The Goose I Wish I Could Bottle

One of our dishwashers has left, so instead of being on the line last night, I spent my shift in the dish pit. Not a bad deal, considering that the restaurant was very busy and I was off in my own little world. Of course, I was just as busy as they were, just busting out baskets of dishes as fast as I possibly could, but it’s a different kind of busy than being on the brigade.

I had a lot to think about, and now that washing dishes has become rote, rumination ate my lunch… but this time, in a good way. I thought about all the good changes that have happened in my life with my mood & behavior. I thought about all the changes that might be coming in the future. I thought about my past and how everything has brought me to this moment. How maybe, just maybe, I had to lose everything to find myself… with the exception of losing my mother.

I don’t connect her death with “breaking eggs to make an omelet,” but I do think that learning to deal with that grief every day has changed me in ways that both hinder and push me to be a better person at the same time…. mostly that death can happen in an instant, and 65 not that much older than 40, which reinforced mortality for me and what I might want to do with the time I have left.

Most of it is continuing this quest for self-knowledge, something that my INFJ personality requires. My inner landscape is deep, and only one or two people are invited at any given time to walk in it…. although I am not immune to the fact that in some ways, I invite all of you at once, because my personal flaws, failures, and achievements might make you reach into yourself, another hallmark of an INFJ…. leading others by example. It is a journey of compromise. There are always going to be things I’m willing to let go of in a public space, because it allows me to say, “I’ve already thought about that. I can move on to something else.” There is also a part of me that is intensely private, and though I am very funny in person, just not willing to dive deep. The extroverted side of me limits me to topics in which I can make everyone laugh. Most people think that introverts aren’t good in social situations, but that just isn’t true. It’s just that true extroverts feed off of others’ energy, and after being with other people, I need time and space for my batteries to recharge before I venture out again. I am also more comfortable with small groups rather than large, or being in front of an audience/congregation where I am speaking, but not personally connected to everyone in the room. That part is too much for me, because as an empath and Highly Sensitive Person, large groups make my mirror neurons go off and I can feel emotions from everyone around me, both positive and negative. When they are negative, I feel the impulse to FIX ALL THE THINGS, and it is overwhelming to an enormous degree.

In fact, this is sometimes why being at any type of job is difficult, because I know all my coworkers, and therefore care about their energy just as much as mine. It’s not enough to make me stay home, of course, but my inner landscape keeps running no matter where I am.

I was in that space last night, trying to block out the world around me so that I could concentrate on both getting all the dishes done in record time as not to leave a mess for anyone else, and to give myself time to really think.

Because I was so closed off, I didn’t even hear one of my coworkers approaching, where she grabbed my sides and goosed me so hard that it both tickled me and scared the life out of me. I was laughing my ass off from the dopamine injection of happiness, and knowing that she really, really got me. I’d been had. I jumped sky high, which made her laugh equally hard.

I also smiled to myself that it felt like a cute little flirt from a straight woman, something that makes me happy because it’s not going anywhere, it’s just fun. Just because it seemed like a flirt doesn’t mean it was. It was just an ego booster that made my heart do a cute little flip, and a moment of wondering how I could get her back in kind. I’m not very good at that sort of thing, so I just let it go. The feel-good sensation has lasted ever since. It’s such a good feeling to know that I am liked and valued at work.

So much so that I wish I could bottle that feeling and spray a little on when I feel down. The “goosee” doesn’t speak enough Spanish to explain to the “gooser” how good I felt, but it reminded me of a comment I got on Facebook, that having a Spanish-speaking girlfriend would be motivation to learn much faster. Really must look into that in the future.

Right now, though, I am not even awake enough to speak English. I took two Benadryl last night in order to sleep deeply, which gives me vivid dreams and a monster hangover. I’ve had a lot of iced coffee, but also a Klonopin,™ so I am geared up and calmed down simultaneously. I find that it helps to take a Klonopin before work, because when things get crazy at the pub, I need the storm to be external and not inside me…. to be of it, but not in it, if that makes any sense at all. On a Saturday night, things will be relentless no matter what station I’m working…. although I have it much easier when it is raining because our beer garden is where the most people congregate. I can basically tell the flow of business before I even walk in due to the weather. Tonight is a toss-up, because right now there is a lot of cloud cover, and it looks like it’s going to rain, but no indication that it’s really going to happen. So I need to be prepared for all possibilities, from moderately busy to insane.

Tonight is a night in which I also need to come straight home and go to bed, because my night won’t end until approximately 0100, and my shift on Sunday starts at 1300. It is both a curse and a blessing, because it’s hard to be out that late and in that early, but the plus side is that I will end early and come in much later on Monday, and everyone else’s Monday is my Friday.

I have plans with friends on both Tuesday and Wednesday, something that does not happen often, but for which I am completely grateful.

I don’t have to bottle good feelings, they’re already out there, just waiting for me to grab them. It’s an excitement I hope is tangible to everyone else, because it certainly is for me. My Bob Esponja y los Pantalones Largos beating heart is in full force…. and in case you’re wondering, I do watch it.912ILZXp1fL._SY679_ Lots of my friends have said they picked up English from television, so why should Spanish be any different? I understand enough already to get the basic plot, I already know the characters, but TV in Spanish can and will up my game.

Watching Yo Soy Betty, la Fea when I’d go to Mexican restaurants in Houston was just as awesome. You probably know it as the adapted American series, Ugly Betty. As good as it is, though, SpongeBob Squarepants’ lessons of love, inclusion, and how to be cheerful even in the face of madness have stuck with me for ages.

One of the funniest gags that comes to mind is that Sandy Cheeks is originally from Texas, and she gets very homesick. So SpongeBob and his friends decide to throw her a party based on what they think Texas is. Ten gallon hats are represented by those giant water dispensers, and I laughed until I cried.

Because sometimes, just sometimes, being homesick for Texas is when I could use some of those bottled good feelings.

Ramekins, Man….

I feel like I am the SpongeBob SquarePants of my restaurant…. always unfailingly cheerful in the midst of incredible busyness. This is because I get paid a lot for what I do, more than most people in my position, actually, so being happy is easy. I prep, work the line, wash the dishes, and keep smiling.Cleaning_Dishes It’s not glamorous in the slightest, but when you’re the member of a team, it’s so much fun. When I’m in the dish pit, I am the most important person in the restaurant. Just try making it through a shift if one of the cooks walks out. It’ll be fine. Now imagine that the dishwasher walks out. You’d be up shit creek without a paddle in five seconds flat. Even the chef could walk out and we’d still make it.

There’s only one thing that drives me up the wall, and I’ve been searching for YouTube videos and subreddits to try and figure it out. Ramekins…. those little silver cups that hold all the sauces.  They get stacked and dumped in the prewash, which becomes useless when there’s ketchup, cheese, and grainy mustard in them. I swear to God, ketchup will be the death of me. I can’t even look at it anymore. Right now, washing hundreds of ramekins is extremely time consuming, because even if I run them through the dishwasher, they flip around and stack, making the dishwasher cycle useless as well. Doesn’t matter if I separate them…. in one minute they’ll be stacked again. So, I separate them and clean them out before I run them through the dish machine, which gets me in the weeds faster than anything I have to do…. and if I save them until the end so that I can keep up with the rest of the dishes, I’m not leaving until it’s dark thirty.

The best method I’ve found so far is to separate them and put a cutting board on top so that they don’t flip around as much, but they still have to be clean because all of those sauces won’t come out in the wash. They’ll just be hot AF from 140 degree water and I still have to clean them out.

This was especially taxing last night, because our business died down severely and there was only one cook and me left when the bar flooded with people wanting to watch the Capitals game (which we won- go Caps). I had to step up to the line and leave the dishes because there was no way one cook could keep up. So then it’s closing time, when we should have been done with most everything had the night gone according to plan, and I didn’t get home until 0200. Despite that, I am still eager to be back at work tonight, because it’s Sunday, which means we close earlier, business will be steady yet not overwhelming, and it will be a much more relaxed atmosphere, even if I have to both wash dishes and prep my brains out.

Last night, we were so busy that I didn’t even know the Capitals had won until I got home.

I am sure that this entry is very boring for those who don’t work in a restaurant, but I feel that I need to illustrate just how hard a job it is for people who think it is unskilled and not worth a good salary. How much would you want an hour if you had to dig out other people’s dirty food and condiments for eight hours at a clip? I’m betting I couldn’t pay you enough.

Plus, there’s all the pans we use to cook that have food caked on that the dish machine won’t clean on its own, so how much would I have to pay you to get you to scrub caked, burnt cheese out of skillets until your hands are cracked and bleeding from steel wool?

How quickly could you memorize where everything goes when it needs to be put away?

spongebob-sqp1-620x500How quickly could you deep clean a kitchen so that no one is kept past their scheduled shifts by an hour or two?

How many of you would sign up for clothes that are beyond dirty and barely any time to get your laundry together before you have to be back at work? How many of you would sign up for a job that always leaves you soaked and smelling like old food? I’m wagering that of all my readers, not many. I realize that people coming to this country illegally is not necessarily the best policy, but immigrants are generally the ones willing to do those jobs in the first place. The “they’re stealing our jobs” trope is getting so tired, because the hospitality, farming, fishing, and crabbing industries are running out of people to employ, because the same people that say “they’re stealing our jobs” aren’t exactly lining up to get hired. Write it down.

Additionally, immigrants will work so cheaply that it’s what makes our groceries affordable. The cost of groceries will rise to support minimum wage and benefits, so enjoy your $14/lb tomatoes…. not that I’m opposed to them, necessarily, because all people should get a living wage and benefits. I’m just saying. Even if the cost of groceries rise, it’s still cheaper and better for you than eating in a restaurant.

The magic trick that I don’t see happening is people who want to be upwardly mobile and think they deserve high-powered jobs “lowering themselves” to become dishwashers and cooks. To wit:

Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.

-John Steinbeck

I don’t see a lot of people with my attitude and optimism, because I absolutely know I’m doing important work. I am actively involved in an industry that makes other people happy, often at the expense of living my own life. For instance, I am not available to socialize during the hours when other people socialize, because I’m taking care of them. I make sure they have excellent food and clean dishes on which to eat. No one screams louder than people who don’t get both of those things….. more likely than not, people who are both opposed to immigration AND getting a job in the service industry.

It’s probably because they’d have to clean ramekins.