Stories, thoughts, observations, rants and dribble. Just another of my attempts to keep the interested people informed ...

Saturday, December 31, 2005

I'm writing an essay on new year!

Happy New Year! No time to write, so here's my homework ...

When we were first requested to provide written reflections on our experiences in China, I wondered what I would write. Now, after only four days in and around the Dongguan area, I am struggling to fit all of my impressions in such a small space.

The opportunity to come to China and see for myself where my family came from is a once-in-a-lifetime chance. That it has been so generously sponsored by the The Foreign Affairs and Overseas Chinese Affairs Bureau of Dongguan and that I can also share this experience with my brother, sister and fellow young New Zealand Chinese makes this trip absolutely priceless to me.

Initially, I had some reservations about visiting China as a virtual non-speaker of both Cantonese and Mandarin. However, as the departure date grew closer, my excitement grew to far outweigh my trepidation.

When we finally arrived in Dongguan, my first impressions were of massive size. The airport, roadways and buildings were all much larger than what we are used to in New Zealand. The vast numbers of people and vehicles, especially bicycles and motorbikes, made me wonder at the ability of locals to perform basic feats like driving and crossing the road. We have also been treated to a string of large banquet-style meals where somehow everything manages to be very different, but all delicious! Many of the dishes have been new to me, and I hope to sample them again before I return to New Zealand.

Despite the language barriers often present, the local Chinese have been phenomenal in welcoming us almost as they would do family. I have both enjoyed and been challenged by using my limited Cantonese to communicate. We had the unique opportunity to display aspects of New Zealand culture in a performance for Dongguan Gao Kup Zhong Shue. The friendliness of the students we met and the enthusiasm and support of the hundreds at the concert is something I will never forget.
We have also been lucky enough to sample a wide spectrum of Chinese culture by visiting several very impressive parks, museums and memorials, as well as attempting practical activities such as lion dancing, t’ai chi, kung fu, pottery, calligraphy and traditional dancing. As well as being educational, everything has been extremely enjoyable and I have been impressed by the dedication and hospitality of each of the teachers and masters who have so kindly trained us, a group of complete novices.

This journey has not only been a chance to search for my ancestral heritage. It is also an opportunity to meet people in today’s China, as well as New Zealand-born Chinese who share a similar upbringing to myself. My traveling companions have quickly turned into treasured new friends. It is almost as if our shared history is an unspoken bond. It is also comforting and encouraging to see young people with bi and tri-lingual skills. It gives me something to aim towards in my personal future.

I am writing with a full belly, calligraphy ink on my hands and muscles aching from kung fu, dancing and running up pagoda steps. I smile at the memory of the nervousness that was dispelled by the applause of a thousand middle school students as I stood on a stage with my new friends. I have learned, seen, eaten, laughed, sung, danced and experienced more than I ever imagined possible in four days, and China still has so much more of herself to show me.

Monday, December 26, 2005

All my bags are packed ...

Well I have repeated my usual ritual of being left with scant time before my departure to the airport. Today it is about two and a half hours, and counting ...

I apologise for the lack of posts over the last little while, but because of my grandmother's passing, trying not to cry at work or at my exit interview, Christmas shopping, organising Christmas dinner, paying social calls and cooking most of Christmas Day, I haven't really had the time or motivation. As well as not keeping the weblog updated, I haven't replied to email or done laundry, so it has been slackness and distraction all around.

I am very excited about going to China today, and since Thursday it has been in an even more philosophical way. I feel like I have lost some of my history, but also that I am about to gain some of it back. I'm so happy to be able to share the experience with my brother and sister, and that my mother still has half her children to support her in her time of need.

I'd better go and sleep for a couple of hours, but please check back every now and again and leave me notes! I hope to be able to relay some fantastic stories from the mainland!

In Memorium

May Chong 1929-2005

My grandmother May Chong passed away on Thursday morning after a hard year health-wise. I was there to see her the day before and was a few hours too late when I went to visit on the day she died.

I am grateful in some ways, that it happened while I was home and I got to see her, and that my brother and I were there to wait with mum until the undertakers took her body away. I'm grateful that she enabled us all to be together on Christmas, instead of four of us being at work.

I wish that she had seen one more Christmas, had the shark fin soup she was so looking forward to, opened the present I gave her when I went to visit. I wish that the funeral wasn't tomorrow so that my brother, sister and I could say a proper goodbye.

May was a woman who grew up in wartime China and then had her life uprooted to move to a foreign land, tongue and culture in New Zealand. After my grandfather had a fatal heart attack at only 39 years old, she continued to work extremely hard to raise her four children alone. She managed to learn some English on top of everything else. Her family were the only Chinese in the small Taranaki town.

I will miss her and remember her as a tiny, strong-willed, hard-working, warm-hearted woman with a great love for her children, grandchildren and shoes!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Polishing my halo

Well, it's official folks.

I received the most votes for the "Best Service" category as well as the most votes overall in the inaugural Employee of the Month election. This consequently makes me Employee of the Month.

I know Jones will say that this is a prime example of being both a winner and a loser at the same time. But I will say back that it was entirely voted for by the floor staff so I am just enjoying the love. I was also mentioned several times in the "Best Team Player" category, which is nice. I hope nobody nominated me for "Most Improved" (I like to think I am close to perfect all the time).

I will bask in my own glory for the next couple of days until everyone gets sick of me metaphorically high-fiving myself (which reminds me, I was at the bank the other day and when she confirmed that I would be getting a 10% discount on my travel insurance, the bank lady high fived me. How weird is that?).

To be completely honest though, if I didn't win "Best Service", I would have been quite upset. I then would have blamed it on the fact that I'd only been back for one day of the month in question (ha, I am 30 times better than everyone else. Joke, but only if anyone from work reads this).

So now I just have to find the time to use the three course lunch for two voucher and double movie pass during my last mad week of being in New Zealand. I'm sure I can find a couple of hot guys to volunteer for these activities at short notice.

I also want them to start one of those cheesy American Megacorporation style "Employee of the Month" photo walls. That would be hilarious.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Creating history

Tonight we did a record number of guests - 366, smashing the last record (which I was there for too) by a huge 12 people (although not necessarily 12 huge people).

I was given the solo section but promised a busser, so I started out quite confidently.  Then I was told she was going to be late.  By 8 o'clock I'd forgotten all about her ever coming at all (we still don't know what happened to her).  It was an insanely busy night for everyone, but thankfully most things went smoothly.  I managed to make the night really special for quite a few tables, and handled all the complaints and problems so well that my first large group told my manager that I'd saved the entire night for them.  I even managed three sittings on two of my tables.  Insanity.

All the guests left surprisingly early and we finished the night out with Veuve Cliquot and food from the phenomenal buffet at the restaurant above ours.

I am completely knackered (especially as I only had 4 hours of sleep this morning after staying up all night) and my feet, legs and biceps ache.

I am going to go to bed before 3am for a change.  Honest.    

Plate Stackers Anonymous – Get Help!

Today’s pet peeve (as reliving the major issues from tonight may possibly make me cry) is the species known as the Plate Stacker.

This particular type of person has (hopefully) not much fine dining experience. They feel a need to pile every plate on the table into one or more teetering stacks which are almost impossible for waiters to collect gracefully, if at all.

I understand that in some instances, they may have had empty plates on the table for an unreasonable amount of time and want to make things more comfortable. In this case, please ask your waiter to clear your table.

In most instances though, your waiter has an eye on the progression of your table. He or she can’t (politely) clear a table until the last person has finished with their plate. Plate Stackers should also restrain their urges and sit politely until the last person has finished.

If you think this is unreasonable, please understand that there is a rhythm and method to clearing a table.

A good waiter or busser will start with a specific plate and arrange a manageable stack for him or herself, strategically selecting the next target plate or bowl. Cutlery and leftovers are usually placed or scraped into the bottom plate. Sometimes they will make more than one circuit around a table to clear it effectively. This can be a finely tuned routine.

Plate Stackers ruin this process.

In ideal conditions, I can clear a table of 10 in one go (this is my personal record, but I am much more comfortable (and graceful) doing tables of less than eight). If I have a Plate Stacker, or multiple Plate Stackers, this can mean I have to make three, four or maybe more trips to and from the kitchen. I would rather do that then attempt to pick up a Plate Stacker Stack with one hand and do someone an injury by dropping it.

Especially in good eating establishments, crockery can be extremely heavy. I have had many a surprised customer comment on this when they have passed me a single, empty plate. It is difficult to lift more than one plate off a table with one hand, even discounting the weight. A stack of plates is a very awkward shape, especially when it has been inexpertly created using a myriad of different sized plates and bowls with cutlery haphazardly inserted everywhere.

I was presented with a masterpiece today. I had already spied it mid-stack, but by the time I reached the table to halt the offending Plate Stacker, she had already placed a cocktail glass on the pinnacle of the tower. How decorative. And inane, might I add.

It is also extremely unhelpful for diners to deign to place items on a waiter’s tray or stack of plates. This can unbalance everything, ending in possible disaster. The same applies to hailing a waiter who is carrying a heavy load of plates and leftovers. They are likely to be using the momentum of the weight to propel them to the kitchen. Stopping to answer your question may mean the difference between whole and broken crockery.

So, in short:

  • Don’t stack plates on the table, whether or not you think this helpful to the wait staff.

  • Do request that your waiter remove your plate/s.

  • Don’t add to the waiter’s stack or tray.

  • Do signal or offer your plate or glass if necessary or appropriate. The waiter will take it from you if they can manage, or will come back if they can’t.

  • Don’t stop a waiter when they are obviously laden down with crockery or a tray of glasses.

  • Do signal them if needed. They will be with you as soon as possible.

  • Let them do their job. A good waiter is there to serve you and should be able to anticipate most of your dining needs.

  • Be patient. A good meal takes time (quote from one of the only decent people I had tonight!).

Apologies if this post was more admonitory than educational.

Jumping Through Hoops

Thursday AM

I wake up late and struggle out of bed because today is the day I need to go to the Chinese Consulate (or Embassy, but I like the alliteration).  

I need to take my passport in and apply for a visitor’s visa to China for later on this year.  It is a crucial part of my plan.

I drive past the place a couple of times because it’s not signposted very well.  I end up parking on the street and walking back to find it.  

The CC is tucked in a corner of the multi-building parking area, with a set of tiny, cramped, awkward carpark spaces for visa applicants.

What were they thinking?  Didn’t they realise Chinese* people would have to attempt to* park their expensive* cars there?  Is this some kind of cruel joke*?

I think I am going to be late for work after this.  I have my application form, my “Surprised Refugee” passport photo and my passport.  All set.

I take a number (not well advertised, but I worked it out, cause Chinese people are smart*) and wait.  They call my number after a couple of minutes.

I say hello to the stern-looking middle-aged Chinese woman behind the glass.  She says nothing.

I give her my form, SRPP and passport.  She uses that weird gummy paste from kindergarten to stick the SRPP to the form.  She looks through my passport (which is blank, as it was the emergency replacement from Sydney).  

She asks if I have ever been to China.  I reply in the negative.  She looks suspicious.

I explain about the stolen/new passport.  Why would I lie?

She still doesn’t seem to believe me.  She checks my passport again.  

Next she asks if I was born in New Zealand.  It says it right there on my passport.  Auckland, New Zealand.  I confirm that I was indeed born here.  Possibly without the actual use of the word ‘indeed’.

Again, she seems suspicious.  She tells me I need to bring my birth certificate, as well as both of my parents’ passports.  Or copies if I so desire.

This sounds a tad ridiculous to me.

“Shouldn’t my passport be enough evidence that I was born in New Zealand?”

Apparently not.  Even though it really is.  She reiterates her requirements and sends me on my way.

Is this because I’m a banana?  [See my definition and explanation here.]  Maybe it’s because, as I fear, the way I write my name in Chinese looks like a 4 year old did it.  

Either way, damn her.

I call my dad and ask him to leave his (and mum’s) passports and my birth certificate out for me for the next day as I was going to be at work late.  [What if my parents were dead/overseas/living as hermits in deep dark Fiordland?]

At least I made it to work on time (just).

Friday AM

I almost forget to take the parents’ passports.  Luckily I don’t.  I decide not to make copies, since that would just involve another stop on the way.  I assume if she requires one, they will have a photocopier in the office.

I return to the CC.  I know where to park this time.  And I park perfectly, just so you know.

I reach into my bag for the application form.  It’s not there.  [I still don’t know where it is].  Luckily I have the last SRPP and filling out another form isn’t much of a bother.

I take a number.  I sit and wait.  I hope it’s not the same stern desk monkey from yesterday.  It is.  Joy.  She’s wearing a weird-looking jumper.

I had her all the paperwork.  Again with the gummy paste.  She looks at all the documentation.  She asks me to make copies.  

This surprises me.  

“Don’t you have a photocopier?”

She points to the back of the waiting room.  A photocopier sits innocuously in the corner.  I sigh.

As I approach, I realise it is a coin-operated machine.  I am not surprised*.  It is 50c per page, which is daylight robbery.  Cheap bastards.  I have to make two copies.  Bye bye dollar.

After waiting in line to see stern desk monkey again, she finally accepts my application.  I have to go back in next Friday to pick up my precious passport.  

Hopefully there will be a visa inside it.

*Yes, I am Chinese.  Yes, I am (sort of) kidding.  I just found the situation almost laughable, given my race’s stereotypical propensity for the general inability to drive, brain capacity and frugality.  Finding it funny is preferable to finding it infuriating.  In theory.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Change of pace

I really enjoyed posting the lists recently. It was mostly due to time constraints but it also got my points across concisely which is quite satisfying. Unfortunately I also really like telling stories, and almost all of the points in the "Things I learned" series has a story attached to it. Hopefully I will be able to jot some down eventually, but the story of my life has been that there's never enough time. I am seriously considering buying a laptop so that when I leave the country again I will have a means to get my stories on file at least, and be able to publish them when I have access to the internet. It's a nice intention.

I have been back at the restaurant for three days, and so far have clocked up 10.25, 10 and 11 hours respectively. They were supposed to be 9, 8 and 8. This is not a promising start!

I will be working flat out (like a lizard drinking) [ha, love Alf Stewartesque Australianisms. I bet I just coined that phrase. History is in the making people!] until Christmas, at which time I will be madly trying to arrange my trip to China (and beyond) and spend time with my family and friends.

I am predicting that my next spate of posts (and I really am going to try) will be more war stories from the customer service front line. I hope you enjoy. It helps lessen the pain!

Monday, November 28, 2005

Things I learned over the wedding weekend

Back in Auckland, NZ
  1. A surprising amount of my high school/university peers are engaged, married, and/or with children.
  2. A not so surprising, but extremely large number of them, are professionals.
  3. The above never fail to make me feel like a nomadic bum.
  4. They are all jealous anyway.
  5. It is nice to have different style weddings when you have two on subsequent days.
  6. It is even better that they are completely separate so the same outfit can be recycled.
  7. I love that outfit.
  8. Three consecutive nights in high heels after 6 weeks in trainers and flip flops plays havoc on calf muscles and feet.
  9. Drunken uncles of the bride want hugs goodbye even if you've only just met them.
  10. A bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and a glass of bubbles in the afternoon is more than enough for me.
  11. It is possible to have a hen's night without completely embarassing the bride-to-be.
  12. Random guys at bars know the words to Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" (aka the Bodyguard song). They chose the song for the serenade, and also finished it when the bride-to-be only sang one verse.
  13. A singles table can be composed almost entirely of lawyers and engineers (the exceptions being myself and a vet student). Guess which faculties the bride and groom were in!
  14. The groom crying will inevitably make everyone else in the room teary.
  15. It is possible for the bouquet to hit (and richochet off) the least likely girl in the room to be getting married (i.e. moi). The rest of those bitches made me pick it up and take it home.
  16. Cynical as I am, romance is not dead.
  17. The verdict is still out about chivalry (ha, bet Chris doesn't read this).
  18. I'm still not going to pay any attention to that damn bouquet.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Things I learned in Sydney

Currently in Sydney, NSW
  1. I can now say that I have been a victim of crime in Australia.
  2. Australia is full of criminals (kidding).
  3. Having my handbag stolen is not the end of the world (I knew that already).
  4. It was the coolest handbag I've ever owned.
  5. Reporting things to the transit police is as good as reporting it to the real police.
  6. Reporting missing travellers' cheques is a pain in the butt (and a 12-15 minute process, according to Ian, who thought that NSW was in the UK. He also asked me whether my TCs were in American or Canadian Dollars after I said I was in Australia. Nice one, Ian.)
  7. It is possible for me to lose another passport.
  8. The passport fees have gone up exponentially.
  9. There is some new, high-tech, "e-passport". They might as well implant a chip in my brain stem.
  10. The lovely photo I had was unacceptable.
  11. The new photo is ugly.
  12. They don't do digital passport photos here (so no choice between ugly photos).
  13. They found the first passport I lost in 2003!
  14. I will still be able to make my flight home on Thursday.
  15. My UK overdraft has come in very handy, as I had to cancel my NZ cards.
  16. I am very lucky that I took my phone out before the bag was snatched (although not lucky enough to have taken my wallet, passport and photo CD ... ).
  17. My usual security paranoia is well grounded. I had actually turned around to move it to a safer place when I realised it was gone.

Things I learned in Tasmania

Currently in Sydney, NSW

  1. Taswegians are as friendly as they're reported to be (just standing within a few feet of them is an indication you want them to start talking to you, apparently).
  2. Scenery there is phenomenal, even in rain, although it's much more preferable in sun.
  3. The pioneers had a sense of humour, evident in place names such as Break-Me-Neck Hill (followed by Bust-Me-Gall Hill), Duck Hole River (followed by Pigeon Hole River), Paradise, Eden and Nowhere Else. Oh, and there's also a bed and breakfast called Woolly Butt.
  4. The major tourist attractions are extortionately priced (e.g. $24 to get into Port Arthur to see the ruins of where they held the worst convicts in the British Empire).
  5. Port Arthur is probably the most overrated place on the island.
  6. Dolphins are really big when they swim within a couple of metres of you (phenomenal experience at Wineglass Bay, proported to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world).
  7. It's hard to take pictures of moving dolphins.
  8. It's possible to meet a real life alpaca outside a cafe on the main street of Sheffield.
  9. Alpaca fur is really soft.
  10. Tasmanian weather is completely unpredictable. We were lucky we didn't get snow.
  11. Hiking for four hours in freezing rain through bogs isn't really much fun. Especially when the weather is obscuring the view.
  12. Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is gorgeous anyway.
  13. Tasmania makes some decent white wine.
  14. The vineyard workers are so nice I brought three bottles back with me.
  15. Vodafone has no coverage outside Hobart and Launceston.
  16. Launceston has the longest chairlift span in the whole world (?).
  17. It is still possible for three mid-late 20s kids to do two mazes at student prices and come out to be greeted with an old man in a waistcoat and pocket watch giving us chocolate frogs. He also calligraphied our names on pieces of paper for us. Thanks Peter at the Richmond Maze.
  18. Richmond is also the home of the oldest bridge in Australia.
  19. Tasmania was renamed from Van Diemen's Land because there was such a horrible history of convict experiences there.
  20. Most of the island is wilderness.
  21. It is possible for me to spend a day out fishing on a boat and catch nothing of legal size.
  22. It is still satisfying to eat the fish that other people caught.
  23. Roadkill is EVERYWHERE. We counted over 120 dead animals in 3 days. I now know what flat wallabies, pademelons (Rufus wallabies), wombats, echidnas and Tasmanian devils look like, as well as multitudes of bunnies and evil possums.
  24. Live wallabies, pademelons, wombats and echidnas are super cute.
  25. Tasmanian devils are cute too, but I never saw a live one.
  26. Wallaby tastes fantastic. It is apparently like kangaroo, but I don't remember eating kangaroo. It's a very tender, light, red meat.
  27. Taste (more specifically, tenderness) can be somewhat proportional to cuteness of the animal.
  28. It is wrong to wonder what a koala tastes like.
  29. I like eating new animals.
  30. I'm glad the vegetarian part of the trip was pre-Tasmania.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Back in Civilisation (not for long)

Well I just arrived back in Melbourne less than an hour ago.  We are going to take advantage of the city and go for gourmet pizza for lunch!
I have had far too much happen to me over the last couple of weeks to really get it all in here, and will try and do some writing in the coming days.
I did have a too close encounter with a MASSIVE spider out in the bush the other day.  We were collecting firewood and apparently he didn't want us burning his house.  I managed to get rid of him with a huge stick, after some screaming and dropping of logs etc.  I will not miss the creepy crawlies!
Flying to Tasmania tonight for a new leg of adventure with different companions.  The girls have been fabulous, there were no bitch fights or anything, which is phenomenal really. 
I will say goodbye to the '92 Telstar (nicknamed Tiger) and look forward to picking up the '94 Laser tomorrow!

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Things I learned in the desert

Currently in Coober Pedy, South Australia.

  1. An 80 year old ex crocodile hunter can still grope you.
  2. He also thinks I cook like a young Irish virgin.
  3. I can hate flies more than I did before.
  4. Ditto for mosquitoes.
  5. Flies can sit on your eyelids and not be shaken off.
  6. Heat rash sucks.
  7. All I need to get me up in the morning is the desert sun through my tent.
  8. I don't hate camping as much as I thought I did.
  9. Things still grow out here.
  10. The Northern Territory doesn't have daylight savings.
  11. The desert is very flat.
  12. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park (Ayer's Rock and the Olgas) is phenomenal, and well worth the extra 1500km of driving.
  13. Wild camels are cool.
  14. Lizards are cool.
  15. Scorpions and snakes are cool, but I haven't seen any yet.
  16. Underground internet cafes are cool, in more than one sense.
  17. I can live without phone reception for more than one day.
  18. I have met more New Zealanders than Aussies living out here.
  19. There are more stars out here than anywhere else I've been in a long time.
  20. Leaving the headlights on to set up camp drains the batteries.
  21. It's possible to push start a Ford Telstar when you have the help of some passing Spanish people.
  22. You can drive around a storm.
  23. Storms can last for hours on end.
  24. I love fork lightning.
  25. Red sand gets everywhere.
  26. How to count to 10 in Irish (and other useful words).
  27. Sunset in the desert is stunning.
  28. A swimming pool makes a big difference.
  29. The Melbourne Cup is a big deal anywhere in Australia.
  30. I can write legible postcards whilst in a car.
  31. Don't walk backwards in a mining area.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Middle of Nowhere

Currently in Coober Pedy, South Australia

I'm in the desert in the middle of Australia.

It is amazing out here. 36 degrees C at the moment, arid red earth, opal mines, weird underground dugout homes and businesses, the most amazing amount of stars in the night sky.

The land is so flat here, I've never seen a bigger sky, even in Canada.

We slept in an underground camping area last night, it was fantastic (asides from the snorer in the cave next to us). The caves stay a constant cool temperature so we didn't have to worry about the heat, or the bugs, which was even more important. The flies are about to drive me mad and my body looks like a minefield from all the bug bites (one I suspect is from a spider, but thankfully it's gone down a little today).

I'm off to explore the town and make sure I check my shoes and under the toilet seat for spiders and scorpions. We also have no mobile signal anywhere around here. Oh the joy!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Happy Camper

Currently in Adelaide, South Australia

Having internet so few and far between has really been convincing me that I need to buy a laptop if I want to actually document any of the adventures we're having along the way.

We departed on Monday from Melbourne and spent the first few days along the Great Ocean Road, braving wind and rain and enjoying the intermittent sunshine.

The first night we spent in a rainforest, miles away from any sort of civilisation, running water and electricity. Of course we forgot a lot of essentials like sleeping mats, pillows, fuel for the burner, fire lighters, a few tent pegs, enough fresh water ... But it was a beautiful place. It was a valley that flooded in the 50s after a landslide, and is supposed to be a haunt of platypuses. We didn't see any, even though we looked really hard. We also neglected to put seam sealer on one of the seams of the new tent, so the inside was a little damp in the morning. On our way out was the first time we noticed the sign that said "Campsite Temporarily Closed". Oops.

I have no time left ... but will endeavour to note down more of the better stories. From here in Adelaide we are heading up through the famous Barossa Valley wine region to sample some vino, up to Coober Pedy, the underground mining town, and then up to Uluru (Ayer's Rock)! We didn't think we'd get anywhere near there so it's very exciting. More to come ...

Monday, October 24, 2005

On the road again ...

I've spent a fantastic week in Melbourne, catching up with multitudes of friends, experiencing fantastic hospitality, exploring the city, procuring new possessions, visiting new bars and meeting extremely random white trash.

Just being picked up by the Telstar that will be my home for the next three weeks ...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Lifeguard of the World (America, Fuck Yeah!)

Currently in Melbourne, VIC, Australia

I was going to write about an incident that I had yesterday at the post office where the guy wasn't going to process a travelers' cheque for me without charging me $7. I argued, of course. But I got my way in the end, thanks to the helpdesk lady agreeing with me.

I sort of forgot all about that after watching Rove Live last night. I met up with some mates from Edinburgh (after walking past the Spiegeltent, yay!) and we went to the pub for $5 steak (which was surprisingly good!). We had a good catch up, and then went back to Ange's for ice cream and Ice Magic, yum. Rove happened to be on and we settled down to watch it, since The Hoff is in town and was one of Rove's guests. How could I miss an opportunity to see the
Hoffmeister live?

[If you are in NZ and you get the chance to watch Rove on Friday, DO IT, and then let me know what you thought.]

His entrance was completely ridiculous. It was all leather pants, leather jacket, double finger guns, strutting and a "Don't Hassle [Hassel?] the Hoff" t-shirt. Seriously. He is so American it's unbelievable. Rove was extremely excited (he's so cute).

They did the mandatory talk about the Hoff craze, the emails etc. Hoff said that he had tried to explain it all to his dad, who didn't understand (it soon became apparent that the Hoff doesn't really get it either). They showed a montage of Hoff pictures, some of which I hadn't seen before and were actually quite good.

They should have just shown Hoff pisstakes for 10 more minutes.

The next bit was about which show he loved the most, and he said that while the running along the beach paid much better, he was still "living Knight Rider". So sad.

They talked about how Baywatch is officially the most watched show in the world (Guinness Book of Records) - i.e. the number of people that have ever watched Baywatch is equal to the population of the world or something equally disturbing.

When asked what the appeal of the show was, Hasselhoff started waxing on about all sorts of random things, and then, unbelievably, said that America was, like, "the lifeguard of the world", man. And THAT is the reason people watched Baywatch, my friends. Because it was a metaphor for the world we live in.

He then proceeded to talk about a trip that he made to Iran, where he saw all these women with those "what are those things called again [putting one hand over his forehead and one under his eyes]?" Who apparently said "Baywatch, Baywatch" [in a horrible "Iranian" accent, with his hands still covering his face].

One of my friends had to get up and leave the room at this point. The train was completely off the rails by then, I was hooked. I couldn't stop watching, I was in awe that he was so aw(e)ful.

I am finding this quite difficult to relive in my mind as well, by the way.

Rove asked him about his music career. They showed a hilarious clip of him singing in a keyboard scarf and black leather jacket with flashing lights all over it. He was really popular in Germany apparently. He was asked to sing after the demolition of the Berlin Wall, and now he actually seems to think that he was instrumental in the reunion of East and West Germany. What a hero. There was also more racial faux pas here where he did a "German" accent,
which I think I have repressed already.

This led on quite seamlessly to his shameless plug of his upcoming "Hofficial" World Tour. Dear God. There was a website (it's on the Rove site, I won't link it here), which he told people to go to to register their interest in him coming to Australia. He really, really thinks that people like him. Enough to go and see him in concert. It's almost sad.

When I thought it couldn't get worse, Rove asked the Hoff what he was thinking while auditioning such "actresses" as Pamela Anderson and Carmen Electra. Hoff said "I was looking for a restroom." And then, unbelievably, repeated "I was looking for a restroom." Then an obligatory "that'll get me in trouble with my wife".

All I have to say is "Eww."

I am traumatised.

He is everything that (Team) America stands for, in leather pants.

Monday, October 17, 2005

America, fuck yeah

I am in Australia though, just in case you're confused.

I arrived in Melbourne yesterday morning after a slight misunderstanding about the daylight savings, which made my flight seem an hour longer (which was bad, especially since I was trying to improve on my hour of sleep while a small child was kicking the back of my seat).

Lovely Jared picked me up and we went back to his flat in Yarraville which is gorgeous. If I was in town when they leave, I would totally take it off their hands. Met some of the locals as well, which was hilarious. The only thing I'm going to have to get used to here is the indoor smoking again.

We spent the day doing easy Sunday things like having lunch, coffee and watching movies. I finally saw Team America, World Police, which I'm so happy to say I loved.

I slept in today and have just spent the afternoon shopping in the city. I have a new mobile, which I can't wait to play with, and a new number (which you can email me for if needs be).

The sun is out, I get to wear a skirt and sunglasses, and all is good in the world.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Off to see the Wizard

Well I’m off again.  Just had an hour of sleep and then a shower and a coffee, which will have to do me til I get into my seat on the plane.  

I went out for a lovely dinner on Friday night (mate dates with hot guys are second only to real dates with hot guys) and then met up with friends from Edinburgh who came into the city and saved me the drive (yay).  Had a brief but very nice catch up with them before they had to depart for sleep/airport (I should be so disciplined).  After that was a visit to a party, which was nice and chilled but ran late too.

Yesterday I woke up around lunchtime and tried to get my packing sorted.  Again.  I actually got some things into my backpack this time though which was productive.  Before I knew it my ride had arrived though and I was off to dinner and Sing Along Sound of Music with a few girlfriends.  It was absolute hilarity for the most part, so many people had dressed up (nuns, goats, brown paper packages, snowflakes on eyelashes, the hills, etc etc) and there were all sorts of actions and interactive bits during the movie.  But damn that movie is long, especially when you add in costume prizegivings and teaching us how to boo Nazis.  Afterwards I went up to the restaurant and had a few glasses of wine and did some general hanging out with people.  A trip out to the suburbs and then home, and it’s bloody 4am.  How does that happen?

Time to go now … hopefully I’ll be able to post semi-regularly from the road in Oz.  Til then, email me and whatnot …

Friday, October 14, 2005

Here's my card ...

I got my Pleasure Cards in the mail yesterday.  They may sound dodgy, but they’re not business (i.e. pleasure) cards.  They are very cool, and just have my email address on them (as my phone numbers etc are always changing depending on where I live).  The website allows people to store a profile online, including more contact details, photos etc.  They even gave me a free set that I wasn’t expecting.  I am so stoked with that.

This is just a short post because I have a huge mountain of laundry to sort through as part of my packing process.  

I am hopefully going to meet up with a few friends from Edinburgh (i.e. I met them there) tonight.  Unfortunately they’re all based just outside of Auckland, but this means I might get to go on a mini trip to catch up with them.  Fun fun fun.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

I can't feel my face

I just got back from the dentist and running a few errands.  She replaced an old filling that was turning a bit dodgy and now half of my face is totally numb.  It’s frustrating mostly because I haven’t eaten all day and don’t really want to until I feel I have control of my masticatory function.

It was also difficult to buy travelers’ cheques at the bank since I couldn’t talk properly.  Not helped by the fact that the girl was new and didn’t really know what she was doing.

I bought my bandanna for CanTeen (after a huge search – you’d think in one of the biggest malls in the country someone would have them).  It is bright blue with butterflies on it.  I decided to be optimistic about the summer and not go with black or red like I always do.  It’s girly but I like it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Charity begins at home

I had a very lazy day today.  

I woke up early (well, considering I went to bed after 4am), as I usually do after I’ve been drinking.  I went out for a long overdue brunch with a friend and was treated with grounds in my coffee and laughable service from a girl who couldn’t speak English and was struggling through her first day.  My breakfast was thankfully really good, even though it lacked hash browns.

The only other thing of note I did today was donate blood.  I strongly suggest people do this regularly if they can.  It’s about the only charitable thing I do, asides from just being me.  

Actually, that is a lie.  I do donate when I can.  And I’d like to mention that this month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month [American site] (the Sky Tower is lit in pink as part of the very cool Global Landmark Illumination Campaign). This week is also Bandanna Week, in support of CanTeen, a charity for teens and young adults with cancer.  Get a ribbon, get a bandanna.  They are great causes.  

I am going to get my bandanna tomorrow.  The last one at the blood centre tonight was grey, which isn’t really my colour.  I will donate, I swear.

Party Party Party

Monday was very busy, but mostly in an unhurried way.

My first appointment was at the hairdresser. She is also a co-worker, so we had plenty to chat about, especially with the staff party later on that night. She totally Asian-ed up my hair, making it poker-straight (which never lasts) with caramel highlights. I’m still surprised at how light it is, but I’m getting used to it. It looks good, and it’s not Asian Orange.

We had lunch together and then I did some shopping, ran some errands, scored free coffee from my sister’s café and met a friend for a hot chocolate (I’d already had three coffees by that point). I bought this bag with the aid of a gift certificate from Ms Sullivan and Smoove, personalised care of Edward Monkton and Ms Bond. It is awesome. I also ordered this bag, which is a great combination of chemistry and comedy. I am a geek and I will have to wait 6-8 weeks to start proving it to the public.

I picked up my last lot of tips (a fat wad of $5 notes, to make me feel richer?) and made it home just in time to get ready (including a minor wardrobe crisis), get back to the city to meet one of the girls and drive to Non Solo Pizza in Parnell for dinner. Dinner was quite a civilised affair, eleven of us who weren’t working that night. We had three courses of great Italian food with wine, and it was just a pity that the service didn’t quite compare (we weren’t being too judgmental, honestly). Unfortunately we ended up being “those people” – the large group who order desserts and cheese after everyone else has left and then all pay individually by credit card. We also somehow managed to be minus nearly $60 after everyone else paid, so one of the girls and I were out of pocket a bit more. And I forgot to get the parking validated. Gutted.

We headed down to the bar for the party shortly after 11pm. I expected far fewer people there since service usually finishes around that time, but the tiny venue was quite busy. We all got our hands full of free drink tokens and ordered some cocktails. I really enjoyed seeing everyone without the pressure of work, and even managed to smooth over a couple of minor conflicts that had occurred in the past (I am still “that bitch”, however). There was much less drama and drunken debauchery than I had anticipated too, which is always a good thing (not that I will be there to hear all the gossip this week). I took advantage of the free drinks and taxi home, although not to quite the same vomit-inducing stage that a couple of the girls did.

I think it was partially due to the fact that there was no dance floor (and the drinks were free) that people got so drunk so quickly and a lot of them left quite early on. I stayed right til the ugly lights came on (as I am wont to do), immersed in a deep and meaningful at the back of the bar. I think I managed to tell everyone that I’m coming back to save them for Christmas, mostly because I couldn’t stand to hear them beg me not to leave. So sweet but so sad. I didn’t cry!

Sunday, October 09, 2005


Today is my first day of freedom from the yoke of employment!

Okay, technically I’m still employed, but have put my full resignation on hold pending a payrise. But nevertheless I’m on holiday for the next seven or eight weeks.

Yesterday I woke up early to get my tyres sorted out. I lay in bed for a while listening to the massive rolling thunderstorm outside. I was hoping and praying that my tyre was still inflated from the night before and I wouldn’t have to do something mechanical in the raging weather.

Thankfully the tyre still looked fine, and the weather cleared up during the time it took for me to shower and get ready (typically Auckland weather). It was blazing sunshine by the time I got to the tyre shop and then raining again when I left. It turns out that there was absolutely nothing wrong with my original tyre, but the spare I was driving on had a nail through it. Go figure.

I texted my friends to let them know that I would be a little late for brunch due to my car trouble. I got a text back saying “Thanks Wendy, but who are you?” Huh? It turns out that that number wasn’t my friend’s at all, and it belonged to a total random called Ben. And Ben wanted to know about me. Seriously. Since texting is free on the weekends, I had a bit of a “chat” with him, and then he asked if he could text me later! I said okay but told him not to be upset if he didn’t get a reply. Weird.

I had a fabulous brunch after I finally arrived. We had pancakes with bacon, banana and real Canadian maple syrup. More pancakes with lemon and sugar. More bacon and scrambled eggs with parsley and tomato. It’s always great to catch up with old friends, and I even found out that one of them is getting married the day after the other wedding I have to be back for. It’s going to be a big weekend!

My last night at the restaurant was a little disappointing to be honest. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t good, it wasn’t crazy and it wasn’t easy. Just a regular busy Saturday night with me finishing last so there was nobody left to convince me to go out. I was too tired to anyway, which sucks. My boss convinced me to have some bubbles with him (he will use any excuse, seriously). I didn’t get a cake. The reference he wrote for me was extremely complimentary though, and didn’t have near as many calories.

Friday, October 07, 2005

The kindness of strangers

I was leaving the staff carpark after work tonight when I realised that the car felt funny.

*Flashback* to Tuesday when my busser was telling me the same thing happened to her. Her story ended with her having to call her dad in in the middle of the night to come and change the flat tyre.

*Flashforward* to me parking the car again and getting out to look.

The right front tyre is completely flat. Unbelievable.

I contemplate calling my dad. He's only 5 minutes away and is likely still up at midnight. My mule-like stubbornness kicks in (with mulesque kicking) though, and I open the boot to get the spare and the tools out.

I've only just managed to put the jack under the car (and this isn't a reflection on my jack-positioning skills, this is just how quickly it happened) and four people walk by and ask if I'm okay. I say yes, but the two women insist that their men help me out. That's what men are for, after all (according to the women anyway).

Big strong man changes my tyre for me. I provide wet wipes and look on gratefully.

Spare tyre goes on, car gets lowered.

And then to make matters even more interesting, the spare tyre was flat as well!

I was gutted. The lovely people offered to take the spare to the petrol station to pump it up for me after we discovered the tow truck across the road had no pump facility.

The women stayed with me and chatted while the men went on the tyre pumping mission.

Big strong man comes back and puts the tyre back on for the second time. It seems okay.

More wet wipes are handed out.

They remind me to drive home slowly (in the torrential rain), and that the work isn't guaranteed.

I don't even know their names.

It puts a little of my faith back in humankind when total strangers will freely donate an hour of their time complete with kindness and physical exertion at the end of a long night.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Orange mocha frappuccinos!

I have just found out that I have a wedding to attend in Auckland on the 26 th of November (this means there will be a cut off date for the Australian jaunt). It will be the first wedding I've ever attended as an adult, so it's very exciting. I seem to have missed all my friends' weddings due to being out of town. Now I just have to worry about finding an outfit. And a present. And maybe a date. Yikes.

Postscript on Smarmy Guy and The Shrew:

I realised I totally missed one of the stand-out repeated comments of the evening.

The Shrew, from the lift, cigarette in hand, harping on about the bill: "Why are you being so negative towards us?"

Smarmy Guy, literally a minute later, after I place the bill and confirm the beer order: "Why are you being so negative towards us?"

Obviously they had just been discussing this at the table. It matters not how I dealt with it. All that matters is that it reminds me of the reconciliation scene in Zoolander.

Derek: "Why you been acting so messed up towards me?"
Hansel: "Why you been acting so messed up towards me?"

Now all I need is for Smarmy Guy and The Shrew to come back up one day and say to me "I'm sorry I was wack!"

I love that movie.

Family Ties

Last night I was in the middle of service (around 8.30, about the busiest point of the evening) when the duty manager came to speak to me.

“Wendy, apparently you have some relatives downstairs at Ming Court [the Chinese restaurant that my sister runs] who you haven’t seen in 20 years. Your sister called to ask if you could go down to see them.”

WTF? She's in "the business"; she knows I can’t leave my section at 8.30.

The DM manages to convince my sister to bring the Long Lost Relatives up the Tower [notice I always capitalise Tower, like it’s God or something. Eep.] instead of me going down.

DM comes up to me again a little while later.

“Want to hear the good news?”

“Err. What?”

“Apparently there’s about 10 of them.”


My brother and sister come up to the restaurant and inform me that the LLRs are on the main observation level. My hands are covered in the remains of someone’s dessert. Gross. I can’t meet people like this after 20 years (although I can imagine when I was 2, or 4, or whatever, I was a bit of a mess as well). So I run and wash my hands. I’m just in a hurry to get this over and done with so I can get back to running my section.

Turns out this lady came over to NZ with my aunt and my grandmother back in the day (late 70s/early 80s). I don’t think she is an actual relative. Also, it was (unsurprisingly) at my mother's insistence that my sister call and drag me down. She is lucky I was having a slow night.

We take the stairs down since the lifts are full. I meet two women and three girls, who I assume are daughters of one of the women. 10 people was a bit of an exaggeration. They don’t speak English. I don’t speak Cantonese. Un. Comfortable. I do thank them for giving me money though (a Chinese tradition which I obviously appreciate). I’m not an ingrate.

So we spend another couple of minutes establishing the fact that my brother and I don’t speak Chinese (this is always so embarassing), and then I escape back up to the restaurant.

When I get there, one of the hosts is all mock-disappointed. “I thought you were going to introduce me to your mother.”

Fat chance.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Social boundaries

I walked past my fourth form (Year/Grade 9) maths teacher today on the way in to work this morning. I didn’t say anything to him since that was over 10 years ago (oh my God), and also “Hey Mr A, how’s life been treating you since you resigned from your job to date one of your 16 year old students?” probably isn’t an appropriate introductory question. But is it okay to say something inappropriate when it’s about something that is in itself extremely inappropriate? Dilemma.

I had no weirdos last night! It was insanely busy, I had a new busser and I actually had to physically handle one of the many children with ADHD running through my section (I have come to really enjoy telling brats off, and it’s almost as much fun to berate the parents), BUT there were no shenanigans and most of the customers were lovely. Yay.

Security Update: The little security man sent an angry email to my manager re: two of us not wearing our IDs. Ooooh, I'm shaking in my boots.

Monday, October 03, 2005

More tales from the Tower

Memo to the security department:

On our dinner break I went down to the staff cafeteria for a bite to eat. I was with two other staff members and two of us (one of them being me) had forgotten to bring our IDs down from the Tower. We had dinner and then as we were leaving the cafeteria, we were accosted by a little security man.

"Did you know you were supposed to wear your ID at ALL times back of house?"

"Yeah, yeah … " We keep walking.

(To our backs): "Put your IDs on RIGHT NOW!"

"Um, we don't have them, we left them upstairs."

"You are supposed to wear them at ALL TIMES back of house!"

"Yes, we know. We just forgot. We're heading back up right now though." (We do know, we did just forget, mostly in our hurry to get out of work and get some food).

"That doesn’t matter! What's your manager's name?"

I tell him.

"What are your E [employee] numbers?"

I tell him mine. The other girl doesn't know hers.

He whips out a little black pleather-covered notebook (police-style, seriously) and makes us repeat all the information again. Interrogation from someone with Little Man Syndrome. Excellent, just what we need when we're late for work already.

He finally lets us go.

The first thing I do is tell my managers to expect a call.

I wonder if this will earn me any demerit points.

My very first complaint:

I was slammed. I was given the biggest, baddest section for the busiest night we've had in ages (we did 352 people, where 310 or so is a normal busy Saturday night). Usually this section has two seniors in it or at the least a very capable busser. I had a competent but not very experienced busser. Things were going as well as they could be.

We got a new group on table 50. A shrewish middle-aged blonde woman, a timid looking younger blonde woman, a smarmy young man in a leather jacket. They look a little white trashy, but who are we to comment? They decide not to have dinner, just desserts.

One ice cream to share, a cocktail, a hot chocolate and a beer.

Now although it is in my nature to pass down judgement from on high, it shouldn’t really come into the workplace. However, we do have a minimum charge ($25/$20 per person for dinner/dessert), which covers the $18 ticket cost of coming up the tower. It’s quite challenging to spend less than the minimum if you actually want food, so it’s normally not an issue.

When a table is spending $10 or $11 each, I start to get a bit concerned. Especially if they’re the sort of people that look like they’re going to skip out on the bill. Even if they’re not, it’s always somewhat awkward discussing the fact that they’re going to have to buy something else, or I’m going to have to charge them for nothing.

Also, my busser has informed me that Smarmy Guy is an ass. So I keep an eye on them.

When their shared dessert is done and their drinks are low, I go by and ask if they would like anything else. Smarmy Guy orders another Stella Artois, the ladies decline anything further.

I pick up his beer from the bar, and on my way back discuss enforcing the minimum charge with the duty manager. Ordinarily, close enough is good enough for me, but I am quite keen to make a point with these people. The manager says I can do whatever I think is best.

When I get back to the table, Smarmy Guy already has a full Stella in front of him.

What follows is a dialogue between SG, myself and The Shrew about the fact that I should give them the Stella for free anyway, as it was an honest mistake (huh?). When I argue that it’s not a mistake until I put it on the table, SG says “Oh, you’re smart, aren’t you?” Yes, actually. At this point, I gently ask whether they know about the minimum spend, as they may want the extra Stella to make up the difference. SG says “But I might want something different later … like a Heineken.” Stop wasting my time, ass. I have 40 other people to look after.

Later, table 50 asks my busser about smoking facilities. The smoking deck is one level above us, and going there involves leaving the restaurant. She is worried about them doing a runner (as am I), so I go and speak with them.

I tell them where the smoking deck is, but also that it is restaurant policy that we hold a form of payment at the desk if they do leave the restaurant (note that we are not charging them, just holding a credit card for insurance). Smarmy Guy says “Why, don’t you trust us?” and I reply with the usual company policy line. At this point The Shrew starts getting particularly jumpy and defensive.

“Just get us the bill then!” I think she thinks she is displaying offence at my comment by suggesting that they just leave as opposed to being subjected to this sort of humiliation. I’d rather they did leave.

“Well ma’am, as I mentioned before, I will have to charge you $20 each if I arrange the bill now.” [Note I am charging them for just desserts, not the dinner they had originally come in for.]

“Well, we spent money downstairs at the bar! I have the receipt!” She yanks a receipt from her handbag and waves it at me.

“I’m sorry ma’am but it must be within this restaurant. I can’t accept that receipt. Would you still like me to arrange the bill with the extra charge on it?”

Meanwhile, she is spouting increasingly frenetic variations of “Just get me the bill!”

“Very well, ma’am.” I am so polite.

I spend the next few minutes trying to get my manager to sign off on the charge, which inadvertently gets me on the bad side of the hostesses, who can turn into the Uber-Bitches of Satan at whim. I am not in a good mood. I walk past the lifts, and notice The Shrew waiting for the doors to close, cigarette already in one hand.

Another exchange follows where she snaps at me when I mention that I have her bill ready. Maybe she should just mainline the nicotine, I think she needs it.

Reluctantly, I let her go. I go to the table and present the bill to Smarmy Guy.

He asks for a Heineken.

I nearly lose it.

He wants a f*cking Heineken.

They’ve just wasted not only my time, but the time of the hosts, managers, my busser and everyone other table in my section.

I explain, as calmly as I can, that I have already charged them $10.50 for nothing, as The Shrew (or as I say, “the lady”) insisted on the bill. He still wants the beer (“Don’t worry, I have cash!” in a don’t-you-think-we-can-pay? voice).

I order him the damn beer.

When The Shrew is finally at the desk with the bill (which doesn’t have the last Heineken on it), I ask the hostess to take the beer off their tab. I am still trying not to completely screw them over. The Shrew asks to see the manager, as she wants to complain about “this particular person here”, without “this particular person being here”. The cigarette obviously didn’t help her. I look at her and say cheerily “I’ll go see if I can find him, ma’am!”

The story changes quite abruptly from my side to hers. Apparently she never asked for the bill, and I also came running at her while she was in the lift, waving the bill and screaming like a banshee. I wish I was allowed to do that.

They end up paying for exactly what they had.

In my mind, the only people who get so worked up in situations like these are people who feel society is constantly wronging them somehow, people who are looking for a cheap deal or handout, or people who are actually going to skip out on the bill. The $4 concession that my manager agreed to was definitely worth getting those “particular people” out of my sight.


I am finally leaving the building after an exhausting night and a well-earned staff drink. One of the runners and I are chatting as we walk past the security desk at the staff entrance/exit.

Suddenly, a voice interrupts our conversation.

“You have to wear your ID at ALL times back of house!”

It’s a different guy, same message. My ID is “displayed as per policy and procedure” this time.

He forces my companion to put her ID on for the 3 metre walk to the exit.

Whoever wrote that memo did a very effective job.

Morals, Ethics and Accountability

I have just started to be a little concerned about confidentiality and privacy with regards to the stories, names and businesses mentioned in this weblog. When I was using Diaryland I wasn't too worried about these issues because it was mostly the people in question who read the diary anyway, and most of them know each other.

I started thinking about whether or not these stories could get back to management regarding what I say about what happens in the restaurant, etc. Considering some of the subjects relate to the type of restaurant it is, and activities that can only be done there, it's not like I can really disguise where I work, like I could have done if I worked in a no-name random bistro (speaking of, here is another waiter’s tale, it must have been a weekend for “using the facilities”!). So I have decided to just carry on in the same vein as I have been so far, and not mention the names/addresses/phone numbers/credit card details of the people I am writing about …

Friday, September 30, 2005

I hope you washed your hands ...

Tonight's shift was one of the smoothest, but definitely the strangest, that I've had in recent memory. I was working with Welsh Boy in our usual section and asides from a minor delay (which I shall describe below), everything went swimmingly. We got tipped, we had tables leave on time (or early), we got our resets done. We even sat a table three times. Yet it didn't seem busy. Strange, like a lot of our customers.

There were small weirdnesses like the kid who ordered two drinks at the one time, and the kid who refused his free ice cream. There were slightly bigger weirdnesses like the Australian family who left Welsh Boy their contact details but no tip and the Chinese man with the driving cap who nearly sent his steak back cause it had bacon on it ("That's the pancetta sir, it's Italian bacon,") and then scraped the bacon onto the table for me to clean up later ($10 tip, very surprised). Then there were the major weirdnesses (the first one is just outright disgusting though, and I don't think I'll be over it for a while):

Gross story of the year:

I arrived 15 minutes into shift. There were only two tables in my section, so far, so good.

I took over from one of the girls, who had taken the order from the first table (family with kid with two juices). She told me that the couple at the table next to them had ordered nothing yet, and she wasn't too keen on approaching them since they hadn't stopped touching each other the entire time. The woman looked to be in her late 30s, the guy about 10 years older.

And he is drinking water with NO ice. Fine.

I eventually interrupt them and take their order.

No drinks, one steak, one venison, no sides. Good-o.

I bus their table and give them bread. They are still touching each other.

About 15 minutes later, I notice that their table is empty. Hmm.

I do a lap around the restaurant. No Touching Couple.

I walk past the hot line and their food is up. AG takes it to the table, and comes back empty-handed.

"Didn't you notice there was nobody at the table?" I ask.

"They'll be back," is his idiot reply.

Thanks for your prediction, Australian Goober the Psychic Foodrunner.

I collect the food and put it under the heatlamps.

I check the ladies' bathroom. No Touching Lady in there.

I am concerned that the door to the disabled bathroom is closed. I wait.

I talk to my manager, who confirms that the guy asked where the bathrooms were, and they left together. I am starting to get highly disturbed.

Their food is getting cold, but I am too disgusted to care. Quite frankly, they can just eat it that way. I consider taking their meals and knocking on the door with a cheery "Delivery!". They can damn well eat off the baby changing table.

Welsh Boy and I casually stand guard outside the exit to the bathrooms. About 15 minutes after their food was ready, they emerge. I avoid eye contact, but notice that the woman looks quite dishevelled, is fixing her hair, and isn't even fully dressed yet. Unbelievably gross.

I give Welsh Boy the signal to away their food while I'm taking an order for another table. Ms F*cking (nee Ms Touching) is sitting in Mr F's lap, canoodling. Her top is on the floor behind the chair. Their chair is directly behind the chair of the two-juice kid, who is about 8. I am angry. I go to the hot line to tell them that they are now both on seat 1. They think I'm joking. Their food arrives. The man has moved his chair so he is sitting next to her, not opposite. Closer proximity for inappropriate behaviour in a (nearly) fine dining establishment.

The time comes for me to check on their meals (we have already made a thousand sex jokes in the short time it took for the rumour to spread around the restaurant). I am quite happy avoiding them, to be honest. I consider asking "How are you enjoying your meat this evening?", but manage a quick "How is everything?" before running away after Mr F told me they were doing "Very well." ("Excuse me, sir, while I douse my entire body in disinfectant to make myself feel less dirty!")

After their meals are cleared away, they order a single coffee, no dessert. They begin an extremely thorough exploration of each others' tonsils, again right next to the little juice kid. The senior runner walked by and suggested I get the manager to tell them to cool it. I sincerely think about it.

The next thing I know, the family with the juice kid have gotten up and left, their leftovers still on the table. I do not blame them one bit. I hope they were oblivious, but I know they likely weren't. I feel bad.

Mr and Ms F get the bill and pay promptly (I wonder why ... but don't need to wonder too much). They leave us a $10 tip.

Cheaper than a hotel room, I guess.

Weirdly related but totally different:

We had a party of 12 booked for 7pm. A man and a woman arrived early and had drinks. More women arrived at 7.15. The man leaves to watch the rugby somewhere. The women wait for more friends and don't order til nearly 7.45, although they know they have to leave by 9 (2 hour dining limit, harsh but necessary). The women are lovely though and seem to be having a really good time. At least some of them are lesbians, not that that matters a dime. It's just semi-relevant to how much they love me! Time ticks on by and their hostess has asked me for quite a few things and seems to be really keen on making sure the other ladies enjoy their night.

Mandatory Departure Time looms, and I manage to convince them they don't need (or have time for) desserts or coffees. The hostess is extremely good about our desperate need for tables. They all have to pay separately, so head to the reception desk.

I stop and say my thanks and goodbyes on my way past, and the hostess, her sister and her mum all tell me how wonderful I am (*blush*). The hostess tells me "If I were a millionaire, I'd tip you!" Gee thanks, lady. I'm all smiles though, and she quite sweetly adds "I'd tip you a million dollars!" See how much I'm worth in If I Were A Millionaire Land?

I'm resetting their vacated table when the hostess and her sister come and find me. They rave on again about how great I was to them and how they wish they could tip me. They tell me they have found a way to tip me, and hand me a $50 voucher.

What for, you ask?

Well, the hostess runs a store specialising in "female satisfaction". Oh God. The blood is rushing to my face. [And I was just reading this the other day. Excellent industry site. Funny stories.] They tell me I can just buy a t-shirt, some underwear, even something of the "vibrating variety". They make me promise to spend it, and that they will keep an eye out for that voucher number. I don't think they know quite how embarrassed I am. Don't get me wrong, they seemed like wonderful women, of the motherly yet Girl Power-y type. I have just never been XXX-tipped before. And I swear the old British couple at the next table heard every word.

We pool our tips. I didn't pool that one.

Plans are fluid ...

On Tuesday I wrote a post about all the thoughts whizzing around in my head. I didn’t want to confirm what was happening, mostly for fear of a) sounding like a flake, b) people at work finding out (although I doubt anyone from work reads this) and c) changing my mind and then looking like even more of a flake. I also still hadn’t gotten anything straight and didn’t want to get anyone’s hopes up.

So, partly in excerpts from an email I sent out (lazy, but I also thought it was reasonably well written), here is the new plan for the next little while …

I'm still going to Oz for a month or so, but then I'm coming back to Auckland to work for December in the revolving restaurant in Minas Morgul (geek reference), so that I can leave on Dec 26 or 27 for …


An association for overseas Chinese (overseas from China that is) is arranging a 7 day trip for 18-25 year old NZ-born Chinese kids so we can visit and learn some of the history and culture (including kung fu, calligraphy and cooking). We'll be going to visit our ancestral villages as well (apparently mine has a couple of cool forts and is being preserved for historical, and tourism, purposes). I'll be going with one of my sisters and we'll hopefully be doing a bit more travel around Asia in the following weeks. The absolute best part is that the only thing we have to pay for is the flight – 7 days of food, transport and 4 star accommodation is all taken care of! Thanks, Chinese government (doesn't quite make up for putting my dad in jail when he was younger, but they're doing what they can). Actually, I think the real best thing is that there will be a translator to compensate for my banana-ism (if you're not familiar with racist slurs – banana is a semi-derogatory term for Asians who are really white inside. Bananas are supposed to be a "perfect food" though. And high in potassium).

After the China/Asia thing, I will have a little bit of time to spare before going to Turkey. There are a few different options right now, but I’m sure one will come to the forefront eventually.

I’m very excited about the new developments, and although I will be missing the Falls Festival in Australia, I know there will be a lot more opportunities to hang out with my friends, and very few like the week in China.

A little piece of advice:

“Don’t polish your shoes white and wear black trousers.”
Random English Bureau Nurse to me, this morning.

I agree with his statement, but probably much more than he realises. White shoes and black trousers?! A big no-no in general, freshly polished or otherwise. And we’re talking geeky white running shoes, not trendy street shoes (I am still getting used to the white variety of these, and (although irrelevant) dislike the word "trendy"). We’re also talking white shoe polish, the kind that looks like you’ve drowned your footwear in Twink = Tippex = WhiteOut = correction fluid of all brands.

There was white powder all around his cuffs. The statement was also completely out of the blue. Which begs the question – does he feel compelled to tell strangers about every small embarrassment, or does he think I need fashion tips from the inadequate?!

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Another justification for my committment phobia

I have a lot going on in my brain at the moment. Sure, it’s never really a vast, imbecilic wasteland (thanks, Alex from The Apprentice, that was probably one of your better contributions to society), but I have had a little upheaval in my short-term planning (which equals long-term planning for me) and need to consider a lot of options that have only just wandered into my mind.

So before I take the plunge and begin to tell everyone afresh what’s going on, I need some time in my headspace to work out a new plan of attack. Thankfully I hadn’t told everyone in the world before a spanner was hurled into the works (a la the Passport Incident).

In the meantime, here’re a couple of miscellaneous thoughts I had recently:

  • In the throes of mild road rage, I wondered what crowded city streets would be like if pedestrians had their own horns. You could honk people that stopped suddenly or walked too slowly or didn’t bloody indicate before they turned in front of you and cut you off (yes, I get pedestrian rage as well). Of course you wouldn’t have a bubble to hide your expletives and abusive hand signals in, but I still think it’s an interesting concept. A lot of people need to take lessons in footpath etiquette, especially in big cities.
  • I was making a coffee in the staffroom this morning and overheard a couple of the dermatology doctors chatting. They were talking about a melanoma that DD1 had removed from DD2’s back (this is my basis for assuming they are derm doctors, by the way, as the other clinics here are respiratory and dental). Then DD2 told a story about how he had removed one of his own moles, giving himself a local anaesthetic etc. What?! I'm guessing it wasn’t a difficult one, but still … I thought it was weird.

Monday, September 26, 2005

My last Monday morning

Well I didn’t get further than the title this morning since I suppose people getting paid is more important than keeping the internet up to date (this is very debatable, but I’m getting paid to do this job, so … ).

But it means that I can now say I’ve completed my last Monday morning for the foreseeable future! Hooray! I’m also having leftovers courtesy of the lovely Jade. We went out for Chinese after work last night, but none of us were very hungry. I got to try a frozen lychee drink (I still don’t know what the name of it is, Jade ordered for me) and caught up on sorting out all the work gossip and lies I had missed out on lately.

The weekend was mostly filled with work and errands, asides from a dancing jaunt after work on Saturday night. I was subjected to the Globe (a backpacker bar which is a cross between the Globe and downstairs at the Tron, both in Edinburgh) and had an okay time despite being forced to associate with (or at least stand nearish) the only person from the restaurant who doesn’t like me (henceforth known as AG – Australian Goober, not to be confused with AJ, Aussie Joe – ooh, I’d almost forgotten about him). AG referred to me as “That Bitch” on Saturday night, which I’m quite pleased about. It means he doesn’t want to work with me either, and it also means that he’s a little more astute and perceptive than I thought (I am always at least a little condescending to him, if not outright bitchy or mean). I don’t really mean for it to happen, it just does. I am hoping to increase his debating skills so that he has a backup comeback when “Whateverrrr!” doesn’t work (who am I kidding, it never works, especially if you’re not a Valley Girl).

Last night I picked up a shift and ended up having to train the new guy. I usually end up with jobs like this because nobody else has the patience. I think I only pretend to have the patience. Newbie was SO SLOW. Either that or he was spending a lot of time hiding in the toilets, ‘cause he sure as hell wasn’t in section doing his job. I was too busy doing both of our jobs to berate him enough, so I have resolved to be harder on him if there is a next time. If only to whip him into shape for the sake of everyone else. I’m leaving in two weeks, so I don’t really care if he and AG decide to form an Anti-Me Club.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Grumble grumble grumble

I bought a sausage roll from the bakery for lunch, and realised it was cold. When I took it back, the girl said “Oh, you wanted it hot?” which is exactly what I wanted, and expected, from something that came out of a pie warmer. So she put it in the microwave for me (shudder) and when it was done she said “There, it should be warm now.” Warm, yuck. I hate when food is disappointing.

I also found out that the woman I’m covering for has been lying about me to cover herself! She accidentally gave me printouts of a couple of emails, and one of them said
“Also: would you be able to send me a copy of the new roster again?
There were no end dates on it. What dates does it run to?
(+ The temp at GCC is tabulating it and has deleted something.)
Thank you.”

Way to blame me when I totally didn’t delete anything! I am a little peeved about this, since I don’t like my reputation being undermined for no reason. I know I’m just a temp, but I still do a good job!

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Proof

Here are the pictures of me pre-jump and mid-jump. Post-jump to come, hopefully!

Grrr ... the links don't seem to work at the moment, I will have to try again from work where the computer and connection aren't completely pants!

Speaking of pants, I saw a video of a guy I knew while I was at uni on TV for Nude Day. It was quite disturbing. Thanks for that, Simon Ward.

[The links do work now, it was just small tweak which was taking forever with the dial-up at home. I left in the above two paragraphs because of the seamless transition between them.]

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Arrrrr, me hearties!

Avast, this day be International Talk Like a Pirate Day! Well, it was yesterday for us, but today for some! So strap on your cutlass and buckle some swashes, swab your decks and bury your treasure. Aye, matey, it's pirate time!

And according to the teachings of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM), global pirate-talking will also reduce global warming, so do your bit! FSMism has been brought to light by one man's struggle against the Kansas School Board and their proposal to teach Intelligent Design (ID) alongside evolutionary theory in science classes in schools. Millions of people have agreed this is wrong, and that it if they insist on teaching ID as a science, then it is logical and necessary to also teach equally valid (if not more supported) theories such as FSMism. FSMism is gaining ground at an incredible speed, and as much as I condemn bandwagoning, I fully endorse this religion! Arrr!

Update: I have found out since spreading word about the above that my dear friend Bec has already made this connection, and written to Column 8 about it. Very proud of anyone I know who gets published, but especially for such a worthy cause!

Wendel McWong, and a fine pirate name it be ...

Monday, September 19, 2005

Twenty four minutes and fourty nine seconds

Well Brett did get me what I was asking for, and he thanked me for being so patient, so I can't really be annoyed. Luckily there was nobody around at work to realise that I just wasted their money for nearly half an hour.

20 minutes and counting ...

I’m on hold with my bank’s contact centre trying to get an advanced credit card renewal and have only just found out that it’s the guy’s first day. Argh. My card expires in January, and since I’m going to be out of the country at the time, I figured it best to get the replacement card now. They’ve done this for me before at no charge, and he’s just told me he’s going to have to charge me $10 for it. When I queried this, he put me on hold again … so still have to see what he’s going to come up with …

Dammit Brett, get it sorted. Poor guy, having to deal with me while he’s still in training.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Tower! Plane! September! Drama!

We were in the middle of service last night around 9pm and there began a sneaky and efficient evacuation of the Sky Tower. I didn't even cotton on to the fact that there was anything going on initially, although it was a bit weird that a couple of the new tables were waiting on people that were apparently not allowed up the tower yet. The evacuation was quite well done, in the sense that it was done in an orderly fashion and nobody was told what the evac was for (to reduce the possibility of a general panic).

When we got to our meeting point (the staff cafeteria), the election coverage was on the TV. Yesterday was election day and it's still so close that the special votes could swing it. We won't know who is going to be Prime Minister until all the votes are counted and one of the major parties has negotiated with the minor parties to form a viable government. Very interesting. Meanwhile, I digress. There was an announcement on the election coverage that someone had stolen a small airplane from Ardmore Airport and threatened to fly it into the Sky Tower. Yikes! So we waited patiently and after about half an hour they announced on the TV that he had crashed into the sea off Kohimarama Beach (some distance from the tower).

As soon as we'd heard we were safe and sound, it was back up again to the strangely deserted restaurant. It was eerie, the lights were still dimmed, there were tables fully laden with food and wine, but no customers in sight. We turned up the lights and the music, and demolished everything that was waiting on the hotline to be delivered (mmm oysters and smoked salmon). Clearing up didn't take near as long as usual since we didn't have to wait for guests to leave. There was a bit of a discussion aftewards about the crazy man and the plane, and we weren't even sure that the Cessna would have done all that much to the tower had he hit it. There was a lot of rumour and speculation but we were all pretty glad he didn't actually make his target.

Today's news announced that the guy was a former flying instructor and the whole thing was motivated by a relationship breakup (maybe someone dumped him cause he was a psycho?!). He stole the plane at about 7pm so must have been flying around for ages. And the police have admitted that there would have been nothing they could have done if he really had gone for it. NOT very comforting, police, thank you.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Updated highlights

Geez, 10 hours after the end of my daytime work day and I still haven't gotten to bed. Friday night was long at Orbit. To sum up the good stuff:
  • Got my drugs back.
  • Got to work with Jones.
  • Would have won the tip-earning competition had we not just completely ignored it. That was satisfying enough (plus it was only a bottle of wine for an incentive).
  • VIP-Veuve-Cliquot-Drinking-Rich-Man-Birthday-Party Party left very happy, even though it all started out a bit wrong (STRESS, sort of).
  • VVCDRM very generous with the on-the-sly gratuity.
  • Completely missed the massive fight that apparently happened amongst the kitchen staff and somehow included a fight between the head chef and the restaurant manager.
  • Drank leftover Veuve and ate chocolate mousse cake (sorry Dex, we will get you a fresh birthday cake next time you come in).

I was going to put in some bad things that happened, but I figure that I don't need to remember them!

One last highlight: it's time for bed!!

I love free baked goods

Last night was my first night with the new menu. I spent a joyful first half hour or so with it and my red pen, proofing and highlighting all their mistakes (funny word, proof. As is much, which I realised today). I’m a geek but I do get such happiness from pointing out the errors of others. I had to train someone to be a senior waiter, which was interesting with the new menu and the consequent kitchen delays. She was better than I thought she’d be, but I think I was also extra bubbly and lovely which underlined to my guests who was really the best. There was almost a fist fight between two of the waiters, and I was sick, but despite all these things, I was in a really good mood. I must have been high on Phenylephrine.

I think that the woman I’m covering for is a little fruity and weird. She doesn’t seem to deal with stress very well, and this is definitely not the sort of environment she belongs in. Apparently she’s an actress of sorts, but fell into this job after temping for a while. I hope that doesn’t happen to me!

Highlights of my day so far:
  • Free muffins! Carrot and pineapple, carrot and something else, pumpkin and pecan, banana, chocolate, blueberry, some other kind of berry … tried most of them and wished I could taste better today (still sick) cause they were yummy.
  • Got paid for doing probably 3 hours of running around today and yesterday (two trips to the city hospital, running over to payroll a few times, drinking coffee, etc).
  • Someone yelled out “Jesus!” to me while I was having lunch. I had my devil horn hoodie up cause it had been raining. I don’t get called Jesus very often.
  • Completed a World Famous in New Zealand quiz. Stumped by some rugby references, but got there in the end. The link is for an Excel file download. I think non-kiwis will find it pretty difficult, but feel free to try it!
  • No supervisor!
  • Not desperately needing the decongestants I accidentally left at work last night.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Eww, but sort of aww ...

I still feel ill. I figured it would have gone away by now but I’m at the needing-copious-amounts-of-tissue stage. I couldn’t even taste my coffee this morning, and this doesn’t bode well for having to be nice to customers later on tonight.

I was walking to work this morning and was following this little man wearing glasses and an entirely brown outfit (you know the type). I didn’t take any notice of him until he stopped and turned around and started looking at something on the ground. I automatically looked as well, and must have seemed puzzled, because as I noticed there was only a gob of phlegm on the gravel (eww), he said “I coughed and made a bit of a mess”. As I walked past, he bent down and got some sort of moss from the side of the footpath to clear his “mess” away. I have to say that this is the first time I have ever seen something like this happen, and, although slightly grossed out, I was actually sort of impressed. There is too much disgusting spitting on the ground these days, and it was nice to see that someone felt chastised by their own accidental disgusting behaviour. Stop the spread of meningitis and tuberculosis! Thank you, little brown outfit man.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


As much as I love spam and everything, I decided I didn’t want it in my comments. So apologies for the newly installed word verifications (I hate those things, personally), but if you don’t have the intellectual capacity for them, you don’t deserve to comment on my posts anyway. If you lack the motor function or are severely visually impaired, you probably can’t comment anyway. Sorry again.

Fulfilment via espresso and ice cream

Ever notice that the word “fulfil” is really weird looking? I had to use it multiple times in a flowchart today.

I am back at the hospital, but working as support for a clinical team. It is going okay so far, despite not having my own office and having to start work at 8am. I was asked to ask some people to do something for me this morning, and they refused since apparently it’s not their job (and it’s easy to refuse a temp, cause I don’t know what’s going on). When I told the woman who asked me to ask them (why she didn’t ask directly is beyond me), she was “dizzy with shock” (seriously, that is what she said, and she did sound a little faint on the phone) that they weren’t going to fulfil (hehe) the request. I really don’t want to get involved in office politics on my second day.

Hopefully they will keep me on here until the end of the month (unlike the last debacle with the real estate people). My cut off date is the 30th of September though, and my last day at Orbit is officially the 9th of October (just in time for the staff party which will be the next night).

Oh, big news: I finally bought my ticket out of here! I bit the bullet and committed to a flight, mostly so that I could line up welcoming committees and couches to sleep on with minimal guilt about screwing people around with dates and times. I arrive in Melbourne on Sunday the 16th of October, after having to get to the Auckland airport at 7.30am. Yuck!!

I went out for dinner with my family last night for my little brother’s 21st. It was a pretty good dinner, with only the usual level of embarrassment that comes with having dinner with one’s whole family in public (or mine at least). I ate way too much, but couldn’t turn down an affogatto for dessert (or a taste of the banoffee pie (yum) and the Kahlua/Moro bar cheesecake (also yum) that other people ordered). What I want to know though is why had I never even heard the word affogatto (a scoop of vanilla ice cream with an espresso poured over the top) before about a month ago?! I guess I’m not as with it as I thought I was. It is a fantastic invention though, I must say.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Errr, uncomfortable ...

Is being caught with a 19 year old boy in his room at 3.30am by his mother. Nuff said. Except that nothing is going on! All the guilt and weirdness with none of the benefits.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Mmm ... sleep ...

I didn't get The Call from my agency today, so I took the opportunity to get some more sleep. Heaven. The gym afterwards was not so blissful, but helped me justify the yummy scrummy burger I had from Burger Fuel when I had lunch with non-boyfriend #1. Not quite as good as lunch with NBF#1, but also quite good, was the fact that I got to wear shorts today, yay!

I picked up a few more hours at the restaurant to make up for my not being at the EBJ and watched Spirited Away (Japanese anime film dubbed in English, kind of strange, but also quite enjoyable) and Napoleon Dynamite (to see if it was, indeed, funnier the second time. It was).

And here I am again, at nearly 5am, wondering why I avoid sleep so much when I'm not working ... especially as I love it so much when I have to get up ...

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

You're Fired ...

Sunday, Father's Day. I got up during the fuzzy border between afternoon and evening. Decided to make dinner, so went food shopping and did some minor organising to get all the sibs home. Roast lamb, veges, potato salad, Beanfeast shepherd's pie. My sister made a lemon cake. Very full after.

Monday, back at Excrutiatingly Boring Job. Some lady comments on my accent, thinks she heard "American" in there. I will argue that if there is, it's Canadian (sorry, Canadians). Gym. Dinner with Jonesy (again, what is up with having restaurant choice not work out? Three tries again, but at least we actually only set foot in the last one), aimless driving, Mt Eden, ice cream, tea. Late night, and can't sleep lately.

Tuesday, repeat EBJ. Except today find out that they, contrary to popular belief, wouldn't need me for the rest of the week. F*ckers. I was even going about half speed because I predicted this would happen. The boss was all apologetic and like "this doesn't normally happen" - but it did, the last time I was there! I'm not so upset, except that the three days of work I did there has effectively blocked out 10 days of potential other work. And also messed up a lunch date I had for tomorrow. Grrr. On the plus side, The Apprentice was on tonight. Somehow it's not so much fun now that I know who wins ...

Saturday, September 03, 2005

There's an incentive?

Apparently there was, and even though I wasn't told about it, I still won! The aim of the game was to sell the most Chef's Specials and we would win aforementioned Chef's Special (Hereford prime Scotch fillet steak served on oven roasted potatoes and baby cress finished with a prawn and bacon veloute sauce). I win! I get steak! Hooray. Last time I won as well, but had done so well that we sold out, so no steak. Note to self: tone it down a little with the steak. Perhaps that's why they didn't tell me about it tonight. I don't think they told anyone else either though, which made it fair. I usually don't eat full sized meals at 10.30pm, but I'll take exception for free steak dinners.

Friday, September 02, 2005

The toothpaste buzz

Whenever I'm extraordinarily knackered, brushing my teeth before bed always wakes me up a little bit, which is quite frustrating. I understand that it's the minty thing that energises you, but it's still somewhat annoying. I decided to use the force to write a quick post before the 16 hour workday on the 4 hours of sleep overpowers me ... also, please forgive the lack of editing, my brain's not in the ON position.

I went to the dentist on Wednesday. I had decided to boycott the dentist I saw last year due to the wisdom teeth issue, and Julie my new dentist is really pretty cool. She sorted out a couple of things for me, and I came out of there with a couple of new fillings, a numb cheek and another increase in my credit card expenditure.

I spent the rest of Wednesday with Simon, making the most of the glorious sunshine and the fact that we actually got to hang out with each other. We went to the beach, ate ice cream (with awful awful coffee), went shopping, saw Sin City (finally! I really enjoyed it, but it really did seem incredibly long and full of waiting for people to die horribly. Elijah Wood was also uber-creepy in it), had Melt pizza (oh so so good), watched the Fifth Element on DVD (geez, it only took me about 8 years to see that film), ate cheesecake and drank wine. It was pretty much a perfect day, especially after the anaesthetic wore off and I could eat food.

Also, within three days I got to go to two different beaches on two different coasts (with two different Simons!) and the weather was stunning. So, so happy.

I also managed to totally screw my sleep "pattern" again, so have been surviving on too little/too much. I also managed to forget, in my haste, to put baking soda in my second attempt at carrot cake. Fatal mistake. Those Orbit people do not know how lucky they are with their light and moist, not stodgy and flat, cake.

On Thursday night I had a middle-aged woman do a really decent impression of a screaming harpie for a really long time, partially at me, but mostly at my manager (heh). I think she just really wanted to be mortally offended by something (maybe because her kids were such demons and she'd yelled at them enough already), and proceeded to yell so half the restaurant could hear that she thought she had been kicked out before she could even have dessert. I think I actually got pity tips from some of my tables who heard her ridiculous performance. Of course, she was right about some things, although I blame all of those things on others ...

Today was day 1 of a 6 part series of mind-numbingly-boring-no-outlet-for-skiving data entry. Blah. I am so taking my own music in on Monday so I don't have to listen to the Classic Hits No Repeat Work Day. Since when has Coolio's Gangster's Paradise been a classic hit? Although hearing my middle-aged female supervisor singing along was kind of hilarious. There was also a farewell morning tea (I'll jump on the goodbye bandwagon for some free cake), and office antics which involved a Saffa squashing himself into a wheelie bin which then fell over. Eventually he managed to jump out and scare his target so much that she screamed and spilled her coffee all over his farewell card. Comedy.

The highlight of my shift at Orbit was finding out that I've been credited for drastically changing the direction of someone's life (for the better, of course). I'm extremely humbled.

Lexicon update: I have noticed that since leaving Canada and coming back to NZ, the incidence of the word "super" in my speech has decreased dramatically, almost inversely proportional to the level of usage of the word "bro", which is still climbing. "Awesome" is still one of my favourite words, and "dude" still occurs frequently. I do say "sweet as", like any good kiwi, but feel free to slap me if I say "chur" (don't even ask if you don't know what it means, you are better off in the dark, especially as it is ridiculously hard to explain this concept).