Tuesday, November 25, 2008

A Long Ride

I had a busy weekend, celebrating my anniversary, going to Princeville a couple of times, going to an open house in Chillicothe, a painting party in Bartonville,and going to the high school's musical (not the movie; my son's high school's musical where he was playing in the orchestra pit). Saturday night, it worked out that I would be in Bartonville near my son's friend who would be going to our house. T recently got his driver's license and later that night, would be driving my son, Big E, to Princeville. I decided I would have T take me home from Bartonville. Jennifer wondered if it would be awkward, riding with this kid who just got his license. I didn't think I should be sending my son with him if I wasn't comfortable riding with him; I told her it would be fine.

We didn't crash or anything, but it did turn out to be a little "awkward". As we pulled out of T's driveway, he said, "This is weird, usually you are driving me". So I joked that I would be critiquing his driving skills. I told him I am sure he is a very safe driver and was very comfortable riding with him.

After some silence, T asked "Do you like Fountains of Wayne?"
"I don't know, what do they sing?"
"Do you know the song 'Stacey's Mom'?"
"Umm, yes, it is OK."
T put in the CD. When "Stacey's Mom" came on, he said "Oh, here it is" and increased the volume and started singing along, "You know, I'm not the little boy that I used to be. I'm all grown up now, baby can't you see? Stacy's mom has got it goin' on. She's all I want and I've waited for so long"

And then, I think it dawned on him that this was a little strange. He looked at me kind of horrified, turned down the volume, and said "umm, just so you know, this is the only CD I have in this car."

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Weirdo Factor, Part 2

Sometimes weirdos are not really creepy; They are just weird. There is one customer who has been coming in every day for years. I think I will call him Neon because he often wears a reflective safety vest, because he rides a bicycle. I kind of feel bad even classifying him as a weirdo, because he is most likely mentally ill and probably can't help it that he is so weird.

He works for the hotel that is adjacent to The Strip Club. He takes out garbage for them and I often see him in the alley behind my work, where the hotel dumpsters are.

Neon talks a lot. He talks to himself or anyone who is near him and often makes no sense whatsoever. He thinks he is really smart and he is very opinionated. He likes to talk about politics, but listening to him talk is like listening to Sarah Palin. He will start off with a bold statement about something and then degenerate into fractionated sentences and eventually unintelligible muttering. I usually try to avoid talking to him because I can't figure out what the hell he is trying to say and I feel awkward not knowing how to respond to nonsense.

My back was hurting and there is spot behind the bar where I can kind of sit on a cooler. It is right next to where Neon stands, but I decided go ahead and have a seat for a minute. I started some small talk . "How are you? How's work? Did you have to be out in the cold much today?" So far so good. Then he said, "I broke up a gang fight".

Wow. I am wondering what happened out in the alley. Was there really a gang fight? Did I just miss it? So I asked him "When?"
"In 1994."
"OK? Where was this?"
"In Waukegan, IL."
"Oh, how did you break up the fight?"
"I called the police."
"Well, good for you, that was the right thing to do."

He started mumbling unintelligibly about the gang fight I guess, in 1994, and I kind of zoned out, still not wanting to get up, but not really wanting to take the effort to continue the conversation. Luckily the door guy came to the bar, so I could divert my attention and ask him what he needed. The last I had seen him, he had hurt his back, so I asked how his back was doing. He said it still hurt and Neon spoke up.

"I have some Ben Gay in my bag. I'll let you use it."

The door guy said, "No, thank you", and left. Neon stood there in silence for awhile, then said to me "I carry Ben Gay because I rub it on my boils."

So I walked away to the other side of the bar, where another everyday customer, hmm, I'll call him Red, was sitting. Red sometimes gets a kick out of my interactions with Neon. Once, Neon threw an empty water bottle behind the bar, trying to make it in the garbage, but missed. So I picked it up, and jokingly said "Did you throw this at me?" and threw it back at him. Neon apologized profusely, calling me maam a lot. I felt bad, but Red thought it was hysterical. So I lamented to Red how hard it is to carry on a conversation with Neon and told him about the Ben Gay and the boils. Red said, "Maybe he has a speech impediment, and he really rubs it on his balls." So I laughed, but really that would not be beyond the realm of possibility.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Weirdo Factor (Part 1?)

Ring Ring
"Thank you for calling The Strip Club, This is Secret Server, may I help you?"
"Yes, Secret Server, I have a question for you. I might be bringing some buddies in for lunch, and we were wondering, can you wear hats in there?"
"Good question caller, we do have some hat rules. We do not allow stocking caps. Other hats are allowed, but baseball caps have to face forward." (Honest to god truth, this is the rule.)
"OK, so we can wear baseball caps, as long as they are facing the front?"
"OK, I'll see you later"
Ummm, yes, I'm looking forward to it. Who calls ahead to ask about hats, would he have changed his mind and not come in if he had to remove his hat??

A little while later, Ring Ring
"Thank you for calling The Strip Club, This is Secret Server, may I help you?"
same caller as before- "Yes, Secret Server, how are you doing?"
"Fine, Thank you"
"Well, I have a question for you, I don't want to take up too much of your time, but I was thinking about coming in, and I hope you're not too busy, because I just want to ask you a quick question, I appreciate you talking to me, because I was wondering something and wanted to ask you a question"
"OK! What's your question?!?"
"Is H working today?"
"No, H is not working today"
"Oh, well I thought she was"
"Well, she is not here"
"Well, is she coming in later?"
"I don't know" (We are not supposed to give out dancers' schedules for their own protection, in case some weirdo is stalking them in some fashion, but sometimes customers get really upset and offended if you say that. "Well, I just wanted to come spend some money on her, but if I don't know when she is working, well she's losing out on money if you don't tell me". I try to avoid saying "we are not allowed to tell you her schedule")
"Can you find out?"
"No, I am behind the bar and I have customers waiting"
"Hmmm, well, ....OK...ummm....well, I was wondering... ummmm"
"Well, nevermind, I'll talk to you about it later."

So, a while later, a guy approached the bar with a huge grin on his face and told me he has spoken to me twice today, do I remember?
Ummm, Hat Guy?
He turned his hat around backwards and started giggling.
He said he has something to talk about but wants to order lunch first, so after looking over the menu, he ordered a Build Your Own Wrap "Tell the cook to put whatever is good on it".

He kept alluding to wanting to talk to me about something. He giggled a lot. I was washing some glasses and he got up and walked over to me to tell me anything he asks me, I can ask him the same thing. WTF? Does this man think we are playing some sort of game? When his lunch arrived he said he couldn't eat it because there was a naked girl on stage, even though he was facing the bar with his back to the stage.

Basically, something about this guy creeped me out. Talking to some friends about something unrelated, we were discussing how some of us are very trusting and think the world is full of good people, whereas some of us are suspicious and guarded. I am the former type. I know am too naive and sometimes trust people I shouldn't. So I guess when *I* have alarm bells going off, it is so unusual, it really gets my attention.

Luckily, his wife called him home, or so he said. I threw away his untouched food and went about my business. Later the door guy paged me and said I had a phone call on line 1.
"Hey, Secret Server, it is me. I wanted to call and tell you you have really given me a lot to think about. I came in the with some questions and I didn't really get any of them answered, but my mind is thinking and thinking. I mean really, I will probably write a book. Do you want me to change your name?"
"Seriously, I think you should write a book, or I'll write a book, so seriously if I write a book, do you want me to change your name?"
"Uh, yes?"

I called the door guy and said, "If that guy calls back, tell him I'm not available, or tell him, I can't take phone calls, ever."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Darn, no more bathroom cleaning at sub -legal wages for me

I am done working at The Bar. I tried to give my two, three, four week notice, but was told to finish out the weekend, then be done. Friday morning I had called the business office to ask to speak to either owner and left a message for either owner to call me back. A called me and was very nice and understanding. When I got to work that afternoon, J was upset that I had talked to A first. He had an odd attitude and it was awkward working all weekend.

I wish them the best and all success. I will see about adjusting my schedule at The Strip Club. There may be some interesting times ahead there. And I have never been asked to clean a toilet.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I'm Kreativ, and requesting photos of scantily clad bloggers

I got this award from Katie, at Notes From the Trailerhood. It is so pretty and makes me feel like a real blogger, with real people who read my blog. Thanks, Katie! I guess the award comes with rules-
The rules:
(1) List six things that make you happy
(2) Pass the award on to 6 more kreativ bloggers
(3) Link back to the person who gave you the award
(4) Link to the people you are passing it on to and leave them a comment to let them know.
(5) Request scantily clad photos of your blogger friends of the opposite sex.

I don’t know six more kerativ bloggers who haven’t already been tagged, and I’m not sure I am comfortable asking people I don’t know to do something that has rules. So I am skipping the part about passing it on to 6 more bloggers. I noticed that everyone else is skipping the part about requesting pictures, so I don’t feel too bad about skipping a part. I’m not going to shy away from requesting scantily clad blogger photos though. Heck, I’ll even extend the request to bloggers of the same sex. If anyone wants to send me some photos, I will be happy to give you kreativ kommentary.
Six things that make me happy-
1) My family. I love spending time with my family. My wedding anniversary is coming up soon, and it makes me happy that I am still very in love with my husband. Our kids are wonderful and make me very happy. It is rewarding having Grandma live with us. I love my little brothers and cherish time spent with them. I love our animal family members too.
2) My friends. Jennifer puts a smile on my face every day. My other friends are all wonderful too and I value each one of them and how they support me.
3) Food porn. I love food bloggers and spend way too much time looking at what other people are doing in their kitchens with toys I don’t have, and fantasizing about techniques I’ve never tried. I spend hours ogling seductive pictures on foodgawker and fancy rolling fondant. (yes, Jennifer, foodgawker makes me think naughty things. I’m coming out as fondant curious.)
4) Clearance stickers at Krogers. I can spot these out of the corner of my eye an isle away.

5) Successfully cooking something delicious. This especially makes me happy when everyone in my family likes it too. Tonight’s delight was inspired from too much milk in my fridge from being tempted by too many orange clearance stickers- chocolate pudding. Yum.
6) Balderdash. I love that game.

Wow, I could go on and on. It’s kind of like being thankful at Thanksgiving, which also makes me happy. Thanks, Katie for asking me to stop and think about things that make me happy.

Friday, November 7, 2008

An Old Leaf for the old restaurant- some things just aren't changing

I hadn't been to work at The Bar since last Friday. I could see at the top of the stairs there were a lot of black marks all over the floor. WTF? Maybe someone spilled something? And it just got smeared around? K says, "hey, glad you're here, they need me to work downstairs". OK. I went behind the bar and opened the fruit tray to find moldy fruit. Hmmm, we had been open two hours; did the citrus fruit get moldy in that time? Or maybe it is just left over from last night? Or last week?

I went to check on a group in the back of the room, to find a group of drunk guys grinding Chex mix into the carpet. The carpet was also where they were depositing the shrimp tails. Gross. Gross. Gross. They wanted a round of drinks and seemed unhappy that I wanted to get the shrimp off the carpet. I made small talk and repeated their orders back to them while picking up the shrimp tails with napkins (I have a seafood phobia.) "Can we get our drinks now? Oh, and some more shrimp?" I brought the drinks, the shrimp, and a bowl to put the tails in, and told them, politely, that is what it was for. Luckily, they went downstairs after that round, and I spent more time cleaning more shrimp off the floor.

I cut up some fresh fruit, waited on a few more customers in the course of the next 5 hours. I made $8 in cash. We don't get our credit card tips immediately. In fact, I think we might not get them at all. I have been asking about getting tips from two weeks ago, but that money isn't ready yet. So, last night, B brought me some tips with post it notes saying 10-30, 10-31. I thanked him and told him that I still hadn't received any money from 10-23 or 10-24. Well there isn't any more money. I need to talk to J about it. But I couldn't leave the bar upstairs, so I wrote J a note and asked B to take it to him. "Oh, he'll be up soon. You can talk to him then". Nope. J left and the other employees are complaining about not getting tip money either.

So I was finally able to start cleaning, getting ready to close. Our vacuum was broken, so I attacked ground in Chex mix with a broom and got most of it out, working up a sweat. In the bathrooms there were no garbage bags in the cans, so I emptied the trash into bags, and put fresh bags in. The sinks and mirrors looked like they hadn't been cleaned in a week, so I cleaned those. There was a big pool of partially fresh, partially dried urine under the urinal that was fun to clean. I polished the crystal, polished the glass bar, mopped the floor. B came up and told me we had a new vacuum. Yay, now I can vacuum the carpet to make sure I got all the Chex mix.

I left with $8. Oh, and a $10 tip on a credit card. Maybe I will get that in a couple weeks.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Celebrate (or mourn) the Election with Champagne! and a Knife!

I know a little bar trick. That’s really all it is, except rather than playing with quarters and cigarettes, it involves a big knife and expensive champagne. “Sabre a champagne!” A corked bottle of champagne is sliced neatly across the neck. Technically, it’s not the best way to open a bottle if you want to preserve the quality of the champagne. (It should be opened as quietly, with as little ‘pop’ as possible.) But it is really cool.

By calling it a bar trick, I don’t want to imply that I take it too lightly and run around wielding knives and chopping bottles without regard for safety. I’ve actually done hours of research and practice. Maybe I will write a post of all the details of how to do this and the alleged traditions of ‘the art’. But this post is about a particular story from my work and how maybe I don’t know as much about the practice as I thought I did.

I first became intrigued by this after watching Stephen, on Top Chef Season 1, do this on the show a few times. I learned how and practiced on cheap champagne and sparkling juice. The first time I did it in public was with a bottle of Cristal on A’s birthday. This was an EXPENSIVE bottle of champagne and I was pretty nervous, but at this time, I was not really happy working for him, and thought, “what the hell, if the bottle explodes, that’s the kind of thing I want to get fired (sued) for”. The glass popped clean, the crowd ooohed and aaahed and I have been doing this ever since. I’ve done it for the mayor; I’ve done it at a wedding; I’ve done three bottles right in a row at a PAWS fundraiser. Some bottles sliced more clean and straight than others, but overall, there were no major disasters, like I’ve seen on the YouTube. Until last weekend.

A’s friend (and competing strip club owner) was at the new bar with a date. A’s attorney joined them by the fireplace. Our other owner, J, had just gotten off the phone with A and had told him his friends were here. A wanted to buy them a bottle of Dom Perignon and wanted me to saber it for them. I put the bottle in ice, went to the kitchen and couldn’t really find a knife as heavy as I like to use. One of the guests needed to go to the restroom. Then another. So I am just standing there waiting for everyone to return (that’s what J told me to do.) So finally, all eyes on me, I take the knife to the bottle, slide it up the seam to the neck, and instead of a sexy little “pop”, there was an awful crack as the top two thirds of the bottle went flying across the room as a jagged, deadly projectile. Champagne was everywhere, all over me, the carpet, the guests. I am left holding the bottom third of a bottle of Dom in one hand and a shaking knife in the other. I asked if everyone was OK and walked away holding back tears, humiliated, as J got another bottle and opened it in the more traditional, less deadly, manner. A arrived, looked at the bisected bottle lying on the bar and moved the party downstairs.

I awaited my fate by emptying the remaining champagne into a pint glass and downing it. (I KNOW that the force of the champagne blows any glass shards outward so I wasn’t really worried, but in my mind, I was thinking maybe drinking glass would be preferable to A’s wrath. Maybe they would have to rush me to the hospital sputtering blood and then, when I got fired, the pain would be deadened by pain killers.) Eventually, the party, now increased by many members, returned and A acted as if nothing was wrong. I waited on them without crying or spilling anything or breaking anything else. At the end of the evening A called me a goddess and left me a very generous tip, as did his friends whom I had almost decapitated earlier in the evening.

So I feel confused. I have seen A fire people for standing with their hands crossed or for using the restroom mid-shift. I’m not sure why he reacted without ire. I am confused about why the bottle did react with ire. Maybe it had gotten too warm, maybe my knife wasn’t heavy enough, maybe I just made a mistake. I need to do some experimenting with different knife angles, different brands and bottle temperatures. I need to gather a group of people who want to consume a large amount of champagne and aren’t afraid of a little potential flying glass. Any volunteers?