Posts Tagged ‘Fallen Doll’

I mentioned last post that my employment situation has really changed over the past month.  It’s time to start filling in what happened…

The old saying is that it’s always darkest before the dawn.  In a literal sense, that’s bullshit, of course.  Before the dawn, you already have a faint shimmer of encroaching daylight lurking in the east, whereas at, say, 3.00 AM, it’s nothing but night.  In a metaphorical sense, it just means things look worst before things start to improve.  Which is true, if somewhat shallow and obvious, which is why it is cloaked in a figure of speech to sound artificially profound.

It's always darkest before you flip the light switch...

It’s always darkest before you flip the light switch…

My darkest hour was while I was awaiting my Step II disciplinary meeting on March 10th, which is pretty much just as ominous and formal as it sounds.  Giovanni’s is a rather casually run restaurant, and the owners generally prefer a battle plan of ‘We’ll just play it by ear.’; when they go out of their way to follow a procedure, it never bodes well.  I could have just ripped the scab off with a rushed sit-down before or after my shift.  I chose, however, to schedule the meeting for a day off.  Punctuality wasn’t a strong point for me even before I had Piper, and as a sleep-deprived single mom with ADD, I struggle just to be not-that-late, so coming in early for a meeting about my employment fate was not a good plan.  As for meeting post-shift, not only am I usually trying to rush to pick Piper up from whoever’s sitting, but it doesn’t suit the owners’ schedules well either.  I had one other reason for scheduling the meeting on a day off, a manipulative reason on my part.  Jonas Giovanni is kind of a thug, and his Italian temper is a scary thing to behold.  He does, however, have a soft spot for children in general and for Piper in specific.  He was there when she was born, holding my hand when Piper’s father is unknown and my father was unavailable.  I gave Piper her middle name, Jonasina, because Jonas was there.  I wanted the meeting on my day off so I would have to bring Piper along and hopefully put Jonas in a protective mood rather than an angry one.

On my last shift before the meeting, something odd occurred.  I was already on egg shells, dreading the meeting and flustered because I had been late, again, that morning.  Not late enough to get in any additional trouble, but also not helping my case in the upcoming meeting.  Cao Richards came by for lunch, along with two coworkers I recognized and a rather effeminate young man I didn’t recognize.  Ms. Richards, one of my favorite regulars, had strongly encouraged me to apply to be a research assistant for her employer, the Thatchtower Gallery, and conducted the interview herself.  I was supposed to have heard back by mid-February, but instead Ms. Richards had been ducking my calls and avoiding the restaurant for almost a month.  Then out of the blue that Monday she comes in and asks for my section.  That’s already a little awkward, but then she introduces me to Connor, describing him as “our newest research assistant.”

“Oh, it’s very nice to meet you, Connor.”  I’ve stated elsewhere that for servers, hypocrisy isn’t a character flaw but a job skill.  For three weeks, I tried to reach Ms. Richards to find out if I got the job.  I never get through, but instead she brings the man who actually got the job to Giovanni’s.  And requests my section to make sure I have to learn who he is.

Shape: Elvira Shape from Alady Island Skin: Gothic Lolita by Skin Doctors

Shape: Elvira Shape from Alady Island
Skin: Gothic Lolita by Skin Doctors

“I assure you, milady Marik, ’tis I who stand fulfilled by our meeting.”  Oh, my.  Is there such a thing as love at first hearing?  On top of his archaic phrasing, Conner also has the faintest trace of an accent that I simply cannot place.  Imagine an Harvard don being played by Sean Connery and you come close.  His gentle tenor has a hint of ruffle, like a deep plush blanket I just want to wrap around every inch of myself.  My train of thought completely jumps the rails.  Vaguely, I noticed the other two research assistants staring kind of doe-eyed at Conner and realized I probably have the same blankly wistful expression on my face.  I’m pretty sure I blushed as I shook it off, stammered some kind of polite noise, and forced myself to take their drink order.  Only as I’m grabbing two waters and two ice teas at main station does it occur to me that neither Ms. Richards nor I used my last name in the conversation, so why does Conner know it?

I’m busy for the next few minutes, cashing out a couple of tables, taking orders and getting them started in the kitchen, quickly tossing a couple Caesar salads myself so I don’t have to wait for the pantry cook to have time.  Once I’ve dealt with everything urgent, I grab a couple soups for Conner and one of the other assistants.  As I deliver them, I ask Ms. Richards if she has a second to talk.  With a raising of my eyebrows and a slight jerk of my head, I silently add the qualifier “away from Conner, thank you very much.”

Cao smiles, “I have a second, but I don’t think you do.”  She also raises an eyebrow and jerks her head slightly, her non-verbal communication indicating, “There’s a hostess standing behind you, about to give you another table.”  It’s amazing how detailed non-verbal communication between two intelligent women can be.  She also produces her business card with a quick, almost slight-of-hand, gesture.  “You already have the office number, but I wrote my personal cell phone number on the back.  When he learned you already have dealings with some of his gallery clients, Mr. Thatcher asked me to arrange a meeting with you.  I believe he may be considering making another research assistant position available.”

Hair: Ronnie by Tameless Hair Scar: Wicked Scar by Fallen Doll

Hair: Ronnie by Tameless Hair
Scar: Wicked Scar by Fallen Doll

“Which means you and I may yet become comrades in arms,” adds Conner.  I’m torn between irritation that my business is being freely conducted in front of him and the desire to keep Conner talking so I can hear that lovely voice some more.  It’s not often you meet a man who can make a request for his ice tea to be topped off sound sexy.  As I turn away, out hostess flashes two fingers and then four fingers at me.  “I need you to take table twenty-four.”  I nod at her.  “O.K.  I’m on my way.”  Really, with all the non-verbal communication going on, it’s astonishing how loud Giovanni’s gets during the rush…

The rush stays busy, so the rest of my conversation with Cao and her party is limited to what I think of as ‘standard restaurant script’.  “Let me get some refills.”, “Does any one need a box?”, “Did anybody save room for some homemade tiramasu today?” and the like.  There is one interesting moment when I bring the check.  I didn’t bother asking about separate checks before I bring one check and give it to Cao.  It’s the benefit of familiarity.  Although I don’t know whether it is Cao or her expense account being generous, I know that when Cao brings her coworkers to eat, she treats for the table.  The young lady research assistants with her are also used to this; they no longer make even a token attempt to get a separate check or take the tab.  Conner deftly reaches across the table and grabs the bill from Cao’s hand.

“You know my other patron would insist I do the honor,” states Conner, pulling one of those heavyweight black credit cards from a lavender nylon trifold.  Ms. Richards attempts to reclaim the bill, but Conner easily swings the check away from her grabs.

Cao actually sounds a little irritated as she replies, “Carlton and I, however, work with your patron, not for her.  I understand why she wants the privilege, and I hope she earns the right, but it’s only proper I pay this bill.”

“There are many kinds of propriety, madame Richards.”

“But I would hope hospitality is universal.”

Dress: Elvy from Augusta Creations Shoes: Jane (night-colored) by Tesla Jewelry: Heart Bangle by Grumble; Pink Chain Collar by Pekka

Dress: Elvy from Augusta Creations
Shoes: Jane (night-colored) by Tesla
Jewelry: Heart Bangle by Grumble; Pink Chain Collar by Pekka

I took the bill and credit card from Conner.  With my left hand, I also accepted Cao’s card from her.  I then tucked her card into the tip tray and handed Conner’s card back to him, glancing at the name.  “Here you go, Mr. Dreenan.  I don’t want to imply that Ms. Richards has better connections at Giovanni’s than you do, so I’m going to explicitly state it instead.  We know Cao, and Giovanni’s is the sort of place where it is good to be known.”  I dropped a quick smirk at Connor before returning to my formal, I’m-working voice, “I’ll be right back with your card, Ms. Richards.”

Not quite right back, since I loop into the kitchen to call for french onion soup on my way to the computer and refill water at table forty-three on my way back.  I’m busy enough that I again just stay on-script when I drop off the charge slip to be signed, “I just need one copy back with your signature and the other slip is for your records.  Thanks for stopping in today, Cao, and I hope we see you again.” Again, spoken in my I’m-working voice, as I continue on to another table to check off the next task on my to-do list.

When I finally get back to finish clearing the table, Cao has left a note on her charge slip: Don’t forget to call me.  Sooner is better than later.  There was also a small pebble and a note on a twenty dollar bill (which is an over thirty percent tip!) which read, “I’m told this is a good introduction to a waitress.  I would love to be known.  Sincerely, Conner Dreenan.”

The nicest thing about the whole confusing encounter… Well, really, the nicest thing was the sound of Conner Dreenan’s voice.  If you could bottle that sound, you would make a mint.  But the second nicest thing was that trying to figure out what just happened distracted me from what would happen the next day.

…To be continued…

Oh, the things you can learn if you open your eyes… 👀

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed girl is queen...

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed girl is queen…

It was nice to have a night off while Firsty posted his ‘State of the Blogger‘ address.  It’s even nicer to know that I’ve got another night off coming to me when he posts Part II.  However, I write because it is the monkey on my back, because I have a need to share my stories and anecdotes that borders on addiction.  I do consider myself to be a high-functioning addict, in the sense that I can ‘conceal my dysfunctional behavior in certain public settings’; if you met bought me a drink at the dance club or sat in my section at Giovanni’s, you would probably never realize that I’m a writer. 📚  However, the monkey definitely pulls my strings from time to time (so I’m not only an addict, I’m a marionette too!) so I’m going to interject a post or two of my own while I’m waiting.  God knows, there have been enough ‘interesting’ people in Giovanni’s lately that I actually have a small backlog of stories building up… 😏  (I’m not using ‘interesting’ in a very complimentary sense, here.  My big worry about the backlog is that through ADD or pregnancy-brain I may forget that I want to tell my stories.  I’ve got another Mackenzie story to tell; I’ve got a story that I’m still debating whether I want to entitle ‘Servers Say the Darned-est Things’ or ‘Partying with Dr. Bob’; and a story about my depleted patience that I want to call ‘That’s the Last Straw’.)

I was going to share one of those stories, but something shiny came along and distracted me. 😜  From this post’s title and the plethora of little smileys hiding throughout this post, you can probably guess that I was distracted by this announcement by WordPress.  That’s right!  Moving forward, WordPress is going to support Emoji.  I happen to agree with the average commenter to the announcement, that Emoji are a great way to add a tone of voice to typed words.  Tone is a big component of communication, particularly emotional communication, and it doesn’t show in the black and white of a computer screen.  Part of my job as a writer, of course, is to evoke the proper tone so that you can hear it in your mind.  My personal goal is to create a conversational tone, like we were talking over dinner or, better yet, over cocktails, rather than me sitting and typing here and you sitting and reading at your computer.  I use asides and interjections both to create that conversational feel and to help allow you back-stage into the rather non-linear nature of my thought patterns.  Similarly, I use italics to make side comments and bold to add emphasis to my statements so that you can better hear my voice in your mind.  More self-editing than you would imagine goes into trying to find the balancing point where I create enough tone for you to hear my voice rather than simply see my words but don’t create so much tone that I actually distract you from my words.

Practical beach-wear?  Probably not; I just got sand in my boots!

Practical beach-wear? Probably not; I just got sand in my boots!

Imagine I was telling you a story where one of the owners or managers at Giovanni’s asked me to do something.  I would report to you that my reply was, “Yeah, I’ll get right on that.”  But those words don’t actually mean anything until you hear my tone of voice.  In a standard conversational tone of voice 😐 like I would give Jonas Giovanni, that actually means “I acknowledge that you told me to do something, and I will do that after I wrap up what I’m doing now.”  His son Steven is a little more savvy, particularly on how to handle and interact with customers, so he’s likely to tell me to do something that makes a little more sense, and I’ll reply with a little more enthusiasm.  Enough enthusiasm 😊 generally translates the “Yeah” into “Dammit, why didn’t I think of that?” and “I’ll get right on that” into “I’m not even going to wrap up what I’m doing; I’m just going to leave stuff out while I switch focus to your directions.”  Our newest manager, Justin, can be a bit of a tool sometimes.  If the request is dumb enough (I’m like a cat in some ways.  No matter how much you think you hear ‘order’ or ‘command’ when you tell me to do something, I only hear ‘request’ or sometimes ‘beg’…) than my reply is going to dripping with sarcasm 😣 and ‘Yeah, I’ll get right on that’ means ‘sometime after I go ice skating in the eighth circle of hell’.  And if it’s Joe asking me, Joe of the six-pack abs, luxurious dark curls, and deep soulful eyes, then I am going to load so much purr 😻 into my voice that my words will really translate as, “I didn’t hear what you actually wanted.  But I know exactly which bodily organ I want to get right on…”  The tone of my voice completely determines the meaning of that phrase, and tone doesn’t show up in written words.  Emoji, however, let me express the exact nuance I need so that you know which meaning to give my words.

Not everyone agrees that Emoji are a great tool for writers.  I’m a big fan of the Fox show 📺 Sleepy Hollow, so I was amused recently when anachronistic Ichabod Crane, advised to handle an apology via texting and cell phone, replies, “Oh, yes. A grimacing yellow caricature should do the trick.”  Likewise, I remember an ex-boyfriend Jeremy who was, and I presume still is, similarly non-modern.  Not so much anti-technology as aggressively committed to remaining out of date.  He was a co-worker during the year we dated, and one of the only servers at Giovanni’s without a smart phone 📱.  Instead he had an antique flip-phone, only one generation removed from a tin can and a piece of string.  Generally when I called or texted him Jeremy wouldn’t answer because he had left his phone a)on the charger, b) at home, or c) in his car.  Instead, hours later, he would go looking for his phone for some reason, find the notification of my call or message, and either call me or send me an extremely short and cryptic text.  (Remember, flip phone.  No key board, not even that little mini-Qwerty-keypad, so he had to cycle through the numbers on the dial pad to pick his letters, such as hitting the number 2 three times in order to get the letter C.)  While we were dating, when I thought things were going to last longer and mean a bit more, I even offered to buy Jeremy a smart phone and share a phone plan with him, and he turned me down because he didn’t want a phone valuable enough that he would feel bad when he ‘inevitably broke or lost it.’  Obviously Jeremy didn’t text with Emoji since they were too ‘advanced’ for his dumb-phone.  Yet he drew little emoticons, such as ‘Toungue-Out-Happy-Face’, whenever he was late check and had to sign off on servers’ outs before they could cash out with the closing manager.  Emoji evolved out of emoticons, as screens became able to show an actual smily face rather then two or three symbols that kind of look like a face if you turn the screen sideways and squint a little, and yet Jeremy went backwards, expressing emoticons with ink and paper.  It was one of his many quirks that were simultaneously frustrating and endearing.

Set sail for adventure and shoe sales, old friends!

Set sail for adventure and shoe sales, old friends!

I understand Crane and Jeremy’s view that Emoji are a short-cut, a lazy approximation to true heartfelt writing.  When we communicate as writers- be it fiction, essays, anecdotes, or simple notes to friends- our job is to use the appropriate tools to facilitate communication and pass our message.  Emoji are a fun and cutesy way to add some of the emotional context to a type written passage.  Are they appropriate for all messages?  Nope.  No more than my heavy use of bold and italic or my occasional use of the f-bomb to add emphasis are appropriate for all messages.  If there is an Emoji in a doctoral thesis, in an editorial for the New York Times, or in an original love poem written to wow and woo my pants off, than someone has hideously misjudged the proper tone for their message.  On the other hand, if blogging a funny anecdote to a small audience you consider friends, if posting an open letter from staff to readers in a magazine for younger readers, if texting your boyfriend you are held up at work, these are all places where being fun and being cute are appropriate, so why not make use of this tool?  I will probably never again use as many Emoji in a single-post as I have in this one 😭😭😭- after all, I’ve developed plenty of tools for showing off the cuteness and whimsey that inhabit my mental landscape without them.  However, I am a huge fan of cute and whimsical, and I’m glad to have another arrow in my quiver 💘 when I’m trying to target my communication goals.  Sprinkling the odd Emoji into my texts is a nice way to show off my cuteness, so I will use them to party on 🎊🎉🎂!

Oh, and speaking of showing off my cuteness, today I’m shooting for a fierce and gothic cuteness.