Monday, June 30, 2014

It Might as Well be Hockey ©2014 by Joe Sixtop

     Well, it's been a minnit since a new episode of my struggling internet column has dropped. But check this out: Tonight I went to work, I waited on some people. Most of them were pretty cool, nobody was an outright A-hole or anything. We had some business but nothing crazy. I made adequate money for my efforts. I got cut at a decent hour and went home. Except for the getting cut and leaving at a time that I liked, it was a pretty average shift.
      And that's the way it's been lately. The only thing that's changed since I last checked in with y'all is that I quit my day job and have picked up some lunches at what has heretofore been my evening job. I'm just kind of bored and burned out with it all. I don't seem to have the energy and enthusiasm I had last summer and I want it back! On the for-real, that got a little out of hand last year; I want a slightly more mellow version of what I had in 2013. Oh well, keep eating right and exercising!
I'm not quite ready to give up on These American Servers™  (or being one of them) just yet. Since I don't really have anything restaurant-related that I can even pretend might be interesting, I'm going to go off-topic. The first one's about politics and the second concerns sports. Stick around and pretend to enjoy!

      If you keep up with politics, you might be aware that there was a little bit of a contretemps about who was going to be the Republican nominee for United States senate from Mississippi this year. Like in a lot of southern jurisdictions, a candidate in the Magnolia State has to get at least one vote more than 50% from those who deigned to participate to be declared the winner. If no one scores that objective,the top two finishers face off in another contest, with all the other challengers eliminated.
     The incumbent, Thad Cochran, came in second, but the challenger, Tyler Pastornicky, didn't quite manage to hit that magic 50%, because another, minor candidate was in the mix and he got about three per cent to fuck things up for Tyler. So incumbent Cochran reached out to eligible voters who are traditionally more Democratic to help him out in the runoff. He also got popular Mississippi guy, former New York Jets QB Brett Farve, to do a campaign commercial. Apparently, the strategy worked, because Senator Thad won the runoff.
     If I'd been able to vote in that contest, I'd of been like, "Fuck that!" Why should I vote for some reprehensible right-winger and help him out? He'd have to promise a lot more than that he'd (probably) be only slightly better than his opponent. But now that Mr. Pastornicky and his minions are acting like such petulant little bitches about the results—kind of like George Bush Jr back in November of 2000—I'm glad things worked out the way they did. The senator will PROBABLY prevail in the general election (c'mon, it's Mississippi) but might be inclined to be (very) slightly less douchey, feeling that he might owe his newest supporters a little something. And if the Pastornicky contingent stays home in droves during that election, the (most likely extremely) conservative Democrat, Travis Childers, might actually get a narrow victory. If that shut the Republicans out of a majority in the United States senate, that'd be awesome.

     I really like baseball. It's my favorite spectator sport. But I really, really hate the new (this is its third season) ordeal where there are two wildcard teams. Major League Baseball has three divisions per conference. so three teams finish in first place. The two best teams that didn't finish first face off in a one-game, winner-take-all playoff for the right to play the best of the first-place finishers in a best-of-five series for the right to go to the conference championship. To me, this is some bovine cabins. One of the things that made baseball great was that the playoff teams deserved to be playoff teams. This new format is so bad, it might as well be hockey. It didn't happen because it was a good thing for the sport, it happened in the hope of some more dumb shit to put on cable TV and maybe increase the chance of selling a few more September tickets in Kansas City and Pittsburgh, There's a good chance my favorite team, the Saint Louis Cardinals, might benefit from this new ordeal, and it's pretty sweet to have your team in the post-season  every year, but I still don't like it. This diluted bullshit is seriously taking away my enjoyment of the regular season. How about you?
     Speaking of baseball, great former Cards manager Tony LaRussa retired after the 2011 season wherein his squad won their most recent world championship. According to ESPN, TLR has unretired and taken an office job with the Arizona Diamondbacks. The Phoenix team's not very good. If they don't turn things around real soon, I believe Tony will take over as field manager for them, at least on a temporary basis, either this year or next. You read it here first!


      

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

All to No Avail ©2014 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I've been keeping notes, usually on order pads here lately. I've been scribbling little ideas for episodes of These American Servers™. And I was just about ready to try and put all that together into a coherent blog post. But then I lucked into a story I like better, so I'm appropriating it for my humble internet column. Enjoy!

     We close at 10:00 (11:00 on weekends), but our shifts are too long. So I usually bring a snack I can enjoy at some point during the evening, to keep the hunger pangs at bay. The snack is almost always an apple. If a co-worker named Jasmine is there, I usually offer her a slice of my Granny Smith product. Tonight we slid back to the dry storage room to get our munch on. My work-friend Josh C was back there already, getting some napkins or whatever. He overheard our convo and told us that it reminded him of something that  happened to him back in high school. Josh C is only in his very early 20's, so his incident isn't but a few years old.
     Josh had a crush on a cute fellow student named Stacy. From what I've heard, she's extremely attractive. Josh wanted her in ways that went beyond friendship, but friendship was as far as Stacy was willing to go with Josh C so that's what he settled for, hoping to bide his time and look for the chance to maybe take things to another level.
     Josh C and Stacy hung out pretty regularly. They'd go out to eat a lot. Josh always paid. One time they were at the food court at the mall. Stacy got up to use the bathroom. She left her phone at the table with Josh C. For lack of anything better to do, Josh picked up her phone and started looking at it. He decided to look himself up in her phonebook. His name wasn't there. He kept checking, nicknames, his last name, abbreviations, anything he could think of, all to no avail. When he and Stacy talked on the phone, it was usually him calling her, but she called him occasionally. She had to have his number in there. So he took his own phone and called Stacy's phone. He looked to see what popped up on her caller ID. It said "Free Food."

     Ouch! Poor Josh C. I hate that happened to him and I'm glad he's able to laugh about it now. I told him that even though it hella sucks to go through something like that, it's a really great story. I even said that since the story was so good, I wanted to steal it. He told me to go ahead. I said I couldn't claim the story since no one had cell phones when I was in high school. But I can tell the story on These American Servers, and so I have. I asked Josh if he and Stacy had lots of mutual acquaintances and he said they did. I told him he should have gotten ahold of the phones of every one of those people and changed Stacy's name in them from "Stacy" to something like "Disease-Infested Whore."

Monday, March 31, 2014

I Didn't Have to Work Sunday Morning ©2014 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Kelly D wants to open up her own catering company. Bucco Jr is attempting to get it together to own and operate a food truck. Alyssa P is trying to become a professional photographer. Skullcrusher L quit waiting tables and is now a Correctional Officer (which is a politically correct term for Prison Guard). Two of the Joshes are angling to get into the music business and another one would like to give up being a waiter in favor of becoming a writer. Amy A is about to get her teacheing credential. Joe'd like to luck into a job where he makes at least ten bucks an hour and works weekdays and gets paid holidays off and the opportunity for some (non-mandatory) overtime. I'd love to be able to work a couple of wait- or bar-shifts a week somewhere too.
     See, most of the co-workers that want to do something else besides restaurant work have an idea of what they want to do. I just feel like I wouldn't mind getting into something else but I don't have much of an idea what. If I had money, I'd go and learn something like welding or avionics or whatever. But I'd have to have enough finances to not have to work (or at least not work much) while I was learning. I know some really good servers who both attend school and work fulltime and seem to do OK with it but I know myself well enough to feel like I'd struggle too much with that. Plus, when the going got tough and I had to let up on one of my endeavors, I know which one would suffer: school. It's real important to me that I feel like I'm doing a good job at work but I seemed to have no such personal scruples about education, back in those long-ago days when I was a kid in school.
     Getting out of the restaurant business (or at least merely dialing my participation back a lot because I kind of love it and would miss it if I made a clean break) is just something I've been thinking about here lately. I don't see it happening any time soon, but ya never know. If you have any ideas or suggestions for me, I'd love it if you'd share them.


     Assistant Manager in Charge of the Waitstaff at my Night Job Barrie T is on a well-deserved vacation this week. He's the one who makes our schedule. Before he left, he asked me if I worked Sundays at my day job. I don't but I guess it's theoretically possible I might so it wasn't a total lie when I stammered "sometimes," having no idea why he was asking that but thinking it wasn't for any reason I'd like. Although we'd never met there, Barrie T used to work at the company that's my current day job. He's well aware that their Sunday Brunch starts an hour early. "I have you first out Saturday Night the next two schedules so that early Brunch shift won't kill ya," he told me.
     "Hey, thanks," I said,  sincerely because even though I didn't have to work Sunday morning, I love getting cut early regardless. So I was a little surprised Saturday when I arrived for my dinner shift and saw that I was not only not in an early cut station, I was closing. It's not Barrie T's fault; he's on vacation, remember? But that early-out status was put in the computer and was ignored by one of that shift's managers. What if I'd requested that early-cutness for some really important-to-me reason? It just kind of pissed me off a little, although I didn't say anything. We got pretty busy and didn't anybody get cut all that early. I wound up making some real good money too, so o well.

     I hope that stuff in the first part of today's episode doesn't read too much like self-pity or whining (I'm good if the second part does). I'm doing OK and consider myself blessed in a lot of ways, not the least of which is employment. I'm thinking about quitting the day job and just working some lunches at my current night gig. Of course, if I did that, I'd have no good excuse I could tell them for why I couldn't work weekend lunches like I've got now. Plus, since AM job fired GM Lupo W, they've promoted Assistant Manager Zweetie B to ACTING General Manager and I really like her a lot (not in the same way I used to like a similarly-named former co-worker who might be remembered by long-time readers of These American Servers™). In fact, if Zweetie gets the GM title there on a more permanent basis, that'd make me more likely to stick around. But if I do, I think I'll try and work there only four weekday lunches a week instead of the current five. That might free me up a little to go and look for some employment that's not restaurant-related. But even if I wind up only slinging chow (which isn't the end of the world), I'm kind of tired of working Sunday Nights and want to find a way out of doing that, or at least cutting way back on it.


RCW 1925-2014 RIP
    
 

Friday, February 28, 2014

What Scottish Inns was Charging ©2014 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Wups! I forgot that new episodes of These American Servers™ don't just magically show up every so often on their own (but oh, how I wish they did!); I've gotta get off my ass and make them happen. And I haven't been doing much of that lately. I guess there's a remote possibility that some people might like to read new episodes of this if any appear. If indeed such individuals exist and you're one of them, today's episode is dedicated to YOU!

     I worked at this one restaurant for over nine years. After September 20th of last year, I didn't work there any more. So I went and got another job at a place I'd worked at previously. I think I was unemployed for, like, three days. I'd been gone from there for about ten months and, although a lot of familiar faces remained, there'd been some turnover among the employees. One of the people that I hadn't met before was a  waiter named Skullcrusher L.
     Skullcrusher L was the oldest employee they had, beating even me by at least a decade ( I'm in the top ten oldest there for sure and maybe the top five). Skullcrusher L worked every night. If he wasn't scheduled (he usually was), he'd come in wearing the clown suit and pick up. Skullcrusher L never clocked in until he got a table and ran a report and clocked out immediately when his last table paid—regardless of how much sidework he had left—therefore officially only working about 40 or so hours a week, although actually more like 60. The restaurant does a lot of business and I make OK money there. But the dinner shift usually starts out slow. Skullcrusher and I had some time to converse and get acquainted.
     He was living in a motel. He wasn't living alone. Shacked up with Skullcrusher was the love of his life, his dog, Scruffles. It costs a lot to stay in a motel when you have a pure-bred, 14-year-old Ukrainian Weaselmutt living with you. Skullcrusher had been living in the motel for several months. He'd been paying by the week and then gotten in some financial trouble and started paying by the day, which, if you've ever lived in a motel, you know is a lot more expensive. Skullcrusher's a good dude. It entered my mind to ask if he'd like to rent out one of my couches for a LOT less than what Scottish Inns™ was charging. Not forever, maybe just for a couple of weeks or so to get him caught up to where he could at least go back to paying the motel's weekly rate again. And I'd get a little cash out of the deal too.
     I probably would of discussed this with Skullcrusher if it wasn't for Scruffles. Even though my sweet little Sugardog lived with me in that apartment until 2010 and it was great ,we're not supposed to have dogs there. And if we do, they're supposed to weigh less than 35 pounds. Scruffles weighs in at a whopping 55 pounds and looks bigger than that. Dogs can bring fleas and tear shit up. They can get you in trouble with the landlords. I decided to keep the them-staying-at-my-apartment idea to myself. Then Skullcrusher brought it up.
     I told him I'd think about it. My main concern was the dog. Skullcrusher said he'd bring the dog over and let me see what I thought. OK, that's fair. One evening after work, he brought Scruffles to my tiny apartment. Scrufffles is a nice, (usually) quiet dog and house-trained. He's pretty old but in GREAT shape. Skullcrusher takes awesome care of him. I thought I was a pretty good pet owner when I had a dog? I guess I was all right but Skullcrusher makes me feel like a major slack-ass in that department. It was obvious that Scruffles didn't have any fleas or anything like that. I told Skullcrusher to let me think about it for a couple of days, which I did. I thought of a few concerns and told them to him. He had a good answer for all of them. So I said it'd be OK for TWO WEEKS. After that we'd see where we were at and if everything was cool, he and Scruff could stay for about two months.
     Skullcrusher and his dog moved in back a little before Christmas. The plan at the time was for them to be out by the end of February. A lot of stuff's happened, including Skullcrusher changing jobs, and now the deadline's been moved to the end of March.

     I just found out about a restaurant-related game called TIPS! In the game's official logo, the exclamation point is a spoon and I thought that was pretty clever. Its website is www.stonesilent.com and you might want to check it out. Maybe hit me back and tell me what you think about it, OK?

Friday, January 24, 2014

Check Registers ©2014 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I waited on this fivetop the other day. They were pretty nice. A somewhat elderly gentleman in the party ordered a Miller Lite®. I convinced him that his best bet would be our 22-ounce Blotto™ draft. Another of the guests also wanted a beer but only would go for the pint. I served up everybody's beverages. A couple of minutes later, I strolled by their table again. The old guy claimed to be sorry but that his beer was "sour" and could he just have a twelve-ounce bottle? Sure thing sir. Just a second. The other beer drinker in the group polished his off just fine and you could tell he wished he'd opted for the larger serving and it was a little bit of a struggle for him to not order up another.
     I took the offending lowered-calorie treat off the table. I showed it to my GM and told him what was up. My boss is nice but he kind of argued with me a little about the sourness of the brewski, as though it was I who had a complaint about the product. I reminded him that wasn't the case and that I imagined  the beer to be fine and fresh and that the other guy enjoying less filling great taste at that table didn't seem to have a problem with his. I rang the bottled Lite and was assured that the problem one would be taken off the check.
     My five finished their lunch, shared a dessert and the pint drinker requested the single check. I'd printed it up when I rang in their raspberry chocolate cheesecake, probably at least a half hour after the draft beer contretemps happened. The bill was for about 49 dollars (one of the diners hadn't eaten but merely enjoyed some coffee). Dude gave me his credit card and I ran it. As everybody gathered up their coats and shit and prepared to leave and I thanked them a final time, I happened to see the credit card slip, signed and totaled and face up on the table. I'd been left $15. Sweet! A minute later I noticed my GM over at the table talking to them. He'd forgotten to take the allegedly sour draft beer off the check.
     I'd hit "summary" when I rang in the chow. It was right. I checked again when I rung up dessert and I hadn't fucked that up either. I didn't check to see if the 22-oz beer had been removed. I just trusted that it had but it hadn't. The clients didn't notice it; my boss remembered when he bade them goodbye. He owned his mistake and didn't in any way suggest that I was at fault or anything. Good for him. So we removed the already-run and -totaled receipt and asked for and got the credit card for the second time and reran it. I brought jones his voucher—now corrected to 45 dollars—again. He signed and totaled it again and they left.
     When I went back to retrieve the receipt I saw that this time I hadn't been left 15 bucks. This time I'd gotten 20.
    
     I'm fortunate enough to be a member of a credit union. I've had my meager finances in banks before and, while some banks are way better than others, credit unions are better still.. My credit union is located not where I live now and have for almost a decade, but back in my hometown. I can mail money orders from anywhere to my credit union and they get deposited in whichever of my accounts I want. And I've got a debit card. I have to pay about 30 bucks for a box of checks but there's no other charge for checking and the boxes of checks last me for literally years. I finally filled out my last check register a couple of days ago. Damn!  I still have plenty of checks left and always get registers with them and I didn't want to order more checks. I'm not wanting to go 500 miles to my credit union just for a check register. So there's a credit union located in a real cool 1970's-looking building next door to my day job. I just went in there after work today, got in line like I had money on deposit and asked the teller for a check register. Dude just gave me one free, no questions or static or anything. I think that's pretty cool and maybe I'll see if I can join that credit union or, since it's so conveniently located, might even try and get a job there. I'm still OK with the restaurant business but kind of thinking that working at two corporate chain restaurants every day is a little much.

     Cheers and happy New Year everybody!

 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Blurred Lines ©2013 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I guess mostly 'cause manager Garry S likes to make the schedule on a Xerox® machine and through no fault of my own, I lucked into the night off on Thanksgiving Eve. I like to go visit friends and relatives in my hometown on the fourth Thursday in November and some years I do. I'd always be off on Black Friday at The American El Chico, where I worked for nine years until I got fired back on September 20th and was scheduled lunch on the day after Thanksgiving at the new AM gig. So I stayed here and enjoyed a rare off-all-day Thursday. So that Wednesday night I started composing this here episode of These American Servers™, even though it took over two weeks before you got to see it. Hey, I do what I can.

     I was working at a fairly upscale, independent restaurant, the best job I've had yet, come to think of it. Anyway, one night an acquaintance of mine, Applehell™ waitress Shannon, along with her husband and well-behaved little girl, came in for dinner. I don't remember if they asked for me or not but they wound up in my station. Right about the time they were fixing to leave, Shannon said something that's stuck with me: "You put a lot more into your job than I put into mine." Not that I was good at it necessarily or that she wasn't, just that I put a lot in. And I've got to admit, I try pretty hard to see that people who sit in my station have a good experience. Plus when things don't go well at work I tend to really suffer and since I hate to suffer, I strive to see that I don't have to do much suffering.
      I was reminded of Shannon's long-ago statement today. I'm pretty new at my current AM job but was assigned a trainee. Dude's name is Seamus and he's real eager to get out of training and onto the floor on his own. Today's the day he's supposed to wait on people while I silently stand nearby and observe and supervise. He had a good suggestion; that we'd say he was the trainer and I the newby watching to see how it's done. If any questions were asked that he couldn't handle, we'd act like my answering them was part of my learning experience, a contingency which never transpired.
     Seamus did a very good job. I thought his greet was just a little too enthusiastic and told him so but that's a minor point—it wasn't bad or anything—and I mostly was really impressed. I think Seamus is a great waiter and he's kind of inspired me to try and step up my game a little. He did something very accommodating for one of our guests—nothing too major, I guess, otherwise I'd remember what it was—and I conveyed my approval. "I know how to make money," Seamus replied.

     Well, it's a fortnight later and Seamus has been on his own in full stations for over a week now. There haven't been any problems as far as I know and I believe he's doing a good job. But from that one training day follow, I thought he was going to be, like, amazingly super-awesome and he hasn't been, he's merely been somewhat above average. For at least that one day he was a super-awesome trainee though.

     I'll be the first to admit it isn't the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show 2013. It's not the Denver Broncos or the Denver Broncos schedule. It's not even the Lakers. I can't take all of y'all to Krispy Kreme in Uruguay (and big ups to Uruguay for their new cannabis policies BTW!) or anything like that and even if I could I'm not sure if I could get Gisele Bundchen, Michelle Jenneke, Demi Lovato or Idina Menzel to accompany us like it was an American Hustle. But it might interest some of ya to know that even though I'm not currently fucking with Instagram Direct I've still got Twitter and it's @JoeSixtop. Hit me up if you want to follow or compliment me on my SEO or whatever. And I'm wishing a MMMerry Christmas to EVERYBODY!
                                  Cheers, __________-Joe

Thursday, November 21, 2013

A Letter from Texas ©2013 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

Dear Cousin Earl:
     I'm sorry you haven't heard much from me since I left Mississippi and moved here to Dallas, Texas. I dialed your phone last week but I guess you weren't home or maybe you're still trying to duck calls from the draft board. Too bad there isn't a way to know who's calling before you answer. Heck, I think it'd be nifty to have a phone you can carry around like a transistor radio you can talk on. Of course, that'll never happen but it's fun to think about.
     I'm real lucky to have landed myself a pretty good job. I wait tables at The Dreamlifter Restaurant in the Statler Hilton Hotel. It's kind of like what our poor, homely old Aunt Melinda—you remember her, don't you?—does at the Cotton Patch CafĂ© up in Holly Springs, except my place is a lot swankier. Anyway, I told them I'd been a waiter at The Secession House over in Jackson for two years and they bought it. I figured nobody'd want to spend all that money calling long distance just to find out about me and I guess I was right.
     It's kind of a tough job but I like it  OK and the tip money's pretty great. I just wait on customers and then when they pay, they put an extra ten per cent on top of it that I get to keep. Shucks, it's not unusual for folks to leave me 15%, sometimes even 20! Plus the hotel pays us .13¢ an hour on top of the tips. I'm darn near rich!
     Our customers can come in here and order up some alcohol (except on Sundays, of course) and not just beer but wine and even whiskey and it's all legal and legit. That's just one of the lots of ways here's different from back home. We've got both kinds of wine here too, Burgundy and Chablis. I'm trying to learn more about them, like how to look really swell opening the bottles at the tables (!) and why the only good wine is from France.
     When I take people's orders, I have to write 'em down on a piece of carbon paper. I have to use this complicated secret code they made us learn called abbreviations. Then I ring up the orders on this expensive ciphering machine they got back by the kitchen. Then I tear off one of the pieces of carbon paper and put it on this thing called the wheel and the cooks usually start making it. My work-friend Otis said that someday soon just ringing up an order on the ciphering machine will automatically make it appear to the cooks in the kitchen and save a lot of wear and tear on my Florsheim shoes (I think I  got mine at Kresge's) but I'm calling cow-poop on that. I don't think they'll be able to do some Twilight Zone crap like that even 50 years from now.
     The other night after work our chef, Pierre, invited some of us over to his swanky apartment. He's a real nice fellow although he's kind of persnickety about how a lot of things at work get done. He's about 50 and is kind enough to let our new Cuban busboy, Jiminez, be his roommate, even though Jiminez can't be more than 20. They need to get a bigger apartment, too. I noticed they only have one bedroom and one bed. I guess they take turns sleeping on the couch.
     Pierre just got back from a vacation in Europe. He has a nice hi-fi set-up and played us a record album he brought back. It's an English combo called The Beatles. And I gotta tell ya, they're pretty good. If they were American, they might even have a chance to get popular here, too. Pierre brought out these funny, hand-rolled cigarettes and told us to "be cool," whatever that means. They smelled like a cross between shit and a lespedeza stack caught on fire but we passed 'em around and I got to feeling pretty good from them. I need to check and see if Camel or Philip Morris make anything like them that I can maybe buy at Walgreens.
     I've been hoping to meet some girls here in Texas. Our restaurant is pretty fancy so they won't let any women wait tables here and all the housekeeping ladies are 45-year-old Mexicans. There is one girl I really like here. She fixes salads in our kitchen. Her name's Betty. She's real pretty and super nice and I like her a lot and I'm always wanting to kiss her. The only problem is that Betty's a negro! Don't tell my Daddy about this, OK?
     President Kennedy is going to be here in Dallas tomorrow. He's gonna ride through town in his cherry presidential Lincoln limousine and then make a speech. I'm off work and I think I'll go see him. I like President Kennedy a lot. But I might not go. I'm from the same small town in Mississippi you are and I'm still not used to the big city crowds something like this will bring. It's no big deal either way. The president is a healthy young man and I'm sure I'll have plenty of other opportunities to see him in person.