A Restaurant Rant

I just read this excellent article by Amanda Cohen, chef and owner of the NYC restaurant Dirt Candy (get it? It’s a vegetarian restaurant? Dirt Candy? I like it! And after reading her menu, I’m dying to try celeriac ice cream, but I digress…), and I’m with her. She discusses how most restaurant employees honestly do want their patrons to leave happy. It’s true. I did my time in the restaurant biz. For the most part, my objective was to try and make sure customers had a good time. That they liked their food. That the service and overall restaurant experience was positive. That they’d want to come back.

I’d try and hold the perspective that my job in a restaurant wasn’t centered around a battle between Us and Them but rather, it needed to be seen as a healthy and productive working relationship. It didn’t always work, and I wasn’t always perfect at it, but I tried. It’s hard to maintain because you’re basically part dirty grunt/part performance artist, and the surly, tired, my feet hurt, I’m exhausted, I’ve already had to clean vomit, make $2.13 an hour and I’ve still got five hours left on my shift, I’ve got a ton of homework/bills/housework/family concerns that are distracting me, human, non-performer side of a restaurant worker can break through the veneer of pleasantries pretty easily. However. Generally, in response to a customer’s special requests, my answer (and the answers of most of my fellow restaurant peeps, who were often well-intentioned waitstaff and bartenders and hosts and managers who don’t go into that biz because of a relentless desire to stoke the fires of inner rage) was yes. Yes, we can deviate from the menu, yes we can accommodate your allergy, yes we can seat you as soon as possible, yes we can get you that extra whatever on the side.

Image from crayonsglueandtyingshoes.blogspot.com

Image from crayonsglueandtyingshoes.blogspot.com

Because that’s how it works.

Because that’s the nature of the job.

I get insanely offended when restaurants aren’t managed, at the very least, decently.

Recently, I was told something wouldn’t be done by a kitchen, for all the wrong reasons. I’m still shocked.

George and I called a local restaurant (for the moment, staying nameless) to order some take-out food. George did the talking. Hi, he said. We’d like dinner A and dinner B, and we’d also like an order of your extra-spicy sauce on the side. The woman taking the order was new, writing everything down with someone watching her to make sure she got all the information she needed for the order. She conferred with the trainer in the background then got back on the line. “I’m sorry.” she said. “I can’t give you that sauce.”

What? We just want an order of it on the side.

Sorry, she said. The chef says it will make the dish you ordered a different dish. He won’t do it.

Fine. Whatever. We were hungry, we’d already mentally committed to dinner from this place. Don’t sell us the sauce. Be that way. We’ll be by to pick it up in 10 minutes.

Twenty minutes later, George came home, full order and extra sauce in hand.

Here’s what happened: when George gave his name, the new waitress wrote it down, and the owner recognized it. Oh, him!, the owner said. He’s a nice guy! And so, they did make George’s order as he requested, which is bad enough. Because for real, just do it in the first place, no?  But then, when George got there, the owner/manager ACTUALLY SAID, “Yeah, when you first called, I thought you were one of these entitled jerks in town so I didn’t want to make it for you. But you know. It’s you. So that’s different.”

Image from imgflip.com

Image from imgflip.com

He didn’t say, “We misunderstood your initial order and said duh when we realized our mistake, here you go.” He didn’t say, “I was having an aneurysm during your phone call. Of course we’ll make this for you.” He didn’t say, “I was temporarily possessed by Satan. Sorry ’bout that.” Instead, he justified his change of heart by winking and nudging, because we’re special. Awwww. Shouldn’t I feel all warm and fuzzy now?

What? No! Hey, manager dude, let me get this straight: you didn’t want to sell us an item that’s on your menu, because you thought we might be dicks? Not because we were being unreasonable or making insane demands, but because you had a bug up your ass? And when you found out who was doing the ordering, you decided to let us in your petty fiefdom of a club? And you’re training new employees to behave this way? Holy. Moly.

Here’s the thing: I don’t want to learn the secret handshake, I don’t want to know the password, and now? I don’t want your food. We ate the food that night and I felt dirty. I just want to be able to order off a menu, without a hassle. You’re in the restaurant biz, you’re going to deal with people EVERY DAY. Some of them will be total pains, some of them will be awesome, but all of them deserve a fair shake at the start of your interactions.  This manager is someone who’s recently talked about being dedicated to growing his business. He’s sure got a funny way of showing it. It’s too bad, really, because I’d prefer to support local businesses, and the food was pretty good. But we haven’t been back since.

I’m still not going to say which restaurant it was, but feel free to circulate this among local folks and restaurant friends. Maybe the owner/manager will see it and recognize himself. Maybe he’s been wondering why we haven’t been in for the last two months. This is why. View this as a huge learning opportunity, and you’re welcome. Other restaurant folks, if you see your own behavior reflected in my story, then take my advice and get over yourselves. If you don’t, then I recommend a job in an accounting office, or perhaps filing books at a library, where human interaction will be kept to a minimum.

T2 disapproves.  Image from tvtropes.org

T2 disapproves.
Image from tvtropes.org

And please, everybody (that includes you, you difficult customers) stop perpetuating the Us vs. Them mentality. It hurts all my brothers and sisters in the service industry. We’re all in this together, folks. Start acting like it.

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The Tucson Weekly Gets The Angries Over Internet Satire

While poking around the Facebooks this morning, I clicked on a link a friend posted to the satire website The National Report, and I’m intentionally not linking to them. Because I don’t enjoy them. It’s not that I don’t enjoy good satire or comedy, it’s…that…I don’t think they’re very good at it. Like the Daily Currant, the National Report.comes up with absurd premises, but they don’t take their articles to the point where they’re both thought-provoking enough to be relevant and outrageous enough to be clearly satirical (unless you’re completely myopic). For an outstanding example of brilliant, relevant, outrageous, thought-provoking satire, see The Onion’s article about 9/11 hijackers and their surprise to find themselves in Hell.

So I was mentally pretty open to the headline on the Tucson Weekly claiming that not everyone on the internet can write satire. Failed satire does become clutter. These articles are noise. I often find myself in the position of having to point out that something posted as an “OMG CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE THIS???” article is, in fact, failed satire, false, and not part of the legitimate conversation. I really wanted to like the Tucson Weekly article, I did.

Only…dude…you sound like the nerdy kid in school who’s pissed that the smart-ass gets all the attention, so you’re taking your pen and showing ‘em all. ALL! Let ‘em have it, Holden Caulfield.

Somebody needs a nap.  CLICK THE PICTURE to see it bigger...oooooh...magic...

Somebody needs a nap. CLICK THE PICTURE to see it bigger…oooooh…magic…

♦ IF you or anyone you know has gone anywhere within the internet in the last 10 years and hasn’t figured out that Andy Borowitz and his eponymous report are satirical, then you need to get out more often. He writes like a dream come true and is always over-the-top funny.

♦ IF you’re going to talk about all the clutter and distraction on the internet, then for pity’s sake, you (or your editor) ought to have the sense not to run a link to an article (and in fact, your news organ’s own article) about the newest video featuring Keyboard Cat.

♦ IF you’re going to argue that satire that fails to launch muddies the waters of journalistic integrity, and you sniffingly look down your nose at misfired satire while you define yourself as a capital-J Journalist, then really, you ought not to end your op-ed piece by calling the writers you don’t like “dicks”. Because adolescent name-calling is the earmark of professionalism (only, opposite).

I actually checked to make sure that I wasn’t stuck in some meta-satire spiral and that this article wasn’t the culmination of some perfect storm of failed satire the likes of which the world has never before seen. But no, to the best of my ability to understand, this article is real, and the Tucson Weekly is not a wannabe-Onion-style news outlet. Students, take note: this entire article is an exercise in how to undermine your own point. What this guy does? Don’t do.

Now, here’s Keyboard Cat to play us out with his brilliant new “96 Tears“.

Meanwhile, At The Restaurant: No, It’s To-Go

The other night, George and I were out at a local restaurant. A family of four came in; Mom, Dad, two little boys who, if I had to guess, were like 4 and 6. It was kind of late-ish for kids to be out eating (it had to be at least 8:00) so the boys were hungry and cranky. Dad was an impatient manly-man, so when the lone waiter working the entire front of the restaurant and seating new diners during this busy night didn’t attend to them in the first minute of them standing there, Dad took matters into his own hands. And sat his family down at the table next to us. Yay.

So they order, and the kids’ food comes out, and then Dad’s food comes out, but Mom’s is delayed because the kitchen was backed up. Ah, well, such is life, right? So the couple will talk and take care of the kids while they wait for Mom’s food, right? And if Dad were so hungry he had to eschew manners and eat immediately, then maybe he’d offer Mom a little bit from his plate so she could nibble too while waiting, right?  Yeah.  Only no.  Instead, Dad proceeded to pull out his goddamned phone and Facebook (or whatever) while he ate. Ignoring his entire family. Ignoring the wife who wasn’t eating yet. Leaving her to contend with two tired, squirrelly kids on her own. While he was sitting right there next to them all. And when her meal came…well, words fail. It looked a little something like this.

The only thing I've exaggerated here is the size of his brow.

The only thing I’ve exaggerated here is the size of his brow.

(Remember, WordPress screwed f*ed us with their photo editing changes, so there is no “open in new window” option.)

That’s right. HE FACEBOOKED THROUGH HIS OWN MEAL, AND THEN WOULDN’T LET HIS WIFE EAT HER DINNER.

And for the record, when the one little boy knocked his water glass over and spilled most of it into his mother, guess who got up to help her clean up, get fresh napkins for the table, and alerted the waiter there was a spill?  Most people would think, oh, it was the other adult at the table, because that’s what responsible, thinking, caring adults in a relationship do for one another, right?

BZZT. Wrong. It was me. I helped her. I helped get her table cleaned. ME.

Sigh. I don’t even know what else to say about this except: If you’re this guy and you’re reading this, then understand that I only have the best of intentions when I tell you, you are a douchebag. Only because I hope you recognize it to be true, and want to change your douchebaggy ways. Your kids deserve a father who’s present and engaged, not some…douchebag, really, it’s the word that fits…who trawls his phone during dinner, exhibits no sign of joy or interest in his own family, who shows such…you know, it’s not even disrespect, it’s total douchey disregard, for his wife. I don’t know if getting your wife’s food to go shows you’re the control freak type of douchebag, or if you’re the sort of douchebag who is douchebaggy thanks to a wretched cavern in your soul filled with cluelessness but dude, when a stranger at the next table and the waiter have more concern for your wife’s well being than you do?

You’re doing it wrong.

1984 Rebooted as Romance, and No, I’m Not Kidding

George Orwell‘s dystopian tale of the ultimate in Big Government, 1984, is apparently receiving a reboot.  Currently called Equals, this movie is set to star Nicholas Hoult (a/k/a Marcus from About A Boy, a/k/a Jennifer Lawrence’s main squeeze) as Winston Smith and the perpetually grim Kristen Stewart as Julia.

And it will be a romance.

A ROMANCE.

“I’m terrified of it,” says Kristen Stewart and I’ve gotta say, K-Stew…that makes two of us.  Because here’s the thing:

NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO.   ///big gulp of air/// NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO.

I mean…yes, there is sex in the book between Winston and Julia, and it’s a pivotal part of the plot, for sure.  But even in my most jaded times, I’ve never confused dingy, bleak, anti-Big-Brother-fueled hate-fucks, that lead to the ultimate in betrayals, as “romance”.  Sure, maybe they have moments of feeling tender toward one another, but when Big Brother finally catches on to their trysting, they both start checking bus schedules to figure out which one they’re throwing the other under.

I imagine it’s going to be like this:

julia cat 1

winston cat 1

winston cat 3

julia cat 3

julia cat 2

winston cat 2

*sigh*

See, the thing is, there are plenty of dystopian novels that focus on unlikely romances to work with, and that’s fine, I’m not saying it can’t or wouldn’t ever happen, and I don’t object to it as a storyline.  But the authors of these other works didn’t call them: 1984 2.0 or 1984: Reckoning or Winston (hearts) Julia: A Tale of Light in the Darkness.  No.  Because that’s not Winston and Julia’s story.  These other authors created their own stories.  They didn’t co-opt someone else’s under the guise of a “reboot”.  Because that?  Is cheating.

So I, of course, expect it to be dreadful, and I admit I’m clearly already prejudiced against it.  Though I will say this: I’m tickled by the idea of legions of Twilight fans downloading 1984 into their Kindles so they can get ready for K-Stew’s new movie.  Because in the real 1984, there’s not one sparkle to be found.

Bonus! A game of #romantic1984 started on Twitter once this was announced.  Thus far, here is my favorite Tweet.

https://twitter.com/lavietidhar/status/423393806885867520

And that, friends, is the problem with the romance of 1984, in a nutshell.

I can’t wait for the musical.

Bye, Honda Fit. Thanks for everything!

It was one of those moments, you know?  We were driving, the light was weird, the lanes kept getting lost in and out of the mist from the salty water pulled up from the blacktop and the intense bright glare of the sun.  Southbound, I-95, just past Washington DC.

Truth is, we didn’t stand a chance.

So, one person in the far left–who had lost sight of their lane in the glare–realized they had drifted out of their lane and were about to hit the construction sand barrels in the left median. They, of course, jerked their car back into the left lane.  Which caused the truck next to them to jerk into the middle lane.  Which caused me to have to swerve…and I have no idea what happened, but I lost control of the car.

Long story short, we hit the right concrete abutment, spun back into traffic, did a complete 360 and hit the same abutment again.  I do remember yanking the wheel to the right after the first hit on the right, because the last thing I wanted was a hit by oncoming traffic.  We came back to rest against that same concrete divider.

So here’s the deal: We walked away from this.  George and I opened our doors and walked away a little dented but generally, just fine.  And while we both think this sucked and wish this hadn’t happened, we also both acknowledge that it could have been much, much worse.  So we search for lessons among the wreckage.  Here’s what I’ve got so far:

We are OK, because of things like seat belts and air bags.  Thanks for doing your jobs, good people of the Honda Safety Division!

My mother was supposed to be in the car with us, then for a few different reasons decided she couldn’t make the trip.  I was mad at first, now I’m incredibly relieved she wasn’t with us because no older lady needs to spin 360s in the right lane on I-95 southbound.  I need to remember to accept situations as they are, not as I want them to be.

Regardless of what is or is not as I want things to be, 2013 can still go fuck itself.

We were helped by a string of incredibly nice people, some of whom didn’t have to help, and all of whom didn’t have to be so nice.  Faith in humanity = shored up again.

This was one of those times when it became all to clear to me that we balance on the edge of a string.  And it doesn’t take all that much to get flung off the string or have is snap beneath you and send you hurtling into the abyss.  I’ve had a few other events like this in my life (the night a heater blew in an old apartment, the day I nearly got pulled out to sea in an undertow) and…while I don’t like to contemplate the abyss, I think it’s important to recognize those times that bring you perilously close to the edge, where you’re walking away under your own power simply because of a fingernail’s breadth worth of luck.

And so.  George and I are in the market for a new car, and it sucks but it’s OK.  I loved that car, but it was a car, and it sucks that it’s gone but it’s OK.  I’ll be wearing suspiciously high-collared shirts until the abrasion from the seat belt fades, and that’s OK.  And we’ll drive off in the morning sun in a rented minivan, which–trust me–is not my dream car.  But it’s OK.

Now go hug someone.  XOXO

Donatella Versace, please stop the madness

I’ve always sort of looked at the pictures of Donatella Versace slightly at an angle.  I couldn’t look straight at them, because I always found her distorted, surgically altered features were an assault upon mine eyes.  You know what I mean?  Then I found this picture.  Behold!  Young Donatella Versace.

Found at messynessychic.com

Holy. Shit. She’s gorgeous.
Found at messynessychic.com

This is the face she could have carried forward as she aged.  This was what she would have had to work with so that she could age gracefully.  If she still had this face she would be a beautiful older woman.

Instead, howevermany surgeries/injections/nips/tucks/peels later, this is the face she has (ironically) paid a lot of money for.  Presenting, haute couture’s reigning…

…uh…

OK, seriously, she looks like a half-orc.

Half-orc. Photo taken from becauseiamfabulous.com

Looks like meat’s back on the menu, boys.
Photo taken from becauseiamfabulous.com
Quote taken from the orc Ugluk, in “Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers”

Ladies, please.  Please please please.  Stop the madness.  “But there’s so much pressure to look good!”, they say.  People.  Guess what?

YOU WON’T LOOK GOOD.  This doesn’t look good.  Do you want to look good?  Love yourself enough to take care of yourself and figure out what makes you happy and do it and for Chrissakes quit smoking (especially if you’re concerned about your skin!) and hydrate/moisturize/be careful in the sun.

Someone said to me a long time ago, “You earn the face you wear when you’re older.”  That idea stayed with me.  Donatella Versace (and so, so many other adherents to the elective-surgery-go-round) have earned these…bizarre…misshapen…stretched faces, from thinking they could beat the process.  How can you justify surgery that’s supposed to make you “look better” when life as an orc is the result?

Bad Fashion Ideas, Fall 2013: This Isn’t Funny Anymore, OK?

Omigod.

OK, so, I just went to the mall to check out what was happening in the anchor stores, what’s being marketed to women, what is determined by corporate buyers as completely appropriate and (at least on some level, I would hope this was a goal) aesthetically pleasing for the American woman buying clothing today.  And usually the clothes kind of suck but they’re also often a little funny and you know, even though you wouldn’t want to put this stuff on your body, maybe, at least you could kind of chuckle about it.

Today?  Not chuckling. Not even a little.

It’s rare that I leave the mall pissed off…I mean, really, really pissed about what I’ve seen in shopping land, but this trip was like a blight unto mine eyes.  For reals. I thought…whaaaaat…the fuuuuuuuuuck…are some of these midrange price point designers/buyers thinking?  If you ever need convincing there’s a secret war on women then come see me ’cause baby, I got the proof.

Usual rules apply: no clearance, all multi-state and/or national (U.S.) chain stores, so the distribution for these beauties is wide-ranging and a recipe for despair.

Let’s just start with this.  How did the conversation with the buyers go?  “Well, you know, that simple red sheath dress is so…sane, and practical.  Have you got any spare material laying around?  Because I’d really like to see this with enormously expansive side panels that add girth to the wearer, make no sense, and look like colorblocked bat wings.  Hail Satan.”

Done and done!

What. Is. This. About.

What. Is. This. About.

Though I’ll grant this: at the very least, this dress is trying.  It’s nightmarish in its efforts and the only message it would convey is that the wearer is either insane or on a mirror fast but, on some sad level, this dress attempts to define a person’s style.  Sadly, this was not the case with much of the clothing I saw in the stores this season.  There was an uncomfortable amount of pre-layered clothes, which are bad because you can never change the look of a shirt (ummmm…it’s better to let some faceless designer at a drafting table express yourself for you?) and the layers wear differently, so if one shitty, poorly constructed layer gets pilled/stained/stretched out of shape, the whole shirt becomes useless.

Though I would argue these shirts are pretty useless already.

Not even copious amounts of rum could ease the pain this shirt brings.

Not even copious amounts of rum could ease the pain this shirt brings.

For those fancy days at the office...

For those fancy days at the office…

100_7952-001

Ladies, repeat after me: NOBODY looks (or smells) good in unstructured 100% polyester.

And if a two-layered look isn’t good enough for you, then let me present you with a triple-layered shirt.  Because WTF.

Come on, seriously?

Three layers?  Seriously?

Worse: there are stacks and stacks of this crap.

Grim.

They suck your life and energy right out from under you.

Grim.  Please, buy separate pieces, people.  Because freedom, that’s why.

There was also a trend in “I Give Up” wear.  A phrase I totally stole from a beloved TV show, I Give Up wear is clothing for people who know they must adorn their bodies with fabrics in order to not get arrested, but don’t care/don’t know how to dress themselves/don’t have faith in their appearance/think for some reason they don’t deserve to look good.  Sad?  Certainly.

Nobody feels great wearing any one of these tops. Not really.

Because nobody feels great wearing any one of these tops. Not really.

And yet, I Give Up wear is alarmingly prevalent. There’s a study out there supporting the theory that zombie stories gain popularity during times of economic downturn.  It speculates about the nature of mindless consumption.  Is this a similar trend?  The economy is bad, the news is grim, we seem to be mired in endless war…just gimme a frigging shirt and STFU or I will eat your entrails off a spike.

I know I’ve talked about this before, but I have a deep and abiding hatred for seasonal applique, which is total “I’ve Given Up” wear because people misguidedly think seasonal applique allows them to opt out of thinking about their clothes.  Of course you’re appropriately dressed, right?  It’s the end of August and your boxy, shape-free T-shirt has school buses and apples stitched onto it, so that must be right, right?  Wrong.  It’s not good or whimsical or fun; it’s a hollow bill of sale that makes the buyer think they’re “having fun” without actually…you know.  Having any.  If you see anything that looks like this (or jingle cows or halloween cats or soda-drinking polar bears)…

...RUN...

…RUN…

Try and avoid anything that makes you look like the prison matron from the movie Chicago, no matter how fierce Queen Latifah is in real life. Or anything that makes you look like you’re wearing one of those decidedly un-sexy retro gym suits that were mandatory in US high schools until the 1970s.  Or something that is a combination thereof, as the poorly designed item in the center of the photo below demonstrates. Unless, of course, you have a prison-drab fetish and if so? Then you can pair this blight with the shapeless blue-grey cardigan on the right for a full-out visual declaration that you don’t like yourself even a little.

It's a pity the actual prison matron costume has the most style.

It’s a pity the actual prison matron costume has the most zazz.

Here’s some quick rules by which you should abide when shopping this season. Or any season.

When buying skin-colored leggings (and this applies not just to the Caucasian variety, as the leggings depict but rather, any woman who buys leggings that are fairly close to her skin tone), be careful about the texture.

Because ew, that's why.

Because ew, that’s why.

Exercise extreme prejudice when facing down a short-sleeved sweatshirt with a pearl-embellished closed placket.

Kill if you must.

Kill if you must.

I don’t mind plaid shirts. I don’t mind crocheted lace insets. I DO, however, mind when these elements are all part of one confused shirt, which tries and fails to be cowgirl-sexy.

Poor confused shirt.

Plaid tie front and lace epaulets = a sad and lonely shirt.

Let’s not forget…

ruffles-001

*sigh*

And then there’s…

OH COME ON.

OH COME ON.

I give up.

I mean, I really give up.

There’s no coming back from this.  I’d like to present you with a few more things, just to drive the nail in the ol’ coffin of widely available women’s clothing this season.  First, here is the ultimate “I give up” ensemble.  Oatmeal-colored pants, washed out wallpaper-print pattern.  I even found shoes to match.  Please note: the shirt and pants were merchandised BY PROFESSIONALS as a potential outfit. SOMEONE THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA, AND PUT IT ON PROMINENT DISPLAY.

This is the newest uniform for greeters in Hell.

This is the newest uniform for greeters in Hell.

Seriously. I give up.

But it does make me wonder…these clothes are so, SO bad.  How could this be?  How could one season be so horrifically, pathetically ugly?  I’d even say the clothes this season actively work to undermine women’s confidence and sense of well-being, they are that bad.  How does that happen..?

Wait…

I think it’s coming clear to me…

Do you see it?

It's right there...looking at me...

It’s right there…looking at me…

It’s not…no…it couldn’t be, could it?

As a matter of fact…

...I think it could be...

…I think it could be…

That would explain so much.  I understand now!  Dark Lord Designs for the Fall 2013 win!

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