Sunday, November 29, 2009

West Coast Karen was telling Sven about her break.
"I have to go out. I'm watching a dog for somebody and I have to go take him out."
She then launched into a long story about how she started back at a pet-sitting service, and how this was her first job, watching a geriatric dog for some people who were out of town for the holiday weekend. The dog was very high maintenance because it had a lot of health problems and therefore a lot of medications, one of which was apparently left unmarked in a bowl at dog level, right next to his food. West Coast Karen apparently fed the dog several pills, thinking that they were treats, and then somehow mentioned it to the dog's owner via a phone call (I didn't hear the details because I was busy trying my best not to listen because that's what I do when West Coast Karen is talking). The owner then proceeded (justifiably, I think)to freak out, spewing forth expletives and "You killed my dog" and the like, to which WCK responded

"I'm getting the sense that you're angry here, and I think we just need to move on."

She was completely serious. The owner then instructed her to squirt hydrogen peroxide into the dog's mouth in order to induce vomiting, which she did. The dog vomited, and up until at least the last time she had checked in, was still breathing. But WCK, who purportedly has an advanced degree in psychology,was convinced that she had done nothing wrong.

"I mean, the bowl wasn't marked, and everything else was marked, you know?" she was telling Sven, who simply nodded. I was staring determinedly into the large wheel of clothbound cheddar I was cutting. Please don't bring me into this please please please please I thought, whistling as if I was hearing none of her story.

"I think she just felt guilty because obviously it was her fault."
"Probably so," responded Sven, without a hint of sarcasm.

There was a resounding sproing as the cheese wire broke in the middle of my cheddar wheel.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Can anybody please tell me how to require verification for comments? I'm getting spam now, and there is a comment that I can't delete. Irritating!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

So I'm driving to the Local Restaurant the other day, right around what could loosely be called rush hour. And as I get into an intersection downtown on Main Street in my booming metropolis, the light turns yellow, and the cars in front of me come to a rather abrupt halt, leaving me in that weird position where I'm too far into the intersection to stop, but not far enough that it looks like I should actually be allowed to go. When I looked to me left, at the traffic that would be coming toward me momentarily, I saw that the first vehicle in line was a horse-drawn carriage. Okay, so I'm going to go, because I'm fairly certain that those folks are not in a hurry or they would have chosen another mode of transport.
Traffic in front of me started moving again just as the light turned red, and I scooted through with nary a scowl from the other drivers. Whew. Next, I found a parking space almost directly across the street from the LR, which is fantastic because I am usually the last person out of there and it is usually quite late and quite dark at that time, and not having to walk very far by myself to my car is a plus. I pulled quickly into the space and started rummaging around for a quarter to put in the parking meter.
Emerging from the car, I was passed by the aforementioned horse and carriage, which turned out to be piloted by a pair of bedreadlocked hippies and adorned with a sign that read "Blah Blah Blah Farms, Somewhere in VT. Rides $$" I thought to myself that rush hour in the middle of the week was a bad time to be cruising around downtown, because not only were they unlikely to find anybody out looking for a relaxing ride, but also they were in the middle of a whole lot of traffic, holding things up and being a nuisance to other drivers. Not fostering a lot of goodwill, and generally not good business. As I said- hippies.
I immediately forgot about them and made my way back down the block to the crosswalk. I crossed the street and turned back toward the Local restaurant, strolling along with my head somewhere else (praying that a certain regular customer *cough* Town Drunk *cough* was not going to be in his usual seat at my bar) until I was brought back to the present by a loud bang and shouting. I looked up to the next intersection (about 100 feet away) to see Hippie #1 picking himself up off the ground, the cart, having come loose, flying sideways into the side street, and Hippie #2, dangling from the reigns, shouting at the horses to stop. The two horses had broken loose and turned 180 degrees, and were running in terror, dragging the metal (in front of and behind them) that should have held the whole thing together. They plowed directly into a parked car before coming to a stop almost in front of the LR. I was standing with my mouth open, totally in shock, next to another pedestrian (who, as it happened, also looked to be on her way to work at a restaurant). We both seemed to repeat the words "holy shit" about fifteen times before regaining enough sense to move forward and see if we could help.
"Do you want us to call anyone?" I asked Hippie #2 from a safe distance. He was holding both horses now, and trying to calm them.
"No, that's alright."
"Is anybody hurt?"
"No, nobody's hurt," he replied, after a cursory once-over of the horses. Hippie #1 was approaching from the other direction. Traffic was moving around the abandoned carriage as if nothing had happened.

The other Restaurant Girl and I turned and started back down the sidewalk.

"That was weird," she said, finally exhaling.

"Yeah- pretty fucking scary," I replied, turning into the front door of the LR.

I never did see if anything happened to the car.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

A woman walked up while I was stocking cheese at the LG today.
"You have a lot of cheese here," she said.
"Yes we do," I replied, smiling since assuming that she was having trouble choosing.
"Lotsa Cancer," she said in an admonishing tone. She disappeared down the dairy aisle before I could even process the remark.
I've decided I need to start writing down the wisdom that our customers share with me.
Also, I need to start quoting the hippie parents I encounter on a daily basis here in The Green Mountain State.

"Sage, hold Willow's hand. Sage, I need you to stop ramming that wine stack with the cart. Sage, I need you to listen. Sage... Sage..."

Today's was "Cypress, come to papa."

Glad I have a day off tomorrow.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Sven was going through a very long explanation of various local cheeses with a customer. The thing is, Sven is really not into customer service at all, because he isn't into customers at all, and will only interact with them when he is forced to. So today there he was, out from behind the counter for a sp,lit second, when this woman came out iof nowhere and asked him a question. He stood for a moment like a deer in proverbial headlights, trying to decide whether or not to flee, and then silently acquiesced. I could see the bitter resignation in his eyes. Fortunately, the customer could not. So there he stood, all six and a half feet of him, going through at least twenty different cheeses. He even went so far as to cut a piece for the woman to taste. She loved it, and Sven was looking quite relieved as he headed back toward West Coast Karen and me. But oh no, too soon.
"I can't buy New Hampshire cheese," she said loudly to Sven's back. His shoulders fell even faster than his face.
"Okay- is there something in particular about New Hampshire?"
"I'm going to a L0cavore's Dinner and I need cheese from Vermont."
He explained to her, much more patiently than I would have been able to, that in fact parts of New Hampshire were more local than parts of Vermont, and that the cheese in question was, according to LV definition, local.
I waited until she was out of earshot before mumbling
"If you're going to be a sanctimonious twat you could at least try to grasp basic geography."
West Coast Karen gasped audibly and Sven looked confused. I really do need a social filter here. Either that or Verm0nt needs to lighten up. Jokes, people! Jokes!!
Nobody gets me here.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Harried Manager came flying to the bar the other night, a rack of fancy wine glasses in hand. He sent Too Loud Trixie, the Inappropriate Bartender, to get the expensive wine that had been ordered from the wine closet.
He chose to send TLT because he knew that she had been getting on my nerves for a couple of hours and he was tying to give me a moment's peace. Unfortunately, being the diplomat that he is, what Harried Manager actually said was
"I want Trixie to go. She needs practice finding the wines back there. You- (he pointed at me) stay and help me polish these. We have to be really careful with these so they don't break."
He was right, of course. Trixie has worked mostly day shifts and doesn't know the wine closet as well as I do because she doesn't use it as often, and she would have agreed with him had he found a better way to say it and had she not already been working for nine hours. But he didn't, and she had, so she threw a fit and cursed a blue streak right there behind the bar, in full view of all of the bar patrons and likely within earshot of almost everybody in the dining room upstairs.
Welcome to my Saturday night, everybody. These days it seems like I work with Trixie more often than not, and despite the fact that she clearly cannot handle a double shift without losing it and shooting her mouth off, she seems to volunteer for them on a regular basis.

So, Too Loud Trixie goes off in a huff, and then HM polishes exactly one and a half of the ten glasses before shattering one into a million pieces. This throws him completely off of his game, and as he scrambles to pick up the broken shards, he nearly knocks the entire rack (containing the rest of the unpolished glasses) to the floor. A trainee approaches, and is thrust into the middle of the task as Harried Manager finds havoc to wreak elsewhere. Trixie returns, smiling and cheerful as if nothing has happened, and sees the broken glass in the trash.

"What happened?" she asks, as if it isn't obvious.
"Harried Manager broke a glass," I respond with total ambivalence.
"You see? What an asshole. Good. I'm glad he broke one." (You can assume exclamation points after anything uttered by Trixie. Were I to type them, this post would be twice as long.)
"Well, you should be glad that it was him and not you," I say calmly and quietly. "He's just freaking out, and now he isn't freaking out at you."
I find it frustrating that this woman is ten years older than me and still such a child. She also has a habit of accusing everyone else of lacking professionalism, the irony of which will surely not escape the more astute among you. (Minutes later she dropped an entire rack full of glasses in the back hall, and then she came back behind the bar and cussed out loud about that, too.)

Through all of this, an off duty cook named Ed has been observing, drink in hand, from the other side of the bar. He occasionally looks at me as if to say, "Dude- I am so sorry." I occasionally respond by noting out loud the number of minutes there are before I am able to have a beer. About twenty minutes after the glasses are finished and the wine is whisked away, Harried Manager returns, stepping back to pour himself a caffeinated beverage behind the bar just opposite Ed.
"Well, the shit show's almost over," he sighs, looking at his watch.
Ed immediately shoots back "Why- are you out of here?"
I think ed and I are going to get along just fine. I knew my people had to be up here somewhere.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

West Coast Karen, my over-concerned co-worker, was working in the deli the other day at the Local Grocery, when I overheard her explaining The Turkeys to a customer.

The Turkeys are currently flapping about doing turkey things and enjoying hormone-free, organic turkey diets in preparation for the end-of-month holiday, when they will go from Mr. or Mrs. Turkey to "turkey, $3.99 a pound". Of course, some turkeys are only $2.99 a pound at the Local Grocery. It depends on which farm they come from. $3.99 Knoll Farms turkeys are pasture raised, with access to a barn. They are able to wander in and out of said barn as they please. The $2.99 Hill Farm turkeys are raised in pens, which are moved about from place to place in a pasture, so that they get new grass and new bugs every so often. They have roofs over their heads and therefore, logically, less chance of getting eaten by a predator. This means fewer animals lost, which means a better profit margin, and the ability of the farmer to charge less per pound and still afford to be a farmer.

All of this nuance is of course completely lost on West Coast Karen, because although she seems to have no problem selling their meat by the pound (or consuming it, for that matter) she is very concerned about the well-being of The Turkeys.

"How are the $2.99 turkeys different from the $3.99 turkeys?" asked a customer.
"They don't have free will."
"Or claw marks!" I piped up helpfully from behind the cheese counter.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Yesterday when I got to work at the Local Restaurant, My Harried Manager came up and handed me an envelope.
"What's this?"
"It's your bonus," he said, smiling uncomfortably and rushing off once it was in my hands.
I ripped it open and read the letter. It was from the Head of the Culinary School. You will remember that the Local Restaurant is run by the Culinary School, which the b.h. attends as a student. (Of course you will remember, because the minutiae of my life is ever so enthralling.) Anyway, the letter is about the school and how it relates to the community and my job, and it encourages me to think about donating some money to the scholarship fund. "It's easy," reads the letter, which I am reading with the voice of Idiot School Head in my mind, though I have never met Idiot School Head) to donate. Money can be taken directly from your paycheck, by filling out this simple form."

This is all well and good, but my whole bloody paycheck is already going to the school, you asshole. Also, this is a particularly bad time of year, what with business having just dropped off abruptly and probably until the end of the year, to be asking already strapped, no-insurance-having service industry professionals for their hard-earned money. This is beyond bad taste. I felt awful for Harried Manager, because I realized that he was embarrassed to have to hand this to me. We joked about it later. If I weren't so desperately in need of the money I make from my two weekly shifts at Local Restaurant, I would write a letter to Idiot School Head telling him where he can stick his donation request. Honestly.

On a lighter note, I socialized with co-workers for the second time last night. It was only nicking over to the tap room for a quick beer after my shift, but it did involve adult conversation with people, as opposed to my Digital Friends (not that there's anything wrong with them), so it was pleasant. I text-messaged Nick Bielli in the middle of a story because I couldn't remember the name of a band. I would tell you who it was, but I don't even want to type their name in the ether one more time because I think they suck (er, sucked, may be more appropo, since I doubt they have played in a decade) and I don't want to give them any more mentions. Anyway, Nick bailed me out and I felt like I was still in Athens, behind the bar at Local Rock Club, and I was briefly comforted.

Tomorrow we will be paid a visit my the boys from Modern Skirts. Our schedules won't allow us to see them play, but we'll put them up for a night and feed them a nice home-cooked meal in mid-tour. I'm looking forward to it.

Off to work at the Local Grocery. Then home to clean for company. TTFN.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Just reading Vonnegut's Man Without a Country. In it he quotes Karl Marx: "Religion is the opium of the people", and points out that at the time (1844), opium and opium derivatives were the only available painkillers. Therefore, he argues, this is "a casual truism, not a dictum."
Fascinating. We've been ever-so-slightly misquoting Marx forever, the result being that we have completely missed the point.
I have been known to say that television is the opiate of the masses. The problem is that religion isn't an opiate anymore- it's more like meth.

Vonnegut's birthaversary (can you call it a birthday after somebody has died?) is Wednesday. I think we need him now more than ever.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Oh Jeebus- Stephen Fry in America. I am smitten. Now, how do I get myself a gig like this in the U.K.? Professional American for hire?
It has often been said that Athens is the Island of Misfit Toys. Well, the Local Grocery is a similar island, but instead of cool stuff like one-armed Star Wars figurines and melted G.I. Joes, this one is all lame, generic, Strawberry Shortcake and My Little Pony wanabees. Honestly, people. Can you find a way to be crazy and still functional?
My co-worker Karen is a self-proclaimed "West Coast Person", whatever that means, and she had a fit the other day because I was trying to kill a fly (yes- a fly) that wouldn't get away from the blue cheese we were cutting.
"Run away!" she yelled, waving her arms maniacally and jumping around behind the already claustrophobic counter. When it flew off unharmed, she looked at me accusingly and asked "What did that fly ever do to you?!"
Before I could answer that flies are disease spreading vermin who have no place in a grocery store, Sven (another cheese guy) goes
"Well, he threw up on my arm, for starters."
She looked bewildered, and I just busted out laughing. Confrontation averted. I knew I liked that guy.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

There is a reason why Halloween is my favorite holiday.

Monday, November 02, 2009

I'll be heading to work at the Local Grocery in a few minutes. Last night I worked at the LR, and it was actually quite fun. The b.h. stopped in to see me, and there were several regular customers as well. I waited on a pair of women in their fifties (I'm guessing) who were self-proclaimed foodies and lifelong restaurant people. This can be nerve wracking with some people, but these two were hilarious. A bit boisterous, enthusiastic, and not terribly concerned with propriety. In other words, my kind of gals. Also, there was a live music performance (we do this every Tuesday night at the LR) which I loved. The singer's name was Abby something (no, not "Normal"), and she covered Wilco and The Jayhawks as well as several other artists that I really like. If every Tuesday was Abby night, I would be very happy.
At the end of the night a couple of the usual suspects came down from the kitchen and entertained me while I cleaned up, and after we went for a beer next door. I finally tried Southern Tier's Iniquity, which is a fabulous, bitter, dark ale that I could easily have consumed in quantity, were I not so full of self control.
I have been going through old journals, trying to find reference to the night I met Ron Jeremy. I've been homesick for Athens lately and I'm hoping that writing about it will make me feel better. So I'll try to get around to that soon.
Oooh- and I managed to get my bar shift covered for Saturday night, so I will be able to attend the annual LG Wine Tasting, which is apparently Quite A Do. Looking forward to it.
So I'm at work at the Local Grocery on Friday, and I am handing out samples of cheese to passing customers. This crazy-haired guy (picture Bob Ross from PBS, or any version of "nutty professor" that springs to mind) jumps back like I've offered him a plate of live rattlesnakes and goes
"No- I read in the paper that you shouldn't. Actually, it wasn't in the paper, but I read somewhere that it was no good."
"Uh... okay," I respond, backing away slowly.
"But you shouldn't listen to me anyway! Ha! Because I don't know anyth..."
I was already gone. Whoa.
On Saturday, I worked at the LG from 8am to 3 pm, then came home and got dressed in the b.h.'s suit, slicked my hair down, drew on a mustache, soul patch, and sideburns, and made my eyebrows much thicker and darker with the help of the same eye pencil, and headed off to work. I had fun and confused a few people and made money. Got home around midnight, and was surprised to find that I didn't feel all that bad after a fourteen hour day. Sunday I got to sleep in and didn't work until eleven. Came home to some lovely tomato soup (Note: Always use good sherry for cooking. Even at twenty bucks a bottle, a recipe is well worth it.) and various cheeses (my new favorite is an aged Gouda called "Ewephoria") with some crusty bread. Also had a couple Sierra Nevada Torpedos and then slept like a baby. Today I was up at ten, went for coffee while the b.h. had an interview, and ran into my friend Rob. We chatted for an hour or so, then the b.h. came back, and we left to find some lunch.
When we returned to our car, the meter had already expired, and there was a woman there writing us a ticket.
"You can just hand that right to me if you like," I said. I am all for rules and I have no trouble admitting when I am wrong. It's a point of pride for me, actually. I never give the people who have to write tickets a hard time because I am sure I wouldn't want that job.
Anyway, she turned to me, smiling, and said
"Oh! That's a terribly pessimistic attitude! Besides, I haven't printed it out yet," she turned the ticket-printing device toward me to demonstrate, "so you can just drive away."
"Really. Just go ahead."
"Thanks! Have a nice day!", I smiled. She smiled back and waved.

"What did she say?" asked the b.h., when I sat down. He had gotten straight into the car when we came out. I relayed the conversation to him, and he shook his head like a dog trying to get water out of its ears.

Yep, I think I like it here.