Tag Archives: Restaurant

Pub Trivia

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I mentioned last week that I was going to play Pub Trivia.

This is the follow up.

Pub Trivia works like this: You put a team together, based on the house rules (in this case three to five players) and show up. You pay a small fee to play. Here, the fee is $5.00 per player, and it goes to support an island charity. You select a table and name your team. We were the “Power’s Do It Best Hardware Players.” You are given questions. No cell phones or electronic devises allowed. No help from non-players. Your team puts their heads together, argues, discusses and sometimes just pulls an answer out of thin air. Questions range widely in subject matter and difficulty. Each team is allowed one answer per question. There are ten rounds of ten questions each, with answers collected and scores updated between rounds. Prizes are given for first and second place.

You can’t possibly study for it, and you can’t take it too seriously.

Some questions that I remember, not necessarily from this year:

  • Who were Miss Parker and Mr. Barrow better known as?
  • What performer was known as “the Brazilian Bombshell”?
  • What American company has HOG as it’s three letter designation on the U.S. Stock Exchange?
  • Whose images are depicted on Mount Rushmore?

One year, our team took first place.

This year, first place went to “Dan’s Harem” and second place to “The Einsteins.”

This year, we narrowly avoided last place. Still, we had fun.

When my sisters and I take vacations together, we look for opportunities to play. Even the sisters that don’t love it as much as I do still enjoy the pub atmosphere and the joint activity. Sometimes they come up with the correct answer when no one else can! In Florida, we went to the Three Sisters Speakeasy with our “Seven Sisters” team. In Nashville last winter, we went to Pub Trivia at two or maybe three different locations. There, cheating was obviously going on, with tables of twenty-five college kids, all with cell phones out to research the answers. Once, I mentioned it to the management: when nothing changed, we just let it go. Winning is nice, but it’s not the end and all.

The Pub Trivia on Beaver Island, with sisters Carol Gillespie and Linda Gatliff-Wearn doing the research and all of the work, with the little restaurant freely offering its space and donating prizes, is the most professionally run game I have ever encountered! I only wish my sisters could be here to play!

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Peace!

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“Are you mad?”, my husband would ask, after some infraction.

“I’m not MAD,” was my usual reply, “I am HURT!”

“Oooooh, Mommy’s REALLY mad,” he’d wink toward our daughters, who were too young to understand, “she used the ‘H’ word!”

It’s true, hurt feelings are the worst.

It’s not that I don’t get angry.

I get angry about war, drunk drivers and world hunger. It doesn’t feel personal, though.

Hurt feelings are personal, caused by unfair or unjust treatment, or by unkind actions or comments.

It always feels – to me – that if I were a better person, I would not be subjected to poor treatment. That doesn’t make sense, I know, but that’s what it feels like. All childish feelings of inadequacy come to the fore. Tears follow; then defensiveness; then anger.

Then (my husband of thirty years ago would tell you), “Watch out!”

What follows then is a rant.

I was raised in a household where “speaking up” and “talking back” were strongly discouraged. As a fairly shy person, I’ve never been particularly good at it anyway. I can’t think of the right thing to say or the right way to say it. I can’t speak out without crying, which doesn’t give the correct message. The hurt feelings will not go away without getting it out. Fortunately – or unfortunately, as the case may be – I’ve always been pretty good at writing.

As a child, with sibling rivalry running amok in our family, I’d write long diatribes about the unfairness. I’d imagine running away from home…or maybe even dying…leaving nothing but the pages. Reading them, my parents would realize how unjust they had been. “She was our best child!”, they would mourn, “Why didn’t we realize it in time?”

As a teenager, every single bit of distress was put on paper, usually in the form of extremely bad poetry.

I started keeping a journal as a young adult. It was used as my sounding board, whenever my husband wasn’t listening.

Most of the time, I was smart enough to keep my writings to myself. The act of getting it all out was usually enough to dispel the feelings of hurt, frustration and anger, and I could move on.

There are exceptions.

Once, when I felt my mother had unfairly criticized my parenting, I wrote her a lengthy letter saying, basically, “you have no room to talk,” and outlining the reasons why. The next time I saw Mom, she patted my arm and generously said, “Let’s just let it go for now. We’ll talk more about it when your kids are older.” Well, of course, by the time my kids were older, I realized my pompous attitude was based on simple ignorance. I wanted to do nothing but whimper an apology for ever trying to tell this woman – who somehow managed to raise nine healthy children and keep her sanity – what she might’ve done wrong!

When I was in the process of getting divorced and was unable to keep up the payments on my land here on Beaver Island, I was served with foreclosure papers. I countered with a twenty-six page tirade to the man who held the land contract about his shoddy plumbing, poor book-keeping and inability to get me a working well. He called me right up when he received it. “Christ, Cindy, you sent me a whole book!” he said, “I could send it off to the lawyer, but even though she’s my daughter, she’s still gonna charge by the hour to read it…”

Last weekend, when an unfortunate encounter at work left me feeling sad and frustrated, I wrote it out.

Here.

On my blog.

Without a single thought besides venting my hurt feelings.

Of course, I assumed it would be read…by the forty-seven people that subscribe to my blog, up to a half-dozen family members that look in on occasion, and four or five Beaver Islanders that read what I write.

I watch the statistics. On the day I publish, I get my peak readership with about 25 hits. Over the next few days, a few others check in, less and less each day until I publish the next post; then it jumps up again. A nice little wave.

This particular post evidently struck a chord with many people. It was shared and copied and re-printed. It was read by people from a dozen countries on five continents. It may have been read by every single person living on Beaver Island! My statistics chart changed from measuring by tens, to measuring by hundreds of hits. I heard from former in-laws and old friends, from servers and chefs and restaurant owners, and from people in other areas of the service industry. Many told of similar encounters that left them feeling bitter. I was shocked at how many people jumped to my defense. I was amazed and overwhelmed at the understanding, the sympathy and the support.

Usually when I go on a rant about my own hurt feelings, I’m thinking primarily about myself. That was the case in this instance, as well.

I didn’t think about every Beaver Islander reading it, and drawing conclusions about who I was referring to. I certainly never considered repercussions for him, or the fact that I might hurt his feelings.

I should have.

I bear no animosity toward “Harry”. I was “over it” the moment I hit “publish”. I have since received an apology from him. I countered with my own explanation and apology, for any discomfort I caused him. I hope we can all move on, perhaps all with a bit more awareness and consideration.

The next time I go on a rant, I think I’m going to tackle World Peace!

Dear Harry…

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Hey, Harry, it’s me, Cindy.

We know each other, though probably not well.

You’ve been coming around to the island for at least ten years, maybe more.

We’ve run into each otherĀ  in several island businesses.

You were always the customer; I was the service person.

I’ve helped you find what you needed at the hardware store; I’ve waited on you many times at the Lodge; I believe I’ve checked out your purchases at the grocery store; I think I served you at the deli, perhaps at the Old Rectory Restaurant, and maybe even at the Shamrock, when I was serving breakfast there.

My point is that we have a bit of history.

From that history, you could gather enough information to know that I work hard at doing a good job, no matter what job I’m doing, and that I always try to keep my customers happy. I’m actually kind of famous for it, on this little island.

Beyond that, you don’t really know me, anymore than I know you.

We know each others names and faces, and say “hello” if we meet on the street.

We’re, I guess, more like long acquaintances, rather than friends.

You probably don’t know, for instance, that I am college-educated, qualified to teach at university level. You may not know that I successfully wrote and then administered a good sized grant for our school here on Beaver Island. Or that I teach art classes at the school.

You may not be aware that I’m an artist but, yes, I am, university-trained in painting, printmaking and ceramics. I have work in a half-dozen permanent collections, and about the same number of galleries.

That’s okay. All of our encounters have been with me serving you. You know what you see.

You may or may not be aware that I am a self-supporting woman, without a partner to help with expenses. Don’t worry; I am proud of my ability to take care of myself.

You probably don’t know that in the last two and a half years, I lost two siblings and a parent and that in many ways I’m still reeling with the sadness. That should not concern you; I manage my grief, continue on through the sorrow, and it doesn’t affect my performance at work.

You are no doubt unaware that in just this last week, my grandson was hospitalized for a serious (thankfully treatable) condition, one island friend died and another was given a dire diagnosis, my aunt continues to fight a lung infection and I got into an argument with a dear friend. These things all weigh on my mind, but they should not bother you.

You probably know I am no longer working at the hardware store, but I doubt you know the details.

I turned sixty a month ago. You may be able to imagine how difficult it is to put one’s self out there in new and unfamiliar jobs…especially at this age. That is my problem, not yours.

One thing you should know – not that it should make a bit of difference to you – is that a server in a restaurant makes $2.75 an hour, plus tips. That’s not a wage we can take home, you understand. Because tips are also income, subject to all the same taxes and with-holdings as the wage, our pay envelopes generally just hold an accounting of which government agencies our money has gone to, but no check.

I know there is debate about tipping in general. Some people insist that the servers should be paid solely by their employers, and not depend on the generosity of their customers. The other side of that debate suggests that if that were the case, food would be so expensive, no one could afford to eat out. I don’t know the answer, but I depend, for my survival, on the system as it is.

“TIP”, I have heard, is an acronym for “To Insure Promptness”. Whether that is true or not, we all understand that good service warrants a good tip, and that sub-standard service can be penalized by withholding part or all of it. As there is also debate about what the correct percentage of the bill a good tip should be, it’s all understandably unpredictable.

Even at that, you surprised me last Saturday night, Harry.

We both know how it went down. At table #7, you and your wife were in an ideal location to see all the activity going on in the restaurant. We had quite a few “walk-ins” in addition to the several reserved tables, and two large groups of eight or more diners. There were two servers, BethAnne and myself; we were both obviously busy. Simon was alone in the kitchen, manning the salad station, the saute pans, the grill and – when time allowed – acting as dishwasher. Ray was the host, over-seeing the dining room, but he was also the bartender. He was navigating from one area to the next, assisting and trouble-shooting wherever he could be of the most help and – when time allowed – acting as dishwasher.

I greeted you both, told you about the specials, and took your drink order. I entered it into the computer; Ray prepared the drinks. When he saw that I was tied up with my large table in the back dining room, he delivered the drinks to you, bless his heart. None of us want to watch ice melting while drinks wait at the bar. I went back to your table, acknowledged that you had your drinks, and took your food order. I entered the salads into the computer.

There may appear to be pauses, or lapses in movement,as I relate the story… but you know that’s not the case. I had other diners in various stages of their dinner at tables right in your line of vision. I had a large group in the dining room directly behind you. No-one was pausing for any reason. This time of year, with less staff, we do our own table-clearing; and re-set the tables with linens and silver. With drink in hand, you could easily watch all the activity from your corner table.

I was delivering salads to my large group when your salads came up. Ray delivered them, so that you’d have them in front of you with time to enjoy them before your main dishes arrived. Again, I went to let you know your food order had been placed and that I was glad to see you had your salads. “I certainly hope to see more of you this evening,” you said, “so far we haven’t seen much of you.” I apologized, explained how busy we all were, then teased – as I thought you were teasing – “You’ll have to give Ray the entire tip, if this keeps up!”

Well, I was distributing meals to nine people in the back when your entrees were put up in the window, and out of the goodness of his heart, not wanting your good food to languish under the light for even a couple minutes, Ray delivered them to you.

You were clearly angry then, not wanting to talk to me about whether your meals were done to your liking, not wanting to talk to me at all. You turned away, scowling. Again, I apologized, explaining that our goal was always to get the food out to you as quickly as possible, hot and freshly prepared. You continued to look away, your face set in a frown. I didn’t have time to do more grovelling; I had other customers.

Now, the bottom line is, you were served good food in a timely fashion. Your drinks were cold, salads fresh and entrees hot and good. That is our goal, and what all of us work together to achieve. We were successful, though it perhaps didn’t happen in exactly the way you thought it should.

When I approached you later about dessert, you refused, and curtly demanded the bill, which I provided. You gave me your credit card; I ran it through, and returned with your receipts. You signed, then you and your wife went in and sat at the bar. From that stool, you watched and scowled after me for the next hour.

I cleared your table, and went to the computer to apply the credit card charges. In black lettering under your signature, you had written, “NO SERVICE – NO TIP!!!” Underlined three times. In the line where the tip belonged, you had put -$5.00…and in your total, you hadĀ deducted that five dollars from the cost of your dinner!

I have been waiting tables for over thirty years. I have been over-tipped and under-tipped. I have been “stiffed” on the tip. Never have I been “docked” from my own money until now! This is a new one on me, Harry.

Now I am still learning, every day, new things about myself…but some things I know. In whatever job I am doing, I always strive to do the best job possible. I don’t always succeed, but it is never from lack of effort. If I disappoint anyone, it is an even greater disappointment to me. I truly want to please. Everyone. Always.

When I tell you about my personal difficulties, it is not to gain your sympathy and it is certainly not to provide an excuse for not doing my job well. I still insist that you were given good service! It is only so that perhaps, the next time you choose deliberate and unnecessary meanness, you might stop and think that life itself might already have given that person a beating, and you could save yourself the trouble.

One thing has become very clear in my mind, having experienced so much death in the last couple years: Life is Short.

We all have a very short time on this earth to provide the information that we will be judged by and remembered by forever after.

I hope that you gained enough satisfaction from your treatment of me, Harry, to justify how I will now think of you.

Personally, I want to be known as someone who is thoughtful, generous in spirit and kind-hearted. I try to make sure that my words and actions stay in line with those goals.

I am making an exception to that, Harry, in writing this, because I so badly want you to know that, though we don’t know each other well and have never been friends, I never thought unkindly of you. After your actions of the other night, I will now and forevermore think of you as a big asshole.

I hope it was worth it.