Tag Archives: business

The Dysfunctional Diners

18 May

Sometimes at work, I like to wait on dysfunctional families. And when I say “I like to wait on dysfunctional families” what I mean is “I really hate waiting on dysfunctional families in most circumstances, but when it is literally SO SLOW that I’m lucky to make 35 dollars, I like waiting on dysfunctional families because it gives me a source of entertainment.” Yesterday was one such day.

Outside of the bar area of the steakhouse, there is this little antique phone hanging on the wall above two chairs and a small cocktail table. Most people walk by the phone and don’t even acknowledge its existence. Sometimes people will say “Oh what a cute little phone!” and that’s the end of it. And then sometimes, but ONLY sometimes, will a family of four walk into the bar, only to have the younger of the two sons break away and say, “LOOK AT THAT PHONE MOM! ITS ANCIENT!” and the mom will screech and get out her iPad to take a photo of the kid climbing onto the chairs and putting his shoes on the table just to reach the phone, yank it off of the wall, and take a picture.

Already I knew… this was it. This family was going to be my source of entertainment for the night.

Now in order to fully let you understand what I was dealing with, I need to describe these people.

Over-Worked Father: Dressed in an Ohio State T-shirt with a receding hairline and a forehead that looked like it was made of turtle skin. (Tight, yet very wrinkly and malleable.) He looked like he had been forced to listen to the My Little Pony theme song (the 80’s version, not today’s version) on repeat for six years prior to entering this upscale steakhouse. He looked angry. He looked aggressive. He looked defeated.
Enabling Mother: Wearing a t-shirt covered by what I could only imagine was a jacket made from llama shavings. She had puffy blonde hair, but her inch-and-a-half roots were black and growing out. She was not excited to be in the steakhouse. She reminded me of the mom on American Beauty…. smiling, trying desperately to keep everyone together when everyone would much rather be three states apart in each direction. Seeing her smile actually made me sad.
Satan: Satan is the older of the two brothers. Wearing swim trunks and a gray t shirt, Satan literally did not smile ONCE in the two hours he was seated at this steakhouse. Literally, Not. Once.
Sid: I have named the younger of the brothers Sid because he literally was Sid from Toy Story.

Sid-toy-story

Literally. This face. That voice.

So after Sid climbs onto the cocktail table to violently claim the antique phone, and after Enabling Mother takes the picture, the four of them sit down at a table. Already I can hear the muffled anger coming from their direction. Satan throwing his arms into the air and violently sighing, pushing so much air out of his lungs that Enabling Mother’s fluffy hair actually billows a bit from sitting across from him.

My coworker Lucas looks at the table, then looks at me.

Lucas: Have fun.
Me: Jesus take the wheel.

I grab four beverage napkins, and approach the table. I start to give myself a pep talk… I am smiling! I am happy! Maybe I can help this family stop fighting and make their meal really awesome, so they’ll leave happier than when they came in! I am an amazing employee and I can do this! There is a reason our company calls their employees “Stars!” AND I AM THAT REASON!!!

I inhale to greet them, and-
Enabling Mother: Will you two just SIT DOWN?
Satan: (Speak-yelling at Over-Worked Father in such a disrespectful tone I was surprised that no one physically assaulted him) YOU TOLD ME I COULDN’T BRING MY HEADPHONES TO DINNER AND NOW HE HAS HIS! (motions to Sid)
Sid: (Headphones in, playing a game on his smartphone that is larger and more high tech than my own phone. He is 8. He is not only completely unaware of this conversation, but also of me standing there beside him, beaming.)
Over-Worked Father: What were you going to use them for, anyway? Hm?
Satan: I ALREADY TOLD YOU. I was gonna watch YOUTUBE VIDEOS.
Over-Worked Father: And you? (looks at Sid) Hey!
Sid:
Over-Worked Father: HEY!
Sid:
Over-Worked Father: (gestures) SID!
Sid: (Looks up only because Over-Worked Father waved his arms)
Over-Worked Father: SID WHAT ARE YOU USING THE HEADPHONES FOR!?
Sid: (Takes out one, ONE, of the ear buds. He sighs.) I’m playing a game. DOY!
(Heightened silence while Over-Worked Father seems to be deciding which sound he hates more. Game VS YouTube. Finally he looks at Sid with eyebrows raised.)
Over-Worked Father: Sid? (As if to say… C’mon, Give your brother the headphones.)
Sid: (Already has the earbud back in and is playing his game. He is unaware of everything.)

Keep in mind I am STILL standing at the table, smiling, just watching all of this. Beaming. Smiling like this is the sweetest conversation I have ever heard in my entire life, as if this earbud saga is the most heartwarming tale of selfless love to ever touch my little cocktail waitress heart.

Enabling Mother: (Looks up at me with a huge smile.) Well… We aren’t spoiled, ARE WE? Ha ha ha HAHA! …Ha… um.

Silence. I am still standing there smiling, waiting to see if there will be ay other protests or interruptions before I speak. There are none.

Me: SO! How IS everyone today? Just wonderful? Fantastic! My name is Carolyn and I’ll be serving you today!
Family: Blank stares from everyone except for Sid, who is playing his game and not looking at anyone. Satan is giving me a look of pure evil and hatred.
Satan: FINE! Well I’M JUST GOING TO WATCH YOUTUBE AND YOU ARE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO LISTEN TO IT!!!!!!!
Enabling mother puts her hands over her eyes. Over-Worked Father stares at a crumb on the floor.
Me: GREAT! May I start you all off with something to drink? Maybe some beer? (I shoot this at Over-Worked Father. He looks at me like I am his only key to salvation.)
Over-Worked Father: I’ll take a Sam Adams.
Enabling Mother: I need wine. A nice, dry red wine.
Me: But of course. And for you sir? (Talking to Satan)
Satan still has his arms crossed and is giving me the look of poison.
Me: MAYBE A KIDDIE COCKTAIL!!!
Satan: (Jaw drops to reveal uneven bottom teeth.)
Enabling Mother: Just a round of waters for them.
Me: Of course! I’ll be right back!

I can’t handle this. I can’t do it. I have never wanted to punch a child so much in my entire life. If I go back over to that table and Satan is still giving me that look, I will be FORCED to asked if there is ANYTHING I can do to make his dining experience more to his liking… I will ask him why he is so angry, and I WILL do it with a smile, and I WILL do everything in my power to make him stop looking like such a miserable little garbage can.

I deliver the waters, making sure to smile at Satan the entire time.
Me: So, does anyone have any questions about the menu?
Silence. Dead, still, silence. For a moment I wonder if I’m invisible. I wonder if I actually asked the question out loud, or if I just thought I did… Maybe I’M the awkward one here, just showing up to their table not saying anything at all…
Over-Worked Father: (To Satan) NO, actually I am POSITIVE that a potato is a vegetable.
Satan: NO IT ISN’T. A POTATO IS NOT A VEGETABLE.
Over-Worked Father: Yes. It is.
Satan: NO. It ISN’T.
Enabling Mother: It’s a starch.
Satan: SEE DAD? SEE DAD I TOLD YOU A POTATO IS NOT A VEGETABLE.
(Over-Worked Father looks at his wife as if she is literally the dumbest person in the world. In just one look, I can tell that he is so disgusted at how his life has played out- that he has actually CHOSEN this woman to be his life partner, that he CHOSE to procreate with her above literally EVERYONE ELSE in the whole world, that his next words erupt from his mouth with such resentment and hatred I’m afraid the next topic of conversation will be custody rights. Custody Rights where both parents fight about who HAS to keep them.)
Over-Worked Father: Just because it is a starch doesn’t mean it isn’t a vegetable.
Me: (Beaming!)
Enabling Mother: Whatever. Either way, you need to eat healthier.
Over-Worked Father: I am on vacation, I will eat however I please.
Enabling Mother: (Finishing a gulp of wine) Oh, you’re on vacation? You’re at a work function. Please.

I actually witness Over-Worked Father picking and choosing his battles. He looks at the menu. And I am still standing there, waiting for someone to answer my question.

Over-Worked Father: Satan? What do you want to eat?
Satan: I already TOLD YOU, I want WINGS.
Over-Worked Father: (Death stare. I suddenly realize where Satan has learned his facial expressions.) They don’t have those here. Get the kids fillet. It’ll be the best thing you ever eat.
Satan: I don’t WANT IT.
Enabling Mother: Okay, you know what? They don’t have wings! Okay, fine, nothing. He will have nothing. I am going to have the french onion soup and the wedge salad.
Me: Very good!
Enabling Mother: Sid?
Sid: (Playing his game)
Me: (Beaming at Sid)
Enabling Mother: (Punches him on the arm.) HEY! Mac n’ cheese?
Sid: (Barely responds. I think I may have heard him say “Mm.”)
Enabling Mother: Mac N’ Cheese for him.
Over-Worked Father: I am going to have the Salmon. GOD I’m at a steakhouse and I’m getting SALMON.
Me: Actually our salmon is phenomenal. You won’t be disappointed.
Enabling Mother: (Ignoring me) Make sure you ask for the lentils on the side. I won’t eat those.
Over-Worked Father: Whatever, they’re big. I’ll move them away, it’s not a big deal.
Me: (Thinking “Our lentils are actually tiny, but I’m not going to say that for fear of getting stabbed.”)
Enabling Mother: (suddenly sweeter than ever) Satan? Honey, are you’re sure you don’t want anything?
Satan: (Stares at her. Pouting. Mutters-) …Ids Illay.
Enabling Mother: What was that!?
Satan: (Yelling) KIDS FILLET.
Me: (Looking directly at Satan himself) And how would you like that prepared, young sir?!?!
Satan: (Pure evil. Poison is leaking from his eyes.)
Enabling Mother: Medium well.
Me: Fantastic! I’ll get that right in for you, and I’ll also bring some fresh bread and butter for the table.
SID: YUUUUUUMMMMMMM!!!!!
Me: (Wanting desperately to say “Wait- you can hear me! You can SEE me!?” I walk away.)

When I bring the bread to the table, Sid hulks out. He RIPS the earbuds out of his head and lunges for the bread, as if he hasn’t eaten in six weeks. With every inhale it sounds like he’s slurping something- which is quite a miraculous feat because he is ingesting BREAD, and with every exhale there is an audible vocalization of “Mmmm.” It’s a rather disturbing cycle, but no one addresses it. Meanwhile, Satan is sitting in his chair like a frog. The bottoms of his shoes are actually on the seat of the chair, and any time he wants to drink his water, he literally springs up, puts his hands on the table, and bends over to put his mouth on the straw… instead of just picking up the glass and bringing it to his mouth like any other normal person on the planet. No one addresses this either.

When their food finally does come, I watch intently to see what happens. I watch to see if Satan does, indeed, like his KIDS FILLET. He does. Obviously, you’re gonna like the kids fillet, you ungrateful, unwanted, rat-faced collection of disappointments and broken dreams. You’re at one of the best steakhouses in Orlando and you’re eating a 5 oz fillet! And even if it IS prepared medium well, thanks to your insane to the membrane mother, it’s going to be the best thing you eat all week.

So, that’s basically the end of the story. Once the food came everyone kind of shut up and ate, and the only thing that was semi-amusing about them at this point was when Sid grabbed the black dish that held their side item, and screamed, in the EXACT voice of Sid from Toy Story, “IS THIS MADE OUT OF IRON????” Over-Worked Father tipped 20 percent and they all decided to GTFO. I think he was appreciative that I didn’t announce that we had dessert options… instead, I discreetly handed him the dessert menu out of view of his spawn and said, quietly, “In case you’re interested…”

It’s sad, but I’ve come to realize the importance of alcohol mixed with some good food when it comes to dysfunctional families. Usually by the end of the meal I can have people laughing and actually interacting with each other without arguing anymore. And yet, with this family, I was just happy that no one got slapped… by me. I hope the rest of their business trip/vacation(???) fared better than that atrocious meal, but I won’t hold my breath. I bet Sid is still sitting somewhere right now playing his game and slurp-breathing, and Satan is watching YouTube with that disgusted look on his face, Enabling Mother is looking through a magazine at the body and life she’ll never have, and Over-Worked Father is answering emails and wondering where his life went wrong. It’s really sad to think about these families like this once they’re gone, so I try not to. I just bring them their check, and hope for the best. I have to pay my bills, you know.

I Legitimately Sell A Product Called “Mr. Sticky” At a Store Called “B.J.’s.”

27 Nov

I recently just starting working a second job. This is because I am a 23 year old college graduate, and apparently that’s what we’re supposed to do… like, work multiple jobs until we can afford to, you know… be alive. Basically, I’m a live infomercial girl, but I think the official title is “sales representative.” I like saying that. Before when people asked me “So, what do you do?” I would say “I’m a singer/dancer!” Then, their faces would fade a bit, and to cover up their confusion, they’d all say some rendition of “Ooohh… that must be, fun?” or “How neat! Great! Cool! So, you like… get paid to… do that?” 

Now, when someone asks me “So, what do you do?” I get to say, “I’m a sales representative for a large outsourcing company.” Now people’s faces don’t fade. Absolutely not. Now they just nod in validation. I feel important. I feel like I’m finally a part of “normal” society. I have a “normal” job. I get to wear “business casual” attire and “sensible” shoes. 

But basically what I do is go into big, classy stores like Sears, K-Mart, and… BJ’s. (I am, unfortunately, not joking about this establishment’s name… It’s basically the southern equivalent to a Sam’s Club.) I put on little 20 minute shows selling different products.

Now I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that deep down, behind this writing, I’m actually feeling sort of resentful about my please-buy-this-product-so-I-can-afford-the-expensive-kind-of-cheese-at-the-deli job. But you couldn’t be more wrong! This job actually makes me very happy. While I may not be onstage in a theme park singing a blazing rendition of “I’m Walkin’ On Sunshine” to a giant golden toilet and a mob of attention-deficit teenagers (Please see former post: I’m Walking On Gibberish… WOAH) this job still fulfills my need to perform. After all, I’m in front of people. I’m talking to them, telling them how awesome something is, and at the end of my little pitch I get instant gratification. If I did a good job, they buy the product. If they don’t, it’s not like I “don’t get the part.” That’s the beauty of this job: I already have the part. I just have to make an adjustment or something in order for my performance to be more convincing and effective.

Right now, the company has me selling a product called… “Mr. Sticky.” (I am, unfortunately, not joking about this product’s name, either.) You may have seen this on TV, you may have not. Basically, it’s a life time guaranteed lint roller, which means “never ever as long as you own this will you EVER have to buy a refill!!!!” No, but seriously guys, this thing is pretty bad ass. It literally cleans anything- cars, glass, ceiling fans, counter tops, live dogs- and it never stops being sticky. You just rinse it off with water to clean it, dry it off, and BAM- it’s right back to being sticky again. The best part about the job is that I don’t feel like Matilda’s skeezy car salesman father or anything selling this thing. It actually is a great product.

So today was my first day of training. I’m paired up with one other representative, Jenny, who is an absolute angel. She’s one of the top sellers of our area, so I’m learning from the best. The whole day I was able to watch Jenny do her pitches, take notes, and learn by observation. I’m not completely memorized on my script yet (I’m close!) and in between her pitches we’d practice on my performance.

As always, watching human beings proved to be a very insightful experience. The first pitch, I was feeling pretty nervous and out-of-place. Obviously, I was in training, so… was I supposed to act like I wasn’t associated with Jenny at all? Was I supposed to “ooh” and “ahh!” when Mr. Sticky proved to be sticky again after just one rinse? I ended up just kind of standing off to the side, not saying much, and participating only when the entire group was expected to touch Mr. Sticky or something. (Yes, I do get joy from telling people to “go ahead and touch Mr. Sticky. You know you want to.”)

I learned a lot today from watching and listening, but the most valuable thing I learned today is as follows: People. Are. Nuts.

I think that’s the major lesson I’ve learned since graduating college. Going out into the real world where you’re exposed to… everyone… you start to realize that human beings are actually insane to the membrane. And there’s nothing anyone can do about it.

For example: Our first pitch today. I stood off to the side, quietly watching Jenny go through the live infomercial presentation. I was taking mental notes when I noticed that near the back of the group, a man who quite resembled Clint Eastwood in Grand Torino was standing, arms crossed, looking like he was about to shoot someone in the kneecap with a shotgun. I wondered what on earth could be the matter… didn’t he want the free gift that we offer everyone at the beginning of every sales pitch? Was he dissatisfied with his free gift? If he was so angry, why was he still standing here? He could leave at any time…

Clint continued to look at Jenny like she was his life-long enemy. I was actually pleasantly surprised when he didn’t punch the back of the woman’s head in front of him. Jenny was nearing the end of her pitch, and still, there Clint stood, arms crossed, brow furrowed, lips curved slightly downwards in a dissatisfied grimace. I mean if I’m being honest here, he looked like a rhinoceros concentrating on fighting off a rectal infection. I was expecting Clint to throw his hands up in the air, mutter something about the filthy Japs taking over our economy, and return to browsing the chainsaw section of Sears, when Clint threw his prune-like hand up into the air.

Clint: (sandpaper voice) I’ll take three.
Jenny & I:

Then, later, a large African American woman pushed her way to the front of the counter and took full advantage of Jenny asking her to “get a front-row seat.” Throughout the entire presentation, this woman looked like Jenny was selling the world’s first flying car for 12 bucks. I’m serious. Her eyes were as big as tea saucers. Her mouth could have been an acceptable storing place for a clementine. But the most amazing this about this woman is that she was completely silent. She literally did not make a SOUND. I mean usually, people will “ooh” and “ahh!” and answer the rhetorical questions during the presentation. Oh no. Not this woman. The only thing on her body that reacted to anything Jenny said was her face.

Jenny: And the best part about Mr. Sticky is that it comes with a lifetime guarantee, which means never ever as long as you have this will you ever have to buy a refill!
Woman: (Makes a face as if someone just told her she won a million dollars in a library.)
Jenny: Look! All you do to clean it is put it in a little hot water- see that?- and all of that hair and dust and debris just falls right off, literally falls off
Woman: (Makes a face as if someone just showed offered her a ride on a real-life unicorn during the most somber moment of New York Ballet’s  production of “Swan Lake.”)
Jenny: So! You get Mr. Sticky, the Jr. Sticky, AND the GIANT STICKY all for just 29.99 today!
Woman: (Head explodes.)

I was completely positive this woman was not only going to buy a Mr. Sticky for herself, I thought she was going to buy one for everyone who she had ever been introduced to in her entire life. By the way this woman was looking at the presentation, you would have thought her day, her year, her entire LIFE had changed, all because of Mr. Sticky.

Jenny: Okay! So, I need you guys to tell me right now who wants one- you want one? You want one over there?- okay? Who else? You want one?
Woman: (COMPLETELY DEADPAN)

I AM NOT JOKING. It’s like this woman FROZE up when Jenny asked her if she wanted a Mr. Sticky. You would have thought Jenny asked, “Would you like to tickle my thighs near the employee entrance when I get off work?” with the reaction that this woman gave her. Absolutely appalled, absolutely offended, almost disgusted in a way. But I think the most interesting thing about this woman is that she didn’t leave. She was LITERALLY the last one to walk away from the booth. I mean just… just so awkward. It wasn’t even like she was standing around, debating if she wanted to spend 30 dollars on a lint roller. It was like she was sticking around (ha ha… see what I did there? Sticking around??? …sorry.)  just to give us the stink eye, after being COMPLETELY CHANGED by this lint roller’s existence.

And so, I reiterate: People. Are. Nuts.

I have to wake up early tomorrow to drive to another location that’s an hour away for day 2 of my training. I should probably go to bed. I mean, when I really think about it, my parents paid 40,000 dollars a year for me to sell a product called “Mr. Sticky” at a store called “B.J’s.” I should probably be well-rested for it.