Monday, April 22, 2013

Hypocritcal Birthday

            Welcome back my dear readers. I know I usually wait until later in the week to post a new blog and usually it is in the evening but tonight this blog just couldn’t wait. As most of you know I work two jobs. My primary job at a museum and my secondary job as a waiter, this blog comes to you from the deep recesses of the latter.
            I’ve been waiting tables for fourteen years now and I have become pretty good at assessing people and what they want not just from what time they come into the restaurant but also from the way the immediately set aside the regular menu and grab the “Early Bird Menu”. Now, I’m not bashing the early birds. Don’t think for a second I am. I myself think it’s a great deal. 8.99 for a three course seafood meal… where do I sign up? The problem comes in when people make mad dashes for the door at 6:25 and try to order their food even before they are seated just so they can get a half size portion of dinner for 3 bucks less. It gets to the point where you just don’t even want to go to the table until after 6:30 and watch the squirm and make excuses as to why the deserve to have the inexpensive meal.
            Oh, I should explain, the early bird is only good from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm. 90 minutes of insanity. Fun times.
            I’m going to back up a bit. Like all decent restaurants we have a nice leather bound reservation book. A book I try to check before each shift so that I have an inkling as to what sort of mayhem we will be enjoying for the night. Going through the list of names I saw one… let’s call the last name Creecher, with a reservation for 6:30 and a note saying 50th birthday and next to the note a table was assigned to them. That table was in my section and I made a mental note to make sure to wish the birthday person a “Happy Birthday” when they arrived. I didn’t get the chance.
            The woman, apparently the wife of the birthday boy, arrived a full hour early and announced to everyone in the restaurant it was her husband’s birthday. She then went about decorating the table with Hershey’s Kisses, a bit of birthday confetti and trying to make everything perfect for her life partner. I didn’t mind, I offered some soup and wine, she accepted and I promptly brought it to her. She was happy. We made a bit of small talk, her telling me about her hubby’s birthday and me assuring her that I would do my best to make everything as perfect as possible. I then went on to give my attention to the rest of my tables, knowing she would be ok by herself for at least 15 minutes.
            At a lull in my duties I stopped by to check on her and she asked about champagne and sparkling wine. I told her we were out of champagne but we have several types of sparkling wine which would suit her purposes perfectly, especially since she only wanted a glass for herself and her husband. I went on about my duties. Around 6:25-6:30 she waved me down and said she is ready to give me their order even though her husband was still not at the restaurant. I took her order, two early bird meals, and went on about my way. When I realized what time it was I went back to her and told her that by the time her husband got to the restaurant the early bird special would be over. She then informed me she had been there since 5:30 and she qualifies. I told her the order had to be in the kitchen by 6:30. She argued. I smiled and nodded and told her it was company policy. A few minutes later the owner came up to me and told me to place the order. I did.
            I brought out her salad and her husband’s salad, wine and I even brought out his soup even though he wasn’t there. She asked if she had gotten me in trouble, I said no and I hope she enjoyed her meal. I was upset and I couldn’t understand why. The birthday boy arrived at ten minutes to seven. What waited for him was a lukewarm salad, lukewarm white almost sparkling wine and cold soup. He had no sooner sat down when I brought out his meal and his wife’s meal. I was still upset at the whole situation and I couldn’t put my finger on why.
            After they paid and left and I had a few minutes to think about the whole situation I figured it out. This is the revelation I had…
            Here is a woman who cares so much for her husband she shows up a full hour early before the reservation, decorates the table, tries to make everything perfect for the man she loves and then decides she wants to save a whole six bucks on her meal by ordering it twenty minutes before he gets there. He got to enjoy a warm salad and cold soup along with room temperature wine because the woman who loves him so dearly thinks more of six dollars than her man’s gastronomical enjoyment.
            That’s what bothered me the most. The hypocrisy of the situation. Her public announcement for the love of her life and trying to make everything perfect and then her unwilling attitude towards following the house rules, so much so that she went to the owner and complained. I don’t understand it and that is the cause of my frustration. I know money is tight everywhere and most folks don’t have too much disposable income, but when it comes to birthday of the one person you share your life with you should at least be able to have a decent meal within the boundaries of your economical level. Even if that means spending an extra six bucks to ensure the food is prepared and presented the way it should be. Meaning, salad served cold, wine served cold, soup served HOT!
            Truth be told, the man looked like he enjoyed his meal. I don’t think I would have. I don’t think most people would. I know in my life, a life filled with lonely holidays and birthdays, if someone wants to celebrate and surprises me or comes to see me to spend time with me, I as a host or guest of honor try my best to make sure everything is perfect for everyone. And, if I am the one who puts together a celebration, I make damn sure everything goes well and money be damned. Money comes, money goes, but the memory of the people who took their time to enjoy time and conversation with me or those around me will last at least one lifetime.
            I guess what I’m trying to say is, Enjoy the people in your life and try not to worry about the six bucks.

            Have a great week.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Boston Prayers

In lieu of my normal diatribe and casual insights to my life and off the wall thoughts; today, actually this week’s blog is dedicated to all the men, women and children who have been injured or killed in the Boston Marathon bombings. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your families.

Also, I would like to extend my good wishes to all the men and women involved in the manhunt for the “suspected” individuals who committed this heinous act for unfathomable reasons. 

            God speed, safe travels and may all of you get home safely when this is all over.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Now Hiring

I’m forty-five years old and in a few short months I will be forty –six. In all those years and through all my journeys like trekking through various woods on hunting trips, exploring caverns in Israel, climbing pyramids in Egypt, swimming in the Dead Sea, mountain climbing in California, riding dirt bikes through forests and quads in mud flats, I have always been fortunate to not get bitten by spiders, blood sucked by leaches, attacked by bears, lions or tigers. But yesterday, a day I had off and was out riding around on Bernadette I stopped at a local park to stretch my legs, get something to drink and use the bathroom. As I walked through the freshly cut grounds that overlooked a branch of the Elizabeth river I felt peace, comfort and joy.
            That is until after my nightly shower. I found a bump on my leg. It was on the back of my right thigh. I thought at first it was a pimple or a scab, but it was located in a spot I could not see, no matter how much I twisted and turned. So, I asked my wife to look at it. She did so and quickly announced it was a “TICK”. I’ve never had a tick on me before, I’ve seen them on dogs, cows, deer and other people but I have never been the unfortunate recipient of one of Mother Nature’s natural vampires. I’ve been lucky I suppose. Plus, as a kid in boy scouts I learned how to tuck pants into socks, wear long sleeves and a hat to help prevent these little parasites from making you their meal.
            As my wife slowly and carefully pried that little blood sucker out of my leg I was trying to watch “Batman: Brave and Bold” on Netflix. (Hey, I’m a geek, this is what I watch.) The story line was one with the “Blue Beetle” trying to discover his origins. I was right at the part where these little bug like robots were chasing after Bats and Beetle and every single of them looked like a giant tick. And they were all wielding missiles and guns. I tried not to let this unusual yet serendipitous turn of events get under my skin (See what I did there?) but I couldn’t. All I could think of was my youngest sister who had been an unsuspecting host to one of these little critters and then she found out she had Lyme’s disease. I don’t know what Lyme’s disease is and I’m afraid to look on the internet, because I know how crazy people can get in their descriptions of certain facts on the net.
            My wife got the creature out of my leg and flushed it down the toilet, she assured me she got the entire head and body out of my leg and then she started to read me some of the warning symptoms of Lyme’s disease. I tried to tune her out and watch the next episode of Batman. In this episode, Atom and Aquaman shrink down and go inside of Bats because he has been infected by some type of parasite that had taken root at the base of Bats brain. Microscopic mayhem ensued and the parasites were destroyed before Bats was killed. I can’t say if I felt better or not. I turned off Netflix and started doing a web search for Aquaman and Atom. If any of you guys know where these to Hero’s are, please send them my way… I have a job for them.

            Have a great week, and inspect your body for blood suckers.

Friday, April 5, 2013


                It’s been a crazy week for me here in the heart of the south. Between the demands at work and the inclement weather I have not really had the time to fulfill my desire to ride my new bike to the ends of the earth. Now, with the weekend upon us, I have just a small window on Sunday to do some riding. But you know, like all my blogs, things start off in a place they shouldn’t. This blog is no exception. Currently the temperature is a balmy 60 degrees, the sun is shining and the birds in the trees are chirping what I can only assume is a mating call. I don’t want to be sitting here on my porch, I hear the road calling me louder than the cardinals in the trees, but I can’t just blow off my self-imposed goals simply because I want to be doing something else. Discipline must be maintained.
                So I am disciplining myself instead of caving in to my baser desires. I wouldn’t be happy with myself if I didn’t at least try to communicate with you wonderful folks out there. Besides, a very odd thing happened to me today. And by odd, I mean strange, and by strange… let’s just say my past jumped up, grabbed me by my goatee and slapped me in the face. Now, many of you out there, my dear readers, know I spent time in the United States Navy onboard the USS Austin LPD-4 from the years 1985 to 1989. Those were four turmoil filled years. A lot of pain, joy, sadness, laughter and insanity filled those days and I am fast approaching yet another reunion of my shipmates. As a matter of fact I’m planning a road trip to this falls event. I’m not nervous about the trip or even the people who are attending for the first time. I’m excited.
                It is not a nervous excitement nor is it an anxious excitement; it is the type of excitement that fills one with longing. Today that longing grew exponentially. You see a few months ago at my primary job, the job where I get to pretty much play with toy trains all day, we hired a new guy. This new guy is younger than me and quite capable of doing his job. He also understands that humor is a vital necessity of daily life where you are dealing with the public. We have gotten along quite well. This guy, hmmm, let’s call him “Johnny”, yeah, that fits, Johnny has a girlfriend who he has spoken very highly of over the past months and today when he told me that his girlfriend and her parents were coming to visit I was a bit shocked. Johnny also told me that his girlfriend’s father is a big train fan and retired from the Navy as a Chaplin. For those of you who don’t know what a Chaplin is, he is sort of like a priest/minister/pastor. The military likes to make sure these guys are around for all sorts of reasons. They do help and come in handy in a lot of cases.
                To hear that Johnny was dating a Chaplin’s daughter was bit of a shock but to find out this guy was retired Navy was more of a shock. You see, most guys, especially in this area, have served in the military, mostly Navy and Marine and you get used to meeting them and talking about different experiences… experiences you may not necessarily want to share with a Chaplin that is. So when Johnny brought his girlfriend and her family in my office, I tried to be on my best behavior. But something about the guy struck me as oddly familiar. I couldn’t immediately figure it out so he and I just spoke of trains. Real trains and toy trains. I showed him some of the latest models I had gotten in and that would be operating on the layout, I explained the difference between “Scale” and “Gauge” to him. I even broke out some of the private pieces that don’t normally see the light of day because they are fragile.
                Then, during a break in our conversation, the Navy was mentioned. The flood gates opened. Sea stories abounded. Johnny and his young lady friend were lost as archaic terminology bounced off the bulkheads of my office. I held out my hand and introduced myself by my Navy title and the Chaplin shook it and introduced himself by his title. It was not long before both of our stories started to sound a bit too familiar, that is when I mentioned my ship. The USS Austin (LPD-4), the look on the Chaplin’s face was a bit shocked and he quickly mentioned he had served aboard my ship… our ship. I gave him my dates of service. He gave his dates of service on her. They overlapped.
                We stood there dumbfounded, staring at each other. My co-worker and his lady friend were just as astounded. The next twenty minutes quickly disappeared as we relayed different accounts of our years and experiences onboard a machine that influenced us for our entire lives. A machine which was more alive to any man that served on her than a real human. My entire body filled with goose bumps as tales of Mediterranean cruises from a different century filled the room with woven memories. Long forgotten men we both served with manifested themselves in front of our eyes and took on their youthful appearance and attitude. Ghosts filled my office and made it hard to breathe pure clean air let alone form a cognitive thought. I don’t believe these feelings were singular in nature. Scary magic was happening to the both of us and it was rubbing off on the innocent who had no idea what strange MOJO was working. We cut our conversation short and I invited Chaplin Hill to the reunion of the Austin crew which will be in August in the city for which our mistress was named after.
                I didn’t get a confirmation from him, nor did I get a rejection. I hope to see his face amongst the crowd of men who filled my youth with so many incidents, accidents, joys and sorrows.
                Is it August yet?
                Have a great week.