Monday, May 15, 2006

a restaurant customer fable

Those of us who work in restaurants tend to think we've heard it all. We've served so many dipshits that the stories tend to pour out like the taps. Ask any restaurant employee for a story. Ask the servers about customers. Ask the kitchen about dumbass servers. Ask the management about the three, customers, servers and cooks. There is enough there for a lifetime of tales and parables.

So many of the best stories that come out of restaurants don't involve the customers. Those are the good stories, the late night post work barhop where you had that perfect end to an evening. Meeting up with some coworkers for just about any event, from a softball or soccer game to a baby shower, it's all the same, because they all end in the cups.

The customer stories are never good. I often think I've heard it all, or I am certain that a restaurant story can't shock me. But then the customer shows up, and they can't help but make you want to start choking people.

I may have mentioned my lovely wife before. I may have mentioned that she works at a really cool sushi bar here in town. The place has been slammed since it opened, and the people love the sushi. I'm not personally the biggest fan. It's part seaweed and part texture, but that's not even another post. That's just me.

Food allergies are real and can be very serious. I have a nephew who is deathly allergic to peanuts. He is a cool, bright and fun kid. His first words had to do with his allergies, because they are so serious that it was what he heard about first. He picked it up as kids do. I love my nephew and understand taking precautions, and as a cook, I'm willing to make allowances whenever possible and within reason to accomodate a variety of customers.

Having said all that, who the fuck goes to a sushi bar, only to tell the staff that they are seriously allergic to shellfish? And who the fuck does it on a Friday night? Seriously!?

If it were ONLY the crab and shrimp it would still be a pain in the ass. For a single customer, Momma has to wash down the entire area where the sushi will be put together. This involves taking the five foot cutting board off the line entirely to scrub it down. She has to clean her knives and use all new utensils or clean the ones she has. She has to stop everything she is doing on a Friday night to do this for a single person who went to a restaurant that specializes in part in the very thing that can kill him. And then the son of a bitch, after he finished his special food, ordered more, putting the entire kitchen staff through the clean up a second time. All this stopped the entire kitchen basically, slowing down everything but the rest of the customers. I want a time machine and to go and choke that fucking guy.


COD posts about an article in which some Virginia parents don't think their children can get edumacated for a measly $11,000 a year. They're angry that other school districts get over $17,ooo per child.

So I thought to myself, I thought, "Self, what could we do with an extra $11,000 per year.

My first thought was that we could take a field trip up north to RFK stadium and watch DC United whip some ass. They've got some museums and stuff up there as well, so we could learn about mass transit systems while going to museums.

I've always wanted to ride a riverboat from St. Louis down to New Orleans. I've long been a fan of Mark Twain and the world of riverboats. We know about steam power, thank you Thomas the Tank Engine, so we could learn about silt deposits. But I don't know that I'd want to make that trip now. I hear New Orleans is kind of a bummer lately. Good thing our government is working so hard to fix that mess.

That much money would buy us a nice long drive to Deadwood South Dakota. I could live my childhood cowboy fantasies, some. Cowboy fantasies being what they are, the solitary life on the range, the wife and kids would kind of crimp that one. I prefer them to the fantasy, so we're off again.

The Pacific northwest has always called to me. I'd love to visit that end of the country and slip into Vancouver as well. They've got this big island over there that sounds beautiful.

Speaking of islands, how far into New York would that kind of money get me I wonder. There again we'd study mass transit. I miss MARTA in Atlanta and have always had an affinity for trains. NY is on my list of places that I'm sure I might visit one day. I'm sure we could manage some sort of trip on $11,000, even if we did have to stay in New Jersey.

To some extent, kids pretty much learn for free. There is gas to drive to the library, and there are random fees/memberships to local places such as the zoo, so I don't suppose we should say completely free. The actual letting kids learn stuff part however doesn't really cost anything. Some homeschoolers prefer to use curriculum which still won't generally add up to $11,000 a year.

a nice short soccer story

First, if you haven't read my soccer rant yet, you should read that before reading this, unless you don't plan to read that one. This is a nice story, while the one previous to this is a downer. Read that one first so that this one can pick you back up.

One of my issues with the big three American sports is that we call them the world championships. We presume that we're so big and great that we don't need to invite the world to our world championships. Soccer on the other hand really does have a world championship, called oddly enough the World Cup. It's coming soon, just under a month.

Soccer is truly international. And even in the most random town, take mine for example, can show that international spirit. And that's my uplifting story.

Wednesday nights are one of the nights I know there will be pickup games at the local park. I showed up this past week ready to see a few of the people in my league, people I'd recognize as having played against. Including me, a teammate and two other league guys, we were the only people from our league. So there were four Americans on the field, four Mexicans and four Africans. They were already playing when I got there, having split into shirts and skins. I, with my mostly pale, farmer tanned ass and the shorts that ride up, giving me that push into dorkiness that a shirt would have hidden, was directed to the skins side, one Mexican, three Africans and me. I actually felt as if I might have been glowing.

A couple of guys left leaving us with four on a side. The Mexicans wanted to just play soccer while the Africans had a game in mind that they played. It was a soccer related game, though I didn't get the concept as they explained it.

So we played soccer, a little three tone action on a Wednesday night in the foothills of the Smokey Mountains. We all had fun. We all played well. We didn't all look or sound alike, and we couldn't always understand the words we used, but we all spoke that one language of soccer/football/futbol. And that language is the same all around the world.

storming off the field

I haven't posted a lot recently here. Last week was kind of busy. One of my two posts from last week was a rant about an abysmal couple of soccer weekends.

I complained last week about teammates quitting, actually taking off their cleats and quitting, before the game is over. I complained about that yesterday before our game. And then I did it. I stormed off the field in a fit of rage, took off my cleats and quit.

We were going down. A fluke goal within about five minutes of the beginning of the game not only put our opponents up but started our slide into hell. We were once again short a number of players. We were playing eight against eleven. We were running our asses off the entire time and watching the score climb ever higher. I even moved up to midfield and was eyeing a chance of a shot on goal. I actually did shoot at one point, though a failed attempt from the beginning.

I think our infighting might have begun when the ref offered a water break which most of our team was ready for. Our two youngest team members didn't want to stop for water and stayed on the field passing the ball. I was irritated by their insistence that we didn't need a water break, maybe a little mad at the thirteen years between our ages that demanded I break for water and a quick stretch.

We started turning on each other, and that's the death of any team. Teams can fight back from extraordinary odds if they remain a team and continue to work together with respect for what each member brings to the team. When members start to break away and blame other members, nothing can save them.

That's where we were yesterday, and I knew what was coming. I was already starting to yell back at the youngsters. They are both decent players. I've enjoyed playing with both of them and would be willing to play with them again. But they were working hard, getting nowhere and getting frustrated and were turning back to us, the defense, to blame us for the fact that we just couldn't even hope to do too much damage to the opponents. I was growing tired of their criticism and was starting to tell them. I can hold things in sometimes, but I was about to blow up.

So I stormed off the field. I cussed a little. I damned the whole team for what for me added up to three weeks of soccer misery.

Since it happened, I'm feeling worse about my actions. I think that walking away was better than blowing up at the youngsters. But I walked away from my team. I took off my cleats, socks and shin guards and left. I did the thing I'd damned in others. I know for a fact that it would have ended much worse if I'd stayed. I would have laid into one of the youngsters because they wouldn't have shut up. I would have tried like hell not to, would have continued playing and busting my ass. I'm carrying as much in the way of injuries from this game than from any other game this season, and this team played clean, so I'm not talking elbows or jabs in the back or trips. I'm talking two teams pushing as hard as possible. What should have been a great game, and this goes for the whole damn season as well, was made shit by so many people being selfish to their teammates, and no matter my justification, I became part of it.