Saturday, November 7, 2009
After arriving in Germany, I learned many things.
I learned that most single guys in the military would rather hang in the dorm drinking beer on week-ends. And listening to "Dark Side of the Moon" over and over on their latest electronic score at the Base Exchange. And becoming morose over the fact that they couldn't be doing this back in Arkansas. Then, drinking more beer. And, I'll admit, the beer was damn good. But hey, you're in Europe, get out of the freakin' dorm!
I learned that there were many of us that wanted to experience this opportunity we were given. Frankfurt 30 minutes away, Munich 2-1/2 hours, Paris 3, Amsterdam 4. All in the comfort of a fast efficient train, where you could drink that great beer while cruising alongside the Rhein River, by Medieval castles, or through multi-colored tulip fields that went on forever.
There was a group of us that became a family during our tenure there. There were about 30 of us who regularly traveled, sometimes 12 at a time, sometimes 4. We all had jobs that sent us all over Europe, so when we could arrange to get together and travel, we did it with gusto. My first purchase at the Base Exchange wasn't the newest Infinity speakers or a big-screen TV, it was a 35mm camera with all the gadgets.
This family was composed of many individuals. We all just naturally gravitated together. About half were gay. One quarter straight couples. The rest single heteros. And we all got along famously. We had fabulous parties off-base. We visited the best restaurants in town and learned the language. Us gays were welcomed and welcoming, unlike our bosses on base.
The lesbians in our family were fairly stereotypical, in that most had short hair, never wore dresses, and played on the softball team. They were also the cream of the crop in their job fields, winning many Airman/NCO of the Quarter awards (as did I) and were admired for their professionalism. But, there were a few who felt threatened by them. Some were insecure when turned down for a date or a quick romp in the hay. One of my friends was also gang-raped, and all was made hush-hush. If she would have pressed charges, her sexuality would have been exposed. Unfortunately, her secret was exposed in another heinous way.
This was all before "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" was instituted by Bill Clinton. The Commanders had many tools at their disposal to ferret out the homosexuals and send them packing. One that they used to great advantage was the piss test. If the base security found out you went to Amsterdam for the week-end, you were invited to the pee party. Which is why my group would keep the trips to Amsterdam quiet. Not that we were big hash-hounds or anything, but every once in awhile we might partake at a party.
So, one day a lesbian friend of mine was called to the Base Commander's office. She had won an NCO of the Quarter award previously and she thought that she might be up for NCO of the Year. And didn't know what was to befall her and her lover.
It seems an acquaintance of hers on the softball team got busted in a random piss test. In those days, and maybe even today, when you were caught in that way, you were interrogated. Long and hard. She was pressured for hours and was told that they would go "easy" on her if she gave them some names. Names of dopers, homosexuals, or anyone doing something against the Code of Military Conduct. And she broke. And gave the names of every gay she could think of (but not the dopers since she was straight). Which snared 3 of my best friends in the world. And changed forever how I felt about being in the military and serving my country.
(To be continued)
Thursday, October 29, 2009
I was what many would call a "late bloomer" in high school. Or some would call just confused. Very likely, I was just ignorant. Ignorant to the feelings I had towards those I should be attracted to, and to those I really gravitated to. I tended to veer toward the fringe, even though they were considered the outcasts. I played football and tennis, but felt more comfortable with the Drama Geeks. I felt more comfortable with the geeks, but was accepted with the "in crowd" because I was masculine, the token "Yankee", and could hang with any crowd. I sang in the church youth choir and smoked weed with my mother and stepfather. Not to mention that this was in the heart of Mississippi in the 1970's. There were not many role models parading around the town square with rainbow flags or ass-less chaps. Or if there were, they disappeared before anyone could see them. I certainly didn't see them. Or even know they existed. This was before Ellen, Three's Company, and Will and Grace. By a decade or three.
By the time I enlisted in the Air Force, I had been with one girl and one man. The girl was my high school sweetheart and we were together almost all four years of high school. Only there was no sex, just some sweaty panting in the back of my Vega station wagon and lots of making out (Thank God, she was just looking for a way out of her 500 pound mom's house). The man was a friend of my aunt's. We hooked up after a long night of partying and we were the only ones still awake at 6am, playing card and footsy. Must have been some good speed or something. I blamed it on the drugs, but it felt so right. So, I entered the military not really knowing my sexuality, so I wasn't really enlisting under false pretenses. I was "uncommitted", "Independant", "Bipartisan". Or so I thought. And I really didn't give it much thought.
And then I was stationed in Europe. And things changed. Slowly, but change happened.
(To Be Continued)
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Wednesday night found me watching my must-see program, Top Chef. The episode airing this week is always my favorite of the series, Restaurant Wars. Those who have opened a brand new restaurant on little sleep, with high pressure bosses, in the shortest period of time possible, can attest to what goes on. Many, many hours. Alcohol flowing at the end of the long night reviewing what went right and what went horribly wrong. Lists on top of lists of what is still undone. All leading up to that moment when the doors open and customers stream in to a sparkling clean and perfectly set dining room filled with shaky employees and managers chewing Pepto tabs by the handful. It all comes back to me every time.
Last Friday was another encounter with my ex-boss. He called our store at 4:45 pm wanting to know if someone would bring four cases of glasses to them. The guy taking the call turned and looked at me while saying, "Let me call you back". They do this to me every time. "It's on your way home". "They're a big customer". "Maybe you'll get a free meal out of it". BIG SIGH. Even though all I wanted to do was go home and fix a giant cocktail, I agreed.
Tuesday at work, one of our customers, an Italian "Grille" owner, came in and was talking about what a hard time he was having with his staff. His restaurant was just recently opened and his servers didn't know the menu, and were lazy and unprofessional. Even though he had spent a "whole two days" training them.
Which all led to my nightmare....
I was a cocky, experienced server who was recruited to help open this new Italian restaurant. In my head, I knew that I knew more than the owner, and we were butting heads over assorted matters. I was also arguing with the manager, who I knew that I knew more than. It became too much and I walked out in a huff, flinging my bistro apron in the air with a flourish.
The morning of the opening, I get a frantic phone call from the owner begging me to come back. The other servers he hired were worthless and he needed someone with experience to help him out. For some reason I agreed to and showed up one hour before opening. The manager was frantically trying to catch me up on the menu and steps of service. Everyone was running around with horrified looks on their faces and a line was forming outside the doors.
When the doors were opened, customers streamed into the restaurant and proceeded to fill every table. And there was no table chart. I looked down and realized that I had no apron. Worse yet was every server's worst nightmare. I HAD NO PENS!!!
Which was when I woke up, thankful in the knowledge that it was only a dream.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Their first question is always, "Where's the used equipment?"
To which we answer, "We try to stay far, far away from the used stuff."
Then, they go over their list of stuff they need and want price quotes for them. By tomorrow. For a place they may or may not open within a year. Our next questions are always, "Do you have a location in mind?" "Does it have a hood system in place?" "Is the site plumbed for gas or wired for 208 volts?"
The next inquiry should be, "Have you had your head examined?" or "How much of your life are you willing to give up to break even your first year if you're lucky?" or "Do you have any idea what it takes to run a restaurant?" or "Are you Nucking Futs?"
These people have no idea what the difference is between a high-temp or low-temp dishwasher is. Or what a 1/6th pan is. Or if they need a hood system over their gas 10,000 BTU deep fryer.
I'm tired of teaching these people the rules only to be castigated over the cost of a convection oven. Some do minimal research over the Internet into the cost of equipment, yet do no research into the hours necessary to run a place. Yet they want me to spend hours putting together a quote on equipment they will never be able to afford. For a restaurant they will never get the financing for. And are unwilling to spend the time to run.
And, oh yeah, can you give me directions to the place that sells used equipment? Yeah. Take a right on Bite My Ass Avenue and drive until you pass Up Yours Boulevard. It's right next to Delusional Depot.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
I've become something of a Masochist by reading the letters to the editor and the comments to those letters in the daily paper via http://www.pnj.com/. If you really want to know what's happening in your community, you read what people write into the paper. And it's a real eye-opener. Below are a few quotes, verbatim, from this last week. These snippets will let you know what I have to put up with on a daily basis:
As for the war of Northern Aggression, the wrong side won and therefore did not get to write the true history. And BTW, I was born and raised in the Northeast but now re-educated.
The commies in the ACLU should be lined up against a wall and shot.
Here's another oxymoron for you morons. EVOLUTIONARY SCIENCE!
FAIL TO THE COMMUNITY DISORGANIZER!!!!!!!!!!
What's the difference between Obama and Hitler? Hitler GOT the Olympics!
Afghanistan is now Barry's war
...and no valid birth certificate...
Dingle Barry sat on his thumbs and "evaluted" [sic]...meanwhile people died!!!!!!!
I don't understand why insurance reform has to come with a "public option" and all the other nonsense. All I want is a fair coverage without loopholes for a fair cost.
...the REAL news organizations like FOX News and Newsmax.com...
So there ya go. The level of sophistication is right up there with Selma, Alabama, circa 1960. Back then, the bad guys were the Democrats with George Wallace the spear-carrier. My, how things have changed. It's like the Republicans and Democrats went into the way-back machine and came out opposite the way they went in.
Beav, we're in for a long fight.
Friday, October 2, 2009
An American city lost millions of dollars in potential income and untold jobs and he's ecstatic. Because a President he despises supported it. I turned to my co-worker, who is another right-winger and Chicago native and said, "I just don't understand someone who would rather see America go down in flames than see it succeed under a President he despises." Even he shook his head and said, "That's the way he was raised."
All this negativity. All for revenge. People like him, thankfully, are a small but vocal minority. But, they are all you hear on local talk radio, since Progressive talk is but a few scant hours each week here in the Panhandle of Florida.
This region has had an unfortunate amount of publicity lately, what with the stories of a Pace High School principal brought up on charges of pushing prayer to a captive audience. Luckily, that's pretty much limited to the north side of the county I live in. They're pretty isolated up there from the real world. If you're not a Baptist Bible-thumper, then you're an interloper and not welcome. They don't call it L.A. (Lower Alabama) for no reason.
I'm not saying those who choose to live there are not inherently good people. I'm just saying that when you drive Hwy 90 through Pace and Milton, the banjo music from Deliverance echos off of all the Baptist churches in town. There's a reason that alcohol is not allowed to be sold in northern Santa Rosa county on Sundays. Attendance and tithing would be way lower, I'm sure, if it were allowed. I know that there are very few nice restaurants in the area, since Sunday is a big money-maker for nice restaurants that offer wine and other drinks everywhere else in the country. In restaurants that I've worked in, Sunday is the third busiest day of the week. Not so much here.
I've commented before on the AM talk radio station there, WEBY 1330. Because of their support, a principal of Pace High School raised over $70,000 for his defense when he was found guilty of ignoring a court order to stop forcing prayer at a school sponsored event. I'm sure he will be a future Republican nominee for some political office. And I'm also sure, he will be a shoe-in there.
I just cannot wrap my head around how people would rather see our country suffer than to support our President in these tough times. Which was inherited from the previous administration. Who get no blame. Selective amnesia for the masses. Brought to you by Fox, Rush, Hannity, Beck, O'Reilly, and the rest of "The Fourth Reich" who wish to over-throw our duly elected President from their plantation mind-set.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
I got the call on Thursday. I was paged while in the glass warehouse and came out to my desk where my co-worker told me that Trudy from the oyster bar was on line 2. I rolled my eyes, thinking they wanted me to drop off something after work like I had so many times before. I was unprepared for what Trudy said to me though. Sunday would be their last day open as they did not have enough business to keep going. She asked me if I could look up what they had paid for all the equipment that they had bought from us so they would know better what to ask for it.
I could hear the sadness in her voice, but also a tinge of relief. The owners are 60ish and have had restaurants in Louisiana before. They knew they had a good product and thought they had a good location. Never mind that the last two restaurants in the same location lasted less than a year each. Lot's of residential surrounding them on the main road between us and Ft. Walton. No decent restaurants in the area (only fast-food chains, basically) and lots of traffic.
Unfortunately, that traffic had a hard time turning into the parking lot. There is a grass median there and you have to go 100 yards past and turn around to go back. Having it changed would have cost them $40,000, a sum they could not afford.
They had decent business for a long time and when times were good, they were getting by. Unfortunately, places that "get by" in good times are not the ones that survive when the going gets tough. Having a fairly high price point is another straw on the camel's back. In these times, the restaurants with low price points (fast food, diners) and high-end joints tend to do better. Middle of the road prices often go lacking in the customer department.
The owners are nice people and hard workers. Their offspring who they gave jobs to, not so much on the latter. The father has heart problems and probably should not have been working, but he had no choice. Sweat equity was a must, and the kids were there just for the paycheck. Never mind that the parents had put their retirement savings into the place.
Which is why it was so wake-like. This was one place that I hoped would survive and prosper and they made many friends in the area. Never mind that they were my first big sale over two years ago. They always welcomed me in. And my first beer was always on the house because I delivered stuff to them after work on my time. And they were good, decent people.
And I'm bummed. And stuffed from fried oysters and shrimp and cole slaw. But, still bummed.
Monday, September 7, 2009
When I was finally rewarded with an Assistant Manager, things were looking rosy. Until I was told that she couldn't close at night alone. And she couldn't open, because she was too raw to place orders. And she couldn't work over-time, since she was hourly. And, oh yeah, she's bestest friends with the boss. And, boy, does she spend a lot of time in the bathroom with that allergy problem she has...snort, snort, sniff, sniff.
Needless to say (to those of you with no life who have gone back to the beginning of this pitiful blog), I walked. I had to close a "spur of the moment" private open bar for some V.I.P.'s after opening at 7am. The bar would close at 2am. While the party was at a lull, I took the time to go to the office and pack everything that I had brought with me or had bought with my own money and never got reimbursed for. All packed.
When my bartender and I left at 3am, I was carrying many bags of belongings with me. I stopped by my boss's office and left my name-tag, cell phone, keys, and a nasty note. Before that final closing of the door, I went back and retrieved the note. He didn't need me telling him why I left, he had to know why, so why give myself a badder-than-it-will-be-anyway reputation?
I heard nothing from him until a few months later when he turned up at my current place of employ. Lucky me, I was the only one on the floor to help him. I don't know why I was nervous, but I was. But, I put that behind me. My pride was on the line. And as they say, "Never let them see you sweat". He also put on a game-face and the interaction was polite, but stunted.
We hadn't talked or seen each since then, but I had heard that he eventually left that "resort" and went back to his prior job with a respectable restaurant in town. And then I got the call...
"*****, this is Ex-RM, how can I help you?"
"Hi, Ex-RM, this is Dufus (name changed to protect the guilty). I need to place an order and to check on a previous order that Chef is waiting on."
"Okay, Dufus, what is on that prior order?"
It turned out that the Chef had ordered some replacement pieces for some tabletop items that they had ordered from our competition. And our competition didn't carry those replacements, they would have to buy the whole shebang, which was ludicrous. And they wanted those pieces ASAP. Great.
After spending way too much time investigating these cheaply made items, I got them what they needed. Did I get any thanks? No, it was just suggested that next time I deliver to their establishment, I should come in the back door (no parking, I tried) instead of through the front door.
Anything to establish hierarchy. Glad to hand him off to our outside salesman. Jerk.
Friday, August 28, 2009
DH: "Did you hear about Obama's latest maneuver? He's going to shut down the Internet and all phone calls in case of emergency!
ME: "And where did you get this information today, DH?"
DH: "It was just reported by The Drudge Report!" (And, yes, he does use Exclamation points when talking about his despised President)
ME: "Ah, yes, and Drudge is so non-judgemental and trustworthy. Like when he reported about the 'Death Boards' and the so-called forged birth certificate."
DH: "Well, it was also covered by the Washington Post."
ME: "Which is a 'newspaper' in name only. Let's call it what it is. The Right Wing Rag."
On a daily basis, whether it's listening to the local talk-radio, talking to customers, hearing this bull at work, or reading the comment section of the local rag, everyone is in lock-step (parallel intended) with the daily talking-point memos that the rightwingers are instructed to rant about.
I just wish these people would get their information from somewhere besides Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Matt Drudge, or Fox News. There might be more conversation and less accusation. Because right now, reason is out of the question. A commenter today on Pensacola News Journal's letters to the editor called Ann Coulter and Laura Ingraham "astute conservatives". The only thing 'astute' about Ann Coulter is when she has too much fiber in her diet ;/
P.S. I promise to get off this soapbox real soon. I have a real need to talk about substantial stuff. Like dip-stick restaurant managers. For instance, today's run-in with an ex-boss. That will be worth showing up for.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Sunday, August 23, 2009
After my discharge (Honorable, thank you very much), I settled in Michigan and decided to put down roots for good. I was tired of the moving, especially the packing, tossing, and carting of detritus I had accumulated in my lifetime. In sixteen years in Michigan, I lived in two different apartments. The first apartment was one that I disliked immensely but stayed in for 10 years because of my dislike (Nay, Hatred!) of moving. I only left that one because it was bought by new owners who decided to upgrade it out of my price range. The second was an apartment that I adored because it had everything the first one did not and I stayed there for 6 years. I only left that place to foolishly improve my chances for advancement with the company I was working for at the time which I will not mention **cough, cough** Macaroni Grill.
Well, I escaped that roller-coaster existence after 5 years and 5 moves for those ungrateful scallywags (I'm trying very, very hard not to use profanity). I moved here to the panhandle of Florida and stuck my toe in the waters of permanency once again. While I revel in the thought of never moving again, certain facts point me towards pulling up stakes once again:
- Although I really, really like my job and am good at it, I've come to the conclusion that I don't like the people I work for all that much.
- My apartment complex has gone through three changes of management in two years. Each successive company has gone cheaper than the last. This summer, our pool has been closed about 1/3 of the time for various excuses.
- This area has the greatest concentration of conservative, Bible-thumping, homo-phobic, racist pigs I've ever experienced in 49 years of life. All you have to do is read the comment section in the local rag to become jaw-droppingly amazed at the attitudes of these gun-toting Fourth Reichers.
- My dad is healthier now than he was 10 years ago and will probably outlive me, so I could safely move farther away without feeling guilty.
- There are no jobs here, so I feel stuck in a place where I have no future beyond being a worker bee forever. While I don't necessarily want to be a manager-type again, I can't stand working for people who are in the position they are only because of a few genes. And take advantage of that fact.
I don't necessarily want to move far, but a change of scenery might do me good. Maybe I just need to take a long, soul-searching vacation where I don't do anything but request an extra lime for my margarita. Maybe I should ask for that long overdue raise that would let me know just what my future is here.
But, as I look around this spare bedroom where my computer and boxed stuff is located, all that I can think of is 'Oh, God, I do not want to pack and move this shit again!'. The big question, though, is where in Hell would I move to? My favorite relative, my aunt-sister, lives in New Hampshire, and I will never move "up-North" again. Although the politics in New England are closer to my sensibilities, I refuse to ever scrape ice and snow from my vehicle again. My second favorite aunt lives in a great area of Florida and is close to my age, but she's a rabid Rush Limbaugh devotee. Wouldn't work out.
Maybe Mobile. Maybe New Orleans. Maybe Biloxi, where I had plans to move before that bitch Katrina interfered. I guess I just need to find an employer who wants me bad enough to do all the damn packing for me. Yeah, right, that'll happen.
Sunday, July 19, 2009
- I'm thankful that I still have my health despite what I do to my body on a daily basis.
- I'm thankful that my dad is still healthy enough to play tennis with me most Saturday mornings.
- I'm thankful that I now have the opportunity to beat his ass soundly like he used to do to me everytime.
- I'm thankful for air conditioning at home, in the truck, and at work this time of year.
- I'm thankful that I'll never have to scrape snow and ice off of my truck ever again. The trade-off between living up North or down South is in my favor. As long as the A.C. holds out.
- I'm thankful to have the restaurant blog community to provide all the drama I ever need, although I miss being in the thick of it during a well-run, busy dinner rush.
- I'm thankful that I'll never have to apologize to a table of d*ckwads for something that deserved no apology.
- I'm thankful for relaxed, languid Sundays to read the paper with a strong pot of coffee, a pack of smokes, the British Open on the TV (Go Tom!), and not having to shower if I don't feel like it.
- I'm thankful for the Sunday edition of www.postsecret.com to give me something to read after the newspaper. Which makes me feel better about my own life. Mostly.
Gotta go now. I've got some serious lounging to do.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
I pulled from my memories the recipes that I wanted to clone. Toothsome and hearty Oyster Dressing from my mom's dad. Rich, decadent banana pudding from my dad's mom. Christmas cookies from my mom's grandma. Macaroni salad from my mom. All bring back memories. And all bring high expectations. I persevered and can cook side-by-side any family memory.
I might be eating as well as I did before. But, I'm missing the busser, server, dishwasher package offered at restaurants.
Monday, June 29, 2009
My immediate supervisor is the owner's son. He came late to the party that is his father's business. But of course, he knows everything. Until his father tells him otherwise. And his father tells him this alot. And loudly. In front of everyone, or in his office with the door open. Yeah, they're classy that way.
Over the course of the last couple months, the dynamic has changed a bit at the workplace. Owner has been more vociferous in his ridiculing of his sons pertaining to their performance. This is all taking place at the same time that Owner Wife is scaling back her time at the shop, so that Twin 1 (I think I've mentioned before that they're twins) can assume more command of the financial side.
Well, Twin 1 is obviously Attention Deficit Disorder inclined, but not diagnosed by any doctor. Twin 2 is the Charming One, with no chance of being recognized by Owner as ever doing anything right. Owner is quick to place blame when a mistake is made, but slow to congratulate good performance. Owner also wants everything done fast, fast, fast. Don't bother taking time to investigate or do homework. Just Get-R-Dun! Although, lately, there's been a few mistakes made that would have been noticed if a moment of reflection had been made when placing 5-figure orders for equipment.
Now, my specialty is taking 5 minutes now to save 2 hours later covering up (one of my big mistakes in the restaurant biz). So, now, when I'm placing $4k orders for glassware, I take my time to research how much I need to order. Only, I'm going too slow for Twin 1. According to him, it should only take 5 minutes to place a four figure order. But, if you miss something while scrambling to slam in an order, you're thrown under the bus faster than you can say 'Greyhound'.
Today, while putting in an order for bar sinks and surrounding accoutrement, our computer said we had an item in stock. I spent a total of five minutes researching where it was, when it was received and who it was ordered for. Twin 1 overheard me asking a fellow worker if he knew where this speed rail was. He castigated me for wasting time trying to find out where it was and if we had ever received it. So, I moved on and just added it to the Purchase Order.
Fifteen minutes later, Twin 1 (having nothing else to do) looked through the Purchase Orders filed today, and pulled the one I placed. He looked over my order and asked me, "Did you look to see if one of our stores had this ice chest in stock?".
After looking at him squarely in the eyes, I said, "No, I didn't want to waste the time."
My nearest workmate didn't hide his surprise very well. If he'd had coffee in his mouth, his computer would have been toast.
I think I got a mental demerit from my boss, the ADD Twin.
And the search goes on for a real job.
Friday, June 26, 2009
People who drive in the left lane (the passing lane to those who are informed) at or below the speed limit should be banished from driving priviledges. They are the major cause of traffic back-ups and road rage. Major practitioners are people on cell phones and people driving Benzes with a superiority complex.
I like to listen to talk-radio while I drive. It makes me feel like I'm not wasting my time while driving. Unfortunately, I can't afford Sirius or XM, so I have to listen to the trash that is broadcasted here in the panhandle of Florida. That trash is WEBY 1330 out of Milton, Florida. It is Adolph's own radio station. Old, white, right-wing talk out of the 60's (think Dirty Dancing). It will be it's own post one day.
Customer service is a mis-nomer nowadays. 3 out of 4 times when I call a vendor, I'm either put on hold or am directed to voice-mail. When sent to voice-mail, the average time for reply is around 3 hours. Many times I need to get freight charges from these fine folk so that I can invoice a shipment my customer has been waiting for two weeks to receive. My boss doesn't like for the delivery guys to be standing around waiting for invoices from me.
At the grocery store, the items that are discontinued are usually my favorite. And the ones that sell out the fastest. So, it's not just me that is disappointed. My latest empty slot on the shelves? Diet Vernor's Ginger Ale. America's oldest Ginger Ale and IMHO, the best. If you can find it, it makes my favorite drink: Captain Morgan and Vernors. Tastes like Vanilla Soda. And Diet Vernor's was always the first sold out at Wally World and Winn-Dixie. They still have regular, but I need every last calorie saved that I can get ;)
I travel over a 3-mile long bridge every day to and from work. There are sections where you can see the whole span. I hate it when I see a 100-yard gap where someone in the left lane is driving slower than traffic. I know there's a traffic light at the end where we will all have to stop and catch up. But, I want to slap those people slowing down the left lane speeders like me, even though I know it will save me no time whatsoever, anyways.
People who wear socks with sandals should have their own section in Fashion-Hell.
There will be more. Oh, yes, there will be more.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
It's late right now, so I will continue Sunday (although, since it's 1:15 am, it's already Sunday).
Friday, April 3, 2009
Friday, March 6, 2009
Air Force Guy (AFG). Late 20's to early 30's. Soft-spoken and not one to draw attention to himself. A smoker, thank God, since I didn't bring my smokes inside, and willing to bum one to me. I had a mini-crush going.
College Girl (CG). Early 20's and very quiet. Attractive in a way that she didn't herself seem to know. Slow to smile but when she did, it was way catchy. Very studious-like and demure. Would let others cut into her discussion without complaint. At some points, I wanted to scream to her, "Speak up for yourself!".
One-Arm Man (OAM). Country guy to the max, originally from Georgia. Easy going, but I could tell he probably listens to Rush regularly. He had a birth defect where his right arm ended above the elbow and he said one of his legs was a prosthesis.
Loud Crazy Mama (LCM). In her fifties, bright red hair that was showing gray at the roots. Another smoker, but she missed the one smoke break we went on when she was in the restroom. She is funny, quick to laugh, and even quicker to judgement. She was sure of the verdict even before I was, even though I was 95% sure walking into the sequester room.
Tattoo Cub (TC). Big butterball who covered his tattoos with long sleeves on a 74 degree day. Smiled easily, was a little bit country, but not too much.
We arrived at the courthouse at 11:30, LCM was a few minutes late. Each was ushered to the sequester room, after going through the metal detector, by a bailiff/deputy/whatever. It was a little uncomfortable at first because there wasn't really anything to talk about, since we were informed not to talk about the case until deliberations (I'm really getting into all those Law and Order terms now). With the room devoid of all decoration and our main topic of conversation off-limits, we chit-chatted about banal things for a good hour until we were finally called to the courtroom. An hour sitting and talking to five strangers who would rather be someplace else, although almost all agreed that we actually wanted to be picked. Only OAM had been on a jury before, but he said he had nothing else to do. I mostly wanted to be there, although I was having to take a personal day to be there.
Once we were seated in the courtroom, the judge proceeded to read verbatim from a sheet of paper about the rules, and how this was part of America, blah, blah, blah. Let's get on with the show, Judge!
We knew going in that it was a case of DUI, and that the Defendant, Mini-Mullet Guy (MMG), had supposedly refused the Breathalyzer and the Field Sobriety Exercise (FSE). I had always wondered what would happen in that circumstance, and now I was gonna find out. Each lawyer would give an Opening to let us know what we would be hearing and what to expect.
First up is the Prosecutor, Amazon Lawyer (AL). Needless to say she was tall. She was outwardly bookish, with straight blond hair and glasses. She also had the agonizing habit of not finishing a sentence without referring to her notes again. She clearly could have used a Tele-prompter. She also had the galling trait of Objecting to almost every sentence the Defense Attorney spoke. Country Defense Lawyer (CDL) rolled his eyes so many times his eye sockets must have been sore. She would start a sentence like, "And so, we shall be telling you....wait..." and then start sorting through her legal pad and poke at items with her pen until her train of thought got back on track. Annoying. She wasn't very prepared and didn't really prove anything, didn't explain how important the evidence (prior driving record) was, and generally had me thinking early on that MMG was going to be a free man soon.
Next up, the CDL started in on his defense. He had a soft, homey delivery that made me feel a little uncomfortable. His client was dressed in his company sweatshirt and jeans. CDL kept referring to MMG as his "hero". Self-employed, good country boy, hard worker. He came off more of a partier after confessing to having 5 beers in a 3-1/2 hour period and got caught with open containers while going 83 mph with two young chicks. "Supposedly", he kept telling the Trooper that he would take the Breathalyzer, but not the FSE, because he had sore feet and ankles from his construction job (that he had not been working that day). The Trooper told a different story, that he had started the FSE with the ole 'follow the pencil with your eyes while holding your head still', and MMG had been failing miserably, so he started refusing then.
Earlier when the CDL was cross-examining the State Trooper, they got in a little verbal sparring. CDL would keep telling the Trooper, "That's a yes/no question, stop embellishing!". After final arguments, we summized that the judge took them both to the wood-shed, because CDL apologized to us after we returned.
The prosecutor, AL, did a terrible job. She should have done the whole alcohol training thing, with a chart showing MMG's weight, what 5 beers would be percentage wise, etc. Not a mention, except for Trooper's description of him stumbling and being unsteady. I ended up doing an impromtu training session in the deliberation room for OAM, who insisted some people could handle 5 beers with no problem. TC was on the fence about it, but came around eventually.
The straws that broke the camel's back:
The prior driving record. Only one line showed with the above 4 inches whited-out. It was for refusing a Breathalyzer back in 2002. The defense couldn't (or wouldn't) go into detail and just showed this to us. Back in the deliberation room we scrutinized it further. In Florida, it's an automatic 1 year suspension of your driver's license for refusing to blow, but the evidense showed be lost his priviledge for 2 years. Hmmm, musta had a DUI then, also. And with all that blank space above, MMG had obviously not been an angel on the interstate.
Next, admitting to having 5 beers. CDL argued (unsuccessfully) that, "See, he was truthful. He coulda lied. He had nothing to hide. He was not drunk."
MMG had no witnesses, although there were two women in the car who were supposedly friends and neighbors. Where were they?
MMG kept changing his story. First he told the trooper 5 times during the car ride that he would take the Breathalyzer, then half a dozen, then 3. Also, he said he offered again at the jail, but the Trooper ignored that. Hello, you're in the jail. I'm sure you could have found someone who would give the blow-test to you. Trooper said MMG never offered to take the test. I had to believe the Trooper on this one.
OAM kept arguing that there was no proof to convict, that we couldn't be sure he was impaired. The other four of us kept hammering back, "But he admitted to 5 beers and was driving 83 on a section of Interstate crawling with cops! How impaired do you want him to be?" Logic finally entered his brain and he agreed, begrudgingly.
When the verdict was read in the courtroom, there was not a flinch from MMG or CDL. They must have been expecting it, because they showed no surprise whatsoever.
I feel fine with the outcome. I'm just glad one more drunk driver is off the road, especially if he was a multiple offender. MMG is in his late 30's and obviously didn't learn his lesson the first
time. I said in the deliberation room that I'd be the first to admit to having driven drunk before. We all admitted it. Just because we never got caught didn't make it right.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
Some will excuse away everything that our past President, Vice President, and assorted goons have done to dirty our reputation. Where once we were shining princes coming to the rescue of our Allies, we are now the Bully of the world. Where once we only responded forcefully to real threats, we now (or rather, the past 8 years), instigated warfare (the "Bush Doctrine" that Sarah Palin now knows).
Countries of the world thought that they had mis-judged us. Where we were once the amiable big brother, we were now the abusive bigger sibling that gave wedgies to weaker brethren. Gave 'swirlies' to freshman dweebs. But, that's all changing. Thanks to some 'real people' in the White House.
Right Wing finger-pointers have made fun of the Obamas during this sojourn to Europe. I see it as sour-grapes from Republicans who have gotten the cold shoulder from former allies for years. Every video and clip that I've seen from this trip has been of leaders of other countries welcoming the humanity and realness of our First Couple. Maybe we can get back to where we once were.
Friends, Allies, Hope for the Future. It all looks good so far. Unless you listen to Right Wing Radio. They'll tell you Michelle Obama's arm around Queen Liz is a major Faux Pas. I saw it as a response to Liz's warm first contact.
I also see it as a first thawing of the frosty relations that we've had since we blew it after 911. And I'm Optimistic for the first time in around six years.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Ordinarily, I tend to write off the 'concessionaires' who come in. They are ordinarily 'Mr. and Mrs. Joe-Sixpack' who think they have the best barbecue around, or the best funnel-cake, or the best what-ever. They have checked out the used equipment purveyor here in town and come in with quotes and scribbled notes about what they need.
This past week, I got a new customer. She is, shall I say, the most fun that I've ever had with someone who is starting their own business. Ida was the funniest, sunniest, most bubbly personality that I've dealt with in the almost two years I've been dealing with in this industry. She had the obligatory legal pad with notes about what she needed and quotes from other purveyors. But, she was special.
When I met her half-way in the door, she was smiling and it lit up the room. Usually when a new customer comes in, they are awe-struck when they see the expanse of stuff that we offer. She was just so giddy about being there, that it made my 'see customer, smile obligatorily' grin open to a half-chuckle. It didn't matter that she was wearing jeans and a t-shirt with food stains, or her half-grown out weave. Her happiness was infectious, and I was smitten. And willing to help her in any way that I could.
She had a small concession stand and would be offering gumbo, burgers, and other similar wares in a good location close to the military base. I whittled down her needs and gave her some numbers that she was very happy with.
I wrote up a sales order and she wanted to pay right away, even though it would take a few days to get her items in stock. (Now that's our kind of customer!) I would have one of her items in two days and she told us that when she came in to pick it up, that she would bring in a sample of her gumbo. Double bonus!
Well, she did come in, and she brought in the sample. Two quart containers of gumbo with crab claws, a container of rice, plenty of Styrofoam plates, spoons, napkins, and crackers. I was flabbergasted, as were all my drooling co-workers. Not to mention the gumbo was very tasty. This was a first, as far as someone bringing in all the essentials. She had her act together. And she made some very good contacts in the process.
I certainly hope that Ida makes it good. I hope that she has so much success, that she will spread her joy and friendliness far and wide. She certainly brightened my week.
For that is what we need nowadays. Forget chain arogantness and mediocrity. We need more Idas and the happiness that is cooking good food and having fun doing it.
Friday, February 13, 2009
I finally found out last week that my polyps were benign and I don't have to go through the Hell that is Colonoscopy prep for 5 more years. I guess my hopes and prayers were answered and I inherited my dad's genes and not my mom's. Except for the addictive personality traits. Damn the gene pool.
So, I guess that I can breathe freer and not worry so much about the cancer link on my mom's side of the family. As far as my dad's side, I only have to worry about Alzheimer's, heart disease, and Parkinson's. Smooth sailing, indeed.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
But please, if you have colon or prostate cancer in your family, get yourself to a doctor for a colonoscopy. Early detection is the best way to beat this disease, or a colostomy bag, or a casket. And the procedure was totally painless (just the prep was a little gross). My grandmother and two uncles might be alive today if they had heeded that advise.
And if you're looking for a charity to give to, one good one would be the American Cancer Society. http://www.cancer.org/. There is so much more that we can accomplish.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Anyways, what everyone told me about the procedure was true. The prep the day before is way worse than the procedure itself. First, you must stop eating by mid-night the night before. Then, at 1:00 pm, you must down a 10oz bottle of Magnesium Citrate, a laxative. The label says your first "movement will be in 1/2 to 6 hours later". I took two cringe inducing swigs (Yech, yeah right that's lemon-lime). Then remembered that I was about out of cigs. Crap (ha ha). Well, I threw on my coat and walked to the nearby Winn-Dixie and got a couple of magazines too. Stupid me bought a food magazine. Do not buy a food magazine if you're going 24+ hours without food. Then, I came back (rather quickly) to finish off the Magnesium Citrate.
Next, at 5:00 pm you start drinking a gallon of this stuff that has the consistency of anti-freeze. Thick, gelatinous, and gag-inducing. One glass every 15 minutes until you drink it all. That was one of the hardest things that I've had to do in my life. You hold your breath and down it all as quickly as possible, like you're doing a beer bong.
I drank that crap along with some jello and water and nothing else. I can now empathize with Ethiopian kids (I kid). Really, hunger is not something to make fun of. Friends and family make fun of it, but they've all been there, most of them, anyways.
So, I show up bright and early at the endoscopy center with my chauffeur (Dad). The folks are all friendly and shit and show me to the changing room. There, I find my medical wardrobe and it ties in the back, along with some cute baby-blue sock thingys. Did I mention that it's about 35 degrees outside and not much warmer in the "pre-procedure" area. They will not have a problem with my "junk" getting in the way. Nor will I be getting any date invitations.
Next, in the pre-procedure room, a woman with a heavy lisp inserts my intra-veneous line while we sit there watching the pre-inauguration ceremony. I get to hear more southern, conservative invective regarding the new President. I think that's where I come up with the hilarious "In 'Auger' ation" phrase. And this is before the drugs. And my feet are cold, even with the nifty little socks with the rubber designs on the soles (still got them, don't know if I'll ever wear them again, but I paid for them anyways, damn it!). I'm ready to be put under, please, now.
Minutes later, I'm directed to the "Procedure Room" (PC). Funny how they always call it a "Procedure". Not a "Reaming", or something with "Herschey" in the title, always a "Procedure". All nice and calm and peaceful-like, like you're having your teeth cleaned, or your manicure done. Only more invasive.
We're now in the PC, and I'm placed on my back while the technician connects the E.C.G. lines to the three pods on my hairy chest (that will hurt like Hell upon removal). They put a nice comfy blanket across my legs to get me all cozy and shit and talk all nice and friendly and shit. The nice technician puts that little thing in my nostrils with the oxygen. They ask me to lay on my left side 'Oh, God, here we go'. The Anesthetist tells me (while hands re-arrange my pretty robe) that I won't feel anything within around 30 seconds while pushing the plunger into my I.V. He lied. I was out within 2 seconds of the drugs entering my I.V. Oh, thank you, God and the drug manufacturers.
Next thing I know, someone is saying "Good Morning, Sunshine". I awake actually feeling pretty good. Really, I felt better than before I went in. I looked across the room and actually said, "Good Morning, ladies!" They make good drugs nowadays, and they're legal, too. They could make a killing off of this stuff.
Now, I knew from other people that the nurses would be expecting me to fart a good one before they would release me. But, honestly, I didn't feel bloated at all, and I told the nurse that. "Yeah, you've already performed for us, so if you don't feel bloated, you should be fine." I guess I got lucky and got Henny Youngman's granddaughter for a post-op nurse.
Now, I've never been a "bottom" (If you know what I mean). And I didn't feel violated at all. I felt no difference, period, except that I felt "good". They must have put a little THC in those drugs is all that I can think of. I'll have to ask on my next visit what kind of lube they use.
The nurse helped me get dressed. Actually, she insisted that she put on my underwear (up to my knees) and my socks and shoes, so that I wouldn't have to bend over and get woozy. I finished dressing and she put me in a wheelchair (hospital rules) and rolled me to a room to await the final reckoning from the butt-doctor. I kinda had flashbacks of my grandpa in the Nursing Home *shivver*.
After waiting in the small waiting-room and critiquing the color scheme and furnishings for 15 minutes, the butt-doctor finally came in. He said that everything went well, in his opinion. They found "several, three or so" polyps that didn't look 'meaningful', yadda, yadda" and that we would have the results in three weeks or so. "Don't worry, I didn't see anything to worry about".
So, we'll see. Does he tell everyone that? I'm not terribly worried, but you never know.
I do know that breakfast with my dad at the IHOP on the way home was one of the best breakfasts that I've had in quite a while. Starving yourself for 30+ hours will do that. Even if the waitress was mediocre, and it was, you know, IHOP.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
I'm having my first colonoscopy Tuesday morning. I've put it off long enough. And with my family history, way overdue. But, still. Really.
On my mom's side of the family, cancer, especially colon cancer amongst the men, has run amok. My Grandmother died of cancer at the age of 42. They couldn't pinpoint the source of the first out-break, because when they first opened her up, it was wide spread.
It took a while before another instance manifested itself. My Grandfather died some 20 or so years later from throat cancer.
Not long after, my Mom (the oldest of 7), had a few lumps removed, but none turned out to be malignant, and all breathed a sigh of relief. Then, the report around 8 or 9 years ago that the oldest son had colon cancer. He gave it quite a go until it stopped responding to treatment, we all rallied around him, and visited him while he was still alive. We all chose to visit him at his summer campground while he was alive and not to be there for his funeral. It turned out to be a wise choice all around.
Just a couple years later, the youngest of the 7 reported that he had a suspicious colonoscopy. Now, this uncle is 4 years younger than me (go figure). We were all shocked and dismayed. Especially when he told us that he had some symptoms for a while. Well, he beat it once, but it came back. He is now on his last months or weeks. And I decided that I need to take this seriously.
On Tuesday, Inauguration Day, I will be invaded, pillaged, viewed as no one has ever seen me before. I have my gallon of clean-out fluid chillin' in the fridge, my jello, some Gatorade (low-calorie, for sure), bouillon, and all those clear fluids ready to go. Today, I'm gonna enjoy my Captain and Diet and a pizza. Tomorrow, I'm leaving work at noon so that I can down the magnesium citrate and then the Mr. Drano that is chilling in the fridge.
I know my genes are mostly from my dad's side of the family, since I look like his younger brother. That side is fair-haired and light-skinned with freckles. My dad's is dark hair and tan-friendly skin. I only hope that those genes that decide cancer never crossed through when the sperm hit egg. Funny that I was always jealous of that side of the family for being "prettier". I always wanted my mom's strawberry-blond hair.
With my dad's genes, I only have to worry about Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, and heart disease. What a relief that will be.
Now, my thoughts turn to esoteric things. Will the doctor make a comment about my 'tush'? Should I trim the shrubbery? Did they buy Chinese lube to save a few bucks? Will it be so cold in the room that shrinkage will be a concern (how would I live that down?) Will I shout out "Ooh, you're so hot, Mr. Baldwin!" while under the influence?
I'll try to let you know on Tuesday night how it all goes.
Friday, January 16, 2009
I lived for 16 years in the northern suburbs of Michigan. Then one year on Long Island, two and a half years in Massachusetts. That was it. On to Florida. I may be in the northern reaches of Florida, but I talked to my aunt/sister in New Hampshire an hour ago (16 below zero) , and I don't miss it at all. I miss her, but not the weather. Or the shoveling. Or the windshield scraping. Or the crusty, frozen beard and nose hairs while you're shoveling a foot of snow off of your car.
People down here complain about the cold. I laugh in their faces! They do not know what they are missing. The difference between cold and frigid is immeasurable. Keep your fall color tours. Brag about your 'change of seasons'. Been there, done that. Never gonna do it again. The gulf coast is as far "North" as I'll ever live again. I bet Restaurant Gal isn't missing it at all now, either.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Within the last few months, there's been a slew of places going belly up. Mostly, it's been the independent places, but there was a Bennigan's and Steak and Ale that closed. Some of the closings were expected, since even in good times some people just shouldn't be in the business, period. They've been scratching and surviving by the skin of their teeth.
One closing that hit hardest was one that I worked closely with. It's name was Varona's, and it was a Cuban restaurant that was to be a high-class Cuban restaurant. My boss got me involved because I am considered the "smallwares expert". For most of my tenure at Macaroni Grill, I was chosen to be the smallwares orderer. For one, I'm a cheap ass. Second, even though I'm frugal, the Front of the House should never be short on plates, silverware, etc. One of my worst headaches as a server (millenia ago, I know!), is running around plucking wine glasses off of tables so that I can get a glass of wine to a new table.
Well, for this new Cuban restaurant, I was given the task of choosing all of the china, glassware, and silverware to present to the owner of Varona's. He liked everything that I picked, and I took it to heart that I just may know what I'm doing. The owner plowed a lot of money into his place: marble floors, beautiful and large bar, custom tables (only to be covered by white linen), gorgeous rattan furniture for the waiting area, and a great location close to the airport.
Well, the idea was good, but the execution was not what this area (Nascar-loving, beer-drinking, Conservative-leaning, mullet-wearing rednecks) was expecting. I guess it really didn't help that the people who were experienced in this type of food weren't prepared to pay $15 or more for what is really Cuban "peasant food". Although they offered good steaks and a decent wine list, those looking for authentic Cuban food didn't want to pay to eat it in a fine-dining atmosphere.
Along with this disappointment, there was the closing of EAT!. The chef, Lee Lucier, kinda started to become known regionally and even was on the Today Show and Dinner Impossible with Robert Irvine on the Food Network. Chef Lee was a character who I had the pleasure of sharing a dim view of one of my bosses. Unfortunately, he was a "big-city chef" in a drink-water town. I hear he's now in the Myrtle Beach area, I don't know. I only know, he had a dry, sarcastic, and fully hilarious sense of humor. The guy who bought him out 8 months ago went out of business last month.
All in all, those restaurateurs with no knowledge and teetering on the edge have been forced out. Those who stick to what they know and do it well persevere. There are rumors swirling about of establishments that are going down. I don't believe everything I hear. I speak regularly with those who are in the know, and my radar knows who is trying to blow smoke up my ass. There will be more that will close, that's for sure. But, I hope the owners that put in hard sweat equity, those that are honorable, those that treat their employees (and me) fairly and with good humor, will survive. People will not suddenly start to cook all their meals at home, that's a given. They're just looking for good food, fairly priced, with good service.
I call it survival of the fittest.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Anyways, Google pointed me to a website called StopZilla. For $9.95, it got rid of the dreaded Windows Antivirus 2009 that the $70 software would not. And now, I can continue to write on Beentheredonethat with no interruptions.
Tune in tomorrow to see what's been happening.