Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Last night the Harried Manager came to the bar and asked
"Are we all clear on menus?" By which he meant was everyone done ordering food and could he now tell the kitchen that they were through cooking for the night?
The answer was yes.
About fifteen minutes later, a student came down and asked if we were all clear on desserts. Yes again.
Five minutes after that, Sleeper Chef came and asked me yet again if desserts were clear. Still yes. A regular customer of mine, who also happens to be a student, marveled at Sleeper Chef's attitude, as well as his lack of trust in the student.
"Yes, well... that's Sleeper Chef for you."

About twenty minutes later, a female student arrived with desserts in her hands. I went directly over to see where they had come from and why.
"Oh, Manager ordered them for us," said my bartender-in-training, referring to himself and his girlfriend, who is a pastry student.
"But my name is on the ticket," I said, my voice rising a bit in panic. "Great! It's not like Sleeper Chef doesn't hate me enough already, now Manager is ordering desserts in my name after I have already given the all clear."
I said this in front of the Pastry Student who had delivered said desserts, in hopes that when she returned to the Pastry Kitchen she might convey what happened to Sleeper Chef. Which is probably wishful thinking. Ugh. At least I only work there two nights a week now.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

On Sunday, the b.h. and I packed the dogs in the car and drove to Salem, Massachusetts. It seemed like a good place to see in October. We had looked in a book we have about traveling in New England, and there were maps of walking tours and some others things to do and see. We knew it would be crowded, because I had talked to a regular customer who had been there a couple weeks ago, but we weren't quite prepared for exactly how crowded it was. It took ages to find a place to park, and then we walked quite a ways through a really pretty neighborhood to get down by the waterfront and all of the fun historical stuff. Little did we realize just how many boutiques and candy shoppes and pet bakeries and places to buy goofy witch themed things and Halloween costumes there would be. It was like Mardi Gras down there. People were walking around in costumes for no reason, and everywhere were witch hats. The cop who was directing traffic made sure to point out that "We're open twelve months a year here, not just in October, folks. If you don't like waiting, come on by any other time."
Everybody laughed, except Wyatt, who apparently hates crowds and was trying his best to drag us back toward the car any time we stopped.
In retrospect, we should have left the dogs behind. The problem is that we don't really know a lot of people here and our only dog sitter was out of town. So we weren't able to go into any of the museums or graveyards, but since there were so many people it probably would have been frustrating anyway.
The weather was beautiful, though, and we walked all over town and saw some sights and enjoyed the last gasp of Indian Summer, complete with spectacular fall colors. We also drove all around Cape Ann, which was gorgeous, and stopped so the b.h. could get some seafood. Fried clams for him and mozzarella sticks for me. Vacation is not about healthy eating.
So that was fun. Yesterday we did some running around and then spent the evening on the couch. Now I'm just bracing myself for my first full week of the new schedule. I'm at the Local Restaurant tonight, and then the store for the next several days, then a double on Saturday that starts at 8am and finished up a bit after midnight, then a regular shift at the store on Sunday and next Monday off. So wish me luck. I think I'll be fine until about 8pm on Saturday. Either way I will be spending more time with the b.h., which is great. Also, we now have health insurance, so that's pretty exciting.
I hope to have the time and creativity to dress up for Halloween on Saturday. If anybody has any suggestions, I'm open. If I don't think of anything that's clever and easy to work in, I will probably just go in drag.
Other than that, I have nothing to report.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A few weeks ago, I was working a stupid, stupid lunch shift at the Local Restaurant. It was loaded with leaf peepers, they all came in at once (off of buses), they all wanted separate checks, they were all on a tight schedule, and the kitchen was full of new students who couldn't even cook a blasted hamburger. One table had three young girls at it. A co-worker of mine came up and told me that they had completely stiffed him (no tip at all, for those of you unfamiliar with the term) a couple days before. He said I should make sure to tell them that their school cards only paid for the food and not the gratuity, because it was possible that they were confused, even though he had explained it to them. So, when I dropped the check, I sent over a manager (who is also an instructor at the school- this is how the restaurant/school relationship sometimes works) to make sure they understood. Then they stiffed me.

These school cards have been the bane of our existence at the Local Restaurant. What they are is basically $300 credit cards given to all new students, which they use to dine at the LR so they can experience the school and the food and the restaurant before they come in for class. The cards don't include gratuity, as I said, and a large percentage of the students don't tip. This leaves the professional wait staff stuck waiting on some really rude and obnoxious kids who take up all of our time and all of our tables, essentially for free.

After the girls left, I spoke to the chef instructor, and she said she was going to talk to them later, when they were in class. It was agreed all around that something needs to be done. Well, nothing was done. Or at least, no results were seen on our end. And the problem with a Culinary Institute is that new students are coming in all the time. It isn't like traditional college, where the new kids mostly arrive in the fall.

The other night, I was behind the bar, and lo and behold, one of these obnoxious young ladies arrives in full brigade (that's French for "cute little chef suit") in a big hurry. She was working in the kitchen, which meant that she had very limited time, and she had a cup in her hand. I looked up at her and smiled.

"What do you need?" I said, calmly. She immediately recognized me.
"Can I just get a ginger ale when you have a minute?"
"Of course," I smiled again, continuing to pour a glass of wine for an order that was going out to a customer. Then I started to make a martini. Normally, when I see a chef or a student chef coming, I reach over the bar, past any servers who are waiting for their drink orders, and fill their drink, because I know that they only have a moment and that they have to get back to the kitchen as soon as possible. This time I didn't feel any urgency at all. And sure enough, the little bitch ran back up the stairs to the kitchen without any ginger ale. Did she learn a lesson? I doubt it. Did I feel slightly better anyway? Damn straight.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

So I scored a full-time gig at the Local Co Op. I am now an official Wine and Cheese Broad, and I will have health insurance for the first time in my adult life. Holy cow.
Meantime, I have been working both jobs, had a severe cold and then food poisoning, and have not had a healthy day off in a couple of weeks. But at least there is a light at the end of this tunnel. Joy.
Dyed my hair back to red yesterday. I have been blonde for some time now (A year or two?) and as per usual, I completely ignored the warning on the label that said in no uncertain terms NOT to put the Henna dye over bleached hair. So rather than medium auburn, my hair is now a light orange, not unlike any other person of Irish decent. Not what I was going for, but doable. So there's that.
In other news, it has been getting colder and colder. The b.h. and I went and bought long underwear and boots and all of those things we used to never think about. The dogs have been extra snuggly, which is great. And after this week, I will likely be seeing more of all of my boys, which I am looking forward to.
I know this is a boring post, but I haven't had time to think. And now I'm off to walk in the woods.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sleeper Chef.

The other night I had some customers from Nebraska. I gathered this because the gentleman was wearing a sweatshirt that read "Nebraska!" and nobody is that excited about Nebraska, but those who live there will pretend to be when they travel elsewhere. In any case, these people were quite worldly, despite what you might think with their being from the Middle West of the U.S. of A. and they were eager to demonstrate this by asking a lot of questions about our Frenchy menu items, using proper French accents and everything. So basically I had to call the Pastry Chef and ask him these specific questions, being that I had no effing clue what kind of apples were in the Tart Tatin, since I am not local to this area and have no idea whether Tatin apples grow here or not.
I did not want to make this call, because the Pastry Chef in question is not a pleasant man, and invariably when I have to ask him a question he talks to me like a child with limited mental capacities with whom he is struggling to be patient.
"No, heybartender" he sighed heavily into the phone, "they are just good ole' Vermont USA apples." I pictured him eying the nearest sharp utensil, holding his shiny head in his hands.
"Thanks, chef!" I said, with more confidence than I felt, and hung up the phone.

I turned to The Nebraskans and delivered the news.

"It might be good anyway," the woman suggested to her husband, whose displeasure seemed extraordinary for a man who is on vacation and who has at least ten delectable dessert options.

He deigned to have the tart anyway, and the woman ordered the profiteroles, which she insisted on enunciating in perfect French, despite the discussion we'd had earlier about how she grew up in Chicago and was now a citizen of Nebraska. Perhaps it's only me (and every other waiter and patron within earshot, whom I noticed were also rolling their eyes), but I found this completely grating. If she were in Montreal, speaking to a native French speaker, then I would understand. Even if she threw in a bit of an accent, I would understand. Being somewhat bilingual myself, I tend to pronounce Spanish words in Spanglish, but I don't think it comes off this way. At least I seriously hope it doesn't.
Anyway- to the pastry kitchen, where I have to go to retrieve my own desserts. I am standing next to Charles, a waiter who is older than I am and has been at the Local Restaurant for several years. I love Charles because he lets everything roll right off. He is a consummate professional with a great sense of humor, a rock- an island, and he is already waiting for some desserts, so I don't have to face the Pastry Chef alone.
I walk up next to Charles, smiling, and mumble out of the side of my mouth.
"I think Pastry Chef hates me."
Without skipping a beat, he smiles back at me and mumbles out of the corner of his mouth "I think he hates everybody."

"That's true," I say, still smiling, and now Pastry Chef has looked up and made eye contact with me.

"She's making them all at the same time, so they will all be up in a minute" says Pastry Chef, his eyes dead.

"I don't think he's human," continues Charles, still smiling and still talking out of one side of his mouth. "I think he's one of those aliens- what do they call them? Oh yeah- sleeper aliens, like waiting to take over the planet.

"Yep, he definitely looks like he wants to eat our brains," I reply. My smile is now frozen, because Pastry Chef is looking directly into my eyes. He frightens me.

"He can probably hear everything we're saying right now." Charles is cracking up, and I am caught like a deer in Sleeper Chef's headlight eyes, waiting for him to strike a death blow from across the kitchen.

"How are your profiteroles?", I ask the Woman from Nebraska, without any hint of a French accent.
"They were disappointing. The ice cream and chocolate sauce were good, but the (whatever the hell the proper French word is for pastry shell) was too dry."
Of course.
On her comment card, she said that the other bartender and I paid more attention to regulars, and that we were not well informed. I'm not showing that one to Sleeper Pastry Chef.
This week has been extremely busy. I've lost count of both the number of shifts I have worked and the number of hours I have slept due to illness from co-workers who can't seem to stay home when they are sick. Not that I blame them. You don't get paid for staying home, and the power company doesn't take "I had a really bad cold" as payment.

Anyway. The b.h. and I celebrated another wedding anniversary on Friday night. I had the night off, but since I was feeling like crap I slept the whole day until it was time to go to dinner. We had dinner at The Local Restaurant (where I work), which was good but took forever (which happens often when there are students in the kitchen, and there are always students in the kitchen- it's part of the deal). Anyway, they bought us dessert (pumpkin profiteroles and some kind of brownie thing), and we rushed out the door to a play. The play was The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). It featured a total of three actors and was really entertaining, with lots of Monty Pythonesque speaking in not-terribly-feminine women's voices. I started to feel really crappy about halfway through, and by the time we got home I knew I was not going to make it to work on Saturday night. So I called my Harried Manager and he promised to work on it in the morning.
I slept the entire day on Saturday, getting up only to move from the bed to the couch and call Harried Manager (whom I have taken to calling "Hurricane (His Name)" to him and all of my co-workers). He covered my shift, and I settled in for more quality couch time. Watched three episodes of Dexter (Season Three now on DVD!), and promptly fell back to sleep for twelve or thirteen more hours.
I did manage to work last night with minimal coughing (until the very end). Today I'm feeling loads better and I hope to see a friend from down South in Burlington for dinner. Still waiting to see.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Wow. Nobel Peace Prize, huh? Say what you will, but I'm pretty happy about it. Something to live up to, as well as a rebuke of the last eight years. What's next?

Monday, October 05, 2009

Sorry about that last post. I wasn't really trying to be dramatic or anything, I just couldn't find words to say anything else. One of my former co-workers had a car wreck last Saturday night, and he was missing until his body was found (still in the car) Monday by another co-worker. He had gone off the road after hitting a puddle in rain and fog on his way home. Not certain exactly how old he was, but not more than 25. The whole thing is awful in so many ways and I haven't really found the energy to post since. I've been here several times, teed up and ready, but nothing would come. No insights or ruminations or remembrances- nothing. Just profound sadness and an odd feeling of disconnection from my friends. So yeah. I guess I'm back.

My parents were here for the week, and we did loads of fun touristy things. I took them to the Shelburne Museum, Neb and Jerry's, the cider mill, and several restaurants. We went to Montreal on Monday, which was very beautiful but the weather wasn't great (neither, apparently, is my father's ability to read a map or my mother's ability to operate a GPS) so we spent a lot of time in the car. There is a huge outdoor market where we got crepes and pastries (I had one made with dates that nearly brought tears to my eyes), and walked around feeling quite foreign. I knew that Montreal was largely French-speaking, but never having been anywhere out of the country (except for a ghastly two hours in Tijuana that I wish never to repeat) so I've never been in the lingual minority before. My podcast language lessons have lapsed, to put it mildly, so the only words I was able to understand were please, thank you, and most of the food words. I'm not sure how comfortable I would feel spending a long period of time this way, but for one day it was really cool. I'll post some pictures in a bit.
My parents departed for the Cape on Friday morning, and I have basically been either at work or asleep since. I'm off this evening, though, and hoping to spend some quality time with the b.h.