A Rising Tide…

March 31, 2010 at 9:05 PM | Posted in Journal | 1 Comment
  A rising tide lifts all boats…out of the bay and then they come up through your sewer and into your basement.

  If it wasn’t a nightmare about Domino’s Pizza, it was a nightmare about plumbing.  Why can’t I ever have a nice dream…about Claudia Schiffer?  They are all fragmented in my memory, but I can piece them together. 
  We lived in an old house in Jennings, built circa 1910.  Two stories, with the bathroom upstairs.  In the basement: ancient everything, including the plumbing.  The bathroom upstairs would leak on occasion, from the sink and the tub, right through the floor and we could see it in the living room.  In my dreams, the walls were wet with water and it rolled down the stairs in waves.  When I opened the bathroom door, exposed pipes burst and sprayed water.  I waded through it, looking for the shut off.
  In the basement the sewer backups were real.  In my dreams, they were not exaggerated much.  We had a foot of water in the basement (real) with fish in it (dream) and frogs and turtles (pure conjecture, but who knows?) 
  I was always working on the plumbing.  I paneled over the tile wall around the shower and caulked it, and that stopped that leak.  I finally got the right inlet hose on the toilet, and that stopped that leak, although in dreams, we could sit on the toilet wherever we wanted, because it didn’t have to be attached to anything.  We moved it around the floor anywhere.  The sink I fixed…several times.  I’m so good with plumbing that once I fix it, it keeps on leaking and I have to keep fixing it. 
  I was sitting on the couch watching TV and felt a drip of water.  I brushed at it, thinking it was a fly.  It was wet.  I felt another, then another.  I looked up.  Fuck.  There was a growing stain on the ceiling.  Let’s fix it again.
  The main sewer line was from ancient Roman times, and it was cracked and broken under the yard on the way out to the street.  There was no way we were going to pay to fix that.  Eventually we got lucky and moved out due to crime and racial violence so we never had to deal with it.  But it backed up regularly, and we learned to keep stuff up off the floor in the basement.
  Once I had a dream that the house took on so much water that we were sinking.  We started to bail water out the window.

  Sunday, the sewer backs up.  It seems that every year about this time, we have this problem.  I thought that with a modern house (it’s only 50 years old, right?) and modern technology and modern plumbing that I shouldn’t have a problem with this.  I fear that there might be a collapse in the pipe, because she run slow.  But we pay extra money in our real estate tax to fund just such a repair, a lateral insurance.  I hope it doesn’t come to that, but it might.  I’d rather just have it cleaned out.
  But I worked all day Monday and Tuesday.  I want to be here when the guy comes in, so I can ax him some questions.  Detroit finds a number to someone, and I called him today.  I set up a time for 2pm.  The deadline, she is approachin.

  Bottom line–the sewer is cleaned out.  Kind of like that medicine you have to take before a colonoscopy, the lateral and the main be squeaky clean.
  Detroit saw a sign on the side of the road–perhaps held by a homeless person; I didn’t ask–that said something to the effect of "Sewer Line, 90 bucks."  Okay then.  She found a link and emailed it to me.  They don’t have a website, it was a city-finder-type link but it gave me a phone number.  At 2pm the guy shows up, and I lead him down to the basement.  It’s not often that it bothers me, but maybe it’s just because I noticed it all:  Damn, our house is a mess.  It’s just cluttered with shit.  Still, after cleaning it out over and over and getting rid of dumpsters-full of shit, we still have more.  The main level is not so bad, but the crap that’s there is my fault.  Detroit is more of a minimalist. 
  After seeing this in a new light, I lean that way as well.  The basement is dark, dark.  The new recessed lights that I put in recently all burned out, one my one, like the stars disappearing as the twilight of dawn approaches.  Except it wasn’t beautiful and poetic, it was dark, dank, trashy, and smelly from the sewer.
  And that makes the clutter and trash seem trashier and more…clutterier.  It’s a word.  There are stacks of boxes of books in one corner of Alex’ room that we had to move so the guy could get to the clean-out.  Everything just needs to…go away.
  The main cleaned out just fine, first with a two inch then with a four inch blade–and it’s a four inch pipe.  There was no problem, dispelling the myth that my main is collapsed.  The guy–Don–said whoever did it before didn’t have a powerful machine and that’s why it had trouble cutting.  This makes sense, and matches what I remember.
  For extra money, I had the guy do the laundry drain as well.  When the washer drains, water comes up out of the straight pipe and onto the floor.  Clearly, this is unacceptable.  At first I was going to do that one myself with my small snake (it’s not how big it is, it’s how you use it) but I decided to have him cut that one open as well, and I’m glad I did–he had trouble, which means I would have gotten nowhere.

  Now, the floor is mostly dry, and the residue around the drains is a gentle reminder that someone needs to clean that shit up.  I did Detroit and my laundry, and we took showers.  Bran is finally doing the dishes, I think.  Back to normal, if that’s a real condition.

Where At Are You? At?

March 30, 2010 at 10:53 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
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I had one of my best nights at The Three Jakes this last Saturday night.  Of course, it wasn’t *that* great because I was still at The Three Jakes.  Nonetheless, it wasn’t bad.
The weather was nice and we weren’t that busy, and everything on the special bitch list was already done.  And there wasn’t much on the regular bitch list to do, either.  We had a fairly easy night.  Me, Von, Will, and Cam.  One old white guy, two young black guys, and a mocha freak of indeterminate age.  Von put on System of a Down through the sound system again.
I told him I was going accidentally break it.
Later, it was on different music.  SOAD, if you didn’t know, is a hard, heavy metal group.  There’s only so much of that shit I can take.  The gangsta rap we listened to later sounded soothing in comparison.
Jared was the closer, and he wanted to know if I would stay so he could come in at 11pm instead of 9pm.  I was cool with that.  That contributed greatly to my good night, but also re-affirmed my logic and calculations:  Even if I liked this job, I couldn’t stay.  Since the truncation of my hours because of Steve’s firing, I don’t get to work long enough and I don’t make enough money here.  In the extra two hours I worked, I doubled my money from the first four.
The nut for the part time job is 300 per week, net.  I need to work as much as I can to make that nut.  Before I was close, putting in about 20 hours a week or so.  Now I’m down to sixteen hours with a comparable decrease in tips.  To make 300 in 16 hours, I need to make 18 bucks an hour.  That’s 11 bucks an hour in tips alone.  I don’t think I can fondle that many balls.
That might be a big part of my anger–too much ball fondling.  As far as work goes, lately the place hasn’t been that bad.  The managers I deal with (now and for the moment–you always have to add that caveat because things always change) are easy going, and the tasks, although ridiculous and illogical, are easy.
I have a spreadsheet where I track everything.  My best month (of three) was February, and I fell short of my nut for the month by about five bucks.  This month, I’m going to be short about 200 dollars.
So, I am back to looking for a new part time gig.  It’s always an adventure. 

Speaking of dickheads, let me tell you about a delivery I took that night.
I took the order on the phone, and it’s by Lafayette Park.  Two guys I hear on the phone, and one laughing in the background–always a good sign.  They tell me the address and I asked, “Is this a house or apartment?”
One of them answers, “It’s a funeral home,” and laughs, and the other one tells him to shut up.
“It is?” I ask.
Finally I got an answer out of him.  I swear he said, “It’s a dental facility.”  That makes no sense whatsoever.  I get there–or near there–and I see a funeral home.  Hmmm…oookay.  I turn there, park across the street from it.  I start to walk up, and I give them a call as I do because I don’t want to bust in on any funeral service.
I said, “Hi, this is Bryan from The Three Jakes, and I’m outside.”  He said okay, and he hung up.
Several minutes later, I still don’t see him.  He calls me back.  “Are you sure you’re at the right place?”
“Well, I don’t know.  I’m in front of a funeral home.”
OKAY–LISTEN:  Right here–maybe I am in the wrong place.  I saw the funeral home or whatever and forgot about the rest of what they said, but this clicked.  Okay.  My bad.  But right here I TOLD THEM WHERE I AM.
At this point, instead of answering my questions, he tries to think instead.  I don’t need a fucking customer trying to think.  Just shut up and tell me where you are.
But he couldn’t.  Back to me:  “–I’m in front of a funeral home.”
“We’re across the street from you.”  I turn around.  I see a park.  Maybe he sees me, because he says, “Turn around.”  I turned around.  “Okay.  I’m looking at the funeral home.”  He says, “Look to your left.”
I look to the left and I see the street that I turned from.  The houses on it face me, and they all look big enough to be funeral homes as well.   It’s pretty far away–this is all a big area with big lots, and a park.  “We’re across the street.”  Maybe this was supposed to make sense.  Which street?  It didn’t click with me because I was over half a block from the intersection.  I wasn’t near anything that could be called “across the street.”  Plus, now that I know the truth, I’m explaining it MUCH better than he did.
At one point during our…what’s the word for it?  Communication?  What an oxymoron.  At one point, while I was asking a question, he hung up because he figured I understood.  I didn’t.  I waited and looked around.  Nothing.  I called him back.  He sounded surprised to hear from me.  “Yeah?”
I said, “Look, generally, this is how a delivery goes:  You tell me where you *ARE*, and I go there.  Where.  Are.  You.”
He said, “I’m over here.”
You’re on a fucking cell phone, dumbass.  Where is “over here”?
I said, “You realize that means nothing to me.”
“Uh….turn a.. face south.”  Finally, a coherent piece of information.
“Okay.”
“Now do you see me?”
It’s dark, I’m in the middle of a dark street next to acres of darkness in the park.  Now facing south, I’m looking at a dozen very large and dark homes.  “No.”
“I’m waving my arms.  See?”
Finally, I see him and his buddy, coming from the south*WEST*.  They weren’t straight away south.  No, that would have been simple.  They came from another block away.
I walk over and across to meet them.  The guy seems to have an attitude about my failure to follow the simplest directions that he gave with his mind.  I dismissed it all quite professionally and moved on.  “Ah, here we are.  Good.  You’re total is 24.66.”
And then the bastard had the nerve to give me thirty bucks.  What the hell does he mean by giving me a five dollar tip?  If I wanted this kind of relationship, with all the mind games and mixed messages, I would have stayed with my ex.

Later, after I thought about it, I realized that I was indeed more or less in the wrong.  I was on the wrong hundred-block, and the numbers increased going the *other* way.  My bad.
But still–
Do you not understand where you are well enough to tell me something useful?  These are the statements that would have been more logical:
“I am across LAFAYETTE from from you.”  (Not “Across the street.”  I’m at an intersection, which fucking street do you mean?)
“I am not at the funeral home.  I am somewhere else entirely.  Forget the funeral home.  The funeral home is not an option.”
“You are on the wrong hundred-block.”
“There is another section of this street on the other side of Lafayette.”
All of these would have been so much better than wearing a dark jacket in the dark and waving your arms and saying, “Over here!” on a goddamn cell phone.
Marco!
Polo!
Fuck you!

The Call Of The Wild

March 23, 2010 at 10:41 PM | Posted in Journal | 1 Comment
  Poor Mac-Mac has been gone for almost three months now.  We knew we wanted to get another dog, but I didn’t want to get one right away.  "Maybe in the Spring," I said.
  Of course, I didn’t realize that Detroit was chomping at the bit to get another dog.
  She came home from bringing her mom back from Michigan, and she’s off on Spring Break.  What to do, what to do?  Well, how about search the web and send me pictures of doggies that are up for adoption?
  Truthfully, I guess I was ready as well.  I was not a dog person before I met Mac, as you *know*.  Now, however, I get them.  I was ready.  The first day she started sending me pictures–hell, the first dog she sent me–and I was sold.  We met that day at the Humane Society after I got off work.
  We met the dog, we went to the private room to get to know him, and then we filled out the paperwork and paid, and took him home.
  His name is Bear, and the paperwork says he is a "Great Pyrenees Mix."  "Mixed with what?" you ask.  "We don’t know exactly," we answer.  "But it looks like wolf."
  I can’t post pictures from this website, but go there and look at them and see what a Pyrenees looks like.  And then look at Bear.  Bear has shorter hair, a longer snout, and different ears.  But he has other Pyrenees traits.  You know, it is odd to me to think that ALL dogs–from the tiny chihuahua to the St Bernard–are just domesticated wolves after hundreds of generations of breeding.
  Bear is about a year old, they told us, so he’s just a big puppy.  He’s surprisingly well-trained already.  House-trained, of course.  And he responds well to some commands, and he walks okay.  We have to work on some of these, but again, he’s just a puppy. 
  I took him for a ride the other day in my Mercedes.  Up on the nice leather interior he goes.  Actually, at first he went in on the floor in the front, but he moved around alot.  By and large he stayed in the passenger seat, though.  He was a good boy, and he enjoyed the ride.  I’m going to have to make a few rules for him in the car.  Let’s see:
  No Drooling
  No Peeing
  Don’t change my stations
  Don’t lick the mirror.
  Come to think of it, those shouldn’t be just for the dog, but for anyone who rides in the car.
  But we are getting to know him, and he is getting to know us and getting used to us.  I’ve watched some Dog Whisperer, and I’ve done some reading, so I feel like I have a better understanding than Ihave in the past.  So far he seems like a great dog–loyal to us instantly, friendly, and fairly quiet.  He was initially scared of the cat, but they have an uneasy truce currently.  He is less afraid of him, and showed his balls (figuratively, because they be gone) when he felt the need to protect his food dish from the cat.  The cat seems used to him now, but probably preferred it when the dog was scared of him.
  Dogs are pack animals, and we are his pack now.  And I get that now.  That’s why he follows me everywhere I walk in the house.  He looks to see where I’m going so he can follow me there, but he walks in front of me so he can get there first.  That shit is going to stop.  Last night he followed me to the bathroom and he had his head in the toilet before I get there to get my pants down to pee.
  He is friendly, and loves having his belly rubbed.  He likes to join us up on the couch.  I’m fine with that, except when he comes back in from being outside and he’s soaking wet, and wants to get up there.  I’m working on this.  He’s a big change from Mac in that he has so much puppy energy.  He can run up and down the steps with ease.  He has such long legs, and a long body, too.  He really does seem to be part wolf in his body and head.
  But he’s a gentle, playful pup.  I’m going to stay on his training to make sure he stays a good dog.  I can’t wait for the chance to take him out to the country to see my brother’s farm, and let him run.

What’s It Gonna Take?

March 23, 2010 at 10:35 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
  I left my day job yesterday, and I was looking forward to a quiet night at home:  first a nap, of course, then I would hop on the ol intarwebs and do some research for the radio show, do a little writing, the obligatory porn session, and something else, too…what was it?  Oh, yeah–NOW I remember–
  I was going to look for a job.
  Cause, ‘member, I got fired from The Three Jakes?  Sunday I spent in quiet contemplation and relief, knowing I no longer had to go back to that shithole armpit roadkill shirt stain butthead retard crapfest…uh, shithole.  I ran out of words again.
  I had some ideas lined up, so now it was time to get serious about looking for another part time job.  I even toyed ever so briefly with the idea of pursuing my writing, because we all know how well that pays.
  So there I am, driving home on an early spring afternoon.  The sunroof is open, I have a cigar lit and music playing.  I had my evening laid out, and the road ahead was full of promise and potholes. 
  But first, I had a call to make.  I needed to call Brian, the manager of The Three Jakes, just to make sure, because my life is a series of events of which I have only the vaguest sense of of understanding.
  "Can I talk to Brian?"  I tensed up, waiting for him to get on the phone.  Am I going to be chided yet again?  I don’t work for you anymore, buster–you can’t talk to me like that!    Brian got on the phone.  "Hey, what’s up?"
  "Brian, I just wanted to confirm with, and hear it from you, that I was in fact terminated Saturday night."
  "Huh?  What?"
  As a manager, I thought he would be more on top of things than this.  I repeated it, and he said, "No.  Wait.  No."  He explained–and this made sense because I was there and I saw it–that Von didn’t understand what he had told him, and I guess I didn’t read the paper I signed very well.  The blank was filled out to read "TERMINATION."  But the text before that I guess I didn’t read closely, because I was too hung up on the "TERMINATION" part.  The text said, "Continued violations will result in:"
  Oh.
  While I was processing that, Brian said, "Do you come in tonight?"
  "Yeah."  Yeah, I guess I do after all.  Fuck.  I said, "Okay, then.  Well, see ya at five," and hung up.
  It’s a helluva thing, you know?  I was happier thinking I was fired.  And now I have to go in?  My hopes and expectations are askew and thrown hither and yon.
  I talked with Kelly last night at work, as I’m about to leave.  She says I’m her "Three Jakes" husband and she treats me like it.  She’s gonna make someone a really dangerous first wife some day.  But she said, "Why don’t you just quit, then?"
  I explained.  "I have a code–a policy, if you will–that I live by.  Being fired is one thing, but I try to never quit a job without having another one lined up.  No matter how much I hate it.  I did the same thing with my ex-wife.  I didn’t leave her until I had another one lined up."
  When I told her that, her eyes just got wide.  This nubile, hot young black girl *thinks* she is worldly, and *thought* she had seen everything–until now.  Honey, you ain’t seen *nuthin* yet.
  Maybe smacking that ass will get me fired.  It’s worth a shot.

Not With A Bang, But With A Wimper

March 21, 2010 at 1:35 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | 1 Comment
  Wanna hear something funny?  It’s entirely likely–I’d say 90% probable–that I was fired from The Three Jakes Saturday night.
  I haven’t told Detroit yet.  Part of the reason is because she’s in pain from her shoulder surgery right now and has her own stuff to deal with, and I don’t want to add to it.  And part of it is because since she’s in pain, she’s kind of a bitch right now.  I’m trying to take care of her, but she makes it hard.  
  Of course it’s mostly my fault.  I have a Y chromosome and any nurturing I might have been capable of is eroded by that.  And then one of the things that made me fall in love her–her unpredictable nature and complexity that makes her hard to read–also makes her difficult to take care of.  She pushes me away instead of asking for help, she bitches about things I can’t fix, and then complains because I’m not there to help her.  I don’t know what to do for her, or how, or what can make it better.  She snaps at me and makes accusational facial expressions.
  Ever take in a wounded wild animal, like a duck or rhinoceros?   You try to help them, and they just bite you.  But I’m not going to give up on her.  If I learned one thing at The Three Jakes, it’s how to hold my tongue, shut up, and do my job.  I’m not blaming her, and I’m not going to.  I’m just going to keep trying, even though I know I’m bad at it.
  Speaking of being bad at it–I was talking about The Three Jakes.  We just got a new assistant because Jessica got promoted.  Enter Mike.  I worked with him for a couple of days, and then he’s gone.  He got promoted as well.  Where is our next fresh meat coming from?
  Von came back.  If you recall, he is the Christian ex-con young black guy I gave a ride to a few times.  He was at another store running shifts, and now he’s our actual assistant.  "Promoted."  I feel for these people, really I do.  I’ve been there and done, and I can see that they have it worse than I did.
  Von is cool, and smarter than he looks.  I mean that in a good way.  He looks like a thug, because he’s an ex-thug.  But he is dedicated to being a better person and doing right, including doing a good job at his job.  He still has some of his personality left, however, and I fear that The Three Jakes will suck it out of him.  I predict that he’ll stay and take it, but not because he’s dedicated, but because he feels he has no where else to go.  Like Richard Gere in the rain on the roof doing sit ups in "An Officer and a Gentleman."
  Maybe he has the right idea.  Not about the job, but about himself.  Maybe I should dedicate myself to becoming a better person.  
  But it’s a lot of work.  God help me, it is.
  Saturday night I was delivering.  I took a big delivery out our area to a hotel.  It took a while, so when I got back I had three waiting for me, and they were getting old.  Von said, "Take this one first, they already called once."
  I did go there first.  It was a place called…you know what?  What the hell–I’ll name it.  It’s little restaurant/bar place called "The Chocolate Bar."  From my understanding, I guess they serve deserts and so forth, and the appropriate alcohol to go with them.  It’s a hip and trendy place on a hip and trendy street next to a hip and trendy coffee shop, all in a hip and trendy neighborhood.  I swear the place is so hip and full of itself that I’m going to need hip replacement surgery to go in there again.
  Of course the delivery is for employees, and normally they tip well.  This time, because it took SO long (40 minutes, and The Three Jakes really wants 20 minute deliveries) that on a 12.96 total the guy gave me thirteen bucks.
  As I’m walking back to the car, I have a little tirade to myself.  "Cheap fucking bastard.  I’m not doing this for my goddamn health.  Four cents, asshole?  Really?  Four cents.  Fucking bullshit."
  The next delivery was to the guy–as soon as I saw his flat, I remembered–the effeminate gay black dude that apologized for not giving me tip.  This time he met me outside.  The total was 12.09, and he gave me 12.50.  I just turned away as he did, not saying thank you.  To myself I said, "Pffft," and walked back to the car.  The last run was to a great little bar that orders often and tips well, and they gave be almost 8 bucks.
  I get back and there is another run.  Von didn’t have time to talk to me, but he shook his head and said, "Bryan, Bryan, Bryan."  Hmmm.  Guess I’m in trouble.
  And I was.  The guy from the Choc Bar called and complained.  He said he heard me bitching about not getting a tip.  I wonder if he made it up, just guessing.  Did he come *outside*?  How did he know?  I wasn’t talking loud–and I was walking across the street to my car when I said it.
  It was a private conversation, between me and myself.
  Von, following orders, either called Brian the manager or Brian called to check up on him and he told him; I don’t know and don’t really care.  Von is doing his job and I don’t blame him.  Brian said I had to be written up.  Fine.
  It took until the end of the shift to get it all together.  Von had to find the paperwork, talk a few more times to Brian to find out what to put on it, and so forth.  By the time the end of the shift came, I saw the paper.  The line filled out for "Consequences:" said "Termination."
  Von acted a bit confused.  He didn’t realize it would come to this, and the way Brian explained it in manager-weasel-wordese, it sounded vague.  But there it was.  I signed it.  I noticed there was no line for me to put any comments.  What I say doesn’t matter.  I violated the "contract" I had signed when I was hired–something about "always having a bright and shiny attitude and goofy smile on my face."
  But the way Von put it, he thought there was some wiggle room.  I don’t believe there is.  But I’m going to call Monday to talk to Brian.
  I’m not going to beg for my job back.  I’m just going to ask, to make sure that I am.  I don’t want to not come in when it could have been my second chance.  I just want to know–there are no allowances for someone having a bad day?  Ever?  You can get fired for having one bad day?  I know they wanted to get rid of me.  That hurts my feelings a little.  They think I’m not fast, or as fast as I could be or should be.  I’m much faster in the store, making sammiches.  I drive faster than I normally do and definitely faster than I should.  But I’m not going to be reckless or crazy or 20-year-old fast.
  And, let’s face it:  my body doesn’t move as fast as a 20 year old.  But I’m pretty fast for a fat old white guy.  I walk fast and I don’t waste time, and my experience gets me where I need to go pretty quickly.  The only thing that slows me down is stairs.
  On one hand, I wonder if I could parlay this into some kind of age discrimination suit, because I am the oldest one there.
  On the other hand, maybe I got my wish.

I Spy With My Little Eye

March 17, 2010 at 10:32 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | 1 Comment
  Monday night I traveled back in time to 1984.  Mondays, like any day at The Three Jakes, are always a fun-filled cavalcade of comedy and excitement.  But last night they opened a new attraction for us called "The Paranoia Tram."
  The crew was  me, TJ, Cameron, and Marissa.  After we get there, the day people roll out, including Tony, they guy who was an assistant but demoted himself.  He’s indirectly the reason TJ runs the shift–when he left TJ was named the ersatz assistant.  As I mentioned before, TJ is already not happy with the situation.  *Then*, they (the fearless leaders of The Three Jakes) throw this at us.  And him.
  It’s a slow shift, and I get into my routine.  There are always a couple of the same prep jobs every day, and I dig in.  After about an hour, there’s a delivery, then another.  Woo-hoo.  I take them both.  After being back briefly, the phone rings and TJ answers it.  I look long enough to see that it’s not a run–none of my business.  I get back to work.
 
First Pass

  TJ gets off the phone, and says, "Okay, gather round everybody.  That was Brian–" the manager.  He didn’t even say hi, or how’s it going, or kiss my ass, or anything.  The first thing he said to TJ was, "How come nobody has their shirt tucked in?"  So…someone is spying on us?  Well, I wouldn’t put it past them.  Brian also said Marissa was leaning on the counter (instead of working, I guess) and also using her cell phone (probably for a quick text or two).
  *My* shirt was tucked in.  It wasn’t me, but I was being lumped in with them.  We figured it was a "secret shopper" type–someone posing as a customer who came in and graded the store.  But they sure did pick up a lot of detail.  Whatever.  We got back to work.
  Being a slow day, we get to do a lot of cleaning.  Dayshift must have been slow, because, as Tony showed me, they did most of the Special Bitch list.  We made fairly short order of the regular bitch list. 

Second Pass

  When I come back from another delivery, TJ is on the phone with Brian again.  Someone is watching us, and then calling Brian, and then Brian is calling us.  And this stuff is important enough to be calling us about?  We weren’t making sammiches fast enough.  Marissa started making a sammich and then walked away from it (she needed to get something in order to make the sammich, but that doesn’t matter), and it took three minutes to make it.  Plus, why did we keep going into the back room so much?  Why were TJ and Marissa in the backroom together?
  Well, I have an answer for that. All of the shit we need to do our fucking job is in the back room, and we have to go back there and get it because we can’t teleport the shit to us.  Why is that?  If you read this statement I signed as part of my hiring packet, I acknowledge that Company policy states no cell phone use or psychic powers on the clock.  It makes the job more difficult, but I understand their reasoning:  If I could use my psychic powers on the job, I would make the bosses shit themselves.  Continuously, and violently.  Why, you ask?  Why on earth not?
 
Third Pass
 
  The third call was more about me, so yay.  I was beginning to feel left out.  I’m not leaving on deliveries fast enough.  I didn’t drop everything and run like a maniac to the line and butt in everybody’s way to get my delivery made and out the door.  It took almost five minutes before I left.  Why is that?
  Well, they told us from the start that drive-thru is the priority, then in-shop.  Then delivery.  How can I get my sammiches made and get out the door if they get pushed aside for everything else?  I always get on the line and help them, and I especially help with the drive thru and in-shop so we can get to my delivery so I can take it.  But I’m not rushing fast enough!  I was in the middle of something–God knows what.  I was probably waxing the cash register or polishing the mop bucket, or washing diapers for the homeless in the triple sink.  Something of dire importance on the Special Bitch List.  The point is, I was almost done–I had ten seconds and then I was finished.  There were two people over there making one sammich.  Why don’t I drop everything that I’m doing right where it is to create more work for other people, then rush over there and push someone out of the way while I

  [and mother fuck I knew it.  I knew there would be some goddamn fucking reason for a fucking bitchfest in this fucking shit.  We wear the disposable gloves every time we handle the food.  Of course.  {I have no problem with the theory, even though it is flawed because if you wear gloves you feel your hands are protected so you touch all kinds of surfaces along with the foodstuff when you wear them.  But that’s not the point.  The idea is to protect the food.  Not wearing gloves and washing your hands often is safer from a foodservice safety point of view, in my professional opinion.  You can try to prove me wrong, but you got some explaining to do to make your case.}  But that’s not my problem.  The latex powder gloves are a snap to get on–and inside of a week my hands were breaking out.  Brian orders some other gloves, because people have this problem.  These other gloves–no powder on them, and no give.  Plastic, essentially.  If you have one sammich to make, make it your damn self because by the time I get my gloves on, you’re going to be done with it anyway.  The largest we get are large, and they don’t fucking fit on my fucking hands.  If my hands are wet–say I was washing dishes or happened to wash my hands–I can’t get them on.  I look like OJ fucking Simpson in court with the glove half on his goddamn hand and stupid look on his fucking face.  If it doesn’t fit, you must make the fucking sammich yourself.  I have never-ending frustration with these goddamn gloves.  Working with Will is so much fun, because he will do the entire sammich except wrap it, and then walk away.  So I have to put on gloves just to wrap it, and then take them off.  I could have been halfway to the goddamn address in that time.  Every time.  Every fucking time.  About four out of seven times that I put a glove on, it rips.  Usually I ignore it, because it’s just a hassle to try again.  But if I’m squeezing the tuna {one of the many bullshit jobs in the store} you have to wear gloves, because you’re doing it by hand, and even with gloves on your hands are going to smell like you’ve been working at the free clinic all day.  For Chrissake, can I get some bigger fucking gloves?]

  try to squeeze on a pair of gloves and clumsily make the sammich?  Yeah, why don’t I?
  So TJ was told that HE has to make all the sammiches the rest of the night.  I don’t recall if he said, "by himself" or not.  But obviously, they were still watching us.  We were starting to get paranoid, and wondering if one of our own was the spy.  It was like John Carpenter’s "The Thing," but with slightly less blood and a different soundtrack.
  Then, just to test us, we get a call from A-B.  That’s Anheiser-Busch.  Some outsourced marketing vendor working late has ordered several times a week, and it’s been a big order and a good tip.  This was no exception.  Dinner for 8 people–eight sammiches, half a dozen bottles of water, bags of chips and pickles–about 85 dollars, I think.  TJ was on the phone with them for quite a while, getting it all down, and trying to get it correct.  When I looked over his shoulder to see what the order was, I knew we were fucked. 
  So the choice is this:  Either sit on my hands and follow the directives given to us no matter how illogical they are…or do what is in the spirit of The Three Jakes paradigm and in the best interest of all the parties involved.
  I had two sammiches made and the third one started before he got off the phone with them.  By this time Cam was gone, so it was just us three.  I helped TJ finish the sammiches, and Marissa got the other items together.  I bagged everything up, and checked it against the receipt.  Then I was gone.
  That 13 dollar tip doubled the money I had made so far on this piss-poor night.  But this is not about that.  This is about the anal-retentive culture and the philosophy of total control and the illusion that perfection is attainable, and the after-thought rationalization and pompous elitism of upper management that they can do no wrong or make no wrong decision.
  I don’t know–do they want to be the McDonald’s of sammiches?  They have a long way to go, a long row to hoe.  Ray Croc (founder of McDonald’s, for you cave-dwellers) said, "If you have time to lean, you have time to clean."    That’s his motto.  You know what my motto is?  "For minimum wage, you’re fucking lucky I’m even here."
  The Three Jakes wants perfection.  For minimum wage, you don’t get perfection.  The best you can hope for is, "We didn’t kill anyone today."
  At some point you have to live in the real world.  If you really want everything done exactly the way you want it done with no variation whatsoever, the do it your fucking self. 

Not Meant For Love

March 14, 2010 at 1:20 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | 1 Comment
Using “producer-speak”, I was “in talks with” Domino’s Pizza.  I’m not especially happy at The Three Jakes, which is not a secret.  But the true identity of The Three Jakes is, I hope.  I learned after last time, after Domino’s had their corporate IT spies dig into my blog and learn all of my closely-guarded secrets that lay out in the open, that discretion is a way to lie for noble cause–although I had perverted the true meaning of discretion for my own purposes.
So I thought I might see if I could return to Domino’s, as a driver.  I talked to Mike, who talked to Sam.  I talked to Sam, and Sam talked to Tom, the DM.  Tom blew me off for a couple of days–maybe he was trying to get work back himself.  Finally, Tom called me back.  In a nutshell, I am on the very short and exclusive list of people that are ineligible for rehire.  “–What with everything that went on–” Tom said.
Meaning, what I wrote about right here that they found out about.  How dare they spy on me by reading what I have written in secret and posted for everyone to read on the intarwebs.  How dare they!
Well, I did plan on using an alias for the place, and I will wherever I go to.  At.  There are many different places I can go, in theory.  What are they?
Well, scratch that Domino’s franchise.
But there is another franchise, the one I had worked at for so many, many years.
I could look into Papa John’s.
I could look into Pizza Hut.  Never worked there before–it could be interesting.
Imo’s I’ve done–I could check other locations.
There’s also a place called Cecil Whittaker’s.  Kind of a poor man’s Imo’s.  It’s worth checking out.
There’s a place that delivers steak.  I forget the name.
There might be other pizza places as well.  These are just the big chains.
There’s also Chinese.

There are other options as well.  Besides just delivering food, I mean.  I could look back into the courier thing.  I need to get back and scour craigslist again, and troll for jobs and transsexuals.
There was also a job as a doorman that I saw…

Song Of The Year

March 14, 2010 at 1:14 PM | Posted in Journal | Leave a comment
Tags: ,
At the bank yesterday morning, some chicka named Kim (I know about four or five Kims) asked me to come over and look at someone’s computer, with the excuse that they were having trouble with it.
He has a officle.  It’s bigger than a regular cube, and it’s shaped like an office except the walls are only five and half feet tall, and portable, made of cube material, and there’s no door.  It’s kind of like shaping tofu into a t-bone steak–it may look nice, but it’s still tofu.  Steak sauce won’t help.
Anyway, several people–work-friends–are gathered there and my first thought is, “Shit, not another intervention.”  My second thought was, “What could it be for *this* time?”
Before I can protest, someone says, “Listen to this.”  It’s playing on computer speakers and it’s kind of low, so I can barely make it out.  Acoustic guitar and some singing.  A familiar tune.  Suddenly the light dawns on me.  *TOO* familiar.  It’s lyrics that I wrote.  Somebody STOLE my song!
I didn’t say anything yet, which was good, because I would have made an ass of myself.  “Sound familiar?” somebody said.
I turned, and she handed me a CD case and explained.  Last year in October or November, I sent around by email these lyrics that are a parody of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence.”  They got to Linda, and she sent them to her husband.  Her husband and brother-in-law have a band.  They were tickled by the lyrics and they thought up a great idea.  The band practiced the song, performed it, and recorded it.  A girl at the bank clandestinely took my picture, and another woman took the photo and ‘shopped it onto the cover of the original Simon and Garfunkel album art, and changed it to my name and the name of the song.
I listened to the song again.  They really went all out on this.  I was amazed and just knocked on my butt at the lengths they went to.  I just felt–wow.  I felt like a rock star.  I felt like I won the Grammy.  I felt special, like a sitcom’s very-special-episode kind of special, but in a good way.  It warmed my heart and the cockles of my balls.

And all of this because 16 years ago or so, I heard the song and different words went through my head, and I knew I had to go with it.  I re-wrote the lyrics to be more applicable to something I could relate to:  Pizza Delivery.  The new song was called, “The Sound of Slices.”
Whenever the song comes up in conversation, I casually mention that I was with Art Garfunkel before Paul Simon was.  We toured the local bus station circuit doing folk music.  I had just written that song when Paul Simon came along.  I got kicked out, and they stole my material–it was this whole big thing.  Paul Simon rewrote the lyrics, but my version makes more sense.  Obviously.  It’s about my life delivering pizza back in the 1950s.
I told them that story, and then sent them the lyrics.  And they did all of that work.  It’s just amazing.  It makes me happy to know that I have friends that will do things like that, and people who actually think my material is good enough to do that do.  I am now–officially–a published songwriter.  Let me go ahead and give you the lyrics. 

THE SOUND OF SLICES

Pizza boxes my old friends
I’ve come to fold you up again
Because a GM softly creeping
Woke me up when I was sleeping,
And the threat of being fired still remains
In my brain
Within the sound of slices

Out on runs I go alone
Driving fast and getting stoned
Beneath the halo of a streetlamp
I deliver in the cold and damp
When my eyes were stabbed by the flash
Of a neon light
“Open All Night”
To serve the sound… of slices

And in florescent light I saw
10 thousand pizzas, maybe more
Pizzas stacking without leaving
Pizzas sitting and not going
Pizzas growing old and drivers never care
No one dared
Disturb the sound of slices.

“Fools!” said I, “You do not know!
“Sliced like that it cannot go!”
Hear my words that I might teach you
Grab my apron that I might train you
But my words, like pepperoni fell
And in the air the smell
Of slices

And the people bitched but paid
For the pizza that I made
And the sign flashed out its warning
See the words that it was forming
And the sign said the slices of the pizza
Are for sale near the subway walls
And tenement halls
And whisper the sound… of slices

 

That’ll Learn ‘Em

March 10, 2010 at 9:28 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
  Fresh off my trip to the psychiatrist, I head into The Three Jakes for work last night.
  How was the head doc?  Meh.  Fine.  The Doc himself had some surgery in December, and this is the first I’ve seen of him.  I like the guy, despite my initial hesitation over his treatment and care.
  Briefly, I kind of wanted more from him than just the medication.  However, I’ve since come to learn that with adult ADD–or AADD (and what if I was a recovering alcoholic mother in the auto club with ADD that worked for the department of Defense?  I would be AADHDAAMADDAAADOD)–there is such a broad spectrum of behavioral treatment that it is hard to narrow down for a single individual what would work.  Plus, the nature of it is such that figuring it out on your own is part of process, or so I surmise, with a little rationalization thrown in for good measure.
  But I told him I was happy with the dose, and it was working.  And the best way to tell that it’s working is by the days that I don’t take it–man, do I ever slide back into some bad habits.

  And thusly I rode into the sunset.  Er, actually, I was going east in the afternoon, so the sunset was on my shoulders.  You’d think that would make me happy…
  I start right off with some deliveries, so it was looking good.  I got to work about 45 minutes late because of the appointment, but I had arranged for that the previous day.  Still, I was shocked when I saw that suddenly it was 830.  Well, zippity do-dah and hot damn.  Time flies when you don’t give a shit.
   Brian was there for longer than necessary.  Who wants a job like this, really?  5a to 5p on a normal day, and at 9pm he was still there.  If I’m going to do that, I want a lot of money and daily blow jobs as part of the compensation package.  The DM was there briefly as well showing a new assistant around–some black dude named Mike.  Others assured me that he was cool to work with but we shall see. 
  I hope so.  Jessica was gone; she got moved to another store.  Do you see, now, what happens, when you fuck with me?  Do you see?  The moral of the story here is this:  Don’t fuck with me.  Something always happens to people when they fuck with me.
  She got promoted to GM at another store.

Tally Me Banana

March 9, 2010 at 11:05 PM | Posted in Riding In Cars With Pizza | Leave a comment
  Last night I had pretty good night at The Three Jakes.  During a four-hour shift I spent maybe 15 minutes in the store.  Anytime that happens, it’s a good night, even if I’m getting raped on every other delivery and not getting tipped on the other ones.
  Even in those fifteen minutes in the store–and realistically, maybe it was half an hour–I managed to pull the frozen bread, mop the kitchen floor, and clean both bathrooms.  It was certainly more than I wanted to do–I’ve cleaned the toilets more in the last three months than I have before in my entire life.
  But such are the sacrifices we make.  My back hurts a little, and the weather was giving my knees some problems.  But I wanted to focus on doing a good job so that I wouldn’t think about how much I hated the place.
  Brain Surgeon TJ was in charge of the shift.  I’m sorry–was that harsh or inappropriate?  I still like TJ, or want to.  But my initial reading of him may be coming to fruition.  I initially thought he was somewhat elitist.  He works for a university, for crying out loud.  But we bonded a bit early on, but now it’s different.  I get a mild sense of…I’m not sure what.  I know it’s something.  Latent hostility?  That may be too strong.  Maybe just more of a distancing–he’s trying to separate himself from me.  Well, we were hardly BFF before, so it’s no big deal.  Except for the fact that it’s noticeable and obvious, in a subtle way.
  I made sure I defered to him, but it wasn’t entirely for altruistic reasons.  Sure, he prefered it that way.  Of course I can read people.  But it was also easier for me.  Instead of having to think or look at the list, I’ll let him dole out the punishment.  I mean tasks.  And it was reasonable too:  "TJ, I haven’t been in the store much tonight, so I don’t know where we are on the list.  What do you want me to do that is most pressing?"
  My understanding of the job has come full circle, and all jobs on the bitch list are equally annoying.  Does it matter if I get on my hands and knees and wipe the baseboard with a soapy cloth, being sure to clean the entire baseboard, moving equipment out of the way when necessary, and go around the entire store?  Is that worse, really, than stocking the chips, rotating them all, and cleaning the shelf they are on while I do it?  Because I have to get on my knees for that one also.

  Last Thursday when I worked, Jessica told me to clean the inside of the makeline underneath.  The way she phrased it made it sound like a special bitch list project.  After I did that–and she saw me do it–then she tells me that she just wanted me to clean the rack, as part of the process for cleaning the line and breaking it down.
  But first–I was about to grab a towel and the broom, because it was after dinner and the lobby is usually mine.  She stops me.  "Do you want to clean the rack under the make line?"
  I answered honestly, which is always a mistake.  "Not really…"  This is a job that involves getting on my knees on the tile floor.  I’ll do something else–
  Normally she finds me funny, or did.  Before I had a chance to explain her demeanor changed abrubtly.  "Well, too bad.  We’re all on the clock, we’re all working–"  blah blah blah.  She said some other stuff that I didn’t really pay attention to, I just started on the cleaning.
  When I’m almost done she comes to tell me that everything I did was wrong.
  "But you said–"  I just stopped.  I finished what I was doing, then I went to her.  "I guess I misunderstood what you meant.  So what do you want me to do?"  And she explained breaking down the line to me, which is all she had to say before.  Breaking down a line I can do.  I did that, then I did all the dishes that you make when you break down the line.  About the time I was done, it was time to go.
  Of course we had our funny little thing with the money.  I owed…call it 53.04.  Again with the change.  Oy vey.  I knew I didn’t have the goddamn four cents.  I laid 54 bucks on the counter, and as she counted it I brought in my cartop.  When I come back there is 96 cents there.  No give, ever.  I took the change and walked out, and didn’t say anything to anyone.  What is there to say?  No time for small talk, anyway.

  One might begin to wonder if my attitude is going to come back to bite me in the ass.  Maybe we’ll never know.  Or maybe we’ll find out last night.  It was close to 9 pm, and I was coming back from a delivery.  Kelly pulled up, but she is chillin in her car, so I walk over to say hi.
  I don’t know how we get on the subject of work, but we do.  Maybe it starts with a simple, "How’s it going?" but I told her that I’m not happy, and I am *actively* looking for another job.
  She nodded.  "Good.  They want you to quit."
  Quite a blow to my ego, I must say.  I thought everyone loved me.  I guess it’s not enough to do all the ridiculous tasks on the bitch list, but I have to whistle while I work also.  I’m probably not as fast at these things as they want, either.  You’d think for minimum wage I would bust my ass to do as much as I could and then ask, "Thank you, sir, may I have another?"  The combination of my age, my knees, and my cynicism slow me down.
  She said, "Hey, you didn’t hear it from me!"  Of course not.  And I can act casual, I think.  Whatever.  I go in and cap off the evening by cleaning both bathrooms, per TJ.  I did it without complaint. 
  When I check out, I have too much money.  How much is too much?  According to my math I made about 45 bucks, and I have 75.  TJ and I look over the slip.  He says, "Well, it’s what we have here on your slip so I wouldn’t worry about it."
  Are you sure about that?  Because once I leave I’m not going to want to give any money back.  As I get in the car I flash on something, and I grunt and go back inside.  "TJ–Tony gave me a bank earlier, but the computer wasn’t up for him to enter the information.  We need to check my slip again."  Sure enough, no bank was listed.  I tossed him back a 20, and he thanked me for being honest.
  I thought that was the end of it, but it wasn’t.  Brian called me when I was on my way home.  I didn’t catch it, but I got the message.  One of the deliveries I had–no answer, confusion, blah blah, they came and picked it up–I owe another ten dollars.  Well, that puts us about right then.  Brian said he would cover it until the next day.  What, like he’s doing me a favor?  I didn’t make the error, and I’m under no obligation to rush back.  I’ll pay it back when I go in next.
  But it’s not ten bucks.
  It’s 10.05.

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