Friday, July 31, 2009

Goddammit this makes me homesick. Brilliant work, lovely song, and featuring not only one of my favorite clubs but also a favorite bartender. I'll be there in six days.
Yesterday was ridiculous. I got out of bed as early as possible before I had to leave to work a double, because I wanted to make sure and get the dogs out and give them some attention before I left. I have no recollection of the alarm going off at 4:30 when the b.h. got up, and didn't see him at all. So i took care of the dogs and inhaled a quick bowl of cereal and bolted out the door without any coffee.
When I got to the restaurant, Marge was there setting up. She asked me if I knew how to set up the kitchen ("I haven't seen you in so long I don't know what you know") and I said I did, so she went to water the plants and wipe the tables on the deck while I took out all of the things that I swore I had just put away a minute ago (It had actually been Tuesday night, but time flies when you are not at the job you dislike intensely). I went downstairs to retrieve some supplies, bidding good morning to The Boss Wife, who completely ignored me. Oh, that's right. She has been informed since I saw her last that I have given my two week notice. Hmm.
I ground through lunch, doing extra sidework and being asked by the manager every two minutes how I was doing. The funny thing is, had she done this on Monday night I would likely not have quit. Anyway, by the end of my second shift, I was starving and exhausted, and yes, I had some money in my pocket, but after twelve hours it should have been more.
When I got home the b.h. was already in bed, and I was wide awake and alone, not having had a single meaningful conversation all day. Luckily T was awake when I texted him, so he called me back and we chatted for a few minutes. I woke up when the b.h.'s alarm went off this morning, just long enough to say hello and get a good look at him before he was off to class. Three more shifts.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I am having yet another bout of insomnia. I seem to fall asleep for about 45 minutes or an hour every night, and then wake up like a vampire on a day pass. I have no idea why. Anyway, I was just effing off over on faceb00k and saw that Jamie had posted this little gem, with a special shout out to yours truly, as I am such a fan of the word. She's so thoughtful.

Monday, July 27, 2009

*Fair Warning: If you have never worked in the service industry, a lot of this may not make sense to you. And even if you have, all Iam about to do is bitch, so you may want to skip this whole post.

Quitting. For real.
Tonight I was in a section that had eleven tables. All of them have at least four seats, and several of them have six. The waitress who has the most experience who was working tonight had eight tables, and three of them have only two seats each. The manager was new. But she also knows that I am new, since we trained at the same time. Now, I may not be an expert, and I certainly have never run my own restaurant, but it seems to me that when you have a very busy place you should consider having a busboy or two.
At this restaurant, the waitstaff is responsible for taking orders, making all non-alcoholic drinks, putting together soups, salads, and some appetizers, firing each ticket, delivering food, delivering the check, taking payment, running a credit card or making change, removing all dishes and trash, wiping the table down, sweeping the floor (when there have been children, which is often the case), wiping it down with sanitizer and re-setting the silverware.
I was triple sat twice in fifteen minutes, and then the new manager/hostess was scolding me for not clearing my tables. I was already on the verge of snapping, and then another waitress came up to me and said "This is exactly what happened last Monday!"
That was the point at which I decided I was done. Because apparently these people do not learn from their mistakes. Or maybe they just don't care. I however, am incapable of feeling good about giving less than good service.
On the bright side, more lessons in How Not To Run A Business.
Thank the gods for Dogfish Head Squall. I was smart enough to put one in the fridge earlier.
Now I'm going to watch Ugly Betty and try to forget the night.
T left on Friday, and I headed to work at the restaurant. I always feel a sense of impending doom as I am driving there, but I usually snap out of it once I get going. I still don't like it, but I am able to tuck my soul away in a the corner of my bag while I slug it our for five hours or so. This was easily my best night so far, with almost no mistakes. It was also the least busy, so I didn't make much money. This may have been partially due to the fact that they had a "band" playing, as they are wont to do on a Friday night. The woman and her husband play "hits from the sixties, seventies, and eighties," accompanied by a guitar and a guy who sat at a table eating dinner next to them and performing the more-than-occasional solo on harmonica. I do not, in theory, have a problem with any of these things. I do, however, feel that people who go out to dine with their families on a Friday night might not want music blaring at them from the next room.
The Boss Wife has some rules which I find baffling. We are supposed to use a tray to carry food to table, even if there are only two plates and it would be easier and less dangerous to simply carry one in each hand. Her reasoning is that "This isn't a diner," which I believe means that she thinks using a tray is classier. I have two issues with this logic (probably more, if I took the time to think about it): One, when you carry the tray. you have to set it down before you remove plates from it anyway, and sometimes you are setting it down out of sight of the tables, so all they see is the waitperson carrying the plates anyway; and Two, we accept fucking coupons. Various kinds of coupons, discounts, frequent diner cards, and two-for-one deals, which again, I don't have a problem with in theory (Actually, that's a lie. The food is way too expensive and we should lower the prices and leave them that way, thereby eliminating the bullshit involved with handling and processing these various "deals" during a busy shift), but you can't act all hoity-toity about your establishment and then ask diners to pick a card from a deck and possibly win five dollars off of their bill. Seriously. Like we don't have enough to deal with just trying to time the food, drinks, and payment for multiple tables.
So I'm kind of over that place, in case you couldn't tell. Another problem is that we have satellite radio streaming in the dining room, and the Husband Boss always wants it on the same station, which includes various "hits" from the nineties through now, and I hear the same songs, every single night. The ones I recognize I already heard ad nauseum during my stint at the Sports Bar in Chicago in the late nineties- you know, V3rtical H0rizon, The G00 G00 D0lls, 3 D00rs D0wn, etc. The new stuff is even worse, because it seems as if most of them are just ripping off all the same people. When I ask a co-worker "Who sings this?" I almost always find that it's a "winner" from that fucking "Merkin Id0l" show. Ugh. That plus the three large screen teevees, one of which is always flashing the latest paranoid fantasy from F0X "News", and you can see why it's difficult for a woman to wind down at the end of the night. I have been sleeping like crap (except for the couple nights when T was here and we just talked until we almost dropped anyway).
The good news is that I got a call last week from a nice Local Restaurant. This place has actual bus people, food runners, and a sense of decorum (we ate there with T on Wednesday). Also, there are no teevees is the dining room. I called that guy back on Friday, and I am waiting a call from him.
Since my car is about on it's last leg anyway, I need to get a job that I can walk to. I had to buy a new tire on Thursday, which was much less difficult than it could have been. I actually bought a used one, so it was under forty bucks. Got it done up in Barry at a tiny shop. They had me in and out of there in about fifteen minutes, so T and I still had plenty of time to get to the Shelburne Museum.
So this week I have Restaurant, Restaurant, a day of orientation at the Local Food Co-Op, potentially a half day that evening at the "Local" Health Food Store, then two doubles at the Restaurant, then a full day (maybe two) next weekend at the Local Health Food Store again.
Which means you may or may not be hearing more from me this week. Try to survive.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Young's Double Chocolate Stout and Snyder's of Hanover pretzel rods. I have some renta teevee to watch, but right now I am enjoying the sound of the rain outside and the relative quiet inside.
It has been a busy week. T arrived on Tuesday while I was at work, and he and the b.h. had dinner together at a fancy-ish place in town. I brought home a veggie burger and fries for myself, plopping on the couch on my arrival and announcing to T that he was going to have to do the talking while I inhaled my dinner.
He did, and it was amusing. T and I are the same age, and he has some issues, shall we say, with the ladies. It seems that he has a feast or famine kind of problem, and th past three years have been far more of the latter than the former. Until about two weeks ago, when multiple women came crashing into his life from various directions. The one he seems most inclined toward is fifteen years younger than us, which is all very amusing. So his story was plenty long enough for me to finish eating, and I think I was likely through my first beer and cigarette by the time he was through. (Though I am not a real smoker, I have a tendency to binge on occasion, those occasions usually occurring when I am either on vacation or hosting a smoker on theirs).
We stayed up until about four, and just as we were both starting to wind down, there was a short bark and Kilgore went crashing into the screen door, which he somehow managed to go through without breaking despite the fact that it has been latched. It was dark in the porch, and it happened so fast that I wasn't even sure he had gone out. I went over and felt at the door to see if he had gone through the screen, and when I saw that he hadn't, I stood up, puzzled, and called his name. I heard him in the yard, and when I unlatched the door he came flying back through it, all foaming at the mouth and rolling around rubbing his head on the floor. Just as we were trying to figure out what the hell had happened, the smell hit us.
I thought something was on fire. It smelled like burning plastic, and I flipped on the porch light and picked up the ashtray, looking all around the table for something melting. No dice. The dog was still foaming at the the mouth a bit, so I went in the house, an him upstairs, ordered him into the shower, and rinsed his head and mouth thoroughly with warm water. Then we all went to bed.
The next day, T and I were on our way into the house from the car when my neighbor John came up the drive.
"Just wanted to warn you in case you walk your dogs at night. There is a new family of skunks in the neighborhood."
"You don't say." I explained the incident from the previous night.
"Well, that explains the dead one I found in Wes and Linda's yard."
I guess it does. Last night T and I and the dogs were out on the porch again late into the night. At one point, unnoticed by either dog (Wyatt was snoring and KG was loudly chewing a rawhide bone on the other side of the room), something scratched at the screen door. I got up slowly, leapt over to it, and shut it as quickly as possible. There will be no skunk retribution on my watch.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Customer of the Night #4592

They sat outside. It was fifteen minutes to closing time. I went out with some menus. He was wearing oversize glasses and a white, wide-brimmed hat. Had he opened his mouth and revealed a blue-blood Southern accent, I would not have been surprised. He didn't. Who does he remind me of?
"Always gotta have somebody come in late and be a pain in your ass," he smiled.
Kurt Vonnegut. That's who he reminds me of. I waited in him in Chicago in 1997. It was awesome.
"You're fine," I smiled, and I was mostly telling the truth. I had plenty of sidework left to do, so why not make a few more dollars in the meantime, right? They ordered cocktails, and the women each had a snack. They were nice, and funny, and chatty, and it was a great way to end the night. They asked me where I was from (lots of people do when you refer to them as "y'all" up here), asked where I was living, recommended some restaurants. And then he told me a secret: There is a back route from my house to Burywater, where I work. This is huge, because the restaurant is on a very small highway in a very touristy area, just a stone's throw from Neb and Gerry's Ice Cream. I thanked him profusely for the tip, adding that should he feel a warm feeling tomorrow at around 4:45, it would be love I was sending him while not sitting in traffic. The traffic has been pretty crappy already, and due to the incessant rain, this tourist season has reportedly been light. So you can imagine what it will be like in the fall.
They hung out for awhile, and I learned that they are regular customers. That makes me happy.
Yesterday I decided it would be a great idea to take one of our area rugs outside and wash it. Turns out I was totally wrong, and now it shows no sign of drying any time soon, and it's probably going to smell worse than it already did. Ah well. Live and learn.

Monday, July 20, 2009

"Are those the customers from hell?" asked my boss The Wife, from behind the line in the kitchen. All I had done was punch in an order for mozzarella sticks with extra marinara.
Crystal, the other waitress, nodded, grimacing.
"Make sure you go with her to take their order," she said, gesturing at me and shaking her head sympathetically.
When they came in the front door, the man went immediately over to the hostess stand, which was empty at the time, and grabbed himself a stack of napkins. I rushed over and asked if I could help him, explaining that there would be place settings on the table.
"I always grab extra," he replied, making his way without invitation to a table in my section. The hostess was nowhere in sight. I grabbed a pair of menus and followed him and his wife.
"Can I bring you a beverage to start with?" I was trying my best not to sound the way that I felt. He immediately blew out and dismantled the candle and holder, leaving the pieces separate and lined up against the wall.
"She's going to have the house Chardonnay, and I want unsweetened iced tea, with extra lemons and an extra glass of ice."
Oh. I see.
So you can imagine that it was no surprise to me when The Wife Boss called them the Customers From Hell. I suppose I was kind of surprised at her volume when she said it, given the fact that she knew they were seated about five feet from the kitchen door. It made me like her more.
They ate overcooked burgers with overcooked bacon on top. He wanted no bread with his, but ordered rice on the side(?). He wound up finishing her french fries. Whatever.
After work Amy, the hostess/manager asked me how I was doing. She seemed eager to encourage me, worried that I wasn't going to stick it out. She's kind of right, I suppose. I mean, I interviewed for a full time gig down the street last week, and if they offer it to me I will take it. Health Insurance and all, you know. But I will probably have to continue waiting tables anyway, for the money. I just hope I am able to get some sleep soon. I have this problem, which has happened before when I was a waitress, where I go to bed and my mind races, and just as I'm falling asleep something will jar me awake and I suddenly find myself in a panic, my mind racing.
"Shit! Did I forget that guy's side of mayo?" And so on. I don't know if other wait people do this, but it has plagued me for my entire adult life. Even after I hadn't waited tables for years. Some people have dreams that they are back in school and they have a test and they haven't studied for it and know they are going to fail. I have nightmares that I keep getting more tables and I can't keep up. I'm hoping that the rise of high-gravity beer will help me through this time.
The Local Health Food Store is still a mixed bag. My boss has no organizational skills whatsoever, and also seems to be burned out, so it seems unlikely that it will get any better. On the other hand, in addition to a nice discount I am able to take home a whole lot of free food every week, so I feel compelled to stay on there at least one day a week- unless of course I get this other full-time gig, in which case I'm going to have to quit. I don't know if I mentioned it before, but the Local Health Food Store has a program where they allow employees to take food that is unsellable (for various reasons- bruising, effed up packaging, one day past the sell by date)for free. And there is always a lot of it. Last week I brought home two whole local organic chickens. Saturday I brought home two local organic pork chops for the b.h., as well as a couple pounds of local, organic, grass-fed beef. I also snagged a couple pounds of local organic zucchini and crookneck squash, a bunch of organic broccoli, a bunch of organic asparagus, and a large package of local organic romaine lettuce. On top of that I got a few small containers of organic rice pudding and some local organic ricotta cheese. All for free. So yeah- I'll be hard pressed to give that up.
Looking forward to a visit from my good fiend T this week. He should be arriving tomorrow evening while I am at work. Luckily I have managed to get Wednesday and Thursday off, so we will have plenty of time to goof off. The list of visitors and potential visitors keeps growing. I love it. I may be gone a couple days, but will hopefully have some good photos of Random Weirdness when I return.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

We both had the day off on Tuesday, so the b.h. and I packed up the car and the dogs and headed for the coast. We stopped for gas and food in Lebanon, NH. Got a really fantastic sandwich at a health food store . Rosemary bread with brie and fresh veggies that tasted like they had just been plucked out of somebody's garden. I also picked up some beers that I hadn't seen before. More on those when I taste test.
The weather has been so unreliable, or rather, reliably crappy here in the green mountain state, so we decided to make our way to the ocean where the weather promised to be a bit nicer. A bit. We got to a place that was billed an "Urban sanctuary", with gardens and hiking trails and a pond where the dogs could swim. It was colder than I had expected, but not too cold for mosquitoes, which were abundant on the trails. Also, the pond in question had no real shore. It was up against some salt marshes, so the shoreline was crammed with reeds and tall grass and unsteady rocks and sea weed. Swimming was an option only for KG. The rest of us stood on the shore being eaten by bugs.
We left there and headed for Portsmouth, where we found a dog store, picked up a backpack for Kilgore, and walked around as long as Wyatt would allow us to. We went to the ocean and found a leash-free area to run the dogs. When I unhooked Wyatt he turned and ran immediately toward the car, much to the amusement of a pair of older women who were leaving the adjacent parking lot. He was pretty much over it. Kilgore found half of a dead crab and ate it before the b.h. could get it away form him. Then he had a scuffle with a husky and it was time to hat up.
We drove up the interstate into Maine, then headed out Highway one to see the ocean. It was chilly, so there were very few tourists, but it was beautiful. We drove around until we found a restaurant with outdoor seating. The b.h. got some fried scallops and clams, and I settled for a grilled cheese and fries. Had the weather been warmer, we probably would have stayed, but it wasn't in the cards.
Ah well, it was nice to get out of town.
I also got a call that morning about yet another job. I am considering swapping my Health Food Job for this one, because it is about 25 miles closer. Won't know until I hear back about the interview I had yesterday, for something full time that's about a two block walk. This is all very frustrating and stressful and I look forward to being done with it. So many things to consider...

Sunday, July 12, 2009

I just looked at the website for the Brewer's Festival next weekend. The lineup looks awesome. I want to go, but I don't want to go alone, and it would be logistically near impossible to get the b.h. to go with me. Feck. I wish I knew more people here.

Wednesday I slept in, did some dishes, read some Infinite Jest*, and then went off to Burlington for a wine tasting with my boss from the Local Health Food Store.
We were meeting with a rep from a particular distribution company. Their office is located on the lakefront, which made me incredibly jealous. So we went into the tasting room, and there were about twenty or so wines laid out on the table. This was a few more than I was expecting. Luckily I had eaten before I left the house.
I took some notes, fell in love a few times (with the wines, of course), and then about halfway through another salesman came into the room, carrying a cooler bag and followed by a two-year-old, 100 pound Great Dane puppy. He had more wine in the bag. Italians. They were fantastic. I have never been a big fan of Italian wine, but mostly out of lack of experience. After we tried all the stuff in the bag he went in the back and got out a '99 Barolo that was absolutely divine. So what I had thought would be an hour or so turned into four, and I was surprised to find it was still light out by the time we left.
I had been very careful to spit most of the wine and so did not feel at all drunk, but still thought it was a better idea to get a bite to eat before making the 40 mile drive home. At the suggestion of my boss and our rep, I joined them at a hot new restaurant called The Bluebird Tavern. When I agreed to do this, I had no idea just how hot and how new this place was. The wait was long and the kitchen overwhelmed, but the atmosphere is really pleasant so I didn't mind that much. I got to meet the owner, and the more my boss and the salesguy talked to the people around us, the more I realized just how small Burlington really is. It seems like a great place. The food was great, though the menu really made me wish that I were a meat eater. Again, it was four hours later when we came outside, and this time it was not light.
Thursday morning came very early, and I worked for nine and a half hours again- still training, so again with no tips. That's getting really tiresome. Friday I didn't have to be there until five, so the b.h. and I took the boys and went down to the river and goofed off for awhile.
I got to work early, trained again, had an insanely chaotic night that lasted an hour and a half longer than it should have, and learned that when people here use the term "fucking Canadians" they are not being racist (a note on this link- Northern racist assholes use this term too). They really mean Canadian. Apparently Canadians are notoriously bad tippers, and also have a reputation (at least in this restaurant) for making you run a lot. I'm sure that I will have an opinion on this at some point, but right now I'm just happy to have a job and eager to get to making some real money. Even with several crappy tips, the girl who trained me walked with more than twenty bucks an hour. I think I'd be okay with that.
Anyway, today was boring and I left the NFS early. The weather looks ominous again so I am likely relegated to reading this evening, which is kind of disappointing.

*This is not as far as I have ever gotten in the book, but it is the farthest I have gotten in such a short time. I took this picture just for encouragement. In a week I'm hoping that those bookmarks will have moved a lot. I started way behind the people that are reading the book together online, so i am still trying to catch up.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

I worked eleven and a half hours on Tuesday, training first with Marge, who has been at the restaurant for twelve years. Marge is a big, matronly, sweet (so far) woman of indeterminate age. She is a total pro as waitresses go, and I was glad to be learning from her. The day crawled by, but we were busy enough and had I actually been making tips I would have done well, so it was encouraging.
I also met the owners. The Male Owner, or Husband, was friendly enough. He introduced himself to me and shook my hand in the morning and then pretty much effed off and left me alone the rest of the time. The Female Owner, or Wife (bull dog), works in the kitchen. She talks to people like they are children. She likes to make you go through the motions with certain things.
An example:
"Heybartender, I want you to come back here (through the busy kitchen and into the dish room, in the middle of a lunch rush when I am waiting on seven tables) so you understand why I don't want you to fill the bus tub too full. See that? See how awkward that is?"
"Is this too full?"
"No. But this is why we don't want it too full."

Yeah. She's great.

That evening I trained with Chris, who might also be called Pat. Chris has a particular way that she likes everything done. She likes to think of it as "The Right Way," even though she realizes that she has OCD and that she is "anal." I made a mental note to try and do everything her way just so I don't have to have a conversation with her about any of it ever again.
Training with Chris was easy, other than the OCD thing. She actually treated me like I had a brain and social skills, and therefore I learned and I made her a shitload of money. So eleven and a half hours later, I headed home, having had one 15 minute break all day, and walked in the door to find that the b.h. had not only made my favorite- fennel with white wine-, but had also picked me up a bottle of that new Dogfish head Squall beer. That guy.
And now I am off for yet another minimum wage "training" session. Got a call this morning from the Local Health Food Store, this time one that is actually local. Have an interview next Wednesday morning. Later I will tell you all about yesterday's Marathon Wine Tasting. TTFN.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

11 1/2 hours of work, and 9 1/2 hours of sleep. Oh Service Industry, you knew I couldn't stay away. That's right people: A new job, and a whole new cast of characters.
Roger was the waiter who trained me. Roger is somewhere around fifty, and he wears an (unironic) earring and mustache combo that would have identified him as gay were we still in the eighties. I don't think he is gay, or if he is he doesn't know it anyway. He is, however, a total bitch. He was nice enough to me, but his interactions with the other servers were less than pleasant. He would tell me something about how to push desserts, or how to close a check, and then follow it with
"Because you are concerned about your money first."
It got to the point where we were playing the game, you know, where he would start the sentence, and then look to me to repeat that phrase back to him. I played along, because it was just easier. Many of the things he told me were either hilariously obvious or completely misguided. In column A, we have these gems: "Be nice to the kitchen, because if you take care of them, they'll take care of you." "Be nice to the bartender, because let me tell you, they are under no pressure to make your drinks first. And we can make your life very easy or very hard when we're back there." (He said that when he told me he was rounding up the bartender's tipout by fifty cents.)
He also explained to me a very complicated system he has for the order of service of the people at a table, based on their ages. He described it as "proper etiquette" having earlier mentioned his former job at a resort in Stowe. Now, don't get me wrong. I know that these things are very important sometimes. I know that it is best to serve the elders in a party first to show proper respect, but this is an establishment where people use fucking coupons. And frequent diner cards. And get a discount on their birthday based on their age. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I'm not sure that they give a shit about who gets their basket of hot wings first, you know? I asked him some questions about shifts and what time they were usually over and how much I could expect to make. At first I was dismayed by his answers, but then I realized that he was likely making a lot less than everybody else, despite his "proper etiquette," due to his "shit attitude". Yeah. Can't wait to work with that guy again.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

59 degrees.
July 4th.
That is all.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Even though we missed Athfest this year, the b.h. and I have been listening to several of the shows, which were recorded by our friend Sloan. This is making me quite happy. It will make you happy, too. There's another link over there to your right. Enjoy.
*Beep*"Hi, you have reached hey bartender. I am sorry I can't take your call right now, but if you leave your name and number after the beep I will get back to you as soon as I can. Thanks!"

"Uh, hi Heybartender this is J- with the New Mobile Phone Store. I met with you yesterday about a job at the New Mobile Phone Store. I just wanted to let you know we decided to go another route. Per se."

You don't say.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

I was reading one of my favorite political blogs (the snarky one I read to make me laugh after I read all the real and depressing shit) yesterday, and they provided me with a link to this. I am very happy about this, because I have tried on multiple occasions to slog through Infinite Jest. I really enjoy the book, but I usually read in bed, and since that thing is the size of a New York City phone book, I always ultimately put it aside and never get back to it. (One of the many reasons why I am impressed by Jamie is that she has read this book twice.) As it happens, I have more time on my hands these days, and what with this whole thing being organized by somebody else, I think I might just give it another stab. If anyone else would care to join me, I am certain that having a person I know to talk ("talk")to about it would help. It's just a thought.
Anyway, I'm off to print out the schedule, and dust off that copy...
Wish me luck.
Incidentally, I got a call back from the New Mobile Phone Shop. I didn't get the job.
P.S. The new Dogfish Head limited release beer is currently rocking my world.