Billie Jean


Couldn’t nail down when or why it started, all I know is for well over a decade I’ve texted Billie Jean to my daughter every time it plays at a wedding. Sorry Michael, may your tortured soul rest in peace but Billie Jean is a stupid song. Nevertheless and without exception, Billie Jean has played at every wedding since the ritual started.

I know a thing or two about weddings, they’ve paid my bills for 30 years. How many since Billie Jean texts began is tough to say, truth is I can’t even remember how many this summer, a conservative estimate might be 200 Billie Jeans. Each text represents 10-12 hours of sweat and toil sprinkled with shenanigans and drama worthy of screenplays.

The magnitude of Billie Jean was lost until quite recently, muddied by focus and work load it never crossed my mind Billie Jean represented a brief respite. Billie Jean texts mean dinner is over, coffee and dessert served, cake cut, kitchen staff cleaning up, truck being loaded and a push to strip tables. Billie Jean lets me breath. Only 3-4 hours to go, time to crack the whip, think about signing out staff, write a few words of my report.

Every so often I mention to staff Billie Jean plays at every wedding.They don’t believe me. Just wait I say, Billie Jean hasn’t let me down yet. If I were a smarty pants I’d blither it used to be Lady In Red or Red Red Wine, all that would do is age me. For the record, Uptown Funk is poised to become the next Billie Jean.

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Don’t Think That Cake Will Serve 50


Myself and two staff, 50 guests, corporate golf tournament/Canada Day BBQ at a golf course.Tight timeline for set-up, no problem, not our first hustle. Buffet dinner of salmon, flank steak, Caesar salad, pasta salad, cut melon slices and cookies to open at 6:15. Chips and salsa on each table, bar open and notified guests would arrive in small groups relative to their tee-off times. Tournament prizes to be awarded after dinner, followed by our staff cutting/serving a Canada Day cake provided by client. Running a bit late due to venue not having tables/chairs in place – no big deal. Sorted it out and opened buffet to 20 guests at 6:30. Twenty guests, 20 pieces of salmon and half the beef, gone in the blink of an eye.

Silly me for assuming budget conscious client mentioned to invited guests free dinner was a choice of, not both proteins.Never mind that for the same price of salmon and steak, each and every one of them could stuff their belly with 2 burgers and grilled corn. Nope, they were adamant and customized the menu – 40 salmon fillets, 37 portions of beef (Why 37 is beyond me ) 40 portions of Caesar and pasta salads. This is supposed to feed 50 people? As always, our kitchen sent 4-5 extra goodwill portions of both proteins – drop in the bucket, this was an all you can eat pig fest.

We were in trouble. While not my responsibility to slap buffet hands, disgust left no choice but to shame ignorant second helping morons into waiting until first plates had a run at the buffet. Now client is in my face, angrily demanding to know why we didn’t hold dinner till 7. “We’re going to run out of food!” she shrieks, followed by “everyone is supposed to give you a ticket for choice of salmon or beef”. Excuse me, what ticket? Do you see mention of tickets in your contract because I don’t. Did you tell guests it wasn’t all you can eat? Do they realize how little food you ordered? Is your contract different than mine? Mine clearly states dinner at 6:15 and protein tickets are news to me.

Never mind. Client is beyond reason, demanding a refund, calling me a disgrace for cheating them.In the middle of all this my bartender interrupts – “What’s with these tickets? People keep asking if it’s for a free drink.” OMG!  A dozen guests go hungry, not so much as a cookie crumb left on the buffet, time to move on. I suggest we cut their cake.

How I managed to keep it together, calmly saying “don’t think that cake will serve 50” is beyond me. A team of comedy writers couldn’t script a more suitable punchline. Riveted, I watched as client ripped plastic cover off the naked 10 inch angel food cake, stunned by futile attempts to jab a small paper Canadian flag into the hard plastic center.

“Can you buy us a cake? We’ll stall tournament awards while you go for a cake”. Holy crap! How would you like to pay for it? I’ll send my chef for  cake when we sort out payment. Client agreed to put cake receipt total on her credit card. Chef made good time, back with what he could find in just over 20 minutes, a smallish slab cake and second small layer cake.  Client forgot about the stall. Awards over, only a dozen or so guests remaining. “That’s too much cake, I’m not paying for it” client announces. Oh yes you are!

Happy Canada Day

 

Notes Can Be Broken


Age is a state of mind, or so I thought until 57 years kicked me in the ass this week. Work has always been physical, I credit on the job activity with keeping me healthy, it never occurred to me I could be broken.

The enormity of off site catering is difficult to explain. We can’t run to a shelf for equipment, everything we need is loaded into a truck, loaded out when we’re done. On arrival rented tables, chairs, glassware, ice, plates, cutlery and ovens wait for distribution. Roll out tables, set them and place chairs. Build bars, kitchen and buffets. Four hours of hard labour under our belts before the first guest arrives if we’re lucky, a frenzied hour and a half if we’re in deep shit. We build, adapt and improvise spectacular parties without complaint. Guests remember the meal and libations, nobody cares about logistics.

Funny thing is, my job is to ensure guests don’t care about logistics. I’m a Swiss Army Knife – sturdy, reliable, a tool for any situation. My strokes come from putting clients at ease and comradely moments when staff exhale silent acknowledgement of our work ethic. Before today thoughts of reaching physical limits capable of breaking me down were inconceivable.Now I face a sobering truth, Notes can be broken.

Seven day chronology of a shattered Notes – Last Friday was day one, a 300 person plated dinner under a tent on a sports field. Day two ran sixteen and a half hours, 265 guests on a rural estate for a quarter of a million dollar wedding. Fitbit equipped staff recorded walking over 25 kilometers back and forth from kitchen to party tents.At least the valets got golf carts, my staff operated on stoic determination.I don’t remember driving home at 5 am but won’t soon forget catatonic day 3 unable to get out of bed. Day four demanded 13 hours, the first 8 humping lunch deliveries all over town followed by a 250 guest reception. Day five’s plated dinner came with stairs, mere mortals might cry, we laughed at the irony. Yesterday was day six, 700 guests at an animation studio. 12 themed food stations spread over 4 floors. Routine day seven dawned without adrenaline, driving to work I wondered what was wrong with me. Denial stalled inevitable until a few hours ago when processing realities of the next two days off erupted in spontaneous tears.

Solace kindly reminded me how many staff half my age were broken this week. Thank you solace, point taken. Come Monday morning glue on  shattered edges will dry. My job is like childbirth – forget the pain and look forward to doing it again.

 

Fast Food Causes Homosexuality


Shout out to my friend Roger, but for his Facebook post I might never have known fast food and sleep deprivation cause homosexuality. See these burgers laughing? That was me until realizing this wasn’t a joke.

Rita Strakosha published Modern Diet and Stress cause Homosexuality: A hypothesis and a potential therapy  

According to Rita, the LGBTQ inclined suffer from higher rates of “eating large amounts of high glycemic index foods and fat, or eating an imbalanced diet, leaning toward carbohydrates.”. Adding, “Some studies show an increased rate of obesity among homosexuals”. “Gay men, lesbian and bisexual women report a higher odds of sugar-sweetened beverage consumption than straight men and women.” To “stay straight”, Rita urges people to “steer clear of food that can be disruptive right before sleep, like heavy or rich foods, fatty or fried meals, spicy dishes, citrus fruits and carbonated drinks.” Who is this woman?

Rita Strakosha validates preposterous with her Albanian University Masters degree in Clinical Psychology – check your inbox Rita, we’re not impressed. Bat shit is bat shit no matter how you slice it. Delusional as Rita may be, it would be unkind to overlook her learned solution to the homosexual problem. Less qualified Albanian clinical psychologists might have identified the cause of homosexuality and walked away – not Rita.This little lady identified contributing factors linked to homosexuality -restricting fat, sugar and alcohol coupled with a good nights sleep to prevent homosexual tendencies, then delivered a prescribed course of sexual hibernation. Oh Rita, are you really this stupid?

For those “turned gay” and desperate to lead straight lives, Rita recommends “sexual hibernation”- a period of healthy eating and abstinence to promote “sexual extinction”.

“Upon re-wakening of sexual interest, the response to the previous sexual stimuli will not restart at once and at the same level as previously,” Strakosha affirms. “Time would be needed to achieve the same level as before hibernation. Discontinuation of hibernation would be an opportune time for sexual orientation change.” “Persons with a longer history of homosexual attractions and those with stronger prenatal or genetic factors would have more difficulty in achieving benefits from this therapy,” – no shit Rita!

https://www.queerty.com/study-claims-fast-food-consumption-sleep-depravation-cause-homosexuality-20170530

Parking


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My home of 18 years sits on a Vancouver corner near B.C. Children’s Hospital. A tidy middle class neighborhood dotted with parks, worlds away from the 10 minute drive downtown. Traffic circles calm the ebb and flow, night falls with silent invitation to coyote, skunk and racoon. Day breaks with time clock punctuality, proximity to the hospital dictates a 6 am scramble for precious free parking.

Parking trouble started with a distant rumble. Several years ago Car2Go marched into town – https://notestoponder.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/car2go/ The city designated one side of the next block as “Car2Go Parking Only”, no big deal – I joined the car sharing club knowing one would be just down the street, half the cost of a taxi anytime my husband had our car. No skin off my nose, parking for our car and my work vehicle were guaranteed by “Resident Only” parking on our side of the street as well as the street running alongside the house. Across the street remained up for grabs, anyone determined to forsake sleep for a run at the 6 am parking dash might save $14.25 in the hospital lot.

Early last year geniuses at city hall obliterated 60 free street parking spots to build a bike lane. To be clear – this is wide residential street with generous sidewalks, an existing crosstown bike-way 9 blocks south, unremarkable daytime, negligible after dark traffic – but this is Vancouver. Mayor Gregor Robertson rides a bicycle to City Hall,  oblivious to realities of life in one of the world’s most expensive cities.

Tolerant at first, I didn’t mind non resident hospital staff parking on restricted sides of the street. Restricted resident only parking on two sides of our corner could park a dozen vehicles, we only needed two – one in front, another around the corner. Imaginary propriety held for a while, I called it respect, parkers considered it testing the water.

Word of consequence free parking violation spread like wildfire. For over a year I countered with polite notes tucked under wiper blades of offending vehicles. ” We don’t mind you parking in a restricted zone but request you not park in front of our house” or “Please park at the alley so we can all get along” meant nothing. I’d played my cards, they knew I was bluffing. Months of home from work realization parking wouldn’t be close to home, relentless personal debates over tolerance vs spineless complacency later, I called bullshit on resident only parking violators.

Plate numbers in hand I dialed parking enforcement. Civic employee took my complaint with apparent sympathy, diligently confirming repeat offender plates with assurance of immediate action. Empowered, I left for work without a tinge of remorse, certain that news of a ticket or trip to the impound lot would spread as quickly as news my corner was a pushover. Next morning the cars were back. I called again. The third day I returned from work to one of the cars parked where I wanted to pull in. Noticing a driver at the wheel I assaulted the horn with vengeance, slammed my car in park and jumping out to a chorus of “what’s the problem you crazy bitch”. “This is my house! Get off my street” was enough to shut him down, he drove off without a murmur.

Only then did I notice a city vehicle down the street. A handful of perplexed onlookers watched me stomp toward his car shouting  “are you parking enforcement?”. “Yes” the man replied. Conflict resolution kicked in allowing Bylaw enforcement man to hear my out with appropriate sprinkles of sympathy. He apologized for lack of civic action, suggesting I call again to request a “patrol” for offending vehicle plates, adding “permit only” parking was dealt with immediately, “resident only” was a little trickier.

Feeling better but not convinced, I walked home to Google Vancouver resident only parking and found this –

Resident Parking Only (RPO) zones

The RPO program was cancelled in January, 2010. Existing RPO zones have been grandfathered into the residential parking system, however, the City no longer creates or extends RPO zones. All new restricted parking is now permit based.

RPO zones:

  • Allow you to park on your block without a permit
  • Are enforced on a complaint basis only

Where RPO regulations are ineffective, residents may request a change to their block regulations and be incorporated into a new residential permit parking plan.

WTF! “Where RPO regulations are ineffective residents may request a change to their block regulations and be incorporated into a new residential parking permit plan”. Heads up to the civic employee who takes my fourth complaint call tomorrow morning, all I can say is they’d better have a damn good grasp on “ineffective” because this resident only parking victim won’t be swallowing excuses.