Am I Wearing A ‘Kick Me’ Sign?

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Lately I find myself grabbing at the back of my shirt, in search of the “Kick Me!” sign that I am oh, so certain I am going to find there. What other reason could there be for people to feel that it is perfectly reasonable to do just that. Kick me, that is.

I spend far too much time while I am at work wrestling to get my emotions under control. Not bursting into tears, not coming apart at the seams, and not flying off the handle is, in fact, hard work. If you think it isn’t, try it.

I come in from work most afternoons looking like I have been in an actual wrestling match. My hair is all over the place. My feet and hips are aching. My hands are numb. My make-up looks like it was applied by someone who either uses or is in dire need of a seeing eye dog. In short, I look like I feel, which is like I have been kicked around some.

Sometimes I cry on the way home. Sometimes I am on the bus when I burst into tears. Sometimes a kind stranger offers the crazy, crying lady a tissue. Sometimes this restores my faith in humanity.

I dry my eyes. I vow to soldier on. To buck up. To stop acting like a child. To, at the very least, stop crying on the bus.

So what if I work two dead-end jobs? Who cares. At least I have two jobs. At least I can pay my kid’s tuition.

So what if my husband won’t pick me up from my second job and I have to take the bus in the pouring rain. At least there is a bus. At least there is someone on the bus who has the sense to carry tissues. As I signal a “thank you” with my crumpled Kleenex, I tell myself to stop being an ungrateful bitch.

And I try. To be grateful. I really do.

And then something happens that causes me to become unglued. Again.

Tonight it was my kid texting me to stop tagging her “constantly” in Facebook posts; to stop responding to the things she posts. Clearly I don’t understand social media. I thought that was what we were supposed to do. Engage.

Imagine my surprise then when my response of “LOL” to her posting of an article from “The Onion” — a publication near and dear to the both of us — caused her to text me (TEXT ME!) that I needed to “stop tagging her in all sorts of posts and to stop responding to her posts”.

For the record, I tagged her in three posts in five days, one of which was a status update that referred to how I was counting down the days until I would see her again. She responded with hearts. The other two were to draw her attention to things that I thought she would find humorous; I found them humorous. We do, in fact, tend to find the same things funny.

Finals are on the horizon. I know that she has been studying a lot. I was just trying to give her a chuckle or two. It was my way of letting her know that I was on her side, that I was thinking about her. Obviously, in addition to being an ungrateful bitch, I am also an insensitive asshat.

Just before I burst into tears I did manage to dash off a very mature text. It simply said, “Wow”. To her credit, she responded. “Im sry”. Yeah. Okay. Whatever.

I know she is sorry. She probably even thinks that saying it negates the hurtful thing that prompted the apology. It doesn’t.

I’ll get over it. I’ll soldier on. I’ll buck up. I’ll stop acting like a child  (although it would be helpful if people stopped treating me like one).  I’ll even try to stay on top of how much I engage with my daughter on Facebook.

And, once I stop crying,  I’m sure I’ll be able to forgive her. I’m sure I will.


(I know what you’re thinking. I ought to share this on Facebook and “tag” her, but I won’t.)

To be fair, my husband usually does pick me up from work… there was this one night, though… LOL!

 

 

 

 

#shutupaboutthecupsalreadyandbegrateful

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Like many other people in the country — so many that there is a trending Twitter hashtag (#starbuckschristmas) devoted to this extremely important issue — I feel the need to weigh in on the whole “Starbuck’s changed its Christmas cup to appeal to the complainers in the world who want to take Christ out of Christmas!” brouhaha. Like many other people in the country, I honestly cannot remember what the old Christmas cup looked like, but not knowing about a thing ever stopped me from expressing my opinion about it before. Unlike the folks up at Starbuck’s, I will just go ahead and stick with tradition, dammit!

I am assuming that there was some nod to Christmas on the Starbuck’s holiday cup. I seriously doubt that there was a nativity scene emblazoned on the old cups. But, what do I know? Maybe there was. I never noticed.

Frankly, I don’t notice much when I am in Starbuck’s. Except maybe how many people are standing between me and my ability to get my French vanilla latte, made breve, with an extra shot of espresso. Depending on the season, I may replace French vanilla with Pumpkin Spice or Crème Brulee. Yeah. I’m flexible like that.

I am also flexible about a company changing the design of its cup. Actually, I don’t really care about the design of the cup, so long as they don’t screw with what they put inside of it. I love Starbuck’s coffee. I am not ashamed to admit it. Some people have gone so far as to suggest that I may need a 12-step meeting to deal with my addiction. To this I say, mainly to my husband and daughter, “Stop talking to me. I am trying to decide between the French vanilla and the Pumpkin spice.” , as I wonder if there is a 12-step program for nagging that I could direct them towards.

To the people complaining about the cup design I say, “Be grateful you have a cup to put your $6 coffee into; be grateful you have the six bucks for the coffee at all.” I have a suggestion for them, those who are so offended by the audacity of a corporation to change the design on their cups: stop drinking it.

They won’t though. They won’t suddenly become Dunkin’ Donuts customers. Would you like to know why? Because, if they did, then they would have to drink Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. No Starbuck’s coffee drinker in their right mind is going to voluntarily switch to DD. No way. No how.

In a world where there is much to be grateful for (truly, there is), the existence of Dunkin’ Donuts is not something a Starbuck’s coffee drinker could ever be grateful for. It will serve in a pinch, but as an every day substitute? No way. No how.

This idea of what we should be grateful for reminded me of many scenes from my childhood, most of them involving my father. My father began a lot of sentences (from the front porch, with coffee cup in hand) with  “You’re lucky….” . And, we were.

We were “lucky”, to his way of thinking, to have arms with which to rake leaves for hours, fingers with which to pull weeds from between the sidewalk cracks all day (likely a punishment for saying we were “bored”!), and legs with which to get our asses to the store for a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk. Before you get the idea that my father was the 1970s version of Simon Legre, let me just paint a picture for you.

In that picture you will see a man that worked all night and stayed up with us during the day. (Hence the porch sitting and the coffee drinking.) You will see a man that often helped us with the leaf raking (he wasn’t a big fan of the weed pulling) and always (and I mean “always”, as in every single time) joined us as we jumped (or, very often were thrown — by him) into the giant piles of leaves that wound up in the cement pond that had long ago ceased to contain fish or frogs, but made an excellent place for growing mint in the summertime and for depositing leaves in the Fall. He didn’t really work us, no matter what we told our mother, all that hard.

Depending on the season, there was always cocoa or lemonade at the end of whichever mindless task we had been assigned. If we had to run down to the store to fetch milk or bread, the change was always ours to spend — on whatever struck our fancy. I, usually, spent mine on magazines or comic books, my sister spent hers on snacks. Unless it was Summer; it was nearly impossible to resist the lure of the “bomb pop” on a hot day — even if Donny Osmond or David Cassidy were gracing the cover of the latest “Tiger Beat”.

I can remember walking home covered in “bomb pop” remnants. The stickiness of the red and blue dye that were the hallmarks of having eaten a bomb pop made me, I am sure, look like an urchin. Still, I was a happy urchin. On a sugar high. Now, I am a happy adult. On a caffeine high. Thank you, Starbuck’s. Thank you, Dad.

I was lucky. I know that now. I knew it then, too. I think it is high time that other people recognize how lucky they are. And, they are very lucky indeed, lucky enough to have the time to fret over coffee cup designs. To that end, I would like to suggest a new Twitter hashtag, #shutupaboutthecupsalreadyandbegrateful.

Tales From “The Annoying Bar & Grill”: The “Tip Slip”

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No doubt many of you have heard of the “nip slip” made famous by none other than Janet Jackson (and repeated frequently by other attention-grabbers) . In the restaurant business we have something called a “tip slip”. It is the copy of your credit card receipt that is meant to be left AT the restaurant FOR the server. I have very little experience in the area of the “nip slip”, but I can speak with some authority on the “tip slip”.

I can do next to nothing about celebrities exposing their nipples either accidentally or on purpose, but I would like to take steps toward educating the general public about taking the wrong copies of their credit cards home with them. Do what you want with your nipples, people, but I am here to beg of you to PLEASE LEAVE THE “TIP SLIP” AT THE RESTAURANT! Please.

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Some of you or, as I like to think of you, the dopey few, do this because you are not paying attention. I do not call you something worse because I, too, made this mistake once as a result of allowing my mind to wander and my hand to pick up the wrong copy of the credit card slip following what was a wonderful meal at a very nice restaurant.

The difference between me and the countless other dopes that do this is that I understood the consequences of my actions. For any of you that might find yourself in a similar situation, there is a way to rectify it. It is fairly simple and requires only the use of a telephone. Please avail yourselves of this handy piece of equipment in the event that you discover that you have done the dopey thing and taken the wrong copy (or both copies) of your credit card slip when you next dine out.

The minute I got home and realized what I had done I called the restaurant and confessed to being an idiot of the highest order — I will admit to having blamed too high an intake of tira mi su for my momentary senselessness — and made sure that the server was given the tip that I had meant to leave for him — the one that was on the copy that I had mistakenly taken with me while reeling from a sugar high.

Had I not done what I did, my server (who I in no way held responsible for the escalation of my blood sugar) would have been out a very generous tip. And that, my friends, would have just been wrong. And, considering my line of work, some very bad karma.

It is disappointing that while I am a big believer in karma and, as a result of my superstitious tendencies and my firmly held belief that the universe is always hard at work seeking stasis, I, myself, constantly get screwed over by the dopey few or, worse, the cheapskates that have learned to play the system and deliberately take both copies (or leave the unsigned, tipless copy for this tough-out-of-luck server).

There exists no remedy to the server by his or her employer when, whether by mistake or by design, you go on your merry way without leaving the proper copy of  your receipt for the person who broke their ass waiting on you for two hours of his or her life. None.

Restaurant managers and owners do not conclude that you were meant to get a tip. They will not add anything to your credit card slip after you leave without your consent. You either have to call or return to the scene of your stupidity to resolve the issue. The onus is upon you, the person who enjoyed a five-course meal and seven hot water with lemon refills.

Please, for the love of all that is holy, make every attempt to erase your error. Because, and I do not know if you know this, when a diner leaves no tip it actually costs the person who rendered the service money to have waited upon you. Yes. That is true. And, yes, it is perfectly legal.

The people that are tipped out by your server — bartenders, buspeople, etc. — are tipped out based on the server’s total sales, not on the tips that they received throughout the course of the shift. The federal government also figures what they are owed based on this same information. In other words, everyone gets their pound of flesh except the server who you held hostage an hour after closing because you and your long-lost best friend, Sally, who “hadn’t seen each other in YEARS!” just could not wrap your heads around the fact that lights on/music off meant that you should pay your check and skedaddle.

The fact that you held on to the check book and chose to skedaddle in the one moment that your server went into the kitchen to roll her eyes, bang her head on the counter, and lament the fact that you needed to get a clue makes me slightly suspicious about whether or not your leaving the wrong copy was purposeful, but I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and place you into the category of the “dopey few”, but please, please, take a moment to call the restaurant and fix your mistake.

While I am very happy that you and Sally found each other again through the modern wonder of social media, I would think better of the both you and be oh, so very grateful, if you could please call and make sure that I get the gratuity that I earned (on your $110 check!). I am sure you meant to leave it for me, right?

If, indeed, it was deliberate, perhaps Sally stealing your husband is in your future. (Frankly, I wouldn’t put such a thing past Sally. She seemed less enthusiastic about the rekindling of your friendship than did you. Plus, I overheard her asking quite a few questions about John.) While I certainly don’t wish this upon you — or, to be fair, upon John (Sally did seem like kind of a bitch) — the universe does have a way of righting wrongs.

For the sake of your marriage, I urge you to do the smart thing. Use the telephone.

Pipe Down!

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I have become a woman bothered by noise. The irony of this, taking into consideration that I am not what one would call “soft spoken” or “quiet”, is not lost on me. I am nothing if I am not self-aware.

I am the grumpy neighbor who throws open the window and shouts to no one in particular, “Pipe Down Over There, People!”. And then cannot understand why they don’t (or won’t). I could just step outside — like a normal person would — and request that they turn down the hip-hop or the salsa music, but that would require far too much human interaction and, you know, energy. Plus, I have never been accused of being a “normal person”. So there!

I am the irritated co-worker who has to yell to be heard and who, by doing so, adds to the cacophony by screaming at the top of her lungs, “Can You Please Be Quiet? I Can’t Hear Myself Think!”. I behave as if I am in the midst of thinking deep thoughts or solving problems of great magnitude instead of what I am actually doing, which is, more often than not, wondering what the hell I am doing occupying a particular space, puzzling over why I came into the kitchen in the first place. (Oh, yeah, table 12 needs their seventeenth Coke refill!)

I have been known to pick my head up during dinner at home to inquire “What Is All That Racket?” only to realize that “that racket” is the sound of children playing outside. Can’t they play indoors? Don’t they know it’s 6 PM? Where are their parents? What is going on in this neighborhood, anyway? It’s going to hell in a hand basket — a hand basket that is seemingly full of noisemakers — that’s what!

Don’t even get me started on landscapers. They are every suburbanite’s nightmare — the annoying equivalent to the city dweller’s jackhammer-wielding construction worker. What ever happened to raking leaves, anyway? Why must we blow them all over creation with a machine that reaches the same decibel level as a jet engine? And why must this be done at all hours of the day and night? Why? It’s like living in a wind tunnel.

And then there are the weekend warriors, those handy men and women who like to build things on their days off. The folks in my area must ALL have received table saws last Christmas. They’ve broken them out since the weather has warmed up.

What are they building, anyway? Shelves? My money is on shelves. People cannot have too many shelves. All that shrieking of wood against metal — the high-pitched sounds of doing — is enough to drive even the most complacent person up a wall. I am not the most complacent person. Can’t they just go to IKEA and buy their shelves? It’s as if I live amongst a bunch of lumberjacks. I may as well move to a logging camp!

Some days my husband, the much put-upon and beloved, Fang, comes home to discover that I am running every air conditioner in the house. He likes to point out that it is beautiful outside, that we are the only ones for miles around using their air conditioning on a balmy 60 degree humidity-free day.

“I know, ” I tell him, “but it blocks out the noise — the infernal, constant, mind-blowing noise!” Fang, when faced with a crazy woman who is throwing up her hands and carrying on about mowers, shelf builders, and hopscotch players, usually takes this opportunity to point out the flaw in my logic, which is that the air conditioning generates noise, too. “Yes, ” I tell him, “I know that. But it’s MY noise!”

Luckily, Fang is a kind and patient man. Rather than try to talk some sense into me, which would be futile, he just goes ahead and puts on a sweatshirt, turns on the Mets’ game, and joins me for dinner. The only noises we have to worry about are the sounds of each other chewing and the occasional crack of a ball hitting a bat. Those are noises that I can live with!

Tales From “The Annoying Bar & Grill”: There Are Rules, People! Rules!

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It is shocking to me how many customers get it into their pea brains that the best way to get an employee’s attention is to wander into the kitchen, throw up their hands, and ask “Is anyone working here?” I am uncertain as to what it is they expect to find us doing in the kitchen. Do they think we are getting up a game of gin rummy? Practicing our dance moves? Napping?

This behavior should not shock me — nothing should, given my thirty-plus years of experience dealing with the dining public. Still, it almost always renders me semi-speechless. The only answer I can usually muster, following playing my meld, taking off my tap shoes, or rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, to the very insulting question, “Is anyone working here?” is “Yes. Someone will be right with you.”

What I would like to say, but don’t — because I need my job — is “Seriously? What the fuck is wrong with you? Get out of the goddamn kitchen and take a seat. Wait your turn.”

A disproportionate number of these types of humans — and I use the term “human” loosely here, as it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to discover that they were raised by wolves — are bar guests. And, they’re in a hurry. Or in need of a fix. Or both.

I had two guests do this to me yesterday. Two. Let me just say this: their behavior during our initial encounter did nothing to endear them to me. If they had been diabetics in need of some juice, I may have been more understanding of their predicament. Neither of these “gentlemen”, as it would turn out, were suffering from low blood sugar. What they both needed were alcoholic beverages at noontime. This cemented my opinion that they were jackasses of the highest order.

One required a couple of straight vodkas to deal with the ex-wife and her attorney; the other had decided that he would need more than half a bottle of wine to fortify himself for his upcoming trip across the George Washington Bridge. Yeah. There’s nothing like a couple of boozy blowhards on a Wednesday afternoon. Nothing like it.

I wish they had been there at the same time. Perhaps they would have found in each other something they did not get from me. That something? A sympathetic ear.

Instead they got me — a woman not known to possess a high threshold for bullshit, a soft  heart, or the wherewithal to suffer fools.

After listening to vodka guy for all of thirty seconds I said, “I’m sure there’s nothing a divorce attorney likes to see more than someone who comes in half in the bag to sign important documents — particularly when it’s the party he or she is NOT representing. You’re every lawyer’s dream! Good luck to you!”

To our wine aficionado I said, “Well, if you have any more wine, it’s likely you’ll get a quick trip over the bridge — either via the railing or in a police car. I cannot imagine that either of those scenarios would be preferable to a little traffic.”

They both took in my retorts, eyed me suspiciously, and paid their checks. I was not sad to see either of them go. I hope they enjoyed a lovely day busting someone else’s chops.

Every situation has rules, written and unwritten. DO NOT ENTER A RESTAURANT KITCHEN UNLESS YOUR ASS IS ON FIRE is rule number one while dining out. DO NOT INSULT THE PEOPLE WHO WORK IN A RESTAURANT AND THEN EXPECT EXEMPLARY SERVICE (OR THAT SYMPATHETIC EAR) is rule number two.

I hold out very little hope that my “liquid lunchers” were catching what I was throwing to them — so absorbed were they in their own little dramas. Still, I had to try. After all, I had a hot game of gin rummy to return to. If only.

Misery Loves Company

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Some days I realize that it is difficult NOT to be a miserable human being. I know this because I, too, have those days. What I cannot fathom is how it is that I always seem to wind up surrounded by people who have, for whatever reasons, decided that they must lead miserable LIVES. Not only that, but they almost always must, by either accident or by design — my money is on the latter — make attempts to cause misery to all those that they come into contact with.

They never seem content to simply live with their misery. It seems that there is some kind of a rule that they must also foist it upon others. I don’t know, perhaps that’s the one and only pleasure they have in life, the one thing that at which they are truly adept. Misery loving company and all that.

I wish I could play a game of hot potato with their piss-poor attitudes. You know, throw it back to them. I neither want it nor need it.

I wish that I could say that I wake up every morning happy to greet the day. I do not. Coffee helps. As does a yogurt. I don’t arise smiling and cheerful. I have to put that face on. But, put it on I do.

It never lasts long. Why? Because I am constantly forced to contend with the crazy, the ornery, the manipulative. It is difficult enough to have to wait on these types, but I also have to work with them. That’s tougher.

If I ignore them, they just try harder. If I fight back, they become contentious. If I smile, they bark louder. In the face of truth, they lie. When I play by their rules, they change them. I feel like I cannot win. When I do manage a win, it feels like a loss.

Worse than anything, though, is the exhaustion that I feel after dealing with these people day in and day out. It is beginning to affect my out-of-the-workplace attitude. I just come home and go to bed. I retreat. I eat too many donuts. I do not want to socialize. I do not want to converse.

I am certain that I am delightful to live with, to be around. Ha!

I know that I need a vacation. Two days off in a row might be nice, too. Neither one of these things is going to happen anytime soon, though. My kid’s college will not care how stressed out I am. They want their money. The grocery store, the gas station, the landlord? They want their money, too. I don’t blame them. After all, if I were them I would want it, too. I understand.

I know that I am lucky. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. Working the way that I do allows my family to stay financially afloat. I know this. I do not resent it. I am, in fact, grateful. They are, too.

There are days, though, that I just want to walk out of one or both jobs shouting as I go, “Take this job and shove it!”. I cannot do that. I will not do that. It would not make my life better. It would not bring me happiness. It would very likely make me one of those people who would be forced to share her miserable existence with the rest of humanity.

That I would have to do so from a cardboard box by the roadside while living out of a hobo bag, which might sound exciting and adventurous, would probably get very old very quickly. Plus, where would I plug in my blow dryer?

Instead, I will make the better choice, the more adult choice, the more electricity-friendly choice. I will enjoy my coffee and my yogurt. (And my blow dryer!) After that, I will slap a smile on my face and pretend that I do not want to run screaming into the night. Some days that’s the best anyone can do.

Misery may love company, but they won’t be getting mine.

Save the Introductions!

the annoying bar & grillsavetheintro


Recently I have noticed an “uptick” in folks introducing themselves to me when I come to the table. They must have read somewhere — probably on the internet — that this is a sure-fire way to create an atmosphere of instant camaraderie — one that will result in better service. Honestly, I just find it strange — and uncomfortable. Frankly, when people do this sort of thing, it makes me less inclined to want to interact with them or to give them better service.

The other day I had a table do this whole “Hi, I’m Bob. This is my wife, Mary, and my daughter, Alice. How are you today?” thing. My immediate reaction to this odd behavior is always to mumble something like, “Fine. I’m fine.” You’ll notice I do not add, “And you? How are you today?” Because I already know how you are today — and possibly every other day of your life — you’re weird.

I try very hard not to make any sort of eye contact with people like this, so as to discourage what I consider to be “too much, too soon” in the familiarity department. I always want to run for the hills before they try to tell me about Grandma — a woman who wisely opted out of lunching with these weirdos today. It is entirely possible that she used the old “my gout is acting up” excuse, but I would lay odds on the fact that she isn’t in attendance because she, too, finds them wacky. Go, Grandma!

This table didn’t want to talk about Grandma, though. No. They had something even better — and, yes, odder — up their sleeves. They showed me a picture of their dog. I, very seriously, thought to myself, “What the fuck is this about?”

It was apropos of nothing. I mean, no one — definitely NOT me — had mentioned anything even remotely canine-related prior to “Bob” pulling out his phone and showing me pictures of the stupid dog. I wanted to ask them what it was about me that made them think, “Oh, she looks like she would like to see a picture of our dog!” I will admit to taking a close look at the photo, which was mainly to see if I bore any sort of resemblance to “Fido” (or whatever his name was). Because that I reminded them, in some way, of their dog was the only reasonable explanation that I could come up with as to why a grown-ass man had decided that a perfect stranger might be interested in his personal life.

The dog was some sort of white, fluffy thing. Truly, and maybe I was just fooling myself, I did not see any resemblance between me and Fido whatsoever. (Okay, maybe a little around the eyes, but that was where it ended!) As intrigued as I was as to what prompted this guy to look at me and immediately whip out pictures of a fluffy, white dog, I refrained from asking him (or Mary or Alice) anything that was not business-related. I was afraid that doing so, engaging them in any kind of conversation at all, might lead them to think that I cared or, worse, to show me images of their parakeet, their cat or, who knows?, an area rug.

It was one o’clock in the afternoon — the height of the lunch rush. They were surrounded by tables that any idiot could see all belonged to me. They even commented that it was “pretty busy in here today”. So, yeah, they knew. And, yet, even though they could clearly see that I was busy, they thought that wasting my time with introductions and pictures of their dog was going to endear them to me?

It’s so wacky. It really is. The worst part, though, is that I had to stand there as they squandered my valuable time. I also have to pretend to care when I run up against people like this — about Grandma, the dog, the cat, or the area rug. This behavior is not even close to endearing, it is maddening.

I swear that people like this are frequent restaurant guests because they think that, as they pay our salaries, we have to put up with this kind of bullshit. I’ll tell you what? Tip me less, but keep your introductions (and the snapshots of your pets) to yourselves.