My Pa

My dad is way eloquent for a burly construction worker, and while he doesn’t know this blog exists, I just have to share the email he sent me yesterday. A little background: he’s in Arizona, I’m in Seattle. Whenever I go home to visit we spend the afternoons standing in the kitchen, talking and eating potato chips from the bag. For some reason, my Pa likes to put the bag in the sink – I always make fun of him for it. Anyway, here it is:

Subject: Rain in Spain

Woke up last night to the sound of rain falling. (that ever happen to you?) Then this am (2:45) still raining! (that ever happen to you?) I drove to the office and it rained all the way there.(that ever happen to you?) 40 miles. I sent every one home because it was raining ( I know that has never happened to you) I drove about town and checked jobs in progress and those soon to start and it rained the whole time. (that ever happen to you?)
I finally came home and had some potato chips outta the sink and it made me think of you. (that ever happen to you?)
Love Ya
Pa

To 86 or not to 86

The thing about having a black eye is that it’s right out there for the world to see. I’m lucky mine isn’t worse, and it’s on the side of my face that is partially covered with bangs, so it blends into the shadows a bit.

I tried covering it up with makeup but that made it look even weirder.

It’s quite the topic around the bar though – rumors are flying. Everyone wants to know if I 86’d Sam for being involved.

Here’s the thing. Bar fights happen. You mix testosterone and alcohol, and at some point, sparks are gonna fly. Someone is gonna get punched. My rule is (and always has been) is that I kick out the person who threw the first punch. I don’t care who started it, I don’t care who finished it. I don’t care if it’s a regular customer or a first timer. Throw the first punch in my bar and you’re dead to me. I’ll never serve you again.

But I’m not about to 86 someone who defends himself. I don’t expect people to get punched and not react. That’s just not fair.

And no, I’m not changing that rule just because I got punched this time. I was dumb enough to jump in the middle, I deserve what I got.

So Sam is welcome to come back. Any time. The other guy? Never again. Not on my watch. Not all of my coworkers agree with my decision, but since I’m the one with the black eye, it’s my decision. They’ll live with it. The boss laughed and made me promise to just throw a bucket of ice over a fight next time. Just as effective, less dangerous.

I think I’m tough. Sometimes.

It started the way most bar fights do – with a misunderstanding. Next thing you know, punches are getting thrown, tables knocked over, and I’m in between two guys yelling ‘Knock it off! You just hit a girl!’

Yeah, I got punched. Twice. In the face. The first one connected pretty good, the second was more of a glancing blow. Neither were intended for me. Stupid boys.

Let me back up a bit. I was sitting at the bar after my shift, having a drink with the boyfriend, my coworker and a couple of regulars. Farther down the bar, three military dudes were having dinner. Now, the bar is pretty narrow – not a lot of room to maneuver. One of the military dudes kept squeezing by to go outside and smoke. No big deal.

Well, when they finished their meals and were headed out, they squeezed by one last time. Our drinking buddy (we’ll call him Sam) said to the smoker – with a joking tone ‘Jeez! You keep bumping into me!’

The smoker flips out! Gets in Sam’s face, starts yelling, and before we know it, punches him in the mouth! They’re pushing and punching each other, beer is getting spilled everywhere, and we’re all yelling at them to stop it. My coworker is getting chairs and barstools and tables out of the way.

I’m a glutton for punishment so I dive in the middle and try to push them apart. (This is the part where I get punched.) the kitchen staff appear at the end of the bar and look on in shock. A couple old ladies who just walked in stand near the door and watch.

And, as is the case with most bar fights, it’s over as quickly as it began. We straighten the tables. The boyfriend helps wipe up the spilled beer. I look down at my arm and see a smear of blood – not mine.

The guy who threw the first punch disappears. The other one sits outside to calm down for a minute.

The little old ladies ask where the owner is. I tell them ‘Not here.’

I head for the sink to wash the blood off my arm. Everyone is worried about me. I tell them I’m fine. One of them is on the phone with security, asking me if I want to press charges. I don’t. The night bartender hands me a bag of ice and tells me to put it on my face.

They tease me about how all the boys were standing back and watching while I jumped in the middle. They’re not surprised. I laugh. The boys are smart to stay out of it. When boys try to beak up a fight, unless they’re bigger than the fighters, things generally go from bad to worse – quickly. Testosterone can be a dangerous thing.

I sit back down and finish what little beer I have left (most of it spilled), a ziploc bag of ice on my cheek. The boyfriend hands me my phone (he saved it from the tidal wave of beer), chastises me for getting involved, says he saw me get hit and I’ll probably have a shiner in the morning.

My coworker goes outside to tell Sam that I’m okay, that he should go home. One of the little old ladies and her husband come over to make sure I’m okay. They’re friends with the owner so they tease me a bit about what he’s going to say. (He’ll tell me to let the boys handle it next time.)

The adrenaline wears off, and suddenly I’m starving so we head out in search of dinner. Just another day at the office.

Now it’s three in the morning, and I’m wide awake. I go to the bathroom, and once my eyes adjust to the light, I can see that I do have a little set of bruises at the corner of my eye, and a red mark on my cheek-bone. Looks like I’ll have a bit of a black eye in the morning.

I’m so badass.

Turn off the TV already!

People who have known me for a long time know that I am a bit of a workaholic.  I can’t help it.  I don’t really want to work all the time, but when people ask me to cover for them, I just can’t say no.  When my boss asks me to pick up extra shifts, I always say yes.

Up until about two years ago, it was because I was, for lack of a better term: poor.  I had done some stupid things with credit cards and money during and after college, and I was working like crazy to pay off my debt.  At the peak of my craziness, I worked full time as a barista for a certain coffee company and six shifts a week at a restaurant.  Some days I would literally work from 6 am until after midnight.  It was insane.  I didn’t have time to sleep, or hang out with friends or do much of anything.

Then one day I looked at my credit card statement and saw a beautiful thing: Outstanding Balance: $0.00!  Then I checked my bank account and there was actual, real money there – more than I owed for rent or my phone!  How did that happen?  Oh who cares?  I’m free!

A few months later, I found myself with the urge to move back to the West Coast (I was in New England at the time) and so I did.

When I arrived here, I did what was normal for me – I found myself a couple of jobs.  Five lunch shifts a week at a restaurant, and three night shifts a week at a bar.  Perfect.  Well, three shifts at the bar quickly turned into six, and the next thing I know, I’m back to working crazy long days.  This time, though, the motivation (abject poverty) just wasn’t there.  So once the busy summer tourist season was over, I quit the restaurant.

This is a big step for a workaholic like me!  I worked five days a week at the bar (one double thrown in just for fun) and life was pretty sweet.  I got a dog.  I actually had time to walk him!  I bought a sewing machine and taught myself how to make skirts and dresses.  I knitted baby blankets for my pregnant friends.  I went out with friends on my nights off!  It was great!

Then the economy tanked, and business at the bar dried up a bit.  Rather than fire someone, they cut all of us back to three shifts a week.  All of a sudden, this workaholic had four days off! In a row! Each and every week!  I’ll admit – it was a bit of a shock to the system.  My expenses are minimal (I learned how to live on practically no money when I was paying off my debt, and I’ve tried to keep things simple even though I am no longer bogged down with huge bills) so money isn’t really a problem.  I make enough in three shifts to pay my bills each month – the rent, the phone, the dog treats…  There’s even a little left over for fun stuff like beer drinking and sewing or baking supplies.

At first, I took full advantage of my new-found free time.  I took the dog for long, meandering walks whenever it was sunny outside.  I read books.  I sewed.  I knitted.  I baked cookies every week.  I tried other kitchen experiments – I made cheese, yogurt, lasagna… I bought a guitar and started teaching myself some chords.

And then laziness set in.  I discovered Hulu.com and my productivity plummeted.  I found myself sitting on the couch staring at the TV for longer and longer periods.  Some days I would only leave the apartment to walk the dog.  Sad.  Pathetic, even.

This month, the bar is gearing up for tourist season.  Next week begins my summer schedule – five shifts a week (with the possibility of picking up one or two more if things really get busy).  Suddenly my free time seems more valuable.  There’s going to be a lot less of it, after all.

So I’m trying to make good use of my free time again.  And the first step is turning off the damn television.  I just can’t pry myself away from it once it’s on!

Right now it is mocking me from across the room, as I sit on the couch with my dog curled up beside me, laptop in my lap, book at the ready nearby.  It begs to be turned on.

I will resist!  I will!

(I’ll try, anyway.)

Quick! Define Beet!

They read the sign and followed instructions. They took menus from the pile and slid into the booth near the door. I walked by with an armload of dirty plates and told them that I would be right with them. Full hands in, full hands out. I dropped off the dirty plates in the kitchen, picked up some appetizers for a table outside and did a lap around the restaurant, delivering food and asking about refills.

Then I swing by the new arrivals in the booth. They point at the menu and ask me with a foreign accent (maybe German? Dutch? Something like that anyway…) What is this? Baby Beet Salad.
Me: Well, it’s a salad with beets.
Them: What are….beets?
Me: A root vegetable. (They giggle.) Like a turnip? (Confusion all around.) Hmm… like in Borscht? You know, what Russians eat?

Ah! One guy gets it! He says something I don’t understand, and they all nod, knowingly.

Them: It’s like cabbage!
Me: Sigh. No… Hmm… Radish? (Blank stares) Okay, Carrot?
Them: Ah! Yes! Bugs Bunny!
Me: Yeah! So a beet is like a short, fat carrot. It’s red. Kinda sweet.

They didn’t order the beet salad.