The Staff Meeting

(The following is a piece I wrote for a creative writing class that I took this past fall.  It’s one of my favorite things that I had written for the class, and I figured I’d share it with you.  I also wanted to finally break the two-month dormancy of this blog, and hope to get back to writing more frequently.  With all that out of the way, please enjoy.)

Okay, is everybody here?  Alright.  As you may recall, last month’s meeting ended on kind of a sour note, so I’d like to first apologize for my conduct.  I had way too much to drink, and I said a lot of things I didn’t mean, so I’m sorry.  I think we can all let bygones be bygones, and continue on as we always have in this business.  Anyway, we have a lot to cover, so let’s begin.

First, I want to start by discussing last month’s numbers, which just came in.  These numbers are absolutely inexcusable.  How can you possibly justify these kinds of numbers?  I am honestly embarrassed, as a male strip club owner in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, to be bringing in these kinds of numbers.  I’ll have you all know that when my great-grandfather established The Hot Rod Ladies’ Club back in 1889, this is NOT what he had in mind when it comes to classy adult entertainment.  He had created the simple concept of grown men shaking their unmentionables in the faces of America’s females, and you have effectively made a complete and total MOCKERY of his vision.  I…I hope you assholes are proud of yourselves, because you have taken his dream…and pissed all over it.

We’ve gotten a few complaints, too.  For instance, here’s one we got from Brittany Willis in Tulsa.  I want to read it to you in its entirety because I believe it voices a few concerns that I think need to be examined.  This is what she wrote, “We came to your establishment last month for my friend Tina’s bachelorette party, and we left thoroughly disgusted.  The floors were dirty, the food was terrible, the music was way too loud, and your dancers just seemed like they had no passion.  They even cursed like sailors.  I was so overtly appalled at the behavior I witnessed that, since our visit, I have told all of my friends to avoid patronizing your establishment for future functions.”

This…I really…I don’t know what to say about this.  Reading this complaint enrages me, disappoints me, makes me feel betrayed—all those things.  How do you expect people to take us seriously as a legitimate business with things like that?  Let me make one thing perfectly clear: I will NOT tolerate this kind of half-assed treatment our customers have apparently been receiving.  You should all be ashamed of yourselves.  Ugh, this is ridiculous.

What did I tell you about language here?  Huh?  From day one, I emphasized that vulgar language of ANY kind will not be allowed as soon as you step through those penis-shaped doors.  Honestly, you know, when these fine, upstanding citizens come to The Hot Rod Ladies’ Club for a night of classy adult entertainment, they don’t want to hear filth like that while you are giving them lapdances.  It is completely and utterly unprofessional, and you know that it is against company policy.  In fact, the next person who says one more of those words within my earshot WILL be fired.

Don’t test me, Tyler.  I will do it, and your sexy ass will be out of a job.  Sure, maybe they’ll hire you at the Chippendale’s across the street, but you don’t want that.  Trust me.  They don’t take care of their employees the way I do.  However, if you just wanna make a career out of half-assing it like you did when Brittany Willis was here, then fine—I’m sure they’d LOVE to have you.  But I’m only interested in guys who are really willing to put their dicks into it, and give their customers the ultimate satisfaction they desire.  Am I understood?

Good.  Now, let’s move on to a more positive note: next month’s teambuilding exercise.  Rico has suggested miniature golf.  Does anyone else have any other ideas, or are we all content with hitting a bunch of balls around?

***

Until next time,

–Riley

Advertisements

How I Could Have Won The Nobel Peace Prize

October 9th, 2009 was a pretty big news day.  Before I get to the actual focus of this post, I do want to discuss another fairly prominent news story that took place yesterday.

Many of us know that early yesterday morning, NASA commenced with Mission: Bomb The Fuckin’ Moon.  I don’t believe that was the official name of the project, but that’s basically the overall idea.  NASA bombed the moon.  When I first read about this, I had a minor nerd-fantasy moment, which I don’t usually have very often.  I don’t consider myself much of a nerd—I have the occasional nerd-like obsession with certain things, but it’s not like I hole myself up with stacks of comic books and Magic: The Gathering sets and stuff like that.  However, I did have a nerd-fantasy moment when I heard about NASA’s plan to bomb the moon, which they were going to broadcast on television.  Here’s what I envisioned:

NASA launches the items that are going to collide with the moon.  As soon as the bombs (or whatever they were launching for the mission) hit the moon, NASA switches from the live feed to footage of the first Death Star exploding at the end of Star Wars: A New Hope.  Would that not have been absolutely HILARIOUS? “Oh shit…uh, Houston?  We’ve got a little situation here…”

Anyway, that’s not even close to the biggest news story of yesterday.  Most of us know by now that President Barack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday.  And since then, as if the poor guy didn’t already have enough controversies to deal with, people have found yet another polarizing moment to contend with.  People on the left are claiming that Obama’s award was deserved because of his vision; people on the right are claiming that Obama’s award was not deserved because he hasn’t actually done much of anything since being in office.  Here’s how I feel about it:

Obama deserved to win the Nobel Peace Prize, because he has done virtually nothing.  This is not just a snide thumbing-of-my-nose to both political sides.  To be honest, it was a brilliant decision on behalf of the Nobel folks.  Think about it—Obama is leading by example by doing virtually nothing.  Therefore, if the rest of the world were to do virtually nothing, we would achieve world peace.  Why?

Because nobody’s fucking doing anything.

Regardless of how you feel about the whole situation, you have to admit that Obama basically won because of his ideas.  And I’m glad he did.  Really.  If he didn’t, who would have?  Some peace-lovin’ hippie that nobody’s ever heard of?  Fuck that.  But through Obama’s award, I learned something: it’s apparently really easy to win the Nobel Peace Prize.  All you need now are ideas.  I had no idea it was that simple.

I have an idea for achieving world peace.  I’m thinking about submitting it.  You wanna know what it is? (I don’t know why I’m asking you, especially since I’m going to type it out anyway.) I haven’t figured out how this would work financially, but I think it could still be effective.  My idea for achieving world peace is this:

Buy every single person in the world a brand-new suit.

Now, you might think to yourself, “How in the world could you establish world peace that way?”

Well, think about it: it would put an end to all world conflicts, wars, and battles of all magnitudes because everybody would be too busy walking around, admiring their brand-new suits. (“Oh, wow, hey…I could really get used to this, man!”) There wouldn’t be any more random skirmishes in particularly dangerous areas, like the Middle East, because of the fear that their brand-new suits could be ruined—scuffed-up shoes, jacket lining ripped, etc.  Everybody would be happy and we would have finally achieved world peace.

At least until somebody got jealous of somebody else’s suit.  You know, like some guy walking around Pakistan going, “Allah-damnit, why does Mohammed get an Armani in maroon?  I wanted an Armani in maroon!  Mohammed doesn’t look good in maroon—I look good in maroon!  I’m stuck with this bullshit from Men’s Wearhouse!” His wife looks at him, “What are you going to do, al-Salami, my love?”

And he goes, “I’ll tell you what I’m going to do: I’m going to KILL MOHAMMED AND STEAL HIS SUIT!”

Next thing you know, we’re right back to square one.  So, okay, maybe it’s not a perfect plan for achieving world peace.  I guess that’s why I didn’t fucking win.

But at least everyone would have nicer wardrobes.

Until next time,

–Riley

Further Thoughts On Social Networking

I recently published a post about my motivations for deleting my Twitter account.  In that post, I mentioned that I had some bones to pick with Facebook, but I was saving them for a future entry.

Well, this is that entry.

I have a real love/hate relationship with Facebook.  I’ve talked about this a little bit in my stand-up performances.  It has its benefits, but it also has its downfalls.  Facebook is actually worse than Twitter in various ways (including those that drove me to delete my Twitter page), but I felt like I could sacrifice my Twitter profile in spite of the necessity of promoting my stand-up comedy.  Facebook, on the other hand, is a necessary evil.  I can’t not have one in this day and age.  I do love it because it makes promoting my stand-up SO much easier, and it is a good way to keep in touch with geographically distant friends.  But there are several things regarding Facebook that I feel the need to discuss.

First, my profile (the link to which can be found on the right side of this blog).  As of this writing, I have roughly 700 friends on Facebook, which is a complete lie.  I don’t have 700 friends.  Do you have 700 friends?  Who the fuck has 700 friends?  If I’m being generous, I have maybe 10 actual friends.  Who are the other 690?  I don’t know.  I couldn’t even make up 700 fake names if I tried.

I’ll tell you about something I did the other day.  Maybe you’ve experienced it, too.  I was browsing around random profiles on Facebook, and then I stumbled upon someone who only had 17 friends.  Have you ever had that moment where you find someone like that on Facebook, and your first reaction is, “What a fuckin’ loser THIS guy is!  He’s only got 17 friends?!  Hey, all 942 of my bullshit friends: look at this fuckin’ loser over here with only 17 friends!  How does he live, man?!”  How does he live?  Well, for starters: he fucking LIVES.  He’s not sitting around on Facebook all day acquiring friends.  He’s being realistic with his social circles.  If we were all realistic with our social circles, we’d all have 17 friends, too.

Of course, Facebook encourages social networking.  Whatever the hell that is.  It’s a bullshit phrase.  Social networking is basically the online equivalent of passing someone on the street and going, “Hey.”  But Facebook encourages finding new people to connect with online.  For instance, one of the features they have for finding new friends is a page called People You May Know.  Personally, I think the page should have a different name: People You’ve Never Fuckin’ Heard Of.  Because that’s all I ever get.  Every time I go to that page, I find myself asking, “Who the fuck are you people?!”  Sometimes I’ll go to the person’s profile, and it will say we have five mutual friends.  Then I’ll click on the five mutual friends and go, “Who the fuck are these people, too?!”  How can I possibly know you when I don’t know the people I know, who also know you, you know?

That’s the thing that bugs me the most about Facebook: none of us know anybody.  Everyone has hundreds of friends that they don’t talk to; that they will probably NEVER talk to.  I once got a message from a guy whom I had one or two classes with in high school.  We weren’t good friends back then, and I don’t recall us ever really talking that much.  But this guy sent me a message saying, “Hey man, you wanna get together sometime and catch up?”

And I thought, “Catch up?  Dude, we didn’t BEGIN.”  What exactly are we catching up from when we never even got started?  Let’s say, for the hell of it, that we DID end up getting together somewhere.  The moment in the conversation where I say, “Excuse me, I gotta go to the restroom,” and then run out the front door—that’s called speeding ahead.  And I call it that to keep him from catching up to me.

Facebook, like its other social networking brethren, is ridiculously addictive and time-consuming.  I spend too much time on Facebook.  I’m trying to curb my use, but it’s especially hard for me because I talk to people more on Facebook than I do elsewhere.  I know that’s kinda sad but it’s the truth, because I lead a pretty solitary existence as it is.  A lot of people spend too much time on there without realizing it.  Here’s an easy way to determine if you spend too much time on Facebook: have you ever ALMOST picked up a hitchhiker, just to have someone to talk to?  If you’ve ever had that moment, then maybe you should stop spending so much time on Facebook.

Although, to be fair, that would make a KILLER status update.

Until next time,

–Riley

An Excerpt From The Upcoming Memoir By George W. Bush

(I wrote this for a creative writing class that I’m in right now.  I figured it’d be nice to post here since I haven’t written anything here in a while, and because it’s something totally different.  Hope you enjoy.)

The following is an advance excerpt from Decision Points, the upcoming memoir by George W. Bush, in which the former US president attempts to explain his reasons and motivations behind several of the most significant and controversial aspects of his presidency.  The full text is slated for release sometime in 2010.  However, the publisher, in order to garner press coverage for the book, has decided to release this passage to the public, in which Bush gives consideration to what he claims is the most important decision he had to make in regards to his tenure as president.

You know, it’s an odd thing.  I’ll admit that.  But that’s why I’m writing this book.

I am, of course, referring to quite possibly the biggest decision I had to make in regards to my presidency: the decision to write this book in regards to my presidency.  Don’t get me wrong—the money’s awesome.  I love it.  Have you ever smoked a pipe packed with a hundred-dollar bill?  It’s not quite the buzz I got during my old cocaine binges, but the stench is strong enough to make Laura leave the room.  In fact, I’d say that over the course of writing this book, I probably smoked about $54,000 dollars.  And that’s not even counting the price of the pipe itself!  Hah!

The decision to write this book was a very weighty one to make.  I knew my presidency was controversial, to say the least, but I’ll be honest: I didn’t know if I really wanted to reveal my secrets.  I don’t know if I’ve ever told anyone this before, but I kind of see myself as a bit of a magician.  I always liked that analogy.  Whenever I was in the Pentagon, I’d refer to myself as George the Magnificent.  It sure would explain how that Clinton surplus disappeared before the end of my first term.

Speaking of Clinton, and I hate to go off on a tangent here: did you know that Bill Clinton is a MAJOR douchebag?  Allow me to explain: the first day I went into the Oval Office in January 2001 following my election victory, President Clinton left an official note addressed to me.  All of the presidents do that, by the way.  When the new guy comes in, the old guy leaves a note of advice or well-wishing as a sign of diplomacy. (Here’s what my note said to my successor, Barack Obama: “Hey Obama, stay cool and don’t ever change!  Have a great summer!  Oh, and please don’t look in the Library of Congress for that top-secret document explaining my plans to fuck up everything during my eight PLANNED years as president.  They don’t have any copies in stock.  Booya!  Signed, The Bushster.”) And can you believe what that retarded ape Clinton wrote to me?  This is exactly what he said: “I hate you, and I hate your father for giving us you.  Don’t fuck up everything.  Oh, and I would NOT have sexual relations with your woman.  Dear God in Heaven, she’s homely.  Good luck and go fuck yourself!  Signed, William J. (the J stands for Jefferson, a man smarter than your stump of a family tree ever will be) Clinton.”

Unbelievable.  He sure showed a lot of nerve, but I sure showed him in the end.  I admit that I did fuck up everything, but I will go on record saying that it was entirely out of spite towards what Clinton said to me.  If he hadn’t have written that, we’d all be sleeping in solid gold houses on pillows made from bald eagle feathers.  So for all of you people who hate me for driving the infrastructure of our country into the ground, all I have to say is: blame Clinton.

However, I still realize that my presidency, regardless of the motivations behind it, was mired in controversy.  Because of that, I highly contemplated just getting away from everything after I left the White House.  I thought about moving to Montana, where, for miles and miles, all you ever see are crazy bastards and bears.  I’m not saying I’d fit right in, but I’d fit right in.  I thought I’d enjoy living amongst the wilderness, but then I remembered that I love cutting brush down, so I backed off the idea for a while.  On the other hand, Montana probably had TONS of brush to be cut down.  Besides, it’s not like people would care—it’s just Montana, and nobody pays attention to the crazy bastards anyway.  Eventually, I realized that I was happy enough back in Texas, so that’s where I ended up.  Plus, bears scare the living FUCK out of me…

To be continued…

***

Until next time,

–Riley

Why I Quit Twitter

Last night, I deleted my Twitter account.

The genesis for the idea spawned from a discussion with a friend about Twitter and its current influence over our lives.  We both had signed up to Twitter for mainly the same reason: self-promotion.  He’s a writer on a few literary websites; I’m a stand-up comic who occasionally writes drivel like this—and we wanted another place for us to promote our respective creative wares.

Over the course of time, however, we realized that instead of using Twitter constructively to promote our endeavors, we had fallen into the trap of using Twitter more as a distraction FROM our creativity.  I know this all too well because I have a habit of getting addicted to technology, much to the detriment of my general productivity.  And lately, I’ve been beginning to resent those things (and myself) for letting them suck me in the way that they have.  I can’t tell you how many hours of my life I’ve spent on all these social networking sites that could have instead been spent working on my craft.

The unfortunate thing about the way the world works now, though, is that I still need to keep my feet in the digital ocean if I want to get anywhere with my craft.  I can’t rely on simply word-of-mouth, but I don’t want to be so focused on promotion that I neglect my creative process.  Yet I still HAVE to have some sort of presence in the electronic world in order to gain any traction.  However, I can still take my life back from the machines to a certain extent, to paraphrase my friend, and I realized that I don’t need a Twitter account anymore.

It’s amazing how something so pointless can simultaneously be so dangerous.  I knew I was addicted to Twitter once I started using it from my phone, which was dangerous.  Because at that point, everything I experienced had to be filtered into thoughts of up to 140 characters.  Instead of just taking things in for what they are, I would constantly ask myself, “Is this tweetable?  Is this tweetworthy?” No, I’m just being an obsessive-compulsive narcissistic twit.  It’s ridiculous.

Twitter gave me OCD.  I never really had it that bad until I started using Twitter.  Here’s an easy way to determine if you have Twitter-induced OCD: if you ever have that moment where you suddenly realize, “Holy shit: I haven’t tweeted in FOUR HOURS!  I must parlay some new piece of digital brilliance into the vast ether, lest I become irrelevant!” then you’ve got it.  If the timeframe gets shorter (“TWO HOURS”) then you’ve got it REALLY bad.

In addition to OCD, it also feeds into your narcissism.  If you’ve never been a self-centered person, Twitter will make you one.  Even the terminology feeds into narcissism: on Twitter, you don’t have friends like you do on Facebook.  You have “followers,” like you’re some fuckin’ cult leader all of a sudden.  Yeah, let me guess—the Brotherhood of What-I’m-Having-For-Dinner.  All it does is give you a major ego trip.  Nobody gives a fuck what you have to say.  Nobody’s ever going to be like, “Oh my God, Riley hasn’t tweeted all day—call the cops!  He’s been KIDNAPPED!  We need a search party out on this guy!”

So, I’ve given up on Twitter.  I still have a Facebook page, and won’t be getting rid of it anytime soon.  I don’t have much of a choice with that, and I don’t mind it most of the time.  I do have some annoyances with Facebook, but I’m saving those for another entry.  I still have a MySpace, for reasons unbeknownst to even God himself.  Have you been around THERE lately?  Jesus Christ.  What a sad, pathetic wasteland that place has become.  I came up with an interesting analogy for the three major social networking sites recently:

– Twitter is like the young, hot 20-year-old who’s good for a short fling
– Facebook is like the more mature 30-year-old who knows what the fuck’s going on, and is in it for the long-term
– And MySpace is like the 40-and-older cougar crowd for when you wanna make some horrible life decisions

To be fair, I do still use MySpace on rare occasion.  I literally only use it to post bulletins about upcoming important shows, and it has worked in the last couple of months to bring out a few people to those shows whom I otherwise wouldn’t have reached.  That’s nice, and Twitter was good for that occasionally, but then I realized that 95% of the people who follow me there (and who aren’t random-ass spam accounts) were already my friends on Facebook, so why even bother with it?

Thus, I’ve pared my social networking activity down to solely Facebook, with the occasional MySpace binge when promoting shows, and this blog (which really isn’t a social networking site, and it can be used constructively).  I think that that’s about the most minimal I can get without completely eschewing technology altogether, which is pretty much impossible nowadays.  To paraphrase my friend again, it kind of makes me feel like Sarah Connor from the Terminator films, which is a pretty cool way to look at it.

Too bad I can’t re-tweet it.

Until next time,

–Riley

The Troll-volution

When I set up this blog, one of my first entries detailed a brief history of a group of guys I went to high school with who like to make parodies of my stand-up videos.  As I said in that post, I do enjoy the videos themselves.  But lately, I’m beginning to grow tired of the attitudes surrounding them.  I post videos of my stand-up on the internet mainly so that my friends and family have a chance to watch my performances.  I’m lucky enough to have a base of people who are supportive of my endeavors, so I don’t mind sharing it with them.  What I do mind is the ridiculous “internet commenter culture” that my videos are occasionally subjected to.  Especially when they are expanding from simple mean video comments to unprovoked skirmishes elsewhere on the web.

I’ve been around the digital block a few times.  I’ve been a member at several internet forums over the years.  I understand how the game works.  Somebody posts something the other members don’t like, and then the other members bombard that user with insane over-the-top insults and/or threats.  It’s not necessarily meant to be taken literally or seriously most of the time—at times it’s hilarious reading how far people will go to ridicule the offending user.  There are some users, called “trolls,” whose sole purpose is to hate everyone and everything and act accordingly.

YouTube, where most of my stand-up videos are located, follows a similar formula in the comments section.  Go look at any really popular YouTube video, and you’ll read thousands of generic comments.  Sometimes within those generic comments (“omg so funny!!”), you’ll find tangents of these inane arguments between users. (They can be most commonly found in the comments sections of music videos, because internet forum users are HUGE music snobs of all kinds.  Basically it amounts to this: whoever your favorite band is sucks.  And even if your favorite band also happens to be my favorite band, you suck for liking them so much and then the band sucks for appealing to the person you hate for liking them.) The overall demeanor of all of these internet forum users—these trolls—is that what they say is gospel, and no matter what kind of simple logic, reasoning, or truth you display in front of them, you are still wrong and they are still right.  You can’t win against these guys.

I know that’s a lot of general information, but that’s because I need to provide a background for what I’m about to discuss.

As I said, I have videos of my stand-up on YouTube.  They are open for public viewing, so anyone can go watch them.  And I know that doing that can be risky, because it opens those videos up to scrutiny from the aforementioned trolls, whose standards are so impeccably high that no matter how good those videos are or ever will be, it won’t be good enough to satisfy them.  And they WILL let you know that.  Here is a list of comments I’ve received on my various stand-up videos (quoted verbatim):

“this is the worst shit i have ever seen in my fucking life.  kill yourself.”
“youre terrible.”
“not funny at all.”
“stop being so bad.”
“i hate you.”
“so racist…fuking bastard”
“Oh, Riley, I know you won’t have to worry about having sex.  Ever.  His jokes are a lot like AIDS, in the ideal that you’re slowly dieing painfully as it gets worse. Only with AIDS you’ll at least die at the end and all the suffering will be over.”

The last one was posted by a user named AssassinTheHasson.  When I received his comment, I discovered that he was connected to the guys who made the parody videos mentioned at the top of this post.  He’d left another similar comment on the parody video.  I left a comment in response saying that I enjoyed the parody videos (though the ad hominem video comments were a bit excessive).  He left a short retort a little while after, and I figured the damage was done.  He made his point about hating me, and I played the diplomat and moved on.  Fine.

Then yesterday, on Twitter, I was subjected to another troll skirmish connected to the same circle of people behind the parodies.  After a few back-and-forth exchanges (which I won’t quote here just because this entry is long enough, and you can click on the link to my Twitter page to see my half of the dialogue), I finally asked the guy directly: why do they have this weird internet “vendetta” against me?  And he never responded.  This pissed me off.

I understand that not everyone likes me or will like me as a comedian (or even just as a general person).  But if someone genuinely dislikes my comedy, why would they insist on continually pestering me about it for no reason?  Because I don’t personally make THEM laugh?  Fine: fuck ’em.  If I don’t make ’em laugh, then they should quit wasting their time with me and go find somebody who DOES make them laugh.  Their lives will be better enriched for it.  Besides, who the fuck are they, anyway?  A bunch of bored internet nerds with nothing better to do than hide behind cool-sounding aliases to generate an alter-ego that allows them the power to anonymously criticize a person from a safe distance, and who have likely never gone onstage to perform within the artform that I’m creating my niche in, therefore giving them no knowledge of the inner workings of the craft?  Fuck ’em.

I’m not going for the whole indignant posturing, “oh, look at me and how great I am” thing with this.  Nor am I trying to sound bitchy.  And I’m not ironically posting my own distant criticism, either—I wouldn’t have any problem saying any of that to their faces. (I go onstage and say all kinds of things to people’s faces, so believe me when I say I could handle it.)  My problem is with the crossing of the line between poking gentle fun and unwarranted total animosity.

And if they end up finding this (which I’m sure they will), reading it, and laughing at it, then fine—it just means I finally made them laugh at something I said, which means I win.

Ha.  Ha.  Ha.

Until next time,

–Riley

Waiting Tables Is Hard

(NOTE: I know, it’s been two weeks since I posted a new entry.  Sorry.  Here’s one that I hope makes up for it.)

Today I was at the local Barnes & Noble to pick up a couple of books. (For the record, I bought David Cross’ new book, I Drink For A Reason, and I also finally purchased the legendary On The Road by Jack Kerouac.) As I was looking at other books, I came across a book entitled Waiter Rant, by a gentleman named Steve Dublanica.  Dublanica’s book is based off a popular blog by the same name, which details his many experiences, both good and bad (though mostly bad), of working as a waiter in various fine dining establishments in New York.  He writes about shitty tippers, horrible customers, and perhaps a scant psychopath or two.

I never read the original blog.  In fact, I hadn’t heard of Dublanica until fairly recently.  But I flipped through his book while at the bookstore, and although I didn’t buy it, I certainly see it as a worthwhile future purchase.  Partially in fact because I can relate to some of his experiences.

Like so many before me and so many after, my first two jobs were in the restaurant industry.  The first of the two was not as intense as it could have been, because I technically didn’t wait tables there.  I was too young to wait tables at that time, so the restaurant relegated me to other duties such as food runner (running food out to tables), prep (preparing soups/salads), and working the host stand (seating customers).  The second of the two was full-fledged waiting tables.

Both were hell manifest in physical form.  So reading sections of that book was especially gratifying for me, because I know what he’s been through.

Waiting tables is one of the hardest jobs in the entire American workforce.  I don’t give a fuck how difficult quantum physics is—waiting tables is a hard goddamn job.  There are all kinds of reasons why: long hours, unstable income, the harsh emotional abuse at the hands of ridiculous customers who think a little cup of mayonnaise is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE ENTIRE WORLD.  Oh sure, go ahead—get mad at me for bringing a burger with tomato on it.  It’s not my fault you didn’t tell me you had a fucking food allergy, dipshit.

I think everyone should have to spend a year waiting tables so that they get a full understanding of the psychological toll that job can take on a person.  It’s bad enough that the money is shit.  You know how much a waiter at a restaurant in Tennessee makes per hour?

$2.13

Two dollars and thirteen goddamn cents an hour.  You know how much minimum wage is in Tennessee?

$7.25

Waiters make five bucks less per hour than minimum wage.  Now, obviously, some of you might wonder, “How can waiters only make that much if the state minimum wage is so much higher?  How is that allowed?” Well, I don’t know the technical mumbo-jumbo behind it, but the basic layman’s explanation is: the rest of the hourly wage is expected to be compensated for by the waiter’s tips from customers.  Think about that.  If you eat out at a restaurant with a waitstaff, your tips go DIRECTLY into the waiter’s pockets.  When you stiff on the tip, you’re basically saying, “fuck you” directly to the waiter’s face.  So not only is waiting tables one of the hardest jobs in the American workforce, it’s easily one of the most exploitative jobs too.

That’s not to say that it can’t be enriching, though.  There are a handful of genuinely compassionate people out there who know the game.  I remember one specific occasion in which one guy came into the restaurant where I waited tables.  He was by himself, and reading a book.  He didn’t order much, and knowing that he didn’t want to be disturbed, I hung back for the most part and made my moves when necessary.  His ticket came out to be less than $10, but he left five dollars on the table when he left.  It wasn’t much in the grand scheme of things, but in the aspect of ratios, the guy tipped me over 50%.  Another night, we were understaffed, and fucking SWAMPED.  It was the weekend dinner shift—the holy grail for waiter moneymaking, and also the deathly hallows of pure misanthropy.  I must have had somewhere between five and seven tables going on at once, in various sections of the restaurant: I had already lost a table to a walkout earlier that evening, and I was about four seconds away from a nervous breakdown at all times.  I had a table with a single mother and four young kids.  She seemed to have about as much trouble keeping them under control as I was with my numerous tables on the floor.  At one point as I was at their table, she and I locked eyes in a brief moment in which we saw the exasperation we were both trying so desperately to hide under the surface (if for nothing else than just our own well-being).  As they rose from their table to leave, the kids ran outside and the woman approached me.

“I just wanted to say thank you tonight, and this is for you.”

With that, she handed me a very generous tip—roughly half of her total ticket, if not more—and smiled at me.  I smiled my first genuine smile of the night back at her, and she turned and left.  That moment pushed me to roughly TWO seconds away from a nervous breakdown at any moment, but it was a good push so I didn’t mind it.

Working in the restaurant industry, although painful and touching, can also at times be entertaining.  Of course, that’s pretty obvious.  One night, a couple walked into the bar area.  The woman was quite the busty lass, shall we say?  Ah, fuck it: she had big boobs.  There.

A few minutes later, two other women went into the bar area.  I was working the host stand, and behind the host stand was a window that allowed you to see into the bar area.  Towards the end of the night, I was standing alone at the host stand, when the latter two women walked out.  Before leaving, however, they turned to me.  One of them spoke:

“Can I ask you something?”
“Sure.”
“Look behind you.  You see that chick in there?”

I looked through the window at the busty woman who’d walked in before.

“Yeah.”
“You think her boobs are fake?”

 Wow.  Did not expect that question.  Caught my ass off-guard completely.  I said the only thing that I could think to say:

“Uhhhhh…I dunno.”
“Well, I think they’re fake.  Anyway, have a great night!”
“Alright, you too.”

And with that, they were gone.  Another night at the restaurant down, and another weird customer interaction to add to the mental index.

Oh, and by the way: the busty bitch?  Fake. (Porn: 1 / Society: 0)

Until next time,

–Riley