestures, palms up, communicating confusion that I'm leaving. I don't care, in the aforementioned manner. I keep going.

I hope that's the last I see of him. But he'll probably call me tonight. Can I pretend that I'm not home? And, for how long? Will that work for more than a week? Long enough for him to get the message that I don't want to see him anymore?

Saturday, January 10, 2004


It's Monday at 4 a.m. I am awakened by a very. very. very. bad. feeling. Yes, I meant to put all those periods in that sentence. It was for effect. Now stop interrupting me and let me tell my story. So, it's 4 a.m. I'm asleep. But, suddenly, I awaken with a feeling of dread. No. It's more like OH MY GOD I'M FEELING DREAD. I'm very aware of having a stomach right now. I've never before felt with such certainty that, indeed, I am in possession of a stomach. But right now, mine wants out, and it ain't waiting. I lurch into the bathroom, slam my stupid ankle against the the doorframe, and barely make it to the toilet before vomiting violently.

I spend the next 12 hours by the toilet, sleeping on the floor with a blanket and pillow. I can't move more than 5 feet without being forced back to the toilet for one reason or another. I shiver, I sweat, I have painful stomach, abdominal, back, neck, and leg pains. My head is pounding. My skin is sliding off my skeleton. My ankle hurts, but I think that's from slamming it against the doorframe, yes? I suspect I have a something terminal. I can't call work because my telephone got cut off by mistake the day before and I can't get to phone. I can't call my boyfriend because he's out of town. I'm pretty sure I lose consciousness at some point.

At 5:30 p.m., the cramps subside enough for me to get brave and crawl - CRAWL - to the couch. I'm out of breath by the time I get there. I fall asleep immediately.

I awaken again around 7 p.m. I sit up. My stomach lurches, but stays put. I grab my robe off the floor, my blanket off the couch, and begin trying to get to the door. I manage. I feel a small victory. I step out onto the porch - did I really have the door open the whole night? I must have opened it earlier, trying to get to my neighbor's house - and pause. My stomach pauses with me. Another victory. I move to the stairs, step down, and do not compensate for the shakiness of my legs. I stumble and fall into the grass. A setback. I lie there, tired, and not entirely sure that I haven't shattered all the bones in my body. Slowly I struggle to my feet. I make it to my neighbor's porch, knock, and collapse onto a lawn chair.

She opens the door, sees me, and cries out in surprise. I hadn't realized how bad I looked, and probably - now that I'm thinking about it - smelled. She helps me inside, hands me me the phone when I croak for it, and rustles me some water while the phone rings at Chris's house. Water! Sweet nectar of the gods! I remember myself and sip. My stomach rumbles. I stop. Chris answers.

Chris: Hello?
Me: : Hey.
Chris: What's wrong? Are you okay?
Me: No. I'm really sick. I've been throwing up all day.

I was going to continue to transcribe this conversation, but in all fairness, I can't remember the way it went. But, very basically, it went like this:

Me: Will you bring me some medicine to help me stop throwing up?
Chris: No, I'm tired. But I'll come check on you tomorrow after work. I hope you get to feeling better.

Oh. How nice. Do you know where he works? At a PHARMACY. Anyone who has known me for more than a month should know that I don't ask for help unless I really really need it. Chris knows this. He says I'm being stubborn. I think I'm being self-reliant. But when the only part of my body I haven't vomited yet is my pelvis, I'm going to ask for help. To have someone turn me down... not encouraging. And if he claims to love me, and can't get his lazy ass over to help me... well, he's lying. Either to himself, or to me - and I don't care which.

Granted, I drank some tomato soup, fell asleep immediately on the couch, and didn't wake up until 8:45 the next morning. But I would have heard someone knock on my door. He didn't call or come check on me the next day.

Monday, January 05, 2004

Reading Comprehension Lessons

Long, long ago in a restaurant far, far away...

Me: Now that those entree dishes are out of the way, can I offer you folks some dessert?
Man (this guy has more platinum on his teeth than any rap mogul you've ever seen): Yee-ah. Could you bring us some, uh, could you bring us some, uh.. uhh.. skrawberry limousine. Yee-ah.
Me (SKRAWberry? limouSINE?): Sure! One piece of Strawberry Limone coming right up.
Platinum Man (grabbing my arm as I turn to walk away. Word to the wise: Don't touch your server. Yo.): Naw, man. We want the skrawberry limousine.
Me (yanking my arm out of his grasp, much to his surprise): I'm sorry, sir. You'll have to show me what you're talking about.
PMan (showing me the table tent): Right thurr.
Me (smiling in what I hope is a friendly, not a condescending manner): Oh, see, you had me all confused! Yeah, that's pronounced "Strawberry Limone." I'll have a piece out in a sec.
PMan (insistent): Well, my friend said it was skrawberry limousine.

What, do I not work here?

Me: Oh, well, see, there's no "s" in the word.
PMan (looking at me like I'm stupid): But it's Freeeench.

Yeah, dude. That's how that works. At an Italian restaurant.

Thursday, January 01, 2004

Serving FAQ

Let's start the new year off with a training lesson. Read and learn.

What took you so long to get our drinks?

If you ordered tea or coffee, I probably had to brew it because the other servers were having personal conversations that rendered them unable to work. If you ordered a bar drink, I probably had to wait for the bartenders to finish their personal conversations before they would make the drink. If you ordered a soda, I may have had to change the syrup. All of this assumes that there were clean glasses and ice available at the serving station. I may also have had to get those before I could make your drinks.

We’re starving: when will our food be ready?

Your well-done steaks are still going to take the requisite 20 minutes to cook. Yes, 20 minutes. Even if you didn't order something well-done, all food is cook to order... plus time for personal conversations by the line cooks.

It don’t take that long at home.

Doesn’t. And of course it does if you do it our way. First, you would begin by marinating your steaks for 72 hours. Second, you have to wait for the grill to heat up. And third, we don’t cook them ahead of time. If you want to argue, I’ll get the cook and the manager.

Why is my food cold?

It was hot when I brought it. You were too busy running your big fat mouth to eat it.

Don’t you know that you’re not supposed to charge me for my soda if I buy a bar drink?

No. I don’t know that.

A tip? Why should I be responsible for paying your salary?

You aren’t responsible for paying my salary. I’m not a salaried employee. Servers are paid $2.13 an hour for their time. Now, that isn’t your responsibility, either. But the facts of the matter are these: 1) If the restaurant industry were to pay its servers the regular minimum wage, they would not take a loss to their profits. They would pass that increase on to the consumer. 2) A more than 50% increase in hourly wages (and the taxation and accounting headaches that come with it) means at least a 30% increase in menu prices. You only pay half that in a tip. 3) If you are using a service, you should pay for it. Otherwise, go somewhere where that cost is not added in, like, say: WENDY’S.

I never tip more than $2. Why should I?

That’s a good question. Allow me to tell you: Servers are taxed at 8% on the amount they sell, not the amount they actually make in tips. So, if your bill is $100, and you leave $2, that’s only a 2% tip. That means the additional 6% has to come out of my pocket. Effectively, I’m buying a portion of your meal for you. If you could at least tip me 8% so that I break even, I’d appreciate it. Thanks so fucking much.

Why do we have to go through the hostess stand? I see empty tables over there/
Why can’t we sit at that table? It’s empty.

People, this is not a new system. But, since you seem to have been raised on Mars, allow me to explain. 1) There is what’s called a “rotation” in seating at a restaurant, so that people don’t duke it out over tables like they do parking spaces, and so that each of the servers get a fair shake at making money. 2) Not everyone has the same needs. That couple wants a table in nonsmoking because they’re meeting another person who is in a wheelchair and has a respiratory illness. That person wants a quiet corner to himself because his wife recently died. That is a party of 25, and we need to reserve tables adjacent to one another until enough tables are empty that we can seat them all at once. The hostesses, ideally, can coordinate meeting all of those needs so that everything runs smoothly. Apparently, they haven't communicated this to you.

Why is the wait so long?

Many factors can push a wait longer. The kitchen could be running slowly due to short-staffing or – usually – due to hangovers. The floor may be short-staffed of servers, so that it’s difficult to take care of everyone quickly. There could be large party taking up many tables so that we can’t seat others at those tables. Large parties also tend to want to “camp” and socialize, so we can’t turn those tables as quickly as usual. But speaking of camping, think of the last time you ate out. How long did you stay? At least an hour, probably. Did you hang out at your table and socialize afterward? Pretty fucking likely. Sometimes tables just won’t get up from their chairs and go so that we can seat you. Finally, sometimes, outside factors slow down the restaurant so that things don’t move as quickly: equipment (ice machine, dishwasher, grill) could break; employee injuries can affect service speed; demand could be unusually high. But, usually, it’s the very people complaining about the wait that screw up the wait. Is that your kid running around getting in everyone’s way? Why does that server have to say, “Excuse me” four times before someone steps aside so that she can walk through the lobby with her guests’ food? How long did you wait to order after sitting down at your table? Usually – although not always – it’s the customers who make it hard on themselves.

Why is this charge on my ticket?

Beverage – Because you ordered it, and you drank it.
EntrĂ©e/Appetizer/Dessert – Because you ordered it, and you ate it.

Can I get some bread/peanuts to go?

Yes, but I’ll have to charge you for it.

Why? It’s all-you-can-eat!

So, eat it.

But, I’m too full.

So, you can’t eat it?


Well, there you go. You’ve eaten all you can eat.

Can you take this off my ticket? I didn’t like it/I couldn’t finish it.

If you didn't like it, then why did you eat it? I asked you three times if everything was okay, and if I could get you anything. You said: “Everything is fine.” So, no. I can’t take this off your ticket. If you can't finish it, then take it home. You're the one who ate his weight in bread.

Will you take a check?

Will you get real?

I can’t afford this. What happens if I don’t pay?

You see that cop over there? He’ll arrest you.

For what?!

For theft by taking. And, hopefully, stupidity, cheapness, and generally being an asshole.

You seem pretty smart; why didn’t you ever go to college?

Thanks so much; I did. The market took a hit after 9/11, the area is economically depressed, and I work 75 hours a week so that makes job hunting kind of a hobby, and not the singular goal in my life.