Posts Tagged ‘work’

Boring and Loving It

February 13, 2007

Aaron travels a lot for his job. While I could explain to you what he actually does to earn a living, for the purpose of this story it’s easier for me just to say that he talks on the phone a lot and yells at people who work under him. Most weeks that means a two hour commute to and from his corporate headquarters in Burbank, but lately it involves visiting bizarre and seemingly random places. One week it was Chicago, another Reno, and this week he’s in Toledo, Ohio. Due to his incredibly busy schedule these trips are very draining, and most nights he can’t get much more than a few hours sleep. Despite the fact that my schedule is far from busy and far from stressful, I find that I’m getting even less sleep than he is.

I’m trying very hard to stay productive, whether it be cleaning the apartment, visiting friends, or teaching myself to cook (it’s not working,) Unfortunately I find it nearly impossible to do these things during daylight hours. Every night at the stroke of twelve I magically transform from a sloth into Alice from ‘The Brady Bunch.’ Doing laundry, reading about recipes online: anything worth doing gets done when everyone else I know is sleeping.

Hamburger helper

I find this terribly relaxing, and even fun. Without Aaron around to distract me I can really get to work, living my late-night dreams of scrubbing bathroom tile and baking blueberry muffins. Even when I was a single man-whore I never stayed up so late; at least then I had a job to wake up to in the morning. Quitting Macaroni Grill a month ago was one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done — so much so that I can’t find a good reason to go back to work.

Oddly enough, when my internship ended I was having the exact opposite reaction. Without steady income I was moody, erratic and all of the terrible things that I normally am (only moreso!) A job, even a lame one like serving pasta to the masses, coulld not have come too soon. Ironically it was Aaron who was unhappy about me finding work, fearing that it would cut into our weekend getaways and spontaneous trips. He was right, and our little adventures are now few and far between. Now I’m getting weekends off for the first time in a year, and all he has the energy to do is watch me cook him tacos for dinner.

In all liklihood boredom is going to be what pushes me over the edge and back into the job market, it’s only a matter of time. Sure my savings will dry up eventually, but I find that I’m saving all kinds of money by cooking for myself. Hamburger Helper is the new love of my life. In fact, I think I have prepared it for dinner at least four times in the past week. Who can possibly resist such a delicious product, especially when it has a friendly, anthropomorphic kitchen glove on the box?

Eating a pound of ground beef by myself is getting tiresom, and if I have to live like this much longer I don’t know what I will do. Until I figure that out the next step in my life, though, chances are the highlight of my day is still going to be my midnight supply runs to Wal-Mart.

Your Jedi Mind Tricks Will Not Work On Me

January 6, 2007

I answered a lot of phone calls at my Los Angeles internship at Dark Horse Entertainment. Often this also involved taking messages for people who wanted to speak to my boss Chris. If, for some reason a person were to call wanting to speak to his boss, Dark Horse Comics President Mike Richardson, I would transfer them to Chris and he would take care of it personally.

Even though we were a small independent production office, 90 percent of the phone calls we received were people looking for some kind of job. Even people who you would assume already had a job, people whose names you would recognize, called on a somewhat regular basis looking for work and trying to sell their latest projects. If someone called specifically to do so, regardless of who they were, the appropriate action was to take a message and have Chris or Mike call them back at their convenience.

Formerly attractive

On one day a particularly eventful phone call came in. I put down whatever I was doing at the time (most like an AIM conversation or reading through back issues of Hellboy) and answered the phone in my typical friendly fashion:

“Hello, Dark Horse Entertainment.”

“Yes… I need to speak to Mike.”

The voice sounded strangely familiar, and it took only a second to recognize it. Holy Crap. Mark Hamill was on the phone!

You’re probably wondering how I knew it was Mark Hamill. First of all, I’ve seen every episode of ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ and could recognize his voice instantly. Also, he sounded like someone who used to be incredibly attractive, famous and popular (as opposed to someone who currently is.) Who else could it be but Mark Hamill?

After a few seconds of silent awe, I realized that both Mike and Chris were in the middle of a meeting. I would have to take a message. This seems like a simple task, but in my world it’s always the things like this that end up with disastrous results.

“I’m very sorry, sir. Mike is in a meeting right now. May I take a message?”

“No. I need to speak to him now. This is Mark Hamill.”

“I’m sorry, Mr. Hamill. I’ll have to take a message. Mike is unavailable.”

It was at this point I realized how much it must suck to be Mark Hamill. At one time he probably could have gotten a private audience with The Pope, and now some college intern is making him leave a message. Once again I reasserted my dominance, only further upsetting the guy. After asking a fourth time to leave a message, Mark Hamill shouted an expletive and hung up on me. I laughed at the absurdity of the situation, and went back to killing time in a more entertaining way. About an hour later Chris walked up to my deck and asked if anyone had called while they were in the meeting.

Yeah, Luke Skywalker called and he was pissed.

In Search of Bro: Part 2

November 24, 2006

“Bro” isn’t exactly a new term to me. I grew up in the late 80’s/early90’s when California surf culture was thriving. Once bizarre words such as “Gnarly,” “Tubular,” or “Awesome,” became everyday slang for much of the country, and “Bro” found its way into the American vernacular. When I think of “Bro” it’s that image, a shaggy-haired surfer and a neon green board that pops into my head.

Others think of “Bro” as being a shortened version of “Brother,” which brings forth images of African-Americans, or perhaps just a beatnik or two. Johnny, the monster who had failed to address in the first place, didn’t seem to fit any of these stereotypes. He was just one of the countless Abercrombie and Fitch rejects who paraded around my hometown in their raised trucks and eXtreme* attitude.

Bro

After sharing my story with other servers at the restaurant I began to learn a lot about the associations others make with the word “Bro.” For most it is merely a generic synonym for “Dude,” but in some cases it carries a very specific and (some would say) vicious meaning.

Rather than try to explain it myself, I thought I’d let Wikipedia do it. The fact that Wikipedia had an entry devoted to such things amuses me to no end.

Bro, or Flatbiller, is a synonym for a member of a Southern California subculture. The subculture is primarily centered around Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside County, San Diego, and San Bernardino…

…Bros tend to operate lifted trucks and have a large sticker or design on the back window of their truck. They wear flat-billed hats turned to the side or bent up and talk about dirt bikes (usually accompanied by tattoos and/or stretched ears). These gentlemen with a rough-exterior warmheartedly refer to each other as “Bro” and partake in drinking and proving their masculinity by means of riding bikes or fighting, although they usually back down after being threatened. An average Bro is a Construction worker or unemployed…”

I wasn’t aware that these young men I was surrounded with all shared a label. They’re like a gang, only terribly disorganized, non-threatening, and borderline stupid. The worst part is that in ten years they will all be running the state when they inherit family businesses.

When he greeted the new trainee was he simply acknowledging the presence of an equal? Being so different from the two was I perceived not to be a threat, and therefore not worth talking to in the first place?

While I may never know, I did learn more about Bros than I once thought possible. Next time I’m just going to admit to myself that nobody likes me and deal with it.

*eXtreme is a term I use to describe people who buy their “attitude” from a skateboard shop.

In Search of Bro: Part One

November 23, 2006

At work today I decided to make a motivated effort to speak to the latest trainees at the Macaroni Grill. Turnover is terrible in pretty much any job I could get at this point, but there things seem to get progressively worse as time goes on. My poor restaurant is violently understaffed, which only serves to foster a whole slew of problems. As a result, the only people I bother to speak to are the more experienced ones, and have created good working relationships with all of them.

Anyway, Johnny, a fellow server, had entered the restaurant while I was speaking to the trainee, and, as it turns out, was running quite late. He was just about to rush past us when he made eye contact with the trainee.

“What’s up, bro?” he asked, giving the newcomer a “high five.”

Despite being interrupted, I bit my tongue and waited patiently for the exchange to end. Johnny and I are on good terms, or so I thought, there was no reason to cause trouble over something as minor as being interrupted.

Unfortunately it did not stop there, for it was what he didn’t do next that drove me over the edge. Johnny simply walked away and proceeded to clock into the computer without even bothering to greet me. The nerve!

Where was my “high five?” What had I done to him that would cause him to disrespect me so? Hurt and offended, my first instinct was to call Johnny out on it. This was not about him not greeting me, it could have been anyone. I don’t care. This was about the only thing I truly cared about: The Principle.

When confronted about the issue, Johnny was quick to apologize for anything he had done to upset me, even offering me a “special high-five” as condolence. By then (80 seconds later) it was too late to repair the damage that easily, and my keen, analytical mind began to try and decipher the reasons as to why I was slighted. Seeing as his greet consisted of only three words there was very little to decipher, so it was easy for me to determine that the conclusion to his three-pronged attack was key.

“‘Bro?’ What exactly is a ‘Bro'” I asked myself, “And why aren’t I one?”

Come back for the second part of my investigation tomorrow, when things take a surprising turn!

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German Chocolate Cake

November 14, 2006

Despite of the fact that they’re very demanding, have difficulty reading menus, don’t order very much, and rarely tip, I love waiting on senior citizens. If it were up to me, I’d wait on the elderly all day long. In fact, I’ve begun to seriously consider a career in Senior Care.

Anyway, I was serving at work (as I’m known to do) when an elderly couple entered the restaurant. It wasn’t very busy at the moment, so I pounced on them to make sure I would get the table first. They were very friendly, but after speaking to the couple for a moment, it was obvious that English was not their first language.

Red Triangle

Like so many other people whose first language was not English, they ordered a bottle of red wine, and took their sweet time before figuring out what to eat for lunch. This didn’t bother me, as I was too distracted by my QuickCross puzzle to pay much attention to anything else.

The woman outstretched her arm as I handed her a glass of wine. It was then when I noticed a number and a letter written faintly on her wrist, as if it were in pen.

“Huh,” I thought to myself, “I wonder why this person wrote all over her–”

Oh. Oh.

There is some German blood in me, but my family line has no connection to Nazi Germany whatsoever. Even so, I still feel a tremendous amount of guilt when I’m confronted by reminders of The Holocaust, whether it be visiting the Museum of Tolerance or watching a Mel Brooks film.

After taking the couple’s order, I decided to do everything that I could for these people. Today I was no longer satisfied with providing them a decent meal and good service, no; my plan was far greater. Today I would make up for the horrors of genocide using the tools provided to me by Romano’s Macaroni Grill!

Given the lackluster tools provided to me by Romano’s Macaroni Grill this proved more than difficult, so (as usual) I had to rely on the greatest tool of them all — myself. Also: lying to get free food for the customers.

Many glasses of wine, a meal and a chocolate cake later the lovely couple finally began to lose interest in my Italian eatery. They thanked me profusely, and left just as quickly as they had entered.

As they left, I admired what I did for them while staring at their bill. All over it were smiley faces I had drawn as a last-ditch effort to make things right.

I’m sorry your family was probably murdered by Nazis, but I hope you were still able to enjoy the dessert.

Elbow, Macaroni

October 28, 2006

There is a growing concern from management that I’m rude and unhappy at work. While there is no evidence to support this, I think this image of me being so negative is preventing me from moving up in the server world as a bartender or trainer. Every time the idea of promotion is brought up my fellow servers seem incredibly supportive, but management just rolls their eyes and promises that they will ‘keep me posted.’

Since I’m not even sure I want to move up in the server world, it’s the principle of this that bothers me the most.  I have tried on multiple occasions explaining to them that I’m only rude to rude people, and only outwardly unhappy to my co-workers and management (which is for good reason, since most of them are tools.) Simple logic is lost here, though, and I doubt they will ever be able to understand the fascinating and multi-faceted person I am.

A promise example of this is earlier this afternoon. It was about 3 in the afternoon, and during the early afternoon we don’t have a hostess scheduled to greet customers. I was speaking to the bartender, away from the entrance when a pair of foreign gentlement entered. I say ‘foreign’ because I’m unsure of their ethnicity, and also because it might explain what happened next.

Rather than wait at the front of the restaurant to be directed to a table they walked up and down the aisles until they found one they like, and sat themself. Nobody else seemed to have notice this; I took it upon myself to move the two to an area of the Macaroni Grill where someone would actually be able to serve them (as opposed to in a remote corner.) I walked up to the men, and, feigning ignorance, asked them if they had already been helped.

‘We helped ourselves!’ One laughed, failing to understand how the proccess of sitting in a restaurant actually works. Even at Denny’s a hostess or server will assign you to a table, anyone who tries to bypass this simple step is breaking an unspoken rule among restaurant patrons. Before I could ask them to move somewhere more appropriate, our General Manager swooped in to interrupt me and greeted the two. He then orders another server to take care of the two men, and asks to speak to me in private:

‘Don’t get so mad at them,’ I’m told, ‘It’s not the end of the world if they sit themselves.’

Yes it is! What if they start cooking the food themselves? Then we’re all out of a job.

So that’s that the gist of it. Apparently me getting ready to move the two was an act of war. ‘The customer is always right’ is not an excuse; even at Disneyland we knew when to tell someone what they were doing was wrong, and those people paid 50 dollars a head to get enter through the gates! In order to give our guests a proper experience, they need to play by our rules. Our rules include being sat by us, as opposed to wherever the heck they want. Next time I eat out I’m just going to take a table of my choosing, and see what the reaction is then. Of course, this is only a minor complain, but it represents my issue with the management pretty well. I have a headache right now just thinking about the whole thing, which is kind of a relief, seeing as it takes my mind off of some unbearable elbow pain.

My rights elbow hurts tremendously right now. So much so that I left work early because of it. As far as I know I haven’t crashed it into anything, and given the fact that I’m left-handed this injury isn’t because of overuse. First it began to sting when I extended it, but it nows hurt tremendously whenever I move it at all. Co-workers have suggested I pulled a set of muscles (which would make sense, given where the pain is located) but if it hurts in the morning I’m going to the hospital. I. don’t. do. pain.

I’m fully aware that many people (women for one) have to deal with pain on a regular basis, but it is not the norm for me. In all of my years I have managed to avoid broken bones or other major injuries — in fact, the only surgery I’ve ever had was an appendicitis in the fourth grade. In fact, if the world were filled with people like me, nobody would ever go through the torture of childbirth and life would end on Earth as we know it.

I’m a wimp, a baby and a coward. When I hurt I expect everyone to drop what they are doing and shower me in attention and presents.

Vino-Saurus Rex

October 26, 2006

In honor of Macaroni Grill’s 100 millionth glass of house wine (‘vino’) being sold, every Tuesday this month we are offering the stuff for just $1.99! While the idea certainly seems like something that would attract bargain hunters and alcoholics, Tuesdays are as just boring and dead as ever. Once again my restaurant is failing to excite the masses.

Wine

Worse yet, those few guests who do visit the restaurant are completely ignorant of the sale, or don’t drink. Selling alcohol is a surefire way to increase sales and tips overall, so it has become everyone’s personal mission to sell as much of the stuff as they possibly can. Management (who is still as inept, thanks for asking) is attempting to motivate us even further with incentives based on how much wine we sell. While at one point in the competition the prospect of a gondola ride (or whatever the grand prize is) had people genuinely focused on selling wine, a month later the great divide between our strong salespeople and the weak ones has made itself clear.

I’m happily somewhere in the middle with about 150 glasses sold in the past month: I’m nowhere near leading the contest (the number one seller has about 500 glasses under his belt) but I’m not in danger of getting reprimanded for being unmotivated, for once. Selling something is as easy as asking someone if they want it. People are easily influenced, so merely suggesting a drink or entrée to a customer usually ends in them ordering it.

This is also true elsewhere in the sales industry. Aaron once bought a junk refrigerator because the salesperson told them it was ‘better’ than any other model in the store. Of course, they didn’t even bother to explain why it was better before Aaron pulled out his checkbook and started asking about home delivery.

At the Macaroni Grill all of our tables are covered in butcher paper so the guests can write on them with crayons we provide. Being the lover of crayons that I am, I think this is one of the cooler things they offer. Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you like tacked on advertising) the servers are now required to write advertising slogans all over the empty tablecloths. The idea is that a guest will sit down at the table, see a wine slogan on it, and begin to order drinks with reckless abandon. In reality it doesn’t quite work like this, and more often than not I get comments not related to the wine, but the fact that the table has writing all over it.

Since forcing these slogans onto the masses is required for the time being, I have taken it upon myself to be creative with the ones I do write. When all else fails, use alliteration:

  • Vino, Las Vegas
  • Vino, to the eXtreme
  • Vino-Saurus Rex
  • Vino-Licious
  • Vino, for Vendetta
  • Vino Victorious
  • Vino, Viti, Vici

Word Games

September 22, 2006

I’ve been obsessed with word games lately.

Crossworld: One Man's Journey into America's Crossword Obsession

That’s not to say there was ever a time in my life where I wasn’t interested in word games, but over the Summer things have gotten much, much worse. It was during July’s family reunion cruise when I picked up a copy of Marc Romano’s ‘Crossworld,’ a quirky and interesting read about the history and current state of America’s crossword puzzle scene.

Yes, America has a crossword puzzle scene and yes, I read a book about it.

Anyway, crosswords are generally too difficult and time-consuming for me, so my games of choice are USA Today’s Quick Cross and Up & Down Words. I usually play these at work, where the slow autumn shifts give me an exorbitant amount of time to fill between waiting on tables. What I enjoy most about them is that they are short, sweet, and trivia based, which is a speciality fo mine.

Every so often the references are incredibly dated, and I have to ask around for help. On more than one occasion I’ve asked my tables for help with a certain word clue, and the guests seem more amused by this than anything else.

Surprisingly, my love of the USA Today puzzles has spread onto my co-workers. Each day the complimentary newspapers the Macaroni Grill receives are torn to pieces, with every server taking a copy of the puzzles section for themselves.

I have a feeling this is going to get me into trouble down the line with my managers, but as far as I can tell they’re just upset that they aren’t smart enough to solve the puzzles themselves.

Try them for yourselves online!

USA TODAY Quick Cross

USA TODAY Up & Down Words

Sniglets

August 25, 2006

Remember sniglets?  Do you have any favorites?  Have you ever made up your own word?  (Now’s as good a time as any.)

I really had no idea what a Sniglet was until I looked it up as reference for this question. Hm

One word I have taken credit for is Passhole (Noun,) A ‘passhole’ is a DIsneyland Annual Passholder who feel that their own personal enjoyment of the park takes priority over that of everyone else, and abuses their knowledge of Disney theme parks to do so. These include people who know which kind of faked injuries can get them onto rides through the exit, and where to wait several hours in advance to get a perfect seat for shows and parades.

My least favorite passhole has to be a middle-aged African-American man and his pre-teen son. They were coming through The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh looking for secret ‘Hidden Mickeys’ inside of the attraction. I told them where one of them was, and jokingly said that if I told them the rest they wouldn’t be ‘hidden.’ Confused, the two boarded their ride vehicle and that was the last I saw of them…

Until I was summoned by my supervisor that day to hear that the man and his child were ‘distraught’ about the entire situation. Although my supervisor was annoyed he had to deal with the guests at all, he understood how my comment might be misinterpreted by someone who obviously wasn’t too bright in the first place.

Weeks later I was working the same attraction one night when I saw the two of them once again. It was at that point that I saw the lanyards around their necks, from which their annual passes proudly hung. Fortunately the passholes didn’t seem to recognize me, and bothered one of my co-workers with the same exact question that had caused me so much grief.