Thursday, September 16, 2010

No Cup For You!


This is going to be one of those posts that will make perfect sense to some and others will be like whoa, I had no idea.

How many times have you gone to a concert, sporting event or even Mickey D's and asked for an extra cup only to be given a mumbled denial or a flat out no?  I remember many times as a kid watching my mom argue with the person behind the counter for a larger cup for water or a cup to split a soda. As much as she begged and pleaded and shared with the cashier how stupid their rule was, she never got anyone to budge. Well, at least the cashier never budged. Eventually a manager would either be incredibly rude or give her a cup because my mom had become the rude one.

Over the years, I came to understand the situation - the situation of cups, not the Situation of the Jersey Shore. That is a whole different post. Here's the deal...when you go out to one of these places that serve drinks in plastic cups, that cup is what is called a chargeable. That means there is a dollar value assigned to that cup. If you have 50 cups in front of you and each one is used for a $10 drink, you now have 500 bucks in front of you. If I am bartending and lose 10 of those cups and I don't account for them somehow (showing the boss man that they were cracked or otherwise unusable) I am short $100. Ouch.
 
If you think about it, the soda or beer you buy at a game or concert come out of boxes or kegs, so there is no real way to tell how many drinks were poured. There are contraptions that can weigh kegs and give estimates as to how much was used, but nothing is exact. As far as cocktails, you can look at a bottle and estimate how many shots were poured, but it is impossible to know for sure how many shots of Crown you used.

Now to make it all the more complicated, there are usually cups around (mostly for bottled beer) that are not chargeable, because you count the bottle of beer, not the cup. So, if you are not thoroughly confused yet, now think about all the cups. As a bartender at NFL games, I have cups for bottled beer, wine, shots, cocktails, 3 or 4 specialty cups, large sodas, small sodas and a partridge in a pear tree. 

People at games will ask me for an extra cup to put their 2 cocktails in or 2 cups of wine. A totally reasonable request...one that I must deny. One would think that it would be simple. "I'm sorry sir, I can't give out extra cups." But like a game of Jenga, nothing is really ever as simple as it seems. Me denying someone their right to an additional cup pushes some people over the edge, through the valley and down the river. I have had people threaten, yell, scream, beg, plead and my personal favorite - steal the cups. 

Yes, steal the cup. Let that sink in for a second.

Since this isn't my first rodeo, I flank my "expensive" cups with the "freebie" cups. If one of the freebies get stolen, no biggie. If the $10 cup gets yoinked, we now have a problem. Each week, I explain to the same people that I can not give them a cup. I apologize. I rationalize. I agree. If none of those tactics work, I tell people that truth. This year, we were given the smack down. If we are caught giving out cups, we can be fired on the spot. Adios. It amazes me that when I use that as my last card, that I will be fired if I give out cups, people still want them. People babble on about how I won't get caught or my personal favorite - I'll leave you a big tip. 

Here is a little secret, if you tell a server or bartender that you are going to leave a big tip you are automatically categorized as a jerk. Actually, most bartenders will call you something other than a jerk, but jerk will work for here.

Ahem. 

This Sunday, when I set up my bar and rows and rows of plastic cups, I'll search the crowd for the lady that always order 2 chardonnays at a time and plead for an extra cup, trying her best to see if this will be the day that she breaks me...and I give her an extra cup.

I won't.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

My 9/11 story


Everyone has a 9/11 story. Where they were, what they remember, forever singed in their brain. I was at home watching the Today Show. In fact, I was supposed to be on a plane to DC, but changed my flight to 9/12 a few days before. I watched with horror unfold as narrated by Matt Lauer and Katie Coric announcing to the world an "accident" of one plane crashing into the World Trade Center...and then a second plane. The day started out as what was thought to be a terrible accident and ended in an act of war. However, I neglected to tell my parents in Cleveland that my flight was changed. I had a horrible phone call with my mom, her voice alternating between relief and anger ... and fear.

A week or so after 9/11, Americans were still not flying. Not traveling. Even though planes and transportation was starting to move again, people were not. A few weeks later, it was more of the same. People were still staying put, in shock of what had happened and how easily it occurred.

I was online and I was offered an amazing deal...6 days and 5 nights in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand for under $250. Basically for the cost of a cheap flight I had a free room for a week. My friends and I thought we would get the economy going again and spend the Thanksgiving holiday in Vegas, or as my mom refers to it - the holiday I didn't come home.

When my friends and I arrived, the first thing I noticed as how quiet it was. McCarran International Airport was a ghost town. There was no hustle. No bustle. Walking through the casino, there were no cheers from a jackpot or blackjack. The craps tables were silent.

The workers everywhere from the small shops to the dealers all showed their concern. The Vegas strip is usually full of people laughing and joking. Instead it was filled with emptiness. People would excitedly chat with us, and then go back to looking desperately for the crowd that wasn't coming.

As we walked down the strip, something was happening in front of the New York New York Casino. Firefighters and police officers from all over the world were leaving notes and their t-shirts in front of the NY cityscape. There were candles burning, letters to lost friends. I have never witnessed anything like it. My friends and I walked through in silence, trying to read everything...sometimes pointing something out. Men and women were openly crying, I know I had tears streaming down my face the entire time.

Since then, the casino has archived everything that was left behind and created a Hero's Tribute, rotating the items through their display like a museum. In the years since, I have returned to Vegas. I have even been to the Casino, but somehow, I haven't been able to look at the Tribute. Now, the items are in shadowbox cases, a few at a time, capturing a moment. A moment that I was there for...one that I don't need to see again.



Saturday, September 4, 2010

Home is where the doughnut is

Doughnut Land

It is starting to look more like I will be moving back home to Ohio by the end of the year, something I have been trying to do for a couple of years now. Owning a home while the economy is crumbling all around is a huge stumbling block to moving back. It's beyond a stumbling block. It's one of the concrete barricades that the police put in front of Federal buildings now.

I have started to think more about the home I grew up in and my friends and family. The major holidays and family picnics and the small things as well. When I was little my dad and I had a tradition that to this day brings a smile to my face.

Every Sunday, we would gather up the newspaper and sit in the back table in this picture. My dad would read the sports page and I would read the funnies. He would get a black coffee served in a plastic cup and I would get a chocolate milk. My dad would get a cinnamon roll - which was an adult doughnut and I would get an apple filled, unless I were feeling adventurous and I would get colored sprinkles.

Sitting there together, he might share with me some tid bit about the Indians while I pointed out Snoopy's latest adventure.  The rest of the morning would be spent plunking quarters into the video game machine. For awhile it was Defender, then Galaga (one of my personal favorites) and Ms. Pac Man.


We were very serious about our video game playing. I remember my dad even got me a strategy book, which may have been a ploy to save quarters, but I still thought it was highly cool of him. I always looked forward to Sundays for a little dad/daughter bonding time.

Right now, I don't get back to town very often, and rarely am I still there on a Sunday, but sometimes I am ... and we go out for a doughnut. I now fight him for the sports page, and I get a cinnamon roll now. I still get a chocolate milk though. Not entirely ready to grow up.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fan = Fanatic

CSI Season 6 Promo
I recently read an article online about how when share something personal or embarrassing with others, it makes you more likable.  You're creating a connection with others that opens the door for more communication. So, it is in the spirit of good will and wanting more people to read my blog that I'm about to share with you this true tale of a nerdy fangirl.

In addition to my love of trashy reality tv, I enjoy smart progrmas. I love the Discovery and History Channels and documentaries of every sort. One of my all time favorite shows is CSI. The Vegas one of course. I love it as much, if not more than Fringe and the X-Files. It's that good.

One of the factors that draws me to CSI is the writing. At one point in my life, I had dreams of being a writer for tv or movies for just that type of show. With that in mind I can't watch a show unless the writing draws me into the lives of the characters. I'm such a CSI nerd that I even have favorite writers.

David Rambo and Sarah Goldfinger
Now that you have a little background, let's flash forward (which was a good show by the way) to the season ending episode of CSI where Sara was trapped under a Mustang in the desert, left to die by the miniature killer. After the season finale, fans were losing their marbles. The hardcore ones any way. A main character left in such peril was incredibly frustrating but the miniature killer was such a fantastic story line. There was a group of fans that wanted to protest to CBS in fear that Sara would be left for dead or eaten by wolves. This was about the same time as the Jericho fans got their way with their whole nuts campaign.

My thought was to say thank you to the writers for such a great show. Not yell and scream and cry about how I wanted the story line to go. Just a little thank you for my favorite program that I love to watch and by doing so, it was possibly slowing my brain from rotting.
Cookies By Design Cookies
In a moment that can only be described as Lucy inspired, I called the Cookies By Design cookie place in Los Angeles and asked them to send the "Thanks a Buzzz-illion" cookie bouquet to the CSI writers with a little note that said "Thanks for a great season!"

I sent it off and didn't think another thing about it. And then I got a phone call. From Los Angeles. When they tried to deliver the cookies, there was a note on the door of the writer's area, written in Sharpie no less, that said, "No packages accepted" until such and such date. I panicked a bit until the cookie lady told me that they would redeliver the cookies two weeks later, when the office was open.


Whew. 

2 weeks go by and I get another phone call. From Los Angeles. The cookie delivery guy tried to deliver the cookies and was stopped at the gate because the cookies didn't have a pass. Being from the midwest, all I could think of in my confused state was some sort of hall pass attached to the cookies. The store said he would try again later.

A few hours later I get another phone call. From Los Angeles. The CBS security crew once again stopped the cookies. Maybe it was because of the Jericho nuts people again, but those cookies were not getting in there if that guard had a say in it. The cookie lady asked me for a name to attach to the cookies. I told her David Rambo (my favorite writer). She put me on hold and called the cookie delivery guy and gave him that name. No dice said the CBS Security team. It wasn't like some guy wandered in off of the street with a half eaten twinkie. These were beautiful, tasty cookies.

The cookie lady told me that everything would be solved if I would just call my friend David Rambo and he can make a pass for the cookies. That was the point I had to confess. With my voice breaking I said, "Ma'am, I'm just a fan of the show. I live in Indiana and I wanted to do something nice because I love CSI so much." I was sure that the cookie lady had a vision of me being like the 800 pound woman that never left her couch and her body began to fuse with it. Somehow, those were the magic words for her. Cookie lady chuckled and told me to hang on. After a few silent moments, she told me that they were going to slide the cookies with some other packages and try to sneak them in on those passes.

Whew. 

I thanked her for her help and kindness and then it hit me. I would never know if the writers received the cookies. In fact, I imagined a guard shift change and the new guard chuckling to himself while eating the cookies because the cookies had no pass. My heart sank. After all that, some guard was chomping on my cookies and chucking the rest in the trash. That thought gave me a new determination. The writers were going to know about the cookies and hopefully give the guard that was eating them a giant noogie.

Using my mighty google-fu, I found David Rambo's e-mail address and sent him a message telling him how awesome the writers are and a picture of the cookies that I had sent, telling him I hope they all enjoyed them. And then I went to bed. It was a trying day.

The next morning I trudged through my emails bleary eyed and there was one from David Rambo. I just stared at it...do I open it? Of course I do, but will he be happy and excited about the cookies or telling me to cease and desist? When I finally became brave and opened the message, I was ecstatic that David Rambo told me the staff did indeed receive the cookies and loved them. He also asked for my address because the writers wanted to send me something.

I thought maybe I would get some CBS notecard with a little thank you message. Which, by the way, would have been awesome. Everyday for a couple of weeks I would rush home to check my mail. Nothing. Then...one day I came home to find some huge envelope stuffed in my mailbox, hanging out over the top. My first thought was, "Huh, wonder what I ordered off of eBay." Then I saw the return address...CSI Writers.

The writers had signed a copy of the script from the season finale for me as a thank you for the cookies. I was so touched and impressed I didn't know what to do with myself. Over the years people have asked me if I would ever put it on eBay. My response is the same now as it was then. That script will hit eBay the same time as my Josh Cribbs/Phil Dawson signed Browns football and my Grady Sizemore baseball hits, which would be when I am dead.

There are lots of different types of fans. There are the casual observers. There are the over the tops, like my cousin who met her husband at a sci-fi convention when they were both dressed as Klingons. And there are those, like me, happily in the middle of fun and restraining order bound.