Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Failing to the Top (Part 1)

In my life, I've probably covered a million miles on the road, all to earn a living.  I've driven cabs, delivered furniture, worked as a document courier, performed medical deliveries, sub-contracted for an overnight service (one of the FedEx wannabes), hauled for a corporate mail service, delivered pizza, run a route for a tire supply company (delivering everything from wheel weights to floor lifts), was a drug mule, and drove the truck for an organic catering company.

Failing to the Top (Part 2)

"Before you do, why are you doing this?" asked Anise.
"A few reasons," I told her.  "Look, you two are chasin' your fuckin' dream, right?  Maybe you went to culinary school, maybe you just always had people telling you what great cooks you are.  You saw a niche and decided to fill it.  I'm guessing at first it was just you two, catering small dinner parties.  Shit took off, and you got this space and the vans and employees and gigs for two hundred people lined up.

Failing to the Top (Part 3)

After all the now-former employees --- it would be silly to call them "workers" --- had come and gone, we were still sitting on three checks.  I went in to talk to Anise and Paul, leaving Seth and Reba in his old cop car chopping up some speed.  I'd made no promises about the personal habits of the people I dealt with, so I left them alone.  Going into the main kitchen, I found them way ahead of schedule: the people they hired actually worked!  Hard!  Quickly!  Correctly!  The crew was told to take it easy, wander the store a bit to learn where things were, and otherwise get familiar with Stone Soup Organic's layout.  They'd moved so fast compared to the old crew, many trays were being wrapped in foil and put in the walk-in cooler by the new crew, to keep them from either turning or going stale and bland before the event.
Showing Anise the three left-over checks, I asked for a list of phone numbers; I'd contact them myself.

Failing to the Top (Part 4)

"Lenny!  How ya doing, cutie?"
"Um, I'm okay, but a bit confused.  Why wouldn't you talk to the owner?"
"Lenny, I can't work there.  No way.  There may as well be a cross in lamb's blood on the door."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"It's their staff!  All scummy little hippies, fucking human cess-pits, worthless in life and in a kitchen.  Grapevine info I got from friends says Stone Soup will be lucky to last another six months, mostly due to the slime they have as crew.  Every other catering crew in the Bay Area hates working with them: they 'borrow' equipment and utensils, they're loud, they swear in front of guests, they put out their own tip jar instead of pooling it like protocol dictates, they'll be stoned on jobs, and they'll bail on collective clean-up, leaving the other one or two companies to cover their work.  Basically, working for Stone Soup  is announcing 'I'm an asshole!' to the great wide world of catering in the Bay Area.  The company is eventually gonna run out of customers who don't know who they are."

Failing To The Top (Part 5)

"Lennerestra!" cried Mimi, doing a forward flip and landing in my arms.
"Mimi, darling!  It's been ages!  Why, we haven't seen each other since.... Well, breakfast, forty-five minutes ago." I responded.
"The years, they do fly by," sighed Mimi.
We walked over to a van which seemed to have puked random parts in every direction.  "Roadie!" I called.  "Our favorite sex dwarf is here!"
"Please, Lenny.  I prefer the term 'erotic munchkin.'"

Failing To The Top (Part 6)

The students began filing in.  They had obviously taken the same bus to have arrived en masse the way they did.  All of them milled about, not talking much; it was obvious that something new had begun.  Mimi made that clear within seconds.
She kicked off her shoes and jumped up on the bread station by way of a handstand.  She now had everyone's attention.

Failing To The Top (Part 7)

Two days later, the final van was repaired, the two other lifts had been installed, and a terrible human being was no longer in our employ.  It would have taken less time, but the Big O Tire place in Serramonte was running behind by hours, and there was no way to put the last van on the road without fresh rubber at all four corners.  Roadie was sidelined, but was prepared: he had a greasy Terry Pratchett novel in his jacket to kill time ("I've had this same 'hurry up and wait foolishness at the Arizona border, while they check for illegal fruit").
I was concerned about how much sleep he was getting.  He'd insist he needed to take care of "a few things" at the warehouse after we got into Oakland, and insist upon being dropped off with a bottle of Mountain Dew (which we both shared a passion for).  When I got up in the morning, he would already be gone, off to the warehouse again to continue fabrication --- because welders are sooo safe to operate when you're underslept --- and to go over his specs yet again with Rice, quintuple-checking that everything looked right.  Rice finally told him, "You already built one, right?  Just do the same damn thing two more times!  It's fine!"

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fun With Pizza (Part 9: Dumpster Diving)

I had a secondary money-making scheme which also involved UCB students.  In my normal pattern, I vacuumed money out of the students by delivering them pizza, for which they would pay me plus a tip.  We were paid by the tag:  at the time, $2 per tag, or order carried.  Thirty orders in a night, sixty dollars, plus the tips, which fluctuated wildly.  Anywhere from a dollar (cheap-ass fuck-hole!) to thirty or forty, if you picked up a big party order to an event.  The sort of order where the pizzas don't get bagged, but simply loaded in the trunk and back seat: they'll keep each other warm when there's that many.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


Peanut allergies. "Yes, our little Braden has a peanut allergy. He could DIE if exposed to peanuts!"

So anyone who walked past a Planter's display in the last thirty days or reminisced about their sack lunches as a child --- think "______ butter and jelly," for those of you who move your lips when other people read --- or has figurines of Linus and Snoopy in their den, it's up to you to remain a minimum of three hundred feet from Braden at all times, lest you be accused of attempted child murder. God fucking forbid the parents teach little Braden to not jam his face in jars of Skippy at the supermarket, or --- this is so crazy it just might work --- not trade lunches at school with a kid who got a PB&J that day.

It's called personal responsibility. Your kid's problems are not my problems. Try to make them my problems, and I'll tie your earlobes to your scrotum and carry you around like a bowling bag. If your result of a condom failure is so sensitive to a basic common food that he could snuff it just from walking past someone who had a snack on an airplane recently, maybe you should LEAVE HIM HOME. Home, where it's safe. Where the medications always are. (The medications are never with the child, for some reason.) If he needs to leave the house for some reason --- and I'm not it --- put him in a full body chemical suit and a gas mask. Yeah, I'm gonna stare at him, and possibly make jokes at his expense, but apparently those are the least of his problems. His main problem is that he's allergic to a common snack.

And as a last resort, well.... Remember the ending of "Ol' Yeller"?

And before I forget, fuck you for naming the kid 'Braden' in the first place. Even my spell-checker hates the name.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

There Is Life After Youth

The first time I ever considered seriously abusing a child (well, he was fourteen) was at 924 Gilman at the end of a show.  Little bastard walked up to me while I was having a smoke outside and said three words, one I'd never expected to hear applied to me.  He walked up and said, "Excuse me, sir?"

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Briefly, At Denny's

I guess this is propf that at the age of twenty, one's Asshole Gland is functioning at its peak.You're still at the age where being a cruel, vicious bastard comes quite naturally, and without a second thought.  Would I behave in such a manner these days?  Well.... Probably not.  I've gotten it out of my system, I think.

I was at the Denny's near La Jolla Shores sometime in early 1989. It was about one in the morning, and the only people in the place were me, Bekka, and a jive-ass white-bread couple --- you could tell just by looking they drove either a SAAB or a Volvo --- and the couple's infant. A very unhappy infant. One that did not stop screaming.