Friday, March 6, 2009

What a GREAT Day!

Thursday night I was up late trying to crank out my paper proposal for Theatre History when really nothing was inspiring me this semester. Finally I decided that before I finish up with my theatre history courses, I should dive into a dramaturgical analysis. And because the research our group did sparked my interest, I stuck with Pseudolus. It was still difficult to put together though, & probably took twice as long as it should have because I was distracted with a *minor* emotional breakdown. I had gone to see the Miss Julie preview & watching Irene onstage, not to mention a bunch of other people I knew, I was so jealous. And it happens to me a lot when I see shows while I’m not in one. Especially when I know the people in the cast. I really need to clean my slate with another performance, cause right now the last thing I was in was the haunt. And as fun as that was, it’s got so much bad blood smeared on the window to the memories that colours the whole experience. I got to sleep around three & slept in accidentally.

With a class at 8 am, a house 15 minutes away from campus, a car 5 minutes away from the house (try parking at 3 am. EVERYONE is home.) & a clock that read 7:35 when I opened my eyes, I thought I had started the day badly. I threw on the first clothes I could get my hands on, grabbed my things & ran to the car. I brushed my hair at the ridiculously long light at Joan & Loch Raven with the brush I keep in the glove compartment. I made it to class with 5 minutes to spare. Having such a bad night so few hours ago, I barely saw this day coming.

It’s the little things, really. Class went smoothly & I had a productive four hour break between classes & work. And then everything was brilliant from there on out. At 3:30, I stepped outside & didn’t notice. That’s how utterly perfect the weather was. I got to work & instead of my usual parking space somewhere on the other side of the lot, there were two free spaces such that I could pull through (which I try to do as often as possible) RIGHT in front of The Crackpot. Noticing the weather & the space, I got my first inkling that I was having a great day. I clocked in, did my side work & set out to roll silverware for a while. In the process of rolling silverware, I grab a bunch of napkins, count what I need, & put the rest back. Then I grab a bunch of napkin bands & again, put the leftovers back in the drawer when I’m done. I grabbed the exact number of napkins I needed AND the exact number of bands. And I realized I was in a probability inverse. And it was everywhere. All of a sudden, the entire wait-staff was talking about what a good day they were all having – except maybe Donna who was still feeling ill. Better, but ill. She said, “Ripley, roll my silverware.” And Cheryl’s face & vocal reaction were priceless when I said, “Okay.” It seems that lately, people have been displaying more shock over my level of obedience. April was joking the other day when she walked over & told me to get up, but I was up before she could tell me she was joking.

And the specials changed. It may not seem like it can make a big difference, but this was a big part of my good day. We have the Flat Iron Surf & Turf again. I am ordering one of those before they run out. Let me explain this dish to you . . . There’s a breaded potato cake on top of which is a sliced steak . . . on top of which are the most wonderful caramelized onions you’ve ever had. That’s the turf. The surf is the brilliance that some amazing chef somewhere once started & should never ever stop. Scallops wrapped in bacon. There are few things that are unique to the Crackpot that really tempt me. The one highest in the ranks is the Flat Iron Surf & Turf . . . & it’s back.

The night was WONDERFUL. It started off slowly, but picked up & the restaurant was fairly full. All my tables were great & were good to me when the check came. One table knew where my name came from. That’s always a plus. I hear, “Believe it or Not” so much that it’s a real treat to come across someone who pulls up the right reference first.

And the nine-top was the highlight of my night. They had reserved three dozen 55s & a dozen 45s. That’s $210 right there. And they ordered rather a few pitchers of beer, some appetizers, & one guy had an entrĂ©e. By the time they were ready for their check, it was over $300. And I could tell that they were going to take care of me – in the first few seconds of speaking to them, I got the whole table to laugh at a stupid joke & it’s that kind of stuff that lets me know. One person ordered water & another said “Oh, no, it’s *Baltimore pronunciation of water* down here.”
“Not with me, it’s not.”
“Oh? Are you not from around here?”
“No, I grew up here.”
“How do you say water?”
“Water . . . cause that’s how it’s *spelled.*”
The whole table laughed & the woman closest to me gave me a high five. So I knew they were fun from the start & they stayed fun, but out of habit, I still did my trick. With parties of five or more, you have the *option* to add %15 gratuity to the check. All the other servers use their judgment. I attempt to eliminate the margin of error. I say to the table, “With parties of five or more, we can add a %15 percent gratuity to the check. Some people think it’s rude. Other people don’t want to do the math. Do you want me to add that on?” And what that does is 1. Takes away the possibility for the impression that adding on the gratuity was rude, because I’ve asked, 2. Gets me brownie points for giving them the option, 3. If they’re trying to stiff me, it makes them address it to my face by having them ask me not to add the gratuity which taps into their guilt level.

So I asked if the nine-top wanted the gratuity added & he said, “Oh, yeah, I expect it.” So I went over & hit the grat button & my tip is $47. Awesome. Then they pay & leave. They left me an extra twenty. Bringing my tip for one table up to my lucky number 67. Good day. Such a good, good day. And I managed to keep everything under control for a whole lot longer than I had expected. With a full dining room, I wasn’t in the weeds until 8 pm. And once you’re weeded, it’s oh so hard to pull out of the tailspin. I’d been triple-seated because my section was the only one that was open & I was running drinks & appetizers & soups & this & that & some guy brought his own little container of I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter & wanted me to melt some in the microwave for him. That’s the kind of nonsense that keeps you weeded until things die down considerably. But I managed to regain control by 9. And by the way . . . while I’m talking about things that keep you in the weeds once you’re there . . . please, people. If you need five things, tell your waitress you need five things. I swear, this happened so many times.
“Do you need anything else?”
“Uh, yeah, could we get some more napkins?”
*More napkins*
And I ask again . . . just as a formality, really . . .
“Do you need anything else?”
“Yeah, could we get some more cocktail sauce.”
*More cocktail sauce*
“Need anything else?”
“Um, yeah, could I get a refill?”
“Sure thing.”
“Do you need anything else?”
“Yeah . . . could we get some melted butter?”
*Melted butter*
“Need anything else?”
“Uh . . . nope, I think we’re good.”

And it’s not like I run off too fast or anything. They really just want to see me walk back & forth fifty times. C’mon. Get it together. You want napkins, sauce, a refill, & some melted butter. I can handle it all at once. They give us trays, donchya know.

My autonomic dysfunction got to me a little & possibly the anemia . . . I need to get back on those iron pills . . . but I had to take a few minutes to chug some water cause right after I got out of the weeds, I was starting to get really dizzy. And the heat in the kitchen never helps. Cari introduced me to an interesting concept today that I’m not sure if I like or don’t . . . she fills a glass of water & dumps cucumber slices in there. It’s good for you & tastes kinda nice. Nicer than water by itself for sure. I insisted on having one sip & had an interesting experience with a seed that distracted from the taste a bit . . . I’ll have to try it when I have time to sit & have a glass.

The night was wonderful & my raw tips came to $180. Once I tipped out the bar & busboy, I was a little over $160 & I had tried to give Larry $10 for being such a help – cause every time he’s the manager, before it even starts to get ridiculous, he’s in the kitchen, prepping plates. He refused, I tried to push, but not too hard . . . he was after all on a manager’s pay & I was on a waitress’s pay. He took the thanks, but not the money & I drove home, singing in the car & noticing briefly the five cop cars surrounding some guy’s pickup truck in the parking lot that was getting searched & had one last surge of appreciation for my great day.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

First Double at the Crackpot


Tuesday night, I stayed up all night. I had a great flow going. I was editing my short story for Writing Fiction, I was adding some finishing touches to my Theatre History presentation, I was trying to find something to write my paper proposal on, & most importantly, I was goofing off on the internet with my stumble button. Before she went to bed, my mother started to give me a time to go to bed, but instead she told me to make sure I could function. I didn’t *mean* to stay up all night. It just kinda happened. And I functioned just fine. I have two morning classes on Wednesday’s & then I have work at 3:45. Plan: 11:30 to 3:30 = naptime. Shortly before my presentation, my phone rang. Horrified that I’d forgotten to turn it off & grateful that I wasn’t in the middle of a class, I snatched it up. It was George. Something was wrong & while I checked to make sure everything was okay a few times, I didn’t pry & he didn’t tell me. Long story short, he couldn’t work the morning shift. I get out of class too late to do any day shifts during the week, but it was an emergency & they needed two servers, so when class ended, I went in, however late, looking forward to my first double at the Crackpot.


I was almost entertained that my first double was an on-the-spot surprise that was incredibly badly timed. I figured that if I could work a double on no sleep, I should never have a problem if the situation should come up again. I went in & five tables were scattered in the dining room & Donna was zigzagging about with cocktail trays & a little scowl on her face. I hung my coat, put on my apron, clocked in, & grabbed the two tables that didn’t have drinks yet. When Donna & I had a moment to speak, my internal complaints of sleep deprivation lost all weight. Donna had the flu & hadn’t slept for two days. And during the day, Greg called out because a family member passed away. So Donna hosted for him that evening. My morning was smooth to the casual observer, but chaos in my little head. Having never worked a day shift before, I had to re-program all the reflexes to hit the dinner buttons instead of the lunch buttons & I met the lunch combo which confused me the first time someone ordered it & for maybe an hour, everything was really disorienting. Then this guy came in.


I don’t know just what it was, cause I’ve had high maintenance tables before & they don’t usually bother me this much . . . maybe it was the man’s apparent assumption that I was stupid or deaf. He orders his food. He wants a hamburger, well done, with fried onions & mushrooms & french fries. Well done. And, uh, no salt on those french fries. And how sweet is the lemonade? Is it too sweet? (Gee, if I shared taste buds with you, I’d let you know) well gimme the lemonade & the hamburger. Well done, please. I brought him the lemonade. Now, when someone asks about the temperature of the soup cause they like it hot, I bring them their soup & ask them how the temperature is so if it’s not hot enough I can run it right back & stick it in the microwave. I bring the guy his lemonade & he reaches for it.
“How’s the sweetness level?”
His hand stops, “Huh?” And then he goes to reach for it again.
“How’s the sweetness level of the lemonade?”
His hand, closer this time, stops again. The suspense is killing me, “Huh?”
“Is the lemonade too sweet for you?”
“Well, I haven’t tried it yet.”
(I was RIGHT HERE! I KNOW! Try the damn stuff, that’s why I’m waiting. Cause I’m a fuckin *WAITER*)
He tasted it & it was fine.
I go to the computer & put in his order. About halfway through the process Donna calls my name & I look up. This guy has actually gotten Donna’s attention to tell her to make sure that I know he wants his hamburger well done. Now, I’m pissed. He told me three times. I wrote it down. I remembered. I’ll remember for a week. Chill. You’ll get your food the way you like it. Later as I walked by their table, their food was half done in the kitchen, he flags me down to make sure that I know the fries should have no salt. In order to keep myself from being rude, I gave a short, but pleasant, “Yessir,” & kept walking.


My last table of the day shift was three senior women, one of which had a cold expressionless stare that kept me from warming to them. And she actually looked rather like Martin Sheen. They were looking for the fish on the menu. I told them it was a dinner item & they had the lunch menu, but it was 15 minutes until the switch (which was lucky cause guess how long they took to order - sheesh) & I could bring them dinner menus. They continued to look over the lunch menu . . . “Where’s the fish?”
“It’s on the dinner menu, would you like me to grab you some dinner menus instead?”
“Well, no . . . we’ll do with the lunch menu . . . what kind of fish do you have?”
“Well . . . for *dinner* we have flounder, rockfish, orange roughy, & haddock.”
“Well, I have a coupon for dinner . . .”
“Ah, then you want the dinner menu. Let me get that for you.”
“Wait . . . ”
“You also get the Early bird discount if you order from the dinner menu between three & six. It’s fifteen percent off.”
“Well, I also have a coupon.”
“For dinner?”
“Let me get you the dinner menu.”
“Alright, let me get that combo with the sandwich, the soup, & the salad.”
“That’s on the lunch menu.”
“But don’t you have a combo with a sandwich, a soup, & a salad.”
“Actually, it’s only two of the three, but it’s on the lunch menu. You’ve got the dinner menu. But you can still order a sandwich & some soup or salad . . . it just won’t be at the combo price.”
After all that nonsense, they had their dinner, got their discount, used their coupon, & didn’t leave a tip. Nothing.


I thought two shifts in a row would kill me. As it turned out, I felt pretty good for the evening shift. It was like the day shift gave me a running start. And efficiency had worked its way into my hands after hours of doing the same sort of thing. I wasn’t exhausted & I wasn’t feeling awful because I was stuck at the Crackpot all day. Actually, I think my brain reset when I switched over because it didn’t feel like I’d been there all day. It felt like I’d been there for the duration of the shift.


I love it when this happens. I LOVE waiting on people I know. I actually didn’t know last night’s surprise guest though. This woman came in with her two children & ordered quickly, two diet sodas, one with lemon, one without, & a sprite. They ordered their food quickly & the mother explained to me that they were in a hurry, so she was rushing them to order. She got a crabcake sandwich with no bread, the boy got chicken fingers, & the girl got a bowl of New England clam chowder. I put the order in, went into the kitchen, told Dan to rush the order, & set up everything I could before the food came up. Then I printed the check & kept it in my apron to save a trip later. While I tended to another table, I kept an eye out for my number to light up. I got the men their drinks, took their order & the food came up. I ran the food & the mother goes, “Wow, that was fast.” I explained that people didn’t seem to think it would make a difference to tell me that they were in a rush, but it does. Although . . . they never have a problem telling me at the *end* of the meal. She asked for the check & I put it on the table right there. Another table came in & I took their drink orders & grabbed the woman’s credit card on my way back. I swiped her card & took the check presenter back. Then I got the drinks for the other table & the woman caught me on my way to the table with full hands & said, “After you drop those off, stop by here.” And I did. She looks at me & says, “What’s your mom’s name?”

. . . . . .

“My mother’s name?”
“. . . . . . Angela.”
“You sound *JUST* like her.”
“Uhhh . . .”
“She works for Del Parks . . .”
“Yes . . .”
“I’m his wife.”
“Oh! . . . well, it’s nice to meet you.”
“Your mother is so well spoken . . . & you sound JUST like her. And you look like her & I saw your nametag & thought, Oh . . . Ripley!”

That was just strange. But what’s even stranger is that yes, you can recognize that we’re related just by our voices.
Mitch is Sybil’s husband (Sybil being my mother’s sister) & the three of us have the same voice. Mitch was standing in the middle of the house one day while my mother & Sybil & I were all shouting back & forth from different rooms. He explained to us later that he’d never been so confused & lost.
Dal was sitting in the living room one day when my mother & I were shouting back & forth, both out of sight of Dal & one of us said, “What do you think?” & Dal cut in with, “I think it’s *ridonkulous* how alike you guys sound!”
Dre, one of the busboys – no longer a busboy – actually ran into the liquor store when he heard my mother talking from the restaurant & asked if she was related to me.

It’s insane.


I had a five top & they all ordered soup. I go into the kitchen & start to pour. I get to the cream of crab which is the WORST along the lines of burns & the ladle slipped in my hand & a thick gob landed on my thumb. And because of the consistency, it didn’t roll off . . . it stayed there. As soon as I got past the initial few seconds of shock at the pain, I followed all the basic rules. Don’t spill, drop, or break anything & don’t lick your fingers. Cause the smart thing to do would probably have been to slam down the bowl & jam my hand into my mouth. But I took a few seconds to be sure that I was in control of the pain & wouldn’t drop the soup & set it down slowly. My mistake was that I thought the pain was static. That it would remain at its initial intensity. Oh, no . . . every second felt like the worst pain I’d ever experienced & every second it got just a little worse. In the time it took me to set down the bowl without dropping it, & reach up & grab a napkin to wipe off the soup, the pain grew to the point where my whole body screamed & my face felt badly flushed. Proud of myself that I didn’t scream, I basked in the bliss that was my reduction of pain & my eyes filled with tears. I looked down & my thumb had begun to swell & there was a blue tint to it. Larry walked in & saw me & asked if I was ok & I told him about the burn. He helped me set up the rest of the soup, I took a moment to harness some control, killed the tears & ran the soup. The burn hurt for the rest of the night. Larry gave me some GREAT burn cream from the office & it made things SO much better. After ice & water & some of that cream, the blue tint was gone, the swelling was lessened & the pain was far less powerful.


I’ve had some slightly tipsy customers before & over at the bar I’ve had hands of drunken men land firmly on my shoulder while I’m trying to put in an order or wait of a drink to come up, but I’ve never waited on someone who got quite this drunk before. By the end of the meal, she was doing that world famous thing where drunk people acknowledge their drunkenness & apologize for it. She was talking endlessly about things I couldn’t possibly be interested in, gave me her card & told me about some event with handbags & accessories – which was a very hard word for her to say - & I masked my discomfort when she finally touched me. I don’t like to be touched. Drunk people are touchy. Therefore, I don’t really like drunk people. She starts firmly petting my arm, elbow to wrist & talking about the skin products they have & then apologized saying that she was a little intoxicated. Then she insists that I say at the table for a minute, turns to the not nearly as drunk woman sitting with her & says, “We need to leave Miss Ripley a tip!” They get their check taken care of & then I go to the table that was neglected because of the drunken ramble & apologized explaining that I got caught up with another table. Which is a horrible-sounding excuse unless, on cue, my other table walks by & says to me, “Okay, bye! You should come to our events. Look at our website!” And then looks at the woman at my table, “And YOU can come too!!! Here, let me give you my card!” The woman at my no longer neglected table looked up & said, I hope she’s driving & not you. And the woman explains that they’re both driving their own cars – which I happened to know since they met each other there instead of arriving together. They had a meeting with someone that they put on speaker on their cell phone & yelled into it all night. It was quite obnoxious. The woman drove home. I hope she made it. I kinda wish I’d had the guts to tell her she couldn’t leave for a while & after a few glasses of water. I didn’t.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Penis Compensation

Hummers. Nope. I don't get 'em. Especially now. Here, I live in the city, but I want a badass vehicle that has no place on city streets that spends all my money on gas & all my time on parallel parking. If you wanna be badass in the city in this state of the economy, get a damn motorcycle. They even have an included bonus of being sexy . . . unlike the obnoxious, unnecessary eyesore that is the original Hummer that looks like a child's toy.

Irene & I walked out of the house the other day & some guy was parking his Hummer. His bright yellow Hummer. First we laughed, then we shook our heads, then Irene tried to let him see her look of disgust, but he was too absorbed in his cell phone conversation & posing for the world with one hand resting lazily on the steering wheel & the other up to his ear.

Yesterday, I was driving home after dropping off Dal & guess who was pulled over on Loch Raven & dealing with *two* cops? The sinus-clearing yellow hummer.

And I don't know the guy & have no information about him other than his choice in vehicle & possibly, given the circumstances, the ballpark size of his penis, & yet I still felt some level of genuine satisfaction to see him pulled over. The next time I had a chance I texted Irene with the news. She laughed.

We're horrible, judgemental people. But nowadays I don't think anyone will notice.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


I feel kinda bad for letting this blog die off . . . maybe I can bring it back . . . but I do have a myspace blog that I keep very fresh & soon I'll be blogging for the school paper's website . . . so I'll be juggling two *without* this one . . . so I'll see what happens. I doubt many people read this one anyway - but if you do, do me a favour & leave a comment so I can get an idea of my audience. If it's significant I'll bring this blog back. Cause there's always stuff to write about. Always.

My current situation:

Still working at the Crackpot, taking Theatre History 1 (the last one I need!), Math (required), Writing Fiction (so much fun), & Tap (fun, but thoroughly frustrating) this semester. Irene & Dal are both in shows & I'm oh so jealous. I missed all opportunities to audition last semester because of the haunt . . . which by the way still hasn't paid the other actors. Dal & I got our money because we were obnoxious about it. The others are suing.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I have been hired to work in a haunted house in Columbia, MD!! The festivities start on October 9th & go until November 2nd on every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, & Sunday night. As the start grows closer, I'll post details on location, hours, price, & entertainment details. And everyone should show! Because . . . well, because I love you all - not because if we exceed the expected number of ticket prices, the actors get a bonus in pay . . . of course not. It's all about you.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Compliments of the Customer

I love my customers . . . & they love me. :)

That just brightened my whole night. Be kind to your waitresses. It makes a difference.

Of course, I was very kind & playful with them . . . if your waitress is a bitch, just be a little nice. :)

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I'm Back

So, I've been neglecting this blog & posting in my myspace blog . . . apparently I don't have the skills to keep two blogs going. That might actually be a problem if I had an audience that streched beyond friends & immediate family. They all know what's going on anyway.

But let's see . . . I've got a new job waiting tables & I'm starting to get into the flow of it regardless of the two days I had to take off because right after my mother & I finished cleaning the majority of the house, the basement flooded & in an attempt to move a table, it broke & fell onto my foot, smashing it pretty badly & landing mwe in the emergency room. They gave me muscle relaxants because somewhere in the smashing process, something was pinched & my foot keeps cramping uncontrollably.

Classes are starting in two weeks for which I am extraordinarily excited since most of my friends are from out of town & they'll be moving in on the 27th. Speaking of the 27th . . . that's the day we're getting the house appraised. Hence all the cleaning. Yet to be entirely finished. In one week, the renaissance festival starts & after the first weekend during which I'll be meeting with a friend I only get to see once a year, I'll be heading up there quite often as I always do & I expect to be accompanied at least a few of those times by friends. So boost your bosoms & join me in entertainment, overpriced souvenirs, & cheesecake on a stick.

Also, everyone who reads this, stop & bask for a moment. I noticed as I returned to dust off this charming little blog space of mine, that this will have been my 100th post here. Something of a milestone.

Interesting sound bites of the week:

in our basement are a few sets of wind chimes. Although since there's no wind in the basement, we never really here them unless we knock into them.

I hear this from the living room -

Mom: Ow!!! (wind chimes)

I got this new video game that I tried at my father's house & it's unbelievably addictive. Wii games are usually $50. At $20, I bought this new game without a second thought. Now my mother & I are both addicted & while I'm upstairs loading up a laundry bag, I hear this -

"Noooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!" in the really cheesey movie reading. When you lose, all the spheres go into the pyramid (don't ask, just go with it) & it actually takes a while, but there's nothing you can do about it. I suspect her outburst lasted for the entire duration of the presentation of her loss.