September 30, 2009

The lost art of being effectively charming

There are basically two types of male servers: those who are aloof but good at their jobs, and those who feel compelled to act silly or (I hate this word) charming. Think this. The first type are pretty forgettable but the second type make my skin crawl. The ones who saunter up to you and your grandma with a drawn-out "Hellooooo, laaaadieeees. How are we this fine evening?" A sly little wink here, perhaps a crazy flip of the ketchup bottle. Flirts with grandma a little bit, makes her feel like she's 40 again. You know the type. He probably won't even write down your order because he's just that good. He might even (wow!) sit down at your table while you give him your order. What a crazy guy! These are the kind of servers all the other servers hate because they kiss so much ass. Every normal server has a more-than-healthy level of cynicism but these guys are the type that are always upbeat, try to speak Spanish with the dishwashers and defend the customer when you bitch about one. Rest assured the rest of the kitchen and the waitstaff are all rolling their eyes at this douche.

I. hate. those. servers. But you know they need tips, so more power to them I guess.

What I hate even more is when the people with whom I am dining (most likely my boss or relatives) buy into that crap and think the dude really likes them or something. It's just uncomfortable for everyone, especially if you've been on both sides of the interaction before.

But then came Jim. Jim is a server who restored my faith in male food service workers and the fact that they can be, ahem, charming without being all fake wacky and silly to win you over. They can just be slightly insane. Jim started off normal enough, bringing us water and taking our orders. He was totally flirting, but it wasn't weird. He was being genuinely nice, not creepy or annoying at all. Apparently when I was in the restroom, he came up to my dining companion when she wasn't looking and said something in a really high-pitched voice. When she turned around, he asked if she had thought that had been a woman. She said yes, and he replied, "I hate when that happens," then walked away. WTF, that makes NO sense. Jim was pleasant, attentive and hilarious throughout the entire meal. I almost looked forward to him coming back to check on us so I could hear what crazy thing he had to say next. I felt like a 60-year-old woman at TGI Friday's.

He ended up not charging me for the extra item I ordered or my drinks, which effectively cut my bill in half. Call me grandma because I totally fell for it - and tipped him 40 percent. Good job, Jim.

September 29, 2009

What are you waiting for?

Jens Lekman started it.

When I hosted the morning show on Radio K, I would always play a song by whatever musician had a birthday that day (btw, did you know Leslie Feist and Henry Rollins share the same birthday - what does that say for astrology? Also, I have the same birthday as Jello Biafra, which is awesome).

That's how I realized that Jens Lekman is the same age as me. Well, four months older. It was right there on Wikipedia. I'll tell you what, I can pinpoint this as the exact moment when I became conscious of my mortality.

Ever since then, I've had the biggest complex about my age. Jens Lekman may be a balding, persnickety, depressed Swede (who apparently has swine flu) but he's accomplished things. He's done stuff. He's made music, toured, and people love him. I became obsessed with knowing how old people are and comparing myself. Jessica Alba's my age. Shit, she may be a dumb celebrity but she's made movies and is rich and has a baby. I don't really want any of those things, but at least she's doing something. And what if it turns out I do actually want those things? What if by the time I figure that out, it's too late?

I have an irrational seething hatred for anyone who is younger and more successful than me. People in their early and mid-20s who own houses (or even who can afford not to have a roommate), own businesses, tour with their awesome bands, are in happy relationships, follow their creative pursuits. All of the above. Obviously it's just jealousy. What have I done on the 10 years I've been out of high school (something I've been thinking about way too much since my 10-year reunion this summer)? Um, let's see.. I served a lot of food and beverages to people and cleaned up a lot of their messes, figuratively and literally. Perhaps I changed somebody's life by making them a really awesome smoothie one day. None of my many musical endeavors I've participated in since I was 14 ever got off the ground (the all-girl AC/DC cover band did play once, I think), I never have time for printmaking, barely have time to write and haven't traveled that much. I work in an office just to pay off all the school debt and wasteful spending of my early 20s. I've been trying without success for five years to save up enough money to move away from Minnesota so I don't continue to be crippled by depression every single winter. So it really pisses me off when some 23-year-old gets some great job, buys an amazing house or takes off to Europe for a year.

I think what I'm really mad at is myself. I could have done great things but I chose not to, out of fear or anxiety or self-consciousness (although to my credit, many of the young people I know who do all the things I'd like to do are from wealthy families. Just sayin'). Whenever I've pondered throwing caution to the wind and taking a huge risk, that midwestern, self-deprecating, sensible voice in my head has kicked in. You will fail. Just keep doing what you're doing. You're just a waitress (or barista or cashier or mediocre graphic designer or whatever). Is there something in the FFSW (female food service worker) mentality that makes a great server but a horrible self-motivator? Maybe people who are great at serving and anticipating the needs of others just can't really do it for themselves.

Time to grow up and get the F over it, huh?

September 27, 2009

Thank you, little fucker

I love this story so much. What dumbass trashy parents, and what stupid employees. I only wish I had thought of doing that at some point because it is pretty hilarious. Who do the parents think they are going to the media? Who the F cares? So your precious kid was whining and the employees got annoyed. It happens every day. Whaaa. Maybe it's you.

I swear, some people think the world should bow at their feet because they made the life choice to procreate. And to eat at shitty, overpriced restaurants.

September 9, 2009

Oh, bebes

School started this week and it's strange (although a huge relief) not to be going back. It was orientation last week at the University of Minnesota and while walking around I got caught in a sea of freshmen walking back to the dorms. I heard one tiny little baby nervously say to his friend, "I sure hope I picked the right career."

Part of me was really jealous. I wish I could be that young and naive again, my 20s stretching out in front of me, knowing the little choices I made at the time would make a huge impact on my adult life - and actually using that knowledge to do something. Of course I'd only go back if I knew what I know now, otherwise I'm sure 18-year-old me would still stupidly waste her 20s held back by fear, anxiety, self doubt and blind devotion. Trying to find purpose in making coffee for rich people and loving people who don't want to be loved. Finding comfort in predictable unhappiness and postponing fulfillment.

Part of me wanted to burst his bubble. Tell him that 10 years later, he's probably going to be like me - still broke, still lost and only slightly smarter - with a long resume detailing all the ways you've failed. It doesn't matter what career you pick when you're 18. You'll end up where you end up and you'll learn to be happy just to have a job. It's sad, but it really is true. A job is a job is a job. As long as you're doing something where you can make decent money by doing something you don't despise, who cares? The rest of your life is your time, and that's what you should concentrate on.