Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Strange Music

Tonight we celebrated our third wedding anniversary. Three happily married years! We have been together as a couple twice as long as that, and we have been friends for over sixteen years!!

Although our night out to see 'Phantom of the Opera' was more or less our anniversary celebration, we couldn't go through the actual Day without doing something!! (Now.. I know what you're thinking... but, I'm out of commission right now, Doc's orders... Rats!!)

So.. we decided to go out to dinner to a nice romantic little place.... Elysia got a recommendation from a co-worker, so we chose this place:

Which, is a few towns away (which translates to a ten to fifteen minute drive..)

It is cozy, romantic, and beautiful! The staff is great, and the food was out of this world!

As we were setting to at our appetizer, one of the adjacent tables was just preparing to leave. The last person at the table to stand up, a woman, apparently decided to leave an appetizer for us of her very own making; As she was scooting around the table to make her way out into the aisle, she let go with a loud, thunderous fart!! In public, unapologetically, and no more than four feet away from us!!

I was so shocked by this, for some reason, that I quite inadvertently snapped my head around and gaped at her!!

Elysia had the poise to pretend that she didn't notice at all.. which I found to be scandalous, and would have none of whatsoever! Being the helpful fellow that I am, I gleefully brought her up to date on the news by whispering (I call it a whisper.. she maintains that I am incapable of whispering) to her that the lady in question had just 'baked a huge fart!'. I didn't want her to miss out on any of the fun, you see...

There is some degree of incongruity in a lady farting in a posh bistro that I find incredibly amusing. I wanted to show my solidarity with her by standing up and letting one go.. but It was my sense that the other patrons would not have shared the spirit of the moment with me. (Well, they would have absolutely shared in the spirit of the moment, but that's not precisely what I meant...)

This brings to mind other instances where ill-timed farts brought either great embarassment or a gale of laughter...

I was out at the mall one day, years ago, and for some reason I suddenly had an urge to let loose with what I just knew was going to be loud, obnoxious, and room-silencing fart. But. I was in about the most public place that one can be in!! What's worse, no matter what seculded spot I tried to slink away into, some friggin' imbecile would manage to follow me and hang around.. it was hopeless!! The bathrooms were all occupado.. single person bathrooms, no less, where one couldn't just wander in, let one fly, and flee. I was starting to get panicky, (one hiccup, one sneeze, one trip on a crack in the floor, and it was all over.. but hopefully (hopefully, not all over me!! Yeek!) I could manage to find someplace where I could sneak off to and just bloody well have done with it before I died!!

Finally, I managed to find an empty corner where the men's suit department was located. I didn't see a soul around. I backed almost all the way into the farthest corner of the store and boy did I honk out a huge one!! Just then, immediately on the other side of the rack I was standing next to an older woman... an older, prudish, proper, severe, puritannical old biddy who had been stooped over doing some sort of work back there stood straight up with the most abject look of horror and disgust on her face that I have ever had the privilege (privilege??) to set my eyes upon. What's even more endearing, is that it was directed at me!! And that was before the Huba-stank whomped her in the old snot-locker, at which time she simply looked about ready to pass out. I was absolutely mortified. I could have just died!! I felt like the most ill-bred, uncouth, crass, dotish buffoon on the face of the earth. So I ran. Like hell!! And I never, ever, ever went back there. They have since gone out of business, but I don't think that much of that can be attributed to the fart... though I can't honestly rule it out.

I was working as a store detective in a retail clothing store for awhile. This particular location had been getting hit regularly by groups of shoplifters, and the store was very serious about apprehending and making examples of the culprits. Due to my years of law enforcement experience, they felt that I would be a good choice insofar as I was very well acquainted with the laws of the state, and was able to build a strong case against anyone that I observed stealing merchandise from the store. So far, so good.

My main method for catching these folks was to remain perfectly still and quietly watch, usually from a remote section of the sales floor from where I could see a great deal of what was going on. My usual way of going about this was to stand on one end of an 'H-track', which is basically a clothing rack with two long parallel bars upon which the clothing hangs, and lean over it with my elbows on the cross-bar. This brought my head down to the level of the cross bars and made me much less obvious to anyone who casually looked in my direction. I never knew exactly how well this worked until one day, as I was at my 'perch' and watching the shoppers, a woman slowly made her way around the department, browsing the racks, and ever so slowyly making her way to where I was standing. She actually began to browse the very rack that I was leaning on, and I just assumed that she had seen me. She didn't acknowledge me in any way, and I remained stock-still, on the watch for thieves.. which is what I was supposed to be doing... as she was browsing the rack, she suddenly let out a little squeak. This caused my eyebrows to raise a bit, and in my head I said, "Wow! That lady just completely cut a fart, not two feet away from me!", but outwardly, I made no sign at all. I was a little taken aback by it, but, let's face it, people fart, and sometimes they sneak out with little or no warning... so, no sense making a big deal out of it and embarassing folks. So I ignored it. Not ten seconds later, she blasted one out that burned the hair off my arms and made my eyes water.. I was completely and utterly shocked! I could not believe that this woman had just blatantly knocked one off basically in my face!! But, chivalry not being dead, I made no mention, nor did I make any sign that I had noticed. She was not yet finished however... she began humming to herself, and pushing out the little fart-bubbles at the end in time with the tune that she was singing to herself... now this was a bit much!! Just about that time, she held up a shirt that she apparently considered to be a particularly lucky find. I, on the other hand, had lost the battle with my self-discipline, and had just begun to turn my head to get a good look at this cretin of a woman who had just irradiated me against my will. As I moved my head, this caught her eye, I now realize, for the very first time!! Our eyes met, she did the math (rather quickly, I'll add!), and she did three things simultaneously; she gasped, (eyes wide, hand to mouth), she dropped the shirt, and lastly, she ran. Like hell. And she never, ever, came back! There was some sort of cosmic balance in that whole thing, I rather feel...

Another time, while stationed in Korea, it was the custom of all of the local martial arts dojangs (gyms) to get together to train and then have dinner together on the third Tuesday of the month. One or the other of the groups would lead a communal work-out, we would do our best to kill one another, and then we would get showered up and head out to a restaurant for dinner and laughs.

On this particular night, we had reserved a room at the NCO Club on base. We headed over after the workout, and at some point the manager came over to us, looking harried and worried, and asked if we would mind if he put a couple at one of the tables in our room. Apparently he had overbooked his reservations, and had run out of space. "No problem! Bring 'em on in!" we said, and he brought in a married service couple and sat them at a small table in the corner. We continued on with our dinner, and during the course of the meal, we told stories or recounted situations that caused us all to lapse into hysterical laughter.

At one point, the husband, who was a bit of a wet blanket, apparently, decided that we were making entirely too much noise in the room that we had reserved for just this occassion so that we could do just what we were doing, by the way... and stood up, approached the table that I was sitting at, and demanded (not asked, demanded! that we keep the noise down)(you have got to be fucking kidding us, right??) We didn't want to make an issue out of it, and basically told him that 'sure, we'll keep it down.. sorry for the bother...etc., etc., and went on with dinner. Knucklehead wasn't happy with the way we sort of blew him off, and began to give us the hairy-eyeball, which started to become a source of amusement to some of the guys there. At one point, somebody, I'm not sure who... (honestly... I really have no idea...) blasted a loud, splapping fart, followed by group hysterics. This was obviously directed at hubby, and it thouroughly pissed him off. Bad timing, and bad situation on his part, unfortunately... to make matters worse, his wife had to stifle a giggle, which went right up his ass! He stood up, walked back over to our table, and stood at my elbow. (Why does it always have to be me??!).

"Excuse me!", he snapped. I ignored him completely and went on with my conversation.
"Excuse me, I said!" he repeated. And, I continued to blow him off. I didn't want to be involved. This wasn't going anywhere that I liked, and I wanted him to go away, and enjoy his dinner with his wife. I knew this guy wanted to pick a fight to impress his wife, and I was fairly certain that this plan would backfire in his face if it went where he was trying to take it, and I didn't think that that was cool, but I didn't have the presence of mind to be able to smooth it out, and I knew it.
He poked me. Actually put his hands on me and poked me, the fuck!
"I'm talking to YOU!! ... Okay.. this was too much. I had enough.
"What's up, Boss?? Is there a problem??"
"Yes. YOU farted in front of my wife!" - this he punctuated by poking me in the chest with his bony little finger. This guy was not only a turd. He was friggin' stupid!!
"Did I??" I enquired.
"Yes. You did!"
"Well... I'm very, very sorry! I apologize. I didn't realize that it was her turn to fart!" I quipped. Deliberately putting him in a position to either hit me and have done with it, or to go sit down and quit acting like a dick.
His wife busted out laughing. Everyone else busted out laughing. Forty six to fifty black belts stood up with business faces on, just in case he was thinking of acting foolish, and he finally realized that he was not really acting in his own best interests and went and sat down.

To let them know that there were no hard feelings, we bought them a round of cocktails, chipped in for their dinner, and one of the guys ran out and picked up a pair of tickets for them at the base movie theatre.

Eventually, he softened up and we got a good laugh out of him, so it all worked out well in the end.

To this day I don't know who cut that fart! Nobody would ever admit to it.....

Thanx, Flatman!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

And Don' Try No Fargin' Tricks! Uddawise You Gonna Wind Up Widda You Bells Inna Sling!!

Here's one all you guys will particularly like.. (Not!!)

Saturday night, while tending bar, I started to experience very sharp severe pains in my lower abdomen. In all honesty, I thought I was having some really bad gas pains... They were killing me! I had to use all of my self-control not to double over at times.

This was one of the few times that I was actually wishing that I could bake a huge fart in a public place.... if only the pain would stop.

Well. It didn't. It just got worse, and worse, and worse throughout the night... which makes for a very long night, by the way.

I was in pain all night night long, and still hurting when I headed in to work on Sunday. There were a few times when I literally couldn't stand up, and had to bend over and rest my elbows on the table alongside my bar. At one point, I went into the men's room, just to be able to sit for a few minutes. I was in excrutiating pain, and it only seemed to be getting worse!!

At the end of the night, it was all I could do to carry all the shit back to where it was supposed to go as I cleaned up. (We have some pretty heavy stuff to carry... I was barely making it...)

When I got home, I started having repetetive spasms that were doubling me over, and causing me to make some of the oddest sounds that have ever come out of me... (well... maybe not the oddest... but I was making some freaky animal noises...)

Elysia began to get worried, and suggested that she take me to the emergency room, which I immediately refused. She stayed on it, and I dug my heels in. (She is German/Irish/Scottish and I am Scottish/Irish/Welsh/Rroma (Gypsy) - So, we are two of the most tenacious ((read 'stubborn fucks')) individuals that you will ever come across at times....) She wouldn't let go, because she thought I was likely dying, and I wouldn't give in...well.... because I'm a stubborn Scottish bastard at times...

I finally stumbled into the bathroom, closed the door, and stayed in there for a bit. She headed in to the bedroom, and waited.

Eventually, it became clear to me that there was nothing I could accomplish in the bathroom that was going to relieve the pain even one iota... in honesty, there was nothing going on at all, and I was starting to wonder what the hell was wrong with me...

When the pain would hit, it not only hurt in my abdomen, but also down a little lower... i.e., 'the boys'. This was not cool at all!!

I headed into the bedroom to lay down and die, and Elysia lay there, fully dressed, in 'Emergency Reaction' mode... meaning that she was prepared to rush me to the hospital when whatever hideous thing that she was sure was going to happen happened. (I don't know what this was, but I'm sure it was along the lines of me convulsing, losing consciousness, hemmhoraging, or what-have-you... you know, fun stuff!)

All through the night, I was in agony... until I learned that there was a positional element at play; If I found just the right position, the pain subsided to a dull throb... if I deviated from that position, however, I was immediately gripped by a spasm of pain that made me think I was going to die, and then made me terrified that I was not going to die!!

It was at this point that the medic in me began to wonder just what was causing this, and I started to cross likely candidates off of my mental list... I knew that it wasn't likely to be something that was going to go away on its own... but I don't have medical insurance, I don't make that much money, and I was fearful of horrific medical costs, as stupid as that sounds.

Elysia woke me (well.. I wasn't actually sleeping.. I should say that she roused me..) and announced that she needed to talk to me. I asked her what was on her mind, and she basically said that either I would go to the doctor with her, or, she was going to stay home from work (she said she wasn't going to work in any case), and that she would sit out in front of my job until I either came to my senses, or until I passed out from the pain, at which time she would take me to the doctor anyway... I agreed to go (there wasn't much of an option, and I realized that I had really been putting her through some changes over this...)

We went to a doctor that was a friend of Elysia's mom. He announced that I had a bona-fide medical emergency on my hands, and that it may take surgury to correct... (we both just about shit at hearing that!), he gave me a pain killer (which did absolutely nothing, by the way!), and told me that I had to see a urologist immediately. He called and arranged an appointment an hour from then, and I hobbled out to the vehicle with Elysia, and off we went.

When we saw the urologist, he announced that he knew exactly what was wrong with me, and how to cure it!

He did a quick sonogram, which confirmed what he had suspected, and then he made public his diagnosis: 'Epididymitis', which is an infection of the epididymis, which is the cord that surrounds and attaches the testicle to my body. (In this case, specifically the lad on the left. The feller over on the right was doing swimmingly well, thanks!). He told me that I had to use heat therapy (I suppose to create sort of an artificial fever in the local area), wear tight undies (Ouch!), take Advil or Motrin, and take an antibiotic, which he gave to me on the spot! (Thanx Doc! The boys and I salute you!)

So. Today I am home from work, hobbling around when I move at all, taking care to take all of my meds and do anything and everything that the doctor ordered.

My gorgeous Elysia went well above and beyond the call of duty in looking out for me, seeing to any and all needs that I had, feeding me, comforting me, and basically being the angel that she is.

Yesterday, I felt as though my nuts were in a vise, today I'm just kinda sore. So I guess it's getting better, which is a good thing!!

Any of you who have ever had this will likely sympathize with me... any of you who have not, I do not wish it on you. It pretty much sucks little baby monkey dicks!

I hope you will all wish me and the lads a speedy recovery since the doc forbade any sexual activity at all until all the meds are gone, and everything is healed and better. Yikes, who would've thought that modern medicine could be so barbaric!?!?

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Wodin's Day

"Let's ask Bear, he'll know if anybody does..."

This statement intrudes on my thoughts, ripping me out of whatever daydream or reverie I had been immersed in back to the present...

It was the voice of the yard foreman... I looked towards the sound of the commotion, and about ten of the yard guys and drivers were clustered around the daily delivery driver's sign out log, where the drivers routinely logged their deliveries prior to departure.

"Bear, c'mere a second!"

I walked over, mildy (very mildly) curious about what was transpiring.

One of the drivers asked, "How do you spell Wednesday??"

Bear: "W-"..

Driver 1: "Its W-E-N-S-D-A-Y, right!?!"

Foreman: "No, Jackass!! Its W-E-N-D-S-D-A-Y !!"

A huge argument ensued, I stood there, watching as the cacophony of screaming voices, epithets, threats and catcalls growing louder and louder, punctuated by the odd shove or slap up the backside of somebody's head, I decided that it was pointless for me to remain there, and decided to go back to whatever it was that I was doing. As I turned to head back to my work station, everybody went silent.

Driver 2: "How do you spell it, Bear??"

Bear: "Well, its spelled W-E-D-N-E-S-D-A-Y."

Group: "What!","What the fuck is that!?!", "There ain't no D in Wenzday!!", "Moron!", "Jackass!", "Bear, you stupid motherfucker!! I thought you could SPELL!!!", "That spells WED-NESS-DAY, dipshit!"

[Deep breath...]

Bear: "Would you like to know why its spelled that way?? I can explain it, if you'd like."

Foreman: "Yeah, tell us, snapperhead... we wanna know!"

Bear: "The days were named after the old gods, celestial bodies, and other stuff. Sunday is, obviously SUN-day, Monday is MOON-day, Tuesday is named after Mars, the god of war, and Wednesday is WODIN's-Day, or WEDENS-DAY, which has become WEDNES-Day... Wodin's Day!! - W-E-D-N-E-S-D-A-Y!"

They were all silent and thoughtful about this as they mulled it over, then;

"That's a crock of shit! Fuckin' Wodin's Day! GET the fuck outta here with that bullshit!!", "Where'd ya pick that up, a fuckin' book??", "Wodin my ass!", "Dickhead!", "Whattya think we're fuckin' stupid??", "Jackass!".

Bear: "Well... if you look at any calendar, you will see that that's how they spell it. Don't take my word for it, look it up yourselves..."

I went back to my work, and seconds became minutes, minutes became hours, and the day wore on....

The old man wandered over to where I was and said, "Wodin's Day, huh??" (Obviously, he had heard the scuttlebut about the whole Wednesday thing...).

Bear: "Yeah..."

Old Man: "Ya know, I thought you were smart enough to know better than to go around spelling something wrong just because they got it wrong on a calendar... So I guess you ain't so smart after all, eh jackass!! You're just like that freak in "Alice in Wonderland; the Tin Man..... 'If I only had a brain'!! Moron!! I got more brains in my little finger than you got in that thick head of yours!"

Bear: "..... I guess you're right, Old Man."

Tin Man? Alice in Wonderland? Holy shit....

I guess it all depends on what piece of ground you happen to be standing on, or what crowd you happen to be a part of that determines just how smart or stupid you are at any given moment....

...At least it was actually Wednesday.... or was it Wendzday??

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Flying Solo....

This weekend, Elysia has been gone, and I've been missing her... We had originally planned to go to North Carolina to visit her Mom, since they were having a multiple-family-member birthday party this weekend.

I had arranged to have the weekend off at my main job, and also at the bartending job, but on Tuesday I got a page; "Bear, please call me... I want to give you a schedule."
(What the F***?! - I told them I couldn't work this coming weekend!)

I called, and the manager told me that he needed me to work. I explained that I had already arranged to have the weekend off with one of the owners.

His reply was, "Shit! I am totally fucked! What am I going to do?! everyone is going to be out of state this weekend. I suppose I will have to teach myself quickly to tend the bar..." (He's hungarian... with a very cool accent, by the way...)

Me: "Let me make a phone call. I'll call back as soon as I can."

Him: "Okay."

I called Elysia, explained the situation. Effectively cancelled my trip to North Carolina, and called them back.

One of the owners got on the phone, and thanked me repeatedly for agreeing to work. What the heck... every relationship has to be a two-way street. They work with me when I need something, so its only fair...

Elysia left early, early Friday morning. I didn't see her on Thursday night, because I was at Gaelic Class... (I was elected into the Coiste Stiúrtha ((Pron: KWISH-tuh STYOOR-hah)), or, Board of Directors ((I think the literal translation would be 'steering committee, or something like that...)) so I now have voting power as to the direction the school takes, and so on... its pretty cool). In any case, the point being that I feel as though I haven't seen her in a great while.

Yesterday I worked a wedding. Same sex, female female. It was a good crowd, but they didn't really tip all that much. I think its a wedding today, but I'm not sure. Hopefully, it will be a group of compulsive tippers or something...

The best part is that when I get home, my beautiful Elysia will be here... though she may be sound asleep (long day for her...), in which case I will snuggle up close, and go to sleep happy!!

Monday, September 12, 2005

Fitness Update: Strength Gains

Tonight I hit an interim goal; I benchpressed 300 pounds! Three sets of six repetitions to start, but its a start. I want to reach 500 pounds, but I'm not sure if I will be able to.

I also broke a barrier in the crunch. My best effort so far has been 1532 reps with no break. Tonight I did 1550! I'm heading towards 2000. Honestly, I could use weight and do less reps, but I want to see if I can hit 5000 (the major drawback being the time that it takes to complete the set... I may scrap this and just use weight).

I am also seeing some fantastic gains in both the bicep curl and in the dip.

I started doing assisted dips on a machine that uses a counterbalanced platform to sort of take some of your bodyweight off of your arms. I worked past using that to doing unassisted dips. I am now able to do between 30 to 50 dips at a time in one continuous set, or to do three to four sets of 15 to 20 reps. The thing here is that I can't do it consistently... some days I am stronger than others. I will continue working at this until I am consistent, and then I plan on wearing a weight belt and lowering the reps and working back up with weight resistance added.

In the bicep curl, I once managed to work up to using a 45 pound dumbell in the concentration curl exercise. I used this weight for two workouts, had a small layoff, and never was able to work with that weight again. This was when we were still at the YMCA. I dropped back down to 35 pound dumbells, and worked with that until the big layoff which culminated with us switching over to this gym. Since we have been training here, I have passed 45 pound dumbells, and have been working for about the past month with 50 pound dumbells, doing three to four sets of 10-12 reps each. Tonight I 'pre-exhausted' my arms with a set of 15 reps with a 70 pound barbell, followed immediately by a set of 15 reps with a 90 pound barbell, followed immediately with three sets of twelve (per arm) using the 50 pound dumbells. When I can pre-exhaust with three sets of 15-20 using a 100 pound barbell, followed by three clean sets of 15 with the 50 pound dumbells, it will be time to move up to 60 pound dumbells (for some reason, they don't have 55 pound dumbells at this gym... so I have to train up for a 10 pound jump, which is going to kick my ass.....)

In any case, this is my status report. I'm happy with the strength gains, somewhat less happy with the weight loss portion of the program, but, in all honesty, have nobody to blame for that but myself... I need to decide to buckle down in the diet department, and I'm sure I can drop the fat and build even more muscle.

Not too shabby though for a broken down, 46 year old warhorse!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Sometimes You Get the Bear, and Sometimes the Bear Gets You!

Sort of a weird thing happened this morning at work.  A customer (who everyone basically thinks is a dick, by the way) came in, and I asked him what he needed.  He was going to pick up some items that he needed for a job, and when I asked him what the method of payment would be, he told me that he wanted to charge the purchase to his account.

I asked him his name, and he told me. “T. H. Lohse” (Name changed to protect the asinine)

I looked up “T”
I looked up “T.”
I looked up “TH”
I looked up “Lohse”
I looked up “T Lohse”, “TH Lohse”, “T.H. Lohse”… and?

No go…  I couldn’t find his friggin’ account anywhere.  

No big deal, I could pull his account file, and look up his account number… but before I did this, I said to him, “I’m having some trouble finding your account.  I know that it’s in here, because I just saw it the other day when I was looking up someone else’s account.  By any chance, could it be under some other spelling??  Or would you possibly have a copy of an invoice with you with your account number on it??  It would speed things up quite a bit ….  If not, no problem, I can just pull your file and get the number from there….”

His response?

T.H. Lohse – Idiot:  “FUCK THIS!!  I’M GOING TO (insert name of competitor here), THIS IS A FUCKING JOKE!!” (Stomp, stomp, stomp… sound of slamming door (that doesn’t naturally slam.. he assisted it, sound of vehicle starting and vehement screeching of tires…)

In Bear’s head – “What the fuck??”

The Fly:  “Did you just make him leave?!?”

Bear:  “Well… He sort of left on his own?”


Bear:  “Not likely…”

The Fly:  (running to catch T.H. Lohse – Idiot) “YOU’RE A FUCKIN’ COCK-A-ROACH!!”

In Bear’s head – “Cockroach is a two-syllable word… you fucking illiterate…”
The Fly ran back to The Nose… “Tattle tattle tattle… cry cry cry”

The Nose raps on his window, beckons to me (I got the single index finger – which, incidentally, goes straight up my ass!!  I fucking hate it!!)

Nose:  “Did T.H. Lohse leave??”

Bear:  (Who is by now completely bent out of shape, for a number of reasons... first off, dickwad who stomped out had no bonafide reason to do so, and everybody knows it, or should know it. I didn't appreciate the Fly's response, or, for that matter, being called a cockroach. The finger-crook-come-hither action, which ticks me the fuck off, and the overall attitude whereby I am automatically wrong, and if I manage to prove that I am not wrong, I'm wrong anyway... it sucks!! These people will hang you out to dry in a second! So I am already starting out, um, shall we say.... a bit snippy)   “Nose…  you know goddamned well that he did… do you have an actual question??  Or am I just here to be reprimanded??”

Nose:  “Well??  Did he leave?”

Bear:  “Yeah……………  he left.”

Nose:  “Well!?!?  Did you try to stop him??”

Bear:  “Um…….. no!    Why the fuck would I try to stop him when he so obviously wanted to leave??”

Nose:  (at the top of his lungs...) “NEXT TIME YOU CAN’T FIND AN ACCOUNT… YOU FUCKING ASK SOMEONE!!”

Bear: (**Note here: I had been on them for over a year to give me access to the accounts so that I could go through them, correct all of the spelling errors, and make the database 'searchable', they have odd spellings, special characters that render the searchability completely useless, and no conventions or standard operating procedures whatsoever. So. This has already been an annoyance to me, and now as a result of it I am being reprimanded. This isn't something that I deal with all that well; I recognized a problem, came up with a viable solution, and was prevented from executing my plan for no reason other than a power kick or who knows why... so at this point, I could feel my blood pressure begin to shoot up... Bear isn't in a very happy place right now, and my self-control is wearing thin.... "DANGER! DANGER! YOUNG WILL ROBINSON!!")
  “I was confident that I could find his account… the whole thing took about 20 seconds… his response wasn’t exactly appropriate, or predictable…”

Nose:  (Surging to his feet, face red, hands balled into fists) “I SAID YOU FUCKIN’ ASK SOMEONE!!”


Office Personnel:  Dead silence.  All hands attempting to appear as though they are either not present, or as though they are VERY involved in whatever they happen to be doing.

I started for my bag, and began packing up my shit.  I was absolutely FURIOUS!  My knees were shaking, and I could feel adrenaline coursing through my veins.  My Scottish temper was in full swing, and Bear was along for the ride….  

Nose:  “Bear…  could’ja come back here…   uh… don’t leave… let’s talk about it.  I shouldn’t have yelled…..”

Bear:  “……..  ……  yeah, sure, Nose…”

We both apologized for yelling… He decided to call T.H. Lohse, idiot… and mend fences… and I went back to work.

Everybody pretty much left me alone for the rest of the day.

One of the Yard guys sidled up alongside me in the afternoon, gave me a jab in the ribs with his elbow and snickered, “So… I heard you gave it right back to the Nose, huh??  Alright Bear!!  You have balls the size of church bells, you know that??!!”

I sort of felt a little stupid, but I think I would respond pretty much the same way if it happened again.  Nothing I ever said or did should have given him any inkling that it would be okay to talk to me like that.  I get paid to work, not to be anybody’s whipping post.

Nose left for the day, and we all got a little respite.  It was refreshing!!

Now I’m off to the gym to work off the stress in a somewhat …er, healthier manner…!!

I actually told my boss that I would knock him down, to go fuck himself, and to go pound sand up his ass….. yikes!!

I can be a real Bear sometimes, I guess….   (get it?? Bear!?!?  Ha!!)

Oh, and by the way... to complete a successful search and actually find that account in our computer, one would have to type space - space - M22 - space - T - period - H - period - space - LOHSE

Yeah... that's intuitive.... .... please... (Snort!)

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Nothing Human is Inherently Alien to Me...

I tended bar yesterday. When I arrived, there was a new bartender who had just been hired. She was standing in the room where we have cocktail hour most of the time, and looking a bit bewildered. As it turned out, she was not going to be working with me but one of the bosses asked me to take her around and show her how to get set up.

We were setting stuff up back in the cocktail hour room (we actually set up two seperate areas, one for the cocktail hour, and one where the reception takes place..) when the other bartender that I was going to be working with walked in and plopped a bottle of Hennessy Cognac down on my bar and said, angrily, "This is for you. So. Basically we won't be making any fucking money tonight!"

For those of you who are not familiar with this reference, Hennessy is a Cognac that many black people enjoy. He was basically stating that our party would be primarily Afro-American, and he was inferring that black people don't tip well. While there are certain truisms that may be accurate regarding particular ethnic or cultural groups, I don't think that a comment like this was appropriate for a number of reasons. First off, it's a shitty thing to say, not knowing who these particular people are. Secondly, at least in the area where we live, many black folks simply don't have a lot of money to give away. Not all, and perhaps not a majority. I honestly don't know. But a lot of the black people that live in or near here are in a relatively low economic bracket, and simply don't have very much to begin with.

It may very well be that they are giving much more in comparison to what they have or what they earn than other people do... I don't know. They may be cheap. I don't know. They may be the most generous people on the face of the earth. I can't address it, because, once again... I just don't know. The point being that HE doesn't actually know, either. He was making a nasty comment, based upon a pre-judgement that isn't based on anything but his opinion. It may be true that in his experience, he has never made very much money when tending bar for a party of black people, but that doesn't mean that they are cheap, or stingy, or bad tippers... it could also mean that they simply don't tip automatically... maybe they only tip when the service is deserving of a tip in their minds... I don't know, and I don't pretend to know.

What I do know is that they are people, and that they have feelings, just like I do, and that they are celebrating a wedding, which is a happy time in their lives. They pay to have a staff that is going to go out of the way to make their party a success, and to make them feel welcome, and treat them with respect and courtesy.

I mulled his comment over for a few microseconds (it amazes me sometimes just how fast we can think things through in an incredibly short period of time). I decided that I wanted to be obtuse and force him to actually come out and say whatever it was that he was trying to say instead of hiding behind some obfuscated cryptic cowardly comment that he could disown if pressed.

Bear: "What do you mean? Why won't we make any money?"
Bigoted Bartender: "Well..... you know...."
Bear: "No. I don't. Aren't we allowed to accept tips for this party?"
Bigoted Bartender: "Yeah. I mean... It's a black wedding...."
Bear: "So?..."
Bigoted Bartender: "Well.... Um... they don't tip!"
Bear: "They!, Who the fuck is 'they'??"
Bigoted Bartender: ".... You know... blacks"
Bear: "Oh no! Not Blacks!! Quick! Hide the children! What the hell is wrong with you?? What do you have against black people, anyway?? Besides... Have you met all of them??
Bigoted Bartender: "I don't have anything against them.. they just don't tip. I'm here to make money.. that's all..."
Bear: "What makes you say that? How do you know its because they're black?? Maybe they just don't like the kind of service you give them... or maybe they can tell that you don't like them because they're black. People can sense when you fear them, hate them, or dislike them you know..."
Bigoted Bartender: (Affronted) "I don't have anything against black people!"
Bear: "Other than the fact that they are black and that they have the unmitigated gall to get married where you tend bar and don't throw money at you because you don't like them??"
Bigoted Bartender: "You won't make any money either!"

(NOTE: We split our tips at the end of the night. Whatever we make is split down the middle. If one bartender makes ten dollars and the other makes two... we both made six bucks apiece... this is how it works. Its a partnership.)

Bear: "Don't be so sure. If you treat people right and do your job well, they will give what they have to give."
Bigoted Bartender: "Alright, smartass... I'll bet we don't clear fifty dollars tonight!"
Bear: "I guess we'll just have to wait and see... won't we??"

Well. For whatever reason, I was in my zone... I hit it off immediately with the first customer that I served. My second customer, a woman, asked me if I had any apple juice. I did not. She asked what types of juice I did have, and I ran down the list, but added that if she was willing to try it, I make a 'kickin' fruit punch. She agreed to give it a try, and I went to work, making an ass-kicking drink for her to enjoy. Within seconds, I had three people asking me for some of that 'kickin-juice'. Before five minutes had past, people were asking the other bartender for 'kickin-juice', and he told them that they would have to get on my line, because it was my own concoction, and I was the only one who could make it. My line stretched back perhaps fifty people, and the tips piled higher and higher.

As the night wore on, I convinced more and more people to try new drinks that I made for them, joked and laughed with them, and connected with quite a few of the partiers.

As I usually do, I remembered what they were drinking, and often had their drink made when they got to the bar.

My bar had a line all night long, while his remained virtually empty.

Strangely, (or perhaps not so strangely, in retrospect) one of the owners came over and simply stood next to my bar, watching what I was doing. I asked him if he needed anything, and he asked me to make him a drink. He took a sip, told me it was 'fantastic' and shook his head, as though he was surprised by something. I told him so, and asked what was going on... and he told me that he thought I may have been over-pouring the drinks. I told him that I wasn't, and that he was welcome to stand there all night if he liked, and watch me work, because I was confident that if he did, he would feel compelled to pay me more money! I suspect that someone pitched a bitch that 'something fishy' must have been going on at my bar that would explain why I had such a line while the other bar had zilch.

At one point, one of the guests at the wedding, named Jay, asked me if he could take me to some bars that he and 'his people' (his words.. not mine) frequent. He explained that I would make a great deal of money, that everyone at the party loved me, loved my personality, and loved my body language... he said that I was the best bartender he had ever met, and that he was confident that I would be successful in the 'real world' (apparently, a catering hall bartender is a parody of a real bartender). I thanked him, but told him that I didn't want to be coming home at five in the morning... he asked me a few more times during the night, but finally let it go...

Many of the other guests made a point of telling me that they thought I was a fantastic bartender, and that I was doing an excellent job.

They also told me in more... solvent... terms that they thought I was doing a fine job.

It was a good night all around... and I was able to make my point to the other bartender. People are people. You cannot judge them by the way they spell their last name, the color of their skin, or how they dress. You cannot look into the heart of another person without first engaging them.

I was raised to believe that under the sky there is only one family, and that nothing human is inherently alien to me.

In order for me to consider someone alien, they must first demonstrate the will and ability to hurt others... either by thought, word, or deed.

We're all in this together, folks... nobody gets out of here alive. Everybody's story ends the same way....

In the meantime, I plan on living my life. In so doing, the less folks I hurt, and the less folks I allow others to hurt, the better.

There are enough shit things, obstacles, difficulties, and horrors to go around without us making more for one another.

I don't think that the vast majority of people are all that different than I am where it counts; I want to be safe, I want to be loved, I want my loved ones to be safe, and I want us to be treated with respect and courtesy. I like when others are kind and considerate of me, and of my friends and family. I appreciate it when others lend a helping hand. I appreciate harmony and beauty. In most cases, this is what everybody else wants.

It isn't really all that much to ask....