I got to the subway station about 2:45 tonight. About two minutes later a couple of cute young guys walk up and sit down behind me on the bench that faces the other direction. A minute or so later I look over and they are holding hands and one of the guys has his head on the other one’s shoulder. They were a very cute couple. And so I sit there and wait and wait. And wait and wait. And wait and wait. The train took almost thirty minutes from the time I got there till it rolled into the station. So I picked up my book bag and moved toward the side of the platform the train was on. As I moved there, I realized that boy the boys were asleep. My guess is that they had had a little too much to drink. And so before I got on the train, I went over and shook them awake and told them to come on, the train was here. The less drunk (and cuter) guy thanked me profusely and they boarded the train. At the next stop they changed to the express train. If they had stayed on I was going to tell them to go ahead and sleep and I would wake them when they were at their stop.
I had a post that I wrote last night all ready to go so that I could get to bed faster, but I’m so annoyed now I don’t think I would be able to sleep anyway.
And why am I annoyed you might ask?
The subway fucking sucks!!!
As many of you know I deal with the public on an almost nightly basis. I do so without pissing them off, without yelling at them, without raising my voice, or even annoying them. I understand the want to do these things some time, but I’m paid to deal with the public. It’s my job and so I try to be as nice and as accommodating as possible. It seems not everyone subscribes to this idea.
I live on the “A” line in New York. It’s the blue line and I take it at least twice a day nearly every day. For the most part it’s fast and efficient and sometimes it’s even on time. I have better luck with that than my roommate does because I’m usually not traveling during rush hour. The thing that sucks about the “A” train is that for the past million years the transit people have been doing maintenance on the tracks. This translates to interrupted service at night and on the weekends. During the week it usually means that I have to transfer to a shuttle train that will take me home. 9 out of 10 times this is fine. The shuttle train is waiting for us, and it adds about three or four minutes to the commute. Unfortunately the 1 time means waiting for the shuttle another 20 minutes before I go home. If you had the 20 minutes I waited for the train in the first place, the 20 minutes I waited for the train in the second place and the 40 minutes it takes to get home. It makes for a very long trip and very cranky maddog.
On the weekends it’s even more fun. From 168th Street to 207th Street, there are shuttle buses that run that take you to the subway stops. So when I want to go to work, I walk to the bus stop and a bus comes along and picks me up and takes me to the 168 subway stop. It’s the reverse coming home. And in theory this should only add about 7 or 8 minutes to the trip. Going to work today that was not the case. The shuttle bus came as soon as I was there and took me to 168. And then I went down to the platform and waited almost 30 minutes for the train to arrive. I got to work almost 45 minutes later than I normally do. I go in early so I’m not in danger of being late, but it meant swallowing my food whole before my shift.
Needless to say I’m already cranky about the subway.
So tonight I get on the train after waiting almost 15 minutes. This because the train was almost 10 minutes late. Yes, there is a schedule that they are supposed to keep. I get on the train and go to 168. I get off the train and head upstairs to the bus stop. As I come around the corner I’m directed by a very friendly man who says “Anyone going to Fort Washington Way stand here, anyone going to 207 via Broadway stand back there.” So I do as I’m told and go to my assigned place. And in about 30 seconds a bus pulls up to my area. I should mention that it’s 26 degrees outside right now. So the bus pulls up and we all start piling on. As I make my way on I hear the driver mention that it’s the Fort Washington Way bus, NOT the Broadway bus. So I get off. At the same exact time another bus pulls up. And the very friendly guy directs us to that bus to get to 207. So the doors open and we all pile on only to be told that this bus is ALSO going to Fort Washington Way. So I get off the bus and am somewhat confused. It completely baffles me that there would be two buses going to one place and no buses going to the other.
So I go back to the first bus.
I step up and ask “Are both buses going to Fort Washington Way?”
Reply: “I’m going to Fort Washington Way.”
“Yes, but are both buses going to Fort Washington Way?”
“That’s what I said, I’m going to Fort Washington Way.”
“I know you are going to Fort Washington Way, are both buses going to Fort Washington Way.”
“I’ve already told you (louder still) I’m going to Fort Washington Way.”
“And I’ve already asked you, are BOTH buses going to Fort Washington Way.”
Yelling even louder.
“What don’t you understand, I’m going to Fort Washington Way.”
Trying not to be an ass, I say, “Stop yelling at me, I’m just trying to find out what’s going on.”
“And I’ve already told you I’M GOING TO FORT WASHINGTON WAY.”
“You still haven’t answered the question and you don’t have to be an ass about it.”
Yelling even louder.
“You are an asshole. Get off my bus.”
So I kind of lost my temper and finally yelled back, which I regretted but you can only take so much being prodded at 3:30 in the morning after working (with the public) for ten hours. My feet hurt, it’s cold as fuck and I just want to go home.
So I get off the bus and go to the very friendly man, whose now becoming agitated and I ask him which bus is going to take me home. He replies that he’s trying to find this out.
At this moment both buses pull away from the curb at the same time. Both going to Fort Washington Way. One bus has about 20 people on it. The other bus has 2 people on it.
So I move back up against the building along with everyone else and try to stay warm. After about 6 or 7 minutes another bus pulls up. And we all crowd around.
Anyone out there want to guess where this fucking bus is going.
Yep! It’s going to Fort Washington Way. After another three or four minutes it pulls away. With guess how many passengers. Exactly NONE.
At this time everyone is starting to get annoyed.
I have to wait almost 20 minutes from the time I got off the train to the time the “real” bus pulls up. And so now we are all on the bus. And we sit there. And sit. And sit. And by this time another train has arrived because there are more people coming out of the subway. And we wait. And we wait.
And FINALLY we leave the station. I didn’t get home till 4:15. I got to the subway station at 2:45. After working a million hours, and not yelling at anyone.
And now I’m annoyed. And I wished I had told the bus driver that if he was so angry and hated his job so much that he should really start combing the want-ads for a new one. I also wish that I’d thought to get his ID number so that I could included it in the email that I’ve already sent to the MTA about it’s lousy service and rude employees.
Have a great Sunday. Dammit.
Things I learned today and last night…
First. It’s not a good idea to try and pick a new book to read at 4:30 a.m. Nothing sounds interesting. Everything looks too serious. And they all look like they will take too much effort. And then when you finally pick a book and brush your teeth and settle in to bed to read for a few minutes before you go to sleep…..the book you chose SUCKS. Next time I’ll choose the book in the afternoon so I’ll just have to go with my choice.
Humanity doesn’t suck. I had a great night at work tonight. I had fun. All but a couple of my tables were fun as well. Nobody yelled at me. No one was rude to me. I didn’t get pissed about the tables that didn’t tip. I was there, I had a good time and actually enjoyed being there. I’m glad to. After the shifts I’ve had over the past couple of weeks I was beginning to think there was something wrong with me. I guess not. I also wanted to share this with you since I seem to complain about work on here a lot.
When you don’t go to bed until 5:00 a.m.–sunny days suck. When I woke up this morning the sun was shining beautifully. At 9:15…a.m. I think on the mornings after I work it shouldn’t be allowed to be sunny until at least noon. I’m just saying.
It’s equally wonderful when you walk down the stairs into the subway station just as the train arrives. So that you don’t wait even thirty seconds to get on board. It makes very tired people very happy.
It’s nice when half the wait staff is gay because everyone is on the lookout for cute boys. About a million times tonight someone would come over and say, “Have you seen the cute boys on table 104? Have you seen the German boys at the bar. I have the most beautiful Australian boys at table 701.” It makes the night ever so much fun and it’s nice to take a 10 second breather from running around to see cute boys.
Lesbians are fun. I had two lesbians who sat at one of my tables right at the beginning of the evening. A couple of things happened that could have upset someone else but they laughed it off. First, we didn’t have honey for their hot tea. And then the milk they put in their tea was bad. We made jokes about it and no one seemed to mind. About 30 minutes into the visit, our cute little gay manager stopped by to do a table visit. As he left they said to me, “Damn he’s cute.” And I agreed. They then ask me if I had a boyfriend. I replied no and then told them that almost no one I wait on assumes that I’m gay. I also told them that I also don’t want people to know, not because I’m embarrassed but because I want to be what ever they want me to be. If little old ladies want me to coo over them and flirt with them, I can do that. If 20 something girls want me to joke around with them and tell them are great I can do that. And if butch straight men want to talk sports…I change the subject and hope they didn’t notice. So the conversation with the two lesbians continued and they asked me if there was anyone I had a little crush on at work. And there is. His name is Anthony and he’s absolutely beautiful. He’s about 24 or 25 and has a great body, is somewhat intelligent and is nice on top of it all. I told them I would have him stop by and say hi. They immediately said no…and I laughed and told them I was kidding. After they paid, they said they were going to hang out for a while because they had tickets to a show. It was only 6:15 and so I asked if they would mind moving to my bar area so I could seat another table where they were sitting. They said they didn’t mind. After they were settled at the bar they asked for drink refills. So I went to the kitchen and made their drinks and just as I was heading out of the kitchen I passed Anthony. I suddenly acted like I was in the weeds (the weeds are when a waiter is super busy and everyone wants something at the same time) and asked Anthony if he would take their drinks to them. He did. And about three minutes later I walked by them and we all burst out laughing. They screamed, “We know what you did.” To which I replied, “I told you I would have him stop by.” And then they said they approved of my crush. And that he was HOT. H. O. T. Hot.
And that my friends is what I learned tonight.
And isn’t nice when you spell check your blog post and it tells you nothing is mispelled. What a nice way to end the evening….Of course I’m also glad it doesn’t check for grammatical errors…I’m just saying.
It never surprises me when I see interesting things on the subway. It’s an amazing mix of people and cultures. It’s great to sit on your bench and listen to someone speak Spanish on one side of you and French on the other. Across from you someone is speaking Japanese and next to them someone is speaking some language you can’t even recognize.
The subway is also filled with an array of homeless people. If you ride long enough you start to recognize the ones who are homeless and in need and the ones who are conning you. When I used to ride the “F” train there was a woman who would ask people for money. She was homeless since a fire killed her family. It was a very moving story until you realized she would appear every couple of days and each time the story was a little different. It also didn’t help that they had been killed two weeks ago even four months later. I’m sure she was down on her luck, but who knows what the real story was.
I’ve also seen my fair share of insane people on the subway. These are the ones who talk to themselves They are the ones who sit and rock back and forth. I’ve seen men who get on and scream for three or four stops at everyone on the train. Usually words of anger strung together with curse words. I’ve seen men and women who stand in the middle of the train and preach the word of god. And the reason I think they are insane is because it’s always words of hate. Never the love and understanding.
And you never know when someone is going to expose themselves to you or grope you. The very first evening I lived in New York, I took the “F” train into Manhattan. I was about two stops into the trip when a very attractive man sat down across from me. With out even looking to see who was around he unzipped his pants and began to masturbate. I’d love to tell you I didn’t watch but he was too attractive not to. I’ve also seen a man walk to the end of the train, whip out his dick and piss on the door. And then there was the man who sat down next to me and proceeded to reach over and touch my cock through my pants. Once again he was too cute for me to mind. We ended up getting off at his stop and going back to his apartment.
And then last week there was the guy who got off the train wearing head to toe latex. All in black. This might have been sexy if he’d weighed more the 89 pounds and hadn’t been so tall. I don’t remember the last time I’ve seen someone so skinny. And then there’s the reason for this post. Tonight a guy got on the train wearing Victorian clothing. Including a top hat and an ascot. Even his eye glasses were period. Along with his walking stick. He was about 27 or 28 years old and would have been kind of cute if he hadn’t been so serious. He was playing the role to the hilt. And I couldn’t help but watch him. And couldn’t help but listen when he explained to some curious kids that he just enjoyed dressing up like this. Of course the whole image was blown when he reached into his period bag and pulled out his Ipod and proceeded to listen to music for the rest of the trip.
As I’ve said you never know what your going to see on the subway.
Today was quite the repeat of yesterday. The “A” train sucked. It took almost 90 minutes to get home again tonight. And I got stiffed on three tables. And as with last night, I was not stiffed in the good way.
As far as the train is concerned, I’ve decided that I’m going to call the MTA and complain. I understand that there has to be track work, but they have many options at their disposal to inform us about the work. They send out emails, they post bulletins, and make announcements. In this case nothing was done. I just want to know so that I can make the best decisions when it comes to traveling in the city.
As for work and getting stiffed. Two of the tables tonight didn’t surprise me at all. They spoke very little English and that was to be expected. The last table though pissed me off. They were at their table for almost two hours and 30 minutes. They got great service and I didn’t rush them at all when I discovered they were planting themselves there for the evening. When they gave me the bill with the money, they specifically asked for the change back. It was almost a 200 dollar check. Trust me when I say it hurts when someone who has spent that much money doesn’t leave a penny. Especially when you consider that I still have to tip out 8 dollars to the bussers, bartenders, and food runners. So it actually cost me money to wait on them. Somehow this doesn’t seem fair. Luckily it was the end of the night, so I was able to let it slide and not ruin my night. When something like that happens early, often it affects how you deal with people the rest of the night. Of course the conversations in the wait stations are hysterical when this happens as we say little prayers that their passports, credit cards and wallets are stolen and they have to beg on the street corner to get enough money to get home.
And on a last note. I realize that people go out to eat late. I also know that the my restaurant closes at 12:15 on Sunday nights and I fully expect people to arrive that late and be seated. But be considerate. Realize that when you have been finished eating for 45 minutes and are just sitting there, you are keeping an entire crew of people in the restaurant. Look around you. If no one else is there, chances are the bussers, dishwashers, managers, waiters, bartenders, cashiers, are all waiting on you to pay your check and leave so that they can finish their work and go home. There’s nothing worse than being kept at work an extra hour because you want to sit and chat. I work in Times Square for Pete’s sake. The area is filled with 24 hour restaurants, diners, bars, and coffee shops. Pay your tab and move to one of them. And please, please if you ARE going to keep me at work an extra hour, be kind and tip extra.
And that my friend is my complaining for the evening.
It’s 3:50 a.m. I just got home. I should have been home 45 minutes ago, but it seems subway service isn’t as normal as it’s supposed to be tonight. Trust me when I say there is nothing like waiting 20 minutes for your train, having it finally arrive, then taking you half-way home, where you are told that you have to get off the train and wait for a shuttle train to take you the rest of the way. Of course what they don’t tell you is that the shuttle train will take an additional 20 minutes to arrive. So what should have been a 45 minute trip takes 90 minutes. Like I said, nothing beats it.
Of course there’s no real reason to get angry, because it really doesn’t do any good. It would just ruin my night. I don’t mind so much that it happened, I just wish I’d known about it in advance. On Friday afternoons I get an email from the MTA letting me know about changes in service on the two subways that serve my neighborhood. According to this weekend’s email, there were no changes in service on either line, which meant that I could guesstimate how long it would take to get home. But that was not the case. Had I known it was going to take 90 minutes, I could have taken the other train, or ever better a 25 dollar cab ride that would get me home in 20 minutes. Of course it doesn’t matter now, I’m home and that’s all that matters. I just hope this isn’t happening tomorrow night because I close the restaurant on Sunday night and I open it at 9:00 on Monday morning. I’ll need to get home fast to get as much sleep as I can.
That being said, I had a great night at work tonight. I had been dreading being there because I hadn’t worked in a week. It’s always hard to come back after a vacation and my last shift sucked ass and I was afraid tonight would too. But for the most part it was fine. I did get stiffed on three checks. And I don’t mean stiffed in a good way. To be stiffed means that you don’t get any tip at all. The first two tables that stiffed me annoyed me, but I had kind of expected it so I said what the fuck and went on. The last table though, really surprised me. The check was 69.90 and they gave me 70.00 and told me to keep the change. It’s the first time since I’ve worked there that I wanted to say something. The service was great, they were taken care of, and seemed quite happy. I would just like to know why they didn’t tip. Was it something I said? Was it something I did? Were they just ignorant tourists who didn’t know any better? What was the reason. Unfortunately, in the restaurant business, one of the fastest ways to get fired is to ever mention the amount of the tip to a customer. It’s never to be brought up at all. As a rule I stay as far away from the subject as possible, even with the tables that I’m having fun with and who really like me. Leave what you want, when you leave. But that last table I just wanted to know. But alas, it’s not to be. I just know that if the three tables that stiffed me had left 20 percent tips I would have made an extra 60 bucks tonight. If I had made that I probably would have taken a cab home anyway and I would have never known the subways were fucked.
I promise this blog won’t become just about my waiting tables job. But for the moment, it’s what’s happening.
And I’m fucking tired again tonight. I ran my ass of tonight, just so my trainer could make a shit load of money. Some how it’s a fucked up system but what can you do. The night started out a little less frustrating. I got to the restaurant about an hour early so that I could start to fill out this booklet that must be completed before I’m official. For a company that prides it’s self on it’s environmentalism, it sure as hell produces a lot of paperwork. So I used my little cheat-sheet and filled out about 1/2 of it while waiting for my shift to start.
And then it started.
And for as good as the waiter last night was. Tonight’s was awful. For the first two hours she drove me fucking bonkers. When a waiter is super busy it’s called being in “the weeds.” Don’t ask me why. I’ve never been told. Well for the first two hours my trainer was acting as though we were in over our heads and completely in the weeds. For the life of me I couldn’t get her to calm down. Eventually, I took her computer card (everything has to be entered under her number since she’s the one who is getting the money) and took over all the tables. I told her to stand back and just let me do my thing and help if I needed it. I didn’t need it. I ran the whole station for the whole night. Not only that, at the end of the night she walked with 20% of her net sales, after tipping out the bartender, busser, food runner, and me. That’s right and with the amount of selling I did tonight she’s well on her way to paying rent. I didn’t learn a lot tonight, but I realized I’m back in the groove of this and that I CAN do it. As they say it’s just like riding a bike.
As for my training. Seems the manager was even more impressed tonight. So I get to cut another day off the total and will finish after tomorrow night’s shift…if I pass the test. Of course this makes me nervous because I haven’t taken a test since 1989. I’ll of course report in and let you know how it all goes tomorrow.
And I’ll end on things that piss me off.
I don’t understand people who find it a surprise they have to pay.
Tonight I waited on a table of 6 college age students. After the meal, I dropped off their check so they could pay. And I waited, and I waited for them to put out their money or credit card. What I eventually found out was that one of them had to go and get money from the ATM. This took about 30 minutes. (Don’t ask me why, there are about 50 ATM’s within spitting distance of my restaurant.) The question is, who goes out to eat and doesn’t bring money? Or a credit card? Or an ATM card? You knew you were going to eat. You knew you’d have to pay. Get the fucking money before you eat.
And along the same thought. Why do you have to wait till the cashier has finished ringing up your purchase and put it in a bag BEFORE you start searching through your over-sized purse to find your money? And for the record the purse is big enough to fit all of New Hampshire in it. Did it not occur to you, while you were waiting behind the 12 other people in line that you might have to pay for what you wanted? Did it not occur to you that you couldn’t have it for free. You want something from a store. You pick it out, go to the counter AND PAY for it. This is not a surprise. Your fucking around in the purse caused me to miss the 2:00 A.M. train home tonight, and forced me to wait 30 minutes for the next train. Causing me to not get home till almost 3:15. In the fucking morning. Would they have really convicted me if I had slapped you right there in the line? I’m just curious. That’s all.
I’d like to start tonight by thanking everyone for the wonderful comments and advice. It’s very easy for me to get down on myself and it’s been a while since anyone at all has been my champion. So it’s nice to hear all the positive feedback from all you guys. You have no idea how much it means to me.
I’ve had a great day, but I’m very much not used to the very typical New York day where you leave for work at 8 a.m. and get home at 11 p.m. As a New Yorker you get used to this very quickly. It’s rare that you get to go home after work, to change clothes or freshen up before going out. Very few people I know, live in the areas of town they socialize in so you learn to carry what you need for the day. Every New Yorker carries a bag of some sort with them. Some of them are purely functional. Some of them are pure fashion statements. Some are both. In this bag you learn to carry your life. It holds your gym clothes, a change of clothes, your Ipod, whatever book you are reading, a toothbrush and toothpaste. Mouthwash. A journal. Maps of they city. A camera. Pen and paper. Sometimes your computer. And just about anything else you might need when you leave home in the morning.
The reason I don’t traipse home is because it’s a minimum 30 minute ride on the subway to my stop. That doesn’t count waiting for the train, or walking to and from the station. So it can easily take an hour to get home. Plus an hour to get back downtown. So it’s almost impossible to run home for a change of clothes, to shower, or to freshen up. By the time you get there and back the evening will be well underway. It might also explain why many people who are going out to bars for the evening don’t even start till midnight here.
The point to all of this is that I left home this morning at 8:45 to go the theatre. I didn’t get home till 11:30. I was exhausted by the time I got here. And I did all of this without my “bag” because I left my book bag in Maine and it’s the only bag I have. What I realized is that if I’m going to go back to being a New Yorker I’m going to have to re-acclimate myself to it. Get used to sleeping with the noise, and the light, and being out all day.
All of that being said. I had a great day. I got to the theatre around 9:45 and found everything going according to schedule. Just as I predicted it was a stress free day. Which I loved. We spent about 4 hours teching the show. Teching is the process where we figure out the technical elements and for lighting specifically, we program the computer to turn the lights on when we want them on, at the right intensity and at the correct speed. Things went so smoothly that we were able to run the show twice before our time was up. Then we took a little break and then came back to the theatre to run the whole evening’s entertainment. It went okay, although the first piece (It’s two one-acts) was about as boring as you can get. I was miserable for the 45 minutes they were running their show.
After the run, we all left to get dinner and then to take a little break before we had to be back for the actual show. When I got back to the theatre, it turned out to be a big grad school reunion. There were about 20 people there that I had gone to grad school with, and it was great to see them all. I discovered through conversation that about 10 of us live within about 7 or 8 blocks from each other. Although, they all live on top of the hill, in the nice section. I live at the bottom of the hill in the sketchy section.
Overall the show went well. It was not bad for something that was thrown together as quickly as it was. The playwright and the director are using this production to find out what works and doesn’t work about the play so that in the next year or so they can turn it into a full two act show. It definitely needs some work, but the foundation is there, and it’s an interesting story. Hopefully, in 6 or 7 years when it plays on Broadway I’ll get to design it and win the Tony award and then won’t have to wait tables again.
And that brings me to the end of my post. I have my lunch tomorrow. I have to say that I’m a little nervous, but am going to make the best of it. As I have said before I just need something to make some quick money that will pay the bills for the moment. I’m hoping it all works out tomorrow and I can start soon. It would be nice to be able to pay September’s rent out of earned money and not my savings…but that’s another story.
Thanks again for the all the support. Tomorrow I will go in with my head held high and will be pleasant and charming and laugh at my friends jokes and make the best of it. What’s the worst that can happen. And as we all know, I have no intention of being fat forever. And I have even less intention of being a waiter forever.