Tag Archives: pissed off

Self-appointed bike lane enforcement guy

It’s not my job to tell people what to do, I get it. I keep telling it to myself over and over again every time I ride my bike across the Queensboro Bridge. I’ve written about this before, but there’s a shared lane fenced off from traffic on the North side of the bridge. It’s about the width of a single lane of normal car traffic.

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Only, this lane is divided by a white line down the center. The inside side is clearly labeled every twenty feet or so with these stick-figure graphics of a guy on a bicycle, while directly opposite, there are images of pedestrians. It’s easy enough, biking on one side, walking on the other.

But I don’t understand why people can’t just follow this very simple system. If you’re on a bike, why do you have to bike in the pedestrian lane? If you’re walking or running, what are trying to accomplish by taking up space in the bike lane? Why can’t we just respect the system?

But like I said, I’m not in charge, OK, I get that. It’s not my job to tell people to follow the rules. I’m not a cop. People aren’t obligated to listen to me. And so I try to just bite my tongue. I really do make an effort to not let myself get angry just because other people make decisions that I wouldn’t make.

It seriously drives me crazy though. I’ll be biking on the bike side of the lane when I see a runner coming right at me. What do I do? Isn’t it easy enough to just swerve out of the way? Yeah, I guess in theory there might come a time where there could potentially be a traffic issue, multiple bikers trying to pass each other at the same time at the same spot, a situation that could be neatly avoided if the runner would just stay in his designated running lane.

But most of the time it’s not an issue. It’s certainly not my issue. The guy’s in the bike lane, it doesn’t matter. It shouldn’t matter. I should just ignore it, bike around him. Why do I have to let the actions of a complete stranger dictate the state of emotions inside my head?

But I’m not always thinking the same way every time I cross the bridge. Sometimes I might be in a really good mood. I’ll see that runner, I’ll say to myself, hey Rob, just focus on your own life. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. It doesn’t matter.

Sometimes it works. Other times I might be running late, I might have just gotten into an argument with someone. Maybe I’m just pissed off for no reason at all. That happens, I can wake up on the wrong side of the bed. And look, now I’ve got some idiot running right at me from the wrong side of the lane. Well you know what? I don’t feel like getting pushed around, not today, not by these people just blatantly disregarding the bike lane and the pedestrian lane.

And I just want to put it out there, when I get bent out shape, I know that I’m in the wrong. Every time that I take this shit personally, every time I choose to react to something like this, I get it, I’m the idiot here. Yet sometimes there’s nothing I can do. Something about it just drives me off the wall. Like why do I have to get out of your way? Why don’t you just stay on your side and then nobody will have to get out of anybody else’s way?

There are several ways of me going about being a self-righteous bridge asshole. If the runner is running all the way to the side of the bridge, I might meet him head on, a classic game of chicken. Eventually we get to the same spot, and I kind of put my hands in the air, like what the hell man? And he does the same thing, like come on dude! And that’s it.

Other times I might get verbal, like, “Come on man! Bike lane!” and then I’ve basically lost, because now I’m the crazy person yelling at random strangers on the bridge. It’s all nonsense. I don’t want it to bother me anymore. I just want to ride my bike across without feeling like I’m being one-upped by anyone. Maybe I should start commuting blindfolded. When I get in someone’s face, it’s pointless. There’s going to be another pedestrian in the bike lane like thirty seconds later. What am I going to do, yell at every single person? Is that going to be my thing, like self-appointed bike lane enforcement guy?

I hope not. I hope that eventually it won’t bother me, like I’ll learn to not let it piss me off. But I’m still far away from that day. Because even if I do restrain myself, even if I politely get out of everyone else’s way, it still pisses me off. Just stay in your lane, all right, it’s really not difficult at all.

We’ll take the cheapest bottle of white wine, please

I’m not really into writing about my day job, or my night job really, about waiting tables. I do it sometimes, but it’s just something that I want to keep separate from the rest of my life. Because when I do venture into stories about something that happened in the restaurant, it tends to be negative, something that bothered me so badly that I couldn’t help but come home and write it out. And then I start out with a big disclaimer, an “I don’t like writing about the restaurant,” opening paragraph, like this is somehow a justification for some complaint I’m going to air about a customer that asked for too many ketchups or a couple that sat in my section for too long.

wine tasting

But here it is: the other night I had a table of three women. And yeah, I’m a few days removed from the situation, and so it’s not bothering me as much as it did that night. I came home fuming, trying to keep a lid on the rage inside. Why did I let myself get so angry? I fantasized about how I’d tell this whole horror story, a “Can you believe it?” play-by-play.

But now that I’m sitting down in front of my computer, now that I’m trying to piece back the sequence of events, everything feels so petty, the women, me. Mostly me. Mostly the fact that I got so upset, that I gave these three strangers so much power over me, to let them direct my emotions, my thoughts. And over what?

They ordered a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc. They ordered the cheapest bottle. Whatever, I mean, that’s what it’s there for, right? I did the whole waiter-opens-up-a-bottle-of-wine routine, the presenting of the bottle, the pouring of the little taste. Where most people are like, “fine,” especially with the cheap stuff, this woman made a face, a scrunched up mouth face.

And she held it for a minute, all the while twirling the glass in her fingers. Finally she was like, “I don’t know. I don’t know. I just … I just … I don’t … I just,” before making her friends try. In my head, I’m thinking, come on ladies, it’s the cheapest bottle of white wine on the menu. What are you really expecting?

But the other friends got stuck in the same feedback loop, “Well,” they said while sniffing the inside of their empty glasses, “I can’t … it’s just … we don’t,” and I cut them off, I was going crazy, I reached for the bottle and very graciously offered them something else. “We’re really sorry,” they said, to which I replied, “Don’t be sorry, I’m happy to bring you something you’ll enjoy.”

And I did. They ordered the second cheapest bottle of wine. “Much better,” the first woman told me after tasting it. The relief on her face, in her voice, it was like she had just received the antidote to a poison that had been causing her visible distress. “We’re so sorry,” she continued, “it’s just … we’re just … this is much better.”

Fine. Terrific. They ordered three veggie burgers, they ordered three sides of avocado, and they sat in my section for the rest of the night, picking at their food, and then engaging in what I can only assume was a spirited game of “let’s see who can drink our wine the slowest.” But this was the end of the night, I had been working there since eleven in the morning, I had absolutely no fight in me, I couldn’t have gotten annoyed simply because I was too tired. So what if I was losing out on another turn of that table? That would have been even more energy that I would have had to expend, gas that I didn’t have left in the tank.

I dropped the check and left them to figure out the bill. A few minutes later, all three of them had their hands in the air, trying to get my attention. “Yes?” I was trying to figure out what could have been the problem. Did I forget to take the first bottle of wine off the bill? Had I handed them someone else’s check?

“Can you go ahead and take these avocado charges off? We never pay for avocado.” And I didn’t know what to say. Everyone pays for avocado. There’s an avocado button on the computer. In fact, there’s no way for anybody to get avocado in this restaurant without paying, so I told them all of this, that there wasn’t really anything that I could do. They started to turn on me, fast, “Listen,” they told me, “Two dollars isn’t going to make a dent in our wallets. But we never pay for avocado.”

They made a loaded statement like that, basically saying, listen asshole, we have tons of money. You think we give a shit about two dollars? No, we don’t. But we don’t want to pay for this. And framed in that light, I took another look at my guests, I noticed their expensive bags, the Merrill Lynch corporate credit cards they had on the tray to pay for their meals.

This wasn’t about two dollars at all. Neither was the wine service. The whole night for them was an exercise in power, in going out and flexing a little muscle. Take this bottle away. Make this two-dollar charge disappear. You, come over here and do as we say.

And when I refused, I knew they’d probably tip less. They started laughing a little. I walked away and when I came back, they handed me the bill. They totally tipped less, thirteen percent each. And that’s when that rage started. I would have never let them see it, that would have been giving them exactly what they wanted. But I took that anger home with me. I brought it into my house when I started “venting” to my wife about how I can’t stand this and that.

Only a few days later, after I’ve had a minute to cool off, can I see how ridiculous the whole situation was. Stuff like that is going to happen and there’s nothing I can do to stop it. I did what I had to do and that’s that. Why am I getting so pissed off? It’s all about what I said earlier, that by allowing myself to be angry at these three strangers, I’m giving them the power that they’re seeking, over me, over my emotions, over my mental well-being.

Fuck that shit. I don’t need their two dollars each either. Is that going to make a dent in my overall financial security? Hardly. I just have to remind myself of all of this, the next time I’m dealing with unpleasant customers, the next table that I’m serving that I can’t seem to satisfy. I’m just doing my job, doing the best I can, and if someone else isn’t happy, then that’s on them. I’ve got to be better about not letting random people dictate the terms of how I feel.

Andre totally ruined my karaoke night

I hadn’t heard from Andre in months. Our last falling out was it, it had to have been it, because we’ve had no contact since. I didn’t want to defriend him on Facebook, because I didn’t want him going around showing everybody how petty I am. But I didn’t want to see him either, so I just completely blocked him. Every once in a while I’d write something and he’d like it, but fuck that guy, that doesn’t count as contact, I guarantee you it’s something meta, like he’s liking it to be ironic, to make fun of me.

One time we were all hanging out and I was talking about how meta some show was, and Andre just calls me out, right in front of everybody, “What does meta mean?” Come on. And then I had to make up some answer, and then somebody else in the group said, “Well, you were right about that show being meta, but that’s not what meta means, so you’re obviously just repeating something you read online.”

Andre totally set me up for that. The rest of that night I tried to act like I wasn’t pissed off, because I’m not going to give anybody that satisfaction, which was why when he came up to me and said, “Hey Rob, are you OK? You look pissed off,” I got super pissed, enraged, and I told Andre to just do me a favor and leave me alone.

And he did. That jerk. I think I need to change my whole group of friends. Everybody’s taking Andre’s side. Two weekends ago I sent everyone a text, “Let’s do karaoke night,” and everybody said, “Sounds great! Let’s do it!” Guess who shows up? I don’t know why I’m even asking, because the answer’s going to be obvious. Andre.

“Who invited that guy?” I asked nobody in particular, but both Dave and Jeff actually answered, they were both like, “Yeah I sent him a text and let him know we were all meeting up.” And they both did it independently. I organized this whole thing. So now Andre walks in and he immediately gives a high-five to Dave and Jeff, and then he comes over to me, like, “What’s up man? What’s good?”

What’s good? Not a lot. Not anymore. I was really working on that song “Ariels” by System of a Down, for karaoke. As soon as we got to the bar I wrote it on the paper, gave it to the DJ. Half an hour, forty-five minutes later, Andre shows up. I didn’t even see him write anything down. Or even go to the bar. He’s there like ten minutes, someone just hands him a Yuengling, and all of the sudden the DJ’s like, “Let’s give it up for Andre!”

And he gets up there and it’s “Chop Suey,” also by System of a Down. And he fucking kills it, the low parts, the high parts, everyone’s going nuts. And now, what, I’m supposed to get up there afterwards and sing a different System of a Down song? One that’s clearly not as difficult? An hour goes by, two hours go by, the DJ doesn’t call my name. Whatever, it’s for the best at this point. This whole night’s been a bust anyway,

Andre’s just standing there, like there’s no beef, like he didn’t intentionally blow my Halloween costume last year. I went up to him and I was like, “Andre, I got the greatest idea for Halloween. You wear a shirt that says ‘Andre’ and I’ll wear one that says, ‘The Giant’,” because I’m so much taller than him, “It’ll be great.”

Because I wasn’t thinking that anybody would really dress up. I didn’t think it would be like a real costume party. Nobody told me anyway. So he shows up to the bar in that black single-strapped singlet, that curly black wig, and everybody’s like, “Andre the Giant!” and I’m just standing there with this stupid “The Giant” t-shirt that doesn’t make any sense. I went up to him and I was like, “What the hell?” and he was like, “Yeah, I didn’t really get what you were talking about. That didn’t make any sense. I thought you just meant Andre the Giant.”

What an asshole. And we’re just standing here, everybody’s having so much fun, everybody’s having such a good time. I was just going to peace out, fuck this shit, fuck this bar, fuck this group of friends, and on my way out the door that DJ comes on the stage, “It’s going to be pretty hard to top ‘Chop Suey,’ but here to give it a shot is Rob with ‘Ariels!’” And I thought, well, maybe I’ll get up there, give it a go, I had been practicing, but nobody clapped or anything, and I think I already made too dramatic of an exit, I think, I don’t know who was paying attention, but I’m guessing everybody saw it, because this bar isn’t really that big.