Saturday, May 19, 2012
I paid for my lunch today and left no tip for the staff, and I'd like to explain why.
Maybe it was the ubersweet way the vote recruiter spoke to me on the telephone. Or maybe it was me making the mistake of actually looking THROUGH the ivy and seeing all the clean bodies walking around the range at LACC, instead of averting my eyes and making do with the public pitch 'n putt that I have loved for 40 years on MY side of the fence in Holmby Hills. Nevermind. It could also be that I made a mistake choosing a hot Saturday in May to visit the Natural History Museum downtown. But I am going to lay the blame at Hooters on Figueroa. For when I got there, I was REALLY READY for some pampering, but after 90 minutes with the girls in orange, I was thinking I might head under the Chavez Bridge. I figured “...well it really couldn't really get any WORSE!”
I was surprised to find a Hooters south of Staples. The neighborhood still drops off pretty fast between the new beating heart of downtown and the Trojan campus, but there it was. Loud, raucous, and stuffed with hot chicks stuffed into their trademark tangerine skins and tightey whiteys. Optimism spiked in me as I found a spot at the bar, and saw the Clippers were actually ripping San Antonio by twelve early in the second half! The bar was filthy, but who cares? It's a BAR, right? Let me scrape away a clean spot, hunker down, and soon a hot chick will kiss my ass and bring me shit. Well, not so much.
I AM GREETED AT THE BAR
After fifteen minutes I am confronted with the deadeye, level stare, and flat, monotone utterance a trolling shark might make : watkanigitcha? (this with just the right heavy pause before it) It lacked the cocked neck and hand on hip, but you could hear it. It was there. My contribution, my pissing her off seemed to be a mix of “He showed up,” and “Do you have any idea of how big I was in Glenley? I shouldn't even be doin' this shit!”
I ask for a bar menu and was immediately told with shaking head that it will be “twenty to twenty-five minutes to get an order into the kitchen.” Right. She didn't say the food would take a while. She just told me with a straight face that it would take her half an hour TO TELL THE KITCHEN I WAS HUNGRY. I smile and say “no problem!” It takes her fifteen minutes to come back and add (with a slightly longer stare this time) “wood u like anything to drink.”
My order of iced tea thrilled her, but she contained her elation and HANDED me my glass after yet another doll-eye (Jaws doll-eye, not Barbie) stare, arm extended, no comment. I set the glass on the filthy bar, and dreamed of kinder days, as the Clippers began to let their lead slip away.
Her partner, or replacement, came behind the bar after a half hour or so, and she was an immediate upgrade. As I gave her my “Fried Pickles, Please,” order, she burped liquid onto her amazing belly. It wasn't gross until I typed it out. Actually, it was kind of hot until she accused me of spitting on her. I am not making this up. I laughed and ignored her and she left as the Clippers gave up rebound after rebound and missed shot after shot.
The pickles came and suddenly I wasn't a fifty year old child raper anymore. I was a mark.
She comes around the bar and gives me an adrenaline pumping stare and says, “Wow. Those smell really good.”
I don't THINK I blacked out, but I may have. What I remember is guffawing part out of shock by finally being spoken to by one of these maidens directly with something other than scorn, and partly out of amazement that she thought I was going to feed her my fucking food after being treated like a leper for most of an hour. I put my head down and let out my only belly laugh of the day.
I look up to see that San Antonio has caught and passed the Clippers. Later I would hear that LA rolled over and put their face in the pillow for a twenty four to zero run that they never recovered from. The pickles did smell really good and they tasted better. I make a mental note to find and grow the most earth sensitive home grown cucumbers and pickle them in my own vinegar, breaded with sugar and cheese and cracker crumbs and never have to succumb to whatever kind of humiliation I was being subjected. But they tasted really good. Especially with the tan table sauce.
The clock was running down and I gave up the ghost. I had to BEG her to get my check and when it finally arrived, I shoved a twenty in her hand after a glance and got another binocular peer. The change came after five minutes and I took every single and every coin from her, jammed it all in my front pocket and left straight out onto Figueroa, shaking my head at all of it. At the shitty service, the empty beauty, the thin, harsh LA sun, and the spreading ooze of red shirts birthed out of Staples, seemingly indifferent to the loss occurring without them in front of their empty, cheap seats.
My intention is for this letter to reach every server that has ever been stiffed and didn't “get it.”
...and that they read it, and get it.