I love what I do, but I am absolutely fucking sick of my work routine and I have reached a point of job burnout that verges on madness. One of my many personal flaws is the fact that I am an incorrigible workaholic; I have done the math, and excluding a ten day trip abroad in May, my regular two days off per week and exactly one sick day, I have been at the barbecue joint every single day since a week before it opened on Saint Patrick’s day, 2005.
In short, I need a break. NOW.
If you have been reading my posts regarding the barbecue joint you are aware of the day to day travails that I and the rest of the staff face, and much like a front line soldier one adapts to life under fire, but one also starts to suffer from battle fatigue. Many factors have contributed to my current state of edginess and downright bad mood from Hell, and what follows is an attempt to sort them out for the record.
I am absolutely fucking sick of:
1. THE SUNDAY SHIFT. I arrive on Sunday morning at 10:30 to make sure that everything is ready to roll for when we open at noon, and we barely get any traffic at the joint until 5PM, so the bartender and I basically sit around with our thumbs up our asses for hours. During those hours time moves backwards, and since I don’t get out of work on Saturday nights until fairly late, I’m too wound up to really get any sleep, so by the time I actually konk out I have maybe an hour or two of rest before the vicious cycle begins anew and I show up to work looking and acting like a lurching zombie. And the day DOES NOT END.
2. IRRITATING NEIGHBORHOOD MOOKS. Every neighborhood has them, but it seems like Greenwood Heights has a disproportionate amount of provincial local douchebags who not only feel a sense of unearned entitlement, but they also embody every negative stereotype about Brooklynites. Bad accents, loudmouthed obnoxiousness, low class clothes, tacky jewelry that they think is chic, open hostility to any newcomers in the neighborhood, casually racist stupidity uttered directly to my face, and the nerve to show up to the place already loaded and belligerent, all elements that add up to a big lump of neighborhood shit. I loathe and despise each and every one of you, and I hope that someday someone will mercilessly irritate you the way that your mere presence sends me into apoplexy.
3. SOME OF OUR REGULARS. They say that familiarity breeds contempt, and, brother, I am just brimming with it. I honestly am dearly fond of certain regulars — you know who you are — and I am happy to be cordial to the rest of you who come in nearly every day, but to be honest I am totally sick of the mere sight of some of you. Seeing your faces every single day only serves to reinforce the fact that my life has become stuck in a rut, and some of your personalities have begun to affect me like when a rusty three-tined fork is slowly scraped down my face. Unless I ask, I do not give a flying fuck about how your day went, I do not want to hear about your vacation plans while I am stuck here, and I definitely do not want to hear about the extravagant raise that you have just been granted. And if I tell you that I am not in a mood to talk, please respect that and do not bore me with whatever mundane tripe you want to recount. And to those of you who think you’re slick and imagine that we don’t notice when you try to scam free drinks: we DO notice, and we’d slap the shit out of you for it if we could get away with it.
4. WORK-RELATED INJURIES. My hands and arms bear the evidence of a thousand cuts and burns that go with the territory, but I need a week or two away from bleeding and blistering.
5. “THURSDAY NIGHT IS KID’S NIGHT.” Kids eat for free on Thursday nights, and predictably the parents come out of the woodwork with an army of squalling, hyperactive brats. The kids invariably shriek like banshees and run around totally out of control, spilling food all over the floor and knocking over chairs while mum and dad ignore them and suck down another round of vodka and cranberry juice, and the staff grits its collective teeth and pulls out its collective hair. I don’t blame the kids for any of this, it’s clearly a lack of any sort of parenting that is to blame for this mini-Bedlam, and that irks me like a motherfucker. One parent in particular really gets on my wick, namely a repeat offender whom I have nicknamed “Dickhead Dad;” this asshole has been repeatedly told to keep his obnoxious spawn away from the bar, where they have been known to bother the patrons, and he acts sheepishly surprised every single time myself or the bartender remind him of this.
6. MENU ITEMS THAT ARE SHEER TORMENT TO PREPARE. The two items that I would love to avoid making for the rest of my time in any kitchen are the pulled chicken sandwich and our white bean potato salad; both are messy as all fuck, and the potato salad takes a looooong time to make, what with boiling the potatoes the day before prep, letting them cool, and then cutting literally a few hundred spuds into bite-sized chunks, all punctuating the sheer tedium of the process.
7. MY DORMANT SOCIAL LIFE. I knew the job was dangerous when I took it, but thanks to the nighttime schedule intrinsic to the restaurant biz my leisure time no longer corresponds to that of my friends, and the only women I meet are found during my work hours. And most of those women are young enough to be my daughters, which is indeed a sobering thought. Not being able to date at conventional times has thrown a major monkey wrench into my quest for a mate and for a bit of lovin’ I have to rely on the periodic kindness of a couple of favorite bedmates when and if they are currently available and able to meet for some late night osh-osh. No offense to my benevolent goddesses, but I need me some regular pussy, god dammit!!!
8. MUSICAL TORTURE. Key to this list of grievances is the endless musical torture at the barbecue joint; my boss and one of our bartenders in particular have the ability to render me near-homicidal when they get near the CD player because they both play the same handful of discs over and over and over again, ad nauseam, much of which is artificial-sounding modern country music and horrible, fake-assed white man blues like the incredibly self-indulgent works of the Blues Brothers (I love the movie, but hate their music; if I want to hear any of the songs they perform, I’ll listen to the ORIGINALS, thank you very much, and adding insult to injury, neither John Belushi or Dan Ackroyd could sing worth a shit, nor did they possess even the slightest modicum of soul). But the Torquemada award has to go to our otherwise lovely and sweet bartender who plays the same handful of five to ten depressing or just plain bad CDs, discs so awful that one of our patrons actually told her to her face that while being subjected to her music a part of him was dying, and our waitress/goddess, Tracey, is quoted as stating, “it causes me spontaneous menstruation.” In fact, she has turned me against Johnny Cash thanks to constant repetition of the same couple of albums, and that is an assault that I cannot forgive. I have since taken to bringing my boom box to keep me sane in the kitchen, but since I spend my downtime at the bar either reading or writing — like I’m doing right now — I am still caught in the firing zone. However, to the bartender’s credit, she is trying not to make me kill her and slow roast her body parts, so at least there is some progress on this particular issue.
9. CHEAPASS HIPSTER SHITHEADS. The area is rife with twenty-something hipsters, would-be writers, poets, actors and musicians who often come in, order the cheapest items on the menu and then they leave the waitress or bartender a tip that wouldn’t even pay for bus fare. Such behavior doesn’t affect me personally since I don’t depend on tips to survive, but the rest of the non-kitchen staff does, and it hurts to see them bow and scrape for these wimp turds only to receive a pitiful pittance. These are the people who deserved to be beaten up every day by the school bully, only the ones that I see have obviously not had their asses kicked enough to teach them even a semblance of usefulness to society at large. And the worst part is that some of them actually take pleasure in mistreating the staff out of some sense of superiority because they fancy themselves “artistes.” Well I’d like to stuff my size 13 tabi shoe right up your “artiste” arse, ya bastids!
10. WASTED IDIOTS WHO EXPECT US TO ENDURE WHATEVER DRIVEL COMES OUT OF THEIR SLURRING MOUTHS. There are few things more soul-destroying than having to put up with the dissipated rummies that periodically stagger in and irritate the staff and other patrons with their wasted antics, replete with histrionics that often involve much screaming, crying and wild gesticulations. We have actually called the police to deal with one such example, but usually they are at least non-dangerous enough to hope that they will eventually stagger out once more into the night and inflict themselves upon a more appropriate venue, such as the truly horrifying alky bar Jackie’s Fifth Amendment.
And that’s what has been eating away at my state of mind and driving me to nearly climb a bell tower with a thirty-aught-six and sniper scope and start picking off people, Charlie Starkweather-style. I am taking the first week in April off and staying in Brooklyn since I can’t afford to take a proper vacation, but a week of no barbecuing is definitely what is required.