You've Gotta Nerve...

An update on the protests. They now have a large, about 12 foot tall, inflatable rat in front of our building. I am not sure who the rat is exactly, but I like it. At one point, someone was pulling on the rat's ropes to make it lurch back and forth menacingly.


It's Going Around...

I caught the Book Meme from Sommer. So here we go.

1) One book that changed your life?

The Bible, if it weren't for that damned book I would have more Sundays free. I can't remember the name of the collection, but I a collection of T.S. Eliot's poetry was pretty influential. I had a great English teacher in college who opened my eyes to poetry through The Waste Land. I probably reread The Waste Land and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock at least once a month, and frequently have passages floating through my head. The line "measured out my life in coffee spoons" comes to mind frequently. Here is a link to T.S. Eliot reading The Waste Land. It is pretty fantastic.

2) One book that you have read more than once?

Like most people who do this I have read many books numerous times, which allows me to cherry pick something in order to look good. So how about, Anna Karenina by Tolstoy? It really is just a wonderful book. I went through a phase were I only read Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, listened to Tom Waits, and drank a lot of whiskey. In many ways, it is a wonder that I am still alive.

3) One book that you would want on a desert island?

No one likes this question. I have a large book that features the complete works of Shakespeare, including the sonnets. The problem is that I am going to have to plan on being trapped on this island, because the thing is to damn big to actually take. But, it has a lot to read, and material that benefits from frequent readings. Also, when I started going crazy I could act out the plays with whatever people I had created in my head ala Gollum.

4) One book that made you cry?

Recently, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn made me cry when Johnny died. I know that he was a drunk and worthless, but it still got to me.

5) One book that made you laugh?

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris had me in tears. I remember reading it on a plane to Nebraska when my Grandmother died, and laughing so loud that I had to be disturbing my fellow passengers. The section where envisions inanimate objects getting married in order to remember the genders of their french names is particularly great.

6) One book that you wish had been written?

I wish the rest of Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky had been written. It was suppose to be a five part book about the German occupation of France in WWII, but Ms. Nemirovsky only finished two parts before being arrested by the Nazis and executed at Auschwitz. I just finished the two parts and they really are wonderful.

7) One book that you wish had never been written?

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith. Not only because I hate economics, but because it is a horrible read. Just look at the title. If the title of a book is that tedious, just imagine what the rest of it is like. Seriously, I don't know how people can be forced to read this before Bush's horrible law goes into effect. Also, the whole part about one savage hunting beavers and another hunting deer and them trading might be the stupidest construction in any respected book. In fact, I kinda hate all of the social contract theorists mainly because their books suck.

8) One book that you are currently reading?

I just started Saturday by Ian McEwan. I really enjoyed Atonement, but this one hasn't grabbed me yet. It is still early in the book, so we will see.

9) One book that you have been meaning to read?

Ulysses is really the only book that comes to mind. I start it at least once a year. I get about 150 pages in and realize that it has taken me like 2 months to read those pages. I then weep for the books that I haven't read in that time and abandon the project. In fact, I just added read Ulysses to my online To Do list. But don't get too excited, this list also features such items as, "catch a foul ball" and "break 200 in a game of bowling," so there is no rush on any of these.

10) Pass it on

I think most of all of my friends have already gotten this, so I don't know where to send it. How about Ryan?

We'll March Day and Night...

For about two weeks now, my building has been protested. I am not entirely sure what they are protesting, mainly because they always protest while I answer the telephones, so all I hear is shouting and general noise. I think it has something to do with the building company using non-union workers, or something. Mostly they just yell for about an hour and a half, and boo anyone who enters the building.

Today, for about the last 15 minutes, one of the protesters has been using a horn think that sounds like a kazoo. This seems like cheating to me. Have the courage of your convictions and irritate me without mechanical assistance. I feel like this is an unfortunate aftermath of the baseball steroids scandals, everyone is looking for the easy way. Sad. Also, we suspect that they are employing homeless people to bulk up their numbers.


I'm a Wuss...So Let's Box!

I had a blood test taken a month or so ago, and apparently I have high cholesterol. If my parents' "spend our last dollar on our deathbed" plan works, then this and my name stand to be the only things that I inherit from my father.

Given my various other vices, it would be right to wonder why I am so concerned about this. The problem is that because I have high cholesterol I have to get my blood tested again in 3 months. It turns out that I am really bad at having blood taken. Really bad. I was fine with the needle, but when I looked over and saw the little vial filling with my blood I just about lost it. I got sweaty, lightheaded, and a little nauseous. While sitting in that padded chair with the bar across you, I kept looking for the phone to the Governor's office. As soon as the whole order deal was over, I immediately tried to get up and far away from the "chair of death." The nurse kept me seated for a few minutes because she, justifiably, thought that I was going to pass out. After it was all over, I placated myself by thinking that I wouldn't have to go through that for another year.

Instead, I have to go back in 3 months, and if I still have high cholesterol presumably I have to go back again creating an unending circle of torture. I was discussing this with my father, and he told me that he gets his blood taken so often that it doesn't even bother him anymore. This is not a prospect that am looking forward to.

So in an effort to lower my cholesterol I have joined a boxing gym. I have been to two classes so far, and I have to say that it is a lot of fun. Mostly, I work on my jab and footwork. The guy who runs it seems mostly concerned with me not getting hit, and that is something that I can appreciate.


Yes, I would like some cheese with this.

I have realized that I don't see my friends all that much. The fact that I have two jobs plays a large part in my absence, but last night I realized another reason. All of my friends are working in the industries that they want to. They might not be in the exact job that they want, but they are at least in the right field.

I became aware of the problem last night when my friends went out to happy hours, and I went home to practice the piano. Because I don't work in a field that I have even a slight interest in, I have to work on what I want to when I have free time. Unfortunately, free time also happens to coincide with drinking time.

This might not be a problem, except that I happen to like my friends. Well, a few of them at least.



It looks like HBO has wised up and started listening to me. Catherine has alerted me that HBO will be renewing "The Wire" for a fifth season. So you really should start watching it, if only because you can look forward to another year of my talking about it all the time. And, if my opinion isn't enough for you, take a look at metacritic's page for season 4.


Seriously, The Bathroom?

I had, quite possibly, the worst table that my restaurant has served on Saturday. It is really the first time that I have questioned the sanity of people that I have served.

My restaurant hosts a universities local alumni chapter during football season to watch their team. It is quite a spectacle to watch. We have about 100-50 people all dressed in the same colors, and they shout, and sing, and chant as if they were really at the football game. As you can imagine they create quite a mess.

So the game is over and the alumni are filing out. Everyone on the staff is working to reclaim the restaurant as quickly as possible. It is during this chaos of pom-pom streamers, empty can of Natural Light, and cleaning spray that 6 people walk into the restaurant and ask for a table for 8. I tell them that we just finished a football game, and it will take a few minutes for me to clear off and set a table.

I then go inform my manager that 8 people will be here for dinner. Now, I am suppose to leave after the football game. She asks me to get the table started and then she will take it over. I clear off and set the table and seat the party. Then, I ask for their drink orders. Two of the men ask what bourbons we have. We carry a lot of bourbons in our restaurants, most of which I rarely serve, so I ask them for a minute and go check to see what is behind the bar. I return, list of bourbons in hand, and ask again for their drink orders. One of the guys is disappointed that we don't carry Wild Turkey 101, apparently regular old 80 proof Wild Turkey doesn't pack quite the same punch. The other bourbon drinker convinces Mr. Wild Turkey to order a different high end bourbon, which they both get with Coke. I emphasize this because good bourbon really isn't meant to be drunk with Coke, and while I don't care how people get drunk, the addition of Coke surprises me a little. I just didn't expect people who get so demanding on their bourbon of choice to then mix it with Coke.

After cajoling drink orders out of the rest of the table, I put their orders in, and check to see how the rest of the cleaning process is going. I pick up their orders and return to their table. They then order their dinners, two people get the surf and turf and Mr. Wild Turkey gets the prime rib.

After I put in their dinner orders, I see that more people are at the front waiting to be seated. Usually, our dinner shift after a football game is pretty light. Particularly when the game goes until 7:30 or so, because the restaurant is filled during the prime dining time and people go elsewhere. This is why my manager felt that she could handle the dinner shift and send me home after the football game. The problem is that people are streaming in to watch the Texas game, creating another rush too big for my manager to handle by herself. I tell her that I will stay and start picking up new tables.

I go back to the kitchen and they tell me that we are out of prime rib. So I go back to my table and tell them that we are out of prime rib and ask if they would like anything else, note prime rib is also part of the surf and turf. The surf and turf people are upset but quickly agree to substitute the New York Strip. Mr. Wild Turkey is very upset and asks if we have rib eye. I say that the New York Strip is the only cut of steak that we have. He remains upset, but agrees to the New York Strip. I go tell the kitchen about the substitutions and tend to my other tables.

After a while I return to the table to check on their drinks. The bourbon drinkers would like another round. While I am there, Mr. Wild Turkey is still upset about the lack of prime rib and begins to tell me that New York Strip is no substitution for prime rib. Mind you, he isn't being charged for the prime rib, but I apologize and go get their drinks.

I return and tell them that we are now out of the bourbon they selected and ask if they would a different bourbon. This sends Mr. Wild Turkey into a tizzy. And after apologizing again, I get them their drinks with the new bourbon.

Now at this point I can understand their frustration. They have asked for a few things that we have run out of. This happens in restaurants, and they aren't being charged for anything they are not getting, but I can see why they are upset.

Eventually their food comes up and I serve them and refresh their drinks. When I return five minutes later to ask how the food is, they say fine but are still clearly upset. The restaurant is pretty busy now, and we are short staffed, so I don't have a lot of time to worry about them.

As I am tending to my other tables, one of the guys signals that he would like another bourbon. I get his drink and tell them that this is the last of this bottle of bourbon. Now, in defense of my restaurant. They were drinking high end bourbons that we don't sell a lot of, so my manager doesn't keep extra bottles of these around. This usually isn't a problem because we have other high end bourbons to select from. Of course, the table is appalled. As a waiter, you develop of sense of when you have lost a table and any chance I had for a good tip with this table is gone. I assumed this was the point at which I lost the table. I don't particularly blame them, sometimes things just happen and there is nothing you can do about it. Sometimes the dealer is showing 6 but has a 5 hidden underneath. You are just screwed.

They finish dinner, and I clear the plates and ask if they would like anything else. To my surprise they order more drinks and proceed to stay in the restaurant. They stay for a while and continue drinking, but a cold war has set in. They start talking down to me and clearly don't like me, and I am doing my best to hide that I don't like them.

At one point, Mr. Wild Turkey pulls me aside to tell me how disappointed he is. According to him, they dine out a lot in the neighborhood and they spend a lot of money, and I should have done more to make them happy, like give them discounts or something for free. This is when things start to make sense. The problem is that I didn't worship their credit cards enough. They buy expensive things and deserve preferential treatment as a result. Again, they have not been charged for anything that they didn't receive, but because they won the lottery by picking items the restaurant was out of, they deserve something for free. I officially hate the people. After Mr. Wild Turkey is done lecturing me I say apologize and walk away. If he expected something for free after his speech then he should have had a different waiter.

And yet they continue to stay.

After they have been in the restaurant for about 3 hours, and I have been working for about 9, they ask for their checks, separate checks. I give them their checks, and two of the people have decided that I didn't deserve any tip. Mr. Wild Turkey leaves me nothing on $48. Another guy leaves me nothing on $100, but manages to write "This is the worst restaurant ever."

And yet they continue to stay, watching me. We had balloons up for the football game, and one of the guys asks me if he can have some. I say fine, and he proceeds to grab two balloons, puts a hole in one them so that he can sound like a munchkin. The guy has to be at least 35. He tires of this, and just pops the second balloon. And still they remain.

After they have been paid for about 20 minutes, and I have picked up the checks and thus know that I haven't been tipped, Mr. Wild Turkey then asks me for another drink! Really, the guy after complaining about the restaurant, lecturing me, and giving me no tip, asks for another drink. I was flabbergasted. I answered that the restaurant was closing because the Texas game was over, and I walked away.

I then leave the restaurant and sit on the stair in the back. I am so angry that I am not sure that I can contain myself, and I just want for them to leave. All of my other tables are gone, so I sit out back for about 10 minutes. I walk back into the restaurant and they are still there. I couldn't believe it.

Eventually my manager goes over, when they are one of the last two tables in the restaurant, and tells them that we have closed. They finally get up and go. All in all, they probably stayed about 45 minutes to and hour after they had paid.

After I have finished cleaning and resetting the restaurant, I clock out and sit at the bar to enjoy a post-long ass-shift drink. While I am sitting, my manager says "Charles you have to see this." So I get up and walk into the men's bathroom to find that the soap dispenser has been ripped off of the wall, the cover of the smoke alarm has been removed, and an air-freshener has been torn off of the wall and destroyed. All petty vandalism, but the real imagination was when they took a vinyl poster off of the wall and stuffed it into the top of the toilette so that the water would continually run. That took creativity.

We are sure that it was my table that was responsible for the destruction. My manager and the bartender didn't have any problems, or weirdness, with any of their customers, and Mr. Wild Turkey's friends were my only problem. The vandalism has to have occurred late or else someone would have told us, and they were the second to last table to leave. I had been in there about 1:30 before the discovery and nothing was wrong.

It was when I discovered the vandalism that their actions after they paid made sense. They were waiting to see what I would do. Mr. Wild Turkey asked for another drink to see how I would respond. They waited to see if I would see the bathroom. I think they were trying to start a fight, like an actual fight!

When I discovered that vandalism, I was probably the maddest I have been in a while. My manager saw how mad I was and reassured me that I didn't do anything wrong. I was so mad that I couldn't talk. I was so mad that I couldn't get to sleep that night, and I didn't get home until 2 after working for about 10 hours. I still am pretty mad. My blood is boiling while I write this two days later.

As a waiter you take a fair amount of abuse from time to time. Not a lot, and I can mostly deal with it. But the owner of my restaurant works harder than any person should, and I won't stand for people disrespecting her. That is what put me over the edge.

So I guess they won. They got to me. Congratulations.

Sorry for the length of this post, but I have been thinking about this for two days. I just kinda needed to write this so I can be done with the whole thing. That is why I didn't edit or proof this post in any way.


New Design!

Well I have upgraded to BloggerBeta, which is very exciting. I now can label my posts, and I have more control over the template. There are some more things I plan on changing, like figuring out how to get rid of that stupid navbar, but overall I am happy. Let me know if there are any problems with rss feeds, commenting, or anything.

UPDATE: I just learned that because BloggerBeta is Gmail related, comments a post are mailed to me as a single conversation. That is a feature I really like a lot.


On TV...

In the interest of reminding all of you rss readers that I still exist, I thought I would post some thoughts on Television shows. Please note that this post reflects the new and improved Charles, no longer just a hate-filled bastard! I should say that I have more substantive posts coming soon, but I don't think I believe in substantive posts anymore. My goal is to entertain you for about 2 minutes. I am a humble man.

1) I can't wait for The Wire to start. It is pretty much all I think about at this point. In fact, I have decided on a new superficial way to judge people. I can't be your friend if you don't like The Wire. You don't have to think it is the greatest show of all time, just one of the greatest shows of all time. Don't get me wrong, not liking The Wire doesn't make you a bad person (I guess it is possible that you help starving children or curing diseases, or something), it just means that we can't get along in any meaningful way. Sorry.

2) I recently finished the first season of Battlestar Galactica, and that is also a great show. In fact, just playing the percentages here, you probably don't watch Battlestar Galactica, The Wire, and Veronica Mars, and shame on you for that. In fact I am instituting a new arbitrary rule, no one is allowed to complain about TV in any manner if they haven't seen The Wire, Battlestar Galactica, and Veronica Mars. I won't stand for it.

3) I also really like The Contender. I think it has to be the best reality show of all time. It has: people living in a group house and making alliances, family drama, people trying to turn their life around and taking one last shot at their dream, pretty much all of the typical reality show stuff. The difference is that people are eliminated after competing in 5 rounds of boxing. This it totally better than being kicked off a show because you burned a risotto, or because you failed a glorified ropes course. I have yet to see any complaining by an eliminated contestant yet.

4) Seated next to my family at my Father's birthday dinner on Friday was none other that Senator Fred Thompson from Law and Order. My mother is a huge Law and Order fan, and could barely contain herself. We convinced her to wait until he was leaving to get his autograph. When my mom saw that Senator Thompson was leaving, she went up to him and said, "Senator Thompson, can I get your autograph? I am a big fan." She then paused briefly and followed, "More of Law and Order, not of your politics." To which Senator Thompson replied, "I will take what I can get." He then sign the back of the restaurant's business card and left. It was pretty great. Also, if you are at the Colvin Run Tavern, get the carving cart.



I know everyone has seen this video, but that doesn't make any less great. Also, I want to test this whole YouTube embedding thing.