Tuesday, April 28, 2009

When Pigs Fly

All right everybody...just calm down. That is of course, unless you have been rolling in the mud with your favorite pig. This swine flu, this scourge of humanity, is not yet an epidemic, or a pandemic here in the great U.S. of A.. As of Monday, there have been only 40 reported cases in the United States. More people go the way of all flesh from the no-name flu every year. According to news reports, the only deaths from this "piggy virus" have happened in Mexico, 145 to be exact. So really, why all the ruckus? Wait a minute. Yeah...thanks Twitter. Don't you people have anything better to do than scare the bejesus out of us? Tell us something personal about yourself that would make us feel the need to take a shower after reading it, not run to the emergency room because of a backache and a runny nose. On the other hand, if you think you have the swine flu you may want to, in the words of the enlightened Barney Fife, nip it in the bud by running to the nearest emergency department.

The metropolis where I live held a press conference. The mayor, himself, told us not to stampede to our doctor's office if we have the sniffles fearing that it may be swine flu. You would think with the economy the way it is, he would want us to go to the doctor for any little thing. Not only would the doctor make some quick cash, but so would the receptionist, the phlebotomist, the lab worker, and the courier who deliver these specimens for testing. Screw him. Regardless of the cause, we should all do our part in staving off more lay offs. The mayor of my fine city, incidentally, was not the only one complaining about persons concerned for their health and well being.

Most doctors have a help line where a person can ask a nurse a question without having to go into the office. Some of these nurses were interviewed on NPR this morning. They were complaining about the amount of calls received by those worried about this pork related virus. They were mainly bellyaching about the amount of calls that came in during certain times of the day. You guessed it...after local and national television news reports. That's right. These nurses were whining about an influx of calls around 7am, 12pm, 5pm, and 10pm (central standard time). I know if I were a nurse, I would want uninformed masses calling at anytime of the day rather than in the know folks calling at particular times where I could make sure there were enough staff to cover the onslaught of calls during known peak periods. But then again, I am not in a profession known for it's altruism.

Although we all know that prevention is the best medicine, I think we should all focus on that other preventative measure, an apple a day...an apple a day people.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

You're Cut Off

Lately in the news, there have been many stories regarding U.S. policy on torture. During the reign of terror that was the G.W. Bush years, the Administration came up the phrase "enhanced interrogation". This catchphrase was used so the Administration could torture people, but in a seemingly nice way. Here in Texas, where G.W. once again resides, there is an agency called the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission who have their own form of torture. First, a little history.

The TABC has the task of inspecting, supervising and regulating every phase of business related to alcoholic beverages. Much like the Bush Administration, the TABC seems to think they are above the law. In 2006, the Commission led "Operation Last Call", in which persons in bars and other alcohol serving establishments were arrested for being intoxicated. Captain David Alexander, head of the Operation Last Call Task Force said, "Going to a bar is not an opportunity to go get drunk...It's to have a good time, but not to get drunk." Who knew? Seems it is true...you do learn something new every day. This Commission also has a form of torture known to all who serve or have served alcoholic beverages in Texas. It's name is TABC certification. I know, I know, it is not as catchy as "enhanced interrogation" but, I assure you, it is quite painful.

The TABC mandates and monitors the certification for persons who work in establishments serving alcoholic beverages. Every two years, this certification must be renewed by waiters, bartenders, caterers, and the like. This is three hours and twenty minutes of your life you will never get back. The pain is so real you may contemplate suicide before the three hours and twenty minutes are up. I am not sure who decided on the time requirement for this course, yet they must be half retarded and half sadistic. Today I suffered through this bloodcurdling requirement of being a waiter.

I will let you in on some of the knowledge I was hit with today. You can't serve a known drunkard. Andy Dick and Otis Campbell, this means you! Minors (persons not of legal drinking age) often act immature. Wow! Minor girls often wear tight clothes to attract the opposite sex. I wondered why that last part about attracting the opposite sex was thrown in. I thought this was a course on serving alcohol, not biology. I also found it a bit out-dated since all the Emo boys love tight clothes, and hello, there are girls who like girls. But, the knowledge that really fucked me up, to paraphrase the great Kenny Powers, was this, if you have a customer that is crocked, offer them a complimentary appetizer or complimentary food to help sober them up while you call them a cab. Yeah, you read that right. Complimentary. Free. Gratis.

So to all you unknown drunkards out there, go get tanked at a bar, then demand free food! Tell them the TABC sent you.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

What's The Matter With Kids Today

It was 1963 when one of my favorite musicals, Bye Bye Birdie, was turned into a motion picture. Of course, this was way before I had ever gone to a theater, and for that matter, had been a design of my parents loins. But thankfully, my parents were big musical fans and turned me onto this genre and film. It was also a time of apparent rebellion by the youth as noted in the lyrics to the song Kids from this musical. Little did I know that lyricist, Lee Adams, could see into the future. Today while working at my restaurant job, I felt as though I was living out the lyrics of this song.

During the lunch rush, a school bus pulled up in front of the restaurant. In walked 30 high schoolers and a couple of adults requesting a table. They did not have a reservation, nor did they seem to understand that a party of that size would need one. Reservation? What's that?! We are not Wendy's...buses are not welcome.

We sat them in different sections of the restaurant since we only had 4 waiters on the floor, and were not prepared to seat a group of that size. We all had other tables throughout the restaurant. If we had known they were coming, we could have saved an area just for them, and added additional staff. One of the tables (who also had an adult at the sitting with them) put black pepper in each others drinks then wanted the waiter to get them all new drinks. When they got the bill, the first and second round of drinks were on the bill. The adult at the table questioned these charges. One would think that the adult would have prevented the stupidity of this choice these brats made by putting a condiment in a soda that is generally reserved for a Bloody Mary. Another waiter, intelligently, told the rest of us to check our condiments for unscrewed tops. Those holy terrors unscrewed the tops of the Parmesan cheese, red pepper, salt, and black pepper so the next guest would fall victim to the oldest prank in the restaurant biz. I can only hope karma will wreak havoc upon them!

Later, a table of 17 college students, who did have a reservation, came in for dinner. When the waiter brought the check, they told him to they all needed individual checks. Our policy is no separate checks. The no separate check policy is displayed on our special board, which is seen by every patron walking in the front door, on the menus, and on the check presented to the diners. In this case, one would think that when going out in a group who intend to pay for their meal only, they would not only be able to do math (they are in college for Pete's sake), but also bring cash to make things smoother when paying the check. I know math does not come easy for some. I have a Liberal Arts degree, and was required to take only one math course. I chose Math: It's Spirit and Use, which focused on prime numbers and other third grade concepts. However, I did learn how to round up.

This table took 45 minutes trying to figure out how much each person owed. Some split meals and couldn't divide by 2 to figure out what was owed. When the waiter went to check to see if they were ready for him to run their 17 credit cards, they told him that it was too hard for them to figure out, and could he separate the check for them. He stuck to his guns and to the policy. One douche bag told him he was lucky the gratuity was already added. He did not give them bad service, but chose to enforce our policy. Narcissism lives on!

After they left, the waiter picked up the credit card receipts, and found a note written on one of the signed copies. It said, "It is not that hard to separate checks. It would not have taken us so long to pay if you would have done it for us. If I could have paid less, I would have." What the fuck?!

If it's not that hard, college boy, then why DID it take you so long?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Crime Can Pay

There seems to be an epidemic in my fair city. The police department has noted a heap of car break-ins as of late. I know this to be true because my co-workers at the downtown restaurant where I work have experienced several break-ins. All have had to replace windows. Some lost personal belongings, while others have lost radios, CB's, and the like. I know what you're thinking. CB's...don't you mean CD's? No, CB's. I live in Texas, ya'll. These acts of wrongdoing have happened at all times of the day and night. One never knows when the next filcher will strike. But the Austin Police Department are on the case!

According to a report I saw on the local news, pilfering has been happening not only in the parking lot where I work, but at malls, apartment complexes, daycare centers, and apparently, anywhere someone parks a vehicle. The downtown area, per said report, has had an increase of 14%. I don't know how many there were before, but 14% is higher than 13%, so it must be bad.

However, the Five-O have devised a way to assist citizens in protecting their accouterments (thanks Jack Rebney). The Fuzz have been going around to areas where these crimes are likely to happen, looking in vehicles, and writing "progress reports". You may say to yourselves, "progress reports?". Again, yes, progress reports. What, you may ask yourselves, are these progress reports? Well, I am here to tell you. They are tickets the Po-Po are putting on windshields of cars where folks have left their treasures in plain sight. The Heat have been looking into the windows of parked cars in these high crime areas, taking note of valuables, then writing these items on a ticket to place on the owners' windshield.

Take heed criminals. These badge holders are making your job easier. If you are looking for a gift for that special someone, maybe a second-hand laptop for granny's 80th birthday, or perhaps some change for that next rock of crack, look no further. These are all itemized on a progress report left for you on your next victims windshield. Don't waste your time cutting your hand trying to break a window that will result in a less than satisfactory find.

Oh yeah, and never forget that famous quote from 1981, "Hey, let's be careful out there." Sergeant Phil Esterhaus would never forgive me for not reminding you. Over and out.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Observing and Reporting

The other day I went to go see Observe and Report. It is a new movie from the great mind of Jody Hill starring Seth Rogen, Ray Liotta, Michael Pena, and my favorite funny girl, Anna Faris. Oh, and of course, a few minutes of the incomparable Danny McBride. This was the second time I have seen this movie, and I will probably see it again before it leaves theaters. Yes, it is THAT funny.

The first time I saw the film was during the SXSW film festival (thank you Bif). Every seat was filled. The theater was packed because the cast and writer/director were there. It was also the world premiere. That's right ladies and gentlemen, I saw it first. Jealous much? Oh yeah, it was also a film festival. I guess I'm not as priveleged as I thought.

The second viewing was at a matinee, on a holiday weekend, where there were only about 10 people in the theater. Sitting in front of me, with a seat between them, were two guys. I had seen them walking into the theater together, obviously there to see the movie, with each other. This gave me pause. Why would someone go to a movie with a friend and then not sit next to them? I had to do some research.

I asked some guy friends if they knew what is it called when two guys, who go to the movies together, sit a seat apart. One said, "homophobia". The second said, "I don't know but Urban Dictionary should have a word or phrase for that." Well, I looked it up on Urban Dictionary, and there was not a definition for this phenomenon. Yet, I did find one reference. "I'm not a homo seat" is apparently how it is defined. Friend one was correct.

This was not the first time I have noticed this. I don't think it would disturb me as much if it were the first time. Wow, in this day and age? Who would have thought? Two friends afraid of their own sexuality. Maybe they should just get a room and watch movies on pay-per-view.

Hey guys, observe this! It makes you look like pussies if you can't even sit next to a same-sex friend at a movie for fear of being called a homo. There seems to be the excuse that you can stretch out and have some room. You are in a movie theater. There isn't any room for personal space, and so, it is just that, an excuse. Get over it! You are not men. I hope you aren't too afraid to go see I Love You, Man. You might catch something. Self confidence perhaps?

Observed and reported by Pickles.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Menopausal Mother Nature

In Texas, there is a saying, wait a minute and the weather will change. It must have been Mother Nature, pissed off about menopause, who came up with this saying, and decided to take it out solely on the state in which I reside. She needs to start hormone replacement therapy because I can't take it anymore. I don't know what to wear, or which clothes to put away for next season.

Make up your mind woman! Are you having a hot flash? Are you just fatigued, and don't feel like warming us when we expect it to be warm? Two days ago it was 29 degrees for the low, and 77 degrees for the high. Tomorrow the projected low is 63 degrees, with a projected high of 92 degrees. Late tomorrow, there will allegedly be thunderstorms. Don't get me started on the winds. Hormone replacement therapy may quell these mood swings you are having.

A couple of weeks ago it hailed. Not little hail, but golf ball sized hail. I like nature's phenomena as much as the next guy, but this has got to stop. Do I put the car in the garage and risk carbon monoxide poisoning while waiting for it to warm up, or do I leave the car outside so when I report the hail damage, the insurance company will call telling me the car has been totaled? I am at a loss as to how to prepare for her next bout of crazy.

I would rather see a wrestling match between El Nino and La Nina, masks and all. At least I know where I stand with these two pubescents. Maybe they should just team up and kick Mother Nature's ass!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Big Brother Is Watching

Recently there was a sting, or so the rumor goes, at my office job. The powers that be decided to monitor the computer usage of all. Internet usage, e-mails between co-workers, chain letters, or anything that ends with the phrase forward this e-mail, and the like. Several people were put on a level three. In layman terms this is when someone is escorted out of the building, told to take the next day off work, and think about whether they want to keep their job. In other words, a time out.

The last time I remember being put in time out was while visiting my sister. She has two young children and uses this tactic as a tool for learning proper behavior. I used the F-word at dinner. The girls heard me, and looked at their mother disconcertingly. If they were not allowed to use this wondrous word, then why was I? My sister then told me that type of behavior warrants a time out. I obliged, trying to redeem myself among the young ones. In their house, one is to sit in time out for as many minutes as they are old. Luckily, I only had to do 5 minutes in the time out chair. I think my sister was being fair. I would have otherwise missed dessert, bath time, story time, and breakfast the next day.

Apparently at the office, the majority of wrongdoers were put in time out due to excessive internet usage. People were shopping, surfing non-work related sites, and not doing their work. This makes me wonder about the people I work among. Have they never read 1984? We work for a government agency. Not only one, but two.

Yet, the most intriguing part of this whole situation is the perceived inappropriateness of an e-mail. There is no definitive definition of an inappropriate e-mail. Thank goodness management found a way for their staff to snitch on their co-workers without consequence to themselves. The memo below was sent out as a reminder item.

When one of your employees self reports they received an inappropriate email, the supervisor should go to their office and view the email on their computer. If a copy of the email is needed, print it off of their computer and then have the employee, delete/delete. Let me know if you have questions.

So let the games begin and dystopia win!