“I don’t know why you say goodbye, I say hello” – The Beatles

I got to work a bit early this morning, so took the opportunity to make myself some coffee and toast.

Whilst I was waiting by the toaster another employee came over to put some Tupperware’d nastiness in the microwave.  We smiled and performed the customary “Good Morning”, the optional “How’s your day going?” and (as I found out very quickly) the unnecessary “I’m utterly fucked”.

I must say, her face indicated that maybe, just maybe, I may have gone a tad too far; but she asked….so….

Anyway, she went back to zapping her box of whatever and I went back to waiting for my toast to ‘Shadunk‘ out of the toaster, when another employee walked by and shouted out to my new ‘friend’.

“Yoo Hoo gurl!” (not a typo; she said ‘gurl’, not ‘girl’)

“Oh, toodle-oo!”

Face palm.  That’s ‘goodbye’, you twat.

Ding!

Shadunk!

Oh, thank fuck.

toaster hit

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The breakfast contradiction

Today is my wife’s birthday so – in the face of all the visits to the gym over the last month – we decided to treat ourselves to breakfast at IHOP.

For those who don’t know IHOP, it’s an acronym for ‘International House Of Pancakes’.

It’s not international.

Anyway, on my way to the toilet I passed a woman sat having breakfast with her family.

She was huge. I mean BIG!

This isn’t unusual in this fine country, but I have to say that her ‘Planet Fitness’ T-shirt was a bit of a stretch (or a lot of a stretch if you know what I mean).

Fitness indeed.

“Fitness whole stack of pancakes in my mouth” more like.

United Steaks of Hamerica

I’ve been in the U S of A almost 5 days, and already I have SO many notes compiled on things that I’d love to blog about.

That said, I don’t want to blow my load on one post, so I’ve decided to drip feed them in an attempt to look like I’ve thought long and hard about each and every post.

I probably haven’t, just so you know.

Today’s entry is food related.

Last night my wife and I went to a restaurant called Brio in Tivoli Village. Great restaurant with the usual oversize portions and suspiciously joyful staff.

When the waitress (I don’t like the word ‘server’ [1]) took my order, she said “super salad?”

“What?”
“Super salad?”
“Is it?”
“Is it what?”
“Super?”
“Is what ‘super’?”

“The salad?”

There was a pause….

My wife tapped me on the arm and said “Soup or salad”

Yeah, that made more sense.

It seems that choice with your meal is a big thing in the United States.  If you want eggs, you can have them sunny side up [2], over easy, scrambled, boiled, poached or the waiter can bring the chicken out and you can suck the egg directly from its arse.

If you want chips (fries) you can have them regular, curly or seasoned.  Alternatively you can have them boiled, baked or mashed; not to mention the option of hash browns, wedges or having them peeled and inserted rectally to save yourself the calories.

And if you’re having breakfast you can have pancakes, waffles, French toast, English muffins and all sorts of artery clogging carbohydrates….with or without cinnamon frosting or powdered sugar.

Oh, and by the way America,  French Toast isn’t French; nor are English muffins English.  Both are American.

Crepes are French, but oddly you don’t call those French pancakes.

Also, smothering anything with Marinara sauce does not make it Italian.

But I digress.

Going back to the subject of choice when dining, you also get free refills on a lot of things.  Having visited America a lot in the past I am fully aware that you get free refills on coffee and soda (yes, I use the word ‘soda’ now)…but imagine my disappointment when I once declined another bowl of delicious soup at Olive garden only to find out afterwards that it was, in fact, a free refill.

On soup!

This morning I saw an advert on TV (amongst the many, many, many, MANY adverts) for a restaurant called Applebee’s in which they offer free refills on fries.

FRIES!

But, to be fair, you only got these free refills on fries when you order one of their massive, supersized, over the top burgers that includes meat from every species known to man, topped with 8 cheeses and sugar, or something.

It’s like the Heart Attack Grill found on Fremont Street who give free meals to anyone weighing over 350 pounds.  This is a place where they have a burger called the Quadruple Bypass which totals 10,000 calories.

My wife told me that a guy once had a heart attack in the Heart Attack Grill on Fremont Street and, considering the ‘servers’ are dressed like doctors and nurses, all the other diners though it was some kind of show.

Well, it’s Vegas after all.

But going back to Olive Garden for a second, they offer a “Buy one, Take one” deal on entrees [3].  You order your main meal and they give you another one free.

Seems normal, right?

Well, this second dish isn’t for your dining partner; it’s for you to take home to presumably eat naked and alone in the dark, sobbing with shame.

Lunacy.

But it’s not all bad, they have twist off bottle caps on their beers.  That’s something they’re getting right.

Oh, and they have Spinach and Artichoke dip.

That’s a thing here.

It needs to be a thing everywhere.

Now.

fat uncle sam

[1] Although people in I.T. swear by them 😉
[2] Also known as ‘half cooked, slightly raw and snotty’

[3] Main course

When puddings turn bad

I was in the break room at work making coffee when one of the senior managers burst through the door.  He was quite flustered and started talking loudly to one of the customer service team who thought they were going to be having a quiet coffee break.

They were wrong.

He was talking (or half shouting) about an on-going complaint we’d received from a customer who had become seriously ill whilst on holiday.

“Apparently it’s semolina poisoning!” he half shouted.

I stopped making drinks, turned and smiled, “Did you just say semolina poisoning?”

He turned to me with a face of genuine, serious concern.

“Yes”

“Really? Semolina poisoning?”

“Yes!”

Ok then.  I won’t argue.  Your education probably cost more than mine.

salmonella

Waiter minute!

I’m a fast eater.

eat-fast

I always have been.

I’m not sure where it stemmed from, but I’ve never remembered a time when I ate slowly. My brother is the same.  Maybe it was due to having Italian relatives (on my Father’s side) who loved to feed us whenever we visited, or maybe it was from our time spent in prison.

I’m joking of course. There’s no way my relatives are responsible.

I suppose I began noticing my accelerated eating pace when I became an adult and started dining with other adults. Whenever I go out to a restaurant with anyone I’m usually the first to empty my plate.

This isn’t an issue for me as I’m happy to sit there having a conversation as they painstakingly take an age to eat their meal that probably went cold an hour ago.

Really, it’s fine. I can always lick my plate if I get bored.

Or can I?

You see, my big issue with finishing first is the fact that the waiter/waitress inevitably comes to the table and does the unspeakable; they take away my plate.

Why?

Are they so bereft of crockery in their restaurant that they need to relieve me of mine as soon as possible?

They’re like sharks, circling the table and watching.

fight club waiter

What makes it worse is when they quietly ask “are you finished?” whilst reaching for my plate before I can answer “yes”.  And let’s be honest, the only answer I can possibly give is ‘yes’ because my plate is empty.  I can’t say no because, well, my plate is empty.

“Actually, I’m not finished yet.  There’s still a pattern on this plate” is not a well received answer.

And once I’ve been parted from my plate I’m left sitting there watching the others eat. I realise I was doing this beforehand, but somehow I now feel less involved.  I’ve now become an outside observer like a scientist with a room full of chimps.

I really hate this behaviour in restaurants (from the waiter/waitress, not my chimpy friends). I’m sure the waiting staff think they’re doing the right thing, but I find it intrusive, unwelcoming and a bit rude; and they don’t even have the decency to leave a copy of Watchtower magazine to keep me occupied.

To me it’s the same as saying:

“Wow, someone was hungry weren’t they Mr Piggy McOink? Look everyone! This guy has finished before anyone else at his table!  How Fatty-Boombatty is this jelly-belly?”

This is all made worse when it’s only two of us having a meal. Now they’re not only mocking me non-verbally with their smile, they’re piling the pressure on my fellow diner (usually my wife):

“One down, one to go. Come on slowcoach, you’re wasting everyone’s time.  Pay up and get lost; I need this table for another couple.”

A while back I went for a meal with a friend who is the slowest eater in the world. And when I say slow, I mean s-l-o-w.  Usually, by the time she approaches the end of her meal, the restaurant has become a bank and cobwebs have formed on her plate.

As frustrating as it could’ve been, I didn’t mind. We were so busy catching up on old times that it didn’t matter she took an additional 20 minutes to finish her food.

Seriously, 20 minutes.  Time it.  That’s a long time on a single plate of food.

eating-tortoise

The worst part was when the waited unashamedly cleared my plate and cutlery after I was finished (5 minutes, tops).  My friend, who was now feeling the pressure, apologised to me.

It can’t be a good thing when the person you’re eating with feels the need to say sorry for being ‘too slow’.

I didn’t care. I was there for the company and the conversation…and dessert, but there was no way I was seeing that for at least 2 hours.

My point is, don’t take plates away until everyone has finished.

In America they get it right. And here’s why

  • They don’t usually take away your plate until everyone has finished.
  • If they DO take your plate away, they replace it with something else (free refills on soup in Olive Garden anyone?).
  • Usually the meal is so massive it’s almost impossible to finish it anyway.
  • Sometimes the meal comes with more than one plate of food (breakfast at Denny’s for example has one plate for your massive breakfast platter and one plate for your massive stack of buttermilk pancakes).

Sometimes a waiter/waitress will also attempt to take your plate after a period of inactivity, despite how much food is still on your plate. It’s like some kind of evil computer screensaver with a plan for world domination through malnutrition.

If you stop eating for a period of time (I estimate this to be about 2 minutes), it is assumed you’ve finished and they will attempt to wrestle your food away from you.

I will stab you.  Be warned.

This behaviour wouldn’t translate anywhere else would it?

For example, whilst writing this post I’ve stopped a few times to re-read paragraphs, check my splellnig and make coffee.  This means I’ve left the keyboard for small periods of time.  By their reckoning I’m finished with this post and they’ll simply attempt to take it away from me, even if I’m in the middle of a

Some gross ‘under the table’ action.

In a restaurant there’s nothing worse than the realisation you’re touching someone’s discarded chewing gum under the table.

Then again, is it gum?  It could be part of the table.

You push your finger into it and it’s not part of the table.

Too soft.

Too warm.

Yuck.

grossed out animated gif

Don’t send a man to do a man’s job

This morning in the break room at work I saw one of the girls struggling to open a pack of muffins.

I laughed.

It wasn’t a malicious laugh to say ‘ha ha, you’re pathetic!’, but more of a little chuckle to say ‘aaw, can’t you open da wittle packety wackety?’

Nothing patronising, you understand.

“Struggling by any chance?” I said, smiling ear to ear as I made coffee.

She let out a sigh of frustration and, with bottom lip fully extended and puppy dog eyes set to maximum, thrust the packet at me (the man) to open it.

I put down my coffee spoon.

“Give it here”, I said in my most manly way and gripped the packaging with both hands, preparing to pull it open as effortlessly as a bag of crisps.

Smiling smugly, I pulled.

But wait. Oh no! It wasn’t opening!

I pulled harder. Nothing.

Oh shit.

I looked up and saw a grin forming at the corners of her mouth.

I pulled with all my strength, but the muffins still remained locked away inside their impenetrable fortress of transparency and deceit.

“OK, this isn’t good!” I said; half playful, half fearful for my masculinity.

No matter how hard I gripped the packaging and pulled at it, this thin plastic treachery to my manhood wasn’t going to open. I thought about tearing a small nick with my teeth to help rip it apart, but it wasn’t my packet of muffins and she may not have appreciated my slobber all over her breakfast.

It was unavoidable, this bastard was going to need scissors.

Admitting defeat, I shamefully handed the packet back to my chuckling colleague and went back to making coffee.

As I left the room I gingerly picked my penis and balls up off the floor and put them in my pocket to be reattached later.

Open the bag