So…I’m back on the killer hill. Hiking. Or otherwise known as taking my life in my hands to walk on dirt, uphill, in black stretch pants at 8 am for no good reason.
I’m still fucking around with my little WiFi experiment, but interestingly enough, the signal has been uncooperative since those two miraculous days last week when all the stars aligned to give me my NPR.
But I’m still at it. My middle name is tenacious. Janet Tenacious Bertolus.
There may have been some begging even though I know that begging is the surest way to silence.
Through the years, I’ve been told by pretty reliable sources that The Universe doesn’t keep score, or prioritize, and I know for a fact that The Universe can’t be bothered with begging.
Asking? Sure. Prayers? Absolutely! Begging? Not so much.
Especially begging for something as ridiculous as WiFi to distract from the excruciating “discomfort” I put myself through trudging up that freakin’ hill every morning.
It sticks its fingers into its ears and LA, LA, La’s until I stop.
Anyway…no begging this morning, just resigned acceptance when the signal cuts out.
Then I laughed because it’s getting funny.
Have I mentioned what an opportunist the Universe can be? Oh, yeah.
Just at the point where I am my most vulnerable; hands on my hips, bent into the hill, drenched in sweat and gasping for air like a sherpa about to summit Everest; the WiFi kicks in and Abraham on YouTube comes back on.
The Universe decides that this is the perfect time for a teaching moment.
I am elated.
This will help me summit my own humiliating, Studio City version of Everest. Except for one thing. I’ve already listened to this part. It didn’t pick up where it left off, it went all the way back to the beginning. Back to what I’ve already heard for the last forty minutes.
A mild wave of disappointment washes over me as the smile leaves my face.
Immediately the signal cuts out. Silence returns.
Awwww come on! I actually shout out loud. What the hell?!
I stop and fiddle with my phone for a minute. Nope. Nothing. It’s no use. Resignation sets back in as I pull up my big girl stretch pants and soldier on.
It’s then that the Universe decides to give a lecture series entitled: Split Energy (Will Fuck You Every Time).
‘You split your energy. You do it all the time and you needed to see an example of how it can stop the momentum of a desire in it’s tracks.’
Clarify please, I barely have enough oxygen to keep me upright let alone understand what the hell you’re trying to tell me.
‘You desired WiFi. We gave you WiFi. And may we point out, in a place where WiFi doesn’t exist, so there’s that…’
I know! And I was so happy about that!
‘For a minute. Not even. Then you were disappointed by the specifics. That’s split energy and it will stall a desire faster than anything else.’
‘So what should I have done?’
‘You can’t stay grateful for a miracle for like five minutes?…What do we always say?’
‘I don’t know…be kind to others and don’t say fuck so much?’
‘Besides that. We remind you that disappointment is taking score too soon. When you ask for something and it arrives, don’t say, Oh, not THAT! it seems ungrateful and it hurts our feelings. Wait awhile before you take score.’
‘I suppose you’re right.’
‘Of course, we are! We’re the Universe! Whatever we deliver to you is ALWAYS perfect.’
What about that…
What part of ALWAYS are you not understanding?
‘I’m at the parking lot and I have to pee so arrivederci and thanks for the chat.’
Listen you guys, who among us hasn’t questioned a wish fulfilled because it didn’t look exactly like we expected it to look?
We’ve gotta cut that out. Me included.
This is from a year ago January, but I was feelin’ it today.
I had coffee with a friend this week and she mentioned the blog, Hala! and God bless her.
She was particularly triggered by the post I wrote about paying people compliments, and the fact that we can be pretty stingy with our admiration.
“You know why I don’t get compliments?” she asked me, apparently not expecting an answer because she didn’t let me get a word in edgewise.
“Because I deflect them. I’m like a superhero with a shield. They make me so Goddamn uncomfortable that my face and chest get bright red, and I either start laughing or I tell the person to shut up.”
Did I hear that right? I’d seen her blush, maybe even giggle, but the shut up part…
She could tell by the expression on my face that her statement needed further clarification.
“I just did it the other day, the guy at the car wash complimented my choice of vehicle and I ran away. Like a nine-year-old. But before I did, I told him to shut up. It was completely unintentional, a reflex, a hit and run, I just blurted it out…Shut Up!” she was clearly mortified but on a roll.
“Hey, you have nice eyes. Shut up! Fuck you, Perv!” Now she was acting it out, with hand gestures and everything.
“Nice job on that report. Shut up! Asshole! It wasn’t that great! Raise your bar! You need higher standards!
“Oh My God what is wrong with me? It’s like I have Compliments Tourette’s.”
We were both laughing, yet at the same time, I realized that what she does is more common than we’d all like to admit.
Why can’t we take a compliment gracefully? The key word here being: grace.
used to be AM terrible at it too. I stare at my feet and mumble a hurried thank you, when all I want is for the perpetrator of the abomination to fall through a trap door in the floor.
Insecurity I suppose. Feeling unworthy? You betcha.
Back in the day, people used to compliment me on my big, white teeth, (now thanks to Crest White Strips they are a dime dozen) and it made me cringe. I had done NOTHING whatsoever to earn those teeth. Okay, maybe I’d worn braces and brushed, but honestly, they were just the luck of the draw, like having good hair. So it never felt like it was right to say thank you.
Now I do. I jump at the chance. Sure, God and my parents gave me great teeth, but I’ve maintained them and appreciated them EVERYDAY. Plus after fifty, you’re just so grateful when someone says anything without prefacing it with for your age.
These days I also chase that good feeling you get when you give a compliment.
I give out compliments like Tic Tacs. Because people deserve them. AND it gets me as high as an addict with a drug.
“Oh but wait” my friend warned, holding her palm up to face me, “It gets worse. If you don’t hate me already, you will after this!”
“Well Okay – Don’t leave a sister hanging – spill it!” I teased, playing along with her game of ‘true confessions’.
“I don’t pay ANYONE a compliment, doesn’t matter what they did, even if I’m thinking it, I don’t say it because I want to save them the humiliation that I feel.
That’s fucked up…right?”
I wouldn’t dare judge her. That actually made perfect sense to me and it possessed more altruistic overtones than not wanting to make a fool of yourself, which was the most common reason I used to come up with for not complimenting the people who deserved them.
We had a laugh, a damn good cup of coffee…and cake. But it really got me to thinking…
What do you guys think about this?
Are you like my friend? Is it all just too humiliating for words?
Does that humiliation override how good it feels to give or get a compliment? Or have you become so grateful, like me, when someone throws one your way that you can’t say thank you fast enough?
Have you developed grace or are you still searching for it, like my friend? How did it happen for you?
I’m curious. Tell me in the comments.
Not always the easiest choice–but most definitely the wisest.
Darling reader, you had to know I would love this! Thank you for sending it.
“Dear Lord — Please keep one hand on my shoulder, and the other hand over my mouth.”
Hard to find a better prayer than that.
When you are in the act of defusing a situation, be it a political argument or an obtuse disagreement about the pronunciation of the word foyer; and I say that because everyone knows there is only one correct pronunciation of the word foyer—Foy-yay—anyway, I highly recommend, if at all possible, a minimum of talking.
Think about it. We mostly defuse anger or frustration. We seldom defuse joy. When I say seldom, I mean never. When was the last time you said,’Oh, Holy Hell, there is just too much joy in this room, I need to change the subject!’
See what I mean?
Defusing is an act best left to heavily outfitted bomb squads, street mimes, or those who have, through some cruel twist of fate, found themselves without a voice.
I say that from experience.
Words tend to get… wordy, meanings become misconstrued, and at a certain point nobody is listening anyway so I say the fewer the better.
Silent nodding is my preferred method.
Then there’s petting. I’m a big believer in defusing a tense or uncomfortable situation with some awkward physical contact.
I’ve been known to braid a person’s hair or lint brush the shit out of their jacket in the midst of that kind of kinetic, twisty energy.
I do all of those things because it is next to impossible for me to keep my mouth shut. Hence the prayer at the top.
Question: Have you EVER helped this kind of situation by stating the facts, calling for common sense, or getting the last word?
Yeah, me neither.
There is always humor but humor is subjective and it can backfire and not in a funny clown car kind of way.
Let’s face it, there are times when people want nothing more than to vent. Or argue. Some like to pick fights.
It’s been my experience that this seldom ends well if I put in my two cents, so I’ve learned to keep my small change to myself and wait for people to ask for my opinion (which they don’t), or I keep my mouth full of cake. Cheese will do in a pinch, but cake takes forever to chew and swallow, especially without coffee, and by the time you do—the topic has usually shifted to something else.
Like the deterioration of the Antarctic Ice Caps and how the ice in my drink and the car I drive are contributing to the imminent death of the Planet.
What I know for sure besides the fact that salted caramel anything has become my Kryptonite and that those shoes with toes creep me out—is that those who have crossed-over use technology to reach us.
They do this because technology is a frequency, think Wi-Fi, and well, now so are they.
It’s easy for them. So much easier than moving furniture or materializing at the foot of your bed. That stuff takes work and our dearly departed ones tend to be lazy. They are always looking for the path of least resistance and since if you’re like me, your phone or computer are always within arms reach, this makes getting our attention a cake walk.
Please don’t argue with me on this.
I didn’t believe it at first either. And I’m not saying I’m one thousand percent sold on the concept, but…being that I’m not as gullible as you might think, I stubbornly ask for proof—which has been provided to this professional skeptic repeatedly. Over and Over and OVER again!
It has become irrefutable. Ask my tribe. I send them example after example which has made believers out of (most) of them.
The past few days I decided to have some fun with this recent discovery of mine. The one about technology.
Almost every morning, unless I’m not feeling it or a gooey cinnamon bun has my name on it (I believe there is an unwritten law that states that it is immoral to hike with white icing on your face), I take a 3.5-mile hike in the hills above my home. Unless I’m distracted, talking my head off with a friend, the only thing that gets this ass up those hills is live streaming NPR, a juicy podcast or something inspirational on YouTube straight into my ears via my phone and some comfy ear buds.
The last quarter-mile is all uphill. A slow vertical ascent that takes my breath away, pisses me off, and makes me want to cry and vomit—all at the same time. At the end is the parking lot where I hug my car and wait for my heart rate return to something life sustainable.
Unfortunately, right at the base of this climb—at the same red brick mailbox—the WiFi cuts out—and I’m left to listen to the voices in my head. Two which are cheering me on and the other 1,065 which scream at me in no uncertain terms—that I am an idiot and this hill is certain to kill me.
For months, I have suffered the same shattering disappointment at exactly the same spot at the base of that fucking hill.
Until Wednesday. That day I asked my disembodied friend to extend the WiFi signal past the familiar brick mailbox to the top of the first hill. The “killer” as I like to call it.
‘Just let me continue listening to Abraham to the top of the killer’ I asked playfully. Then I laughed at the absurdity of asking for an internet connection from someone marinating in Pure Positive Energy—not lottery numbers or stock tips—and the fact that this has become my new normal.
Sure enough, the signal remained strong, cutting out at the very top of the killer hill just as I had requested. I was jubilant! Not only for the audio distraction on my way up the hill but for the sign I received from my friend.
“All you have to do is ask, and then not care”, I heard her say, so I decided to try again the next morning.
Thursday, as I approached the killer, I decided to ask for something more audacious.
If this was a game—then why the hell not?
‘I’d love to listen to Morning Becomes Eclectic all the way up to the parking lot’ I requested. Then I waited with a huge smile on my face as I chugged slowly up the killer hill. I lost the music briefly at the mailbox…but only for a second.
As I crested the top of killer hill and continued on to the dirt path I couldn’t believe my ears! WiFi! On the most remote part of the hike!
I can’t tell you how I got to the parking lot. I’m pretty sure I skipped or floated. It was everything I could do not to yodel my joy at this technological miracle.
Once at the parking lot, I did a sweaty slob-kebob dance to celebrate the music that was still going strong in my ears!
How was that possible? Was it a sign? An answer to my asking?
Someone I told yesterday, I can’t remember who, surmised that the neighborhood had probably just gotten tired of shitty internet and boosted the signal. I thought the timing was interesting, but I’m not gonna lie, it burst my miracle believing bubble a little bit.
This morning, Friday, I just assumed that the boosted signal would continue all the way up to the parking lot …and beyond, but alas, right at the brick mailbox…silence.
I tried to get it to work as I slogged along but it was behaving badly just as it had for months.
Suddenly, about fifty yards from the end, the music came back on, strong as ever. It actually startled me in the middle of an argument with my disembodied friend who insisted that MY WiFi connection had nothing at all to do with a boosted signal.
‘It was the answer to an asking, a sign, a game’, she insisted, ‘and as long as you remember that, the music will play uninterrupted.’
Man, I love not taking life so seriously! Treating it like a game. You guys have to try it! It beats the alternative.
I’m starting with the small stuff until I get the hang of it. Come with me!
This is a Flashback from a couple of years ago that I was telling a friend about just the other day. Her husband has to fly up to the Bay area in a couple of weeks for a mediation on a lawsuit that is one of the bat-shit craziest wastes of time you could ever imagine. I can SO relate and it’s easier for me to repost this than to tell them the story—and I figure maybe a few of you might need to read this too.
Big love to HT & CT.
“Anger is just Sad’s bodyguard… and Shame’s too, I think.”
Someone tell me, how come the crazy ones never lose any sleep?
Is it their complete lack of a conscience that causes them to appear so slick, smug and impossibly fresh?
Not a hair out-of-place.
Barely a hint of the devil that lies within.
While those of us that possess a moral compass and have the misfortune to find ourselves in their orbit are sleep deprived, disheveled, walking disasters.
That will always bother me.
The fact that people who operate outside the constructs of polite society close their eyes at night and sleep the uninterrupted, peaceful sleep of the just.
Why is that?
How can it be?
The night before an arbitration with the attorneys for DWP to discuss the fact that their one-hundred-year-old water main had burst and turned my store into an aquarium; I tossed and turned until the sheets were knotted up around my head and neck, fashioned into an unattractive turban/noose—and I ground my teeth down to nubs. Which left me the next morning gumming my toast, with a foggy brain and pronounced sheet marks on my face that didn’t fade until after lunch.
The team of He, She and It, that represented the water company, entered the room that morning laughing.
Like they’d all participated in a hilarious episode of Carpool Karaoke on their way to work.
I felt at a distinct disadvantage. Out of the loop, like the punchline to the funniest joke ever told was lost on me. Was that their plan?
They were meticulously coiffed and groomed, cool as the proverbial cucumbers, while I was drenched in flop sweat, permanently wrinkled and frantically struggling to remove a poppy-seed from between my two front teeth with my tongue.
Note to self: Don’t accept half a poppy-seed bagel when you’re out of coffee. And you forgot your water.
You’re going to need something to rinse your mouth with when the big guns enter the room.
If I’d had more sleep I would have remembered that.
They all seemed so nice, so genuinely happy to meet me; that is until the bell rang and we went to our respective corners. Then the gloves came off and the crazy started to show.
They made shit up. Their entire alibi was jack-crap.
With graphs, documents and flow charts. Listen, if you show me a flow chart, I’ll believe anything…almost.
Somehow they double teamed my attorney and me. In the most well crafted, legal babbly, thinly veiled insulting way, they pinned the whole thing on me.
They made the accidental, midnight break of their water main seem like MY fault.
Business was slow, debt was high, it was 2009, and I need out—only I was too stupid to commit arson.
Seems bat-shit crazy, right?
When we broke for lunch even I wanted to throw the book at me.
The picture they painted of me was that of a sad-sack, loser of a business woman. Which was exactly how I felt at the time. I think my lawyer drank the Kool-Aid too—they were that convincing. She wouldn’t make eye contact, skulking in the corner on her phone, and then disappearing for the entire lunch break.
But you wanna know what trumps sleep deprivation? Rage. That’s what.
It also instantly removes sheet marks from your face.
It also overrides all shame and victim-hood.
Crazy and Rage are curious dance partners and they should never be left alone in a room together.
Let me tell you why. Crazy is so put together, so charming, pretty, and unflappable. Crazy looooooves a victim, she gets off on them, they get her panties wet.
Rage is no victim, he’s a gangster. He’s raw, he’s greasy and he talks real dirty. He wears a wife beater t-shirt and too much Aramis; and he has only one thing in his crosshairs—Crazy.
Crazy gets high on Rage and it quickly becomes a street-brawl.
But Rage is better than Sad, which is where I’d pitched my tent for eighteen months. Some say you can get caught in anger and never feel despair. The opposite had been true for me.
Sad victimhood covered in shame is like chum in the water to Crazy.
So Rage felt better. It felt…empowering. Sadness felt like quick-sand—Rage, like solid ground.
It got my attention and cleared my vision, so I could finally see the truth and it kicked Sad’s ass to the curb.
I locked myself in a public bathroom stall kicking, screaming, and raging for nearly an hour before taking a walk around the building to help me come to my senses—and find my courage.
I knew my opponent. I was very familiar with Crazy.
You see, I had met her as a teenager in the form of my father’s second wife. I had witnessed her devouring her victims and I was smart enough to remember that Rage threw her into a sort of drunken feeding frenzy.
I also remembered that nothing can get to Crazy. Nothing touches their heart. There is no reasoning with Crazy. There is no sympathy, empathy or compassion and absolutely nothing is open for discussion.
They act as your judge, jury, and executioner.
And the more they sense is at stake; the faster and louder the accusations come. Their aim is to keep you off-balance, on the ropes.
Remember they are rested, ready and strong after their peaceful night’s sleep.
How is that fair?
Because they get a buzz off this shit and they don’t care about anything other than winning. So it’s not.
I sure wasn’t feeling sad anymore, Rage had hatched a plan but I knew better than to let it enter that room. I waited outside the double doors of the conference room until I saw my attorney exit the elevator. I could hear the team of Crazy, Crazier, and Craziest, whopping it up inside.
“You handle this, I’m leaving” I announced. I had her by the arm and was walking her back down a long hallway of endless doors, out of earshot of the hyenas.
“What?” she asked, looking surprised.
“You don’t need me here. They can smell my fear and sadness, and well, their offer is beyond ridiculous. See what happens when they can’t focus on me. When they have to deal with you and only the facts.” We had walked in a circle making our way back toward the bank of elevators.
“Give me a number you’ll you settle at”, she asked as she reached into her bag for paper and a pen. She actually seemed relieved, like the day could be salvaged. Like it could go back to a language she understood—the law.
I wrote a figure down. She looked and nodded in agreement, folding the paper into a small square and tucking into her suit-jacket pocket.
The elevator chimed, opening right on cue. People were packed in like sardines, but as I stepped inside she grabbed my purse strap, making me turn around. “This could end today”, she said with a hint of a smile, letting me go as the doors slowly closed.
A hairy mystery hand reached around me and pushed the button for LOBBY, getting me the hell out of that DWP building. I know it was Rage. I could smell his Aramis. But I made sure I left him behind, losing him in the crowd.
*I got the call a couple of hours later that they’d settled on the figure I’d written down. “Piece of cake”, I remember her saying in a distracted voice; she was already on to her next case.
We all slept well that night.
I know some of you guys needed to hear this,
I’m not proud of what I’m about to tell you. But I think you’ll thank me. Mostly for admitting that I’m just another deeply flawed human being walking this spinning blue planet—and for telling the truth.
I like to pride myself on being rather unflappable. Emotionally steady and able to find the humor in any situation I’m placed in and yet… some are triggers and can toss me like a piece of trash into a swirling eddy of unhappiness, anger, and even revenge.
Maybe, just maybe dear reader, you know what I’m talking about.
It was 7:00 pm on a balmy Friday night. After a week full of jumbly-stuff, all the two of us could focus on was enjoying a scrumptious meal at one of our favorite local foodie hangouts—and a nice red wine. I had the foresight to make a reservation so getting a coveted table on the patio was no problem.
As we were guided outside past the bar I couldn’t help but notice how packed the place was. It was loud and lively, filled with couples and groups of friends starting off their weekend right. That felt good. The place had recently re-opened after an extensive renovation and I was happy to see the neighborhood showing their support.
After being seated by the hostess we both smiled at each other, exhaled deeply, and held hands across the table. Everything was perfect.
We had been assured that our waitress, Sara, would be with us shortly so we started talking about this and that, catching each other up on our day–you know, your basic pre-dinner chit-chat. Ten minutes later, after running out of small talk, we started looking around. That’s the moment I realized we were invisible. That no one had come by to acknowledge our presence.
If it’s Friday, the end of a long work week, and wine has not been offered to my husband in a timely manner—he gets fidgety.
Enter bad habit number one: I try to ease an uncomfortable situation by justifying it.
“It’s really busy tonight”, I say just to cut the tension that’s building with each moment that goes by wine-free.
“Yeah, but they have a lot of staff”, he replies looking around the restaurant. And he’s right. I can see five waiter/waitresses just servicing the patio. One of them MUST be Sara.
Enter bad habit number two: I’m going to turn my attention away from my partner and make things right by catching the eye of our waitress.
It was then that I caught a glimpse of someone walking toward us with purpose. A girl in her mid-twenties, cute and blonde and wearing an apron, so I assumed she was OUR Sara.
Hallelujah! Wine at last, wine at last, Thank God Almighty, wine at last!
“Here she comes”, I declare just as she walks all of that purpose directly to a table behind us.
He looks at his watch. “It’s been twenty minutes”. Now he’s getting annoyed, looking around with his head on its maximum swivel speed.
My husband has sparkle. He just does, And never is it on display more than with the wait staff at restaurants. But I fear his sparkle is diminished; long gone as Sara finally approaches our table from behind my back.
“I like your hair”, she deadpans, referring to the purple underneath the gray. “I like your earrings”, I spit out immediately, laughing a little too loud, trying to diffuse the tension.
Enter bad habit number three: It’s really just an extension of BH#2. Soothe and diffuse. It can be jokes, laughing, even tap-dancing.
“I’d love some wine and a bottle of San Pellegrino when you get a chance”, he wedges in-between the phoney-baloney compliments.
“Great”, she smiles and disappears and when I say disappears I’m not exaggerating. I swear I saw her walk into a magical cupboard and enter an imaginary realm where she is a princess and not a waitress who is getting slammed on a busy Friday night.
7:38…and counting…and still nothing. No water, no bread. And definitely no wine. Now I’M looking at MY watch. Mama needs some alcohol.
Enter bad habit number four: I absorb all of the mad in the room and take it on. I fight the urge to get all Norma Raye and stand on my chair railing against every social injustice including bad service while dining out. (I thought I had a handle on this but apparently not.)
Things are starting to spiral downward. This is the point when you start looking at the tables around you, taking score. “They came in after we did and they already have their drinks and appetizers”, I found myself saying. I hate doing that. It’s petty and stupid but you just can’t help it when you seem to be seated in NO MANS LAND.
I know what you’re thinking, I really do. Tell somebody that you need some attention!
We start to debate the issue and I have to tell you, without wine, common sense has flown out the window. Who do we tell? The hostess who is running around like a headless chicken? The waitress herself? I’d need to send out a search party to find her and I’m assuming she’ll just get defensive. Maybe the manager?
When did my (our) happiness become so conditional? Why can’t we just chill and enjoy our evening in the midst of sucky service?
I don’t want a scene so I haven’t told my famished, wine deprived, crab-ass of a husband that I can see Sara (who has apparently escaped the cupboard), standing and chatting at the bar. I’m assuming she went there over twenty minutes ago with the best intentions of getting us our wine but…I’m suppressing another urge my body has summoned. The one to saunter over to the bar, grab Sara by the ear, take her out back and beat the shit out of her.
I really hate it when things that seem outside of my control hijack a good time. The mood at our table has shifted from buoyantly jovial to passive-aggressively pissed off.
Sara walks toward us with a large tray of drinks balanced on her shoulder. “This has to be us”, he says hopefully, straightening up in his chair as I observe a warm basket of bread being placed two tables over by a waitress worth her weight in gold. Sara walks right past us being sure not to make eye contact. Can we all agree that selective eye contact is a dark art?
He turns in his chair to stare in her direction. Can she feel his laser-like gaze burning a hole in the back of her head? I wonder, will her hair catch fire?
Oh, hello bad habit number five: Wishing bad things on perfectly lovely people who are acting like asshats.
Just then somebody else brings us our drinks. I grab this angel in human form’s arm before he can leave and order two appetizers, It’s not his job to take our order and he looks at me funny but shakes his head okay.
Sara returns with one of our orders and plunks it down in the middle of the table as her eyes scan the room, and leaves without giving us any share plates. It’s after 8 pm and I’m suddenly starving. Mama needs some foodies. Fast. The alcohol is going to her head and things could get ugly so I start eating, making the long traverse with my overloaded fork from the plate—across the table—to my mouth. My husband follows my lead and before we know it we both end up with grits in a bacon coulee all over the front of us. I’m hungrily sucking pieces of bacon off of my sweater. Can this night get any better?
“What should we do?” I ask with earnestness now that I’m buzzed with more food on the front of my outfit than in my stomach. If I had my sense of humor and wasn’t hostile from absorbing all the mad— it would be funny. I usually find everything funny. But four people who sat down a half hour after us are happily finishing their dessert. Satiated and ready to leave.
That’s just not fucking funny.
“We’ve let it go too far. We should have said something to someone an hour ago. Now we just look like a couple of starving idiots who are wasting a perfectly good table in a very busy restaurant.”
My husband gets up, folds his napkin neatly into triangle and walks toward the back.’Oh God, here we go’, I think, ‘he’s going to complain, and they’re going to spit in our food’.
Back in the day, my husband worked his way through college as a waiter in a fancy French restaurant in Beverly Hills, and his stories of cranky customer retribution are stomach turning. Fingers and other body parts jabbed into food and drinks…cigarette ashes in sauces…terrifying but true. But that experience has also made him endlessly patient with waiters. He can recognize hard work and a job well done. He laughs with them, validates them with compliments and tips them well.
While my head is turned searching the place for the enigma called Sara, (I’m afraid he’s going to be the one to take her out back by the scruff of her neck and beat her senseless), the table is cleared, silverware and all. As she whizzes by, I relax a little at the sight of her alive and well, and then I remember that she’s our waitress goddamnit and I yell out our entrees and inquire about the second appetizer. She stops in her tracks and looks at me as if I told her she could never have children and does a thing with her head, like, ‘can’t you see how busy I am?’ —and walks away, back to the bar where she takes root for another ten minutes.
The same lovely gentleman who delivered our first appetizer delivers the second one, (full of ashes or finger pokes, I’m sure), this time with plates. I’m so busy gushing my appreciation that I forget to mention that we have no flatware. When I ask Sara for a fork she looks bewildered like everyone else is eating with their feet or elbows and I—the overdemanding, spoiled woman at table seventeen—wants a FORK!
My husband returns and suddenly things start to look up. The sparkle has returned and I can only imagine why. Some things are better left unsaid. Within a minute, the flatware appears—as if by magic.
It’s amazing how when you are treated like shit, the smallest gesture, like being given utensils, feels like a gift. Like when a restaurant starts to act restautraunty it can make you feel giddy.
Our food arrives in an appropriate amount of time delivered by an effusive upper management looking woman. Then a man in a suit brings us water. Finally, water! After an hour. I wanted to give him a kiss on lips and a standing ovation!
“We are so bad at this!” I lament on the walk to our car. “God! we have such a hard time dealing with bad service”.
And there it is, bad habit number six: I say We when I should say I.
My husband gives me side-eye which is our silent signal that he ‘took care of the situation’ which could mean that Sara has taken up permanent residency inside of the magical cupboard OR he tipped her only ten percent, which in California is practically punishable by law.
So, you guys,
I hope you can see ALL of the places where I went wrong and how my bad habits, just when I think I’ve kicked them, seem to have a recurring role in my life
What do you do in situations like that? I’ve done it all and had mediocre results. The waitress or waiter usually gets defensive, the host couldn’t give a shit and although management wants to hear about poor service, IN THEORY, they have rarely been magnanimous in the moment.
Morning you guys,
I say this ALL THE TIME. That the world is better off and safer than its ever been—and most people look at me like I’m wearing an armadillo hat—on my two heads.
But it’s TRUE! I know it is! Yet…
Why are we so invested in being scared to death? Is this a dangerous world? A bad place?
I believe not. Are you willing to change your mind?
Take a look at this essay by Pam Grout, take a deep breath and know that there are many of us out here who are trying to drown out the 24/7 cacophony of terror.
“Why it’s time for an intervention from the relentless 24/7 media
by ps grout
“Violence is interesting which makes it a great obstacle to world peace and more thoughtful television programming.” –P.J. O’Rourke
Crisis, conflict, and violence are the prevailing themes of our 24/7 media. If some stranger talked to us the way newscasters do, we’d tell them to go jump in a lake. Likewise, if our boyfriends made us feel the way headlines often do, our friends would line up for an intervention. ‘Toss the jerk out on his head,’ they’d say.”
Living in fear sells products, creates economies, elects politicians and keeps the flying monkeys on the job. But it’s not the truth about the world.
The reality is that the world is safer today than at any time in history. The murder rate has plummeted in the last ten years. School shootings are no more prevalent than they were in “Leave it to Beaver” days. In fact, collaboration, goodness and, yes, love are the norm.
It’s just that the dominant paradigm, the one we’ve blindly bought into is “life sucks.” Any thought to the contrary is sidelined immediately by the 27-inch box in the corner of most of our living rooms (and kitchen and bedrooms). In fact, if you pay attention to the box–and most of us use it to form our view of reality–you have little choice but to conclude that murder, rape, war, and genocide is the human condition.
But if you look at it scientifically, the math just doesn’t work out. For every Koran-burning Terry Jones, there are 335,000 ministers who aren’t burning the Koran, who are espousing peace and love and tolerance. For every Scott Peterson, there’s 58.9 million husbands who didn’t murder their wives.
Every day, we’re spoon-fed “news” about missing children, identity theft, the mild-mannered neighbor who walks into work with an AK-47 and a bomb pack and blows up his boss and 27 co-workers.
Why do we think this is news?
On the same day (February 18, 2008), two-year-old Karissa Jones was abducted from her home in Louisville, Kentucky (by her father, as it turns out), there were 53,298 two-year-olds in Kentucky who didn’t get abducted, who were safe and sound at home, happily sipping apple juice from their Winnie-the-Pooh high chairs. Nearly a million children of all ages in Kentucky also didn’t get abducted that same day.
Why is Karissa the “news?”
News, by definition, is new information that teaches people about the world. Picking out what happened to two-one thousandth of one percent of the state’s two-year-olds is not an accurate picture of the world. If you ask me, what happened to the other 53,298 two-year-olds is a bigger story. Or at least it’s more realistic news.
What you see on the newscasts at night, what you read in the morning newspaper is not a realistic perception of our world. It’s an anomaly, an out-of-character thing that happened at one moment in time. News junkies pride themselves on believing they’re well-informed. Because they know what Ann Curry said about the latest layoffs at Boeing and what Morley Safer reported on the earthquake in New Zealand, they smugly believe they’re up on current events.
But do they know about the African-American postman in Germantown, Tennessee who jumped into a lake to save a couple whose brakes went out of their car when they were coming home from a hospital dialysis treatment? Do they know about the Marysville, Kansas attorney who flew, on his own dime, to Israel to donate a kidney to a 10-year-old he’d never met?
Thinking you’re informed because you watch the news is like thinking you understand a zoo when you’ve only seen the “Z” on the entryway sign. It’s not a complete picture, guys. It’s not even a good picture. I’m not going to argue that you can’t find the letter “Z” at any zoo. But if you try to convince me you’re a zoo expert or even that you have a faint understanding of what a zoo is all about because you’ve seen a “Z,” well, I’m sorry, I have no choice but to argue.
Attention-grabbing headlines and newscasts are nothing more than a sales tool, no more “factual” than “The Simpsons.” Isolated incidences get turned into frightening trends and our own thoughts have become conditioned to leap to the worst.
The mission of this blog is to free readers from the straitjacket of the relentless news media. Instead of asking “What’s wrong?,” a question we hear over and over again, I’d like to pose a simple question with the power to change the world: “What’s right?”
Pam Grout is the author of 18 books including E-Squared: 9 Do-it-Yourself Energy Experiments that Prove Your Thoughts Create Your Reality and the about to be released, Thank and Grow Rich: a 30-day Experiment in Shameless Gratitude and Unabashed Joy