Sunday, December 21, 2008

Blood will flow. Or rather... it has.

You will NOT believe the day I have had. Seriously.

Firstly, you have to understand that I worked a late shift last night. This means that I worked until 2am, drove half an hour to get home, had a drink, read my book to wind down, and was probably asleep by 3.15am.

Today I worked a double shift. This means a 10am start, work through until 4pm. Go on an hour break, and start again at 5pm. Work through until 2am. Tonight I got home a little early.

The day started out with the usual rubbish. Our manager drives us mad. I don't mean like managers usually do. I mean in the way that makes you see red with rage and fury. I seldom lose my temper at work. In fact, I have prided myself on the fact that I have NEVER sworn at my staff, shouted at them for anything less than outright insubordination, and that my staff have always stuck around because I treat them with respect. This manager doesn't know what that means. I quite regularly have to go stand in a dark corner somewhere and breathe, so that I dont actually walk out of the restaurant, or, you know, kill him.

I was pretty tense. Next thing I know, its mid lunch service, and one of the waiters is shouting at one of the chefs because the pasta that goes with the veal is cold. The chef wants him to take it anyway. What does he care, he cant see the customer. Before anyone can blink the guys are actually punching each other over the food pass, veal and cold pasta is all over the floor, and I am standing there absolutely frozen, when I know I should be backing rapidly away.

I want you to picture this for a moment. Both the chef and the waiter are diminutive. I am 5ft 8" and they are both shorter than me. The manager who breaks them up is 6ft 2". He cant actually pull them apart they are so locked in together. The kitchen resounds with the words "jou ma se poes" (and no I am not going to translate) and the two continue to go at each other in what is an almost comical parody of a dog fight involving chihuahuas on crack.

Finally the whole thing calms down, and food is distributed hot, and a slightly confused customer appeased. It gets towards the end of my shift and I can see my break rapidly approaching. About 20mins before I am due to leave, when I can almost taste the cigarette I am going to light up immediately, I suddenly hear a massive fight going on in the kitchen and next thing I see a chef run into the back area behind the building with blood actually POURING out of his head.

WHAT? ..I hear you say. Yes. Blood. Pouring. It appears that two of the chefs in the kitchen (not the two previously involved) decided that the best way to deal with an argument was to pull knives on each other and make like one of the Scream films. The ENTIRE kitchen was drenched in blood, managers were running around with pristine white shirts dripping crimson, waiters were sent out to deal with customers the best way they knew how, and kitchen staff were scattering in every direction. Police sirens began to wail, closely followed by ambulances. What exactly do you say to a customer when your chefs are carried out the restaurant by emergency medics, while being handcuffed at the same time?

We all assumed we would close for the night. But no. The show must go on. We were booked to capacity, and over capacity and we had to find a way to serve them all. We went though a list of what food has been taken off the menu due to 'contamination' and the staff meeting at 6pm resounded with the sound of jokes that went something along the lines of: 'Our steak is to DIE for' or 'you should try the linefish, its BLOODY good'. Also, you would think that everyone would be very very very nice to the kitchen staff for the evening. Not true. That kitchen was like a Nazi interrogation chamber. We all avoided it like the plague, unless we knew that the food being served next was ours. Then we just took a deep breathe and plunged into the fray as one would plunge into a river full of piranhas... as quickly as humanly possible.

Finally the night was almost over. And then Mr Sarcastic (the manager that makes us all see red and is single handedly responsible for about 6 waiters walking out the restaurant mid-shift) felt that clearly he hadn't needled me enough this evening and started walking round my section making sarcastic remarks about absolutely nothing as all.

I gave up. I just cashed up, did the duty assigned to me, and walked away. The drive home was miserable, as I was driving my brothers car in which I cant smoke, and by the time I got home I was tense and tired and craving. I arrived home, and as I was closing the door, I realised it was going to slam, and instead of propping it with a foot, I grabbed it with my hand... which instead of halting the impact, merely provided a means with which to inflict pain on myself. It was only then that I cried.

I have written it down, so maybe I can sleep now. I am working another double tomorrow. I hope that no one tries attempted murder, and that if someone does, it isn't me getting homicidal on my manager. Wish me luck.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The challenge

Ok, so a blogger I love (in the form of Malicious Intent) has set a challenge to those of us who aspire to creativity. You can read it HERE.

This is my reply (because no doubt this is kinda how my life would go):

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
- a ticket to the USA to go see him for the first time in months

On the second day of Christmas my true love realized for me:
- I cant use the ticket because American immigration hates the Arabic in my passport and keeps thinking I am responsible for genocide in Darfur. (SOUTH Sudan people...SOUTH!)
- a Major General in Sudan had also sent a ticket to get me to Sudan to meet his 'other' wives.

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
- a new passport with no Arabic in it
- A steel baseball bat to fend off the Sudanese admirers
- A pair of skis so that I can learn when I get there

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love realized for me:
- The new passport is going to take 4 months to issue
- The Major General has an AK-47 and the baseball bat is ineffective
- The skis wont fit in my luggage and are considered a weapon by airport security
- That 150 cows is worth a LOT of money and that maybe he should pose as my father at the negotiations...

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
- An expedited Passport that costs twice the amount
- A big gun courtesy of the American Firearm Association (you can travel on a plane with it so long as its in a locked case - apparently)
- Charms that look like skis so that I have the 'feel' of owning skis before I get there
- A card saying that having me is worth more cows than can be bought.
- Nothing else, because the first four have left him broke

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love realized for me:
- In South Africa an expedited passport means you pay more money so they can afford the phone call to tell you the passport is going to take the usual amount of time.
- That after spending all that money, I could have bought an AK-47 off the side of the street in the local township for half the price.
- That because charms of skis have sharp edges I cant take THOSE on the plane either, because I might stab someone in the eye with it and take over the world.
- That the card wont reach me until next Christmas because the term 'snail mail' means something in this country.
- That because the Rand is doing so badly on exchange, the $$ he has spent actually seem like WAAAAY more when compared to South African Rands
- Nothing else, because he is still pissed off he spent all that money for nothing.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
- A phone card so I can phone the department of Home Affairs myself, and complain about the wait for a passport.
- A training manual on how guns don't kill people, people do.
- Plastic charms which aren't as pretty but wont kill people in an airplane.
- An email with the same message about cows in it.
- an exchange calculator so that I can keep a tally of rates and let him know when the opportune moments are.
- Anti-malaria medication, since its starting to look more and more likely that I run away to Sudan and take the cows
- Nothing else. Even more broke than before.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love realized for me:
- because we only have one landlines network and a complete lack of monopoly controls, calls are so expensive, and you are on hold for so long to Home Affairs that frankly, one card isn't enough.
- Giving a gun to a woman who regularly wants to kill customers/staff/managers might not be such a good idea, and that he cant afford the bail money.
- charms are a choking hazzard
- emails may not reach me for ages because internet access in South Africa is almost as bad as the phone lines they run off
- in the current economic climate the exchange rates are changing so as to make an exchange calculator null and void.
- the peace agreement in Sudan is coming to an end and could mean the end of any chance of going there for the cows.
- That he cant actually take any more days of this Christmas c**p and that he is going to run away to a be a Buddhist monk and forget women even exist

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me:

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Yes I know...

I changed it again. My life is so transitory, my blog may as well reflect it. And yes, that really is the view from the restaurant in the evening. Gorgeous isn't it?

I took your suggestion Moe. Be proud :-P

Christmas blues

I started writing this post 3 times and realised that in the mood I am in its going to be sad, sarcastic and vitriolic. So, instead, I am going to post a little send-around letter I received that, having been a therapist for a few years, made me scream with laughter. Maybe you will get the joke too.


* 1. Schizophrenia --- Do You Hear What I Hear?

* 2. Multiple Personality Disorder --- We Three Kings Disoriented Are

* 3. Dementia --- I Think I'll be Home for Christmas

* 4. Narcissistic --- Hark the Herald Angels Sing About Me

* 5. Manic --- Deck the Halls and Walls and House and Lawn and Streets
and Stores and Office and Town and Cars and Buses and Trucks and Trees

* 6. Paranoid --- Santa Claus is Coming to Town to Get Me

* 7. Borderline Personality Disorder --- Thoughts of Roasting on an Open

* 8. Personality Disorder --- You Better Watch Out, I'm Gonna Cry, I'm
Gonna Pout, Maybe I'll Tell You Why

* 9. Attention Deficit Disorder --- Silent night, Holy oooh look at the
Froggy - can I have a chocolate, why is France so far away?

* 10. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder -- - Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,
Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells, Jingle Bells,

Have a merry Christmas, y'all. Mine shall be merry, and by merry, I mean drunken.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I love to cook, but...

I have recently decided that I am never going to use the words: 'I make this WONDERFUL (insert meal here)! You will love it!' before starting to cook for someone, ever again.

The reason for this is that inevitably, the thing I have always unfailingly made to absolute perfection will fall apart into a mixture of odd-looking, ill mixing ingredients.

This has happened on three different rather important occasions.

1. When I first moved in a with a boyfriend in the UK. It was winter and we wanted stew. My stew back home in Cape Town was legendary. My friends would hang around a little longer in the afternoon in the hope that they would be offered some for dinner. So I promised an astounding stew. A fantastic one! I was safe in the knowledge that my stews always satisfied. The end product was a glutinous bland mass of decimated vegetables and meat that somehow managed to not only taste of absolutely nothing whatsoever, but to look like it tasted that way too. The boyfriend raised an eyebrow, looked at me like I was completely mad, and never let me cook again.

2. Attempt number 2 (I haven't had a kitchen of my own in such a long time that there have been mercifully few attempts). My lovely man (who I so recently visited in the USA) and I had returned to CO from our road trip and I felt like comfort food. Macaroni cheese seemed like the best thing. Again, I felt safe in the knowledge that it was the one thing there was no way I could muck up. And it would be the first time I had EVER cooked for this man, and I kinda wanted it to be at the very least edible. It was a disaster. A gloopy mass. A big bowl of cheese flavoured yellow glue. The only positive to the whole meal was that it so effectively bound my stomach I didn't have to worry about sneaky bathroom visits for a few days (you know whats its like in a small space with a new partner...) My man was very nice about it though. That made me feel worse. He even went so far as to (*shudder*) eat the left overs the next day. That made me concerned for his health.

3. The most recent attempt happened only 2 days ago. Luckily this time I was feeding a friend. This particular friend still maintains that I made him the best steak he has ever eaten. So I had a reputation to live up to. Luckily he is also a really honest friend, and has no problems being totally straightforward about his opinion. Which affords me a certain amount of relief when it comes to being worried if someone is just putting on a brave face and fighting down the nausea. I decided to make him a butternut squash risotto that I made recently for Miss M in the UK. On that occasion it came out incredibly well, so I thought to replicate the meal.
This one did not. For some bizarre reason the risotto went sticky before it had softened, the butternut was bland, and the whole lot badly in need of salt despite the handful already administered, and frankly, it even looked awful.
I looked at my friend as I handed him his plate with the caution that if it was as bad as I suspected it might be, I had some left over curry in the fridge and he could have that instead.
After a few minutes of chewing in silence I couldn't bear it anymore and told him again about the curry.
He replied by saying: 'No actually I am finding this quite fascinating to eat. Because, despite what it looks like, I am surprised with each new mouthful that it doesn't taste like mashed banana.'

I think that has pretty much done it for me now. Yet, I have offered to cook dinner for two friends tomorrow night. What was I thinking? Now I have to think of a fail safe meal...

You know, I think the common thread in all those meals that went so badly wrong is that they all went bad when I tried to make them in a new country. I wonder if that means I will be able to make a killer stew again, now that I am back in Cape Town....?