Sunday, October 30, 2005

Let's ride with the family down the street...

Through the courtesy of Fred's two feet!

After hurricane Wilma, that is practically neccesary! My sister down in Tamarac sent these pics of her neighborhood, hours after the storm had passed. She is still without power as is my father. They have to wait in lines for hours in order to get gas to power up their generator, and must fill only gas cans or cars, not both. She says that the power lines in her neighborhood are exactly as they are pictured today.

Ma Nature is in control. No foolin!

This tree took a giant shit...

As did these ones...

My sister wonders why there isn't wall to wall coverage and long lists of people donating for their disaster. My Dad's girlfriend wants her FEMA card. I just had to laugh! My Dad's place took some damage, destroying his Florida room and very nearly tearing off his roof. My sisters place didn't suffer anything other than the partial loss of their orange tree, though her two next-door neighbors suffered extensive damage to their houses and yards.

There's no stoppin...

The Cretins from hoppin! Cretin Hop, The Ramones

Well here is my baby-bro and his crew last night as nice as these guys have looked in a while, I am sure. They are training up, getting in newbies by the boatload, and in the meantime, had a little time to get dressed up. The baby-bro/Questing Cat isn't looking at the camera, second from the right.

Or maybe he just can't keep his eyes open? Hopefully the Big Red 1 won't be going anywhere that is too sandy in the near future! If they did go back, maybe he would write again...

Thursday, October 27, 2005

When I met you in the restaurant

You could tell I was no debutante... Dreaming, Blondie

So I am working one day in the big bar/restaurant and in comes two guys and a girl. They come over to the corner of our bar and order three of the giant 32 oz. beers, and happily start drinking. Mind you this is at around 6pm on a Friday, they are dressed in office attire, and look to be having a happy hour. VERY ordinary people for this area of town, even attractive if you will. Well the girl starts shamelessly flirting with Noah and I and it is becoming increasingly obvious that she is pretty drunk. Drunk, but coherent and having a good time so we think. Ok, just keep an eye on her as she is like 5'3" and a soaking wet 115 lbs. Well guess who is finished first with her 32 ozs. of beer? Yup. Hey Noah, I love the way that you pour...can I have another beer? Hey JCL, I love your little sideburns. Can I have some more beer? Noah turns around to hand her a beer, and she is gone and the two dudes she was with are cracking up, rolling, tears welling in their eyes. As we start to ask where did she "disappear" to, it is evident that she has just slipped off of her stool into a drunken pile of passed out mush on the bar rail underneath the bar. NOT the way to impress your manager at the start of a busy Friday night! This type of thing always pissed off "Mr Burns" the annoying night manager, but all we did was serve her a single beer. It turned out that we were their last stop and that they had been drinking since leaving work just after lunch, making their way down to the river, which we were right next to.

Then there was this other time that I was managing at this crappy Tex-Mex place. It had been an uneventful shift at this dead restaurant, and one that was drawing to a close. That is when one of the waitstaff comes running up to me as I am in the office. "JCL, you better come quick, someone is vomiting all over the smoking section!" Oh crap. Sure enough, there is a woman in there probably 40, a little trashy but otherwise normal looking except for the fact that she has evacuated the contents of her stomach onto the floor of the smoking section. She is the only one in there (phew), and she REEKS of tequila, bad tex-mex and vomit. She is barely coherent, nearing alcohol poisoning. FUCK! Can you respond? Can you hear me? What is your name? She is barely in control, but I make a judgment call and decide against calling an ambulance. She is just LOADED. That is when "Soweta," a Somali server "with zero wait experience and was hired simply because when she applied, she put that she was ready to work any hours, and on any day and was willing to learn the ropes" enters the room. At these types of restaurants (think chains with many entrees for less than $10) the caliber of new hires is greatly reduced. Suweta has a look of concern on her face, and asks where's the guy that she was with? She appears to not even care about the vomit all over the floor. Soweta has a check in her hands with 24 shots of tequila on it along with 2 orders of fajitas. TWENTY-FOUR!! The check is for over $150, and now I have a missing man, a vomiting woman, and a stupid server. I turn to Soweta and ask her "How could you serve someone 24 shots of tequila?" Soweta responds, "they asked me for them?" I tell her, "Soweta, you can't serve ANYONE, even your best friend a dozen shots of tequila. Didn't it occur to you that this would happen? They could get sick, they could even die?" Her response was classic: "Good." Me: "WHAT?!" She shrugs her shoulders, and matter-of-factly tells me "Well I don't drink. If they wanted to kill themselves with alcohol, then I will let them." Incredulously, I ask "Don't you remember in those classes and training about serving people who were drunk? That they were not to be served anything other than food?" Her excuse? "I am a Muslim, and I feel like if they want to kill themselves with alcohol, then I will let them." This was 1996. The dude was never found, the chick walked off somewhere, the bill was never paid and had to be comped, and Soweta went to work in a video store. We also had to write up the bartender (who was like 60, and had worked there for like 20 years) who hadn't noticed that he had poured 24 shots over the course of two hours for the same damn two top.

Then there are the bachelorette parties. Most come in starting around 10pm, and are often already roaring drunk. The "bride-to-be" usually has the fake veil, and often has a t-shirt made up for the night. I have seen this one numerous times: A t-shirt with candies stitched to it, placed strategically along with types of shots. "Buttery Nipple" is written right on one of her boobs, with a hersheys kiss stitched there. The guy who buys her a buttery nipple is supposed to eat the candy that he removes...You get the picture. The bartenders job is to shamelessly flirt and proposition the bride to be, tell her how hot she is and how lame it is that she is "off the market." I know that I have told everyone here that I have always been crushingly shy, and that is true. For some reason or another, it is minimized while behind a bar. Noah on the other hand, is anything but shy. He is loud and funny, obnoxious and charming all at the same time. People had often commented that we made a great pair because I was the straight guy to his wild man. I was Dean Martin, Noah the Jerry Lewis. So we are playing it up one night with a group of these girls, and Noah decides that the perfect drink for this bride to be is the "blowjob." Weak drink, fun to see. For those uninitiated, it is basically a shot glass with Kahlua and Baileys with some whipped cream PILED on the top. The bride to be then has to put her hands behind her back and somehow get her mouth over all the whipped cream, grab the glass with her open mouth and tilt her head back spilling the liqeurs into her open mouth. It usually makes for quite a sight. Well I have no idea what lucky groom got this bride to be, but after the shot she insisted on giving Noah a return blow-job, right in the back room of the place. Her friends were not even taken aback. Classy.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Thank you sir can I have another

We've really grown to like each other...Bartender's Song, The Mighty Mighty Bosstones

First of all, the family is OK after Wilma, but I understand that one family member that lives in a trailer park in Fort Lauderdale (why, I have no idea) had to stand against his wall at one point, bracing it to keep it from caving in, and lost his screened-in porch. Most of his neighbors were not nearly as lucky...Gotta move, man...Other family, nothing major, just no power at all, though they did vow to evacuate the next Class 3 or higher. They said that Wilma was a howler.

So! That being said, what do you do with unruly guests? I guess that they have to go, and sometimes by any means necessary. I was working at the wild restaurant/bar one Saturday night and Noah had already gone home; it was maybe 1a.m. In comes a large group all dressed to the nines, many already buzzing, that had just come from a now-over-with-wedding reception. This happened often enough, and the group of about 12 people cozied up and began drinking, chilling out, laughing and otherwise continuing their good time. I figured out where their tabs were to be kept, who was paying for what, and began the steps that keep them all happy. Drinks are enjoyed, some shots ordered, people laugh, more drinks, and then last call. More drinks ordered for last call, checks dropped off, and happiness is continued. Group 1 pays, thanks! Nice tip! Group 2, same thing. Group 3, WHAM! Great tip! Group 4? Not paying yet, hmmm. Clean the bar, prep for close. Management comes in and asks if I have any open checks. I tell him yes, one. Ask them to clear it up so they can run the end-of-night reports. OK.

This last group is about 5 whitey white young folks of about 25-30, 3 guys 2 girls.

JCL: Hey guys, we need to run the end of night reports, could I please clear up the tab here?
Dude 1: Oh, yeah, sure man! Can we get some more beers?

It is past last call, but their group had been hooking me up, so...

JCL: here, let me buy you guys some small ones and then clear the check up right away!
Dude 1: Sure, thanks man! Hey guys, we need to clear this check up!

He then digs into his pockets, the rest of the group soon follows suit and a pile of money appears on their $76 tab. That is when "fat chick with Coach purse" steps in. She, who hadn't dropped a penny of her own yet, counts the money and starts saying that they have left too much. The half drunk crew doesn't really respond, so she starts repeating herself, saying the group had left $90, and that someone should take some money back. Dude 1 tells her that they are cool, just give it to me so I can close out the tab. Fat chick with Coach purse insists that it is too much, which frustrates me. I have had a few drinks at this point, and was starting to lose my cool. That is when the manager comes in and asks for me to close out my last check (for like the third time now) and I tell him I will try. He stands there impatiently, eyeing the scene. I then go over to the group and ask fat chick with Coach purse...

JCL: Hey! I have really got to get this check cleared up so the manager can close the place up. (I eye him with a fake nervous glance over my shoulder in his direction as if to prove my point) If we could worry about the tip after, and just pay the tab I would appreciate it.
FCwCp: (indignant and angry at my request) HEY! I am the customer here, I am the consumer! JCL: I know that, and frankly all the manager wants to do is close out the bill so we can leave at a reasonable hour.
FCwCp: Listen, if you don't back off you aren't going to get shit for a tip!

Now she has done it. I already know that they SHOULD be leaving me $14 except for her stepping in, and that is a fraction over 20%, all well and good. She felt that that was too much, so whatever. Now she is going to stiff me. It was a very busy night, so though I hadn't counted it up, I know that Noah walked with over $200 two hours ago. I know that I will be taking home $300. This $14 isn't going to hurt me. Still something in me can't let this one go. The group was cool, the rest of the party hooked me up, the other dudes even tried to leave me some scratch, but this surly JCrew biatch is trying to fuck with me...

JCL: Look, how about this: You had a large party in here tonight, I might add, since it is the restaurant's policy to add a 15% gratuity to your check so now can we all behave and get this check cleared up?
FCwCp: OH! FUCK THAT!! Show me on the menu where it says that!

I start to show her on the menu and at this point the manager steps in. He is already intimidated by her screaming and I don't really expect him to stand up for me (managers RARELY ever do when it comes to the customer) but it amazes me when he starts saying that it was only fair. She becomes IRATE.
This manager sticking up for me was only doing so since the night before, he thought that he had caught me stealing. Inside the restaurant there was a little El Salvadoran Mafia going on. Tons of Salvadoreans work there, the ones who could speak English in the front of the house, the ones that couldn't in the kitchen. This manager was about 50, and was 5 foot 2 inches tall and he was the front of the house Salvadoran Don. He was always lurking around, checking up on Noah and me, trying to catch us stealing. Well at one point the night before this happened, another of the Salvadoran Mafia was waiting tables and a group of four guys from his section comes to my bar to smoke away from their group, and order some shots. I pour the shots, they drink them, and try to pay. I tell them that they will be on the waiter's check, no worries. I tell the waiter, he rings up the drinks, and things go on the normal way. So then I am in a different area of the restaurant and I overhear the midget Salvadoran Don and a cashier going over all of my checks on the computer. He is eagerly scanning each one, looking for the incriminating evidence. I ask him if there is anything that I can do to help him. He glares, and demands to know where the check was for the four shots I had poured, that he had seen me pour them, serve them, and then the guys tried to pay, but no check was ever rung up and did I steal the money?! Now in his defense, this is a common (and extremely easy for anyone who wants to risk their job) tactic when stealing from a restaurant. I had, however, done nothing wrong, and this manager was extremely humbled when the waiter confirmed that I had done what I said I had done.

So there he was in the trenches the next night, fighting this Jabba-the-Hut Chick with Coach purse. He fights her tooth and nail, but to no avail. She pays the $76, and if I remember correctly kept the $14! As she is leaving she can't leave well enough alone:

FCwCp: I just want you to know I have money, that both my parents are lawyers, and that I know how to treat waitstaff, when they know how to treat me!
JCL: Whatever! I can see your Coach purse, and nice clothes! That still doesn't make you cool, though does it! I don't need your money anyway.
Dude 1: Sorry about this man. I...I don't know what to say.
JCL: It's cool, I know it's not your fault.
squirrelly dude #3, who by the looks of it is "attached" in some sort of boyfriend-girlfriend relationship with the FCwCp: It just goes to show you that the customer is always right, understand?!
JCL: You know what? I hope that you guys come in here again. I'll remember each of your faces and and then we'll see who is right after the service that you'll get. Go ahead! I DARE YOU BOTH to come back in sometime!
FCwCp: DID YOU HEAR THAT?? He is THREATENING US!! Manager, you need to fire that guy RIGHT NOW!
FCwCp: FIRE HIM!! FIRE HIM!! She is being physically restrained at this point by her friends and her boyfriend as they drag her out of the restaurant kicking and screaming to an awaiting cab. That isn't good enough, and she won't get in the cab. She is screaming for the Police to come and arrest me. The police are ALWAYS in the neighborhood at this time of night. When they arrive, they promptly threaten to put HER in jail if she doesn't shut the hell up right now. She wisely gives up and gets in the cab.

The next day I was eating the pre-shift staff meal and I was kind of worried about my job after the previous night. The midget manager enters the room, sees me and sits down, and just laughs repeating in a mumbling fashion "bitch, suck my fucking dick" I can't believe you said that to her! That was so great.

See how much fun that job was?

Friday, October 21, 2005

I can't remember anything...

Can't tell if this is true or a dream!

What would happen if the media today had been "reporting" June 6, 1944? In France, that date is practically "down the memory hole." As is the Marshall Plan.

I had seen this quite a while back or it was something very similar, but stumbled upon it as I was reading NewsBusters...

Who are you? Who, who, who, who?

I really wanna know...Well AFSister wants to know. She also tells a much funnier story than mine!

My first e-mail address was from a nick-name that was given to me by another bartender, who was very Irish. I am something like half Irish and large chunk Italian, and seeing that my last name is crazy long and Italian, and I look Irish what with my fair skin, freckles and hazel/green eyes, Irish dude started calling me McDago. Just his way of expressing himself, and he was a funny guy that was well respected, so it kind of stuck. Right about that time the internet was getting major popular (AOL had just started the unlimited internet for $19.95/mo thingy) and so I bought my first computer, a Compaq Presario 486 and jumped online. When I wanted some anonymity, I posted my alter-ego McDago up there and off I went! I pretty much stayed that for a while, using variations like adding an 82 for the 82nd (though it sometimes made people think that I was born in 82) until meeting the Great One . At that point I was still using it, but on an AOL account. When we moved to Germany, we lived in Stuttgart and I needed an account to stay in touch with my family and we were waiting for all of our things in transit. I went to the library and registered for a free Yahoo account and chose the moniker "stuttgartcad" and that was that. The city where we lived and the very first part of my long ass Italian name. Now that we are here in Fort Walton Beach, waltoncad is just an updated form. I still use the stuttgartcad e-mail, and now have all sorts of crap out there in cyber-space registered under these three nicknames...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

I hear hurricanes a blowin...

I know the end is comin soon...

Just a quick note on Wilma, heading straight for all my family in south Florida while I sit here 80 degrees not a cloud in the sky here in the panhandle. Hope all goes well, and the storm fades before getting to y'all.

That being said, I will get back to restaurant work. I have seen many people fired in my time in, but none compares to "Seth." Seth went out like any burnt out waiter would want to exit the "biz." By getting revenge on the rude fuc....AHEM....the GUEST! There is ALWAYS the potential to get stiffed any time that you walk up to a table or guest. Anything goes wrong, and it is almost always reflected in your tip. Often times the guest generously forgives you, other times they don't. If you get everything screwed up in their order, make mistakes, send out the wrong dish, then it is your fault. Dinner takes too long to arrive? Usually the kitchen's fault. Guests sat at a filthy table? Usually the host or bussers. Your place doesn't have the guests favorite booze? The owners. The big bar/restaurant I worked at was such a place. The place had ONE brand of beer! ONE! "Their" house beer, which was really Schaeffers, regular or light on draft. NOTHING in bottles, just O'Douls non-alcoholic beer. Thing was too, they served TONS of this crap every damn day. Use a GIANT 32 oz mug preferably chilled and fill it with an amber liquid that resembles beer, charge $4.25 for it, and hey, the guest leaves happy. We also had the hardest time getting the boss to buy hard liquor that didn't come in very large 1.5 liter jugs that only homeless alcoholics had ever heard the brand name of. This is in the mid 90's, so right in the middle of the whole micro-brew craze and the release of major brands like Stoli O, Ketel One, Grey Goose, etc. So finally the owner wanted to build and make a few repairs and his good ol' boy construction worker pal he has known and used for decades, wanted to drink Knob Creek bourbon after work. The damn burst, and loads of good brands flowed in. But not a single beer more. Also verboten was the "shot" liquors - Jager, Goldschlager, Rumpleminze, After Shock and all of their ilk. Management's excuse was that they just didn't want to fool with 22 year old kids vomiting all over the place which happened all the time anyway when they overdrank their crappy "house" beer.
SO! Back to Seth. Seth was a waiter in our upstairs room, which around 9pm turned into a Piano bar. Complete with the fat bald dude singing bawdy versions of songs, taking requests, earning tips, and drinking his ass off. In to Seth's station walks a group of frat boy types and they start asking about the beers that we have. Seth tells them the deal, and says that they can have a 32 oz glass for $4.25, and frat boys are happy....For now. After ordering a second round, they ask for some jagers "We don't carry that."...goldschlager..."nope," etc...Once again he explains the deal, that we have no "shot" liquors and suggests some Absolut Lemon Drops. They do a few of those, and before you know it, their bill is over $100. Seth brings the bill, they pay in cash, and as they are almost out the door, Seth notices that they have written a big "You SUCK!" on the bill and left him a pile of their pocket change as his tip.

Now at the end of the Saturday night rush is not the time to do this to someone who has been working non-stop since 11am. Add to it, the fact that Seth, along with many of the staff, have had a few shots of whatever the bartender has handed out.

The pile of change was not a small one by any means except when you compare it percentage wise with the bill. A few dollars tip on the over $100 tab. Six guys, whitey white rich looking.
Seth looks at it, and snaps. He grabs the pile of change, runs right over to our balcony, opens the doors and spots them ready to cross the street deciding which of the many neighborhood bars was next. It may have ended here except in their loaded "invincible" state they were loudly bragging and laughing about what they had just done. So Seth does what any burnt out, half loaded waiter does at midnight on a Saturday after rude treatment.

"HEY GUYS!!" (The guys look around, then up at Seth, mounting surprise and fear in their eyes.) "FUCK YOU!!" Then Seth throws the big handful of change at them as they scatter to the four winds. He would have gotten away with it too, except that one of the frat boys called the next day and told his side of the story to the management and Seth was no longer a waiter. Some tables you can just feel the Bad Moon Rising.

The funniest part was that sitting outside the restaurant every damn day of the year, all four seasons was one of those street singer/guitar-playing guys who happily picked up every penny.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Everybody's got to believe in something!

I believe I'll have another beer!

Great song, and after the Pats got so decimated, I hear today that Tedy Brushci is coming back. That leads me to not only over drink in the misery of the Pats loss (in Denver, always a tough place to play) but in celebration of one of the least recognized yet most loved NFL'ers to recently play the game. Ol' Tedy has been captain of the Pats D for years and in the NFL for 9 years. Last year he was recognized as a "Pro-Bowler" for the FIRST time (despite winning 3 super bowls, leading the "D.") In the meantime, he had a stroke. Should something happen to Tedy, due to his love of the Pats and the game in the future, it will suck for all of football. I will pray for Tedy, not only because I love the Pats, but because I love a good human being, and Tedy is one.

So am I a fan?

Keep in mind that when I was a child, my Dad fixed Steve Grogans TV set, and deliberately had to "run and get some stuff" and set aside his time to run over and bring my little seven year old ass over to the "QB's" house and brought a football for him to sign and asked me to tell Steve Groagan how much I loved Boston sports. He had me talking to Steve about about Bobby Orr, the Celtics, Yaz and Pudge Fisk (MY FAVORITE at this point, right about the time the foul pole was earned for him!) As a teenager in high school I remember sitting in the old Foxboro freezing my ass off on the aluminum benches wearing my Andre Tippet jersey (our #56) and rooting like crazy to stop Joe Montana from driving for two long drives in the fourth quarter. Of course Ol' joe smoked us. I was even suspended from school (the only time ever) for fighting after the 86 series. Of course we lived in CT by this point, and there were equal shares Mets/Yankees/Red Sox fans, so conflict ensued all over there.

See, I know that a lot of folks think the Pats are evil, and Belicheck is Lucifers son or whatever. Those of us that suffered through Bill Buckner, the 86 Chicago Bears, Brett Favre, the Oakland Athletics, the Bruins winning like crazy for a decade with Ray Bourque and never winning the Stanley Cup, and all the stuff that made Boston fans miserable. You also didn't "suffer" with us as we cried when Ray won the Stanley Cup with the Rockies... I remember watching that game with the wife, and I told her the Ray Bourque story, and it made her cry too. I am just saying that rooting for Boston teams (except for the Celtics) has meant a life filled with pain and disappointment. Until now. So yes, I do try and bask in the sun a little, because I was in the dark for so long!

I am sincerely hoping the White Sox win this World Series. I can't stand them, they trashed the Red Sox (that obviously isn't the point) but I recognize...I recognize Chicago as ONE of the FEW great sport cities. Chicagoans have been recognized obviously in the recent past. How could it get better than MJ??? Need I say more? Your thrashing of my tiny, underdog, wild-card Pats in 86, 46-10 (my sister, 15 at the time rooted for the "cool and hot" Jim McMahon!! How humiliating!) You may have performed the curse on yourselves with the Bears all due to Mike Ditka, though. By not letting the true gentleman of the NFL, Walter Payton score in the Super Bowl, giving it instead to ALL OF YOU KNOW WHO!!

So the Bulls were awesome, the Bears have sucked since. I sincerely hope that the White Sox smoke the NL...

Just me, and my predjudiced ass... Always hating NY teams, the Dallas Cowboys, and any team that the media just can't seem to get enough of.

Go White Sox! Go Tedy!!!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Situation gets rough, and I start to panic...

It's not enough, it's just a habit....

Tonight worked in the bar, but in the tables...I "turned and burned" 23 tables in the bar tonight. Exhausting, but the second Saturday in a row where I had the highest ring in sales in the restuarant. I have been here less than a month, and every night the manager on duty looks at my sales numbers and just shakes his head incredulously. Tonight I heard of only one other person over $1000 in sales, and even the head wait was only $950. Tonight, my second Saturday working, I lead the restauarant in sales for the second Saturday in a row. Like I told my wife, in a month I will be running this place. I kind of wonder if I will be a flash in the pan? Wonder if I will slow down a bit...I say it is a matter of this...Every table, every guest, I ask the question, "Do you want to add a lobster tail or 5 grilled shrimp to that steak tonight?" Ask every one of them. VERY few take you up on it, but even if only five or ten do, that is more in sales. Ask EVERY guest which apetizer they want, assuming they are getting one. Most apps are fried or quick grilled, so people love them...Bad for you crap, but man some of them taste SO good. I hock booze, hardcore. When there is one person at the table ordering booze and the other doesn't, ask them (after they order the coke) if they want to make it a double. Not only can you get a grin and increase your tip, but you can also (and so what if you don't) sell a drink and increase sales. I am there the same amount of time as anyone else, and when I am there I prefer to work waiting, tending, doing what is necesary to earn money off of people. I never bitch to the host staff, never harrass the management, and am there to make money. Every person, no matter how hillbillie or ghetto fabulous is greeted the same. "Hello money, sitdown money, what can I get for you to drink, money"

It was a VERY hectic night to work for me though...Waiting tables, you have to wait until the table leaves, wait until it is bussed, and then wait until the host staff seats you. In the bar, it is carry a dish rag, because the MINUTE your table or spot opens up, it is immediately occupied by a new table, handing YOU the trash off of your table/space that was left by that last customer. Makes for a very fast changing of the tables, which in the "biz" terms is called the "turn and burn." One table/spot leaves, and it is immedaitely turned into a new one. It was the second Saturday in a row where I made some really great money! I would like to move into the fine dining area of waiting, or tend bar somewhere crushing busy by the summer...I feel like I am on that road. The amount of cash to be made is important, so we shall see. Also, management is a possibilty. It has also been mentioned to me by the proprieter, so I will keep my nose to the grindstone. I guess that in the end, I just really like to see people have a great time. Management STARTS at $45K minimum, so that is about what I am making, but GUARANTEED, all year long rather than $600 a week over the fall and winter, and over $1000 all spring and summer.

so now for a really quick story: One night Noah and I were bartending at the bar/restaurant one Saturday night, and in comes a group of new FBI Graduates, from Quantico...There were like 8 of them, and they were PARTYING! Drinking heavy, eating our tourist based (beautiful, yet bad for you) deep fried sea-food, and getting rowdy. Noah and I knew how much management hated anyone getting rowdy before like 11pm. Well, our boss who I will cal Mr. Burns, since he could have easily played the real life one from the Simpsons would come running in and ask them to respect the policy of quiet before 11pm. Repeatedly. We responded by giving Elliot Ness and his crew free lemon drops. It was a win-lose situation. In the end, they had between the 8 of them about a $300 bill. (plus like $50 in comped shots) They gathered up their money, and gave us $400, so $100 tip. The leader of their group simply said, JCL, give us just a taste. Bring your boss in here and insult his suit and the cheesy way that he dresses, and we will double your tip!! Well that was all I needed to hear. Our "room" in the restaurant was called the "SunQuest" which was the owners first yacht which sank somewhere (uninsured) in the Carribean. Well the bell from the boat was recovered and was posted on the support beam. It could ring, and it rang LOUD! So I told Mr. Ness to nail it once hard, and that Mr. Burns would be in immediately. He did, and I was right. Mr Burns demanded, "Who rang the bell?!"

I said: "(Mr Burns) they are leaving, and they just left Noah and I a kick ass tip. I told them to go ahead and ring it."

MB: "Well they are leaving now, right?"

Me: "Yup. They are headed out the door. But they wanted to know if you ever bought anything at other than the thrift shops. I told them that between your clip-on suspenders and your cheesy "pleather" belt that doesn't match your shoes, that I doubted that you got it from thrift shops. I was thinking garage sales."

MR: "Are they leaving now?"

Me: "after you answer them..."

MB: "Fuck you!"

They gave us another $100, then asked us where was open til LATE, so we told them to go to Irish Times in DC, and they begged us to meet them there. Noah was early out, and he went down there and met them, I closed and made it out for only a beer, but brought almost all of the closing staff, (including a few hotties off of our closing staff that they were very anxious to entertain) and soon they were buying for every one! We found someone who knew of an "after hours" club "highly illegal" yet astoundingly easy to find IF you knew the right people. They paid there too, and an all around good time was had by all, except for Mr. burns who likely cried into his Dewars and waters!!

Friday, October 14, 2005

Good Times, Bad Times...

I know I've had my share!

Last night (Thursday) was screwed up for two reasons. The first of which is that I was bored. The night before when we were so short staffed, I really busted my ass running all over the place. Tonight we were overstaffed and why? Because the regional manager was in town! Lo and behold, we suddenly have 15 servers and two bartenders (who both sucked) on the floor. So I had less tables than on Wednesday, but made the same money and gave better service. That sucks. Why can't we just be fully staffed all the time?

The second reason that it was a bad night was because I had a nice long post almost ready to publish and the cable goes out. Now THAT pissed me off. No internet, no cable, me sitting up late at night with nothing to do...Like an idiot, I then fell asleep on the couch instead of next to my nice warm wife feeling her feminine curves. The things you do when you are tired.

So last night I was "Tagged" by one of these silly little thingy's that people send out all chain style and are supposed to let it multiply. I am going to half comply, but I will explain in a moment why the half part.

Thanks, Desultory Butterfly...

Seven Things:

Seven things I want to do before I die:
1. Go to Australia/south of the Equator
2. get back into shape like I was in the Army
3. Cook a meal for my grandchildren
4. have another child
5. buy a boat
6. learn to fish
7. get over my crushing shyness

Seven things I can do:
1. Cook
2. Make dozens of drinks well
3. Pick a great wine
4. Name nearly the entire Red Sox starting rosters for like uhm, the past thirty years or so off the top of my head.
5. Jump from a perfectly good airplane and land safely (though it has been ten years, I still got to do it 41 times!)
6. Speak a foreign language (Spanish, plus a bunch of French and German)
7. be patient

Seven things I cannot do:
1. Play a musical instrument. (I guess I could get on the cowbell!)
2. Run a 10k in 35 minutes (anymore)
3. back down when I feel like I am right.
4. make friends easily
5. (like Desult) Pass up a beer
6. be 25 again
7. lose weight easily

Seven things I say a lot:
1. Whatever.
2. Come on?!
3. Oh yeah, that'll make it all better
4. yes, another beer here please
5. So what can I start y'all off to drink tonight?
6. Damn...
7. I am married, so "I'm sorry" comes out a lot!

Seven things I find attractive in a female:
1. Eyes (like my wife and my daughters that she passed on!)
2. Intellectual sense of humor
3. Dark sense of humor
4. Those sensuous female curves such as in the hips, and legs when she lays on her side, and I get to touch them as we feminine
5. When she wears just enough perfume to catch the most lingering scent, leaving you longing for more, and best of all knowing that when you snuggle into her neck and nuzzle, that it is there only for you.
6. an ass that is not bony, and still fits the thumbs connected, pinkies extended parameters.
7. when my wife smiles at me

Seven celebrity crushes? (I just don't really care for this category, but will try to comply)
1. I will have to say Heather Graham. First of all, I LOVE the movie Boogie Nights, but what I love most of all came from a really crappy movie, Anger Management! Seeing her in the Red Sox lingerie really nailed me.
2. Catherine O'Hara...Don't know why, she has just done it for me. I bet she has a great sense of humor, judging by Best In Show. Just ask my wife about what I say when I get loaded. She may be older, but she has done it for me for some embarrassing reason or another.
3. Bo Derek
4. Laura Ingraham
5. Dr Condaleeza Rice (not to sound goofy racist or anything, but like I like my coffee, dark and sweet!)
and just to tease my wife and use her answers to the questions against her I will make her think that I need some young hotties coming my way, I will answer my last two with first name only and see what she thinks...
6. Barb
7. Jenna

Seven people who I'll burden with this tag, but are under no obligation:

I am far too shy, and just can't function under this pressure!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

What's the time?!

It's time to get ill!

Just file this under what you don't know won't hurt you.

So I am working with this guy at the restaurant/bar, and they have this daily "Special" called the Seafood Bake. It is basically Clams, Mussels, Salmon, Shrimp new potatos and asparagus wrapped up in tin foil and steamed in butter until everything tastes like fishy asparagus. The waiter is supposed come to the table and unwrap it for the guest, reavealing the steamy innards of seafood heaven. Many guests loved it (or said that they did) and MANY others hated it. It was constantly served and sold though! So this dude that I worked with was a total drunkard-pothead-eventually became a crack head. He had no car since he had had two DUI's and a blown engine so he rode his bike everywhere. Keeps you in shape, but if you are a drunkard, you crash a lot too. This guy crashed a lot, and always had bandages of some sort. So one night he rolls out to a table with the plates, drops everyone's food and starts to unwrap some womans Seafood Bake. As he is adjusting, a large bandage falls off of his shredded finger directly into the Seafood Bake...Thinking quickly he declares "Oops, there is a clam here that didn't open, I'll get the chef to open it and I'll be right back!" So he heads right through those the kitchen doors, pulls out his bandage, turns right around and serves it up!

She was one of the guests that loved it...The waiter was so proud, he told everyone about it for a week.


The people you meet in the restaurant industry.

Oh what a night!

Late September back in...well, you know the song. Tonight sucked. Waited tables this time. Tonight the place was short-staffed. All of this area of Florida is desperate for help, especially in restaurants. As I look into any old place, restaurant, store, fast food, AC (hey, AC is big business in Florida), Repair shops, just every place in general, there are help wanted signs. My restaurant is no different. We need servers, bussers, hosts and just the whole thing. We should have for a night like tonight 14 servers, and could likely go with 18 if the management wanted to make it an easy night. Tonight we had 10, including the two bartenders. It pretty much sucked. Waiters call being slammed busy "In the Weeds" just a term that they have left and are so far off the fairway that they are in the weeds, and can't see the fairway, type of term. Tonight we spent the entire night in the weeds. The restaurant has a policy that it won't seat the tables if there isn't anyone to wait on them which looks bad to the guest. The guest has no idea how short we are, they just see an empty table and they are still asked to wait 20-30 minutes. Meanwhile, the rest of us have picked up an extra table near our station, so we are more than busy. I sure hope it gets better, because I ran my as off tonight for hours. I made good money, rang a pretty high sales total, but that is NOT the way to do it...I gave almost the minimum service tonight to probably half of my tables...I am good at this job, and a veteran. Noone suffered in my section tonight, but they also weren't ecstatic. Part of my waiter schtick is to hang out and chat with the tables, use the same tired jokes that work every time and entertain so that the guest feels like it is an experience, not just a dinner. Ask the guy who ate every freaking last bite all concerned sounding "Sir, if you didn't like your dinner, I wish that you would have told before, I could have totally gotten you something else!" The two top both have caeser salads, and ask which one of them had the caeser, all teasing like. You guys eat that crap up! Tonight, it was everything to just keep the drinks full and the food coming. I hate that. I can do it till the cows come home, but then you get 15% from most tables, some a little less. I like tables to love me, and laugh a couple of belly laughs. That always adds up to 20% or more.

Here is a story relating to being in the weeds...

So I am working at the big bar/restaurant. It is the very beginning of the summer, and we are slammed every night, but Saturdays are the worst. On Saturdays, we are pretty much used to what we call it the 1-to1 rush. It got crazy busy at around 1 in the afternoon, and the place stayed full, like EVERY seat, all 450 of them until 1am. On a normal night, we had 23 servers and 5 bartenders. Two bartenders upstairs, two in the big bar (mine) we called the Sunquest and one in the "Main" room. The night before on a Friday, my bartending partner in crime Noah tossed a wine bottle into a full garbage can and it smashed, shooting a shard of glass out and slicing the tendon on his index finger. It was late, so no biggie. The next night I need a new partner in the Sunquest and it is supposed to be a decent night except last minute, like four servers have mystery illnesses. (The weather was 85, not a cloud in the sky, and very little humidity, rare for a DC July day, so who could blame them for the sickness.) My partner evaporates into thin server air. I am forced to work an 18 seat bar plus over flow/standing room for the busy, beautiful Saturday night, plus make server drinks. To say that I was in the weeds would redefine that term via restaurant standards. I was crushed, killed, and stamped out, no mulligans tonight. I spend the night in the weeds, and around the end of the night, like 1am one of Noahs friends shows up, Dave. Dave is a sales guy, and prides himself in being fit, and working out all the time. He made lots of money in his sales gig, and had bad habits like strippers that like their good time "snowy" if you can catch my drift. Dave and I are friendly, but it kind of ends there. He always shows up grinding his teeth, talking speedy and pounding expensive wine (on our comp ticket) and basically annoys the hell out of me. BUT he is Noah's friend, and Noah ALWAYS puts up with my posse, so it is cool. So I comp the bottle and a half of wine he and "Bambi" pound in 45 minutes, and charge him the for two glasses of wine, $13.70. He gives me $15 and tells me keep the change. I have made so much money that I could care less what anyone tipped me at that point, I just wanted to go home. In fact, at the end of the night after all was said and done, I made so much money, I gave the barback $100 to clean up for me so I could just leave. Now it is about 1:50am, and in this area last call at all bars is 1:30am, 2am ALL drinks are off the bar and cleared, no exceptions, local police driving by our picture windows peeking in. Dave has been speed talking to people all over the still full bar forever, and finally comes to me and orders two more glasses of wine. 20 minutes past last call, 10 minutes til close. After leaving me $1.30 on what SHOULD have been a $50 tab had I not comped it.

Me: C'mon Dave, it's past last call, ten minutes til close, it's time to go bud!
Dave: Dude!justgivemethetwoglassesofwineanddon'tworryaboutthecops, justgivemetwomoreglassesofwineman!
Me: Dave, I can't. It's TOO close to last call.

Now here is why it is important to tip your bartender: selective service. I can cut ANYONE off anytime that I want to, and YES just because you gave a bad tip. I will have the FULL support of the management EVERY time; all I need to say is "I think that he has had too much" and management will throw him out immediately and call the cops. With Dave, I didn't want to go that far, I just wanted to go home. He basically stiffed me and then demands more. I gotta paraphrase my man R.Lee Ermey again and say if you wanna fuck me in the ass, at least give me the "g-ddamn common courtesy of a reacharound!" Dave didn't practice his manners.

Me: Dave, we are too close to closing, so NO!
Dave: Dude! (standing up to his full 5'9" height, puffing his chest, throwing his shoulders back giving me the hairy eyeball through his dilated, bloodshot eyes getting indignant now) are you gonna make me come accross this FUCKING bar and get my own FUCKING glasses of wine?!?!?!
Me: (Calmly looking the situation over, and leaning over, placing my hands on the bar edge while assuming my 6'1"{plus another two or three inches with the stupid shoes we had to wear and barmats height} and stating simply, not breaking eye contact) Dave...After this night, you would make my YEAR if you would try to come accross this bar.

He stared blankly at me for about 5 seconds, and then said, "Is there any way you could call us a cab?"

The doorman got him one quick...

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Love, Sweet Love!

Is it the only thing that there is just too little of? I know the French are known as lovers, right? They so quickly demanded rights and what not for all thos Guantanamo detianees...

So where is the worlds worst prison? France, that's where. I am sure that they just need some love...Ne need for another mountain, just love...seet love..

I don't want a Holiday in the sun!

But we are all different! As Sid would say, "Now I got a reason..."

What do I mean? Let's vs. there. I am here in the Redneck Riviera, total tourist spot, Destin, Florida. Should be some serious money to be made off of all y'all tourists and locals with cash. When I worked in Washington D.C. I made a lot of money waiting tables and tending bar. I worked five nights a week, had my days totally free (I went to college back then, but don't now) and paid for my party-boy lifestyle including vacations, nights partying, rent, car payments and yes tuition and books, though I also had the Army College Fund and GI Bill to help.

I did work at money places, though...One was a total "local" tourist bar/restaurant where I bartended. On the slowest, deadest winter Monday night I could make $100 cash, all while getting paid $6 and hour. On the busy Saturday nights I have walked away with as much as $550, and usually made over $300. Truly rare would be the weekend night where I wouldn't break $200. Problem was staying up til 3am every night. So I changed jobs for "upscale" dining. Hell, I liked food, dining, wine, booze, the life. I started to work at this place where the Surf and Turf was $40, Alaska King Crab legs were $50, and the 2 and a 1/2 pound baked stuffed lobster was $75. The wine list had all the biggies...Dom, Veuve Clicqout, Chalk Hill, Stag's Leap, Chateau Montelena, etc The single malt scotches they carried were on the dessert menu, divided up into which Scottish Isle they hailed from...I mean they also had fish and chips for $13 (the best you will ever have, just perfect) and served Iced Tea, but all it took was one great table per shift and you were in the money. Have three or four great ones, and you were PAID bigtime. Very little ignorance (which I will talk about later), celebrities, rich people and pro athletes constantly eating there. I saw many in my year there and personally waited on several Washington Redskins like Champ Bailey (he drank Hennesy and cranberry juice, YUCK!) Gus Frerotte, but after he left the Skins, (he would always eat the King Crab legs and leave a great tip) Tre Johnson (he must have drank at least 10 pineapple juices) and others such as Robert Urich and a couple of DC type celebrities. Typically a waiter working on a typical Friday or Saturday night would come to work at 4:30 or 5, walk out at 10:30 or 11 with well over $200, often $300. My problem there was they needed bartenders, and I had lots of bar experience, so they started giving me bar shifts and that cut my income in half.

I tried sales...That is a business for sharks. You can make a lot of money there too, but must slit the throat of the guy next to you. I am simply not that aggressive. In other words, I made a crappy salesman.

Back to the restaurant biz...Now that I am in the "South" things are different. I love the South, like college football, and NASCAR (though I can't stand sweet tea.) Most Southerners are on the "right" side of the political spectrum. They are self reliant, hate the Gob'ment, and are "good people." They will give the shirt off of their back if you are in need, are quick to shake your hand, look you in the eye, and otherwise treat people with respect.

Why can't they eat in a restaurant? Why can't they tip? Why can't they refrain from driving their waiters right up the wall? How can anyone come to a steakhouse and order a filet mignon and eat it well done with fries and steak sauce while pounding your sweet teas? A typical "Southern" style tip is usually 10%. These days, I just take it! It is better than the random tips that I often get...$10 on a bill of $130...$3 on a bill of $80 (there were three people, buck a head!) There are many people who give the 15%, which is always appreciated...There are also plenty who give 20%. There are also the exceptions, the 25% and up folks, that can often balance out the "buck a head" folks. The general tip here in the South seems to be 10% which does suck. But I have committed to my wife, who doesn't pick where she gets stationed, so I live with it.

To those of you who say "grow up and get a real skill!" I would have to say fuck off real quick...Waiting tables is incredibly difficult at times, and people are so varied in their tastes that it takes a lot of knowledge to wait tables and not look like an asshole. It takes a great amount of organization, skills, and most of all patience to deal with you people! I have that knowledge. I have those skills. I take your kids picture when they dress up nice for the Prom and dine out at "that fancy restaurant" ordering that one order of prime rib with two plates, eating up valuable chunks of my section on a Friday night for a crappy tip. I smile and coo at your baby even if she is uglier than your wife. I yell so that your elderly Mother can hear me and then patiently redescribe the specials (but now for EVERYONE in the vicinity) so she can just go ahead and order from the kids menu. I clean up after your spawn, (and do so with a smile if the tip was good, so don't stress it!) including on more than one occasion, little person vomit (yeah Dad, thanks for "picking it up" and hiding it in the cloth napkins so I can't see it and get it on my shirt as I bus the table.) I give respect in all cases, no matter how ghetto/hillbillie you appear and call you sir, Ma'am. My restaurant usually only hires people with those skills, and those without are quickly weeded out (to quote the great R.Lee Ermey) as non-hackers who do not pack the gear to serve in my beloved corps. They are occasionally weeded out by management, but more often than not are weeded out by the people who are being waited on with crappy tips for crappy service. I am sure not saying that it doesn't happen, as it often does, even in the "nice" places. If your waiter is atrocious, it is your duty to stiff him (even I have done this, but only once for some incredibly rude service on the part of the waitress totally in HER control) and help weed out this type.

But if the service was great, there isn't any reason not to go ahead and hook up your server. ESPECIALLY if you feel like eating there again! You do not want to go to a place where you are "known" for crappy tips, I personally assure you of that!

So Much Trouble in the World

My wife will not be deploying so it seems, but that is a great thing! I was looking forward to her doing an incredible job and impressing and getting career "points" for serving in an overseas combat zone, maybe getting her a promotion, award, or otherwise commanding the respect that her already impressive resume includes...Two overseas tours...Special Duty assignment with the chief of Staff and Secretary of the Air Force (all the while DURING the Sep 11th episode at the Pentagon, with fire alarms pulled from the ceilings so they could work while the building was ACTUALLY on fire smoldering.) She is the greatest, and the more people who see her in her light know it, and only the envious and sorry have problems with her. Limp dicked types.

We got here to Florida, and on the way here from the airport, a chief MSGT drove us home and explained about the shop that my wife was taking over. One was a problem child for a while, but only in her dating "choices." Another couldn't refrain from checking out "verboten" sites on the internet using gob'ment computers, but was otherwise a passable airman...The last was a non-motivated little young and obnoxious airman, straight out of basic with ZERO NCO guidance...I tried using my Army NCO experience to help her through all of this, and she has loved my advice, but that isn't the point. My wife has turned Miss dating choices nearly to a jr NCO, the puter dork into a trooper in Iraq trying like hell to do a great job and doing so, and uhm yeah...She is still trying, though on litle miss unmotivated!


So I will change this topic on this blog and hope to gain some interest.

The new TOPIC?? The restaurant industry! You won't know where I work, but it is a chain, kind of on the expensive side and likely near you...I wait tables! I bartend! I usually make between $500-1000 a week doing this easy job! More than I made as a truck driver, more that I made in sales, and WAY more than I did as an office lackey...

See, in the restaurant industry, there are many categories of people. Where are you? Are you southern white trash? Demanding prick? Total ghetto biatches? Drunkards? Great restaurant guests? My restaurant has MANY of each category, and I plan on blogging about as many of them as I can!!

Something about me loves this job! I went to college, I paid for it myself actually, but came back into restaurants...I love to hang out, to party, and most of all, to EAT great food...I LOVE to eat food and match a good wine. I love to serve people who are in that category...If you fit that profile, you are going to get some awesome service...If you order your order that the chef has prepared especially for you without mushrooms, garlic, basil, cheese, and onions, just fuck off and order something else asshole...

I will tell you a story real quick here...

Greg was once a middle linebacker for a PROMINENT college football team. We worked together in a famous restaurant in the Washington DC area, Virginia side...He had the unfortunate distinction of looking like Neumann, from Seinfeld, and this being 1996, and Seinfeld being a very prominent show at the time, it was unfortunate indeed. Like most middle linebackers that couldn't make the pros and had "juiced" in the late80's/early 90's, Greg was massive...6'3", over 250 pounds, probably a 54" shoulder and 38" waist...Just a GIANT Neumann... This place was normally a restaurant, but it was located in a reeaalllyy cool spot and would turn into a drinking bar around 10pm. With Greg waiting tables, every time his back turned, someone in the very large, loud room full of drunkards would inevitably yell out "Hello Neumann!" He eventually turned into a drug addict, had to go to rehab, and was fired for drinking on the job...Nicest guy though, reaally!

and then there was Mary...The NICEST (except for my wife) person you could find...Married to the nicest dude that you could find...Mary was as sweet as the double shift is long, and totally easy on the eyes as well. Her husband was trying to score with his ability to make people laugh performing as a stand-up comic, and remains one of the funniest people I have ever met...

One night Mary was being tormented by a table, a woman who could not be satisfied...She would have a new demand on this great server every time that she visited the table...Usually quite extraordinary, or otherwise. She is only in the salad course during this busy Saturday shift when the woman nearly makes her cry. Greg, feeling very bad for Mary pulls her aside, and simply states, "it is only money Mary! If they stiff you or give you 25%, it is only money! Here, go to their table smiling! Let me sweat on your salad for you!" Our salads came with two toasted pieces of french bread and Greg simply picked up the bitchy woman's salad bread and mopped his massive, SWEATY, and I do mean SWEATY brow with them...The rest of table suffered no consequences, though Mary did overhear the bitchy woman explaining to the table that even though the food was great, and things went ok, that what they were leaving as tip was WAY too much...

Mary was smiling though!!

I love this job!

I have so many stories, and want to tell them all. Wait me out, and you will hear some doozies, and find out where you are in the world of servers and bartenders...I love this job!