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Tag Archives: dining


I don’t know why I have this little hangup about posts where I feel if I don’t have at least a certain wordcount, it’s not really worth posting at all.  I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about how different social platforms are optimized for different message lengths, but blogging is supposed to be for the longest form of writing.  Well, not today.  Story time!


I’m out at lunch at Hungry Howies, enjoying my usual small pizza with light sauce and pepperoni, when I notice a wasp out of the corner of my eye in the window.  I can immediately tell the wasp is agitated, but that is sort of a moot observation because wasps have no chill and are always agitated. 

Without trying to cause too much alarm and make myself a target, I visually confirm which side of the glass the wasp is on.  It’s my side, the worse of the two available sides.  I watch the wasp carefully, without making direct eye contact.  I want to know what his plans are, maybe to continue pushing against the glass or maybe to go elsewhere, like my face.

After a while of watching, less than a minute for sure, I decided the wasp must be killed so I may eat in peace.  So I get up from my booth and go up to the counter to get a killing implement.  A woman meets me at the counter and I ask, “Do you have a fly swatter?”  She says sure and disappears.  The woman took longer than I would expect, but eventually comes back with a paper cup and a lid.  I’m thinking to myself, “What the fuck.  You want me to trap this thing in a cup?”

She holds the cup and lid out to me and says, “That’s the best I could do.”  I make no move to take the items from her and I must’ve had the strangest expression on my face, because she pulled back and asked, “You said you wanted an ice water?”

No.  That isn’t what I wanted.


More Food Updates

In another weekend trip to Touristville, the GF and I ended up at our favorite steakhouse (but at a different location).  The last time I had to write about this, the dining experience was up and down.  This time, it was pretty much a plunge into despair.  I won’t bore anyone with tedious details,  I’ll just sort of hit the high points (which are the low points).

When we got there, 6 pm on a Saturday, we were informed that the wait was 90 minutes.  They actually said, “an hour and a half”, which actually makes it sound a lot worse.  At our last touristville experience, we were told there was a 45 minute wait and we were seated pretty quickly.  So, I agreed to wait.  Well, they kept their word and then some.  We didn’t get to the table until almost 8.

When you’re seated at a community table, it’s always a crap shoot as to who you’re going to be with.  In tonight’s group, we had a Hispanic family that included a vegetarian.  But it wasn’t a cool vegetarian, it was a “I’M VEGETARIAN!” vegetarian.  There was also a man so old he couldn’t do anything for himself.  I actually suspected he could, but his female partner ordered (and I use ordered in multiple meanings here) everything.  He tries to speak up for himself and his other half shouts over him.  So you know, a boisterous party.

The other side of the table had what seemed to be a mother and her two daughters and a dude.  At first it was a little hard to tell if the dude was the brother or the boyfriend of the older girl.  And “older” is really pushing it here; she looked like she was about 12 and the dude looked about 15.  But it was made clear that they were a couple in relatively short order.  At one point the girl wanted her mom to take a picture of them and as they snuggled up, the dude kind of raised the girls shirt or maybe tucked his hand under it.  In any regard, it was all a little weird and uncomfortable.

The chefs at this location were fucking spazzes.  I guess you have to be a little over the top to get the attention of tourists who’ve been at theme parks all day, but holy shit.  So much yelling and banging and fire.  And in spite of that, the chefs seemed to not be engaged with the table and would get distracted to chat with other employees walking around.  As far as quality, my extra side dish was overlooked and the food was very light on the soy sauce.  When I asked for extra soy sauce on my steak, the chef tried to talk me out of it.  And in the end, it was just a couple of drips, nothing to really taste.

And the last anecdote comes from the GF on her disastrous bathroom visit.  As it was told to me, there were three stalls.  One had a pile of shit-covered toilet paper on the floor.  The second held an employee, who had her apron off and laid out on the bathroom floor.  The third had an overflowing sanitary receptacle.  There are no good options here.

The whole 3+ hour ordeal made me miss my personal home steakhouse and turned me off from touristville locations.

The next day, I seized the opportunity to verify that Pollo Tropical had changed their operations chain-wide.  And I have confirmed it.  The location we went to had the same cheap white Styrofoam plates, plasticware, and single-size cups.  There were no onions or limes on the chicken and there was no table service or cleanup.

We also had a slight order problem that highlighted a flaw in their new operational procedure.  When you order a meal, you now wait for your order number to be called.  In our case, we picked up the order and when we got to the table, found a side was missing.  So the GF went to the cashier, who ignored her because she wasn’t in line.  After getting the cashier’s attention and explaining the situation, the cashier yelled to the order picker, who ignored her.  GF came back to the table furious.

I went up and stood where the orders were picked up.  The order picker kept her back to me.  And I kind of understood that.  There’s always a crowd of people waiting for food.  You could say her communication was unidirectional.  She called the order numbers and that’s it.  There was no consideration of a communication coming inbound to her.  And when she turned around and called a number, I caught her eye, but she still turned back around, requiring me to verbally interrupt her.  And then we got the problem resolved.

As I mentioned in my earlier post about Pollo, there’s been a significant decline in the customer service department.  The GF vowed that Pollo would become a drive-thru-only option, and I would agree.  There is nothing compelling about the dine-in experience.

So, that’s the report on dining this weekend.  If there’s news, it’s probably not good news.

My Cat Is Suffering Because Of Your Shitty Design

My poor cat, Rump, has been struggling for a while ever since I bought her a new feeder.  Her last feeder was pretty much wrecked and a new one was needed.  She’s a pretty big girl, so I always get the largest feeders available.

The previous feeder that I had was a Le Bistro model.  This seems to be made by both PetMate and Aspen Pet.  Over the years, it was redesigned and it was redesigned in a very shitty way.  See the difference between the old design on the left and the new one on the right.

Old  New

Do you see the major difference?  The bowl on the new model on the right is a goddamn waterer bowl.  The only difference between this and their waterer is the hopper.  The waterer hopper is sealed, but the feeder has a removable lid.

Obviously this was the company saying, “Why do we have two bases for these two products?  We can save a shitton of money here.  It’s the same thing.”  You assholes, it’s not the same thing, and I’ll tell you why.

The first problem is that the food doesn’t come out.  You see the slide on the old model?  You see how the opening of the chute is higher than the lip of the bowl?  That lets the food come out.  Food doesn’t act like water, in case you didn’t know.  On the new model, there is no appreciable slide and you will also notice the new model’s chute opening is half the width of the bowl and the hopper’s neck is more narrow.  That would all be sufficient for water, not so with food.

My poor cat gets noticeably anxious when she sees the hopper empty.  There can be food in the bowl, but she understands what the reserve supply looks like and when it is not there, she starts crying.  Now, she has to deal with the fact that the bowl is empty, because the food doesn’t fall, but there is a visible reserve.  That’s damn cruel.

The second problem with this design is that stupid lip.  Again, for water, yes, you need a lip that is uniformly high all around the bowl.  For food, my cat has to to jam her head down into (I want to stress, into) the bowl to get food.  And when the hopper doesn’t flow the food, she has to stick her head even further in back to get food.  I said, she’s a big girl and she has a big head.  It’s not a good situation.  The bowl needs to be lower in front, especially because the hopper supplies so little food.  One other shitty design aspect is that the old lip rolled to the outside and smoothly transitioned into the bowl wall on the inside.  The new design has a lip that overhangs the interior of the bowl wall.  Why would you ever have that on a pet bowl anyway?  Animals push food against the wall to get to it, they don’t want their face bumping into a protruding lip.

So I’m off in search of a new feeder, but everywhere I look, it’s the same crap as this.  Great job on cornering the market with your shitty new design.

A Happy Meal For These Days

Eating is generally a pleasurable experience.  Carrabbas says, “There is no love more sincere than the love of food.”  Dining out with friends (not as often with family) is a cheerful event, with conversation and company and also, food.  For McDonalds to try and bundle this whole thing up into a box and call it a Happy Meal is sort of pointless.  It’s a meal, it’s happy as it is.

But there are times, sometimes often, where your thoughts are not together, or you’re not feeling particularly social.  Maybe you have no one to be with.  A word comes to mind: melancholy.  When you look up the definition, “melancholy” sounds much more severe than I mean it to be.  So, although Melancholy Meal would be a pretty awesome name, I prefer to just keep it simple and call it SadMeal.

I have two SadMeal restaurants, one for work and one for home.  At work, I go to Long John Silvers.  Part of the reason this is my SadMeal location is that no one would ever go there with me, so I can be assured I’ll be there alone.  The whole “misery loves company” thing is completely bogus.  No one wants to be around a miserable person.

I want to take the opportunity to explain this LJS place I go to.  They are religious.  I mean, they are in-your-face, repent-now, religious.  Some part of me wonders if they chose LJS as a franchise because of the fishing metaphors from the bible.  Another part of me wonders if they are going way too far and that YUM! Brands should maybe have a talk with them.  We’re talking constant preaching radio on the sound system, tracts on the tables, a TV playing cartoon stories from the bible, and more.

So, some might think that if I’m sad and I go to a place that’s highly religious, I should feel comforted.  Isn’t that the point of religion?  To provide comfort?  But that’s not the point of SadMeal.  The point is to eat – alone, with my thoughts.  The religion is just an annoyance.

When I am home, SadMeal is my nearest Subway.  It’s not so much chosen as a place to get away from everyone, like it is at work.  I mean, I can stay at home and feel however I want.  Subway is chosen more of a default when I can’t decide on what I want to eat and nothing sounds like it would cheer me up.  If Subway marketed like Carrabbas, their tagline might be, “Sincerity is for idiots.  Eat this cheap, stale bread and indulge your misery.”  And that is what makes Subway my SadMeal.  It’s self-pity for not being able to choose a better meal.

Back in 15th-century England, you could be hospitalized for melancholy.  Not really hospitalized, but committed to an asylum.  Now, in 21st-century America, you can commit yourself to a meal.  Embrace your emotions and have a SadMeal tonight.

Christmas Night 2017: An Evening Of Poor Decisions

As my previous post mentioned, I, along with a couple of cohorts, put luminaries throughout the neighborhood.  Unfortunately, it rained overnight and about 80% of the bags were flat in the morning.  So collection of the luminaries began a day earlier than expected.

I don’t have a big neighborhood, but it feels a lot bigger when you have to make trips to and from your house over and over, carrying about 25 pounds of sand each time.  And, while I was grateful to have all the extra help putting out the lights, it’s probably pretty well known to event organizers that cleanup is a lonely task.

It took about 3 hours and according to my MS Band, which has come out of retirement today, it was over five miles of walking, stooping, standing, and carrying.  The Band does not have a monitor for self-pity, but even if it did, I wouldn’t want to see the results.  A maxed-out chart is uninteresting anyway.

My self-absorbed activity absorbed most of my day and resulted in me skipping substantial meals.  I snacked on shit and salad (got to be balanced), but after the luminaries collection was finished and the tea lights separated from two trash bags full of crumpled paper bags, I was ready to eat.

On Christmas day, your dining options are limited.  So, fault me for not planning ahead and having food of my own to eat at the house (just shit and salad).  Of the available options, I chose IHOP, because they have a sirloin tip dinner that isn’t half bad (It’s close to half-bad, but not all the way there).  The roads are pretty empty going there, which is positive.  But then I found out why the roads were empty.  Everyone was already parked at IHOP.

Sometimes, you can tell when a restaurant is fucked right when you walk in.  I got that.  Sometimes, you can tell why a place is fucked, too.  Mmmm, probably the party of 12, would be my guess.  I don’t know why this is not common knowledge that as the size of the dining party grows, the time and effort to service that party grows exponentially.  That’s for another blog post.

I did eventually get seated and got my food.  It was good, but it wasn’t enough.  I know, right?  You want more shitty food?  A little shitty food, actually, a normal portion of shitty food isn’t enough?  Yes, that is what I am saying.  But, me, being the courteous customer, keenly aware of the long line of people waiting for their opportunity to eat shitty food, I got out quickly.  But I was still hungry.  For what?

Convenience store hot dogs, that’s what!  I was mentally prepared to purchase and eat two roller dogs, so I made my way to a nearby Circle K.  Unfortunately, they had two hot dogs on the grill.  Also unfortunately, they were “jumbo” hot dogs, which isn’t something I’m into.  It has nothing to do with any intimidation or personal inadequacy, it’s a mathematical law – the meat-to-bun ratio.  This is also a post of its own, but in summary, the amount of meat has to be balanced with the amount of bread, just so, otherwise, it’s shit.

Despite the out-of-whack ratio I was facing, I made my move on the dogs, which were spinning slowly in front of me.  Did they think they could escape, confusing rotational motion for forward motion?  I was just about to take down my first dog when the counter lady said, “Oh, you don’t want them.  They’ve been there since about noon.”  But, but, these are the only spinning meat sticks you have.  I think I do want them.

She talked me out of one more poor decision for the evening.  Undeterred, I went to another Circle K down the road.  This store had an array of jumbo dogs, but they were all corralled behind a sign that said “still cooking”.  I sense a poor decision coming on…

And so it was made.  I left the dogs undisturbed and instead bought a cup of boiled peanuts. And a coke.  And pretzels.  And since this is probably my last night on earth, a Powerball ticket.  Once in my car, I make another excellent decision – eat the peanuts here and now.  If you’ve never had fresh boiled peanuts, just understand that these things are soaking in brine for hours and hours and hours (and hours and hours and hours more if no one’s buying them).  In that time, they absorb liquid.  And when you go to free the peanuts from the shells, that liquid is expelled in the most messy way possible.  It’s like popping zits of brine (oooo, a new band name for AK).

After realizing I had nothing to wipe my hands or vehicle interior with, I shuttled the peanuts back home where I ate them hastily.  My stomach protested loudly at every bad decision I had made in the last hour or so.  This led to finishing off some ice cream, straight out of the carton.  Why not?  Gonna die.  Or get some serious shits.  But know this about me:  I do not puke.

And all of that leads me to my final poor decision of the night and possibly my life – writing this post.

If You Can’t Feed The One You Love, Feed The One You’re With

This idea came to me the night I was in charge of running my local Blimpie.  The customer in there was complaining about women.  You know, you can’t live with ‘em and whatnot.  He’d gotten himself in a bind because he had a girlfriend or maybe a wife, and one of his other female friends slipped a phone number to him of her friend who probably wanted to get with him.  The fact the guy was unattractive is completely beside the point, but does bear noting.

This guy thinks he’s going to get in trouble from one of these three women involved.  I’m thinking to myself, “Feed ‘em!”  You’re here at Blimpie and I’m in charge, wait, the owner’s back, so I guess I’m second in charge now.  Get an extra sub for the woman, whichever woman you’re going to see next.  That will show you care.

I made a promise to my GF a long time ago that I would always make sure she would be fed.  There was a period of time where she was schooling full-time with no income.  I kept my promise.  I cashed in tens of thousands of credit card reward miles for Longhorn gift cards and with those, she ate and studied at the local restaurant.  It was such a frequent thing for her that the wait staff gave her a corner of her own so she could eat and do schoolwork unbothered.

Back to this guy and his woman issues.  Showing affection with food is something that works on every relationship level. It keeps the relationship healthy (even if the food itself isn’t healthy).  Obviously I feed the GF well, but I also have a close friend that I gift food to, and another co-worker that I treat specially as well.  And it’s become a two-way street with gifts of snacks and candy going back and forth between all of us.  In addition to that, there’s social interaction over work cake (and it’s curious to see who participates and when and who huddles together devouring the spoils).

Although I consider myself more of a financial provider in my relationships, I can totally understand how women, mothers especially, get so much satisfaction from feeding people.  With the holidays here, I’ve somewhat taken on some cooking duties.  I’m not complaining, it’s a great thing to be able to do.  My skills are limited, but I am becoming a specialist in mashed potatoes.  I will not apologize for choosing such a specialty.

The Roller Coaster Meal

Over the weekend, the GF and I were out in Touristville and I made the decision to eat at Kobe Steakhouse.  Kobe is a place we used to go frequently, and one I still manage to eat there every once in a while.  It’s at a location we hadn’t been to before, like I said, right in Touristville, near the premium outlets.  Don’t ask me why we chose to go to the outlets on Black Friday weekend.  Some things can’t be rationalized.

So, we make our way to the restaurant through traffic that moved like sludge through a sewer pipe.  I mean, it was shitty traffic.  When we got inside the restaurant, it was unsurprising that there were plenty of people waiting already.  The hostess says the wait is going to be 40-45 minutes.  We’re only mildly hungry right then, so this will be fine for us to build up some hunger.  We get the pager and sit down for an extended wait.

Five minutes into our wait, the pager goes off.  Hooray for being a rockstar!  Well, that’s not true.  They never asked who I was, so my frequent flyer status wouldn’t have anything to do with this.  Doesn’t matter, getting to eat now!  We get seated at a table with another family of four.  Each table seats ten, so there’s four empty seats between us.

I’ll take a moment to explain Kobe policy.  You don’t get considered for seating until your entire party is present.  It’s pretty obvious this family is dining with another family, so our table has a party of 8 and a party of 2.  But the party of 8 is only half-there.  There’s an actual business reason they won’t seat you like this, which is going to become obvious, very soon.

The server takes our drink orders.  He asks about the people not there yet, and it is determined to just bring waters for them.  The drinks are served and now orders are taken.  The missing people can’t place their orders as they are not there.  The GF and I are starting to think that we’re going to have a half-full table, which sucks for the chef.

The soup is served.  The empty places get a bowl of soup each.  The salad is served.  The empty seats now have a soup and salad sitting in front of each of them.  Soon, the chef will come out and these people haven’t even shown up to place their orders.  Is this considered abandonment yet?  The server consults with the family and they don’t know where their friends are, but they are sure to be here soon.  I commented to the GF that our 45 minute wait was still in effect, it was just being applied after getting seated.

Then, a holiday miracle.  The other family shows up.  There’s a flurry of greetings and everyone takes their seats.  There’s a small issue though.  There’s five people.  The party of eight, which was seated as a party of four is actually a party of nine.  See, this is why you wait for the whole goddamn party to show up before you seat anyone. 

Despite this, everyone crams the fuck in there and the server talks with each new person to get their drink and food order.  Karmically enough, the issue of being short one soup and salad is never resolved.  The chef finally comes out and tries to confirm everyone’s order.  There’s confusion because he has two tickets, because the second party arrived so late.  The chef is struggling with the orders and the number of people and I say to him, “You have 11 here.”  Whether that helped or not, I have no idea.

He begins with the sauces.  The table is designed for 10, and everything is planned for 10.  He has 10 sauce trays.  I try to help by saying I don’t want any sauce, so he pulls one tray back.  Now he has 9 trays and there’s 10 people that will want sauce.  This is simply not working out.

Despite this ridiculousness, things worked out really well for me and the GF.  The other parties turned down a lot of the food.  Extra rice, extra noodles, extra veggies – we were loaded up.  Maybe it was for the best because I’m not sure they prepped for 11 at a table.

However, even though we were fed heartily, even good food can’t make up for your meal running into 2 hours.  That’s just way too much.  So, it was hard for us to tell if we were happy with the meal or not.  The food was good, the experience was not as much.

The server brought my check, and fortunately, I had a $10 reward that was applied to my check.  I sent the bill off with my credit card and the server came back to talk to me.  The manager felt bad about us being crammed in on a table of 11 and took an extra $20 off the bill.  That was unexpected and quite pleasant.  So the bill was paid and we got the hell out of that shitshow.

The rise and fall of expectations and reality left us completely confused as to how we should be feeling, other than full and tired. 

“Enhance Hospitality”

Recently a co-worker of mine asked if I’d been to Pollo Tropical lately.  I hadn’t.  The last time I mentioned them in a post was when I found out they eliminated the large drink size and only had medium cups.  I think I’d been back since then, but not very recently.

My co-worker rattled off a list of things that had changed, for the worse.  The list included:

  • No real plates.  Now they use styrofoam plates.
  • No real silverware.  Only plastic forks and knives.
  • No table service.  You have to get your food from the counter.
  • No bussing service.  You have to clear your own table.
  • No onions or lime on your chicken.  They only have the flavor from the marinade.
  • Chicken breasts are smaller.

That’s a pretty significant change and I didn’t believe it.  Even after my visit today to confirm this, I still don’t believe it.  I want to visit a second location and ensure this isn’t chain-wide.  If it is, well…

So today, I did go to Pollo Tropical for lunch.  I stood in line sporting a defensive posture with my arms across my chest as I could immediately verify at least some items from that list.  When I got to the counter, I grilled the cashier on the changes.

“You’ve updated your menu?”

“No, everything still there.  We’ve added blah blah blah and there’s blah blah blah.”

“Never mind.  I see what I normally get.  I’ll have that and a drink.”

As she’s punching it into the register, I begin the interrogation.

“So, no plates anymore?  just styrofoam?”


“And only plasticware?”


I look at the sign on the counter near the wall that says you have to listen for your number and pick up your order. “You have to pick your food up now?”


“So, do you have to clear your table now?”

“Well, we only have the one trash can in the back… so…”

”So. It’s not as nice.”


“It’s not as nice.”

“Oh, yeah.”  You’re not listening to me at all, are you?

As I filled my drink and got my plastic knife and fork, I noticed one other change.  Each table used to have its own napkin dispenser.  No more.  Also, I had noticed while I was standing in line, that they removed the community bulletin board from their wall.  How curious.

As I stood and waited for my food impatiently, the customer in front of me came back up and complained that his side dish, maybe fries, maybe plantains, was “super stale”.  The person behind the counter took them and threw them out, probably saying he’d get him some fresh food.  That’s not promising.

My food came out and I was able to confirm no toppings on the chicken and smaller portions.  I took the tray with my white styrofoam 3-portion plate to a table and ate my meal in subdued silence.  The change in atmosphere was significant.  Pollo used to be at an atmospheric level of Panera Bread.  Now it was like a no-name food court place.  I mean, to use generic styrofoam plates and not even branded plates is a major faux pas in brand image.

In my quest for answers, I searched online and ended up getting info straight from the horse’s mouth: The 3rd quarter corporate earnings call.  In this conference call you hear from all the top people at the company and what they are proud of and what they are planning to make the company profitable in the future.  I read a lot of things in that transcript that worried me for the future of Pollo, despite how they touted them as huge improvements. (Fried chicken?  What the fuck.)

But here’s the quotes that made me bristle:

We have implemented new labor models at both brands. These models will ensure speed of service and accuracy, enhance hospitality, ensure that we are delivering consistently high-quality food. We have also optimized staffing, so that managers can be intensely focused on the guest experience.

New labor models: They are reducing the amount of work that their employees have to do.  This means they don’t do table service anymore.  They also don’t have to wash dishes anymore.  This means they can…

Optimize staffing: Cut their workforce and/or reduce the number of labor hours.  The only benefit of this is reduced cost, and is completely incompatible with customer service.  So, when I read “speed of service” and “enhance[d] hospitality”, I’m going to call bullshit on that one.  And I will say they succeeded in optimizing staffing while I was there.  One cook, one counter person.  No one working the lobby.  Manager must have been in the office intensely focused on the guest experience.  Especially when a customer complained about stale food.  Super stale food.

One other relevant quote buried in pages of financial bukkake:

We’ve been working on evolving our brand culture so that our teams will truly embrace our high standards for food quality, hospitality and restaurant environment.

Again, with the hospitality, and restaurant environment.  I already mentioned my impression of the new and improved environment, but let me say it again.  There are two things that are going to come from this major shift.  One, the customers that came before (me and my co-worker, and many others) are going to say, “What the fuck happened here?”  You can’t maintain a level of service and suddenly lower it thinking no one’s going to notice.  The other thing is that new customers are not going to be as impressed with your environment as your older customers were when they first came.

Now if that’s the ballpark you want to play in, that’s fine.  But understand you don’t capture Panera Bread-grade customers when your presentation is shit and your service is non-existent.


No tipping allowed.  For what?  For fucking what?

It’s The Small-Town Vibe

Yesterday had a couple of curious events, especially curious to happen in the same day, both involving dining.

For lunch, a bunch of coworkers and I (plus one who got left behind) had lunch at a middle-eastern grocery/restaurant.  Hardly really a restaurant, more like a deli with some booths and tables.  For myself, I grabbed some tabouleh and some pita bread and a drink, paid for it and sat at a booth.  Everyone else all had their food from the kitchen.  I wondered how everyone paid for their food already.  They didn’t.  And no one seemed to understand how payment was going to work.

So each of them just went up to the kitchen window, asked for food and got it and was now seated and eating it, whereas I went to the shelves and coolers, got food, paid for it, and was now eating it.  No one else had any order slips, checks, or anything else to indicate what they got.  The point I am laboriously making is that this restaurant operated on the honor system.  Does such a thing exist anymore?  Well, it worked out well for everyone, because I do have standards for my cohorts and honesty is one of them.

But, if that story is somewhat interesting, maybe mildly interesting, this one is better.

After work, I decide to stop at my local Blimpie for dinner.  You know Blimpie, there’s what, maybe a dozen of them around?  I can’t seem to find one anywhere, but I do love their bread. It’s so fluffy.  Anyway, that’s not what’s interesting.  See, the guy who runs my Blimpie, runs/owns, I mean.  Foreign as well, maybe Indian, maybe Pakistani.  That’s all completely irrelevant.  He’s a damn hard worker.  He owns the place and is the only employee.  He works open to close seven days a week.  His wife owns/runs the dry cleaning location in the same plaza.

Now, I feel sorry for this guy, not only because he’s always there, but also because there’s never anyone else there.  Maybe I’ll see another customer when I’m there, most often I won’t.  But he always recognizes me and always forgets what cheese I want on my sandwich, so hey, I guess we’re friends.

Tonight, I get my food and as usual I’m the only one eating it there.  The guy comes over to me and says, “Can you do me a favor?”  He puts this paper down beside me.  “I’m going to go over next door.  If someone comes in, have them call this number on here and I’ll come right back.”

Yes, you probably understood that just as I did.  I’m in charge of the store while he goes out.  That’s quite a promotion for someone who’s not even an employee.  So, since we’re friends, I say, “sure,” and off he goes, carrying a box from Amazon.

He had said he was going to be gone for just a minute, but I think it was something more like five minutes.  And wouldn’t you know it, here comes a customer.  As soon as the customer gets in the door, I hold up the piece of paper and say.  “Well, you are the first person to come in and I have been told that he wants you to call this number and he will be right back.”

The customer is like, “Where’s he at?”  And I say, “I assume he went to the dry cleaners.  I think his wife runs it.”  He’s just “Geez,” but he gets his phone out and calls the number on the paper I’m holding up.

“Hey.”  “Yeah.”  “Ok.”  And the guy hangs up.  Then he’s just walking around the lobby.  I’m not sure if I’m supposed to make sure that anyone walking in doesn’t steal anything or not, so I ignore him for a bit, then try to engage in random talk.  “It must be rough working open to close every day.”

The customer doesn’t seem fazed at all. “Oh, he and his wife run this and the dry cleaning business.”  Well, then.  I guess he knows what’s up.  Blimpie owner comes back and he and the customer are just “Hey, how’s it going?”  I guess they’re friends, too.

But the point of this is, I was trusted to watch a restaurant yesterday.  Sure, I’ve run pizza shops alone, like 20 years ago.  But I was an employee then.  I’m a customer now!  What’s up with this trust all of a sudden?

Dove’s Target Market

Today at work, someone randomly gifted our department with a bunch of bite-size Dove chocolates.  That’s cool enough, but the candies seem to have been specially made for our department.  Within each wrapper was an inspirational message, written just for us.

In the field of inspirational messages, there are some that are universally accepted as positive and constructive, and then there are some that are less so.  And these messages fall into the latter camp.  I began my discovery with what seemed like genuine concern for me.

“Accept a compliment”

Why, thank you, you fattening and diabetic mini-monster.  I assume you are complimenting me on my fine taste in chocolate (dark chocolate, for the intelligent and refined palate).  Encouraged, I opened the next one.

“Wing it”

Well, this is my second piece, so you could say, yeah, I am doing so.  In fact, I have one more from this handful to go.

“Don’t apologize”

Fuck no, I won’t.  I just ate three of you bastards and I’m going back for more.  At the candy bowl, a co-worker comes over and huddles next to me.  He’s either encouraging me or shaming me as I paw through the bowl looking for more dark chocolate pieces.  It doesn’t matter which it is right now.  I’m winging it and I won’t apologize for it.

I score four more pieces and scurry back to my desk.  My newly installed and operating white noise generator on my desk hides my hissing, “preciousssssss.”  I open the next piece, toss it into my maw, and absorb both calories and wisdom.

“Ignore the clock”

And so I do and begin live-blogging this feeding frenzy.  The next piece is unwrapped and maybe I’m starting to regret grabbing four more pieces.  But this is for the education!

“Take a run on the wild side”

As the dark chocolate melts in my mouth and slides heavily down my gullet, I wonder if these chocolates are prophetic.  Will the next one predict my death?  Will the next one be my death?  There are two more to go.  Ignoring the clock and running – or not – on the wild side, I open the second to the last piece.

“Take a run on the wild side”

Oh my god.  I hate running.  And I’m beginning to dislike Dove chocolate.  But, hey, I can use my newly-found wisdom to my advantage.  Let’s see, what I will do is open the last piece, consume the wisdom it proffers, then ignore the clock and not consume the actual chocolate.  Dove knows what they are doing, most assuredly.


I just have.  That advice would have been better if given a little earlier.  But right now, the chocolate will remain open and exposed as I recover from my sugar high.  What a ride.