Next time you dine out…

Since returning after Christmas, I have been working two jobs, the first of which is a waitress at a bar&grille. A few days a week, for 8-12 hours anywhere between 8am and 5am , I am taking orders, running food, cleaning the restaurant, and trying to keep a smile on my face while older people yell at me about coffee and drunk college kids  throw up on the table.

Recently, as he signed his bill, a young man made the following remark:

“I see that you get an automatic gratuity of 18% on tables over 5 people…You really lucked out on that one. If it had been up to me you wouldn’t have gotten that tip; You were terrible.”

I looked up in disbelief as this man then reminded his friends not to add any tip the their bill because I didn’t deserve it.

Which leads me to the following rules about dining out:

1. Always be nice to your server.

This person–this person who is smiling at you no matter how rude you’re being,  putting your order in, and bringing out white hot plates as fast as possible; who is making no more than $2.50 an hour –This person is a PERSON. I can appreciate that maybe you’re not always terrible or that  you’re having a particularly bad day and just need to be mad at someone and I definitely know that sometimes servers mess up or are unpleasant, and food is slow, or cold; But please, please give her the benefit of the doubt and be kind to her. I guarantee that if you show your server kindness, understanding, and respect, she’ll be grateful and treat you better in turn.

2. Be patient.

As a very impatient person, I can relate with how having to wait can sometimes make a person agitated.  Add in fatigue and hunger and well, bring on the gremlin. But sir or mam, when you chose to come to a busy diner at 11am on a Sunday morning, well I’m sorry but you brought it upon your damn self. We are all just one person and one singular person, no matter how good or efficient he is, can only do and carry so many things at once. More often than not, your server is busting his ass and burning her hands and arms trying to get you to your play which starts in 20 minutes. So please, either learn to be patient or eat at home.

3. Be considerate.

This one goes out to all you drunken fools. I know it’s hard to be a good judge of what is appropriate behavior when we’re drunk, but seriously, make a valiant effort. For example, it’s not okay to vomit, pee, or excrete any other bodily fluid in the restaurant. Gross. If for some reason, that puke just sneaks up on you, don’t just try to pretend it’s not there. It is. I see it and smell it and at least 3 other tables did too and have since split.

It is also not smiled upon to destroy the bathroom, wander into the kitchen, kiss the waitress, or my personal favorite, start a fight. Gentlemen, nothing makes you more lame and pathetic than starting a fist-fight at a restaurant at 3:30 in the morning. And if you’ve got one of those friends, BRING HIM THE HELL HOME.

4. Never EVER walk out on your table.

Now I don’t know if this is the protocol at all restaurants, but at mine, if a bill walks out without paying, it’s coming out of my pocket. That’s right. Not only do I miss out on a tip, I now have to shell out whatever exorbitant amount you decided to spend on mimosas, bloody marys, and omelets. We do not make enough money to be taking you and your friends out to brunch. Sorry.

And finally… 5. Always tip your server.

It is a terrible feeling not to get tipped, especially if one knows that she did a good job with the table. There’s no excuse for not tipping something and even a shitty tip is better than none at all. “But she was a bad waitress,” you think. Maybe she wasn’t the best this day, this time, but more than likely, there’s a reason for that. Possible reason #1-It’s her first day. #2-Your food was late because the kitchen is slow or the burner on the grill is out. #3-Your order is messed up because a cook read it wrong or didn’t tell her that they are out of said item. #4-The bartender makes the drinks, not your server…the list goes on, and these have all happened to me. Granted, I’m not too naive or presumptuous to assert that there aren’t just some bad servers out there, but good or not, this person is living on tips. The paycheck she gets every week (if she’s lucky)  amounts to less than $100 for over 40 hours of work. Do the math and have a heart.

And if all that doesn’t make you think twice the next time you want to screw over your server, maybe this will: A server never forgets. If you are sweet or tip well, I remember you and take extra care of your table during all subsequent visits. If you’re one of the above mentioned punks however, well, I remember you too.

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Happy to be Sad

It has been quite a long time since I wrote that last post. The months that have passed have definitely been eventful, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t feel that I had anything really new to report. Sure, I have plenty to say and gush about my family; this has been a year of incredible things! But I’m not yet in the stage of my life where I want my only news to be reporting about the excitement of other people’s lives.

Though, these months of ink (digital or otherwise) silence were due to a sense of stagnancy punctured only by one thing: I knew that I would just have to stop dragging my thumbs and do something about it.

I started traveling more. I frequent-flyer-miled the hell out of my credit cards. Sometimes I would go  just to visit my family and friends,  and sometimes to celebrate exciting milestones (shoutout to the Villavalcek wedding!), and towards the end, to figure out my next step. I felt comfortable financially to actually use the sick days and money I had saved up to have a good time. I knew that saving my money was crucial for the next step, but with these trips and adventures I reminded myself that hoarding my money away was not.

And each trip, no matter the occasion or stress it sometimes induced, was a reminder of how good it would feel to actually just stop procrastinating and get happy.

I visited home for 2 weeks over Christmas, and it felt so good. I spent serious quality time with my family and went out with my old friends. I slept in my old room and drove my old car. I ate too much, went sledding, and celebrated my favorite time of year and when it was time to catch the plane back to my new home, I was so sad. I was welled up for days. That felt so good.

I guess the real point of this post is simply that I am so happy to have been so sad to leave the place I grew up. Happy to know that I truly love and appreciate where I’m from, but am also happy to see where I may go.

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So Damn Lucky

Do you ever have those moments where a song you have known forever comes on and you listen–I mean really listen– to the lyrics? All of a sudden..it’s as though that song was put on intentionally? It’s like somehow, that singer saw where you were at or how you were feeling better than anyone else and thought, “Here, this will help.”

Yeah? Then you’ll get this. If not, start listening to lyrics more.

I feel overwhelmingly stuck. Some days I feeling like the Stuck consumes  my brain and blocks all rational thought or emotion from permeating. One such day, I was driving home from a visit with my old roommates. It was a sunny, pleasant winter day. I had my sunglasses on, covering the puffy eyes underneath and was blasting music to quiet the spinning in my brain. I wasn’t really even focused, just staring at the road as I let me foot get heavier and lighter on the pedal. I had my ipod on shuffle, so that I wouldn’t know which of the 3,000 songs I had would come on. And then, on came an old favorite. I found its first few notes comforting and I turned it up. Absent mindedly, I started singing along. As I sang, I let the words sink in.

They hit me like a brick.

Everything’s different
My head in the clouds

I hit this corner
With my foot on the gass
I started sliding, I lose it
Everything’s different just like that

Oh my God, wait and see
What will soon become of me?
Frozen heart
Screaming wheels
Does that screaming come from me?
So damn lucky, when went on ahead
You say, you say
I see you later
I heard what you said a few minutes later
I’m sliding
Everything’s different, again

Oh my God, wait and see
What will soon become of me?
This frozen heart
Screaming wheels
But does that screaming come from me?
I’m dizzy from all this spinning
Now I’m thinking that you did all you could
When you said my love
Take it slowly
Ok, is what I said
Oh my God, wait and see
What will soon become of me?
Frozen heart
Screaming wheels
But does that screaming come from me?
Take me back, just before I was spinning
Take me back, just before I got dizzy
Take me back, amazing what a minute can do
Just like you
So, so, so, so, up, around, around, around
Amazing what a minute can do
Around, Around, Around
Ok…

I listened to the final notes of the song, and felt like an enormous weight had been lifted off my chest. This song, all about spinning and loosing control; all about things changing in the matter of a minute; about waiting to see what you will become and screaming because you can’t stop it; about not realizing the simplicity of taking it slowly; about knowing that you are so damn lucky and about freaking out; but most of all, about taking a breath of resolve and saying, “Ok…”

After that, the song ends, and a new one comes blaring through the speakers.

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Red&Green Friday

Black Friday is upon us again. A day where the true coupon-clipping shopaholics find deals that make their eyes light up and retail employees find themselves thanking their family for Thanksgiving dinner and heading to the mall to work all night–Kudos Kate. The most insane of holidays (Can this really be considered a holiday?), Black Friday marks a different kind of day for me. Instead of staying up all night to shop, I go to bed and sleep as long as I want to. I get up, have a little breakfast, idly chat with my folks, and proceed to get the Christmas boxes down. For me, Black Friday means Christmastime is upon us.

Now I know that some of you may not celebrate Christmas, or perhaps just feel indifferent to the season, but me? Well I might as well be the official spokesperson. I don’t remember when it started, but I have loved Christmas and everything it offers for a long time. There is no prettier thing than a decorated house and a Christmas tree. (And I’m only slightly exaggerating)

No disrespect to Thanksgiving; I think it’s a great holiday with wonderful traditions and great sentiment and I enjoy spending Thanksgiving dinner with those I love. Still, as soon as dinner is over and I’ve woken up from my I-have-a-food-baby-I-need-to-lie-down nap, I am ready to decorate for Christmas. My mom and dad laugh and shake their heads, but they know that I’m not kidding. I give Thanksgiving its full day, but the next morning, I haul out the Christmas cds that have been hidden in my bedroom and fill the cd-player with all the hits. I enlist my willing dad to hike up to the attic and pass me box after box full of glittering ornaments, Christmas themed cookie platters, and porcelain figurines. I unwrap each one with a smile and I dust and decorate until the house resembles a Hallmark card.

I guess when it comes down to it, I’m as crazy about the Christmas season as Black Friday shoppers are about buying things at “door-buster” deals. So to that, I say shop on all you crazies, and I’ll decorate my heart out.

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Toasting Victor

Toasting Victor.

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In Defense of Moving Back Home.

In Defense of Moving Back Home..

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In Defense of Moving Back Home.

Here’s a conversation I had with one of my clients at work not too long ago:

Me: Hey, if you’re going to drink that in the car, just please make sure that you don’t spill it. My mom will kill me.

Client: What? This is your mom’s car?

Me: (sighing) Yes _________, I moved back into my old house with my parents after school so that I could save some money.

Client: You live with your PARENTS? (Laughing. Lots of it)

Since moving back here in May, I have received mixed responses to “I live with my parents right now.” Sometimes it’s laughter, like it was above. Sometimes it’s pity. Sometimes it’s skepticism, and sometimes (although rarely) jealousy. The general concensus about living with the folks again after college seems to be “What? You couldn’t make it on your own?” Or at least that’s the way it often feels. I have other friends who are still in college who look at my 9pm bedtime life and say, “I will NOT move back in with my parents. No way. I’m going to ___ (Insert lofty dream here)__.” While I wish them well and hope that they can, my reality screams “Save money; move back home.”

Admittedly, I too thought like that at this time last year. Having arrived back in the states, I found even the confines of regular college almost suffocating. Even though I had lived with a family abroad, I had felt free to do as I pleased and with so many new things to try and places to see, I did. I struggled with being back in MA and told myself “I will NOT move back in with my parents. I have got to get out of here.”

But here I am, back in my hometown, working full-time and living with my parents. I still wish that I could just pack up and  get an apartment somewhere totally new; somewhere in a city so that I could walk everywhere and go out on Tuesday nights without worrying about driving or waking anyone up. Still, my months of being back here have also opened my eyes to some of the perks of living at home again for a while.

The first, and most obvious, I AM SAVING MONEY. Big Time. My parents, bless them, are allowing me to live rent-free. Sure I pay for gasoline for my car, my phone bill (which I think I missed this month…Sorry Mom&Dad!), and the occasional grocery bill or bottle of wine, but I smile each 1st of the month knowing that no huge chunk of my paychecks is going to rent. This allowed me the money I needed to pay back the bills on all that freedom I had in Chile, buy a new computer, some new clothes, ect. When it comes down to it, this was the most financially sound decision I’ve ever made.

Second, I’m giving my health a little bit of well-needed recovery time. Years of all-nighters, parties, and low fundage inhibiting me from making healthier choices are being paid back right now. I eat good home-cooked meals (alternately made by me, Mom, or Dad); I sleep a full eight hours (usually); I go on walks; I get outside; I drink less. Now, I’m not saying that I don’t still make some pretty college-y decisions on the weekends, but the option to sit curled up on the couch on Saturday night and watch a Friends marathon with a cup of tea is way less frowned upon here.

Third, I do “lame” things. I have been able to do some of the less cool stuff that I like to do. I guess that could be said about living on my own too, but it’s easier here. I started playing my guitar again and reading books..for pleasure! I write. I bake–like every week. I am relearning how to knit and have started crafting with the kids I babysit. With access to a car, I go shopping, out for lunch, and to the half-priced Tuesday night movies at the theater. It’s not an exciting life, but I can’t pretend it’s all bad.

I’m not saying it’s a perfect situation and I definitely don’t want to be in the same spot this time next year, but I have seen the light of living at home. I miss having my own apartment and living with my best friend, but I’ll be back there soon enough, and I’ll be better off when I get there.

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Toasting Victor

Today, I became an aunt. A tia, to be more precise. Baby Victor was born to my eldest brother and his wife this morning, screaming and dancing his way into the world. Chubby and wrinkly and perfect.

I am full of a pride that I have never felt before. There is a new generation beginning for my family. I am so excited to see him grow and watch him learn and celebrate his life. I have started thinking about future holidays and family get-togethers and hope that the words, “Do we have to go to Aunt Kayla’s house?” never come out of his mouth.

So here’s to you, Victor. I promise to be as good an aunt as I can be. I’ll always remember your birthday and I’ll try to remember what kind of cookies you like and which you don’t. I will try to help you whenever you ask for it (and probably some of the time that you don’t). I will try to remember what I gave you for Christmas last year, so as not to repeat a gift that you already only sort of liked. When you get there, I’ll help your Mom and Dad remember what it’s like to be a teenager if they forget. (Don’t worry though, your parents are pretty cool). And most importantly, I will love you very much.

Salud, nephew.

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The Post-Life

                

Dad so gently reminded me this week that it has been just over a year since I stepped out of Chile, asking me, “Can you believe it?”

Short answer: No.

No I cannot believe that I have been back in the states for a full year; that I managed to somehow keep a piece of the Chilean Kaila with me the whole time; that my friends say, “you’re different since Chile”; that I haven’t heard the voices of people I really like in too long.

Yet here I am, a year later. Despite my whining, it has been an exciting 12 months. I solidified lasting friendships who I now miss dearly. I have had almost painful amounts of fun and brutal weeks of all-nighters, freeze pops, and coffee. I got my BA. I learned I’ll soon have a nephew AND another sister-in-law! I moved back into my high school bedroom 2.0. I got a real-life, big-kid job. (..and a real-life, medium kid one, too).

Which brings me to the post. Periodically over this past year I was told that, for some reason I don’t get, people like to read what I write. Maybe they like receiving emails? Maybe they’re bored at work? Most likely it’s because they’re  all family and friends. Whatever the reason, I appreciate it. I love to write and haven’t been doing enough of it lately.

So here’s the “Post-Life:” Post Chile; post 21 Maywood; post college. This one has stories too, don’t worry.

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Back on the Homefront

Wow. I didn’t even realize that it had been so long since I had written. Sadly, Chile was knocked out of the Mundial by Brasil leaving the country pretty depressed. It didn’t stop them from watching the rest of the Cup though.

Now, as you may have guessed by some good deductive reasoning after reading the title of this post, I am back in Massachusetts. I arrived here just three days ago after an exciting and much needed week-long visit to Costa Rica. Mom and Dad met Heather and I at the San Jose airport on August 1st with open arms, smiles, and some joyful tears. It felt so good to see them as well as my family in the Rich Coast AND, as an added bonus, Marie and Adrian.

Here on the East Coast, the questions unfold: How was your trip? What’s Chile like? Did you make any friends? Are you like, totally fluent in Spanish now? Aren’t you glaaaaaad you’re home? Think you’ll ever go back? It’s a little exhausting, but I enjoy being able to talk to people who are willing to listen. My “trip” was life-changing and unforgettable. Chile is a beautiful, ever-changing country. Yes, I made friends. I met people there, both American and Chilean, whom I plan on keeping in my life forever and who I miss everyday. No, I’m not totally fluent in Spanish, but I feel a hell of lot better. I will never again cower away from a conversation and I want to keep using it as much as possible. Yeah, I suppose I’m glad to be home. I love Massachusetts and I always will. There were a lot of things and more importantly people, that I missed and it feels good have them by my side again, sitting by the Atlantic on a humid August day. I now know however, that I can love other places too and that I want to live and experience other places for a while. I need to get out–at least for a couple years. And yes; I am definitely going back to Chile someday.

Just reflecting briefly on my half year away makes me feel pretty emotional, so I hope you’ll excuse the brevity on this post. If you want to know more about my travels and stories, let me know and I’d be more than happy to share. If you are a person contemplating going abroad for whatever reason, let me tell you this: Do it. Go somewhere that you never thought you’d go and live there. Go out, meet people, make mistakes, and aprovechar.

AMMACMWCMAOJLACRJJMCGHG: les echo de menos; usd. son bakanes. nos vemos altiro.<3

And to Chile: Gracias.

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