Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Break Over

Baby, you're beautiful, and there's nothing wrong with you

If there's one thing I know to be true about myself, it's that if I don't start to write when the bug bites me, it won't happen. So here I am, having intended to be asleep hours ago, yet luckily for you, Interested Party, I'm going with the flow and letting the words come as they may, rather than shoving them aside and hoping I remember them later. A warning, however, for those who enjoy my often witty, watered-down so as to be generally applicable entries: I'm tired of hiding the sadder, more negative thoughts in my OtherBlog,so what follows is neither cheerful, nor especially full of wit or charm. Mostly just moping.

I think, all things considered, I've been handling the breakup rather well. I still haven't cried in public, though there have been some close calls. I've managed to change addresses, start a "new" job, see friends, catch up on my reading, and get up out of bed every day and fall asleep every night. All in all, I think I've achieved an equilibrium of "okay".

The last words I heard come out of Alex's mouth however many weeks ago were "You're going to be okay. You have to be okay. I'll be so angry with you if you're not okay." I've spent a lot of time wondering what his definition of "okay" is. Am I happy? No, not really. Not with our parting, not with my new job, not even with my new life, really. Am I a complete wreck? Of course not. I don't think I have the emotional fortitude to lock myself away and be miserable 100% of the time. I have things to do. Do I cry? Every day, still. Sometimes just a small welling up of the eyes, sometimes the sort of heartbroken sobbing that surprises myself. Am I moving on? Well, therein lies my problem, I think.

I've not been moving on. Why? Because I don't want to. I didn't--and still don't--understand why I'm suddenly single, and therefore have been refusing to make both the physical and emotional moves to get on with my life. I keep assuming that because I think breaking up with stupid as hell, that he'll come to his senses any minute now and realize it too. But then in a burst of the rare combination of narcissism and masochism I began reading my old entries here, beginning with the one I wrote the day after we kissed for the first time.

In April of '06, about a month and a half after we began dating, I wrote an entry about what I termed "the astronaut dilemma". In January of '09 I recanted my thoughts. Now, when I wrote the April '06 entry, I was going through some emotional turmoil and was, for once, letting my heart take precedence over my head. January of '09 was a cooler, more rational period of time for me, so of course I looked back upon my heart's blatherings with disdain and even a hint of embarrassment. However now, again in the throes of emotional turmoil I'm remembering the reasons behind the initial entry. Even though it's breaking my heart all over again to admit this to myself, I can acknowledge this fact: I was Alex's astronaut.

Between this revelation and an unanswered desperate, unadvisable e-mail I think I finally have the resources to let it go. I've spent the last few weeks trying to "get over it", when I really need to be "moving on". I have no idea how one goes about doing that, but I think I can actually start grieving for a relationship lost, rather than clinging to the tattered remains like there was something to salvage.

I hear Time is the healer of all things, but I still think, for now, I'm not quite "okay". I'm working on it, though. I promise.

Move Along,

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Tipping Point

Part of the charm of restaurant chains is that, in theory, no matter where you go you will always have the same experience. The same poster of Saturday Night Fever will be on the wall near the bathroom, the same items will be available on the menu and cooked in the same way every time, and the servers will all have the same personalities and be sporting the same witty slogan buttons. When you enter the hallowed halls of a TGIChilibee's, you know exactly what to expect. It's comforting.

I went into my first few days at the new Friday's with trepidation; I'm not good with change and was afraid that I wouldn't make friends. What I wasn't afraid of was the absolute culture shock I would undergo with the location change. I assumed that it wouldn't be terribly different since Bolingbrook has a large population of formerly urban or urban wannabe residents, in addition to a decent population of traveling business folk whose companies are too cheap to lodge them in Chicago proper.

Now normally weekend nights are a boon for the restaurant industry. It's date night for a lot of people, families have time to take the kids out, teenagers are free to roam with later curfews and in general it's a profitable night for both the restaurant and its tipped staff. Sure, you work your butt off but the customary 15-20% gratuity off a huge increase in sales makes for a rewarding end of the night. Friday nights in Bolingbrook, at least in the bar, were usually very busy and filled with people out to have a good time. They ate, they drank, they were merry, and they were generous.

It seems that in large cities that while the increase in business holds true to form, Friday and Saturday nights are colloquially called "amateur nights" in the industry. This because ever so frustratingly clear to me as table after table either left me nothing, or very little in the way of tips. My "guests" had absolutely no excuse. Not only were 95% of them obviously American, but the trays we put the check on have tipping guidlines printed on them in 7 different languages, the first one being English which every single one of my tables spoke. There is no excuse for anyone to tip as badly as they did this past Saturday night, unless that excuse is "being an asshole".

In addition to the demoralizing reality of making less than 8% of my sales that night, I was also surprised to learn that we employ security on weekend nights to, literally, catch people who dine and dash. I didn't understand what was going on until this burly guy called out "Did they pay?" and all the servers heads popped up like meercats and one of them sullenly went "" The next thing I know, burly dude physically snatched a swiftly walking teenager around the waist and bodily turned him back around toward his table with the admonition of "Pay your bill. NOW."

I was assured by both servers and management that Saturday nights are an anomoly and not to be discouraged, that people on weekdays and during lunch shifts are much nicer (and better tippers). I just find it crazy that an entire restaurant full of people can behave so poorly all at the same time. I suppose it just reinforces my theory that people operate under a hivemind.

Tip your waitresses,