Tuesday, June 28, 2011

We Were Robbed

A few weeks back, I was involved in organizing a Speech Festival for the youth of my church - which basically entailed about 40 kids writing their own talks, giving them and then being judged on their content and delivery. Now in theory I'm sure this seemed like a great idea. However, I was put in charge of 6 kids, who I wouldn't describe as little Anthony Robbins...heck, these kids' stage presence made Kristen Stewart, of the fascinating books Twilight, seem incredibly engaging and gregarious. But, I was given the task and so we pressed forward.

Over the course of a few weeks I took the most awkward one of the bunch and became determined that she would be the victor of our 6 and go on to the main Speech Festival...which she did. (High fives around). Now, before I go on, let me just describe my sweet Autumn. She is shy beyond description. Before giving this talk I'm not sure I ever heard her speak more than two sentences at a time, and yet, she somehow nailed it. So, fast forward two weeks, Autumn, after being coaxed and bribed, was sent to the main Speech Festival to compete against six other churches' winners to determine the ultimate speech giver...and to win 2 free movie tickets!

Now, Autumn is not my child and I'm not even a mom, but I'll admit I sort of got into "Mom Mode" watching this speech festival. For example, and I'm not sure moms actually do this, or even admit to doing it, but I truly wanted to see all the other kids fail. I mean truly fail. Every time a kid stuttered, forgot a line from their talk or made an awkward statement I found myself thinking, "Alright, this one sucks - we totally got this."

Secondly, when Autumn got up to speak I felt like one of those crazy moms from the TLC show Toddlers and Tiaras. (See picture up top. Yeah, that would be wire cones on her little girl.) Honestly, if you could have seen me, I was almost mouthing the words and smiling in that way that says, "If you make eye contact with me, I'm trying to tell you to smile bigger." It wasn't pretty.

And lastly, I'll admit I sort of behaved poorly as we were waiting for the verdict. I, may or may not have, told some of the judges Autumn's background and how winning this could help her conquer her shyness, and the fact that she is waiting for a kidney transplant. (She doesn't actually need a kidney, but I thought it painted a courageous picture.)

Unfortunately, at the end Autumn was robbed. She did manage to take down Barack Obama Jr. and hippie happy 17 year old from Malibu, but second place was where she stood....and I, may or may not, have said rather loud, "We were robbed," over and over again when the winner was announced.

So, what did I get from this experience? Well, one you can conquer fears. Two, we have some great youth coming up as the next generation. And three, I think I'm going to be that annoying Mom on the sidelines,who runs up and down screaming, "Billy get the ball! Get the ball! You got it! Score! He scored! That's my kid! That's my kid! That's my...oh geez.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Write With Some Pride

The restaurant I work at serves three groups of people: 1. Moms and their children 2. People in the business and 3. People, who come in at 8 with their laptops and write the next great screenplay until 4. I enjoy the last group for two reasons. (Yes, I'm going to keep listing things.) One, they are always game to talk because, heaven knows, they aren't possibly getting anything done as they suck down their fifteenth free cup of coffee and hide from my nasty stare for taking up a table in my section. And two, I love their answers to my favorite question: "So, what are you writing?" For example, I was once told by an individual, who comes in EVERY DAY, that he's writing the next Sex In the City for men. Why do I love this answer? Because if you could picture anyone more unsuited to write about sexual conquests and adventures in any city on the planet this would be your guy. I really think instructional manuals on microwaves could be more of this guy's expertise.

Another person once told me that he was writing a comedy. Now, again like our Mr. Carrie Bradshaw, this guy writing a comedy just didn't fit. For one, I've never seen him smile. I don't even know how this guy chews because I've never seen his teeth. I wanted to follow-up his answer with the question, "Does your comedy include torturing kittens and beating children?"

And lastly, my favorite answer came today. For the past couple of weeks a writing team has been camping out at our restaurant furiously typing away on a laptop. I decided to finally ask them what they were writing, and they replied they were writing a romantic comedy. Now, I'll admit I'm sort of a fan of this genre and they both struck me as rather normal people, so I then asked, "Have you guys written anything before? and they replied with a meek voice, "Um, we wrote The Wedding Planner with Jennifer Lopez." I think I loved this reply the most because there was absolutely no pride in their admitting they wrote The Wedding Planner, and as I continued to maintain eye contact, they both put their heads down in shame and said (and I quote as they pointed to their laptops) "But, this one won't be like that."

I know, I know what you are thinking: Why the shame in such a cinematic masterpiece? Why didn't they hold their heads up high and ask, "Did you see them getting together at the end? How about him leaving his own wedding to get her? HIS OWN WEDDING??!! We are freaking geniuses!" Instead, there was just apologies.

Come on you laptop campers, write with some dignity. Write what you know. Write stuff we want to see...and tip your waitress, she's trying to make a living too.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I Had A Day Off Today

That's Enough

After watching The Bachelorette on Monday night I came to one conclusion: People from Utah, because everyone assumes they're Mormon, and real Mormons, must stop going on reality TV shows. Honestly, as a practicing Mormon, I beg these idiots to stop and think about how their actions cause serious consequences for the rest of us. For example, do you remember Julie from MTV's Real World: New Orleans? Now, I'm taught at church to love all God's creatures, but she was one of the worst individuals I've ever come across. During the first episode Julie started to hysterically cry because her black roommate was the first person of another race she had ever interacted with. As she sat there crying, my college roommate turned to me and asked, "So, Mormons are all white? And you guys aren't allowed to 'interact' with black people?" Thanks Julie for that stupid conversation.

And now we have Bentley Williams of The Bachelorette behaving like a complete (insert something about a bag here.) Just for fun, I decided to Google Mr. Williams and you know what I found? Several articles discussing two things: 1. What an unbelievable jerk this guy is and 2. Yep, you guessed it, the fact that he's a Mormon.

So, listen up you Mormons out there, find another hobby. Keep eating in your living rooms (about 15 Mormons have been on The Biggest Loser), keep dancing in your basements (another five or so have been on dancing reality shows) and stop being totally crazy on TV.

Oh, and if you are Ken Jennings, the guy who holds the record for the longest winning streak on Jeopardy!, feel free to go on TV. Honestly, during those 75 episodes I really thought we were finally erasing the damage done by so many idiots.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

20 Cents To Lose

After working at a restaurant for two years, I've come to hate three things. One, I hate stupid parents. You know who you are. You are the ones who come in with two or more kids and decide, that since you are leaving a six dollar tip, it's okay to absolutely destroy the place...and then leave. Did you know that when your kid throws his food on the ground someone (me) actually has to clean that up? Or did you know that a napkin used to clean up snot, spilled milk and whatever else you decide to leave behind actually has to be touched by someone (me)? Honestly, I get it. I'm not a parent, but even I know it's not okay to watch your child throw his drink on the ground, and then say to your server (me), "Um, you missed a spot of milk over there."

TWO, I hate the "menu changers." Again, you know who you are. You are the ones who see that we have turkey, tomatoes and tofu on our menu and decide to create your own sandwich out of those ingredients. Hey, guest judge this isn't a quickfire challenge on Top Chef - order from the menu!

And THREE, more than anything else, I hate foreigners. If I hear an accent my attitude instantly goes from, Curly McLain singing "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" to Michael Jackson singing "Beat It." Why all the anger? Well, for one they never, ever, never order from the menu. It's always do you have...(insert their homeland food.) Second, there are the most demanding little foreign friends. First they want an espresso, but then that's too hot, now they want some cold milk, oh but the milk is too cold, please heat it up. (Mind you, our restaurant is quite long, and all these requests add up to fifty yards each way.)

And lastly, after all the accommodations and running around they don't leave a tip. It absolutely drives me nuts. So, finally last Thursday I snapped. After watching a particular foreign couple come in three days in a row, and three days in a row screw my co-worker, I decided this needed to stop. So, the following took place:

Kate: (While handing them the check) So have you guys been to America before?

Foreigners: (While sipping on their third espresso and just right milk) Um, yes wes love ze country. Wez been here a many times.

Kate: Oh, wow like how many times?

Foreigners: Let me see. We been to, uh, New York and Miami and to California many times.

Kate: Wow. So, do you understand the tipping policies of America?

Foreigners: Yes, we have been leaving zomething.

Kate: Not really. You see today your bill is 28 dollars so you can tip anything from $4.50 to $6.00. You have been leaving 20 cents or 17 cents. (Their tips from the previous days.) That is not 15%, which is the typical practice in America.

Foreigners: We did not sthink it applied to breakfast.

Kate: Well, anytime someone comes to your table to serve you - then you may tip them. Do you understand?

Foreigners: (starting to forget English) Um, oui.

And the tip was?...$4.00. Figured I only had 20 cents to lose.