Sometimes the best tips are accompanied by a nice note extolling your virtues as a server and a person. They make you feel all warm and happy and glad to be alive.

Sometimes the worst tips are accompanied by a nasty little note telling you how awful a person you are for getting out of bed and coming to work and how you should be fired. They also make you feel warm, but it’s due to the rage (and bile) rising up, angry at an unjust god for creating this unjust world full of unjust people.

I’ve gotten plenty of both. In fact I have started saving the good ones in an album so that I can preserve the good karma. My favorite one is a drawing this really cute little girl drew on the back of a sushi menu. I’ve got a special place in my heart for the little ones who aren’t afraid of new foods. And I’ve got an even bigger, more special place in my heart for younglings that insist on eating sushi on their birthdays.

The one that means the most to me though is the one left by by favorite regular, Lori. Lori is this incredibly sweet chick who comes in a lot and just ((( radiates ))) positive energy and good cheer. The epitome of charm and gentility, she literally has the power to lighten the moods of everyone around her, like that Jasper kid from Twilight. Yes, I have read Twilight, so what? We’ve all done things we aren’t proud of. If I could figure out her method I would own the world of table waiting. She brought me all this information about talent agents because she thought I might need one. As soon as I figure out what my talent is I’m definitely going to look into it, but it really makes you feel good when other people believe in you more than you believe in yourself.

A note that I wish I still had was written by Nancy, the manager of a Snow Cone shop I used to play at. Yes, I have played at a Snow Cone shop. So what? We’ve all done things we’re not proud of. You can’t always headline the main stage of the Punchline. Nancy wrote me a note one time that said ‘We miss your silly songs and your crazy apron’. Someday I’m going back.

THOSE are the kinds of notes that go in my album.

If you go out to eat and your server rocks it out and adds to your dining experience, then by all means write them a nice little note telling them how you feel. It could really make their day.

If, however, you are an angry, pompous hypocrite who wants to use your political or religious beliefs as an excuse to demean someone who can’t say or do anything about it for fear of getting fired, then I would think twice about writing that note. You just might get famous for it.

Speaking of which, an Applebee’s server put a great note her coworker got recently on reddit. If you haven’t seen it you owe it to yourself and yourself’s children’s children to check it out. A ‘pastor’ of a storefront church in a strip mall went out to Applebee’s with a party large enough to trigger the autograt, which at Applebee’s must be parties of 30 or more at least. The (not so) good pastor felt this gratuity went against her beliefs (meaning her belief that servers should work for free in this case). She then marked through the service charge and wrote a zero in its place, and the words ‘I give god 10% why do you get 18?’ and signed it Pastor Alois Bell. That’s bad enough on it’s own, but then after she got Internet famous for this heinous act of bullshittery she was moved by the spirit to call the restaurant and demanded that everyone (including the managers) be fired off their ass. Because Jesus I guess.

I won’t go into too much detail on how I feel about this because there isn’t much I can add to the discussion. Obviously ‘pastor’ Bell is a silly slunt of the worst kind. If there’s a just god in heaven then her fifteen member strong congregation will figure out what a fraud she is and they will seek out greener pastors. When she’s looking for a new job I really hope karma kicks in and she has to apply for restaurant work. Wouldn’t it be awesome if she applied at the very same Applebee’s that she helped to put on the map? I would love to be there when that happens to throw just a pinch of salt in that wounded pride.

And quote some scripture.

‘Pastor’ Bell is a kind of punch line now. I’m sitting at my local neighborhood Applebee’s while writing this and asking people if they know Alois Bell. The servers are more than happy to joke about it, but the one manager I asked just walked away in disgust. I can imagine they are tired of taking flack for someone else’s mistake.

So I guess my advice on the matter would be to not write shitty, sanctimonious notes to your server in lieu of a decent tip. Because in the age of the Internet you will be called out on it.

Chelsea you are my hero. I hope you find a new, better job somewhere, and soon. Getting fired for that was an inevitable injustice but you can at least hold your head up high as you charge to the front of the unemployment line, proud in the knowledge that you struck a blow for truth. Also, you exposed a charlatan in the process and that’s not a bad day’s work when you get down to it. I’ve gotten far less accomplished the many, many times I’ve been fired.

Wherever you wind up, I hope they treat you with . . .

Dignity and Respect

Me, The JerBear


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Good Times, Good Words

During my summer hiatus I had the honor of officiating another wedding. I left a tiny sentence about that in my last post but I’m sure casual readers just skipped right over it thinking it was probably the random drivel of a mad man. But no, I occasionally perform the odd wedding here and there.

And I guess you could say they are indeed odd. Different at the very least. The first wedding I ever did was held at (of all places) a bocci ball court. Have YOU ever officiated a wedding at a bocci ball court? I didn’t think so, but I get to mark that one off of my bucket list. If you are like me you probably didn’t know what bocci ball is. I always thought bocci was the language that moisture vaporators spoke. As it turns out it’s like an Italian combination of shuffleboard and billiards that is played in a real nice courtyard setting perfect for a spring wedding.

The second one was an island themed wedding held in a nice subdivision. It was definitely laid back–the only thing differentiating me from the other guys in the wedding party was the fact that I was the one wearing pants. In retrospect they had the right idea. August in Georgia is a special kind of hell that sent down to punish southerners for being from the south, and, much like your Wu-Tang clan, ain’t nothing to fuck with. Great food though.

The last wedding I did was actually held in a church, which gave me a certain sense of apprehension as I am neither priest, pastor or rabbi. The whole reason I got started doing weddings is that when I get bored at work I tend to pester my coworkers with the Weirdness Of The Day. The Weirdness could be as simple as convincing everybody to substitute menu item names on kitchen checks for the names of vile sex acts, or as complex as developing new and entirely fictitious products for the company or conning everyone into thinking that a coworker who had called in was admitted to the hospital for testing and that we should get them a card we could all sign. One Sunday morning a long time ago in an Outback far, far away, faced with a dull and thoroughly unfun shift spent with hungover Outbackers, I started singing spirituals. Good, old timey religion spirituals. It just so happened that there were others working there that also felt like getting in the spirit. Before long we had a choir and a choir leader. One guy, who was about as religious as Richard Dawkins, seemed to know every hymn ever written, and we had this chick who taught me the Revelations: Liars Go To Hell song. Just great stuff to teach children by the way.

I had gotten ordained online to go along with the whole restaurant ministries theme and we were telling people to feel the spirit and all, having a good time with it. I was hanging out with a friend one night who had just gotten engaged, telling him about how cool the minister at my wedding was and how he was cracking jokes during the ceremony. A light went on in his head and he asked ‘Hey, can YOU marry us?’

And history was made.

From my experience, some people really have to have a traditional wedding. The pope or the president or the nearest equivalent just has to be the one presiding over the ceremony, the London Philharmonic has to play the bridal march, and Bobby Flay has to do the catering.

And then some people would rather have a wedding with more character than pomp. Some people don’t want Bobby Flay doing the catering because they can whip up something better. Some people don’t want the London Philharmonic playing because their cousin is a prominent deejay. Some people don’t want the pope marrying them because they aren’t catholic.

Some people are cool, laid back people who want a cool, laid back ceremony. I’m not saying that couples who go for traditional weddings aren’t cool, I’m just saying that the couples that get me to marry them have a definite, quantifiable coolness to them. For example, at my last wedding instead of slowly marching out after the ceremony, the wedding party, including me, paired up and danced down the aisle to Bruno Mars. My partner was a lovely young lady named Victoria, who, at age seventeen was a better driver than most adults I know, and, if I remember correctly, kinda pissed that our military would not let her into a combat position. Hehehe. God help whatever poor army that opposes ours once that chick gets in it.

So there you have it: something you didn’t know about me that is pleasantly weird. I officiate weddings sometimes. It’s not something I set out to do originally, but each time is a unique and special honor for me. If you are getting hitched and want a half funny, half serious, totally heartwarming ceremony then I might be the officiant for you. Also, it costs money and we’ll have to party together beforehand. Thems the rules. Can’t get around them, especially the party rule.

To Ginny and Adam, Telika and Mark, and Destiny and Ross: once again thank you for the special honor of sharing those special days with you in that unique way. I hope you all live happy lives together. Thanks for the good times–I hope I gave you good words.

Dignity and Respect
Me, The JerBear


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Denny’s Can Go Suck A Dick . . . Again

Hey everybody! I hope you also had an eventful summer vacation. Yeah, I know it’s November. But I live in Georgia and summer ended only two days ago. My son turned two. I found out that I’m actually a pretty decent carver of pumpkins and carrots. I married another couple. My restaurant won several awards. These are all great stories but they’re going to have to wait.

Once again America’s second favorite place to grab a drunk-to-hungover breakfast at five in the morning after the clubs have closed down for the night has drawn the ire of the JerBear. To be fair it’s really just a franchise owner of 40 Denny’s restaurants who is spewing the ridiculous bullshit in question, but still.

And he’s not alone.

Anyone who knows me knows how into politics I am: I’m not. At all. As in I have always been a life long, card-carrying member of the hippy party. I don’t think I’ve ever even so much as voted for American Idol, much less American President, but some people seemed to think the fate of the free world depended on this last election. Hell it might have for all I know. I can’t change the fate of the world. We here at You Just Got Sat are happy if we can just change anybody’s mind about treating restaurant workers with a modicum of dignity or respect and not like disposable human units. It seems to me that most of the dining public gets this but the real holdouts are restaurant owners. Namely crappy restaurant owners named John, apparently. Specifically John Metz, Denny’s franchisee, and John Schnatter of Papa John’s fame.

In case you don’t read the news ( and you can certainly be forgiven for not wanting to these days), Mr. Metz went on record as saying that “Because of Obamacare” he was going to charge a five percent surcharge at all of his locations.

Okay. No big deal at this point. This is still America and business owners have the right to charge whatever they think they can get out of their customers. I get that. But what set off my bullshit detector was when he said that if customers didn’t like it then they could just take it out of the tip, since those servers would be the ones benefitting from having healthcare. He also said he would be cutting hours effective immediately.

The first thought that the rational mind should have is ‘Gee what a douchebag.’ The second thought should be ‘And not a very smart one either.’ Then: ‘Why is he cutting hours now to prepare for something that isn’t supposed to happen until 2014?’

I may be missing something here. I haven’t been in a Denny’s in a while. Maybe they’ve done some remodeling, maybe they’ve revamped their menu a bit. I don’t know. It’s been years since I’ve been that drunk. But as I understand it Denny’s is what happens when Waffle House and IHOP make a baby. I seriously doubt that their servers are rolling around in so much tip money that they don’t mind their boss telling the public to tip them less, especially after having their hours cut.

John Metz– what the fudge were you thinking when you held this press conference? What was supposed to be the outcome? Did you think you would grow your business by telling the public to put less money in the hands of your employees? I imagine that as the owner of more than forty restaurants, you are a fairly wealthy individual with a large number of employees. Wouldn’t it make more sense to look after the interests of those employees as you would hope they would look after the interests of your business?

Also: five percent? When Papa John Schnatter invented the Scumbag John Schnatter meme, his accountants told him that when universal healthcare went into effect it would add 11 to 14 cents per pizza. I may not be great at math but I’m pretty sure that’s less than five percent. And yeah it’s kinda douche-like for a super rich one percenter who lives in a castle and is giving away two million pizzas to whine about 14 cents, but at least he didn’t say you should stiff the delivery driver.

Then there’ s Applebee’s and Darden and Jimmy John’s (and probably a dozen more restaurant companies before I can finish this post) announcing a hiring freeze and cutting of hours. Again: in protest of a law that’s not supposed to go into effect for two more years.

Come on, American restaurant owners and managers! Get your shit together! You are making the rest of the country look like a bunch of assholes. While I would never dare to expect you to do right by your employees, the optimist in me feels like it’s okay to hope that some day your first knee jerk reaction to legislation that will eventually result in a healthier work force wouldn’t be to throw them under the bus.

Now maybe I’m just spoiled. No, strike that. I AM spoiled. My restaurant owner is one of the good ones. He has told me on many occasions his philosophy on how to treat employees, which can be summed up by as If you make it your business to take care of your people then your people will make it THEIR business to take care of YOUR business. Those are my words and not necessarily his but he has said pretty much that on many occasions and every interaction I’ve had with the man indicates that he means them. I don’t know for sure how he will deal with the upcoming changes in the healthcare system, but I would bet my last dollar he won’t just immediately throw us all under the bus. And I’ll stand by that. Eddie you really are my hero, man.

Restaurant owners and managers, I challenge you to take the high road. I challenge you to do the right thing for your employees, to respond to these changes with a mind towards long term prosperity and not focus on short term costs. I challenge you to be better than these other fools who are making headlines. Embrace the future instead of fighting the past and you will see your business flourish while those businesses that are taking out their political frustrations on their employees will watch as their sales and their bedrock employees walk out the door.

We Americans don’t always vote at the poles, but we do vote with our feet. As more businesses come out as being anti-gay or anti-employee rights, the dining public will make their choices, and yes sometimes those choices will be influenced by how big of dick you are to your employees. Sure, Wal-Mart can get away with union busting and intimidating employees and encouraging them to get on welfare . . . because they’re Wal-Mart. All of their competitors were driven out of business. It’s the only choice sometimes for a lot of people.

But Denny’s? Applebee’s? Papa John’s? Darden concepts?

People have other options. It might be a good idea to at least try to act like you care about your employees. Do it for the PR if nothing else. Maybe in the future restaurants will use treating their employees well as a selling point. Is that such a crazy idea? Until then if you do choose Denny’s or Applebee’s or Papa John’s, please treat their employees (even if they don’t), with . . .

Dignity and Respect

Me, The JerBear


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Girl You So Nasty

The other day we had a delivery driver drop off a load of something or other who was apparently the South American Brad Pitt from the way one of our servers fawned over him, and it was hilarious.

I was too busy prepping salads and talking about race cars or titties or what have you to notice how absolutely fabulous senor Peett must have been, but it was impossible to not notice Jen’s reaction to this guy’s presence. Her flushed cheeks, dilated pupils, dimpled smile, and predator-like gaze were plenty of tells that would let you know what she was thinking, but her awkward game really got behind the wheel and drove the point home.

‘Oh Heeyyy! It’s so . . . hot. You must be thirsty using those big muscles like that. You want something . . . to drink?.  What’s your name? You get along with your mama real good? You’ve got pretty eyes.’ And so on and so on.

You almost get the idea.

I almost got the hose.

Don’t get me wrong–guys are just as bad at lusting over chicks, maybe even a little worse. We even have codes for it when we want to tell our coworkers to do a flyby to check out the scenery.  The codes are different at different places, for instance at Chili’s it was Problem, at other places Issue. As in ‘Hey man there’s a serious problem at table 32.’ At The Sushi Joint we use a double encrypted code, much like Cockney rhyming slang, and you would damn near need a degree in food science to crack it.

But at least we don’t go in to full on Piece Negotiations at work. If the poor bastard didn’t have a delivery schedule to keep he probably would have found himself ten minutes later getting random stranger head in the walk-in while thinking to himself man these people really take hospitality to a whole new level. Fortunately for the other stops on his route (and the health inspection scores of our walk-in), he departed shortly afterwards.

I asked Jen if she needed a mop or a towel or just some time alone and then promptly put the incident out of my mind. Maybe thirty minutes later I went back to the BOH and I saw Jen cleaning the ever loving shit out of the beer cooler. Jen is always real good about cleaning this beer cooler, but on this day she was just loading the kids up in the buggy and Going To Town on this motherfucker. Scrubbing, rinsing, scrubbing again, she was going about it with a manic intensity that could be considered either slightly comical or very, very scary.

When I walked back there she was cleaning the lower part of the cooler, bent over at the waist sideways and kinda resting her head on her shoulder that wasn’t jerking back and forth. As I got closer I could hear her talking:

‘Girl you so Nasty!’

scrub scrub scrub

‘How’d you let yourself get so dirty?’

rinse rinse rinse

‘Girl you are just filthy!’


‘What would your mama say?’

I figured she was on the phone. She hadto be on the phone.

But then I noticed she didn’t have a phone or any bluetooth device in her ear. So, standing behind her, I asked ‘Jen are you on the phone?’

All maniacal scrubbing stopped instantly as her arm hung in place, suds slowly bubbling down from the now ragged scouring pad. Ever so slowly, ever so timidly, ever so sheepishly her head swiveled up until our eyes met.

There was this moment of recognition and telepathic communication where I realized that she was not in fact on the phone and she knew I knew she wasn’t on the phone. She also knew what she had been saying and she knew I had heard at least some of it. I had no idea what she had been saying before I got there, but I knew that she knew that I would naturally think that she was talking to herself about her encounter with senor Peett, since he was all she could talk about after he left. She asked me with her eyes How much did you hear? Did you hear the bad stuff? You’re going to give me shit, aren’t you? It’s going to be bad, isn’t it? To which my psychic eyebeams shot back I heard enough and oh yeah I’m going to have to give you hell for this for at least a week.

After I asked Jen if she was on the phone, we had that three count of telepathic eye-phoning, and then she meekly whispered an unsteady ‘n-n-n-no’.

‘So who were you talking to?’ I asked gleefully. For me there were no wrong answers to this question. I knew any answer would lead to comedy gold.

She pondered her answer for a moment, weighing her choices carefully. For her there were no right answers to this question. She knew that any answer would lead to comedy gold.

‘Umm . . . I was talking to the cooler. You know–the way you talk to something that you’re cleaning.’

Okay. Sure. Go with the Private Pyle from Full Metal Jacket defense. Yeah. Whatever you say.

‘JerBear you aren’t going to put this in your blog, are you?’ she pleaded.

‘No worries, love’ I assured her, ‘Fucking Hemmingway couldn’t put this little incident into printed words and accurately convey how funny it is.’

‘Oh thank god!’

‘Yeah I’m going to have to turn this into a bit for the standup act.’

Love ya Jen. Don’t be mad:)


Dignity and Respect

Me, The JerBear


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Pep Rally

The other day was not supposed to be a busy day. Customers, if they did come in, were supposed to trickle in slowly. Tumbleweeds were supposed to be rolling with lackadaisical abandon down the main alley as servers filled out crossword puzzles while leaning over a beer cooler, games were supposed to be played, jokes told, cigarette breaks taken.

Obviously none of that shit happened.

At about 5:30 we discovered that due to some strange sort of temporal anomaly, everybody in a twenty mile radius who had a birthday that day decided they wanted to eat atThe Sushi Joint. And in the spirit of their shared birth anniversary camaraderie, they all rode the same bus to get there. Now before this starts sounding like a bitch session, trust me–it’s not. It’s great having business and these people were all pretty much super nice, but unfortunately for this one table a perfect storm brewed up and rained down a torrent of inconvenient shit on them.

That’s overstating it a bit. Really the only complaint they had was that the overall service took a good bit longer than they’re used to. It wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t the kitchen’s fault, it wasn’t the hostess’s fault, it wasn’t the table’s fault–it wasn’t anybody’s fault. It takes a little bit longer for everything when your restaurant fills up instantly with large parties, and all those extra seconds spent waiting on the POS terminal, waiting on the beverage station, waiting on longer ticket times, etc. add up. Adding to the mix, it started out as a six top but grew to an eight top (which was not that big of a problem at all), and when they got sat and I took their drink order, I was told that two of them had to leave soon and they needed their food in ten minutes (which was pretty fucking impossible at that time to be honest).

Let me be clear about this: I am NOT bitching about this table. It was a group of medical professionals that dine with us frequently and I am never unhappy to see them in my section. They just happened to be the victims of unfortunate timing–if they had sat down twenty minutes before or after they did then you wouldn’t be reading this. You’d probably be on facebook or watching porn. And I wouldn’t be all that  surprised if you had another window open right now. I wouldn’t be jealous. You and I, we’re cool like that.

No one complained about things taking longer than they normally would have. Not the eleven top celebrating a birthday, not the couple having dinner, not the nice family of four sitting adjacent to the medipro table, not even the medical professional table, NO ONE complained about anything. Everybody that was there knew that the place just got flash mobbed and they assumed naturally that it would take a minute. Everybody was pretty nice and understanding except this one guy at the medipro table, and even HE was still pretty nice and (oddly enough) fairly understanding about it all.

But despite all this he kept me at the table for five minutes making valid complaints about the time of service and disputing the autograt. He acknowledged the situation wasn’t our fault and the fact that there was literally nothing that anyone could have done differently, and honestly he was never rude or hostile. He did, however, actually say words to the effect of ‘If we are going to have to pay a service charge we should have our own server that waits on just this one table’, a suggestion that even he seemed to recognize as wishful thinking almost as soon as he said it. I could tell confrontation didn’t come easily to  him. He’s always been a nice guy and a good customer before, but his shaking voice and shaking hands told me how upset he was. I felt bad for the guy to tell the truth, so much so that I even asked him (once) if he wanted me to remove the grat from his bill. He eventually settled on vowing to never come back and my last words to him were Please Come Back. Sometimes there’s nothing else you can do.

While we were having our conversation, the father from the family of four at the next table was listening, and then he decided that he wanted to have a conversation with me also. But his conversation was a lot nicer. He also acknowledged the generally goatfucked nature of the situation and then he gave me all this really, really nice praise and encouragement. I wish I could remember what all he said but I was too busy at the time and quite frankly blown away by the sheer niceness of it all.

You see, Family of Four Dad was under the impression that I had just been cussed out for five minutes and he was giving me a pep talk. He told me how pleasant his meal had been and how well he thought I handled the situation and how well I held up under pressure–things he probably would have never thought to say if he hadn’t witnessed me getting a tongue-lashing from his table neighbor.

Every once in a while, having a table chew you out or act unreasonable can actually have a positive effect on your night if you handle it well. Customers can hear when their neighbors are saying to you, especially if they are making a spectacle of themselves. When you handle anger with compassion, insanity with reason, and rudeness with kindness, people respond to that. They really do, and it can be a beautiful thing.

The guy at the medipro table wasn’t mean or hostile or crazy but the Family of Four Dad apparently thought he was so he gave me a really nice pep talk.

I’ve been cussed out before–REALLY cussed out–and rarely have I gotten a pep talk from a neighboring table. It’s happened though. And it’s always cool when it happens. The best, most succinct and concise pep talk I’ve ever gotten was from a local insurance magnate regular who overheard this crazy ridiculous bitch just going off on me because she wanted avocados with something that didn’t normally come with avocados and she couldn’t figure out why she should have to pay for them (FYI it’s because we sell food for a living lady). This guy overheard the conversation and said simply: ‘Man, don’t let what that miserable bitch said get you down.’

Amen, brother.

So to all you pep talkers out there: Thank You! Words are powerful, much more so than most people realize. When you give heartfelt words of encouragement to others you can have a profound impact on their night. Healing words are ten times more powerful than hurting words, so the next time you see some poor bastard getting chewed out for something feel free to try to give them a pep talk. It won’t hurt anything and it can mean the difference between going home crying while giving everybody the finger and going home laughing. Not that I ever give everybody the finger. That’s not like me.

And as always, treat restaurant industry employees with . . .

Dignity and Respect

Me, The JerBear


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I used to play poker. A lot. I can’t tell you how many nights I stayed up til 6, 8, TEN in the morning playing half unconcious, Doc Holiday-style poker for a hundred dollar pot. Good times. I even had the coolest poker chips of any kid on my block-a custom load out of clay composite chips with very classy antique porn on them. Each denomination had a different painting of a different lady from the 1890s.  Miss 25 was more beautiful in the classical sense but Miss 100 was my favorite–her bright red dress contrasted nicely with the black background of the chip. Also: Titties! These chips have, over the years, accumulated a great deal of good luck. No, I don’t actually believe in luck or fate, but I had won a lot of games and money and had a lot of fun, fun times with friends while using these chips. A hippy spiritualist would say that they possessed a strong positive energy.

I learned a great deal about people and life in general from the study of poker. And yes, I said study. It’s a simple game but it’s a complex subject, filled with many lessons and parables, which is why there are so many expressions in our common speech that are derived from poker (Ace up your sleeve, When the chips are down, etc). One valuable lesson I took away from poker is that luck is always a factor in everything. EVERYTHING. Pocket aces can lose to seven deuce off in any hand, no matter how well you play them. Trust me. I’ve seen it.

So for the past few years, just as a precaution, just because my luck has been so bad in some areas of my life, I’ve carried around one of my 100 chips as a good luck totem. There was nothing particularly special or lucky about this chip. I just randomly pulled one out of the case one day and started carrying around with me. I wouldn’t call myself superstitious or OCD but recently I misplaced my lucky poker chip, and ever since then my luck has been so bad I could fall face first into a barrel of tits and somehow come out sucking on a dick. The logical part of my brain tells me that this is merely the illogical part of my brain projecting a pattern of misfortune to unrelated events, but then it keeps happening. At work I’ll see my section buddy get sat with a Ballin! surgeon table and then I’ll get sat with a couple who just narrowly escaped a trailer fire and are looking forward to the tractor pull/wrasslin show at the forum that they won tickets to from a radio show. My section buddy will get the kindly elderly couple who sees their grandson or granddaughter in every server that waits on them and always slips them a twenty like it was their birthday. Then I’ll get the Ten Percent Millionaire (who tips just like you’d think he would, only worse). Section buddy gets a party full of alcoholic businessmen on an expense account, and I get Satan’s Ex, smoke slowly rising from her frizzy hair as she screams ‘SWATE TAY!’ at her menu in response to my opening salutation.

And this has been going on for weeks. Even when I see a normally great table get sat in my section I’ll think Sweet! At least I’ll have this ONE bright spot in my day. These people ALWAYS show the love and leave twenty and above! And then I’ll get six on sixty. And man is it getting on my last dick nerve. If you know anything about me you know I love my job. I really do work at an almost perfect place, but shitbiscuits and gravy it sure ain’t as fun when you’re doing it for half the pay! (Yes, I even allowed myself one of my semi-monthlyain’ts. Give me a break I’m from the south. I assure you that you won’t find many on this blog.)

So I got tired of the Table Gods saddling up and dropping a great big Cleaveland Steamer on me and frantically searched everywhere for my lucky chip. After scouring the house and work and the cars to no avail, I finally gave up looking for it. I opened up the chip case again and grabbed this stray chip Mrs. Bear brought back from a cruise she took with her mother. I remember she had called me crying that first night of the cruise because she had lost her buy-in at the poker table. I don’t know if she thought I’d be mad or something but I did what any reasonable man would do in that situation: I told her to quit her crying and go buy back in and take back all her money and more. You see, Mrs. Bear is a pretty decent poker player in her own right, and she’s raked in too many pots to worry about the level of competition on a cruise ship. And of course she went back the next night after the casino was open again and made an epic comeback. Along with her money she brought back a souvenir chip from the ship.

Figuring that this chip had a little bit of luck on it, I’ve been taking it to work with me since Monday. The end result so far: pretty much the same shitty luck. There was, however, one notable exception. One of my favorite regulars came in and when I went over to her table to say hello (of course she was in my section buddy’s section because she didn’t want to wait for a table in my section, which was chock full of dickholes at the time), she handed me this list she had made up and printed out for me of talent agents and agencies from Atlanta. For some reason she is under the impression that I’m some sort of talented individual whose talent and uniqueness is so great that I am in need of representation.

How cool is that?

Yeah, I might not have any confidence in my creative output, but some of my tables do. Several people actually give me encouragement in that area, asking me when I’m performing next and telling me I need to get on a stage. And I swear that some day soon I’m going to start listening to them. Though I realize it’s almost completely pointless to try to be an entertainer in my circumstance, I still think it’s important for the soul to at least put it out there.

So I guess the moral of the story is there’s different kinds of luck. Either that or don’t lose your lucky poker chip or you’ll be up to your nipples in raging hillbillies and high school kids until you find it.


Dignity and Respect

Me, The JerBear


UPDATE: Found it! The recliner ate it. Yay!


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Things Your Trainer Should Have Told You

Here’s some more Things Your Trainer Should Have Told You, formally The Rules. Rules just sounds too . . . imposing I guess. I like to think there’s a lost training manual out there from a lost restaurant that closed down in the nineties whose training manager was so full of pith and vinegar that little nuggets of wisdom such as these made their way into the manual:

The more you need to use the bathroom, the less opportunities you will have to do so.

It starts out as a tiny little pressure in your bladder. You think to yourself that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to drink all that water/tea/coffee/beer before work but it’s no big deal. Despite what you tell shy first-time customers who ask if you have a bathroom, you do not actually work in a truly authentic Asian restaurant that is all about discipline and thus does not have a bathroom, just like in Asia (I know it’s wrong but damn I love doing that). So you think it’ll be okay because you will have time to take care of it just as soon as you get this table their next course. But then you get sat again. And again. And it doesn’t let up for four hours, by which time you’ve got to piss so hard you can taste it, tears silently streaking down your cheeks as you regret having a bladder the size of a six year old Chinese schoolgirl’s. And then the clouds part and the torrent of people unleashed on you lets up for just that one necessary moment and you make your break for the crapper and it’s locked up, stopped up, or somehow blocked off and then you realize you’ll have to hold it for even longer, so you wind up running to the sandwich shop next door.

Yes, this is totally true. Either that or I’m getting incontinent in my old age.

Whenever any two or more people at your table argue over who is going to pay the check, the person that tips the least will almost always win the fight.

I’ve been tipteased so hard so many times by tables that argue almost to the point of violence over who should get the bill. It usually goes something like this:

‘I want blahblah blah blah blah with blah on the side, and make sure you give me the check.’

‘Oh no! I am getting the check!

‘Waiter, I am a much better tipper than he is. Give ME the check!’

‘Don’t listen to him! That man is a syphilitic homeless person who is babbling incoherently. He cannot possibly tip you more than I will.’

‘My BROTHER here is clearly the syphilitic homeless person. Plus, he also just lost his job, so you HAVE to give the check to me.’

‘I might have just lost my job but his wife just left him. Because of the cancer. On his balls. And his tiny wiener. And up his butt. In fact his junk is so jacked up it looks like a knotted-up ginger root down there. It’s pretty gross and sad. And that’s why it’s a moral imperative that you give me the check. Also, I used to wait tables so I know how to tip.’

‘Oh yeah? Well I CURRENTLY wait tables. At a fancy restaurant. That I own. So you know I will tip you better.’

And the more they build up how great they tip, the more disappointed you will be in the 10 to 12 percent reward that will be yours for listening to one of the dumbasses and giving him the check. The best thing to do is drop the check in the middle of the table like a referee drops a hockey puck and then get the puck out of the way. There is already no way to win in this situation, but at least you will avoid the appearance of any partiality.

If a party gets angry because the gratuity is added to their check and they tell you that you are making a mistake because they would have tipped you more if they weren’t being forced to, then know this: That statement has never once been true in the entire history of mankind. Ever.

The option will always be there to leave more if they want, but when people complain about a lousy 15% it’s not because they usually leave 50%. It’s because they’re cheapasses and they know they’re cheapasses and they feel like they’re being called out on it when it’s really just a policy designed to protect us from their cheapassery. Call me heartless but I’d grat my mother if she came in with enough of her friends. It always kills me when a party gets their check and does a head count and sees four adults and four kids and asks me with a serious expression on their face if their kids really count as people. Yeah lady, your kids count as people. You might not on several levels, but we give the kids the benefit of the doubt.


Dignity and Respect

Me, The JerBear


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The Shoes Of A Pro

I recently replaced my most favorite work shoes of all time. In many ways this made me happy. They really needed to be replaced and the new ones feel so very comfortable. But in other ways it made me sad. This particular pair of shoes had been with me for a long time. I had worn them through many firsts and many lasts, many good times and many bad times, several jobs, two foot surgeries, two addresses, buying a house, every gig I have played since 2008, and having a kid. They had been replaced and retired and then when the replacements wore out I brought them back out of retirement until a another suitable replacement pair could be found. In short–they had great sentimental and practical value to me.

It wasn’t just with this pair either. I had worn down just about every pair of work shoes I had ever owned until they were little more than a strip of rubber and a shoelace. I had always thought I was just weird because I don’t like to shop. I don’t like to shop for shoes. I don’t like to shop for clothes. Nothing ever fits right and nothing ever looks good and I just hate the whole process. So that’s the main reason I wear my shoes so long past their expiration date.

But the other day I noticed a fellow restaurant worker’s shoes and I didn’t feel so weird. When this pachouli-soaked hippy showed me her toe poking out through one of the bigger holes in her shoe I knew it wasn’t just me. Thinking back on it, I’ve had many coworkers who wore their shoes until they were ordered to get new ones.

It’s a thing, I guess.

When I was shopping for the replacement pair the second time around, I couldn’t find anything I liked. If they fit they looked stupid. If they looked alright then they didn’t fit well. After going to every shoe store in town I finally gave up and ordered a pair online, the same make and model as my favorite pair: Docker’s Shelters, black. So that . . . kinda explains why I don’t like to shop. For shoes at least.

But what about everybody else? Why do so many restaurant people wear their shoes down to nubs?

My theory is that we have the finely honed ability to let just about anything slide that isn’t of immediate, pressing concern and isn’t yelling at us to run food. That includes things like getting new kicks, alcohol permit renewals, washing aprons, paying rent, et cetera. (Yes it’s shameful, but I will admit that I have worn an apron to work that hadn’t seen the inside of a washing machine in (gasp!) a week. And by a week I mean a month. And by a month I mean I’m pretty sure there were a few times when a couple of calendar pages got ripped off before my apron got washed washed. Obviously you can’t let sauce stains build up until you are brewing homemade penicillin. Don’t think I went that long without trailer park washing prominent stains out with a wet rag. That’s a near daily chore for me. But yeah there were long stretches of time when that tiny little nut coverer of a Chili’s apron didn’t get Tide clean.)

Sometimes money is tight and that’s why shoes don’t get replaced in a timely fashion. But usually I think it boils down to ‘Aw fuckit it can wait til tomorrow.’

So the next time you see your server or bartender and they have a stained apron or shoes that a homeless person would scoff at, don’t think that they suck at life and don’t care about their job or your dining experience–they probably just have better shit to do in between shifts on their third double in a row.


Dignity and Respect

Me, The JerBear


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Hail To The Chef

Being a restaurant person means you have different ideas about food than normal civilian people. Unfortunately for fans of my penis-related humor, this post is not about when it’s appropriate to stick your dick in the mashed potatoes. (Yes, I loved Waiting. While it wasn’t perfect it still captured the zeitgeist of corporate restaurant life better than most of the other restaurant movies I’ve seen have done.) This post isn’t about what we serve to others but what we prepare and eat for ourselves.

If you grow up poor and ignorant, your thoughts on food probably differ drastically from the food thoughts of your better-off, less ignorant counterparts. When you don’t have to clip coupons and you can eat what you want from where you want, food choice is exactly that: a choice. When you grow up piss poor food choice often boils down to whatever fills you up the best from the place that has it the cheapest. When I was growing up I distinctly remember that Mickey D’s was considered restaurant food, Wendy’s was upscale restaurant food, Taco Bell was Mexican, Domino’s was Italian, and things like sushi or lamb chops might as well have been science fiction or titties for all I had seen of them. The rest of the time it was cereal, frozen food, pinto beans and fried potatoes or, as a rare treat, spaghetti. I say this not to play the poor card but to point out the difference of perspective towards food that I now have. In a way I’m almost glad I came from such humble culinary beginnings because now I appreciate the food I get to eat now, and believe me I see enough people who don’t appreciate getting to eat well.

When I first started out on my own in the world I carried with me the eating habits of my childhood. In short I ate like shit. I’m surprised I survived after eating that way for so long. But as I worked in more and more and better and better restaurants I ate better and better food. Generic cereal and frozen Chinese food gave way to better and better entrees, though I must confess I have never fallen out of love with burgers and more specifically burgers from Wendy’s, which is by FAR the best quick service concept on the block, IMHO-NFITNOISUF (In My Humble Opin-No Fuck It That’s Not Opinion It’s Straight Up Fact).

I graduated from burgers and fries to chicken sandwiches and salads. Then I went from that to grilled chicken entrees and quesadillas and various other TexMex dishes. Then on to lamb chops and beef Wellingtons. Then on to every kind of steak there is, settling on filet for a good long while and later moving on to ribeyes and sirloins for variety. I learned of the awesome power of garlic and how much better pasta is when it’s al dente. These days I regularly eat sushi and crazy authentic Asian dishes that ten-year old JerBear would never believe present day JerBear would get to eat.

In short, I have been exposed to a lot of different kinds of foods that I never dreamed of eating in my youth. Granted, I don’t have a standing rez at Per Se. I’m no gourmand. I’ve never tried marrow or foie gras. I’d like to try marrow some day but liver and really offal in general just don’t appeal to me. But being exposed to all these different foods and the methods of cooking them has had an enormous effect on what’s for dinner at the Bear household.

For example, the christmas dinner I cooked this past year for my side of the fam consisted of pan seared rosemary and garlic pork loin with sauteed onions, mushrooms and bells over semolina linguini with fresh, homemade alfredo sauce and steamed broccoli and zuchini for a side item and for an appetizer we had homemade bruschetta using a nice french bread instead of ciabatta or something Italian. Then for dessert my lovely patissiere made a cobbler. This was the best meal I’ve ever cooked and I’m pretty sure it was one of the best meals my dad ever ate. I was proud of it. Still am.

For the longest time in my marriage I was the better chef in our household. Or at least I thought I was. No offense to Mrs. Bear of course. It’s just that for a very long time I had a lot more experience in the BOH than she did and I was better at cooking. She had a food history similar to mine and a fear of using knives so it’s not like I thought any less of her.

But ever since Baby Bear started eating regular human food Mrs. Bear has been on a mission to cook better and more often than she ever has before and I gotta tell you I’m not hating it. She has knocked several meals just way the hell out of the park lately and I am so proud and happy about it that I go to work bragging about the wonderful feasts I’ve been enjoying. Of note recently she has made chicken tortilla soup, enchiladas, various pork dishes, and peach cobblers that you could charge good money for in any restaurant I’ve worked in. It’s been a real treat lately living in my house. I don’t bring food home from work very often these days.

Take eggplant for example. I’ve always disliked eggplant almost to the point of hating it. She made this chicken and eggplant parmesan the other day that was so, SO, SOOO good it blew my mind. I ate just about all of the eggplant and asked for more. As in we were both off the next day and right after that moment, that taste epiphany, that moment when you realize that this food you always had your mind closed to is actually pretty good, that moment where if it were in a romantic comedy it would be the moment when the guy finally realizes that the nerdy chick in art class is really fine as hell when she takes her glasses off and sluts it up a little, RIGHT after that moment I said ‘Hot Damn you are showing me how to make this TOMORROW!’

When you haven’t liked something all your life and then somebody prepares it for you in just the right way and you eat it and then it’s like a switch gets thrown. Your taste buds set the neurons in the pleasure center of your brain on fire and the fact that you never liked it before makes you enjoy it all the more. I think it’s a great thing when your eyes get forced open by a perfect example of a food you’ve always hated but now love. That eggplant was the epitome of this.

Good Job, Baby!


Dignity and Respect

Me, The JerBear


P.S. By the way she never did show me how she performed that parmesan-battered magic. JerBear sad:(


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Ruined Childhood Dreams

As a poor kid growing up in poverty (or Georgia as it is called by some) I would look at car magazines like they were porn, dreaming about driving an Italian supercar. In these fantasies wheels would be screeching, tires would be smoking, gears would be shifting, autumn leaves would be displaced in the twin whirlwind of my passage into the sunset, and invariably a middle finger was hoisted high at all the other people who had a better car than I did. Which was anybody with a car at all, even a Dodge.

Most people would rather have a Ferrari but I was always drawn to the pissed off, futuristic designs of Lamborghinis. The Countach had become a bit dated by the time the Diablo came out, but once it did no car could compare in my adolescent gearhead wet daydreams. The Diablo was the car I wanted to go to the prom in. It was the car I wanted to drive to work in every day (at Wendy’s of course). It was the car I always wanted but would never be able to afford unless I really, REALLY stepped up my pimping game. This vehicle had remained just an idea in my head. A dream. I’d never even seen one before. Not once in all the races, car shows and air shows I had been to had anybody ever brought a Diablo. I have seen just about everything else, but not one of these.

Still, the dream never died.

Until the other day.

A friend of mine slash regular who has a penchant for ridiculously expensive toys had told me he would bring his newly acquired Diablo by The Sushi Joint so I could see it. After I was told that my friend was there I came out of the BOH and saw him by the host stand. I saw a long silver rocket through the window and remembered that NASA didn’t have any space missions that planned to stop off in my town, so I figured this was the day I would finally get a little closer to my dream.

I would get to SEE a Diablo up close with my own eyes!

I would get to TOUCH a Diablo with my unclean, poor person hands!

I would get to HEAR the engine fire up!

And, depending on whether or not he left the keys in it, I would get to DRIVE a Diablo in a legendary multi-state police chase that would rival anything you would see in GTA! I couldn’t wait!

All these thoughts raced through my head as I raced out the door. I told the hostess not to seat me, said ‘excuse me’ to the incoming customers I had knocked down on my way out the door, and arrived finally at the object of my car lust.

And it was everything all the pictures had led me to believe it would be. Beautiful lines, classic design, superior craftsmanship, ferocious engine–it was, like Jessica Alba, just magnificent to behold. I could feel my insides stirring, but not in a poopy kind of way. I was intoxicated by being so close to something that I had fantasized about so much.

I sat down in the driver’s seat. Or at least my ass did. Or most of my ass. When I tried to squeeze my legs in I realized a fatal flaw in the Diablo’s design: only normal sized people with no legs or else really tiny people could ever fit in one of these things. Even if I consulted a yoga master and 47 pages of text from the Kama Sutra I would never be able to bend my legs in such a way that I could fit in it. Wealthy Italians must be some tiny motherfuckers.

I was sad. My dream had died just like that. However, my Lamboner didn’t die for quite some time afterward. I had to go back in and talk to tables with that thing poking out. One of them even asked me ‘Hey do you need to take care of that or something?’

Still, it was a cool car.


Dignity and Respect

Me, The JerBear


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