Caught Up! (and Foodservice Peeves, Alex, and Hockey)
It only took...twelve days?
Oh, I forgot to mention twelve days ago that I did complete NaNoWriMo again this year, clocking 51K words as of 29 November. I didn't write the last day because it was my last day of work before Ocean City, so I spent it getting the office presentable so that I didn't come back to a mess. The novel still isn't finished, but it's getting really close. And I pretty much hate the last section, but that's why Eru invented revision and rewrite. I'll be doing a lot of both, I suspect.
Bobby is sick with a gawdawful head cold. He's been out of work for the past two days, which means that we have lunch together in the afternoons. Which means that I still haven't started my Christmas shopping. Oops. Oh, well, tomorrow is another day.
But because we have been eating lunch out at actual sit-down restaurants, I got to thinking about foodservice pet peeves. Since I used to work in foodservice, I probably pay greater attention to such details than most people. For a long while, I could not sit where I could see an open kitchen because I'd become so engrossed in watching the cooks that I would forget to make conversation!
It kind of annoys me when a host is seating you and tries to make small talk as s/he walks. I realize that this isn't the host's fault; most chain restaurants practically script every aspect of their service employees' behavior, and I can almost see the training manual now: "Make small talk with the guest as you escort him/her to the table. Ask how the guest's day is going or make comments about the weather." Believe me, I spent enough years as a trainer to know how the desk-drivers in upper management think foodservice should work. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me to read, "Try to work in a mention of the latest promotion or your favorite menu items!"
But this small talk annoys me not because I dislike small talk--I make plenty of it while running stuff for people at work, thinking it better than sticking them on hold for who knows how long--but because watching the poor host try to walk through a bustling dining room while simultaneously twisting to ask me how I'm enjoying the unseasonably warm weather as we both struggle to shout above the din and sound like we actually care what the other is saying...it just seems like far too much effort when, really, I'm hungry; I just want to be taken to a clean table, given a place to park my butt, and shown a list of food that I can eat. Nor does it make me feel more welcomed. Perhaps because I know too well how restaurant training programs go, it sounds like, "Hey, I'm demonstrating my proficiency in page 14 of the training manual!" or "Hey, if you're a secret shopper, make sure you give me points for asking after your day while I walk you to your table!"
But worse than that is when servers come up to the table and say, "Hi! I'm Alice! Can I get you started with some Fiesta Hot Wings or an Onion Tower?" *criiiinge* Again, it's not the server's fault. At The Piece, one of the opening lines we were taught to use (and I refused to teach to my trainees) was "Hi, can I get you started with a giant milkshake?" A...giant milkshake? "Giant" is just such a odd word to use unless you're talking about a hulking, hairy guy who lives on top of a bean stalk.
It just sounds so phony. "Hey, I'm trying to up my company's sales figures! And, hopefully, my tip in the process!" Now, when I waited on tables for a year before going back to my cave, i.e. production work, I would always ask my tables, "Can I get you started with some drinks or appetizers?" This gets the people thinking, "Hmmm...appetizers?" or maybe lets them know that it's okay to order their cheesesticks now so that they come out before the meal. But it doesn't sound so pushy, I don't think. I was always of the philosophy that most people know what they want to eat. I mean, I'm not going to eat buffalo wings no matter how hard my server pushes them. And I appreciate a server who asks, "Do you have any questions about our menu?" or even gives some of his/her personal recommendations. But using the company's product in an introduction: "Hi! I'm Dave! How about an Ole Bravo Marguarita to get started?" Bleh. I'll take an iced tea, thank you, and you can keep your overpriced, watered-down Ole Bravo for yourself. Especially when every time the server approaches the table, it's with a sales pitch: "All done? How about a Choco-Chunk-A-Cheesecake or a cup of Mocha Mocha?"
Anyway, Bobby is sick: Sick enough to miss work but not hockey. He's playing at a game right now. Last night, we went to see the Caps play the Penguins. Oh, that was a horror show. They went up 4-0 in the first period. And they lost. WTF???
It was a tense game, i.e. a good game, and it was really a moment in history: the first time that perhaps the four best young players in the NHL--Ovechkin, Semin, Malkin, and Crosby--were all on the ice at the same time. But they were up four points and lost! WTF?!
And the joint was full of Pittsburgh fans. *scowl* Our section was full of them. Of course, I got Eileen Dover in front of me, complete with a bleach-blond femulette and (apparently) her elbows glued to her knees. Which meant that I had a big bleach-blond femulette between the blue lines for most of the game. And while I am convinced that 90% of Pittsburgh sports fans are trash, the ones behind us really took the cake. They managed to dribble beer on my father-in-law, drop a lid and a cup (empty, luckily) on the hapless girl next to me, and they screamed obscenities through the whole game. Now I can make use of the f-word into an art form when I'm angry, but I recognize that shouting it at a public venue with families with small children is simply not good manners.
Some idiot also started chanting for...the Steelers? Right. The Ravens kicked the Steelers' collective ass 27-0 a mere two weeks ago. Go ahead and brag about that.
There was also a bona fide brawl in our section! I turned around and saw a big guy in a Penguins jersey tumbling down the stands (at first I thought: "Crowd-surfing? At a hockey game??"), much shouting ensued, ushers appeared, and one guy bitch-slapped the other. Now I can say that I've been to a game where there was a brawl in the stands.
Speaking of fights, Bobby got ejected from his game on Saturday for punching a guy in the neck. Apparently, the officials weren't calling anything, and the other team was pulling some really dirty moves, i.e. sticks in the crotch or across the wrists. Bobby was skating off and some tough-guy cross-checked him in the back and knocked him to the ice. The official saw it and said nothing, so Bobby got up, dropped the gloves, and punched the guy in the neck. At which point, the guy skated off. Probably a smart move. Of course, for cross-checking a player in the back after the whistle had blown, he got no penalty. Bobby got ejected, which was fair. Punching people in the necks is generally frowned upon in professional as well as recreational hockey, but what's good for the goose is good for the gander, and a player being needlessly aggressive and antagonistic should have shared in his punishment.
On another note, Alex is now roughly the size of a small horse. I have pictures and even a few little videos of crappy quality, but I just have to get around to uploading and posting them. Last night, though, he did probably the dumbest thing he's done since we got him. We'd just gone to bed; it was around midnight. He didn't want to go to sleep, and I heard him messing with the door on his crate. Then he started to whine. They he started shrieking, so we put on the light, and Bobby shouted, "He's stuck on his crate!"
The dumbass had started chewing the door to his crate, and he got his lower jaw stuck between two of the bars. He twisted just a little and was unable to free himself. So at midnight, I'm holding down his wriggling little body so that Bobby can carefully extricate his jaw from between the bars of the crate, he's screaming, we're both saying, "Good boy! Good boy!"...and then he was out. And the tail started wagging, and all was forgotten. Crazy carpet alligator!
ETA: Hey, it's a cheap and easy way to give me "gifts"....
Stolen shamelessly from my lovely sister-in-law linwe_ancalime.