Monday, February 28, 2011

I'm Sorry (No You're Not)

This is not a rant blog.

That being the case, every now and then, I notice something that I feel compelled to point out, and thus drag any readers I actually have down the rabbit hole of justification and rationalization with me. So let's go.

I have a thing about people not really meaning what they say. I reference my post on people asking "how you are?" I'm not sure I put up a post on it, but the same goes for people saying the dreaded words "we should do coffee sometime." When I whip out my calender and say "OK, what time looks good this week?" and I catch the "deer in the headlights" look, I know that they didn't mean it. Then comes the interesting task of trying to let them off the hook without them realizing you've realized that they didn't mean it. It just gets awkward.

Something I've noticed while working the drive-thru window of MexiGong is the particular habit many of my coworkers have of saying "I'm sorry" every time they mishear or mispunch something in.


Them: 5 tacos please.

Us: Okay, crunchy tacos.

Them: I wanted them soft.

Us: Sorry about that...Okay, 5 soft tacos?

Problem 1: They aren't sorry. Why should they be sorry? It wasn't really a mistake per say. Misunderstandings happen. Between you and the customer, the order will be resolved to proper correctness, and throwing out a casual "sorry about that" does not mean you are sorry. Which leads to...

Problem 2: Getting into the habit of saying sorry when you don't mean it. It's kind of like the "how are you" thing. It feels uncomfortably like lying to me. It becomes something you just say, soon to be devoid of any meaning whatsoever.

When I'm taking an order, I only apologize when something was truly a mistake on my part, not just when the customer misspoke and therefore I mispunched. And when I apologize, you can hear that I actually mean it.

It just makes me want to put my plan into effect.

A) win the lottery

B) open a restaurant of the fast food variety solely for the purposes of the following experiment:

All my employees must be absolutely truthful. When asked how they are doing, they must tell it like it is. If they are not sorry, don't say it. If a customer is being rude and crazy, you are not required to be nice. When catheter Carl comes in, you do NOT need to give him dollar bills for his skeezy pennies.

What about you? What sorts of things do you find yourself saying that you don't mean, just because it's part of your job or your life?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why I Wear Headphones

…except I forgot my ipod today. This afforded me the luxury of getting to witness, hear, and actually take part in the affairs around me. Also make snarky commentary because I was bored out of my mind.

Let's kick it off with my ride on the Sac city bus homeward:

Woman1: Don't you go thinking I'm crazy by the way I look!

Me: No…we think you're crazy because you're talking to yourself, eating an orange peel straight, and carrying a large piece of dead palm tree matter on the bus.

I'm trying of stay out of the following conversation:

Man: Yup, I've been in the hospital for a month, just got out a day or two ago. Gotta work on my tan.

Woman2: Oh no! What happened? (why did you ask that? Why? WHY?)

Man: Well, I was out for dinner with my family and half way through, I got up to use the bathroom and passed out. They found me in the hall passed out when I didn't come back. They thought I had had a heart attack, but it wasn't. So they put me on oxygen for a month.

Woman1: Yeah, that's baaad

Man: Yeah, when I went in, I was at 146. When I came out, I was at 106.

I have to stop this charming narrative here. Maybe he was using kilograms as a measure? Maybe he has a special scale? Maybe he's NUTS?

Oh yeah, that's probably it.

Well, I can't help the small amused smirk that probably crossed my face which apparently was interpreted by the palm-bearing lady as an inviting-let's-get-to-know-each-other sort of smile.

Her: You are a very pretty girl

Me: …thanks (Nervous smile. Don't want to encourage them, you know)

Her: You are! Your hair is just so pretty. Do you have Irish in you?

Me: I believe so; a little.

Her: You're very pretty. I know because I'm an artist. I sculpt. (Waves palm piece menacingly)

I'd dye my hair to avoid this stuff if I didn't:

A) Happen to really like it the way it is.

B) Want to lose my automatic place on bucket lists world wide

C) Mourn the lack of amusing blog fodder

But let's continue our bus journey!

An overweight young woman clamors on and I hear a yelp behind me: "Christine Hernandez! What are you doing here?"

Turns out Christine is on her way to the dentist to get a root canal. Yippee for her.

As the conversation continues, I find it odd that they obviously know each other and are interested in talking, but are sitting at opposite ends of an uncrowded bus yelling over my head.

Artist lady has left, and a woman gets on and sits in front of me where Christine has vacated. She is wearing a very fuzzy leopard print hat. So help me God but I really really wanted to reach out and pet it. Here kitty kitty!

I wonder if people think about who has sat in the seat before them. I remember a day where an obese man with his pants so low a plumber would probably sue for trademark infringement nestle down in a chair to the horrified astonishment of the bus population. When he left, no one in the crowded bus moved to the now-empty seat, even though they were pretty packed. Two stops later, a young, innocent school girl got on and plopped right down. All I could do is wince.

Like, what happens when you settle down in an area that reeks of KFC-eating homeless bum, and when you get up, you still smell that man almost as if he were dogging your footsteps? Your choices are:

A) The smell is just lingering in your nostrils

B) What ever they left on the seat has migrated to you

C) Check behind you for a satiated bum

Fuzzy hat lady leaves (sad face) and semi-attractive man sits down…except…sir? Sir? Excuse me? Bowl cuts went out of style along with sending your third son to join the priesthood.

The commuter bus north was fine…except for the fact that I seem to have an unhappy knack of picking seats near people who are going to want to talk on the phone the entire way home. Loudly. This happens more often than not, especially if I want to sleep.

Two quick things from school today:

Wearing cheap black sunglasses indoors while working on a computer in a windowless room does not make you look cool. It makes you look stupid.

No, a cupcake is not supposed to be crunchy. This is not an adjective you may apply to said pastry. If they are crunchy, we refer to them as something else. Like burnt. Or just trash.

Tonight, we have another five to midnight shift, so lets all cross our fingers and hope for some drive-thru crazyness!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Taco Tales: With Extra Lettuce Because I'm Dieting

I'm happy to report that the little snippit that I wrote about insuring your spouses was not even the GOOD part of the week! I had a fantastic night at the drive through last night, in that I got me some storyz for y'all. (yes, I work tirelessly at this. it's not easy, and you're not always worth it, but I have hope)

Over the headset, I heard Lettuce Lady, aka Mrs. Iceberg ordering a tostada. She said she wanted extra lettuce, then started asking for extra of things that aren't on the tostada to begin with. My co-worker tried to explain what all was on the item, but Mrs. Iceberg wasn't having any of it. SHE knew what was most important:

"I want extra lettuce! Because you guys are real stingy with your lettuce! You only put like a tablespoon on and call it good!"

Any more lettuce than normal would really be like ordering a taco salad on a crunchy taco plate.

Man pulls in the the drive thu, finishes his order and wants a drink. 

Me: What would you like?
Him: Tall Pepsi
Me: Pardon?
Him: Tall Pepsi
Me: (silence) So...a small?
(silence, as he contemplates what he's said)
Him: Yes, actually
(we both bust into laughter, adversely affecting my menu time quotas)
Me: Starbuck much?
Him: You have no idea.

Man: I want your new burrito combo (It's a HUGE burrito, people. Around 700 calories, surpassed only in the amount of sodium -- more than 3 TIMES the amount of calories! I said this place isn't inherently unhealthy. I didn't say you wouldn't blow up like Aunt Marge and need to be buried in a piano box if you wallowed in the trough of uninhibited consumption...)
Me: And what would you like to drink with tha--
Man: And I want that new quesedilla, the big one (750 calories: cha-chEEENG)
Me: Ok...and what did you want to drink with your combo?
Man: Can you make it an extra large? And since I'm on a diet....I'll take a diet Pepsi!
Me: (confused as to his definition of the words "diet")

Car load of young men comes through. At the menu, they are scatter-brained, can't seem to put a coherent sentence together. They keep saying the wrong thing and giving me the old

"Why is THAT there? THAT'S not what I ordered!"
(Me) "....That's the number one combo that you ordered..."
(Him) "Oh. I didn't mean that one...."

They get up to the window, and it's 4 guys in a teensy li'l old car. And it's obvious that they're all higher than Lawnchair Larry ever made it. 

Why, you ask?

Hyper man one says: "This is--this is--that is why I don't do drugs. Ever. I would be, you know, even more messed up--confused by that menu---even now than I am...
Me: Uh huh...
Hyper man two: Hey! What time do you get off? What are you doing when you get off?

Long time readers will know that I have encountered this question before, and with disastrous, yet humorous results.

Seeing as my boss was standing not too far behind me, I decided not to play with the poor drunk boys.

"Midnight, and then off to sleep!" Flash quick smile, hand food, slam takeout window.

Coworker: You should have gotten their numbers!
Me: Huh??
Coworker: Their numbers! You should have asked for their numbers!
Me: I didn't WANT their numbers....
Boss: You should have asked for their numbers...
Me: I would have liked to play with them...'Would you like some (breath) sauce with that?' <--- in my best seductive voice
Boss and Coworker: They would have given you their numbers...

All these happenings are slowly trying to eradicate the little room in my mind where lives the infamous "Catheter Carl", as some ladies from my church call him. Ah well, there's the good, the bad, and the Carls in every work place. 

And now, for some audience participation:

What is the good, the bad, and the Carl where you work? Where you've worked in the past? On your morning commute?

Advice for the Ages

My dear sweet place of work kept me out 'till midnight last night. Already sleep deprived, this did not bode well for the bus ride to school this morning. 

My nap on the commuter bus went well. (Basically: Get on bus, fall asleep, wake up when bus starts stopping at lights in Sac)

It's the city bus that's a wee bit more tricky. It stops every 8.4 seconds, so the "stopping rule" doesn't work when I want a nap. The trip from there takes 35 minutes, so I set my phone for 30 and called it good. 

When I woke up in a part of town I didn't recognize, I called it Not Good. Luckily, it just retraces its route and the bus driver wanted to chat on her 15 minute break. From her, I bring you this sage advice after mentioning what economic struggles she had gone through after her husband died:

"When you get married, insure his ass"

You're all quite welcome.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

That Certain Boquet...

Welcome to today's lesson on the the five senses.

 These are:

Touch, sight, hearing, taste, and smell. 

If something is hot or painful, you can choose not to touch it (unless you are tied up, but we'll ignore torture...for the moment). If something is ugly or frightening, you can close your eyes or look away (...but that doesn't mean it's not there). If you don't like what some one's saying, you can put your fingers in your ears and begin a litany of "lalala". And taste? Why, do what we tell toddlers every day: Don't put that in your mouth!

While smell may seem simple as well, events of yesterday have proven otherwise.  See, there is a polite way and an impolite way to defend against each offense; like with hearing. I simple wear noise cancelling headphones to avoid vapid conversation* such as:

"Oh HELL no! She did not just wear that! She's black! B**** can't f***in' wear no booty shorts like no white girl!"
"She ain't GOT no booty!"
"Well black girl gotta have booty or she no f***in' black girl!"


Problem with smell is, the most you can do is breathe through your mouth...but what then when your mouth tastes bad?

The man who got on the city bus must be the smartest guy in the world--there's nothing like securing your personal space than body odor that would drive a mother polar bear to offer her young to a wandering seal shaman on a floating iceberg if he would cut off her nose.

At work, there's a man who comes in the evening and sits in a corner table, just gets himself a small soda cup, and camps for hours. The story goes that he's killed someone. Why? Because that's what he tells someone here about once a week. And who are we to argue with a murderer? Exactly. Also, after he uses the bathroom, the idea is to check it. If you do, you will get the reward of discovering a couple little liquor bottles. Empty because he has emptied them into his cup of soda.

Unfortunately, I've never had lobby at the right time to *discover* these treasures.

Friend of Bum1 comes in, we'll call him Bum2. Bum2 stinks. He stinks so badly that after about 10 minutes, the smell has wafted over to and behind the counter and sits there as a stagnant swamp miasma. Bum2 orders some burritos for himself and Bum1. He asks me to grill them AFTER he has paid. And, well, the computer doesn't let me do a side order of grilled by itself. You have to do it TO something, and we do charge for it. (don't ask me why. the only reasons I can think of include words like corporate conspiracy and racket) Then he wants a water cup. 


We go ahead and grill them anyway, and I'm to tell him that next time, he has to tell us before or no-go. Like that's going to happen. Then, while we're making his food, he disappears into the men's commode.

CoWorker: You know he's going in there to take a shower.
Me: Why did you tell me that....

I notice that his water cup has something other than clear liquid in it, so it adds to the speech I have to give when he comes out. I tell him all this, and he pretends to listen while I pretend to believe him when he says he won't do it again. 

What is surprising to me is that the smell has gotten worse. I don't know if the water somehow released some sort of pent-up....something....or what. What I will say is that it was difficult not to lose my dinner, especially as I had to hold it together for another 2.5 HOURS. 

And you can't perform good customer service while pinching your nose.

The final point of this is that I do understand how difficult it can be for the homeless or those of limited means to find regular access to bathing facilities (other than our restroom), but:

: even for paying guests, 2 1/2 hours is excessive
: my normal guests don't leave chunks of food ground into the floor and liberally smearing the table where they are sitting. 

I'll take a drunk murderer over a skeevy slob any day.

*This is real. I am so not making this up. It was hilarious!

Practice Makes Perfect

I usually share things that actually happen to me, or at least within two persons.

But every now and again, I come across a snippit that is really too funny.

In school, we have these fake court sessions that give the higher speeds a chance to practice with 4 different voices, and I often help. 

This morning, we got the following piece of Q & A. Q is the lawyer (obvs) and A is a highway patrolman assigned to traffic.

Q    Did you ask him to perform any other field sobriety tests?
A    Yes, I did.
Q    Which test?
A    Counting backwards from 100 to 80.
Q    And did he perform this test satisfactorily?
A    No, he did not.
Q    What did he do?
A    He counted backwards from 100 to 91, then said 80 and stopped.

See, apparently, this guy had failed the "writing the alphabet on a piece of paper" test, and seemed confused at the "count your fingers for me", even though he managed that one a few times with coaching. I don't think I've ever gotten to the point that I couldn't write the alphabet or be confused with counting my fingers.

Someone obviously needs to learn this info WHEN HE IS SOBER so that the cops won't think he's drunk just because he's dumb.

How about you? Do you ever practice the alphabet backwards .... just in case? :P