please stop tickling me

In which we laugh and laugh and laugh. And love. And drink.

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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Friday, July 04, 2008

Old Things

Since we're still pretty brand new in a brand new house, there's a lot of going through storage containers going on.

When not gazing lovingly on old photos and postcards, I have done the first overview of my rock poster archive in years. There's three decades worth of stuff in there. The same is true of my show-biz archive: no doubt my backstage passes alone will keep me fat n' sassy in retirement.

But best of all, out comes the old notebooks. Up on top, stuff from more recent years, including the manifesto I keep referencing, titled...

Toward A New Theory of Customer Service (ca. 2002 or 3)

The fact of the matter is, all you ever heard on this subject (in print, anyway) is from a managerial perspective. I have my own take, as do all servers.

For instance, as I've told more than one novice server, you're not paid enough to lick asses. If you were being paid asslicker's wages, that'd be one thing. What I mean is, of course you should be friendly -even charming- but never feel like you should let yourself be abused by a custy. Nine times out of ten, the shit attitudes displayed by the Served comes from nothing more remarkable than the novelty of Being Served, and feeling like part of the dynamic is abusing the Server. If you have actually screwed up, that's another thing.

But even there, you're still human, and all you must do is apologize, and right the wrong. Some people like a little sass with their sauce, as it were, and those that don't are cry babies, and won't tip anyway.

My serving guru told me most of what I needed to know, ever. For one- "First thing right off, acknowledge them. Let 'em know that you know that they're there." Sure. And then: "Get 'em menus and water as fast as you can. In the first thirty seconds they're sitting there, say. All the rest is garnish."

(I'm not really happy about how well this piece has aged. I skip forward here...)

Above all else, remember that sometimes you're really, truly running someone else's tax write-off. And that their ideas about what is a professional attitude is informed by information that can be flawed, at best. The same people will pull all sorts of unprofessional shit like questioning your judgment in front of customers, threatening your job in private conversation as a matter of course, and in general acting like a hyperactive twelve-year-old who really ought to seek a real life, in lieu of employing "friends".

(I'm all too aware of exactly who I'm talking about, here. It's a little too on the nose. Here's what a colleague had to say about him, in fact.)

It behooves you to remind them (without actually saying it, natch) that the fact that they own your ass is not a plus in their column. That they really, truly need to treat you well, or suffer the consequences.

(Actually, a far better way of saying that is: "You employ me, you don't own me.")

Hm. What else do we find in this notebook?

Let's hear it for the meek, always going around, inheriting everything.

Had a dream the other night in which I was walking around with Phil Hartman. In keeping with the apocalyptic nature of dreams of late, I'm walking with a dead person; nattily attired, smoking.
We're walking around the warehouse district of inner Southeast, and people who remember me -but I do not remember- keep approaching and hugging me.

After I am mauled by a huge blonde woman in some sort of meat-packing uniform, I look over downtown Portland and see two oily mushroom clouds rising.
"Well, I guess we'd better go
that way," I tell Phil, indicating the opposite direction.

Oh, and some more adages about the service industry:

"Sometimes the customer gets what they want, and sometimes they get what they deserve."

"I don't go down to the plasma center and tell you how to relax and accept the needle, so don't tell me how to do
my job."

"Take away every element of danger in most people's lives, and they'll just sharpen a spoon and plunge it in their eye."

Jesus. Cynical much, Me of five or six years ago?

God forbid we admit that a lot of what we've loved in the past has been complete crap. Popular culture examining its own asshole should be just that, but it's not. Item: the only book of poetry to actually make money in twenty-some-odd years is currently climbing the charts. It's by a seven (?) year old with muscular dystrophy, and is largely oriented around the idea of 'courage'.
(It's Cancer Boy from the Kids In The Hall movie, "Brain Candy", but nobody has admitted it yet: celebrity based on bathos.)

Some thoughts on my profession at the time:
I am actively promulgating evil at my job. Delivering auto parts (using an automobile, no less) to repair shops, to power the unnecessarily large passenger carriers with compulsory American flags that I curse so. I'm not a bank or anything, but nonetheless I am helping to drive the slave boat that is the engine of progress. This leads to genocide in my name on the other side of the world. Just a job? Yeah, sure; at the Baby Shooting Farm.

And, one of my favorite quotes, from Apuleius' The Golden Ass:
"The same fancy haunted us all the way home, that the Goddess of Honesty must have left this upper world, distressed at her bad treatment, and gone to live among ghosts and corpses. However- here we are, and there's the loot."

Followed by a quote from the great animator Chuck Jones:
"You can have a lot of fun with Silly Putty, but no one will ever love it or care what happens to it."

True dat, Mistah Jones.



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