Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Roommate Redeemed Herself

In my own defense, I think that most people are open to having their opinion of someone's character changed on the basis of peace offerings, i.e., food.


Right now I live with four other people. Two of them are definitely okay, even to the point of being nice to talk to. One of them I'm sort of ambivalent toward. The fourth carries a distinct and definite aura of "crazy."

I have to be honest with you. I do not like this woman. She's bossy, a nag, passive aggressive, weirdly friendly sometimes and acts like you maybe kicked her dog at other times. All for no apparent reason.

I avoid her as much as possible to avoid getting drawn into her batshit insane world of drama. It's not a place I like to visit.

Last night, however... she made some chocolate cake.

It was sitting on the counter, beckoning to me like an illicit lover.

I resisted at first, not knowing whether or not the cake was up for grabs. By "resisted," I mean that I took a small piece that she'd never notice was gone. About a third of the cake was already missing, and although my roommate is quite capable of putting a large chocolate cake out along with a knife and a few plates, with no attendant note, in a clear invitation for all to help themselves and then getting upset when they do because they didn't ask, I was fairly sure that this was for all of us.

I don't even like chocolate cake. I'm not one of those girls who gets all nutso over chocolate things. I'm not too much of a fan, frankly. But... kids... this was really amazing chocolate cake.

Because I had not, in fact, asked if the cake was available yet, I refrained from going back for seconds. But it was a tough thing.

Later on, I heard that she had indeed made it for all of us.

So I just had another piece.

Maybe she's not too bad after all.

Post Script: Someone in the house is smoking pot right now, and it's pissing me off. It's 11:30 am; who needs to toke up at this hour? Of course, I also happen to be allergic to pot and in addition to getting sneezy and itchy, it tends to give me a headache which brings to mind someone driving a nail through my eye.

Time to lie down for awhile.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

When People Suck

Most of the time, I enjoy my job in much the same way that you might enjoy a relationship with someone who enables you to live in a mansion and eat chocolate cake every day, gives you a puppy and books and sunshine, yet also hits you. Meaning: There are bad parts, but it keeps me off the highway holding a sign that says "Will work (or whatever) for food."

And most of the people are really nice.

Some of them are not nice.

Usually, I can keep these encounters in perspective. I actually find them kind of funny. Today, my encounter with two of the aforementioned not-nice people kind of made me want to grab a couple shotguns and some Duct tape, and take them both out to a quiet place in the woods where problems disappear.

A slight note so as not to compromise my complete and total objectivity, which I know I am known for: Both of these incidents occurred between five and six a.m. this morning. It doesn't excuse their behavior, but as I've noted before, that those hours of the morning can basically go fuck themselves as far as most of the world is concerned.

There are a few exceptions, mostly from the obviously-high-on-meth-and-have-been-very-very-alert-for-72-hours-straight truck drivers, but usually the exchanges go something like this early in the morning:

Me, perkily (I don't mind mornings): Hi! How are you today????

Grumpy: (grunt)

M,P: What can I get you this morning????

G: Yeah.

M,P: ....

G: Okay, two. Coffee. Yeah. Go byebye.

M,P; Sausage Egg McMuffin with coffee to go! You got it! What size coffee?

G: (indicates, using hands, a coffee cup about the size of a bucket)

M,P: Large coffee for you! Be right back with that!

Wow, I really am annoying. But anyway. That's beside the point.

The point would be that these exchanges are not usually happy rainbow kisses exchanged by leprechauns under golden fountains while angels play harps in the background to begin with. But these two-- despite my apparently annoyingly perky manner, if the above dialogue is any indication-- were out-and-out rude.

Not Nice Person #1: Was already being a douche. As deeply unattractive as his ass was, I was looking forward to seeing it when he turned around to go. As I was getting his change, he grabbed my wrist. Not gently. The way you might grab someone if you were a cop chasing a perp and you finally caught him.

He was trying to see my tattoo. My tattoo is small, simple, and unobtrusive enough that during the normal course of things, it is rarely noticed. At McD's, thanks to the fact that we wear short sleeves and I tend to hand back change with my left hand, it's noticed at least once every hour. It's a very unique tattoo, and people ask about it all the time. Normally, I do not mind and I usually even tell them what it means, unless they're being assholes.

Some people take my arm occasionally, and I don't even mind that. As long as they're gentle and respectful, I let them take a gander.

This guy pissed me off. I yanked my arm free and glared at him. Undaunted, he said, "Whazzat mean?"

Continuing to glare, I said, "It says McDonalds. I decided to get permanently branded." This is actually my stock answer for people who are being assholes when I don't want them to know what this special phrase I had embedded in my arm means. It says "I'm not going to tell you but I'm not going to act like a complete bitch about it either." (My stock answer, not my tattoo.)

Even assholes usually get a laugh out of that, and leave it alone. This one sneered, said, "Oh SURE," and turned around and left.

Not Nice Person #2: Came within fifteen minutes of NNP#1 and I was still feeling cranky over the first incident, wishing that I'd yanked my arm back a lot harder, preferably hard enough to inadvertently hit a pan of frying oil hard enough to accidentally splash him in the face.

Normally I'm pretty assertive, even at work, and I don't mind confrontation. Sometimes I embrace it, just for funsies. So I'm totally baffled at my own lack of verbal comeback in this situation. I guess it's a good thing, because I was at work, and had I given this guy the verbal dressing-down he deserved, I might well be not going to work ever again.

He came in and I took his order, nice and friendly as usual. As I was giving him his receipt, he leaned across the counter and said, in a normal conversational volume, "You should call corporate right away! This is the first McDonald's I've ever seen that doesn't have a bunch of Mexicans working in the back!"

Instead of replying, I fixed him with a really withering stare. He muttered something feeble like, "You know, they all do," and I just continued to glare at him. I really wanted to yell at him, tell him that not only was at least half of our staff Mexican, the guy who runs the entire store-- and very well at that-- was also Mexican. I wanted to tell him to fuck off, that he was a limp-dicked racist who didn't know shit from shit, and had no clue about anything relating to the real world. I wanted to tell him to pop the bubble of bullshit that surrounded him before someone else decided to pop it for him in a much more unpleasant way. I wanted to tell him to get out and never come back.

Instead, I just stared.

I had to hand him his food a few minutes later. I didn't say a word to him as I did. That is spectacularly unusual for even the surliest of McD's employees, especially me.

I didn't even wish him a good day, and I'm glad I didn't.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I Was Handy

Fact: One of my little-known and, thus, unsung talents is a complete and total ability to act like I have a clue when I don't. I like to use Henry Ford's inspirational expression "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right" as more or less a hallucinatory mission statement and pretty much believe I can do anything if I want to badly enough, up to and including becoming a NASA pilot and queen of a small country. Simultaneously.

Today, this resulted in me giving people directions. Twice. I've written about this before-- if these lost souls actually listened to me, the one that I was trying to help avoid LA traffic en route to Northern California via a shortcut that I use myself is probably halfway to Ohio by now, and the one whom I attempted to direct to Wal*Mart (which is about three feet from my house) has probably driven himself into a lake.

I feel mildly bad about this, but I did try to give them fair warning by gently suggesting that they seek a second opinion. From, for example, the eight million truckers who crawl all over my establishment like so many ants. They might be a teensy bit more knowledgeable than me.

Anyway, I mention this purely to illustrate my unsung talent. I have no business giving anyone directions, or trying to draw little maps on paper-- in fact, I shouldn't really be allowed anywhere near a car without my TomTom, which you wouldn't know anything about if you happen to be one of those lucky souls that has some sort of sense of direction. If you're more like me, that little computer is basically a part of your brain (the one they handed out while you were out to lunch). God help me if I'm ever traveling to an unknown place, especially across state lines, and it dies an untimely death.

Yet these people listened to me as if I was privy to the location of the Holy Grail (which, incidentally, I am... the Grail-keepers knew that telling me would pose absolutely no threat). I was that confident as I cheerfully laid out my wrong-headed directions.

So after work, since I was already in my faking-proficiencies-I-do-not-actually-possess mode, I decided to pretend to be the fixer-upper that I am deeply, deeply not.

It's not that I've never built anything before. Some moron put me in charge of building sets for the school plays back in high school. Two story sets. That people had to walk on. Without falling through the floor. And nobody ever did!

However, even though I got the credit for this and that's exactly as it should be, I did very little of the actual building. I designed the sets and that's where my direct involvement ended. After that, I supervised, I kibitzed, I hammered the occasional non-union nail. But I relied on others for the actual no-falldowngoboom results.

So while I'm no stranger to the occasional hanging of a framed picture, my toolset is pink, and you must draw your own conclusions about that.

But I needed a doorknob, one that had the ability to lock and therefore keep my scary nutso roommates from going through my stuff when I'm not around. This may not be entirely fair as neither of them has ever shown an inclination to do any such thing, but at this point, I am sufficiently experienced in utterly batshit crazy roommates to know that it is better to be safe than sorry.

So I went to Home Depot, found a doorknob with confidence-inducing ease, and asked the knowledgeable question of a seasoned do-it-yourselfer at checkout.

"Will I need anything besides a screwdriver to put this in?"

Encouraged that he said no without even needing to consult the packaging, I headed for home. The bright shiny new doorknob doesn't even vaguely complement the poopy-colored door and it looks ridiculous, but I didn't get to where I am in life by fretting about such things. I set to dismantling the previous lock, and in no time at all I succeeded in getting doorknob lubricant all over my bed.

For those of you who haven't had the pleasure, replacing a doorknob essentially involves unscrewing two longish screws with a Phillips, pulling the doorknob apart gently, setting the old pieces somewhere besides your bed, which I mention purely for giggles since I'm sure nobody would actually be that stupid, putting the new pieces in, and replacing the two longish screws with a Phillips.

It is, for a normal person, a ten-minute job. It took me almost an hour, and I will tell you why: Those screws didn't like me. They could probably tell I was not their equal; I've been on the bad end of many a mean screw in my day, but that was no excuse for their blatant refusal to bend to my will. They refused to sit still in their little screw-holder thingies, and the back half of the doorknob kept falling out and onto the floor with a defiant CLANG, and it would have looked ridiculous except that I took care to do this when no one else was around in anticipation of just such a complication.

However, let's focus on the positive side here: I replaced my own doorknob. And while it might be premature to say, I think-- dream with me here, folks-- that this might just rank higher on my home-improvement resume than hanging a curtain over the window using only pushpins! So on the whole, I think this one landed solidly in the success column.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Reflections On McDonald's

For the last, eh, three and a half days, I have been an employee of the great McDonald's corporation. Personally, I think three days is plenty of time to judge every last aspect of their business and clientele, don't you?

1. People are cranky in the morning. I've always been a morning person and I guess I've mostly hung out with morning people, because somehow this basic fact of life has more or less escaped my notice until now. I think I will start putting something in the coffee, such as Prozac or amphetamines. This isn't really an "I think I'll write a letter to McDonald's and make a suggestion" kind of idea; it's more like an "I think I'll just DO this and make everyone's lives easier in the short run, never mind the long term consequences" kind of idea.

2. People are gluttons. Seriously. Help. I'm losing respect for my own species here. No one human being in the entire world needs to eat six McSkillet burritos, hot cakes with sausage, four Egg McMuffins, five hash browns, a bacon biscuit, a large Coke, a large iced coffee, and two ice cream cones in one sitting. Perhaps you think that I am exaggerating for comedic effect. Perhaps you are a fool.

3. Beef = yuck. Yes, I'm a vegetarian, and yes, I loved the shit out of cheeseburgers back before I drew my arbitrary line in the sand and stopped eating them. But even back then, I basically never ate at McDonald's. Now I see them being mass produced. Icky. They're all skinny and sad looking and, basically, sorry cuts of meat. Needless to say, this opinion does not stop me from piping up with a cheery, "Yes of course, our Angus burger is delightful!" at every opportunity. We get a pizza party if we sell the most Angus burgers.

4. The world of minimum wage is a sad, scary place. There be madness behind the McSmile every employee is required to wear at all times, stapled on if necessary. Beware. Also, standing up for eight hours straight is more painful to the feetsies than you might think.

5. I never ate fast food before I started working here. I still don't, really. But when you're in college, you're kind of programmed to accept free food. As we all know, the point of college is to make oneself both broke and pretentious, so one sort of gets the feeling that one is giving one's finger to half of everything that college stands for when one doesn't. Plus, after one too many "WHY can't I have my McDouble Cheeseburger RIGHT NOW??? I don't CARE if you don't start serving lunch until 10:30 and it is only 7:45 right now. I AM TOO SPECIAL AND IMPORTANT TO WAIT AROUND" suddenly a Cheesy Ketchup McFishy Surprise and nice, identifiable Coke is rather seductively appealing.

6. I am having fun. Really! I am! It's all I can do to keep from dancing a happy jig. This is both a pathetic reminder of the fact that I haven't been gainfully employed since February and a tribute to one of my biggest personality flaws: I have no slack-gene. None whatsoever. Believe me, there are times when I feel like doing nothing but vegging out in from of the TV-- and I can't do it. It really sucks, and as for being unemployed when you were made this way-- how bad? Sooo bad.

But yeah. It really is fun. There's something satisfying in the repetition, the routine, the changing customer faces, the dirty jokes flowing freely behind the counter, the somber looks on the faces of the Zombie Teens, the plaintive mooing of the cows (I installed a machine yesterday), the Seriously Unhappy Once The Kid Learns We Are Out Of THE ONE TOY HE NEEDS TO COMPLETE HIS COLLECTION Meals, the drama that I am officially old enough to enjoy and find amusing rather than get caught up in and upset over, and most of all, the amphetamine-laced coffee.