Tag Archives: days off

If you could come in tomorrow, that’d be great

I was at work the other day, my last day of the week, looking forward to two consecutive days off, just as soon as I finished this one shift. And then I heard one of my managers going around to all of my coworkers asking them if they could work tomorrow.

Shit. It’s not that I feel too much pressure to work when I don’t want to. I don’t have to say yes. But it’s like sometimes I’ll say no, and then the manager will go around and ask everybody else, and everybody else will also say no, and then the manager will come back to me, he or she will be like, “Can you please work tomorrow?” and they’ll have that begging look in their eye, and in that one moment of desperation all barriers are broken down, the invisible and, I would say, artificial authority that separates me as a human being from them as another human being.

And even though I don’t want to, I’ll sometimes start to feel bad. I’ll look the manager in the eye and curse my empathy as I agree, albeit begrudgingly, very obviously begrudgingly, like a way over-exaggerated, “Ughh … fine. I guess. Fine.”

But not this day. I had just finished a long week. I had been looking forward to these days off. “Hey Rob, could you work tomorrow?” “Sorry boss, I can’t help you out.” And he walked away, started making the rounds to the rest of the staff.

A lot of the time when the managers get really desperate to cover a hole in the schedule they’ll start cutting these deals. If I have my own scheduling problem sometimes I can use their desperation to my advantage, like depending on how badly he needed tomorrow covered, I could be like, “Well, let me off two days from now and you’ve got a deal.”

But again, I really, really didn’t want to go to work, so I didn’t even try it. I overheard him asking a coworker, “Come on, work tomorrow. I’ll buy you a free lunch.” Free lunch. That used to be tempting for me. Normally all restaurant employees get fifty percent off anything on the menu, and I feel bad going to work and then giving them some of their money back. So the offer for a free meal is cool in theory, but I’ve never really feel comfortable taking advantage of this particular perk.

First of all, I have to sit in the restaurant, like at a table, like some other waiter or waitress is going to have to serve me my food. This is always slightly weird, for me anyway, to be on the receiving end of what are my normal day-to-day tasks. I know it’s probably all in my head, but I can feel everybody in the restaurant watching me, judging my order, looking at me strangely if I’m sitting by myself.

And what am I going to order anyway? If the manager gives me a free lunch and I order something expensive, something really good, isn’t that going to be seen as me taking too much advantage of what should have been a simple gesture of gratitude? I’d feel kind of bad being like, “Fuck it. Give me the fifty-dollar New York strip. Ha!”

So yeah, the free lunch trick doesn’t really work on me anymore. Honestly, I’d rather spend my lunch break going to Chipotle anyway. Jesus Christ I’m so addicted to Chipotle. Sometimes if it’s really slow I’ll sneak out even when it’s not my lunch break and have a quick burrito.

But all of that’s entirely beside the point. My boss must have received a bunch of flat rejections from everybody else, because I saw him coming my way. Come on Rob, I told myself, stay resolute, don’t make eye contact.

“Rob,” he started. I already had my mouth halfway open, I was about to say something like, “Listen, there’s no way I’m working tomorrow. I’m really sorry, but absolutely no way.” I was about to say that. But he continued, “work tomorrow and I’ll give you a bottle of wine.”

And before I even had time to make sense of the offer, I blurted out, “All right. Deal.”

What the hell? I felt like Kramer in that episode of Seinfeld where he forgoes his lawsuit against the coffee shop because they offer him free coffee for life. Deal? I don’t know what got into me. I was just blindsided by the uniqueness of the offer. I’d never heard of anybody getting a free bottle of wine.

So yeah, I had to work the next day. It wasn’t that bad. I haven’t tried the wine yet. I think I’m scared to open it up and taste it. The whole thing seems so illicit, like what’s wrong with me that I can be instantly convinced to turn on my own convictions for a bottle of wine? It better be a good wine. I know that it’s going to be a mind game, like that first sip, regardless of what my tongue experiences, my brain’s going to override, saying, “Yes. This is good. Yup. This is great. This was totally worth it.” Although, I also know that, after it’s done, that same brain is going to second-guess itself, “I guess. Was it good? I don’t know. It was OK. It was, you know, it was winey,” and I’ll be left confused, unfulfilled. So yeah, I’m just staring at it, maybe I’ll never drink it. Maybe next time I’ll hold out until they offer me a bottle of bourbon.

The Milano: An Ode to Pepperidge Farm

I bought a bag of Milano cookies on a whim the other day at the grocery store. This is totally unlike me. I never buy cookies. Not usually. If I’m going to buy something sweet, it’s always ice cream. But store bought cookies? I can safely say that I’ve never bought store bought cookies in my entire life. Well, I used to be able to safely say that. Now it’s not true anymore. Now I can’t even say that I’ve only bought store bought cookies once. But I’ll get to that.

I brought my groceries home, started unpacking everything, and when I saw this bag there I just kind of made this puzzled face, kind of scratched my head a little, thinking, “Milanos? What inspired me to pick up a bag of Pepperidge Farm Milanos?” I didn’t even know where to put them, like, there’s no specific drawer or kitchen cabinet where I felt they naturally belonged. So I just kind of pushed them to the side.

As the days passed, every now and then I’d look over at the bag and just kind of laugh to myself, ha, talk about random, Milanos. And I never got the urge to eat any. Not once did I look longingly at the bag and think, man, I’d love to just go to town on that sack of Milanos.

But then I had three days off from work. I’m a restaurant worker, and so my days off don’t always coincide with the rest of the world’s days off. Add to those days off a severe three day long cold snap and I found myself with all the right excuses to spend seventy-two hours completely holed up inside. I didn’t want anything to do with the outside world.

I had enough groceries for a while. I ate all of the eggs in the fridge, most of the canned goods. But by day three supplies were dwindling. I felt bad calling out for delivery; the only reason I hadn’t gone out was because it was so cold, like single-digits cold, so cold that I couldn’t bear to be outside myself for more than two minutes. How could I possibly call up a restaurant and force them to send somebody out on a bike to bring food to my house? It’s always awkward, when it’s pouring rain, when it’s freezing cold, and you get a knock on the door and it’s some delivery guy, shivering, soaking wet, “Thanks a lot boss! Here’s three dollars!”

There were like three containers of leftovers in the fridge that, when combined, almost made up a whole plate of food. I microwaved the whole dish hoping that it would be enough to satisfy my hunger. It wasn’t. I started getting desperate, looking through the cupboards, nothing. At last I turned my head to that far spot on the counter. The Milanos.

“Maybe I’m not hungry,” I tried convincing myself, “maybe I only need a little dessert, something to wrap up the meal, take my mind off the hunger.” I opened the bag cautiously. Why cautiously? Because I know myself with sweets. If I really like sweets, it won’t even be a slippery slope, it’ll be a precipitous drop, zero to sixty. That bag wouldn’t stand a chance. I reached in for a cookie.

I hadn’t had a Milano in so long, I had all but forgotten what it felt like to sink my front teeth into those perfectly crisp golden wafers. How do they get the cookies to have just the perfect amount of crunch? I looked on the bag for what I assumed had to be an ingredient list jammed with preservatives and chemicals. But nothing. “Baked with no artificial flavors or preservatives,” it read right on the packaging. And then I started reading the rest of the bag. Each side had a different story. One of them started out, “Ahh … yes. The Milano.”

And I just pictured myself sitting on a plush velvet couch, draped in nothing but silk robes, the very definition of pleasure and comfort. And I’m covered in cookie crumbs, those little paper dividers keeping one level of Milanos separate from the other, they’re everywhere. And I’m getting anxious, I’m worried that I’ve done it, that I’ve exhausted my supply of Milano cookies. But I’m so fat from spending God knows how long sitting on that ridiculously comfortable couch … did I say velvet? It’s actually a suede couch. Even more comfortable. And I’m rolling around from side to side, throwing wrappers in the air when, finally, thank God, a full box, unopened, and I hold it up in front of me and whisper, “Ahh … yes. The Milano!”

And by the time I was done with my Milano induced daydream, I realized that I had eaten the entire box. I couldn’t believe it. The ultimate Pepperidge Farm binge. And I had only gotten through one side of the box. I needed more. More Milano.

I got up and sprinted toward the grocery store. To hell with the cold. I didn’t care if I hadn’t brushed my teeth yet, if I was still wearing pajama bottoms. I headed right to the cookie aisle and grabbed as many Milanos as I could fit into the basket. “Excuse me,” I grabbed some clerk’s attention, “Do you guys sell Milanos in bulk?” They didn’t. No time to get to Costco.

From the other side of the box, “Entertain inspirations. Embrace decadent cravings. Reward yourself. Open … Taste … Delight.” Yes, yes, yes! I felt like everything I’ve been looking for in life, the questioning, the search for answers, for meaning … it had all been right here, this Milano bag. These cookies have changed my life. I don’t need anything else. I don’t want anything else. Or anybody. I don’t care what I look like or what anybody thinks of me. As long as I have my Milanos. I’ll never run out of ideas for things to write about ever again. It’s going to be all about Milanos, every day. Thank you Pepperidge Farm.

Rethinking the holidays

I’ve got a bad case of the post holiday blues. Christmas is over. No more presents left to open. I always used to hide like half of my presents away, saving them for February, March, something to get me through the cold, wet winter. If it got so bad that I couldn’t take the dismal stretch of time expanding outward in front of me, I’d open a Christmas present and let myself bask in a fleeting moment of joy. But the people who give you gifts, they want to see you open them up right away, on Christmas, not two months later, and so people just stopped giving me presents. Or they’d stop wrapping them, just handing me a foot massager or a brand new pair of windshield wiper blades.

Everybody has so much fun at Christmas. The best part is taking off the day before, and depending on what day of the week it falls, you might get the day before that off as well, a four, maybe five day weekend. And then sure, you’ll go back to work the next day, but nobody does any work in between Christmas and New Years. It’s all a big joke. Show up at the office but just kind of hang out and talk about presents and go out for drinks during lunch.

But then it’s New Years and then it’s over. What’s next? Three months of winter. Valentine’s Day isn’t a real holiday. I propose that we move Christmas to the end of February. We could still do the old holiday season, but this would now be exclusively for New Years. Think about it. You just get done with Thanksgiving and a month later you get the Christmas/New Years knock out punch. Let’s spread it out. Let’s give ourselves something to look forward to.

Christmas in February makes so much more sense. Just as everybody would start winding down from the New Years celebrations, you’d start hearing Christmas music and seeing Christmas decorations in the mall. Some of your killjoy friends would complain, stuff like, “I don’t see why there has to be Christmas decorations in December! Can’t we at least wait until January?” and then your secular friends would say stuff like, “There’s nothing in the Bible that says anything about Christmas being in February! That’s not even when Jesus was born!” and your traditionalist friends would pipe in with, “We need to move Christmas back to December! This an outrage!”

As a country, we don’t have that many holidays. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Fourth of July. What else? Sure you get your days off for Labor Day, Presidents Day, a bunch of other whatever days. I think we need to rethink the holidays. We need to have it so no two months go by without a holiday. I’m talking like holiday, holiday. Like two days off from work, at least. And we’ll spread them out so there’s always something relatively close to look forward to.

Just think about the winter months. It’s so depressing, nothing ahead. Easter is kind of losing its secular appeal, if it ever even had any. And it’s on a Sunday, so nobody gets off work.

This fits in with my whole theory that we need a lot less work, as a country. We need a three-day, four-day work week, tops. We should only be working five hours a day at the maximum. And we need lots more holidays. Tons more days off.

And we need to start including the service industry in these holidays. I always hate that whenever ninety percent of the country is off having a good time, there’s always one or two people selling tickets at the movies, or pumping gas. Let’s stagger it out so that they can join in the holiday spirit also.

I thought writing about this would cheer me up, but it didn’t. We’re still in January. It’s really, really cold. I wish I had a week off to look forward to. Remember that stuff I said about the three-day work week? Make it a two-day work week. I promise I’ll shut up and stop complaining if I can just get a two-day work week. I’ll work really hard. I promise. Seriously, those will be some of the most productive ten hours you’ll ever see.