Monthly Archives: May 2012

Would you like a side of Thorazine with that?

Sometimes when I think about this story, I don’t trust my own memory. Surely I’m leaving something out – a crucial detail that will actually cause the whole thing to make sense. But then I remember how I felt that morning – that I’d never-in-my-whole-damn-life felt this confused, baffled and downright stupefied by another human being.

Until I went back to work in customer service / hospitality, of course. I get that feeling basically daily now.

I used to work in fast food. If you’re reading this, you know me and you know which particular fast food chain employed me, but I still hesitate to name names. Weirdly enough, I kind of enjoyed it, which might be how I ended up working in a restaurant again. That’s the Circle of Motherfucking LIFE, y’all. 

Unfortunately, I can remember very few worthwhile stories. I guess I’ve either A) repressed those few summers or B) nothing all that noteworthy happened (my vote’s for B).

Except this one time.

10:00 am, we’ve just opened. A car pulls up.

I greet them via my headset:

Julie: Welcome to [name of restaurant] my name is Julie. Would you like to try an order of  [some kind of fried shit whose name includes the word “poppers” and that we couldn’t pay people to take off our hands] ?

Lady: I need to speak with a manager.

We didn’t get this request often. In person, at least. Sometimes people would call up to tell us the food they just took home was still frozen / raw / alive / bleeding in the middle.  I scope the sitch a little further.

J: Of course, may I ask what this is regarding?

Lady: I was there last night…

J (thinking): Oh God, you have food poisoning, don’t you?

Irate Lady: …and something is wrong with my drink.

J: I’m sorry? Your drink? From… last night?

Irate, Crazy Lady: Yes!

J: What was the problem?

Irate, Batshit-Crazy Lady: The ice is melted!

J (after a long pause): The… ice? You… When you got your drink last night the ice was melted?

Irate, Batshit-Crazy Motherfucker: No, now. It’s all melted. My drink tastes terrible.

J: I… You… What?

Irate, Batshit-Crazy Motherfucker Who Is A Terrible, Terrible Con Artist : I want my money back.

J: For your drink… that you purchased here… last night…

Irate, Batshit-Crazy Motherfucker Who Is A Terrible, Terrible, Cra-Cra Con Artist: YES. I WANT A FREE DRINK.

I honestly can’t remember how the rest of the exchange went, though we did give her a coupon for a free drink that she might have redeemed immediately.

I’m pretty certain that we left out the ice second time around.




Juanita vs. The Facebook

“I’m going to tell you a story, but you have to promise me you won’t put it on Facebook,” says Juanita, who proceeds to tell me about something cute that a relative’s child said/did.

“Uh, what? Why?” I ask.

“Just don’t be putting it on Facebook!” she is pleading with me at this point, and I don’t have the energy to explain that I’m not asking why can’t I put it on Facebook? but why would I want to put it on Facebook?

The easiest way to freak her out (aside from making crawly-spider-movements with your fingers on her neck) is to take her picture and say “Ohmygosh this is so going on Facebook!”

“Nooooooooooooooooooooo!” she howls, until I promise her that I’m kidding.

I’d love to one day ask her to give me a rough mental sketch of what, exactly, she thinks Facebook is. While I will concede that for some, it is a mental dumping ground, I try avoid that. Mostly.

Until I get her to reveal her deep, dark, Facebook fears, I can only assume that she assumes it’s something like this:

Guacamole for dummies, or for those who don’t go grocery shopping at the hardware store

It seems a little off to wish folks a Happy Memorial Day, because every related story I’ve read in the newspaper this morning has brought me to near-tears.

Which, I suppose, is the point.

Another (not quite related) point of Memorial Day? To go to cookouts and barbecues. Apparently.

I’m headed to one such shindig this afternoon. Thankful that I was not the one tasked with hosting – I certainly would have ended up buying a new blender or complete set of silverware or perhaps a new dining room table because you never know – I asked the hosting couple what I could contribute.

“How about some guacamole?” she suggested. “And maybe a two liter of something.”

Okay. I need more direction than that, but I didn’t want to tip her off that I’ve got super-bad just play it cool-itis when it comes to this type of thing. Don’t want to look like an overachiever (bringing, say, two types of homemade guacamole and a half dozen varieties of carbonated beverages), but don’t want to be the cheap-ass who buys “guacamole flavored spread” from a jar and a six-pack of Sam’s Choice Mountain Thunder at the Dollar Tree on the way to the party.

Because I’ve been both of those people, and it’s equally disconcerting.

Fast forward to Julie at the Wal-Mart last night.

First, did I mention that I don’t like guacamole? I think it’s because I don’t eat food that resembles fancy tile grout. Also: too smooth. It should be sweet and minty-flavored, like a delicious organic frozen yogurt, yes? No. No it is not. If you think this, you are wrong. So, so wrong.

So yeah. Guacamole. I didn’t even know where to fucking begin.

Juanita, as guacamole-illiterate as I, tried to be helpful. She spotted the aforementioned “guacamole flavored spread” quickly. “Is this it?” she asked, using the same ultra-polite tone of voice she sometimes uses to make observations without passing obvious judgment: well, if that nice man wants a neck tattoo that says MAYHEM then, well, I suppose that’s his choice.* Except together we found it’s pale-greenish color to be, basically, disgusting. “Um, I dooooooon’t….thiiiiiiink…soooooo…” I replied, unable to look away from the spectacle of jarred goo before me. Do people eat this shit? Oh, God.

Except now we were stuck. I had a vague memory of someone bringing pre-packaged guacamole to a party I hosted years ago. I explained the packaging to Juanita, who nodded, adding “So… where would it be?”

At this point, you are probably saying Where the hell else would it be? Look in the guacamole section, idiots! to which I reply: forget you, ass-head. I am sure there are things of which I know the location in Wal-Mart that you do not. And if all else fails, I at least know how to de-dangle my participles.

That must be worth something.

Oh, back to guacamole hunting.

It dawns on me that guacamole is made from avocados, and avocados are  fruit  vegetables produce. And whaddya know? There was a fucking guacamole section with the produce! It was incredibly picked over, though, making me wonder: is there some sort of Memorial Day food tradition of which I’d been previously unaware? Also suspect: Wal-Mart brand was more expensive than the brand for which I’d been specifically searching. And there were different types of guacamole: did I want spicy? Original? I carefully considered my options (read: eeny-meeny-miney-moe) and went on my merry way.

I’m already planning out the story I’ll tell guests, depending on how well this shit goes over:

Guest: Oh, I love this brand! So creamy and completely unlike fancy tile grout!
Julie: Oh, I know, right? I just went right to it at the store. I totally should have brought more!

or, if I notice no one is touching the guacamole, I will make small talk over the salsa:

Julie: Yeah, I searched and searched for the good guac, but this is all they had. I figured we could give it a try, but… well, I’m just so sorry. I’ll use my homemade recipe next time. Just like my Mom makes at home. All the fucking time. Because we love our goddamned guacamole in that house, I’ll tell you what!
Guest: I am incredibly impressed, and will invite you to many more parties.

As I imagine how this might all play out, I’m also realizing something important: I guess the whole backyard-cookout-thing isn’t really that strange of a Memorial Day tradition. We’ll all be around family and friends, having a good time, and as long as we don’t forget why we got the day off in the first place, I think spending the day with loved ones is a fitting tribute.

Remember: Freedom isn’t free, folks.

Also: no one should have ever decided this was food:

*She only does this in front of other people. Behind Neck Tat’s back, it’d be more like OH GOD, WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT TO YOURSELF?!

A trip to the Muscat Nike Outlet

Okay, first, we were in Oman. It was just a stopover, though – a few days at the hotel, then we’d be on our way to Yemen. Then Kentucky. Via Yemen. Because we started in Oman.

Something about beaches and outlet mall shopping – in Oman or Kentucky, it’s not clear.

Except some crazy shit was going down in Oman. The locals were rounding up Americans and shooting them in the streets. Seriously. This was bad, y’all.

We hid in the closet for awhile, but 18 people in one closet is kind of pushing it. So we planned our escape.

My assistant manager and one of the kids I used to supervise decided we’d shoot our way out. Good plan, but we had no guns.

A grad school classmate and actress Cobie Smulders said we could just lie, say we’re Canadian. Because everyone knows Canadians are universally accepted. Also, easy for you to say, Cobie. You are fucking Canadian.

A coworker figured that staying in the closet was probably our best bet. I agreed, and sent Juanita a text: We’re in Oman. Things are bad here.
What are you talking about?
 she responds (was she confused about my cryptic message? Or why I was in Oman?)
Watch the news I text back, not 100% sure that a few street executions in the Arabian peninsula would garner CNN coverage.

But we begin to worry that the hotel management would tip off the Bad Guys with Guns – rebels? Terrorists? I think we were calling them terrorists. They were pretty fucking terrifying.

So the logical next step would be to proceed as if innocent people weren’t being slaughtered outside our hotel window. A dinner seating was beginning outside. A few of us venture out.

The server takes our drink orders. I order Molson. We’re Canadian, right? We begin to use catchphrases from the 80s, because everyone also knows Canada is twenty years behind the States. That Molson is rad, eh?

A cadre of terrorists appears before us. They call my name. In retrospect, I probably should not have stood up and followed them.

They take me to an interrogation room. It is an exact replica of Juanita’s bedroom. Head Terrorist sits on the bed. I sit across from him, with Terrorist Number Two keeping one finger on the crook of my arm. Because this is how Terrorists detect lies.

I tell him right off the bat that I’m Canadian. “You are a very calm liar,” says Head Terrorist. I graciously accept his compliment. “Yes, thank you, sir.”

“You are in your 20s, no?” he asks. “Yes!” I say. Then, correcting myself: “Oh, no. I just turned 30.”

“Good job,” he says. “That was a test.”

“Good one,” I say. “You really got me there.”

He then informs me that they are going to perform a dental cleaning. “Would you like to be asleep or awake?” he asks.

I express my confusion at his concern for my oral hygiene, and he smiles.

“We want your teeth to be clean before we break your face!” he says. Cue maniacal laughter.

I choose to not be awake for the procedure.

He then informs me that “his men” are experts in inflicting pain, and some other kind of anatomical nonsense about the nerves in my face. Awesome.

Nurses appear, and I am made to drink some kind of liquid and swallow a couple of pills. Well, what the hell. Here goes nothing. Down the hatch!

And then I woke up.


Smoke gets in your eyes.

A few years ago, I had a little run-in with my parents’ toaster, and Karma’s a bitch.*

When I moved to my current apartment, I realized that there just wasn’t room on my kitchen counter to keep my toaster. And, because I use it approximately once every three months (unless Pop-Tarts are on sale, of course), I was able to justify its storage with the other Seldom Used Appliances (see also: itty-bitty Crock Pot, food processor).

But this toaster ain’t dumb. Fucker knew that the blender and the mixer got to stay on the counter all the time, and that sumbitch got jealous. So jealous, that it started being a brat.

First, it wouldn’t pop up when my toast was finished. Okay, fine. I can work around that. Sort of a pain in the armpit to hover over it and make sure nothing is burning but whatever. You want the attention, Toaster. I get it.

But then, it started playing tug-o-war with me, with the poor, innocent Eggo suffering in the middle. Once it got something in its pincer-grasp, it would not. let. go. Sigh. Okay, asshole. You win. Let me get the tongs.

But today… today, dear reader(s), was perhaps the final straw. For approximately twelve seconds after oh-so-carefully placing a Toaster Strudel into the “good” side of the toaster, smoke began to pour out of the slots.

Like, a lot of smoke.

My first reaction (after the yelling: Oh God! Oh God! Oh God! What the hell?!) was to unplug the toaster.

Except today it didn’t “pop up” like it’s supposed to when power is cut.

RELEASE MY BREAKFAST, YOU DEMON BEAST! I (didn’t really) scream.

So, with the damn thing still smoking like I’d packed the bottom with dry ice, I took it to the kitchen sink, turned it upside down, and shook it until: splat. Out came my breakfast pastry, still almost-frozen.

Imagine my surprise: No char-marks. No still-smoking crumbs. Nothing, absolutely nothing, to indicate that this processed piece of Death Breakfast was about to erupt into a ball of strawberry-scented flame.

Not to mention that my once perfectly-good breakfast was now sitting in my kitchen sink.  I don’t care how clean I keep it (read: not very): ain’t no way in hay-ell I was gon’ eat it now.  Sigh.

Against my better judgment, I tried again. This time it worked perfectly. It even kinda-sorta popped up when it was finished! Ha ha! I could hear the toaster say. Just fucking with you! 

Don’t give me that look, asshole.

All I gots to say is this: Watch your back, toaster. You are replaceable, and I still haven’t told Juanita what I’d like for my birthday, motherfucker.


*Side note: I have a great-aunt Carma. I don’t know her very well (she actually may have already passed – if so, may she rest in peace) but I can’t not think of her when I say that phrase. Unfortunate? Probably. But hey – being remembered is being remembered… or something like that.

as seen on TV.

Julie: Oh, by the way, I ordered something online. I had it shipped to your house because I don’t trust my sneaky neighbors from stealing it from my doorstep if it’s delivered while I’m at work.

Juanita: Sure, no problem. But the squirrels might get to it first if it’s on our porch for too long. Say, husband, have you seen those TV ads for XYZ product?

Dad*: Nope, sure haven’t.

Juanita: It’s so ridiculous. And they say if you act now, you’ll get $x dollars off! X dollars! I can’t even imagine how much it costs before the discount! What a waste of money. Can you believe people pay that much for something like that?

Dad: Well, maybe it works really well?

Juanita: I guess… Hey, what was it you ordered?

Julie: Never mind.

*He needs a better Blog Name… Hmmm…

Insert witty double-entendre about packing here.

I’m a notoriously light packer. Depending on who you ask, this is because I’m either incredibly efficient or incredibly forgetful. I prefer “incredibly efficient,” but let’s face it: deodorant and toothpaste and changes of clothes have a way of not making it into my suitcase.

On my most recent adventure, I decided to maximize my efficiency by not checking any baggage. Instead, I stole borrowed a cute little striped rolly-bag from Juanita.

I’d never stolen used this particular bag, and took great pains to ensure it was an acceptable carry-on item (I even broke out a damn tape measure, for crying out loud!). Even though Juanita swears she’d put it in an overhead bin before, I still fretted that I’d end up having to check it at the gate.

I was giving ol’ Stripey (alternate name: Piece of Shit with a Zip Tie Where The Zipper Pull Used To Be) a pep talk (“Now, now, Stripey. If we get separated, we’ll meet up on the jet bridge when I land”) at the gate when I look over and spy this  mofo, traveling alone with what I can only assume are all his worldly possessions:

It’s none of this fancy Instagram shit, but I’m sure you can tell in the pic that this jackhole has got three – count ’em up: one, two, three! – carryon items, and those were some big-ass duffel bags he was hauling around.

Now before you’re all like “Okay, Miss Goody Two Chucks, look at you following the rules, you fucking sheep” I’m going to remind you two things a) fuck you and b) I’m all for rule-breaking, but not when it fucks everyone else over. Some rules live in an arbitrary existence (like stop signs at 4:00 am). Others were made for actual reasons (like, hey: no one else will be able to bring any luggage on the plane because some chuck-bucket decided to bring his own pillow…and perhaps blanket…and maybe the matching duvet…on board the aircraft).

Though I suppose I’d rather get beaned by a duffel bag full of dust ruffle that’s Shifted In Flight than one of those plastic-looking jobs that look like Barbie accessories.



*Please refrain from pointing out my unreasonableness. You thinking that I’m actually irate and 100% serious really ruins it for the rest of us, ya know?

Book review: Misery

I hadn’t seen the movie, was only peripherally aware of the plot. Then I started reading Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft [thanks, Dentist Friend – one million times, thank you]. Because it’s, ya know, a memoir of his writing, he mentions this book. And I was looking for something to read next…

…but I started reading it before I was finished with my original book. Very un-Julie of me, but On Writing wasn’t quite the nightly bedtime-reading I was craving.

Turns out, this one ain’t either [Really, Julie? Reading a Stephen King novel before bed isn’t a Brilliant Idea? You don’t say?!].

I’m not going to give you a lot of plot details here, because I went into it with very little info and that helped. I also can’t speak to how well the movie version follows the book (though from the stills I’ve seen, I can’t think of a better Annie Wilkes than Kathy Bates. Damn!).

Not having read much of King’s work, I had to adjust to his writing style. The eloquently-descriptive interlaced with the crudely-stark is unique (at least, to me), and quite effective (at least, in this novel). And the anticipation? Killer.*

My only critical thought occurred about three-quarters of the way through. The plot seemed to be progressing at a quicker rate, almost as if there was some sort of Page Length requirement that the author feared he’d surpass. For example, at the beginning of a particular chapter, an important plot point was referred to in the past tense (think: “And oh, by the way, since the last chapter something Major happened to this character”). Everything else was noted in such fine detail that this seemed odd to me. The pace of the last few chapters seemed rushed as well, but the only somewhat-satisfying ending was actually quite clever and in retrospect, I enjoy how he managed to tuck in the loose ends of a motif so neatly while still leaving some thoughts kind of dangling into the open air.

Overall, I give it 3.5/ 5 stars – not for the writing (this could be studied in a literature course, I’m sure), but for the subject matter. I don’t usually read horror, and parts of this one were (understandably and expectedly) super graphic. I don’t think I’ll ever erase some of those descriptions from my mind.

Well done, sir!

*Pun sorta intended.
Oh, and also: this chick sitting next to me a few weeks ago totally gave away a Major Plot Point when she asked what I was reading. I can only imagine how horrified I’d be if I hadn’t known this was coming, because I was pretty freakin’ horrified regardless.