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.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Comfortably Dumb ©2012, 2013 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

       Well, it's about that time again and damn, I got bupkus. So I checked the archives here at These American Servers™ and came up with this here episode I kind of like from last year that's gonna be reposted. If you haven't read it (and you probably haven't), it's new to you, right? Enjoy!

     I was already at work the other night when my work-friend Melanie showed up for her shift. She headed my way. "Hiya!" I said.
     She looked up at me with her big pretty brown eyes and grinned. "I am so stoned!" she whispered.
     I used to come to work with a bad hangover on at least a third of my shifts. I kind of regret how much alcohol I used to consume but oh well. And to this day if there's a can of whipped cream in the kitchen, empty of product but still charged with nitrous oxide, lemme at it! If you woof that shit down, it'll actually get you pretty fucked up but only for less than five minutes. If marijuana made me feel like N²O from food-service brand dessert topping does, I'd be hittin' the bong right now instead of composing the drivel you're currently perusing  (and thanks, btw).
     So other than those two exceptions—one really, since I've dialed back the boozing considerably—I don't consume anything intoxicating before or during my waitshifts. High (ha ha) on the list of fun substances for me to not be on while I'm slinging chow is cannabis and I've never worked a restaurant shift under its influence. Except for the one time I did.
     My friend Reilly and I were waiters at the same independent restaurant. One Tuesday afternoon he showed up at my door a couple of hours before our mutual clock-in time of 5:00. "Can I ride in with you today?" he asked. That was no problem but we still had a good chunk of time to kill before we had to leave. Reilly reached into his ever-present duffel and pulled out a big bag of dank, sticky buds. "Dude!" he exclaimed, "This is like, the best weed I've ever had in my life!" which was an impressive endorsement, coming from an inveterate stoner like Reilly.
     I declined Reilly's offer to partake—remember,I had a shift that night—but my girlfriend didn't. I sat there while they put a nice dent in Reilly's stash. A couple of neighbors showed up, bringing their own badass ganja. I watched as joints and bong hits were enjoyed like it was a 1978 prom night in La Jolla. American Beauty, or maybe it was something by Pink Floyd, played in the background as sweet, funky smoke permeated the tiny apartment.
     When it was time to go, Reilly asked if he could spark up another doobie in my car on the way. America's evil laws being what they are, that's something I never let anyone do ever. But I was in a strange yet pleasant mood, so I told him it was OK, "just this once." When we arrived and I strolled across the parking lot, I realized something: I was pretty fucking high! I'd actually gotten a contact high, which I'd never previously thought was possible. Uh-oh! I knew how to deal if I'd been hung over but this was something new (at work, not in my personal life) that I wasn't ready for at all. I was very apprehensive as I approached the 'staurant but I'm a big grown-up. I'd deal with it and try my best.
     I shouldn't have worried. Even though we were pretty busy and  went on a wait there for awhile, I had one of my three or four best waitshifts ever! All my clients were real nice. I was mellow and chill, yet remarkably efficient. I did almost no fucking up and what little I did I recovered from nicely. It was like playing a video game called Waiting Tables® and kicking its ass! Everyone involved was happy and I made great tips.
     I volunteered to close that night and my contact high was pretty much gone by the time I finally left work. And I've never been high at work since. How come? I'm not really sure; it's just something I don't do and that's that, I guess. But I've got a couple of hours to kill before my shift tonight. If any of y'all are holding and want a ride in, give me a call!

Friday, November 1, 2013

I Did a Dumb Thing ©2013 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

    One of my many flaws as a restaurant employee is that I'm kind of a slow closer a lot of times. I'm a little more thorough than a lot of my co-workers and my station and sidework—maybe not so my silverware—look a little better than yours and that's part of it. But I seem to have trouble getting focused and organized to get my closing stuff done in a timely manner. Saturday night I closed and it probably took me 30 to 40 minutes longer to get everything done than it would have taken someone else. I apologized to my manager and told him I hated that he was mad at me. He said he wasn't mad but I'm pretty sure he was at least a little irritated.

     Up until about 40 days ago I worked at a restaurant that I'd been at for years and years. On September 20th, I got fired. I really miss my job doing AM Curveside™ ("Hogging the Parking," September, 2012). It was a sweet gig for me, the likes of which I'll never have again. Oh well. I've got new jobs and I'll be OK. One real bad deal about the former long-time gig was that's where I met this chick I like who I'm trying to forget about now. Anyway, this morning at the new place I was asked to come up with a PIN number for POS register purposes. I blurted out the first number with the requisite amount of digits I could think of: Her birthday. Now I wish I'd thought of something else.

     Our Magical Mushrooms™ are marinated in beef stock, red wine and Italian dressing. They're really good. Especially when you can get them for just five bucks during Monday happy hour. Tonight a somewhat elderly white woman got seated at one of my tables. "Hi. Thanks for joining us! Is it just gonna be you and me tonight?" said I.
      "I'd like a glass of house chardonnay," she replied. Whatever. She was ready to order food then too. "I want an order of Magical Mushrooms please," said Ms. Lady. I rang them in. Magical Mushrooms usually take less than ten minutes to emerge from the kitchen but tonight they took somewhat longer. I strolled past her table, smiled and promised her 'shrooms quickly a couple of times. She smiled back, didn't seem stressed about it. I went and got manager Garry S and told him my simple order was taking way overlong.
     It turns out the kitchen lost my ticket. Garry got a rush put on my lady's chow and ran it out to her. I did a callback about a minute later. "How are they?" I asked. "Worth the wait, I hope."
     "They're fine. Thank you," she then asked me for a to-go box and her check, the latter of which I produced immediately. I brought her Styrofoam to her, took her twenty-spot and returned with her change. When next I glanced in that direction, she was gone. Two dollars was left on the table. A little later, Garry approached me. "Did you already have that lady's check printed as soon as you rang it in?" he asked.
     "Yeah," I said.
     "Well, she's mad at me, said Garry. "I told her I'd comp her mushrooms (not her glass of wine) when I ran them. She caught me in the lobby on her way out and told me she didn't like that she hadn't been comped and that she wouldn't be back and left before I could do anything about it. Didn't you realize I'd comp that?"
     I've known Garry for years—this is the second chain restaurant company he's been my manager at—and I know he's pretty quick to comp. If it'd been my call, I'd probably have comped her too but maybe not. Ms. Lady had kind of an abrupt demeanor but was not an unpleasant bitch or anything and seemed not terribly impatient or upset when her 'shrooms took too long. I'm pretty sure she was P.O.'d merely because she was promised a comp she ultimately didn't receive and not so much about the money itself. Garry should have told me about the comp and I should have thought to investigate if there was one. We were both at fault, I'm not sure who the worst. "Sorry dude. I'll try and be more mindful about shit like that," I told Garry.
     "Hey, things happen. If she'd of gave me a minute I could o' fixed the situation. Fuck it," said Garry, who didn't mention my somewhat ill-gotten five bucks.
     Day before yesterday, I made a bold prophecy on here. It didn't come true. I'm a big enough man to not try and play it off like I never said it. So here it is, reprinted:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

     A bold prophecy: the mighty Saint Louis Cardinals will win a close, super-exciting Game Six on Wednesday night. Then they'll kick the living shit out of the Blosux on Halloween. Remember, you read it here first on These American Servers™!