Selfish, Socialism

I am a Barista Person

I gave my two weeks notice at what will hopefully be the last food service job I ever work. Food service and I have a relationship, and as with any good relationship there is horrible emotional turmoil. Mostly I have worked as a barista. It is a noun, it is a verb, it is even an adjective in the title of this blog entry, but it is rarely a profession. It is a job that some people take way too seriously and end up in competitions because of, but it is a job. Most people who do it don’t want to do it any more, but have addictions to food, rent, and art – mostly art. They deserve our tip money. They are good people.

Last week a woman ordered a Large Iced Americano. The Americano at our cafe involves two shots of espresso and then water. The amount of water changes depending on if you order a small or a large. This means that a large involves a lot of water. So I wasn’t surprised when she sidled awkwardly up to the counter and politely demanded that she get to cut in line to politely explain that her drink was watery.

I hate barista stories about shitty customers who don’t understand what the drink they order is. It’s okay to not understand the drink you ordered because you don’t spend 8 hours a day in a coffee shop like a barista does. Our job as food service employees is to politely explain the food that they ordered so that they understand how to order it better next time.

I politely apologized for our policy on including two shots of espresso in all sizes of our Americanos and politely offered to add additional shots to her Americano for $0.50 – which is this cafe’s unreasonably low price for an additional double shot of espresso. She politely explained that she did not want to pay extra money because we gave her a watery drink. I wanted to politely explain that I didn’t want to give her free things because she ordered a shitty drink and then politely stick my fingers in her mouth and make her deal with the taste of my dirty fingertips on her tongue the rest of the day, but instead my fellow barista saw the cartoon steam billowing from my ears and stepped in to solve the problem by giving her free things for ordering a shitty drink.

Working in food service often does mean that parts of your life are not what you want them to be. It indicates a certain amount of failure. Especially in New York. All of us baristas, servers, bartenders, etc. have come to terms with that and talk about it to each other. But this life decision failure does not imply that we are worse at everything than those we serve. Especially serving food and drink. Because we’ve been forced to spend so much time serving that food and drink, we are better at it then our customers. That’s why we get paid the big bucks/change you didn’t want to keep in your pocket.

I truly believe in the draft – a common experience for entire generations to talk about forever where they dedicated themselves to bettering the world around them. I don’t believe that war betters the world around us. Food does. I truly believe in the food-service draft – where everyone from ages 14-22 must work at least 9 months in food-service. One must understand what it’s like to pick out stranger’s half eaten food from a drain pipe in order to understand how to do dishes correctly when you live with people. One must understand how to organize an efficient list of tasks that are both menial and degrading that a higher up has given you to make it seem like you are busy in order to understand how to prioritize your laundry and check cashing tasks for the day. Most importantly, one must understand how to serve people and maintain an environment in which people enjoy being in order to understand how to be a member of a community.

The laundry for our apartment building is in the apartment building two doors down in a building owned by the same management. 66 people use these three washers and three dryers, but because the people who own them are a reality management company and not a laundromat, they don’t clean the laundry room very often. Our laundry room is dirty – there is dust everywhere, a pair of panties that has been sitting on the ground for two and a half weeks, and the trash bin, which is tied to a heating pipe with a piece of string, has been overflowing for a week and yet people keep stuffing their dryer lint on top as though someone is going to take out this bag of trash. I don’t think I need to go over the cultural implications that someone is more worried that a plastic trash receptacle gets stolen by criminals too lazy to untie a knot than worried about getting rid of the trash the receptacle holds. What I’m more concerned by is the attitude taken by us tenants.

Each time I go down and think: “this is disgusting. Somebody better clean this up.” and then I think “I should clean this up.” and then I think “it’s not my job to clean this up.” and then it stays messy. It may not be my job, but I’m affected by it, and it’s not that hard to fix. Just as I get frustrated when someone sees a napkin next to someone else’s spilled milk and dances around the spill with their coffee as though it is a radioactive e-coli strain searching for human flesh to eat through, forcing me to walk all the way around the counter and wipe up a bit of dairy, I need to take out the trash and replace the trash bag instead of forcing some guy who lives in Bay Ridge to drive all the way to my apartment building to take out some trash.

So I did.

I didn’t sweep the floor or pick up the panties, but… baby steps. Maybe I’ll do it out of nostalgia now that I’m leaving food-service.

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Selfish

Thoughts From a Hardened Criminal 2

The cop looks at the five of us standing – somewhat smiling – hands strapped behind our back – trying to force the monologues we have racing through our head into soundbites so that the reporter will quote us in their indy internet newspaper. He knows we’re human.

“You should be in the NBA.” he says to Jacob. Jacob is 6’5″ and tired of that statement. He never wanted to be pigeonholed into being a basketball player. You can tell by the look on his face. Or maybe he’s just tired from being arrested. It takes a lot out of you.

I spend most of my time in the occupy protests on the edge of the masses trying to talk to police officers to try to convince them that we are all human. They don’t respond because their freedom of speech has been infringed upon by their commanding officers who have their freedom of speech infringed upon by the commissioner who has his freedom of speech infringed upon by Mayor Bloomberg, but the cops can’t help but listen. I talk about sports, or food, or love. Not about the occupy wall street, or wealth inequality, or the right to peacefully assemble. They know I have thoughts on these issues, but they also need to know that I go home and eat tacos while I worry about my fantasy football team and worry that my girlfriend is ignoring my texts.

This is what the police officer is trying to do. He knows he’s arrested 5 people for irrational, immoral, and illegal reasons and wants us to know that behind the riot gear is a human who likes to joke around and wants to talk about sports, or food, or love.

But it’s not fair: Is how I immediately feel. We’re tied up – unable to gesticulate our feelings, and we’re scared that if we are to respond incorrectly further punishment will be enforced. When I try to joke around with the cops they still have the gun, baton, mace, and power and are therefore still able to respond.

But it’s not fair: Is what I realize after I write this. They’re hands are placed firmly on the baton that they have to hold out – unable to gesticulate their feelings, and they’re scared that if they are to respond incorrectly their boss will find punishment. When they try to joke around with us we have our full freedom of speech and are therefore still able to respond.

When Zuccotti Park was first closed and the police were forced to occupy it I was on the front lines again. I was standing next to a member of the National Lawyers Guild, crammed up against an unlawful barricade  next to a police officer.

“Can I joke around with you for a bit?” The NLG guy asked the woman with weapons.

“You can say whatever you’d like.”

“You’re from Brooklyn North, right? Because it says BNPD on your uniform.”

“Yes.”

“Do you ever give the Brooklyn South Police shit for being the BSPD?”

She laughed at first then a fellow police officer whispered something in her ear and she turned to avoid eye contact and stopped responding. There is no weapon like the weapon of free speech.

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Media, My favorites, Selfish

My Therapeutic Review of Childish Gambino

My dad attacked me with his hypothesis. This is a sentence that could begin many of my stories, but in this one his hypothesis had clearly evolved from our previous conversation. Yet this conversation is new and, potentially, so mind expanding that you may feel pain from the thought of it. That’s the way conversations with my dad feel: like he’s constantly teaching you a new secret form of mind exercising that he, only now, at this exact moment, feels you are ready for – that you have finally proven to be competent enough for this burden. So, conversation from last night was fodder for mind altering conversation. He approached with his idea of “Genius vs. Talent.”

Talent was what conveyed ideas and Genius was where the ideas were from.

THUS: Childish Gambino. Aka: Donald Glover.

My dislike was born out of like. His taste was so great, and he was a vehicle of such            , but it felt like nothing was behind it. There was no human element. If the truth will set you free, than he was still enslaved by the shackles of his desired self-conception. He wanted to be Tyler the Creator meets Drake meets David Cross. Those are all people I wanted to be so I respected his desires, but with success comes a new formation of desire – a self reflection and understanding that one’s wants must change with one’s current situation. Donald Gambino was obviously talented, but his genius was in question.

Genius comes from a complete and honest awareness and explanation of who you are in your art.

That’s what I thought before. That’s what I assumed was the reason that Gambino’s music resonated hollowly – that I seemed to  echo back hatred. But Childish Glover kept performing his therapeutic self-controlled-self-awareness. And, in a sense, it kept getting better. It got more pointed and controlled. He understood who he was by analyzing who he was. But it was simply therapy. For him, and people who want to be him.

I was sitting shotgun in the car parked in our driveway and my dad turned off the car which turned off the CD of Beatles-Soundtrack-Remix-Cirque-de-Soliel album. I was back in Maine with my financial, artistic, and social tail between my legs. I wanted to make comedy, but didn’t know what that meant. I attacked him with a hypothesis. Art needs an audience, without an audience it was simply therapy. Not that there was anything wrong with therapy, but the lack of public display makes writing, painting, yelling, artistically expressing purely a therapeutic act. He responded with the appropriate defensiveness of a person who has a novel he’s never shared with his only son and has been editing and re-editing for 40 years.

Gambino, Childish is a self-therapist not an artist. I understand that he has an audience. A much larger audience than I have or will ever have. And that jealousy is an important part of my motivation for writing this. Art needs that audience because both audience and artist should be going on a journey of self discovery. CG/DG hogs that journey. He selfishly refuses the audience to join him in self-analysis by covering all basis of self-analysis himself. I say this in order to selfishly self-analyze my own feelings of jealousy toward a pop-icon that was born from New York sketch comedy. He refuses vulnerability/critique by self-congratulatory defenses of his past and future actions. He asks for constant pity in his constant response to the haters when he shouldn’t be fucking bitching because he’s accomplished all of his dreams. His raps are simply cover letters to apply to be your idol, and he seems to be getting the job.

I hated Aaron Kane, but respected him. In middle school I was a crybaby who would trip and fall emotionally every day. The response from my friends was to push me back down emotionally. Aaron always threw himself down before anyone could push him back down and by doing so everyone was satisfied because young boys are only interested in making all of their friends as miserable as possible, and yet he was in control. My response was simply to flail to point out that I had been pushed down because I thought everyone needed to be acutely aware of the actions they were making and supporting. It wasn’t fair that everybody laughed with Aaron and only laughed at me.

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Attention Whoring, comedy, Indignant, Lazy, My favorites, Pathetic, Selfish

Honesty: My Excuse

I’m often reassured that I’m the only one that enjoys myself. The mirror is the only audience I respect because it is the only audience that reacts appropriately to my misfortune. I see myself as powerless not because I aspire to be the victim, but because I aspire to fit in with the majority’s perception.

These oversimplifying statements of self deprecation mixed with self pleasure aimed at analyzing my neuroses are necessary cathartic lies.

After every sentence I want to stop writing because it feels like saying anything more would be giving too much away – taking away the journey that a reader has the opportunity to go on and making them see what you see as an author, as a creator of this story that you are supposed to paint a picture of because you have taken up the responsibility of leading this audience and asked to be paid attention to – to take time away from others’ lives in order to participate in your own because you believe your’s to be far superior, at least for the time being, and with that great demand comes great obligation to maintain enjoyment, but isn’t giving them, the audience, an invitation to join you as the creator the most selfless way to enjoy an art with someone? Probably not.

I ask myself stupid questions about when form and message intersect because I’m a stupid person with stupid thoughts. My answer is always that they do, but typically it is not a premeditated desire. In my case it is nearly always an accident. I’m still pleased with the result.

My work is almost always reddild with mistakes. ecause I only want to write about what I’m writing aboute. I start feeling dishonest when I’m presented art that has been edited. If that art is about me, ten it must be about me. I typed this entrie paragraph with my eyes losed.

Mrs. McIntire was my typing teacher in high school. Later she would become the vice principal for a year, but for now she only taught typing – a class where maintaining a watchful eye over child-soldiers completing mindless, useless tasks is your only duty. I was and am a good typer (or typist depending on which one is correct) and was/am able to complete my tasks at such a speed that large portions of class time would be/are dedicated to me finding other ways to occupy my time besides staring at completed assignments. This led to the game Wiz3. Whose instructions read/read: Guide Wizio the Wizard as he journeys through a magical land. Collect the potions as you go to create spells that will help you on your way. Use the keys to enter locked doors and hidden treasures. Throw the levers to get to reveal new routes and bonuses. It was a great game that I played/play well and played/play loudly. I liked/like perceiving the anger Mrs. McIntire directed towards my playing loudly as jealousy towards my playing well. That made/makes the competition more fun. She won/wins of course. She was/is the teacher. She instituted/institutes a rule wherein every time a student finished an assignment she would have to check over their entire homework before they could play games. Those two minutes of class where she would be/is hunched over my shoulder breathing in my oxygen displaying my total inability for full control were the worst two minutes of school every day.

I struggle with tense often in my writing, which I think is because I’m never sure whether I’m reliving by writing or perceiving by writing. My biggest struggle with writing is which version of myself am I. Since I can only comprehend the idea of writing through a self-manufactured lens that looks upon myself, my goal becomes to bend the funhouse mirror in a new and interesting shape. It’s selfish: the inability to focus the mirror elsewhere, but focusing it elsewhere sounds mean. Maybe that person doesn’t want to see themselves in a funhouse mirror. I’ll take the bullet. The selfish bullet.

I worry that humans won’t exist when I die, but that’s only because I define humans as me.

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Selfish

I Know What’s Best For You

A customer came into my cafe.

“What can I get for you?”

“A hug.” She laughed but wasn’t joking.

I couldn’t hug her. She thought she understood, but she didn’t.

I had never met her before and didn’t know why she needed a hug and she didn’t know me and wasn’t comfortable explaining why she needed a hug. These were her reasons for me not wanting to give her a hug. Moron.

If I hugged her, she would tip me. Those were my reasons for me not hugging her. It wasn’t a fear of finding myself to be closer to prostitution than I already was as a barista working for tips, it was my fear of her feeling closer to being a prostitute needer.

Would she leave feeling better, or like she needed to pay for fake friendship?

I couldn’t put her through dealing with this question.

I knew what was better for her.

I knew that she needed to feel no inoffensive physical affection in a time of such sadness that she was literally pleading for inoffensive physical affection.

I’m a moron.

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Indignant, Selfish, Socialism

My Fucking Desk

Each Monday and Friday I go to work and pull my laptop off the shelf where I’ve stored it and plug it into a monitor, a keyboard, and a mouse. That becomes my workstation. My workstation is great. Mostly it’s the two monitor set-up, which is necessary because I need to both look a the data I’m analyzing and facebook/gmail/blogs. If I don’t have excel sheets up then it looks like I’m not working, and if I don’t have facebook/gmail/blogs up then I have to work… and that’s even worse.

I neeeeeed both monitors.

Today I came into work to realize that there was someone else at my desk. I came in today (a Tuesday) because yesterday was July 4th and I had to celebrate roofs. I put away my computer at the end of the day because Tues-Thurs this other person is at my desk. Today is Tues-Thurs. So, she was at my desk.

This is fair, and I don’t have a right to be mad. Until.

Until I realized that this woman who I didn’t know who shared my seat on different days was not using the extra monitor, keyboard, or mouse. She doesn’t fucking deserve my desk! My desk has resources. Use them, or give it up.

Why have something if you aren’t going to use it? I get that she feels like she deserves that desk, and she has the right to it, but if you aren’t going to use the resources available to you, you’ve lost the fact that you deserved that desk.

I hate money. I have none of it. People who have it aren’t using it correctly. I would use it correctly.

I can’t wait until I win the lottery so that I can buy a house with backwards escalators to start my performance art think tank.

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Attention Whoring, Selfish

Bird Guilt

To my left a bird flapped its wing. It scared me, but that’s because most sudden movements frighten me. The bird wasn’t able to move, was about to die. It had moved from scary to gross. I didn’t want to deal with it.

By the end of the block, the guilt was all consuming and I walked back to the broken winged bird hoping that I would simply have to roll over the small yellow bellied creature that I assumed was some variety of sparrow only because my biggest resource for bird types is Monty Python. After I rolled over the bird, it would miraculously re-learn its instincts and fly away to go have happy bird babies and a happy bird family. That theory was for the birds.

It was dead.

I was supposed to go on an OKCupid date four weeks ago. Because I was busy with my latest project, and still am, I wasn’t able to go on the date or find a time for rescheduling. I also became involved with a girl that I knew outside of the internet – inside the real world. I had never met the girl who I only knew was a 99% match with me according to a series of questions about my political and sexual views. I cancelled with her on time and I don’t think she was mad. I don’t think she had anything riding on our excursion to a bar at 7pm that never happened.

I wake up every morning feeling guilty because a girl I know as “tiny owl” didn’t get to experience the joy that is being across a table from me drinking beers.

Maybe guilt is a egotistical emotion – an emotion based on assuming you have some sort of affect on everyone else’s sadness. Maybe miniature birds just fill me with guilt.

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