"Too Soon"

Today, another tragedy of unfathomable proportions took place: A commercial airliner carrying 295 people was allegedly shot out of the sky, killing everyone on board and likely creating a years-long debate over who was responsible.

Unfortunately for Malaysian Airlines, this is the second deadly incident in which one of their airplanes has been involved during the past few months. In March, one of their planes dropped out of contact in the middle of a flight. As we are all aware, this plane has never been recovered; nor have any of the 239 souls on board. This makes over 500 lives lost while on board a Malaysian flight in the last 6 months. If I owned stock in their company, I might decide to sell it right about now.

I would never go so far as to blame Malaysian Airlines for either of these incidents. The public does not have any answers when it comes to either flight, whether it was pilot error, weather conditions, equipment malfunction, or missiles that brought the planes down. They are both, for lack of a better word, “sketchy” crashes, with many more questions than answers. If I may be selfish for a moment, these incidents do nothing in the way of curing my intense fear of flying. My heart aches for the loved ones of everyone killed.

As the world began to process the news, a celebrity made headlines for his seemingly insensitive remarks. Jason Biggs, of American Pie and Orange is The New Black fame, took to his twitter account to make a joke.

His tweet read: “Anyone wanna buy my Malaysian Airlines frequent flier miles?”

This feeble, obviously sad joke made headlines across the internet. Everyone from Us Weekly to MSNBC wrote about it, with journalists and commenters all over the globe calling the actor insensitive, gross, and using the oft-overused phrase “too soon.” People vilified Biggs, calling him out for doing what he does (which is “comedic actor,” lest we forget) and saying what everyone else was thinking, but didn’t have the nerve to say.

Did he say anything derogatory towards any of the victims? No. Did he call out Russia or the Ukraine, both “suspects” in the crash of MH17? No. He simply made a joke in the time of tragedy, which, in our desensitized society, is commonplace and, frankly, appreciated. Watching the news unfold, checking out twitter accounts who were posting pictures of dead bodies strewn through a field, seeing black smoke billowing from the crash site…all of these things should be in the forefront of our minds. Not an actor’s jab at the airline, which has been involved in multiple crashes in a few months.

Again, SOMEONE had to say it. You weren’t thinking it? You didn’t look at your coworker and say, “Ugh, again?” You didn’t mumble to yourself, “Yeesh, Malaysian Airlines needs to get their shit together, huh?” I myself did the old Rodney Dangerfield, tugging at my invisible shirt collar when I looked at my dogs and said, “Glad I’m not flying Malaysian any time soon.” Would you like to call the Associated Press? Tweet me that you “hope my family is on board when the next flight that crashes?” Because that’s what Biggs’ followers did. And, as he is a new father, this is disgusting.

When did we become people who can’t take a joke? Who can’t smile through our tears? This is what comedy is FOR. To make us laugh, tickle our funny bones, chuckle when we’re sad. Jason Biggs said nothing wrong. He has been much more controversial on his twitter feed in the past – hell, follow his Bachelor live tweets on any given Monday night, and you’ll see him pick these contestants apart like you wouldn’t believe. That’s what he does. He’s honest, he’s himself, and he’s in the public eye. I hate to be this person, but in this case, I’ll say it: If you don’t like it, don’t follow him.

I defy anyone to tell me that some variation of what he said didn’t cross his or her minds when the news broke. We need to focus on more important things, instead of lambasting a celebrity for speaking their mind on a personal social media page. Immediately after he wrote the tweet in question, he got serious and lamented the loss of lives, but this wasn’t good enough for his followers. They wanted his head on a platter. They wanted to humiliate him, to make him national news – while someone just pushed a button thousands of miles away and ended almost 300 lives.

Where are our priorities? What are we angry at? Jason Biggs? Time to take a step back, friends. Let’s save our anger for the real bad guys. Not the celebrity who took one for the team by saying what we couldn’t say, and who is now taking heat from every media outlet for it. Let’s let this one go and focus on what is important.

And let’s also stop screaming from the rooftops about how bad we have it and how awful our President is while we’re at it. Because while you may not love your current health care, at least we don’t have a government that shoots innocent people out of the sky because they don’t’ want them in our airspace for whatever reason. At least we don’t have foreign troops invading our backyards because they want our cities. Let’s all take a breath, be thankful for once, and loosen up a bit. As I sit here in my lovely house with my gorgeous dogs, drinking a beer and listening to the television in the background, I can’t help but think that we’ve got it pretty good.

18 July 2014 ·

That time I incited a mob, or the time I almost got punched by a 55 year old woman

We were really busy at the shop on Saturday night. It was one of those nights where we barely had time to exhale in between customers. The hot summer day turned into somewhat muggy night. At around 9:40pm, I finally had a chance to step out from behind the counter to clean up the lobby. As I walked outside to wipe down the small tables we have in front of our store, I took in my surroundings. The street traffic was finally dying down.

Inches away from the center outside table sat a car at the curb. I remembered subconsciously clocking this car earlier – I had thought one of our umbrellas was leaning against it. The car was a very odd shade of blue. It was just one of those moments where you make a mental note to yourself. “This car has been here for a bit.” I finished wiping the table and straightened one of the wicker chairs. At the scraping noise, a dog began to bark. From inside the blue car. My head snapped up. There was a small white dog sitting in the front seat. The driver’s and passenger’s windows were rolled down about 2 inches. I murmured some soothing words to the dog as I looked around frantically. Surely, I was mistaken about how long the car had been there for. Surely this person would be back within moments.

I walked back inside, shaken. When I told my employees, they seemed nonplussed. “I’m sure the car hasn’t been there for long,” said one. “Just keep an eye on it. They’ll be back in a minute.”

I pulled out my phone and opened the Weather Channel app. 82 degrees. I did a quick Google search, as I honestly don’t know if “freaking out about a dog in a car after the sun has gone down” was a thing. I found a site that said that, even at night, temperatures such as 80 degrees can climb to 120 degrees in a matter of 20 minutes. I began to panic.

Time passed. It was now 10:00. The restaurant next door closed. I stood outside, staring at everyone who passed, waiting for someone to pull out car keys. No one did. At one point, I heard different barking. There were two dogs, not one. I must have exclaimed something in my shock, because two young girls sitting outside asked me what was wrong. I explained the situation somewhat sheepishly, thinking they would roll their eyes like typical Valley teens and go back to their gelato. Instead, they sprung out of their chairs and over to the car window. I walked over with them. To my dismay, upon getting a closer look, there was more bad news. A third dog. Three dogs, locked in a car outside of my shop, for well over 30 minutes now. The sun may have been down, but it was a hot, sticky night. I turned to the girls.

“I’m calling the police.”

I walked back inside, ignoring the line my employees had, shouting a half-assed explanation at them as I went out the back door. I found the non-emergency line and called it. The woman who answered put me through to Animal Control. I explained the situation to the gentleman on the phone. He said, unfortunately, there wasn’t anything they could do unless the dogs “appeared to be in physical distress.” He said if they were barking, they were ok, but to call back if another half an hour passed. Dejected, I thanked him and hung up.

I walked back out to the Teens and told them what happened. They were hovering near the car, almost in tears at this point. “What do we do?” they asked me frantically. “We wait,” I said. “If they start panting, you come get me.” They nodded solemnly and I headed back inside to help close the store.

10:30 came and went. I kept going outside to check on the dogs. At this point, the small local theatre production that had been going on had let out. Again, I frantically searched everyone’s faces, wondering who this horrible dog owner could be. No one stopped, except for one couple. The Girlfriend asked us what was going on, as the Teens and I had been gesticulating wildly next to the car as we weighed our options. When we told Girlfriend, it was on.

She whipped out her phone and demanded the number for animal control. When she asked me how long the animals had been out there, I told her at least an hour, but I was pretty positive the car had been there much longer. The Boyfriend asked me to go get some water – he would stick his hand in the window to give it to the dogs. I almost cried. As I came back with the full glass, two Regulars had joined the growing crowd. I briefly filled them in, and they joined our little group immediately. Boyfriend stuck his hand in the window but was only met with frightened barks. Girlfriend was on the phone, giving her name and our address, demanding they send someone. It all escalated very quickly.

At 10:50, I remembered we had a stash of organic dog treats in the shop. I ran to get some. By the time I came out, Boyfriend had the passenger door open and was gently coaxing the dogs to have some water. Girlfriend saw me and quickly explained that animal control had told her it is within our legal rights to enter the car and remove the dogs. They had gotten Horrible Dog Owner’s phone number off of the dogs’ tags and called her repeatedly, only to be greeted with a voicemail. They left pleading messages for her and got no response. Girlfriend didn’t want to take the dogs to a shelter, and I agreed with her. But what would we do?

Our store closes at 11. The Teens, Regulars, and Couple all told me they weren’t going anywhere, and to go finish up. We’d wait for hours if we had to. The sense of togetherness was powerful and touching.

At 11:15, I was counting the register when one of the Regulars came running in. “Brittne,” he said breathlessly, “she’s back.”

I dropped what I was doing and ran out front. There stood a small blonde woman in her late 50s. And she was screaming.

Obviously more than a little tipsy, Horrible Dog Owner ranted and raved about how she was only gone for 20 minutes, how dare we accuse her and lie. I shouted out that I work here, and she’d been gone for at least an hour and a half that we know of – and unless she had literally just walked away from her car when I discovered the dogs, she had most likely been gone a lot longer. She screamed that ok, maybe 30 minutes. Then she changed it to 45. I yelled that 45 minutes is 40 minutes too long. She came closer, swinging her keys and calling me a liar. She said she had witnesses back at the restaurant across the street, where she had been having dinner (and drinks, obviously) with friends, that she was gone less than an hour. I laughed at her. She turned around and ran across the street to get them. I turned to Regulars.

“This is going to get ugly.”

HDO came running back with 3 well dressed males. My stomach dropped. The Couple tried to explain to them what we were doing, when Drunk Male #1 began shouting at them. He got right up in Boyfriend’s face, nose to nose, chest to chest. He screamed that she was only in there an hour. Shouts of, “LIAR,” were exchanged. HDO carried on in the background, shouting and pointing her finger at me, accusing me of exaggerating. I told her again, quietly, that I wasn’t lying, that she had been gone at least 2 hours. Girlfriend shouted, “I heard you were gone 3 hours!” This was the worst game of telephone, but the point remains, she was gone too long. HDO seized on the number 3 and went at us even harder.

“THREE HOURS,” she shrieked, sweat beading her face. “I WAS NOT GONE FOR THREE HOURS.”

Girlfriend then informed her that the police had been called and they had her license plate number and phone number. HDO screamed that we’d ruined her life. I told her that her life would have been a lot more ruined if she had come back to her dogs being gone. Or dead. She screamed that they were fine, she was just across the street. Then why did she not come out and check on them once? If she had, she might have seen the angry mob crowded around her vehicle.

At one point, Drunk Male #1 tried to use the excuse that “it’s a nice night, the car windows are open, they’re fine.” I told him it had been 82 degrees out when I found him. He turned to me and roared, “THAT’S A FUCKING LIE.”

At that point, I just stayed quiet. It was then that I realized the Regulars were videotaping the whole thing. HDO continued to accuse me of lying (as if “three hours” was too much, but the 90 minutes that I watched her dogs was an acceptable amount of time).

As we finally decided we weren’t getting through to her, we began to walk away in disgust. As she got into her car, Regular #1 shouted, “hey honey, you ok to drive?” I dissolved into adrenaline-fueled giggles, and we all hugged and thanked each other.

I don’t have much else to say about this situation that you wouldn’t already surmise from my long blog. I’m just grateful for good, decent people in this town. I pray that those dogs are safe. And I pray for HDO that she doesn’t ever try that shit near my store again.

8 July 2014 ·

Why #YesAllWomen is So Important

A few months ago, I saw a job listing through a mutual Facebook friend of mine. The ad was for an assistant to a Hollywood financier. I felt under qualified, but the mutual friend insisted that I would be a perfect fit. I applied, thinking I’d never even get a call back. I was wrong.

The next day, a Sunday, I received a text telling me that Mr Finance would be calling me within minutes, and to be prepared. I was nervous. I answered the phone to hear the man himself, ready to interview me. I tried to sound cheerful, willing, ready, and able. Right away, he asked me what I’d be willing to do for the job. I chirped excitedly about how many hours I was willing to put in, how I would be available 24/7, what a quick learner I am.

Mr Finance chuckled condescendingly and said, “No. WHAT. WOULD. YOU. DO. FOR. THIS. JOB.”

As I had only seen things like this in the movies I was trying to help him finance, I paused. I paused for a long time. And then I said- all the while positive that I was blowing it- that if he meant what I thought he did, the answer was no.

He meant what I thought he did. He proceeded to keep me on the phone for another 20 minutes, vaguely outlining sexual acts he would expect me to perform as his assistant but never explicitly saying them. I mostly listened while intermittently crying as quietly as I could. I never felt like I could just hang up. This was powerful Mr Finance, after all. I had to endure it.

Later that night, various people advised me not to write about this experience. That he could and would blackball me. After all, this is the man who told me that there were plenty of people who had turned him down in the past, only to come begging on their knees two years later. I assumed that the “on their knees” was not a figurative statement. I stayed quiet. I told the mutual friend who had set up the interview that “I wasn’t a right fit.” Until now. No more silence. No more protection.

*********************************************************************************

Two days ago, a young college student went on a shooting spree an hour away from my home. He targeted women, due to their continued “rejection” of him. I don’t want to give this person more time than he deserves, so let me just say that this tragedy has brought me to a place that I had never really, truly considered before. And I’m angry, ashamed, and scared. I’m really fucking scared.

The situation in Santa Barbara has begun a movement on social media with the hashtag “YesAllWomen.” The point is to show what a life of fear women lead- taught from childhood how to act, dress, or prepare for inevitable male attackers. Rapists, robbers, home invaders, predators, even boyfriends can hurt or kill you at a moment’s notice. Don’t get too drunk on your date. Don’t tell the cab driver your real address. Don’t walk to your car alone. Take self-defense classes. Carry pepper spray. Stay in groups. Let that guy at the bar down gently – maybe lie and tell him that you have a boyfriend. Don’t embarrass him. Don’t wear a low-cut top. Don’t dance provocatively. Don’t be mean. Be sweet. Be ladylike. Be kind and generous and gracious.

This is all complete and utter bullshit. I don’t think I’ve ever realized what bullshit it is before now. I’ve just gone through life, trying to be kind, be sweet(ish), be funny. Don’t want to hurt a stranger’s feelings. Bullshit.

Why is it alright that, when I was 19 and working at Sam Goody, I was basically fired for being a “trouble-maker” after reporting my ongoing sexual harassment at the hands of my married assistant manager?

Why should I be afraid in my home after reporting an Uber driver who basically held me captive and tried to molest me? Why should I be afraid to call the police on him because he knows where I live?

Why was my first question to my new male roommate, “are you going to rape or murder us?” It was followed by a nervous chuckle, but I was completely serious. This is also why I refuse to date online. Which one of you is handsome? Which one is funny? Which one will tie my roommate and me up and rob us, then murder us in our living room? (Maybe the blonde guy. I’ve never trusted blonde guys.)

Why was I told that I’ll never find a husband if I’m not more ladylike?

Why would I not tell everyone who would listen about Mr Finance (who is also Mr Married) and what he said to me? People wouldn’t want to hire me to write for them because I tattled on the guy who wanted me to blow him for a job? I am many things- passive aggressive, funny, generous, and maybe even nasty at times- but I am not meek. As much as I am ashamed of keeping quiet about this all of these months, it was the natural thing to do. When people advised me not to say anything, I accepted it as quickly as I accept that littering is bad – you don’t throw trash on the ground, and you don’t tell on powerful, misogynistic pigs. Or they will destroy you.

Why, when a guy approaches me at a bar, is “no thank you” not enough? Why do I have to endure moments, hours even, of persistence, annoyance, and insistence? “No thank you” should be ENOUGH. “No, I don’t want your number. No, you can’t have mine. No thanks! No, I don’t have a boyfriend. No, that doesn’t mean I want you to be my boyfriend. Do you even know my name? Nice to meet you, Fred. Still a no. Just trying to have fun with my girlfriends. Oh. I’m a bitch? I’m a cold bitch? You have a good night, too!!”

If a girl isn’t interested, she’s cold, stuck up, a bitch, a tease, a prude. If a guy isn’t interested, a girl should probably go on a crash diet until he is. Right? If a guy shows interest in a girl, she should gratefully accept his attention and beg him to come home with her; if a girl shows interest in a guy, she is desperate, annoying, and emotional. Is this what I’m supposed to think? That if I drink too much, I’m asking for harassment? And if a guy does, he’s just having fun with his buds?

Utter bullshit.

I’m almost 32 years old, and I still jump at late night noises. I still check my closet every night. I still walk my dogs after dark with my keys strategically sticking out of my clenched fist. I carry pepper spray. I keep my phone in my hand during cab rides. I never, ever, go have a cigarette at a bar if I have some beer left in my glass. I am careful- because I was raised, as all women were, to be afraid and wary of men. #YesAllWomen. I guess I just didn’t realize it until now. And none of it is ok.

“Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them.” - Margaret Atwood

25 May 2014 ·

LA Women: Part 4

The Over Involved Fan

I head into a convenience store after a long shift at work to pick up a few essentials. Cigarettes, People magazine, some saltines for snacking - the makings of another raucous Friday night at home.

As I place my purchases on the counter, I am lost my own thoughts; mostly wondering what the subject matter will be on the Dateline NBC I have waiting for me on my DVR. A quiet voice interrupts me.

"So, what do you think?"

I realize that the woman at the cash register has asked me a question. I smile. “I’m sorry?”

She points at the People magazine on the counter. A headline blares, “Justin Bieber: Out of Control! Can Anyone Stop Him?”

I am momentarily confused. “I’m sorry, what do I think about…?”

She stares at me intently. “About him.” She gestures at the cover again. “Do you think anyone can stop him?”

I start to giggle, thinking she must be asking sarcastically, perhaps mocking me for wasting money on such drivel. My laughter dies when I see how serious she really is.

"Oh," I stammer, trying to keep a straight face. "Umm…I don’t really know. Maybe?" I take my credit card out, already back to wondering if Keith Morrison will be the narrator of Dateline tonight. I stop when I realize that the woman is still staring at me.

"They say he’s on drugs, you know," she continues. "That his parents are giving him drugs. Can you believe that?"

I pause for a moment, only now hearing the strange acoustic version of Radioactive playing on the speakers. The man in line behind me shuffles his case of beer to his other hand and sighs.

"No, I can’t believe it," I finally say. "It’s very disturbing. Can I also get a pack of Marb Lights?"

The woman turns around to grab the cigarettes, continuing to talk about the tragedy that is unfolding in front of our nation’s eyes. “He’s just so young,” she laments, “and so, so lost. All that money and no one to help him.”

"Yes," I say to her quickly, turning to give the man behind me an exasperated look. "I think he’ll be ok, though."

"I really hope so," the woman says almost sadly. "I truly do."

I slide my credit card, quickly signing the screen. The woman gives the magazine one last longing look before putting it into a bag. “So handsome,” she murmurs.

I take my bag and mumble a quick thank you, shooting one last apologetic look at the man behind me. He ignores me.

As I step out into the chilly night air, I can’t help but hope that Justin Bieber does get the help that he needs - if for no one else than the woman running the register at the convenience store in North Hollywood.

1 February 2014 ·

LA Women: Part 3

"The Entitled Girlfriend*"

*This story is a verbatim account of an exchange that actually happened to me today.  I will not include any physical attributes or details about these people, but know that this REALLY HAPPENED.*

A couple walks in to the gelato shop.  The man walks right up to the case and, without hesitation, announces that he wants a large cup.

"But I only want a tiny bit in it," he explains.  "Really, I just want small scoops."

The cashier looks at him silently for a moment, knowing that the large cup is $7.00 and he should just order a smaller size.  She eventually shrugs and smiles.  ”Sure, what flavors would you like?”

He points to the Stracciatella (sweet cream and chocolate chips).  ”That one.  And reach in there and get me one of those big chips on top.”

The cashier looks at the brand new pan of gelato and grimaces.  There are large chunks of chocolate peppered through the top of the pan, none of which are near the area she is about to scoop from.  ”I’m sorry, I can’t give you a chip, sir,” she says.  ”The top of the gelato is for decoration.”

His girlfriend, silent thus far, perks up.  ”Are you kidding?” she asks.

"No," the cashier replies.  "It’s our policy, and it’s because the top is for decoration.  But anything you see on top is mixed throughout the gelato.  There are chocolate chips all throughout."

The girlfriend just stares at the cashier.  ”You’re not serious?  You can’t just reach in and grab one?”

The cashier sets her mouth in a line.  ”No, I’m sorry,” she says through tight lips.  ”As you can see, all of the gelato looks very nice on top.  It’s for aesthetic reasons.  It’s our policy.”

"I want to speak to your manager," the girlfriend barks.

"I am the manager," the cashier smiles.

The girlfriend smirks.  ”Of COURSE you are,” she sneers.

The cashier turns her attention back to the man.  ”Which other flavors would you like, sir?”  He chooses two more flavors, and repeatedly reminds the cashier that he only wants a small amount.

"Are you sure you don’t want this filled up?" the cashier asks.

"No, we want a big chocolate chip," the girlfriend mutters.

The cashier ignores the woman and hands the cup to the man.  ”Here ya go!” she says cheerfully.  The employee next to her looks at the girlfriend and asks her if she would like anything.

"Not anymore," she replies huffily.  "I won’t give you my business."

The cashier knows that if she remains at the gelato case, she will get into an argument that will cause her to say things she cannot take back.  Before she leaves, she tells the other employee to only charge the man for a small size, since he didn’t really get a lot of gelato and perhaps a small discount would diffuse the situation.  She walks to the back room and takes a few deep breaths.  Seconds later, she hears a raised voice from the cafe.  She rounds the corner to see the girlfriend berating the other employee.

"I will NEVER come here again," she is saying loudly, for the full cafe to hear.  "And I will tell EVERYONE I KNOW to never come here.  And you can tell HER that, too!"

The cashier walks out to the register to see what the commotion is.  She looks at the employee and says, loud enough for the girlfriend to hear, “is she really saying this over a CHOCOLATE CHIP?”  He nods meekly.

The girlfriend turns on her heel and storms out, complaining the whole way.  As the door slams behind her, all of the employees start to laugh.

****************************************************************

I don’t usually comment on these posts, but I feel the need to say something here.  I truly thought this was a joke today.  I could not believe that this woman, not too much older than myself, was throwing an all-out adult tantrum in public because I wouldn’t kowtow to her demands.  

How difficult is this to understand?  A pan of gelato is made so that it sits in the case for a few days and the employees scoop from the back, so that the part that faces the customers always remains beautiful and swirly and decorated.  So that they want to purchase and eat it.  This woman wanted me to dig my fingers into a brand new pan of gelato for her boyfriend to be able to eat a slightly larger piece of chocolate than was already mixed in.  Does this make ANY sense?  I have worked at this place for over 3 years.  I have had many difficult, rude, entitled customers.  I have never, before today, encountered anything as ridiculous and uncalled for as the exchange I had with this woman.

Why would you ever enter an establishment and expect special treatment?  And why would you, upon being told the policies, fight said policies and cause a scene?  Did I ruin this woman’s day?  Because I refused to let her win and her boyfriend only ate the chocolate chips that were swirled into the gelato?  How dare she treat me like that.  How dare anyone treat another human being like that.

This is the problem that I continue to run into in Los Angeles:  People are not used to being told “no.”  It’s pathetic, really.  I allowed this gross human being to ruin my day.  Over a chocolate chip.  Does she feel good about herself?  Is she going to go tell all of her friends what happened?  Because I hope they laugh at her.  She’ll probably tell them I was rude to her.  I wasn’t.  What I wrote above was exactly what happened.  I actually wanted to exaggerate - to include a few things that I wish I’d said.  But I didn’t.  So what will she tell people?  Her peers?  Other grown adults?  ”They won’t give you the stuff on top of the pans - don’t go there!  Meanies!  I want what I want, and I want it NOW, or I’m not going back!  And neither are you!”  Just utterly, pathetically ridiculous.  Her family is probably embarrassed to be seen with her in public if this is how she acts.

Some things I wish I had said to this overgrown 5 year old:

-“You want me to pick up the chocolate chip with my fingers?  Gross.”

-“You want me to ruin a $75 pan of gelato for you?  How nice!”

-“It seems that you’re not very happy here, so I think it’s best if you just leave.”

-“I’m sorry I ruined your day.  I’ll pray for you and your obvious hardships.”

-“I think 7-11 sells chocolate bars, if you have a craving.”

-“You are a disgusting human being, and I hope you’re proud of yourself that you just yelled at a bunch of underpaid ice cream scoopers because we didn’t let you have your way.”

-“Hey, man - I know you’ve been standing there silently, and I would never condone this phrase for any other human on the planet - but I think you’d better CHECK YO BITCH.”

But I’m the manager.  (“Of COURSE you are.”)  So I walked away.  And this woman will walk around, telling people how awful we are and writing yelp reviews and getting us into trouble with our owners.  Over a chocolate chip.  Time to reevaluate, folks.  If this is the biggest problem in your life, you’ve got it pretty great.  The biggest problem in my life is that my roommates don’t do the dishes, and I still manage to make it though the week without yelling at food service workers.  Perspective is key.  Maybe next time, I’ll give her the gelato for free instead of discounted (bet you forgot that part, huh?) and tell her to take her money and go grab a pint of ice cream from Ralph’s.  I recommend the Extra Chocolate Chip.  

4 December 2013 ·

Independent Woman

Hey ladies! Us single gals have to stick together, am I right, or am I right?? Occasionally, something will happen to reaffirm that I’m loving my single-gal status. (Besides cosmos and girl talk, right ladies?!)

For example, I know us single-superstars enjoy an occasional “midnight snack.” (Wink wink, girls!!) Some of us even keep a supply next to our beds. For some women, it’s a collection of “toys.” For others, a racy novel. For me, it’s chips and salsa.

See, if I had a boyfriend, I could never stay up super late scrolling through the Twitter feeds of all of MTV’s Teen Moms in the dark. I could never decide, at 2am, to roll over and grab the chips and salsa I had purchased earlier from Poquito Mas.

Ladies, I know you’re with me when I say I’m glad I don’t have a grumpy guy trying to sleep next to me on nights like tonight, so I don’t have to worry about how loud my chewing is! I can even move around on the bed, trying to position my iPad to better read what utter nonsense Jenelle Evans is tweeting about!! And then when I get so enthralled with Twitter and accidentally knock the lid to the salsa on the floor, I can keep reading without fearing I’ve woken my man from his slumber!!

And then I can dip a chip into the salsa with such force that the salsa begins spilling down my arm.

And then I can use said chip to try to sop up the salsa running down my arm.

And then, when that doesn’t work, I can shrug to myself and continue eating as thick salsa falls on to my sheets.

And then, once satisfied, I can stand up to clean myself off and knock the bag of chips to the floor, spilling them everywhere.

And then, I can drop the plastic container holding the last dregs of salsa on the floor while trying to stop my frantic dog from eating his weight in tortilla chips.

And then I can turn on the light to survey the damage and forget all about the salsa until my eyes fall on the large spot on my sheets.

And then I can go into my bathroom to grab a towel while my dog licks salsa off the wall.

And then, once I wash my arms- surgeon-style- wet a towel, finish cleaning up the chips, and start scrubbing at the stain on my bed, I realize that I have to be up for work in 4 hours.

So I can just lay the towel down over the stain and climb into bed.

I could never do any of that with a boyfriend!!

I had to wash my sheets anyways. You never know who could come along when you’re a sexy single gal, right ladies??

9 July 2013 ·

"He was deep into hip hop."

This is something that has been discussed and picked apart ad nauseum whenever some wack-a-doo kills someone.  What was their motivation?  Did they play video games?  Were they violent video games?  That must be why so-and-so shot up that elementary school!  He played Call of Duty!  

This is especially bothering me when it comes to the Boston bombers.  TMZ (I know, it’s not exactly the New Yorker) has been posting stories about the bombers’ pasts, trying to do their part to educate the public on these men’s lives before they became the most hated people in America.  This was a story they posted today:

—————————

—-Boston Bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was a big fan of “Breaking Bad" … praising the show for teaching him how to dispose of corpses. 

Since his capture Friday … a lot of information is surfacing about the 19-year-old Chechan college student who helped mastermind a deadly attack on the Boston Marathon and led police on a massive manhunt. 

Turns out Dzhokhar was a fan of violent TV shows  … in particular “Game of Thrones" and "Breaking Bad.”

He tweeted earlier this year … “Breaking Bad taught me how to dispose of a corpse.” 

As TMZ previously reported, his 26-year-old brother Tamerlan — who was killed by cops during the manhunt — was deep into hip hop. 

Dzhokhar remains in police custody, in serious condition and unable to speak.—-

———————————-

Ok.  Let’s discuss this, shall we?  Breaking Bad is an amazing show, probably one of the best shows in the history of television.  It is not a show that I would consider to be overly violent, but we are a desensitized culture, so others may disagree with me.  On a scale of Full House to The Wire in terms of violence and gore, I’d rate Breaking Bad at around a Lost.  Did that make a lick of sense?  Anyways, Breaking Bad has had a few iconic scenes - SPOILER ALERT - in one of the series’ first episodes (and again, in an episode last season), two of the main characters dispose of a dead body by dissolving it in acid.  This was supposed to be a nod to the main character’s knowledge of chemistry and to show the audience that he was in over his head - and yes, it was gory, but it wasn’t done in a sensationalistic way.  It fit with the storyline of the show.

My issue is this: What does this have to do with the Boston bombers?  It seems to me that TMZ is searching for something, anything to blame for these men’s actions.  I don’t think this one fits.  Dzhokhar had a twitter page that TMZ must have combed through to find this tweet - and I say that because, as I said, the “body disposal” plot happened 5 years ago…and then again last July.  So it wasn’t as if this guy was typing this last week.  

Also, these guys are/were fucking maniacs, that much is obvious - but they didn’t “dispose of any bodies,” so what does this have to do with ANYTHING?  He tweeted that to be a creep, probably over a year ago.  (I do not know this for a fact, because I have no desire to look at this psycho’s tweets, but that’s what I assume based on when the show aired.)

TMZ also asserts that the older brother was “deep into hip hop.”  So is Gwyneth Paltrow, and I don’t think she’s murdered anything but a few of her Goop-reader’s braincells.  

I know that people want answers.  I get that people want to wrap everything up with a neat little bow and crucify the entertainment industry for influencing normal people to do awful things.  But that just isn’t the case.  My roommate watches Game of Thrones, and she has never tried to murder me with a medieval sword (that I know of).  I personally love horror movies and reading anything and everything about serial killers- but I also ran over a cat once and pulled over to cry for 15 minutes.  Maybe if I listen to more rap music, my inner psychopath will finally come out and I can go on a murderous rampage.

While I don’t have articles and scientific facts to back me up, I have read enough to believe that evil is not made; it is born.  There are, of course, isolated incidents where there may be brainwashing or torture involved until someone breaks.  But I do believe that most people are inherently good.  Others are born with something missing.  This is why you hear about children killing animals at a young age as being a warning sign.  There is something wired incorrectly in their brains.  I am, in no way, making excuses for them or saying they have an “illness.”  They ARE sick, but there is help out there and not everyone who has sociopathic tendencies goes out and shoots up a movie theater.  If every person who played Call of Duty, or watched The Dark Knight, went on a killing spree, we’d have a much larger problem on our hands.

There are so many variables and factors that can lend to an outcome such as the Boston bombing.  Environment, upbringing, religious beliefs (yes, I went there) - but even before their shitty childhoods or their associations with well known terrorist groups, there is something missing.  There is enough to digest here without bringing musical taste and favorite television shows into it.  This is not a myspace profile.  And I do not believe that anything would have been different if one bomber had watched less Game of Thrones, or the other one had listened to less Eminem, so let’s stop with all that.



22 April 2013 ·

Look For The Helpers

The Boston Marathon bombing earlier this week has been weighing heavily on my mind, as I’m sure it has been for most people.  I find myself going to watch a tv show or check a website, and instead, getting sucked in to videos and news coverage about the victims for hours.  I’m scared, you guys.  I’m scared and angry and sad.  So very sad.  

I remember sitting in history class as a child, reading about past wars and bombings.  It all seemed so intangible and foreign:  the photos of children having bomb drills in classrooms, the shelters people set up, the fear in their faces.  I felt safe.  I was too young to grasp what was happening in the Gulf War.  I don’t really remember the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.  I saw images of the Oklahoma City bombing, but it was so far away and I was only 13 at the time.  I never quite understood the horrors of the world.  I felt safe.

Now, I don’t feel safe anymore.  The world is a different place now, and it’s horrifying.  There is so much evil in this world, and it’s not only coming from one group anymore.  People can’t feel safe at the movies anymore.  Parents can’t be sure their children will come home from school unscathed.  Going to work can be dangerous.  And now even running a marathon on a gorgeous day in the company of thousands of people can be a death sentence.  

I know that I am afraid, but I also know that I cannot live in fear.  My fear has been outweighed by heart-swelling pride as I watch footage of the aftermath of this most recent tragedy.  That scene looked horrifically traumatizing for even those who were uninjured.  Blood and limbs strewn everywhere, people screaming and dazed  - like the front lines in a war over seas, not a sunny street in historic Boston.  Those civilians and first responders who leaped into action within seconds of the blast are heroes, and it truly is a beautiful thing to behold in the midst of all that horror.  Regular folks putting themselves in danger to help complete strangers, most likely saving people’s lives through their swift actions.    

I only wish that this kind of togetherness, support, and love would be prevalent every day, and not just when tragedies occur.  Maybe if people were a little nicer and reached out to other human beings rather than judging and bullying, we would have less horror in the world.  

There are many relief funds set up for the people affected by the marathon bombings, but I have selected a few that spoke to me.  I will post them here.  Please give a few dollars - you can buy that new outfit or new iPhone in a few weeks.  These people’s lives will never be the same, and most of them will have to deal with extremely expensive prosthetics once they get through surgeries and rehabilitation.  It’s a small way of helping, but sometimes it’s the only way when you can’t physically be there.  All of these people’s stories are on their pages - click to read about them.  

-Support Jeff Baumen: http://www.gofundme.com/Support-Jeff-Bauman

-Support Martin Richard’s family: http://richardfamilyfund.org/

-Support Celeste and Sydney:  http://www.gofundme.com/CelesteandSydney

-Support Patrick and Jessica Downes:  http://www.gofundme.com/2mj2i8

-Fund set up by Massachusetts Governor and Boston Mayor for those who need it most:  http://onefundboston.org/

-Fund set up by Boston’s first responders:  https://www.bosfirecu.com/page.php?page=246

—As I wrote this, I had the news on.  In the midst of updates about bombing suspects and the horrific situation in Texas, a breaking news report cut in.  Hollywood Boulevard has been shut down for blocks because a man has walked into a restaurant screaming that he has an explosive device strapped to his chest.  Fucking STOP IT.  Stop it, you insane lunatics.  Someone else called in a bomb threat to Cal State earlier today.  Knock it off.  This has never been funny, and is certainly not funny right now.  People are losing their lives, their limbs, and their loved ones.  STOP IT.

18 April 2013 ·

LA Women: Part 2

"The Distracted Mother"

The door to the gelato shop opens.  A small boy, around 6 years old, runs through the lobby, making a beeline for the gelato case.  He begins to pound on the glass with his small fists.  

"Chocolate!" he screeches.  "I want chocolate!!"

The cashier looks around helplessly, searching for the adult this child belongs to.  The child continues to slap the case with his hands, leaving streaks of the dirt and food particles he has picked up during his day.  The cashier grimaces; she just windexed.

A moment later, the door to the cafe opens again, and a slim woman in her late 40s enters, holding an iPhone up to her ear.  She pauses to glance at her reflection in the mirror on the wall, scrunching her hair up with her free hand and flashing her teeth.  Satisfied, she makes her way over to the counter.

"Right, I know, hon," she says into the phone, not making eye contact with the cashier.  "I told you, I don’t care what your lawyer says.  You helped make that house a home.  Married less than a year or not, you are entitled to keep it."

The boy, quiet during this exchange, spins around and slaps the woman on one of her thighs.  She sucks in a breath and grabs his sticky hand, pushing him away from her.  She pulls the phone away from her ear for a moment and begins whispering to the boy.

"Joshy.  Joshy, what did mommy tell you?  You need to wait a minute.  Tell the girl what you want," she says, gesturing limply to the cashier.  "Maybe she’ll let you try a flavor."

She turns back to her conversation as the boy eyes up the cashier.  ”Chocolate,” he says in a loud, clear voice.  It is not a request.  ”I want to try chocolate.”

The cashier grits her teeth and spoons a bit of chocolate onto a spoon.  She reaches over the counter to hand it to the child, but he is too short to reach.  He begins to jump for it, kicking the case with every leap.  His mother, noticing the commotion, waves her hand at the cashier and gestures that he can’t reach without breaking her phone conversation.  ”I told you to call my lawyer,” she’s saying, pointing at her son with a perfectly manicured nail.  ”She’s a real shark.  Got me an amazing settlement.”  She narrows her eyes at the cashier.  ”I mean, you’ve seen my car, and I don’t even drive.”

The cashier finally gives the spoon to the child.  He promptly drops the gelato on the floor and yells: “The stupid lady made me drop it!”  

The mother snaps to attention at this.  ”Kel?  Kel.  I have to go.  Joshy apparently needs help.”  She rolls her eyes and puts her phone in her bag.  

"Ok, Joshy.  How difficult can this be?  What did you want?  Ooh, how about you try the vanilla with rum soaked lady fingers?  Does that sound good??"

Joshy’s face darkens.  ”I already TOLD you, stupid.  I want CHOCOLATE.”  

His mother smiles lovingly and begins reading off the flavors.  ”Mmm, raspberry?  You like raspberry.  Honey fig?  That sounds amazing, right Joshy?”  The child begins shouting “chocolate” over and over, each time getting louder, banging on the glass case with every syllable.  His mother finally grabs his hands.

"Don’t do that, my love.  That glass is dirty."  The cashier dies a little inside.

The mother finally relents and orders a child sized chocolate.  At the words “child sized,” Joshy has a full blown meltdown.

"I’m not a BAY-BEY," he yells.  "I don’t WANT that size.  I want the PINK cup."

The mother bites her lip.  ”But Muffin, the pink is the biggest one.  You haven’t had dinner yet.  Are you sure?”  Her six year old nods.  ”Ok,” she relents, “but only because you’re such a good boy.”

The cashier begins scooping into the cup.  Once she has adorned the cup with a small cookie and plastic spoon, Joshy sees that there are cones available.

"Oh no, I want a cone," he whines to his mother.  She has pulled out her iPhone again, and is now scrolling through it rapidly.  She looks up.

"Oh," she says to the cashier.  "Is it too late?"  

The cashier looks from the full cup of gelato back to the mother.  ”Yes,” she says, finally being allowed to speak.  ”And also, we don’t do the large size on a cone because the gelato is too soft.  I’m sorry.”

The mother’s attention has been grabbed.  No one, especially not a cashier, says no to Joshy.  ”Well,” she says icily, “can you try?”

"I’m sorry," the cashier says.  "I’ve already scooped it.  I can’t do anything with this now.  I can put a cone on top if he wants?"  

The mother lets out a dramatic sigh as her son’s wails get louder.  ”He really wants it ON a cone.  You can’t just put it ON the cone?”

The cashier, fed up with the lack of manners from the child and respect from his mother, grabs the gelato she has just scooped and throws it in the garbage.  The mother’s mouth drops open a bit.

"Well, you didn’t have to do THAT," she sneers.  Joshy claps his hands behind her and yells, "See, I get a cooooonnee!"

The cashier quietly puts a small scoop of chocolate on a cone and hands it to Josh.  He sees the pink spoon sticking out of the side and frowns.  ”Um, I want a BLUE spoon.”  

The mother, raising her phone back up to her ear, barks, “He wants a blue spoon.”  The cashier hands Josh a blue spoon.  He rips it out of her hand and runs to a table, where he begins smearing gelato all over the mirror on the wall behind him.  His mother is already back to her conversation.

"Kelly?  Sorry, Joshy needed my help," she says, shooting the cashier a dirty look.  "Like I was saying, you are worth every penny."  She throws a crumpled twenty on the counter.  "You put up with that man for 9 months of your life."

The cashier silently rings the woman up, counting out her change as fast as she can.  The woman is turned away with her hand outstretched, waiting for her change.  Once the cashier gives it to her, she walks away wordlessly.  As she gets to the table, the cashier hears her sigh.  

"Oh Kel, just be glad you never had K-I-D-S," she stage-whispers.  "Joshy is getting ice cream all over his face right now, and it’s Sally’s day off.  Do you think if I took him back to school, they’d give him a bath?"  She giggles desperately.  

Josh continues to happily finger paint the table with dark chocolate gelato, the cone long forgotten, having been thrown on the floor immediately.  Moments later, they get up to leave.  As his mother walks a few feet in front of him, loudly debating the pros and cons of crying in court,  Josh puts his hand up in the air.  They walk over the threshold and he smacks his hand on the clear glass door, leaving a perfect brown handprint gleaming in the sunlight.

11 April 2013 ·

Servers vs Servants

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/you_got_served_J0xciA8V4GfJ55VsILSGxL

Please take a moment to read the article I posted above.  Play a little game while you’re reading - If you shook your head in disgust more than six times, we’re probably friends.  If you nodded along with the author more than once, seriously get out of my life right now.  Allow me to address various aspects of this article by speaking directly to the man who wrote it, Kyle Smith, as if I am spitting the words directly into his face (or maybe his steak).  

-“Jason! I don’t care! Just bring me some food and go away!" - So Kyle, you’re annoyed that "Jason," your waiter, told you his name, commented on the weather, and asked how you were doing.  It seems you’d rather Jason be nameless, faceless, and somewhat morose.  You don’t want to be smiled at, spoken to, or looked after.  So my first question to you is this, sir:  Why are you out in public?  And also?  Jason is a human being trying to do his job.  Would it kill you to look him in the eye and refer to him by name?  

-“You’re a servant. So serve." - Kyle, this has to be my favorite pull quote from your charming article.  Servers are not servants.  They are people who are paid a minuscule amount of wages to put up with pricks like you.  This does NOT mean that they are your fucking slaves.  Saying that you don’t want to hear the specials and you’d prefer the server to just take your order and leave means nothing - because that is their job.  They WILL serve you - after they have completed the duties required of them by the corporation or owners they work for.  You honestly think "Jason" came up with the idea of reciting the daily specials on his own?  No, you goddamned idiot - the people who OWN the restaurant YOU decided to patronize make Jason do that.  Just as they make him smile, ask how your miserable life is going, and make painful small talk.  IT. IS. HIS. JOB.  It is not, however, his job to be treated as a servant.

-“After taking my order, they disappear and give way to a series of surly busboys who do the food delivery, the clearing, the refilling of the water glasses." - Kyle, I’m confused.  You just said you wanted Jason to leave you alone, and now you’re bitching that he’s not around enough?  You wrote this about a busy place in NYC - Jason probably has other tables besides yours, which is why a busboy is filling your water.  Or maybe Jason could sense your absolute disdain for him and felt uncomfortable dealing with you.

-“After the order goes in, the next time I see Jason is when, after first ensuring that my mouth is full, he sneaks up behind me and hits me with a cheerful, “HOW IS EVERYTHING?”" - As a person who has been in the service industry for 14 years, I can honestly say that this is always an awkward situation.  There is never a really good time to ask how the food is, because you’re either interrupting a conversation or the customers are eating.  But guess what, Kyle?  The people who run the restaurants WANT the servers to ask you how your food is because they want to ensure that you’re enjoying your meal.  What if something was wrong with it?  I’m sure you’d move heaven and earth to find your server then, right Kyle?  And you’d probably be glad you knew Jason’s name so you could call him over and complain.

-“In France, where I try to spend a week or two every year, waiters don’t even work for tips (the customer is expected to leave a mere euro or two) and yet they’re so much less annoying." - Oh, what an insufferable douchebag.  Good for you, Kyle.  But here’s the thing - waiters in France?  They’re paid a much higher hourly wage than those in the US.  Are you so dumb to realize that US waiters are cheerful and helpful because their income is BASED on how their service is?  If a server at TGI Friday’s came to your table without a smile, pen poised to take your order without asking how you’re doing, you would tip them 5%.  Because Americans want to be made to feel included and welcomed and to leave a restaurant feeling as though they’ve had a full dining experience. That’s just the way it is.  If you don’t like that, I implore you to spend more than two weeks a year in France.  Like maybe 52.

-“Which is why I’m being so nice to you, Jason! In reality, I can’t stand you, you twerp! As you’ll find out when you see my tip!" - You made this cheeky comment in reference to the possibility that Jason may spit in your food or throw it on the ground.  This is not a Dane Cook movie, Kyle.  People don’t do that shit in real life.  First of all, I don’t know what types of establishments you’re dining at, but most places follow strict health code guidelines.  OR THEY GET SHUT DOWN.  Also, in a busy kitchen, there are many witnesses.  You think servers are getting away with throwing steak on the ground without people tattling on them?  Many servers don’t have much access to your plate until the chef hands it to them - you think the busy server has time to spit in your meal and cover up said spit before bringing it out?  You think a server literally picks up your beautifully presented steak, throws it on the ground in front of a kitchen full of prying eyes (and possibly cameras), retrieves it from the dirty floor, puts it back on your plate, and walks out without anyone stopping him?  You are a paranoid delusional, Kyle, and you should probably seek professional help.  Also, threatening a waiter’s tip because he’s "annoying" you is the most juvenile, disgusting thing I’ve heard in a while.  Again, he’s doing his job.  If his cheerful demeanor is too much for you, I suggest you learn how to cook for yourself and stay at home.

-“I’m spending $150 tonight, Skippy, and yet you were in the Federal Witness Protection Program when I needed a second drink. Now you want to hustle me into dessert and coffee. Uh-uh. Negative. This $28 sliver of trout still has about $9 to go, and I’m not leaving any of it behind. Enjoy my 11% tip." - Kyle, Kyle, Kyle.  Again, do you want Jason to hang around, or do you want him to leave you alone?  This poor kid can’t win with you.  And he’s not "hustling" you with coffee and dessert - he’s fucking OFFERING you coffee and dessert because that’s what people often want after dinner.  And no one told you to spend $150 on dinner, Kyle.  There are many cheaper places you can go for sustenance - and they’ll probably serve you more than a "sliver of trout," you pretentious asshole.  So let me see if I have this:  You’re going to leave Jason an 11% tip on a $150 because he was too cheerful, asked you how your food was while you were eating, made you wait a few minutes for a second drink, and smiled at you.  Let me lay down a few facts for you about servers, Kyle:

I do not WANT to be standing on my feet for 8 hours a day.  I do not WANT to have to smile at a bunch of (mostly) rude customers who look down on me and make outrageous demands.  I don’t care how you are.  I don’t care if you like your food.  I am PAID to care, so you will never know just how much I DON’T care.  My bosses set the rules - they tell me how to act, what to ask, what to upsell, and how often to check on you.  If it were up to me, I’d scowl at every asshole like you that I encountered - but you know what would happen then, Kyle?  You’d complain about how rude I was.  You’d rant and rave about how you’re a paying customer and I treated you like the scumbag that everyone knows you are.  You’d call over the manager and tell him that I should be fired.  You’d demand your meal for free because I ruined your dining experience.  So make up your fucking mind, Kyle.  Honestly, I don’t care what you want.  I think you’re one of those miserable human beings who always finds something to complain about.  For whom the phrase, “you can’t please everyone” was coined.  So you’re a lost cause, and my heart goes out to any poor soul who serves you from now on.

But to those for whom there is still hope, hear this:  Serving people is not easy.  It can be fun, rewarding, and lucrative, yes.  The service industry is also stressful, demeaning, and soul crushing at times.  But for every self-important asshole like Kyle, there is a table full of wonderful people who want to talk to their server, laugh with him, maybe even praise him for working hard.  And it’s those people who have kept me in this industry for all these years.  Be kind to your servers, folks.  Tip them well and look them in the eye.  They work long hours serving the Kyles of the world, so an extra smile (and maybe an extra dollar) can go a long way.  

And if anyone seats Kyle in their section anytime soon, don’t be rude.  Put on the best fucking performance of your life - laugh at everything he says, pull up a chair to take his order, make lots of helpful suggestions, and (if time allows) run over to fill up his water glass every time he takes a sip.  If ever there was an opportunity to kill someone with kindness, it’s now.  But if you still wanted to throw his steak on the floor, I’d be ok with that, too.

12 March 2013 ·

Hey There

You'll remember me as your favorite drinking buddy who knows ridiculously specific information about A-Z list celebrities.