Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Dancing Busboy

I have been told by supervisors on more than one occasion that I lacked a "sense of urgency." I wonder, as I lay on the couch now and ponder their words, just what they meant. The first time I heard these words came when I worked as a busboy for Red Lobster restaurant.

I remember the first table that I cleared. I walked slowly to the table and picked up each glass and piece of silverware individually, raising them up close, inspecting them, then dropping them into the gray rubber tub. Then I wiped the table in wide, careful arcs. I brushed out the chairs gently, stepping back to assess the job. It took about 20 minutes. Afterwards, I looked into the tub with satisfaction and counted up the booty.

"Yyyyep, I cleared 6 glasses, 4 plates, and 16 pieces of silverware."

Then I swaggered off to the next table, toting that gray tub like it was a suitcase of 100 dollar bills.

The manager had a little talk with me about my speed of service. He stated that I did my job appropriately, but that I needed to work on a "sense of urgency." I didn’t grasp the exact meaning of his words at the time.

Later, but before my exit interview, I saw an ad in the paper for my restaurant. It read:

"Looking for a busboy who knows how to hustle."

I recall reading the post (slowly) and thinking,

"Hu. But I’m the busboy. I wonder why they want another one. And why do they want one who can dance?"

Friday, July 10, 2009

Oprah's Free Chicken

Not long ago, a few months really, my mother got very excited by something she heard about Oprah Winfrey and free chicken. For many days, all discussions with my mom involved Oprah's free chicken. We discussed if the rumor might be true and if there was, in fact, any free chicken. We conducted Internet research, polled friends and other family members, we even tried to call Oprah. As you might guess, one can not easily "call Oprah." We finally determined that there was in fact free chicken from Oprah. She had not cooked the said chicken, but it was available from KFC.

On a bright Saturday afternoon, a few days after the "Oprah's free chicken" rumor started, we went to KFC. The place was packed. We presented coupons that my mom had forced me to locate online. I used the word "forced" but I had been happy to locate the chicken coupons, in order to prevent my mother's suicide. Mom was now very excited. She felt a connection, somehow, with Oprah. She was so proud and she smiled broadly as she handed the manager the coupons for Oprah's free chicken. You can imagine how distraught she was when they told us that they had run out of Oprah chicken. They had regular chicken, yes, but any chicken having to do with Oprah, or with the word "free" was not available.

We were instructed to fill out a form, after which another coupon would be mailed to us. Upon bearing the NEW coupon, we could then procure some of Oprah's free chicken. Flash forward to last week... Mail man arrives. My mother, according to neighbors, faints at the mailbox. The new coupons from KFC had arrived. A new bond with Oprah had been established and she was (we were) one step closer to Oprah's free chicken.

On Wednesday of this week, we entered the same KFC. We were both bolder this time, somehow more determined. We had the Official, "for real" for real coupon which entitled us to some of Oprah's mouthwatering, show stopping, no holds barred, FREE Fu***** chicken! (my words, not Mom's.) This time the manger graciously accepted the coupons. As with most coupon though, there was fine print. We were subject to the managers discretion on the pieces of chicken, as well as the sides. My mother was in luck, she got a wing and a breast, along with mashed potatos and cole slaw. This would have been her perfect choice! Oh, they threw in a biscuit. Not only did we get free and delicious chicken touted by Oprah Winfrey, along with two side orders, but we got a biscuit!

To Be Continued...

I borrowed the above image from The Count, WITHOUT permission. If they sue me I will be greatly disheartened, as I have no money to pay them with.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Number 2

...I was once caught in the women's restroom by accident. I had an emergent bowel condition and rushed into what I thought to be the correct, gender specific, facility. I had just sat down for the job, when two children entered the restroom. I should add that kids do not go into the bathroom to actually use the bathroom. They go in to play, to run the water, to press the hand dryer button repeatedly, and to make plans. They treat the stall as a boardroom or clubhouse, where extensive child related plans are laid out.

As I listened to these children's antics, I noticed something strange about the voices. They were awfully high pitched. Why would little girls be in the men's room, I wondered.

I was still focused on the task at hand when I cleared my throat. As I did, the children stopped talking. Then I heard whispering. That's when I became concerned. What if I was in the wrong place? Were there urinals? Had I distinctly seen urinals? I was starting to sweat. This could be bad. This could be very bad.

It was winter and I had my coat hanging over the latch on the door. It covered the crack between the door so no one could see in. I moved the coat slightly. Peeking out I noticed two very effeminate boys. They were boys right?

When I finished, I really had no choice. I had to leave the stall. I stepped out, unafraid. I walked to the sink to wash my hands.

"What are you doing in here," they asked in unison. Holy shit, these are girls, I thought.

I felt queasy. What was I supposed to say, that I'm dumb? That I can't read signs on bathroom doors? That I'm from another country where unisex restrooms are the norm? My mind raced for a moment.

"I'm supposed to be here. I'm with public works, sanitation, the toilet bureau. They pay me to test these facilities." I said this in a very official tone.

"They pay you to poop?" one girl asked.

"Yes," I said, gravely serious, "everywhere I can."

Shave Your Lip, Genius!

Most of us know that there is left brain thinking and right brain thinking. Get this though. There is the possibility of synchronizing your left and right hemispheres, so that you will become (for only 29.95) a genius. I purchased some Brain sync CDs a few years ago to fine tune the process, to help me develop psychic abilities, and to further my spiritual development. The first time I listened to the Cds, it was a very enlightening experience. It was almost an out of body type thing. I honestly went to different places, saw different things, it was intense.

To further my development - and I thought up this idea on my own; hey I’m no slouch - I started practicing writing with my left hand. I’m right handed of course, though I need to practice with the right as well, as many people can’t read my writing. So one night, after about 45 minutes with the tapes (I just gave my age away, earlier I called them ‘CDs’, Ha!) So after 45 minutes or so with the tapes, I began writing with my left hand. I wrote, initially, simple things, the alphabet, my name, whatever. Then, as I got better, I started to write the following:

“I am a genius, I am a genius, I am a genius.”

I kept on and on. Like a kid in trouble at school who has to write on the blackboard. I must have written it 100 times (OCD, untreated, hee-hee.) After the lesson, I decided to keep the paper, as proof of my genius abilities.

By the way, I like paper. I don’t like killing trees and I do recycle, but the tangible aspect of pen and paper… I can’t put it into words now. That would require another entry. Anyway, a few weeks later I was shuffling some papers around. I needed to write myself a note. I am, as with paper, addicted to notes. They help to organize ones thoughts. In spite of the subsequent clutter, pen, paper, and notes to myself, serve me very well.

So I found what I thought to be, at the time, a blank piece of paper. I wrote a note to myself, a reminder. I wrote:

“Shave your lip.”

This was a reminder to trim my goatee. The mustache part had grown slightly out over my upper lip, looking like tiny spider legs or something, just peaking out over my lip. Yuk! Since I’m a procrastinator, I did not shave the lip right away. That was the purpose of the note; to remind me to do it later. I always say,

“Put off till tomorrow everything you possibly can, so today you can listen to brain sync tapes and watch VH1 specials.”

Another couple weeks goes by and I find the note to trim my mustache, except this time I notice a faint impression, clearly some writing on the other side of the paper. I flip it over and what do I find? Proof of my blended mind, my synced up hemispheres, as well as proof of my own genius. We always believe what we read, right? Well there it was

“I am a genius.”

I had a brief moment of elation, then I wondered

“Did I ever shave my lip?” (Trim the mustache)

I look in the mirror to see, what appeared to be tarantula legs, growing, crawling from my upper lip, reaching over, slightly downward.

“Oh dear God help me. Here I am a bona fide genius and I look like this?”

It was at this time I decided to start growing my hair out, long like it was when I was teen, but I would perm it, up high and wild, all crazy. I would become Einstein. So, when I go gray, watch out! It’s the crazed look I’ll be going for. And to heck with shaving or trimming the upper lip. A true genius does not worry with such trifles!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Fat Ass?

I recently re-connected with an old friend. We had stopped talking initially, as I recall, because I had said something foolish, or cruel, perhaps both. We decided to let bygones be bygones and to remain friends. This gets me thinking though, about an argument that I had some years ago with an ex-girlfriend. Gets me thinking about the things we say when we’re mad, and why we say them.

During the beginning of the relationship she adored me (isn’t this always the case in the beginning?) She told me how handsome she thought I was. I reciprocated the sentiment and we would spend hours staring into each others eyes. I know this is getting sappy but bear with me. I’m reaching a point, sort of.

Towards the end of the relationship things changed (don’t they always change towards the end?) We were having a little tiff about something or other and, out of God’s own, wide clear blue sky, she hollers out:

“Fat Ass!”

The argument was not a severe one. Certainly we had not reached the point of name calling. Yet she drew first blood. And boy what a stinger! I had been working out, mind you. She met me initially, a little heavy. She knew me about the time I first drafted “Making Gains” down the page a bit. But I had dropped some weight during our relationship and was sporting a pretty decent build. Had she been harboring this sentiment for over 2 years? I’m not a bright man, so you can imagine that I was confused; a little lost.

“Fat Ass?” I questioned. “What is that? I mean, I don’t even get where… What are you trying to… fat ass?

She could have called me insensitive, or crude, or any number of things. “Jerk” comes to mind. But FAT (space) ASS? My girlfriend was a smallish woman; petite and attractive. She was lucky to be 5 foot even. Weighed maybe 100 pounds. Still, I had to say something:

“Midget!” I hollered back.

She laughed out loud. It was the beginning of the making up, for the time being anyway. I had caught her in a senseless act and I responded appropriately, I thought, given the circumstances ;)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Hunker Down!

During recent Hurricane Ike in Houston one memory rises above the tumultuous fray. It's not so much the toppled trees, wind torn roofs, or weeks without lights and water that I recall most vividly. Instead, a single phrase, along with a ridiculous image, comes to mind:

"Hunker down!"

During Television and radio broadcasts of the storm, journalists kept giving us this advice. If you had power and could watch the TV, you noticed that they said the phrase with squinted, serious eyes and a firm demeanor. They seemed to think that they were the first to impart such wisdom. They were proud of themselves. But they were not the first. Every station you tuned in had someone saying:

"Hunker down!"

Sometimes they added auxiliary advice

"Stay inside and hunker down."

"Keep off the streets and hunker down."

"Remain calm and hunker down."

"Seek out your loved ones and together, remain, hunkered down."

Still no one ever thought to define, exactly, what it means to hunker down. I get mental images of squatting, crouching, low walking people. I think that only marines should be able to say this phrase, and only during extreme combat situations

“Hunker down boys, the enemy is closing in fast!”

Thursday, February 5, 2009

David After Dentist

I include the below video here for three inconsequential reasons and a fourth, more important, reason.

1. It's very funny.

2. I have no videos on my blog and I want them. Other blogs have videos and mine should have them too. My blog is better than other blogs, better than everyone else's blog, and it is better in every way. Videos are now a part of this betterness.

3. Having the video makes me feel good. Aside from felling better about the blog, I feel technologically competent, validated. I am not too savvy with many things. I'm familiar with my own navel, but most else I view as a mystery. So the fact that I can take this bit of code and paste it into my blog makes me very, VERY proud.

4. I am David. Not really; I'm Derek and I am 40 and normally wear a goatee. Still, I relate to little David's seemingly entire state of confusion. The first thing that called my name was when he asks

"Is this real life?"

I feel, as many of us do, that this surely can't be it, can't be all there is. I have been told though, that indeed this is it . This is not a trial run, as I had secretly hoped. Then David miscounts his fingers which I do. At least once a day I find myself counting on them, to make certain that one of them hasn't been lost.

Next we find young David rising from his seat onto his arms and screaming, protesting this erroneous reality, expressing his frustration. I have done this at home occasionally, but normally I reserve this tactic for the office. It's my way of saying "Do NOT assign me any cases. Better still, don't talk to me today, as I am seriously, unrighteously "unwell."

Now we find David in denial

"I don't feel tired" he says, then nearly closes his eyes. Similarly, I might say, "No Sir, I'm resting my head on the desk because I am studying the effects of dust on the mucous membranes. I AM NOT sleeping."

David then asks, twice, if he has stitches. I can recall every single stitch and broken bone that I have received over the years, but the short term memory goes. More importantly, the short term memory goes. After David pronounces his condition of "felling funny" he asks, pleads for an answer

"Why is this happening to me?" Sound familiar to you?

Finally he asks in readily apparent frustration

"Is this going to be forever?"

His father, in an effort towards kindness lies to the child. But I want him to know, wherever he is

"Yes, David. This will last forever, or at least 30 more years."