Give Me The Pancakes and No One Gets Hurt

Pretty interesting weekend -- especially considering just how much I tried to cram into it. It all started Thursday night, where after a full day's work I piled into the rental car I've been driving since the wreck, pointed it south, and drove like The Duke and Dr. Gonzo racing through bat country to get to Orlando in time to catch The Great American Rampage show at the House of Blues. Work was hectic, so I got off to a bit of a late start -- but after almost two solid hours of redlining the little Chevy the insurance company gave me I arrived in time to run full-speed across Downtown Disney/Paradise Island to get to the pit.

The show was nothing short of incredible -- 4 bands that I absolutely love and a room full of people ready to tear it up from the moment the curtains opened. The only catch was that I had to be at work the next day -- so once the last encore was over it was back in the rental, fill up the tank, and hyperspace it back to Jacksonville so I could be in the office the next morning.

I hit the rack around three, caught the alarm at 7:30, and dragged myself in. The day was fairly slow, which was good -- because that night I was supposed to go to Endo Exo's closed door employee's only x-mas party.
When I got the invite I told Matty, "But I don’t work here."
To which he replied, "Dude, you live here. Show the hell up."
You know it's gonna be an Endo party when the first thing you see walking in is the owners Cocker Spaniel humping a stuffed animal. The night only went gloriously downhill from there, starting with the body shots everyone did off the girls in the mini-dresses and Santa hats and ending with the firing of John-O (for the billionth time) and the eventual shutting down of the place earlier than planned when after one too many drinks the owner and bar manager looked at each other the wrong way and got into a fight.
Basically just another Friday night at the club.
Anyways, the next day found me up early -- hung-over as I was, so I could shop for clothes fancy enough to get me into my company's Christmas party. I had gotten the invite a few weeks earlier, which was cool because I didn't get one the first year I was there -- but then as I was talking to one of the R&D guys Friday he casually mentioned having to get his suit dry-cleaned for the event, which led to me realizing that showing up in the same Ramones t-shirt and sport coat that I wore to the last corporate X-mas party I was at would be heavily frowned upon by the people I needed to speak with this week about extending my contract with the company.

So I spent a good part of the day getting fitted for snazzy duds -- followed by a stop at the movie theater with my son to see The Golden Compass (not bad -- the bear fight was cool). After that I dropped him off with his grandfather, dolled myself up, and headed out to Sawgrass to rub elbows with the bosses.

As corporate x-mas parties go, it was pretty cool. The banquet food was ok, there was a cash bar, and they even gave everyone a ration of gambling chips to use at this little fake casino they had set up in the back. People seemed to really get into this, and after a bunch of whiskey I even found myself at one of the Texas hold-em' tables, where I'm proud to say I won a couple of hands worth before going all in on my last hand and coming up a card short.
Eh, not my fake money -- Let it ride.
Once they shut the casino down and the DJ guy kicked in things got lame quickly, but it was nice to see everyone. I shook a lot of hands, was introduced to a lot of wives and relatives, and actually had some conversations with not only my boss, but his boss too -- who seemed actually glad to see me there (despite the fact that I think it was the first time he'd actually had the chance to notice my lip ring -- which he spent time both staring at and not trying to stare at, but never actually said anything about during the conversation).

Long story short -- I had a bunch of Jim Beam, got bored, and decided to head back out to Endo -- where the new bar manager loaded me up with vodka while we traded stories about which events the night before might have landed her this "surprise" promotion.
Needless to say, I was feeling no pain by the time I got out of there.
My dad had an early call the next day, so instead of heading home I drove out to his place and passed out (fully clothed) on his couch -- which would make it easier for me to pick my boy back up when we all got up the next morning. Or it would have, had I not woken up with a screaming hangover that no amount of tomato juice could stop.

Sensing my need to sober up, Dad offered to take us all to breakfast -- which sounded like a fantastic idea to me. I even suggested this new place at the beach we could go called "Wakey Wakey Eggs and Bakey" that I'd heard some good things about from some of the guys at Endo.

So we head down there, fully expecting and eventually finding a pretty big Sunday-after crowd. The wait was short and we got a table, but it was pretty clear the place was slammed. The waitress apologized, brought us our coffee and then evaporated into the crowd, presumably to take care of other customers.

Wakey Wakey Eggs and Bakey is the absurdly cutesy name given to the latest theme to be attempted inside a building that for a short while had been an upscale Italian place, but most people in town would remember as a sushi house named Tsunami's that had been a 3rd Street fixture for years.

You can always tell when someone is trying to keep up with public favor in a place like that because even when they change the artwork on the walls so that it features pigs and chickens wearing chef's hats -- they can't afford to change out the furniture or the fixtures -- leaving me to stir my coffee with a spoon who's handle looked like a stick of bamboo that I picked up from a table that had drawings of oriental dragons engraved into the wood.

I don't know -- as funny as things like that are, I always prefer getting breakfast from mom and pop places when I can. The food is generally better, and there's a vibe there that you can't always get in a chain place like Denny's or Village Inn.
Plus, the owners really took some time to try and think outside of the box.
Because beyond the whole "Add pigs and chickens to Japanese folklore artwork and hope no one notices" thing, the place had all these things that you weren't expecting to see in a breakfast all day spot. Like the full bar that they opened at 9 am, mixing up Bloody Mary's and Mimosa's for the hangover crowd, the free newspapers they offered people at the tables, and especially the emo-looking guy in the corner of the place with the acoustic guitar playing re-worked soft-rock versions of popular alternative songs.

So you're sitting there browsing the fish wrap and quietly giggling with your tablemates about the silverware and the culture-clashing artwork, when someone next to you says,
"Wait, is he singing Blink 182?"
And sure enough, dude would be strumming James Taylor/Hootie and the Blowfish chords on his guitar while he leaned into the microphone and swooned through favorites by Cheap Trick, Nirvana, and Sum 41. It was sorta schmaltzy once you realized what was going on, but even I had to admit it was better than some soft jazz piano guy or a Kenny G CD on infinite repeat.

And so it went, sipping on coffee while folding and re-folding the newspaper, reading the funnies to my son, and trying to guess which songs the guy was Dave Matthew-ing up this time around. It was a room full of unexpected things, a nice way to shake things up, and certainly fodder for conversation -- which clearly set it apart from the atmosphere you find in other places open at this time in the morning.
But we weren't there for gimmicks. We were there to eat.
So some 48 minutes later when it started to become clear that someone had forgotten about our orders -- some of the cute started to wear off all the external trappings in the place. A lot of it probably had to do with my hangover, although the cold sober yet increasingly restless 7-year old sitting next to me seemed to be having similar complaints. My dad tried to play the role of peacemaker for a while, but when sister girl with the coffeepot seemed to not understand that his waving hand in her direction had something to do with refilling his coffee -- even his edges started to crack.
At which point our waitress made a fatal error.
Look, I know waiting tables sucks. I've done my share of it and I have the utmost respect for the people who are able to make a living out of such a thankless trade. I tip my servers well, and I try to be cool about mix-ups or whatever. But I really do believe that when someone is hired to do this job and goes through whatever short period of training they get from one of the other servers, they should be drilled on things that a server should never say to a hungry customer, with the very top of the list being:
"You guys don't have your orders yet?"
Because at that point you've gone from the cute blonde I wouldn't mind getting to know better to someone who isn't paying attention to their responsibilities. Hot or not, I've got no pancakes on my table and no amount of batting your eyelashes is going to change the fact that apparently YOU don't even know where the hell my order is.

And I know there's times when cooks don't communicate, and there's places where some people take orders and other people deliver dishes -- but when you're my ONLY point of contact between the front of house and the kitchen, the fact that I'm sitting here reading updates about sports I don't give a crap about the third or fourth time while having to endure another love-song version of Pearl Jam by Hacky McFuckupperson over here who couldn't find a Gmaj7 chord if it came up and spanked him in the ass starts to get old.
But it's not like I can really go back to the kitchen and ask what's up with the three-top on 17.
Last time I checked, that's your job.
Even if it's just a matter of making sure that the server has his tickets straight. Seriously, if you've got to tip out to this guy at the end of the shift -- then it's sorta in your best interest to make sure that you notice the little kid who's eaten all the saltines at the table because his short stack hasn't shown up, isn't it?

But of course when you don't come by the table for a half-hour to the point where we have to describe your ass to the other girl we were able to flag down for a coffee refill so she can find out what's up with our orders I guess you wouldn't know that at all, would you?

And it wasn't just me -- because almost as soon as we were able to get our waitress in range to start bothering her about our missing orders, there was a guy from another table standing behind her waiting to ask her about his food as well.

I don't know -- maybe they were shorthanded, maybe there was a rush they weren't expecting that they weren't prepared to keep up with. But when things like that happen -- you gotta let me know. I can see all the other people sitting here, I know you're busy -- but I also know how long it takes to scramble a fucking egg, and the numbers aren't really adding up.

So when you start acting like you didn't even know we were sitting here hungry what you're really telling me is that you didn't really care whether we got our food until just now -- which isn't the best impression to give someone five minutes before you rush out plates filled with less than piping hot eggs that probably spent a lot of time waiting for a pickup.
In other words, it'll be a cold day in hell before I give Crappy Crappy Cold Eggs and Hacky another chance.
But rest assured, the next time I go to Awful Waffle on a Sunday -- I'm going to make sure to punctuate my order with something like:
"Oh, and could you be a dear and tell the cooks that I'm still sorta drunk from last
night and really need these pancakes to suppress my ever-building rage? Thanks."

[Listening to:    Ankla"Seasons Never Change" ]