Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Cari ponders...

So I grabbed my pair of skinny jeans to wear for the first time since winter so I can tuck them into my rain boots today.  A thought occurred to me.

Can they really qualify as skinny jeans when the tag says size 12 and I purchased them from a plus-size woman's retailer?  Wouldn't sausage casing denim be a more appropriate label?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Dear Sir Sleeping on the Loading Dock,

Dear Sir Sleeping on the Loading Dock,

I know I am oft quite callous in my approach to the residentially-challenged individuals; however, I would like to state that I am, in fact, quite empathetic to your plight. I am very fortunate to enjoy the life that I do and that I have the skill set, sanity and knowledge to provide for it.

However, I would be remiss if I did not bring attention to the fact that sleeping with a plastic sheet over your head just screams "Future Darwin Award Winner."

I am on edge that I will be reading about your accidental asphyxiation one of these mornings.  Please heed my concern.

Your friend,

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sarah Connor?

I do not talk at all about my job on my blog for a number of reasons, primarily because I love my job and do not want to put anything disparaging out there that could jeopardize my position or show my place of employment in a negative light that could possible impact whether people choose to patronize there.  Plus,  my employer has a pretty strict social media policy in their handbook, which I actually read and take seriously.  It's unfortunate because there is a slew of hilarious things that happen at work that I want to share, but now is not the right time.  Note: Anything I post on here is in no way, shape or form a reflection on my employer, who shall remain anonymous, and anything I put on here is entirely my views.

However, sometimes there are things too good to keep to oneself.   For those that are unaware, I am an aspiring pastry chef, and I work in a restaurant.  Kitchens are interesting beasts to be a part of, for anyone who has never had BOH(Back of the House) experience.  They are fast-paced and high stressed.  Those who are sensitive and/or lacking a very thick skin need not apply.  You will get corrected frequently, you will get made fun of often, you will have days where you just feel like a complete blundering idiotic piece of shit who should not even be allowed to assemble a Lunchable cracker sandwich, let alone touch the food of your fine establishment. Most of your time is shaded by a healthy suspicion  of what those around you are doing, waiting for some smartass comments to come your way so you can retort with an equally sharp and witty jab back.  Sometimes you instigate the shit talking just to put yourself a little higher on the pecking order, and other days are just spent trying to deflect any attentions.

Then there are days where you have to go in with your loins girded because you know you are wearing a giant target.

Exhibit A:
It was...it was...SOAP POISONING!
No, I am not channeling my inner GaGa.  And no, I am not test driving my next Halloween costume.  I had some ocular issues and I have to keep my right eye dilated for the next five days.  And a dilated eye means blurriness and extreme sensitivity to light.  I can ditch these sexy specs when I am in my poorly lit domain, but the kitchen is entirely too bright.  Meaning I had to spend a Saturday service wearing the equivalent of a giant sign that says, "Make fun of me, please!" I tried to wear a pair of normal sunglasses, but none of them fit over my regular corrective lenses.

If you work in a kitchen, and you have to spend your shift wearing these bad mamajamas over your normal glasses, the following  things will be said and/or done to you:

-Servers will randomly bust out singing, "I wear my sunglasses at night."  Constantly.
-You will be called The Terminator no less than 25 times.
-One of your chef's will start singing Stevie Wonder songs to you...Immediately after he said that he is trying his hardest not to make fun of you.
-Customers will ask you how you are able to to safely prepare food when being blind.
-Your Executive Chef will do a hilarious impersonation of Ray Charles ala the Diet Pepsi "You've Got the Right One Baby" ad campaign from the early 90s.
-A server will ask you to say, "I'll be back" every time you pass through the server station.
-A chef will sarcastically offer his arm to you to escort you through the dining room.
-Servers will continue to sing "I wear my sunglasses at night."
-Customers will blatantly stare at you. Shamelessly stare.
-Food runners will constantly wave their hands in your face.
-Coworkers will laugh at you when you say you are going to "Blind bake" some dough.  
-Every time you will walk past the line you will  hear someone start singing, "Georgia..."
-You will start responding to inquiries simply by saying, "Sarah Connor?" in your best Governator voice.
-People will ask you if they are 3-D  and/or virtual reality glasses. Because life is not already in 3-D and all...
 -Your inquiries and comments will be answered with, "I'm sorry, but I just cannot take you seriously."

Fortunately, one of my favorite things to laugh at is myself, so it actually made for a fun night at work.  At one point, I declared it "Open Season on Carl." Note: one of my chef's calls me Carl after getting wind of how my name is spelled. Thanks Mom & Dad.

Also, the attention was not all negative.  The owner of my restaurant asked me, "What's up with the Jackie O look?"  Jackie O? Wow, quite the upgrade from The Terminator.  No wonder I enjoy working for him so much. 

Despite the fact that I was the target of a lot of good-natured ribbing all day, there were some positives to wearing those specs.  On the red line ride home, three individuals offered me their seats when there were none available.

Looks like I will be saving these things to pop on during the evening rush ride home.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It's a fine line...

...between cracking yourself up and being passive aggressive.

I think that I walk that line nicely.

An Interesting Trip Home- A Picture Story

The other night I had a very interesting trip home. I had the opportunity to have dinner with some good friends that I do I not see nearly often enough and found myself on the North Shore enjoying great conversation over dinner and drinks.  After dinner, I was awaiting for my chariot to fetch me (aka waiting for the Metra to arrive) and was getting impatient.  I already had a few Black & Tans coursing through my veins and was itching to keep the fun going.  And then I remembered that I was taking Metra, not the L, and booze is allowed on Metra.  I quickly considered my options.  I knew the closest liquor store was a 3-minute run away, and I would be taking a risk when my train was coming in 8-minutes. I looked around and saw a bar across the street.  I took a chance, ran across to see if they sold beer to go, and the Hops Gods smiled upon me.  Five minutes, 7 dollars and 6 PBR tall boys later, I am ready for my train ride in.

I hop on the train and promptly offer the conductor a PBR, because one should share the wealth.  He declined, stating that there was going to be a mess of people getting on at Ravinia park, an outdoor concert venue. I learned after the fact that Lynyrd Skynyrd was playing.  I missed out.  Anyway, I pop open a PBR, start reading my book and enjoy the fact that I can get home safely after having a few beers while I continue to enjoy even more beers.  My quiet is quickly broken when I hear some commotion in the back half of the car.  Being the gawker that I am, I turn around and observe, and I realize that the train car is moving and a girl is getting pulled onto the car.  WTF?? Why did the conductor leave when someone was not safely boarded.  The train comes to a halt, the conductor operating the train gets onto the intercom and demands that they exit the train, because apparently the people opened the doors as the train was moving and hopped on because they wanted to finish their cigarettes prior to boarding.  A scuffle ensued, with the drunks who boarded refusing to leave while they threatened to sue and the conductor trying to remove them without force.  I sat watching with great amusement, grateful I had purchased refreshments for the live theatre of life. I ended up chatting with a fellow Metra rider, shared my PBR with her and thought that  I had just experienced the best train ride ever.

I arrive at my stop, and check my CTA bus tracker to see that I am going to have to wait 18 minutes for my bus to come.  I weigh my options: I could take a cab but I am too cheap (read:poor), I could wait for the bus, but I have had 5 beers at this point and the seal has been broken, or I could just start walking home.  I look at the plastic bag with two PBRs left and realize my fate has been decided.  I will saunter home and see where the evening takes me. I threw one of the beers in my purse, wrapped the other discreetly in the plastic bag, crack it open and start east on Lawrence.

First I came across this fabulous vehicle decals
Then I kept stumbling and discovered this real beauty of a vehicle
An eclectic collection of crap.

I continued strolling and made it onto Broadway.  I also got there prior to the #81 bus hitting my original stop, WIN!  I walked passed a sushi shop and saw a man outside and said, "Konbonwa!"  He replied in Japanese and we exchanged a pleasant conversation in Japanese.  Then I looked closer and realized that despite his Sushi Chef status and our banter in Japanese, he was, in fact, Korean.  I called him out on this and learned I was correct.   I told him of my time in Japan, and that I am a pastry chef these days, which lead to him giving me  a tour of his kitchen and extending an offer for me to do Asian pastry work on the side.
This is Shu. The picture is a bit blurry, but when you are on your last beer in a plastic bag, "focus" becomes a relative concept.

Shu's Kitchen
From Shu's, I sauntered on, passing the Wilson Red Line stop, one of the most ghetto of the Red Line stops on the North Side.  I live in fear of driving past this stop because there are, at any given time, no less than 15 people jaywalking and loitering in the middle of Broadway.  I call it the Wilson Red Line Dodge 'Em.  Sort of like bumper cars, only avoiding vagrants. 
Wilson Red Line stop- A great place to nap.
I continued on and realized that Aldi's has a security system on their carts that rivals most military installations.  I certainly do not fault them for it, as I probably would have stolen a cart at this point in the night.
Aldi's answer to deterring shopping cart theft. Probably a wise idea.
Then I saw a Target, and recalled their amazing food courts and had an incredible craving for soft pretzels and frozen cokes
They were closed, but I saw people, I sat pounding on the doors to see if they could give me the old pretzels that they were going to pitch...no one heeded my call.
Hello??? I see you in there, give me a frozen coke and soft pretzel.
And then I saw the security camera and continued on.
Probably time I get the hell out of here.

I really would love to know the story behind a bike lock on a tree, mainly where is the bike?  Or is tree theft a problem in Uptown?
Finally, 7-11. Oh Thank Heaven!
Finally I get my frozen coke, and top it off with a little cherry for some variety
I drank half of it down while waiting to get my cream cheese & jalapeno taquito. Naturally, I went back to refill it.  Note: I realize there is a splash of cherry on there, sometimes a girl likes a little kick with her coke.
The taquito was  a weak substitute for the pretzel. The frozen coke did not disappoint.

All in all, not a bad trip home.  I drank some beer, took over an hour and a half to make it 1.7 miles, did some professional networking, and got a frozen coke. And all I really want out of life is a frozen coke, so it was a great night!
I scolded the clerk for his terrible knife cuts.  I then learned that their condiments come in vacuum sealed bags.


Monday, September 5, 2011

Cari's Hard & Fast Rules of Life #4 & #21

Did you grow up with a big brother? I did.

Did you grow up with a ball of raging testosterone looking for a weak punching bag to wail on?  I did.

Did you grow up with someone who was built like an offensive lineman using you as a football practice bag? I did, only he actually WAS an offensive lineman.

Well, little sisters of the world, rest assured that revenge does, in fact, arrive.  Only it's  a dish served cold, ice ice cold.

Cari's Hard & Fast Rule of Life #4 is that a woman who takes public transit alone should always carry some sort of protection...and  I am not talking Trojan man protection. Although also very important to have on hand.

Well, Rule #4 also applies well to getting revenge served cold, which is also rule #21. 

When you are ending a great night out with your brother, the one who used to beat the snot out of you, and he asks, "Are you going to be okay and safe getting home?"  The decades of pent up revenge rage are completely worth it when you can pull a knife out that can cut through elk pelt and pepper spray that can stop a bear at more that 45 feet away from you when he is inches away.  The look on his face as you tell him you know how to properly jab up and under the rib cage to lacerate the liver while puncturing a lung makes every bruise worth it. It is irrelevant that he is now asking the question as a concerned older brother and completely relevant that you are finally seizing your moment to strike him cold with fear.

  Cari's Hard and Fast Rule of Life #4 combined with #21 will make your inner 10-year-old little sister sing with happiness, because when you pull a knife and pepper spray on your big brother and he retracts with fear and begs you to put them away, you feel that even though he won the battles, you won the war.