Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Dining Out Is A Wretched Nightmare

Dining Out Is A Wretched Nightmare
by Rob Cottignies

            Dining out is a grand tradition in many parts of the world, though the first modern restaurant was likely in France. Food unites people and people often unite to eat. In America, there are several restaurants in even the smallest of towns. For example, there is a Lebanese restaurant near my house which has been inexplicably open for a crazy amount of time. There are also Asian places, Italian ris-tor-an-tees, and diners galore. Restaurants are where friends like to go and I often join them, even though…
            …I internally despise every excruciating second of it.
            Here's why:
            First, I have to go to a place. This place may be big, small, specialty, chain, popular, empty, or anything else. Upon entering this place, there is (usually) somebody a few feet from the door, smiling awkwardly. 'Good evening. How many?' HOW MANY WHAT??? I'm immediately furious. This bogus excuse for a question is short for, 'How many people are in your dining party?'
            After answering the host's poor version of an inquiry, I have to be shown to a table because I'm incapable of finding it myself. 'Would you prefer a table or a booth?' IF IT HAS LEGS AND I CAN BALANCE FOOD ON IT, TAKE ME TO IT!!! But obviously I prefer a table every time. Booths are hideous. Oh, I have to get up to pee. Let me be rude as hell and make the people next to me stand up, then slide out while they uncomfortably wait for me, then be ruder as hell upon returning by making them stand up again, then slide back to my original spot. Booths should come with their own toilets, as should sports stadium seating.
            So I'm at the table and am given a menu. The host says, 'Tonight's specials are…' I DON'T CARE!!! IF THESE DISHES ARE SO SPECIAL, THEY'D BE AVAILABLE ALL THE TIME!!! But no, I must sit through a list of meals that I won't order because I'll instantly forget what was said. 'Before you go back to standing by the door, what beers are on tap?' 'I'm not sure. Your server will be with you shortly and can answer that for you.' THEN WHAT'S THE POINT OF YOU??? I FORGOT ALL THE STUPID SPECIALS AND NOW YOU DON'T KNOW SOMETHING I ACTUALLY AM INTERESTED IN??? I HATE YOU!!!
            The servant comes over and he's my new friend. 'Hey guys, my name is Zeke and I'll be taking care of you for the next two hours.' TAKING CARE OF WHAT??? I'M NOT WEARING A DIAPER!!! Maybe I am wearing a diaper but that's my business; certainly not Zeke's. Also, YOUR NAME DOESN'T REMOTELY MATTER TO ME!!! Besides, the servant's name will go directly where today's specials went- right out of my brain. 'Can I start you off with something to drink like a beer or wine? Or maybe you'd like an appetizer like mozzarella sticks or chicken wings?' I KNOW WHAT DRINKS AND APPETIZERS ARE!!! I DON'T NEED EXAMPLES!!! I haven't even looked at the menu yet. Leave me alone.
            But don't leave me alone because obviously I want a drink. 'What beers are on tap?' I ask, again. For some reason, about half the time, the beer I choose has been kicked. Zeke will usually throw me a beer list and stare at me while I decide. Or, I'll have to stare at Zeke while he stutteringly vomits the other beers on tap from his horrid chasm of a mouth.
            Now I've ordered a beer (and whomever I am with probably has too but this is about me) and the servant is gone. I look at the menu and can never decide easily. Too many choices, even at restaurants with limited options. Everything that some guy in the back throws together is probably pretty good. After all, he's a professional. (I'm aware that plenty of places have lady chefs but I'm just making this easier for me. Go fork yourself.) I look at two choices and the servant returns. 'Here are your drinks and some bread.' OBVIOUSLY!!! 'Are you ready to order?' ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! HOW CAN I BE EXPECTED TO DO ANYTHING UNDER THIS KIND OF PRESSURE??? GO AWAY SO I CAN READ MORE!!! However, to avoid this happening again, I'll choose something quickly just to get this wretched menu away from me. I always let the people I'm with order first because I'm a gentleman. At my turn, I randomly pick from the two options I read and chalk it up to a victory.
            Some conversation and sips later and the servant is back. 'How is everything?' EVERYTHING??? HOW IS WHAT??? ALL WE HAVE IS BREAD!!! BBBRRREEEAAADDD!!! 'Your meals will be out shortly.' This is a stupid thing to say. First of all, I know that. Sure, I've waited a long time at some restaurants but generally things move pretty rapidly. Secondly, the meal will come out shortly and the servant will have lived up to its word, which is not impressive but expected. OR it will take a while and I will get enraged. Should that happen, the servant will apologize, which I will accept even though it means nothing. IF YOU REALIZE YOU'VE INCONVENIENCED ME AND ARE TRULY SORRY, MAKE UP FOR IT BY NOT CHARGING ME $2.99 FOR A FREAKIN' SIDE SALAD!!!
            The meals arrive, followed by 'Can I get you anything else?' WHY MUST I ANSWER ALL THESE QUESTIONS??? I'M SUPPOSED TO BE RELAXING WHILE OTHER PEOPLE DO THE WORK!!! If you see something missing from the table, replace it.
            The servant leaves and after two bites…
            'How is everything?'

            The manager. I hate the manager. In these restaurants, I barely have time to gauge anything before everyone wants to know my opinion. WHAT??? I'm with a friend and there's food and beer in front of me- EVERYTHING IS FINE. How bad could it be? If something about the situation is so horrible that I need to say something, I will. Ugh.
            The interruptions don't stop while eating. The servant and/or horrible manager will continue to gawk and pester until every morsel has been consumed. Then what happens? The busboy comes over, looks at my empty plate, and asks, 'Are you finished?'
            So the meal has been consumed, I'm ready to leave, and Zeke is nowhere to be found. On top of me for the entire meal, now missing. I obviously consider just leaving but decide not to. After many minutes, the servant is back, asking 'Would you like anything else?' WHAT ELSE COULD I POSSIBLY WANT??? Bring me the bill.
            He disappears again. Minutes and more minutes later, the bill is in my hand but the servant is gone, again. Minutes and minutes and minutes go by before he comes to pick it up. I like paying in cash to avoid wasting even more minutes but this time is credit card.
            Where is the servant? THIS IS HORRIBLE!!!
            Finally the bill is back, the meal is still over, and I can leave. 'Have a good night', says Zeke. TOO LATE FOR THAT!!! I have to sign the merchant copy and then I can break out of this prison. Wait, what's this dotted line above the signature line…

            Tipping at the end of a meal is its own adorable little nightmare. At most places in Europe and other areas of the world, tipping is truly optional if you think you've received excellent service. In some Asian cultures, tipping is considered rude. 'Oh, look at me, I have so much money so I'll throw some on the table for this little peasant.' That's how they take it and that's exactly what it is.
            Tipping anybody is just awful.
            Here's my argument:
            I order an expensive appetizer, a steak, and two glasses of wine. Say the total is $50. Next time, I order a cheap appetizer, a meatless dinner salad, a beer, and a water. $25. The servant does the exact same amount of work so why should the tip be higher for the steak meal? Makes no sense.
            Regardless, I now have to tip Zeke. How was everything? Good enough. I ate, I drank, and now I'm on my way. 20% is easy to figure out but the service wasn't exceptional. Yet 10% seems weak (because, as stated, I am a gentleman). Even with a calculator, figuring out an in-between percentage is just bananas. What I dislike about many servants is how, upon receiving a small tip, they think I'm a cheap jerk instead of thinking, 'Oh, maybe I am annoying and my service was terrible.' Some restaurants actually print on the bill tipping amounts per percentage. Oh, I don't think so. This is the establishment blatantly saying, 'We don't pay our servants enough so now it's up to you to make up for it.' Disgusting.

            I'm exhausted. Thanks for nothing, Zeke.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

My Least-favorite White People

My Least-favorite White People
by Rob Cottignies

            White people have plagued this planet ever since they were invented by a vengeful and merciless deity. They have started countless wars, destroyed other species for profit, and even invented glam metal.
            As with all groups of people, some are worse than others. And some of those qualify as being the worst. Without further ado, to-do, or any such tomfoolery, I present a list…

*White people who always have to say something*
            Why do some white people always have to SAY something? These people are the worst.
            Take this example, please:
            I was on the security line at an airport. It doesn't matter where but I'll tell you it was in Iceland because that's awesome. I realized my water bottle was full and had to empty it because of flying's regulations about everything. I stepped ten feet (three meters) out of line to dump it into the trash bin and when I returned, some short-haired white woman said, "Better dump your water before Security, huh?"
            My response- '…Right…'
            Like, what??? Did she just comment that I had to do something after she just saw me do it? Semantics aside, I knew she was someone who always has something to say. She probably talks about the weather. A lot. While standing outside. What's with the urge to point out obvious things? It probably comes from a lack of anything interesting to say but I won't research it because then I'd have to talk to these monsters.
            This is not unlike encounters with people I know in the park. I'll be running toward this person while wearing running clothes when I (for some unknown reason) stop for a chat. This person usually leads off with, 'Going for a run, huh?'
            If you have nothing to say, say exactly that. I'd rather spend precious seconds of my life looking out the window or into a book than at your pathetic white face with pointless words spewing out of it. (And why does every annoying obvious question end with 'huh?', huh?)

*Australian guys*
            Ohhh Crikey! G'day! Koalas! Surfing! Blah blah!
            Vomit. Australian guys are the worst. I'm sure many swooning American ladies are mad right now because they think Australian accents are fancy but pleasing swooning American ladies is not my duty. Wait, what? Hmm…
            Here's a story: On a train to Berlin, my friend Adam and I met some Australian guys. They were going to Oktoberfest, as were we a few days from then. Difference was these guys had no idea how Oktoberfest worked with seat timings, table reservations, etc. So we informed them and they were quite thankful.
            'Wow- respectful, appreciative Australian guys. Shocker!' This was what I thought, until…
            Oktoberfest a few days later. My group was sitting at an outside table talking to random people who had also been drinking liters of beer all day. The beer gods must have willed the Australian guys to find us that day because the size of Oktoberfest and the random timings of things make the odds rather slim. They sat down with us and after five seconds of 'Wow, crazy we found you guys' helped themselves to the ladies we had met. We weren't interested in them for more than conversation but the Australians expressed not caring about this by not even asking. In fact, they even asked us if we thought the girls we had met twenty minutes prior were interested in them. Awful people.
            Tell you what I'm not interested in- hanging out with Australian guys. Apparently it's not "correct" to judge and hate an entire group of people based on one incident but that's exactly what I'm doing.

*Jersey girls*
            I may be partially partial but Jersey girls are the worst. Now, I don't mean girls from New Jersey but specifically 'Jersey girls'. What's the difference? I'm so glad I asked for you…
            There is nothing appealing about a Jersey girl. Before you even see her, you know she's there. How? Hear that indistinguishable-but-clearly-American accent screaming about something that doesn't warrant screaming? That's her. The Jersey girl is who Diane (you'll meet her in a minute) used to be. She is utterly useless and the sight of her makes me instantly think of that Amy Winehouse song.
            The Jersey girl loves New Jersey with no real reason other than it's all she knows. She spends every Summer 'down the shore' and has barely been out of the state. For proof, an ex of mine had a (backwards) tattoo of New Jersey on her arm which she admittedly got for no reason other than she loves New Jersey.
            Not all Jersey girls are as awful as F-bomb or T-boz on one these precious "reality" shows. Sadly, parts of the world and even our own country who have been exposed to that filth think everyone from New Jersey is like whatever those people are.
            Oh yeah, a good amount of Jersey girls are Italian, which at least explains the unnecessary loudness. Point is- If you're strolling along a boardwalk in New Jersey and see a gaggle of neon colors, turn around and run immediately.

*English snobs*
            The kings and queens of passive-aggression, these folks are the worst.
            I think I hate them because they're so good at what they do. They complain, berate, and act a fool while still coming off as charming. It's mystifying.
            Have you ever seen a 40-something English snob complaining in a restaurant? If you've ever been in a restaurant also attended by a 40-something English snob, you've seen one complaining because that's all they do. Nothing is good enough. The beer, the food, the service, the people at the next table- all rubbish. While whining to some poor manager, they make cheeky threats that ultimately go nowhere and mean nothing.
            English snobs don't mean to be rude. Or do they? Their slang isn't that impressive. Or is it? They're certainly not better than the rest of us. Or are they? How do they do it???
            I think I've unexpectedly proven my own point. Bashing this group of people sounded so good in my head because they clearly deserve it. But in writing this out, I just can't think of more examples of how they are horrible. They have infected my brain.
            I must say, however, that I mean specifically English people. From England. There's nothing Great about Britain and the Scottish are awesome. Perhaps the Northern Irish are as well but I have a feeling they don't actually exist.

            This was a silly part of this article. But now…

*Old tourists*
            You've seen them and- surprise- they're the worst. They waddle off their tour buses looking for the nearest restroom. They're always dropping things and getting in everyone's way. They learned a quirky not-actual custom on a cruise ship and repeat it endlessly, such as 'If you drop your bread into the fondue cheese, you have to buy everyone a round of drinks.' During that same cruise, they spent three hours in Bermuda and are now full experts on the country.
            Old tourists are everywhere, yet they experience nothing. They take bad pictures to share with their Bingo friends. They do only what their tour guides (who also hate them) tell them to then just want to eat an expensive, inauthentic meal and get to bed by 8:30.
            And, always with a group of old tourists, there is Diane. You've overheard Diane complain about absolutely everything even though you are not part of the group. Diane is completely uncultured and unhappy about being outside of her home-base bubble. Diane has a "horror" story about every trip she's been on- flight delayed an hour, some mild turbulence, rain. By her tone, you'd think Diane is a torture survivor. By her words, you'd want to smack her in the face with something heavy. Diane will go on and on about a snarky taxi driver but say very little else about the week-long trip. She appreciates nothing and should simply be thrown in an active volcano.
            Diane is married to Ron but she and only she calls him Ronald. Ron is a decent guy but nobody wants to hang out with him because his wife is so horrible. She is unappealing to all five senses- loud, smelly, ugly, wrinkly, and probably a nightmare of rancid flavors. Ron is boring but harmless. If given the chance, Ron will chat up a local who will soon forget him in favor of anything else. Old people should be banned from everywhere.
            To close this nightmare section, old white tourists love talking about home. Work, family, politics. It makes me wonder why they travel in the first place. I think it's because Diane wants all of her awful old friends to be jealous that she's married to the thrill-seeking Ronald.

            High on my future travel list is New Zealand, yet writing this may have shoved it to the very top. There will surely be no Jersey girls in New Zealand. Diane will not take a 20+ hour flight unless she's been properly comatized. From what I understand, the people of Australia and New Zealand don't generally care for each other so the amount of Australian guys should be limited. I imagine New Zealandish(?) restaurant managers to outsmart middle-aged English complainers so that could be entertaining. And for the people who constantly say obvious things, well, they'll be ready to say obvious things.

            See you in the South Pacific.


OMG, spoolygoo, arent u white???!!
-I am half-Spanish, you ignorant racist with terrible grammatical skills.