Tag Archives: complaining

At your service

I work in a pretty busy restaurant, and there are tons of managers, everybody’s in charge of me. “Rob, come over here and do this,” or, “Rob, go over there and do that,” and whatever, that’s my job description I guess, server, servant, and I can already hear the, “If you don’t like it, get another job,” rebuttals, which is fair enough, I mean, I could always just leave. But I’ve left restaurant jobs before, it’s always such a pain in the ass showing up at a new place, trying to make a good first impression, starting over somewhere else from the bottom.

Waitress carrying dirty plates in restaurant, rear view

And yeah, I don’t necessarily like complaining, but every once in a while it’ll just build up, all of those little interactions at work, constantly getting micromanaged by people that you see every day, only at work, this cast of characters in my life that serve no other purpose than to direct me from point A to point B.

I have a lot of energy. At work, I don’t even necessarily try, but I move around the restaurant pretty quickly. Some kitchen manager will ask me to grab a stack of plates and move it from here to there, and I’ll do it, I get it done without breaking a sweat. And that’s doesn’t even really bother me. It’s when these little orders and commands start to pile up, when I feel that, regardless of how fast I get something done, there’s no end to little chores and constant directions.

“Rob, go get me a stack of plates. Rob, go fold this pile of linens. Rob, get me another roll of printer paper.” After a while I start to feel like, the faster and more efficient that I complete every one of these little tasks, all I’m doing is making more work for myself. Restaurant bosses hate to see their employees standing idle for even a second. And so, as soon as I open up my mouth to start small-talk with a coworker, a manager is guaranteed to show up, to interrupt me midsentence, “Rob, can you make sure that the silverware is polished?”

Yeah, I get the argument that there’s virtue in work. Sure, I have this picture in my head of me marching around the world putting my best foot forward, giving everything that I do one hundred percent, just for the sake of giving it my all, a testament to my admirable work ethic.

But on a day-to-day basis, especially on days where I’m not really feeling it, where I wish that I didn’t have to still be waiting tables at a restaurant, running around, the expediter is telling me to back up ice, and on the way to the ice machine, a customer stops me in my tracks, he lifts up his soda glass and, in between bites of food, he says simply, “More Diet Coke,” and on my way to get his refill, I’ve got another two people in the kitchen looking directly at me, “Is anybody backing up ice?” obviously you just asked me to back up ice, obviously I don’t have the ice, why are you forming it as this general question? Why don’t you just give me a second and I’ll back up ice?

Yeah, on days like that, it’ll get to me, the ceaseless busy work, the realization that, the faster I move, the more work I’ll ultimately have to do. And for what? A few dollars an hour? That’s what really bugs me about restaurant work. The house isn’t even paying me a living wage, and yet they’re acting under the expectation that I’m to work under their absolute obedience, the customers’ absolute obedience, everybody in the restaurant is my boss, but the only ones contributing to my making a living are the people who, after they’ve settled up with the house, maybe they’ll throw me a tip. Probably. Almost definitely. But still, maybe. There’s always the potential for a maybe not.

And so what can I do? “Boss, I gave table thirteen excellent service, but they didn’t leave a tip.”

“Oh well, better luck next time. Can you throw these boxes away?”

So some days, and I hate doing it, but I’ll drag my feet. It’s super passive aggressive, and I doubt anybody’s really paying attention enough to even realize that I’m upset. But that’s the only real control that I have over my day, to just take it a little easier. Because it’s not like if I work really hard they’re going to let me then chill out for a second. No, it’s right back to work, there are always a million things that need to be done, no way that I’ll be able to do everything, and so I might as well just catch my breath, walk a little slower, try to keep those negative thoughts out of my head, just doing my best to be in a better mood.

It’s getting real hot out there

I spent a fair amount of last summer complaining about the heat. I’d sit down to write something, but the sweat would be pouring out of my body, soaking my laptop, making it impossible to write anything of significance. As my fingers would slip on the keys, as the messages popped up on the screen, “Reminder, do not pour liquids onto your computer,” I’d think to myself, this sucks, I’m so hot, I’m not getting any writing done, and everything that I do wind up writing, it’s just this long whiney complaint about being hot.

heat sunset res

Then the fall came, and that was great. Even winter was a welcome relief. And it wasn’t until about March or April that I really started to get sick of the cold. This year winter wouldn’t take the hint. It was like when you have your friends over and it’s three in the morning and you’re pretending to act like you’re still having a good time, that you’re not super tired, wishing that everyone would just leave already so you could go to sleep, and just when you think somebody might make a move for the door, somebody else sinks a little deeper into the couch and asks, “Anybody feel like getting a game of Monopoly going?”

But winter’s finally over. Spring made a delayed appearance for like a week or so. And then I woke up yesterday and it was summer again. The first day came and went and I didn’t complain. It wasn’t that hot, there was a nice breeze, I got to go outside in shorts. It was pretty pleasant considering how long winter took to finally melt away into warmer weather.

But then day two. I always bike to work and, not really thinking it through, I wore jeans and a t-shirt. Come on, I thought, it’s still May. It’s totally going to be OK. It totally wasn’t OK. The humidity was reminiscent of August. I wasn’t even halfway to the restaurant and, although you might not be able to tell just by looking at me, the entire surface of my body was covered in sweat.

It’s like, I love wearing jeans, but I can’t think of anything more uncomfortable than sweating through a thick pair of denim. The pants turn to sandpaper. Every step, every pedal on the bike, it becomes an exercise in exfoliating the skin on my legs, one layer at a time, until there’s nothing left but rash and raw.

And then I got to work and I had to change into my work clothes. I took off my damp jeans, my moistened shirt. And that wasn’t even the wettest part. My undershirt, my boxers, my socks, even though I’m going to be putting on a fresh change of clothing, everything underneath is heavy with perspiration.

I changed into my uniform. You know how it is, your body takes a minute or so to cool down. I thought my jeans were restrictive, but wearing dress pants, a shirt, tie, and a giant waiter’s apron, that was downright stifling. Not only did the sweating not stop, it actually picked up a little bit. I could start to feel my freshly laundered outfit starting to absorb it’s own layer of gross.

Man, and what the fuck? Why did it feel like the heat was still on? My restaurant is at the bottom of this gigantic building in Midtown. I can only guess that, in an effort to not be surprised if winter decides to make one or two more guest appearances this early in the warm season, they’re delaying the official changing of the thermostat for as long as possible.

I’m going to try and stop complaining. There’s nothing I can do about the heat, and it’s still May. It’s only going to get hotter and hotter. But man, I’m so f’n hot. I wake up in the morning and my mouth is like sealed shut because it’s so hot out and it makes the inside of my mouth so dry and then I go and try to get my day started but I get out of the shower and I’m already soaked through with sweat again and by the time I sit down to write even though I’m telling myself not to write about being so hot I can’t help it it’s all I can think about I can’t stop writing I can’t even make commas or periods I’m so fucking hot.


Even though I’m on vacation right now, I’m still committing myself to sitting down to write something every day. But it’s really hard to concentrate because it’s so beautiful outside and I don’t want to be at my computer trying to figure out what to write about. It’s hard enough doing this at my kitchen table back in New York, where I’m almost completely desensitized to the world around me. I’m able to, sometimes anyway, completely clear my mind from all distractions, open up my imagination to topics such as, what would it be like to wait tables in space? Or, do I really believe in the magical properties of crystals?

But here it’s like super hard, for all of the obvious reasons. There’s this ridiculous beach outside. I’m sitting in my hotel room in a bathing suit trying to just belt out a blog post, just one short piece, just something. I didn’t get any writing done yesterday, because we were traveling. It was one of those get-up-at-six-in-the-morning days so we could catch our flight. That’s great, but of course my brain wouldn’t let me fall asleep until two in the morning the night before.

When we finally made it to our hotel yesterday afternoon, all I had the energy to do was sit on the beach and drink Mai Thais until my body couldn’t keep its eyes open, some time around seven PM. I woke up this morning at nine, but my wife had to pry me out of the bed. I can’t believe I used to pull all-nighters like this once a week when I was in college. And it was nothing. I’d spend all day totally goofing around, realizing that I had way too much work due the next day, but I’d shrug it off, head to the library, and stay up all night getting my assignments done. What happened to me? At what point did I turn into this guy that becomes a zombie the one time a year he only sleeps for three hours before a flight?

By the way, it’s funny because, I wrote this whole blog post a while back about Delta Airlines, how they wronged me in the past, how I swore I’d never fly with them again. Guess which airline had the cheapest flights to Puerto Rico? Guess who flew Delta Airlines? Whatever, I flew in protest.

This morning we got up, we had the hotel breakfast, and then we camped out on the beach, my wife lying out in the tropical sun, absorbing its golden rays and bronzing herself like a pro. Me, I was committed to the shade like a cockroach, religiously reapplying sunscreen every twenty minutes. I’ll still burn, but it was worth it, to be able to sit outside. I got to read, something I really don’t let myself find enough time for.

We’re only on our first full day of vacation here, but if I had to find one thing to complain about, it’s that there are way too many vacationers here complaining. We’re at a total American beach destination, and yeah, I work in the service industry, so I guess I’ve sort of fine-tuned myself to automatically detect the frequencies of others’ discontent, but I’m really shocked by how so many Americans can come to a beautiful tropical island and just find everything to complain about.

We went out to dinner to some seafood restaurant in Old San Juan. Everything was as perfect as you’d imagine an amazing seafood restaurant to be. We had ceviche, we had whole red snapper, we had these fried fish balls. Man, everything was just f’n unbelievably delicious. The only thing that put a damper on our good time was these two ladies at the table next to us complaining the entire meal, to each other, to every single staff member that came over. It was beyond ridiculous. They ate an entire dish and then complained that it wasn’t enough, arguing over the bill for an hour after they finished their last bite. Our waitress wound up buying us a round of drinks after they left because we had to sit next to that vortex of negativity the entire time. What a bunch of entitled brats.

And then today at the beach, there was this couple complaining, loudly, to everybody around them about how long it was taking for the hotel staff to get them a beach umbrella. Just get one yourself if you want it that bad. It was one of these scenes where the woman was walking around in every which way, grabbing anybody that wore anything remotely resembling a uniform, “Excuse me? Can we have an umbrella? Everybody else is getting umbrellas. Oh my God. We need an umbrella,” to the point where like three employees eventually came over with three different umbrellas, the second and third one realizing that they had all been contracted to repeat the same job, muttering to themselves in Spanish the absurdity of this lady’s demands.

Anyway, that’s my only complaint, other people complaining. That and me not being able to concentrate on my writing, because I’m having a fantastic vacation.

Very uncomfortable (a long complaint to nobody)

I’m so tired. And cold. If it weren’t so cold I’d probably have fallen asleep already, right here at my computer, just head down on the table asleep in this chair. And if it were warmer, maybe if I had an extra sweater, a scarf, definitely something with a hood, and then I fell asleep, it would be one of those sleeps where I’m too exhausted even to shift positions, and that’s probably also compounded by the fact that, in this chair, at this table, I don’t really have any other positions to shift into, my whole body being kind of weirdly balanced, forehead right on the table, torso slumped over. And everybody knows what happens next: two, three hours passed out like this, something’s going to get cut off, no circulation, no blood. Probably my legs, not just part of my legs, the whole thing. Think about it. I’m slumped over, my legs are kind of tucked under the chair, and so the pinch, the spot where the blood’s not going to be able to flow through, it’s right there, like at my pelvis.

And whatever, I’d get up, both of my legs would be asleep, I’d probably get one of those throbbing headaches from my head having been bent down accumulating blood for so long. And dry mouth. Dry nose. I’d stand up and just be really in a lot of pain, a lot of dry uncirculated discomfort. And I’d get up, try to walk around in circles to get everything back to normal, drinking water, maybe take some Advil, eventually go to bed. But then I’d be laying there for the rest of the night, and even though my legs wouldn’t be hurting anymore, it’s always, you know, you get that sort-of throbbing, that kind-of discomfort which, maybe a normal person could successfully fall asleep to, but all I’m thinking of is: deep vein thrombosis. Blood clots. Peripheral artery disease. Scurvy. Just enough paranoid terror to keep my exhausted body and mind in a state of half sleep, thinking about my legs, about the time, about how I should have had eight hours of sleep tonight, nine even, ten. But now it’d just be eight hours of laying down, twisting in bed, trying to keep myself from freaking out.

But I’m not falling asleep right here, right in this chair, even though I am really tired, I haven’t slept much at all this weekend. It’s because it’s so cold in my house. The chill is keeping me just awake enough to write this long whiney complaint. I spent a few days away and turned down the thermostat before I left. Something happened, I don’t know what really, but the heat wound up shutting off completely, so when I walked in the door it was like, Jesus, it’s f’n cold in here, really cold. So I got the furnace going and started cranking everything up. And there’s hot air coming out of the radiators, so it’s on, but two, two and a half days away? The whole house is like a refrigerator. A giant refrigerator that’s all of the sudden being invaded by really dry furnace heat, pumping out through the walls, making that hissing sound. And everything in the house, having been so cold, now getting heated up so fast, it’s all condensing around me, the glasses and plates getting wet, frosted, like when you take a mug out of the freezer. And it’s the same with the tile floor.

And so yeah it’s really cold, but the air is really hot and dry. Does this make any sense? I’ve since put on a sweater. And another sweatshirt on top of that. I’m wearing a hood now. I’m still freezing. And tired. And now the drastic change in temperature is making my skin itch, it’s going to be one of those nights where, even though I’m not worried about deep vein thrombosis, I’m going to be scratching at my dry skin all night, the same restlessness, the same non-sleep.

I think really I’m just overtired. Tired and complaining. Complaining and cold. And itchy.

Shots! Shots! Shots! Shots!

I just got the flu shot today. This year’s shot hurt so much more than all of the other years combined. I hate shots. I hate the idea of somebody puncturing my body with a needle. How do they know exactly where to stick it? Isn’t my arm just muscle? So are they really just taken all of that liquid and squirting it inside my muscle? How does that get to where it needs to go inside of me?

I figured I’d write something all about shots. Mostly complaints. Mostly out of order and out of context, little sentences and anecdotes that don’t really have anything to do with each other. Like when I was a little kid and the nurses had to hold me down in the doctor’s office so the doctor could inject me. Or about those crazy moms and dads in America that think that the US government is injecting autism into their children via regular immunizations.

I’ve gotten tons of shots. When I was in the Peace Corps, the first three months were devoted to basically receiving vaccines on a full time basis. We got the flu shot. We got the swine flu shot. They gave us vaccines for everything. And we couldn’t opt out of anything. Not that I wanted to opt out of any shots. I’m not a huge fan of communicable tropical diseases. But there were some other people that put up a big stink.

Some of those shots were harmless. Whooping cough. Yellow fever. But I remember that everybody got the Typhoid shot and felt really sick the next day. That was kind of an unsettling thought, that this preventative injection gave us all a twenty-four hour bug. But whatever, I’d rather be sick for a day than to have Typhoid. I don’t even know what Typhoid is. I don’t even know what yellow fever is.

And I don’t want to know. I don’t know if anybody else feels the same way, but whenever I look up diseases or infections, I get crazy, I get to thinking that I have magically contracted whatever it is I’ve looked up. Or worse, I’ll know that I don’t have it, but I’ll be reading the symptoms and imagining what they’d feel like if I did have them, and a lot of the time that’s even worse than actually being sick.

Because really, what are the symptoms for most diseases? Chills. Headache. Fever. Aching. That’s why whenever somebody tells me that they have the flu, and this totally depends on who tells me, but usually I’m going to call bullshit. Really? You have the flu? I’ll be talking to somebody one day, and they’re fine, and then the next day they have a fever, and it’s automatically the flu.

You know the flu kills tons of people every year, right? Maybe you do have the flu, I have no idea. But I’m just guessing that you don’t. Every once in a while I’ll get sick for a day or two, and I’ll have a fever. I’ll take a bunch of Advil and hopefully after a few days I’m good. But the flu? I’ve always imagined the flu, for an adult in his twenties, to be two weeks incapacitated by a virus that would kill a man in his seventies. This is something that’s going to confine you to your bed, that’s going to put pain and pressure on every bone in your body.

Most every day that I have to go to work, I think to myself, man, I wish I were just sick enough to warrant staying home and calling in sick. I picture the flu to be you stuck in bed wishing that you could work indefinitely for little to no pay only for an hour’s relief from the hell that this virus is wreaking on your whole body.

And that’s why I get a flu shot every year. I’m in my prime right now. I know I probably don’t need it. Whenever I talk to people my age about a flu shot, nobody ever gets it. Nobody takes the flu seriously.

But I get it every year. And getting back to where I started, I think that there has to be a bulls-eye in your arm, the sweet spot of where that needle is supposed to hit. Because sometimes the needle goes clean in, like you’re waiting for the nurse to give you the shot, and you’re clenching your teeth and holding your eyes shut, but the nurse goes, “OK, that’s it,” and you don’t even need that band aid, like it’s totally not necessary.

But then you get days like today, where I got my shot and I not only felt the needle pricking my skin, but I felt it enter, I could tell ever millimeter of the way how far it had penetrated into my muscle. And I could even feel the liquid vaccine being pressed by this person’s hand into my arm. And now my arm’s very sore, like I can’t even lift it up all the way.

Why can’t we do it like they do it in Star Trek? Seriously, you ever see that? It’s called a hypo-spray. You can inject it through the clothing. That would make my year so much better. Because even after this sore arm heals, I’m going to have to deal with emotional trauma for months, of being pricked, of being hurt.

You know what? I think next year I’m going to ask that nurse if they have any sort of a vaccine that can stop me from constantly whining about all the shots I have to take, from complaining about how the band aid used after the injection, about how it hurts so much when it’s on my arm all day and I have to pull it off at the end, and it’s all stuck to my skin. But I’m going to ask if they have an oral vaccine because, I don’t know, after today I really don’t feel like getting any more shots, not for a while anyway.