Friday, October 30, 2009

I moved

i'll have nore on this topic soon. i just wanted to write something, since it's been a while.

Monday, October 19, 2009

moving sucks

i'm moving into a very nice apartment underneath my parents. my rent is going up some, but i'm happy about everything except moving all my shit again. i'm almost willing to give everything away, just so i don't have to pack any of it. every time i move, i make my life a little smaller, and a little more mobile. my goal is to one day be able to pack my whole life into my car and one of those mini trailers. then i'll go live wherever you want me to.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

If you're paying for lunch, you're also obligated to tip appropriately

It happens all the time: three people will be at a table for lunch; the check comes; and all three of them start arguing over who is going to pay. They don't argue who HAS to pay; they argue who GETS to pay. You're probably thinking that would be better for me the server, because then I can assume they're all generous; you're wrong. When everyone fights over the check, the winner feels extremely self righteous and magnanimous. Why should they then have to prove their generosity further by tipping the server? It never fails. In fact, the bigger deal that is made over who gets to pay, the shittier my tip tends to be. The only time it ever works out for me, is the silent gesture: The person nods to me, points to them self, and gives me the "check" sign. Those people always tip well, because they are honestly generous, and not doing it for show.
I would rather people fought over the check because no one wanted to pay. If no one wants to pay, then often times, whoever gets stuck with the check will over-tip so that they can feel more like a martyr. They need that extra 20-25% stacked onto the total so they can hold it over every one's head later. "That lunch cost me $75." "What?! The check was only $60." "Well, I had to leave a tip too, didn't I?" Now they are the generous one, and their friends are the cheap pieces of shit.
If you pick up a check, you are obligated to tip as well as best tipper at the table. If THEY had won the fight, that's how much they would have tipped. So that's how much YOU have to tip. It shouldn't ever cost the server money because the wrong person paid the check. That drives me crazy.
I don't even know why I'm ranting about this. You should tip 20% anyway. It shouldn't matter how you ended up with the check, or even if you wanted the check in the first place. Those are the risks you take when you hang out with losers: sometimes they don't have the money. You still have to fulfill your obligation to your server. Don't blame him because you have deadbeat friends.
And sign the fucking slip already!!! Why is it that the last table of my shift always sits there for 45 minutes with an unsigned credit slip? You don't want any more food; you don't want any more drinks; you don't even want any more water; so sign the slip. There is nothing else for me to do. You don't require any further service from me. So you can't still be deciding how much to tip me. You're just sitting there, ignoring the slip, because you're an inconsiderate and selfish person. You must think I have all day long to just sit around, waiting for you to sign the credit card slip, with your shitty 10% tip (that's another one I've learned: the longer it takes for someone to sign their slip, the shittier my tip tends to get). Signing the slip doesn't mean you have to leave. It just lets me, your server, focus on whatever "side-work" I have to take care of. You'll prove yourself to be not only magnanimous, but a considerate "champion" of the working class.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

the mountain bike trail

I was camping deep in the Wenatchee National Forest. A ranger told me about a bike trail that leads to a lake. He said it was a popular trail, about 3 miles long. He gave me directions and showed me the trail on a map, which he also gave me. I noticed a green dot on the trail. I looked at the key at the bottom of the map, and the green dot was labeled "easiest". He confirmed it for me. He was very helpful. Since he gave me directions, I left the map in my car.

I started the trail at 9:30 a.m., and it was pretty easy heading into the woods. But once the trail hit the woods, it got tougher. Next thing I know, I'm carrying my bike up a mountain. The path got so narrow, that I couldn't even walk the bike next to me half the time. The trail looked like it hadn't seen a person in years. The only tracks I saw were either the biggest dog prints I've ever seen, or cougars'. I kept stopping and listening for cougars and bears, planning my defense. I thought the ranger had sent me up here as a joke. But I remember the map said "easiest". At 11:00 a.m. I started thinking about quitting. If this trail was three miles long, then I was climbing at less than two miles an hour at this point with no end in sight. That couldn't be right. But I kept stopping, so it was possible. I kept stopping to listen for cougars and bears and now psychotic, rapist park rangers, because this was no joke. That ranger sent me up here so his other psychotic, rapist park ranger buddies could pull a "Deliverance" party on me. Then I started thinking about the map again…"easiest", not "easy", just "easiest". What if this is what they considered easiest? Then if I quit, I'm a pussy. So I gave up all thought of turning around and going back, even when I started passing snow. Let me make that clear: SNOW! It was in the middle of July. How high was I climbing?

At 12:00 p.m. I abandon my bike for a stick because I know cougars are afraid of sticks. As far as I know, cougars aren't afraid of bikes. Besides, there were now fallen trees lying across the almost invisible trail. The trail would disappear, and then reappear ten or twenty yards away. I was becoming really frightened. I was alone out there on a god-forsaken trail that had been neglected for who knows how long, and probably because too many people got eaten by cougars trying to find this lake. But I couldn't stop, and for two reasons: "easiest" and "lake." I was going to reach that lake or die a horrible bloody death trying.

At 12:30 p.m. the trail started going downhill. At first, I just thought I was in a little valley on the trail or something. But the trail kept going downhill. Then I really got scared. I must have lost the trail somewhere, and now I'm on some cougar's driveway leading me straight to his house. I went on for another five minutes before the visions of my shredded corpse overwhelmed me and I turned back. Fuck "easiest", and fuck "lake"! I was getting out of there.
I climbed back up the trail, and eventually down the other side. I was so afraid that I was being stalked by a cougar, that I was stopping ever hundred feet or so to listen. Every rustle was a cougar, every crack of a twig. I was sure I was going to die on this mountain alone. And it would be a week before anyone knew I was missing, and months before they found what was left of my body.
I was descending the trail as fast as I could. But I kept losing it, and I'd have to find it again. I was exhausted. I started worrying about my bike. Had I missed it somehow? Everything looked the same. The trees all looked the same. The rocks all looked the same. I started thinking "why did I put the bike where it would be on my lazy-eye side? I probably walked right past it." I checked my watch and decided that if I didn't run across my bike in the next ten minutes, I was going back up the trail (I might have cried a little bit at that thought. It was probably sweat in my eyes, but it might also have been tears). I found my bike five minutes later.
I didn't realize how steep the trail was until I stared riding my bike back down. I was flying. I was riding both brakes with white knuckles, and I was still flying. I couldn't always stop the bike completely. When I would get to a tree in the path, or a ditch, a couple of times I had to slow the bike down as much as I could then jump off. A few times I didn't have to jump off. I must have wiped out five or six times not counting the bail-outs. I was afraid my brakes would wear out completely and I was going to fly off the side of the mountain on one of the dozen "switch-backs". But I didn't. I came flying off that mountain like it was on fire. Like something were chasing me; which I half believed. There were a couple of spots I should have carried the bike that I didn't because I was so paranoid that I would be mauled by a cougar the moment I stopped and rested. I knew it wasn't a bear, because I was flying downhill and bears don't run downhill. I came shooting out of those woods like a kid out the bottom of a water slide. I'd never been so happy to see my car in my life. I lied in the freezing river for five minutes probably, until I couldn't feel my toes any more. Ten minutes later, I was the hell out of there. And whom did I run into on my way out of the parking lot? That's right: my friendly park ranger. I told him about my little adventure, and that his gang bang buddies must have missed me somehow. Before I could finish, he told me I took the wrong trail. I was on the wrong side of the campgrounds. I looked at the map, and sure enough there were two trails leading out of that campground. One to a lake that was three miles long marked with the level "easiest", and one that was five miles long that connected with another trail on the other side of the mountain, and no lake, marked "most difficult".
If I had any energy left in my body, I would have gone back to see what "easiest" really meant. I would have murdered the park ranger for not warning me or posting any signs, then I would have gone up the "easiest" trail. Who puts two trails that are so different so close together and then doesn't mark them with a sign? That's like putting the "Bunny Hill" right next to the "Kamikaze Dive" and not marking them with so much as a couple of wooden arrows. Some one's going to get killed. I'm sure it would be hilarious, but it could have been me, and that is NOT hilarious. I should write them a letter.

camping with Mike

When I go camping, all I can think about is "I wanna see a bear." I guess it's because I've never seen a bear in the wild. So I go as deep into the mountains I can get. I set up my camp on the outside of campgrounds, away from people. I cook some hot dogs and burgers (bear favorites). Then I wait. I wait all evening, and nothing. But then, at night, after the fire has gone out, and I am alone, I get terrified that I might actually see a bear. I sit awake in my flimsy tent, clutching my cheap, plastic flashlight for protection. Every noise I hear all night long is a bear or a cougar waiting to kill me.

The truth is I want to see a bear while I'm driving. If I saw a bear on the road, I could stop and take a picture or two. If he came at me, I could just drive away. If I ever saw a bear or a cougar at my campsite, I'd shit my pants and scream like a three-year-old screams at her birthday clown. I'd never go into the woods again.

Whenever I hear a story about someone being eaten by a cougar, or getting lost and dying in the woods, I say, "That'll never happen to me." But the truth is I'm exactly the kind of moron that it will happen to. I go camping under the most under-prepared and dangerous circumstances. I remember my ipod, and forget a lighter or matches to light a fire. I throw a flashlight in the trunk, and never bother to check the batteries. I bring a disposable razor, but no pocketknife. I remember my favorite pillow, but not my sleeping bag and blankets.

When I go hiking it's even worse. I ignore all safety precautions:
1. Always hike in a group--all alone, check;
2. Always carry your food in a sealed container--I hope they don't mean this Big Mac I brought in my backpack, check;

3. Carry a map at all times--I'm a man. I don't need a map. I just follow the trail, check;

4. Always let someone know where you are and how long you'll be gone--called in sick for work to start my camping weekend two days early, and I told my girlfriend I'm spending the weekend with my parents, check.

At least I don't have to worry about wild animals when I'm hiking. I never worry about being attacked by a wild animal because I always carry a stick with me. Cougars are afraid of sticks. Plus I have a keen sense of hearing, and I can hear cougars sneaking up on me. Because if they see my stick, they know their only chance is to sneak up on me. So I walk really quietly, and keep the volume on my ipod really low, well, kind of low. It depends on what music I'm listening to at the time. Bears are even easier. All you have to do is run downhill. Bears can't run as fast downhill as they can uphill. So if a bear attacks you, just run downhill. He'll give up and go eat something else. The people who get eaten on trails are always found without a stick, and facing uphill. They're stupid.

Me and Mikey in Hawaii

When I was just out of high school, I moved to the Oahu island of Hawaii. For almost two years, I lived and worked in Waikiki, where most of the tourist activity is. I had a job taking pictures of people with trained parrots. The catch was that it wasn't in some studio. I had to cruise the streets and work my magical sales techniques on unsuspecting tourists. It was the most difficult job I've ever had.

There were countless obstacles standing between me and every sale. The first of them was the street. Every hotel and business I tried to sell in front of would chase me off, or worse, call the cops. They hated guys like me, and for good reason: I was a hustler. So I was constantly moving. Next, I had to deal with "Dad". Every father, husband, and boyfriend knew I was a con artist. If they saw me coming, they did everything they could to get in my way. So I constantly had to sneak up on people, and go straight after the kids, wife, or girlfriend to avoid confrontation with "Dad". The exception was newlyweds. All newlyweds are suckers for souvenir photos on their honeymoon. If you ask me, every man and woman stupid enough to be conned into marriage in the first place deserves to get taken for a ride. Then, of course, I had to deal with the birds. Those birds were a handful. They were trained, but it hardly mattered. If they didn't want to cooperate, there was nothing I could do about it. Plus, they shit all over everything. They would shit on me, on the customers, even on the camera. Take it from me; no one wants a picture with a bird once that bird shits on him.

All the stars had to be aligned just right for me to make a dime. The key to the whole scam was getting people to stop and play with the birds. Because once I had a little kid holding one of those adorable animals, "Dad" was in my world. So there were tricks I learned, gimmicks to get their attention and get them interested.

One of my favorite tricks involved my favorite bird to work with: Mikey. Mikey was an Eclectic Parrot. They are a small, bright green bird with an orange beak the same color of candy corn. He was gorgeous and well trained. I would lock his feet together and juggle him back and forth in my hands like a ball. The kids loved it. The gag was this: I'd juggle Mikey to get their attention; then I would toss him at someone in the group. They'd flinch and try to catch him, but he would open up and fly back to me before they could reach him. Everybody loved that gag. Mikey and I belonged in a circus.

Once, there were two beautiful young girls strolling down the cobbled sidewalk in my direction. They were the spoiled rich girl types: long hair, long legs, and looking a long way down their noses at a street hustler like me. I usually only wasted my time on girls if I was trying to get laid. And I certainly wouldn't waste time on girls I knew were out of my league, because god forbid a rich honeymoon couple wondered by and I lost the opportunity for a legitimate sale. The day was pretty slow. I was just hanging out tossing Mikey around. I was bored, so I decided to pull the old "catch my bird" gag. So I said "heads up ladies." and tossed him at one of them.

Two things happened simultaneously: one, Mike didn't open up and fly back to me; and two, the girl wasn't paying attention and didn't hear me say "heads up." So Mikey hit her. He bounced right off her bikini-covered, probably surgically augmented boob, and hit the ground like a ripe mango.

Boing! Splat!

I must have juggled him dizzy, because he never knew what happened. He bounced off the girl, hit the ground, and laid there in a ball like a discarded burrito. I was in shock.

I wasn't concerned about the girls at this point. I immediately picked up Mikey and started talking to him like a trauma patient. "Mikey, are you okay? Mikey, can you hear me? Mikey, what the hell is wrong with you? You made me look like an asshole." He was fine, a little dazed, but fine.

The girl, however, was traumatized! It took her a second to realize that I had just bounced a bird off her tit. When she did, she looked at me like I was some kind of monster. I know that was the look because a moment later she hissed "What are you, some kind of monster? What kind of sicko throws a bird at someone?" She went on and on about cruelty to animals and calling the police. I was pretty scared.

I tried to explain to the girls that it was supposed to be a joke. That he just got dizzy and lost his equilibrium. They didn't get it. They just thought I was some freak who threw birds at people for fun. So I gave up. Mikey and I slinked away in shame. I made sure that we took side streets and alleyways back to the shop, just in case.

Usually I have a happy ending for a story in case someone decides to make it into a movie. Today, I only have a lesson to be learned. Take it from me fellas: if you want to get cute girls to talk to you, skip the exotic animals, and get a puppy.

how to get fired from Applebee's, and end up a hero

I'm Only Human

I have waited tables for 10 years between Denny's, Applebee's, and part time bartending jobs. Never, in those 10 years, have I done anything to anyone's food. Don't get me wrong. I believe that lousy guests should be punished...and severely! But how is spitting in someone's hamburger punishing them? They never know what you've done to them. So it's not a real consequence. I am not going to risk my job for some asshole that isn't even going to know what I've done to him. Besides, I have way too much respect for food. It's not the foods fault. Food doesn't know who's eating it.

I have a story, though, that you might enjoy...

I had been working at Applebee's for just a couple of months. This was a night from hell. You know what I'm talking about: short-staffed, crazy-busy night. I had a table of two couples in their fifties. One couple was very respectful and polite. The other couple was rude and obnoxious. They ran me in circles, and showed no concern for the fact that there were 40 other people in my section who had just as much right to my attention and service as they had. At one point, the wife told me to my face that she was taking her wine glass home as a souvenir. When I told her we didn't sell them, she replied that she "just spent $50 in this dump (it was actually $35 because they didn't want anything that wasn't on the Happy-Hour list), and I'll take this glass home if I want to." So when she wasn't looking, I took the glass off the table. When she noticed it was gone, she demanded I tell her what I did with it. I tried to make light of the situation, and told her I "took the temptation away". She responded that she was "taking your tip away".
I decided that if they didn't tip me, I wasn't going to take it lying down. They stiffed me like I knew that they would. So I reacted in what I believe was a justifiable response. I followed them, at a safe distance, out to their car. By the time I got there they were strapped in and backing out of their parking spot. I knocked on the passenger-side window. The woman turned to look at me with disdain on her face, then lowered the window. With the most condescending tone, she asked me "What the hell do you want?!"

I remember what happened next as if I had seen it in a movie rather than experienced it for myself. It was like I had separated from my body and I was watching the event from above. Time slowed to a crawl, as if out of respect for such a dramatic moment. I saw myself slowly reach into my apron. Her eyes caught my hand, and her look changed from smug superiority to fear, as she realized that retribution was at hand.

…Before I finish the story, it is important that you know she had it coming. Because what happened next is, in the restaurant world, the equivalent of capitol murder. I cannot stress enough that the circumstances were extreme; that my actions were coerced. I will now continue…

Her face went from the color of pink, compact clay to ghostly white. Her eyes bulged out of her oversized head. Her haphazardly plucked and sloppily re-stenciled eyebrows disappeared into the wrinkles of her giant forehead. I pulled my hand out of my apron with a crisp and clean dollar bill face up in my palm. I raised the sad little picture of George Washington to her eye level, and paused for just a moment to give homage to all the great food servers in history. Then I crumpled the bill in her face and tossed it in her lap like a filthy tissue I had just blown my nose in. She flinched, and cringed away from the wad lying on her fat thigh as if it were a dead animal. For what seemed like an eternity, but was actually only a second or two, she stared at the dollar with her eyes wide and her breath caught in her throat, waiting for it to explode or bite her. Then she turned her giant head, with her blue perm, and looked at me one last time. She no longer had her smug little smile. She was frightened. Because she knew what she had done to deserve this. And before she could cry out in agony and terror, I said to her...
"Since you're too cheap to tip or buy wine glasses for yourself, take this dollar over to Wal-Mart and buy a wine glass on me."

She looked back down at the dollar bill, really seeing it for the first time crinkled in her now sweaty lap as if on a dirty strip club stage. She brushed it off like a cockroach onto the floor. She cried. She put her head in her hands, and she wept in shame. She mumbled something under her breath to her husband, who was unaware of what had just transpired. When he didn't respond, she hissed at him "GO!" He slowly backed out of the parking spot and drove away. I watched her cry all the way out of the parking lot. She never lifted her head, and I never saw them again. I knew the second I turned back to the restaurant that I had just thrown my job in that ugly cow's lap. And it was worth it. The next morning I was fired.

I thought that was the end of this story, and my career at Applebee's. It was not. Within 12 hours, my picture and my story was on the bulletin board of 1500 Applebee's restaurants around the world. A petition circulated through the company to save my job. And in only two days, the corporate home office in Cleveland received 853 faxes with more than 10,600 signatures. I was out pounding the pavement for a new gig when I received a phone call from the president of Applebee's himself (which he told me he would deny if ever pressed by the media). After proving who he was by reciting the Applebee's motto: "QSCVC… Quality, Service, Commitment, Value,", he thanked me for my heroism and self-sacrifice. He then begged me to come back to work (after a two-week paid vacation of course). My story was even added to the training materials for the entire company. The management, for obvious reasons of liability, told me it was to caution against such behavior. I found out later that it was to give new staff hope.

I stayed with Applebee's for more than seven years, and even became a corporate trainer, opening five different new restaurants, and training hundreds of servers. I have a file six inches thick. I have done everything from unknowingly insult an autistic child, to calling a woman a man (and she wasn't even a lesbian). My job will always be available, however, and I could transfer to any store in the company, because of one cold and lonely night, when I chose self respect over self preservation and did something waiters and waitresses have wanted to do for 500 years.
Please...don't look at me as more than just a man who acted extraordinarily in extreme circumstances. It's true that most would never have the courage to do what I did, and I may be a hero; but I only tell this story so that someday, when you're faced with a horrible situation like that, you can look back to the day you read my incredible tale and say "yes... I could follow this stupid bitch outside and throw a crumpled dollar in her fat face."

How to get $$$ from me if you're homeless

there is a Subway sandwich shop five blocks from my place. the only problem is that there is a bus stop right in front, and an abandoned building one block away. so, because of the public restroom inside, it's a favorite hangout for homeless. i can't go in there without at least one bum asking me for change.

i was on my way to feature for Rich Vos at Laughs in Kirkland. i was starved. i had just enough time to stop and grab a sandwich on my way. i didn't even have time to eat it there. i was just going to bring it with me to the club.

when i got out of my car, i saw this young homeless kid walking towards me. i knew he was going to ask me for change. i was planning on just waving him off and saying "sorry" before he had a chance. but he started talking when he was still fifteen feet away from me. he said "no one will listen to me." to which, i said "i'm not going to listen to you either."; and walked past him towards the door.

after i passed him, he yelled "you motherfucker! i'm gonna..."; and over my shoulder, i heard him running toward me. i turned around just before he got to me. he was right in my face. i said "don't you ever fucking run up on me like that (as if he knew me). i'll fucking kill you!" that's when he said the line that made me feel so grateful and like such an asshole: "i'm sorry man. i'm so fucking hungry it's driving me crazy; and no one will stop to even listen to me." i could see in his eyes; he meant it. i felt so bad for being such a dismissive prick, that i bought the kid a footlong, soda, and chips.

he said he wasn't on drugs; that he was from Bellingham, and got stranded trying to find work in Seattle. he said he needed to get back to Bellingham, and a bus ticket was only $18. i felt really bad; but guilt doesn't make me stupid. i wasn't going to give him any money' especially considering one of the three bags he was carrying was full of obviously stolen action figures (???). i also didn't have time to take him to Greyhound and put him on a bus. i told him i could do it the next morning. i gave him my card, and told him if he didn't get on a bus that night, to call me (he had a cel phone, of course. what bum doesn't?), and i'd get him a ticket home. that's when he started giving me attitude again: "what does it matter if you take me there or not? i'm not buying drugs. don't you trust me?" i told him i didn't trust him, and that if he was serious, he could survive one more night, and i'd get him on a bus first thing in the morning. he never called.

i felt really bad for the kid. he must have been pretty hungry, because he was half my size, and looked like he was going to kill me for a second there. i totally believe he was just some crack head trying to scam me. i don't care. i fed him. i offered him an opportunity to get home. it doesn't change my attitude about homeless. i'm still going to tell the next guy to get lost. but if he attacks me, i'll buy him a sandwich.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

new job

i just can't sustain myself with the hours i'm getting at Palomino. it's time to look for something else. i'm going to Earl's in Bellevue, and checking that place out. i hate looking for a job. i remember the old days, when i didn't care about shit like that. i'd love to get out of the service industry.