Friday, January 27, 2006

Doctor, It's Cold Outside

About 4 weeks ago, I sprained my foot. At least, that's the diagnosis I personally came up with, and as there were no professional opinions involved, there's a slight possibility that I'm wrong. However, for the sake of keeping this blog entry short and sweet, we'll just call it a sprain.
Injuries like this happen occasionally to us athletic types. On that fateful day 4 weeks ago, I was employed in the physical activity of napping on the couch. Since I am a trained athlete in the sport, I have incredible endurance and can keep at it longer than most-- even with my legs twisted in a way that cuts off blood circulation. Beginners, do not try this at home. Anyway, even after such a lengthy session, I decided that I still had enough stamina to walk over to the computer, a full 3 and a half feet away. Well, this is why it isn't good to strain yourself more than you are physically able: as soon as I set my fallen-asleep-foot down on the ground and stood up, there was a huge CRACK! and I was down. The pain was excruciating, but of course, athletes are able to withstand greater physical pain than most. I sat on the ground, cradling my foot and blubbering like a baby.
Obviously, the next step in attending to an injury is deciding what to do. For this, I needed my dad's opinion, as he is the most left-brained member of our family: He's an accountant. I know that accountants aren't necessarily capable of giving medical advice, but they are able to do very difficult things like math and playing minesweeper, which is good enough for me. Immediately he started asking me questions, with his "very serious" face that makes him even more credible:
"So you heard a 'crack'?"
"Does it hurt?"
"A lot?"
After this initial examination, he had to do some more thinking, during which time I tried to keep my whimpering down to a minimum. After several "hmm"s and narrowing of eyes, he started again:
"Is the bone sticking out?"
"But you heard a crack?"
"Hmm. Well, if the bone's not sticking out, it's probably not broken."
I stared through tearing eyes at the lump the size of a golf ball throbbing on the side of my foot.
"It's probably a sprain."
The thing about being in a family that isn't medically inclined is that nobody really knows what a sprain is, but it always sounds like a pretty good answer, so no one contests it. As far as I can tell, it's when something hurts really bad, but it's not broken. Anyway, the verdict was to not take me to the doctor, with the most heavily weighing arguments being that 1) it was really late, 2) it was really cold outside, and 3) I was already in my pajamas. So with enlightened mind and throbbing foot, I decided that the pain would probably be gone after a good night's rest.
Well, it's a month later and the pain is still there, but it has gotten better: I hardly feel a thing unless I run, jump, lean, go on tiptoe, wear my black shoes, or have Kelly Clarkson lyrics stuck in my head. Maybe this isn't a good thing, but I think it's too late to see a doctor. Besides, it's really cold outside.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Lachrymose Over Hose

I am currently in the process of modifying my entire wardrobe to accommodate the guidelines of an LDS Mission. (I'm a Mormon, for those of you who are already confused.) It's not that I'm a skank. As far as coverage goes, I've done an admirable job in my wardrobe selection. I think the reason why guidelines must be instated for the mission is that when fashion sense goes unsupervised for years, the results are often embarrassing, unbeknownst to the wearer. So this is the Church General Presidency's gentle way of saying, "we don't want people to think we've got a bunch of weirdos representing our church." OK, I admit that's a stretch. We are a bunch of weirdos, but we're trying hard not to look like it. And not everyone's fashion sense is that bad. I happen to own a Joan Jett and the Blackhearts T-shirt that is very chic.
The bane of my new wardrobe, no competition, is pantyhose. My mission checklist recommends having 24 pairs of pantyhose for a year and a half. That's not a typo... it really says 24. To give it a chance, I wore a pair of Leggs Tan Size B to church yesterday. I have never really understood what purpose they serve, or the logic behind them... everyone knows they are about as destructible as wet tissue paper. I hear they're supposed to make your legs look better, but I'm really skeptical about that. First of all, they make your legs look like they are covered with a thin layer of shimmery substance, like they are radioactive or something. Second, they make your legs a different color from the rest of you, no matter how hard you try to find a matching shade. (Personally, I don't think women need an excuse to artificially change their appearance any more than they already do.) Thirdly, after you wear them a few times, they always get stretched out, and then you look like you have wrinkly ankles and knees. Call me crazy, but having radioactive, fake, wrinkly legs has never been a very attractive idea to me, unless you're trying to disguise yourself as a log floating in the waste-water of a nearby power plant, or Joan Rivers.
I used to look smugly at other women wearing pantyhose, being proud of baring my own uncovered legs. I'd see runs running up the back of their legs and think, ha! Good thing I don't have to worry about that! However, it looks like my days of smugness are over, temporarily. Soon I too will fall prey to itchiness, inconvenient bathroom-going, and stuck-together toes. Well, pantyhose-inventor, you failed to achieve complete misery for womenfolk: At least now I only have to shave my legs half as often.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Waitress in Distress

Those who know me know that I worked as a waitress (or server for all you p.c. people) for about two years. Not that I made it a very prominent fact-- I only complained about it every other minute of every hour of every day. Let's just say that I have enough to say about this particular area of the food service industry to fill a hundred blogs. Today, just to give you a "taste" of what I mean, I'd like to offer you some insights on: Garlic Bread.

For some reason, garlic bread is like elixir to people-- they HAVE to have it, and they have to have it IMMEDIATELY. This poses a few problems to the server, problems caused by the same ignorance that creates the exasperating situation in which customers argue menu prices with the poor kids. Once and for all, I'd like to make clear that servers are quite low on the hierarchy of restaurant business, which looks something like this:

Owner -> General Manager -> Dining Room Manager -> Supervisor -> The Special of the Day -> Servers

Therefore, servers have absolutely no authority to change anything for you. They can't change company policy. They can't turn water into wine. And they absolutely, under any circumstances, cannot turn your chicken parmigiana into a non-fat, no-carb, low-sodium miracle. So arguing prices with a server will not get you anywhere, unless you want to make one of them cry, in which case carrying on with it for about 6 minutes should do the trick.

Anyway, back to garlic bread. It is amazing what an effect it can have on somebody's order. To give you a better idea, here is a conversation that I had to have many times:
Customer: "I'd like the Santa Fe Chicken Salad."
Me: "Alright, and would you like to add some garlic bread to your order for a dollar?"
Customer: "WHAT!? It doesn't already come with garlic bread? Olive Garden gives you free breadsticks! What is this place?"
Me: "Well, we're considerably less expensive here..."
Customer: "Forget it! Then I want the BBQ Chicken Pizza Dinner."
Customer's Wife: "But honey, you don't like BBQ chicken. And you're lactose-intolerant."
Customer: "I don't care! It comes with free garlic bread!" (Usually a conversation like this gets the customer so upset that there is a tip decline of 5%.)

The other problem is, people think that hot, crispy garlic bread can be whipped up instantaneously, as if there is a secret recipe for toast that can sit in a mountainous pile all day long and not get stale or soggy. I remember countless occasions in which I would finish taking a table's order, take one step away, and... "Hey! Can I have my garlic bread NOW?" When I tell them that it will be about 5 minutes, they stare at me as if I have the IQ of a charcoal briquette. Sometimes they try even harder. "But we're hungry RIGHT NOW. Can't you do anything?" And that's if they're nice. At this point I'd like to list the process for you to illustrate exactly why it takes 5 minutes to get hot garlic bread to your table:
1. The server walks to the computer. He or she inputs the order. Depending on how long the order is, this may take anywhere from 20 seconds to 3 minutes.
2. The computer processes the information (approximately 15 seconds).
3. The order prints up in a little printer in the kitchen.
4. Someone in the kitchen has to notice that a little piece of paper has printed up in a little printer, which may take a few minutes if they are playing fling-the-pizza-dough-at-the-new-guy.
5. We wait for the next lunar eclipse, or Halley's comet, whichever comes first.
6. Finally, somone in the kitchen puts some bread through the bread oven. (Kitchen people don't really care about getting food to you promptly because they don't get tips.)
7. 3 minutes later, the bread comes out of the bread oven.
8. Someone in the kitchen has to stop flinging pizza dough long enough to notice that bread is ready. He or she puts the bread in a cute little basket and puts it in the window.
9. An expediter sees the bread and takes it to the table, hopefully the correct one. (Ta-da!)
So here we see that by 5 minutes, we mean if you're lucky. So please stop harassing your servers. They are only trying to work their way through school so that someday they can have a job where people don't treat them like low-lifes.

Anyway, that's my "tip" to you for today. And no, it doesn't come with free garlic bread.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

You Have a Friend Request Awaiting Confirmation

All of you college-goers out there have heard of something called Facebook by now. For a while, it was a topic of disinterest to me and I never thought twice about it. However, a few weeks ago, with the help of some good friends, all of that changed. I found myself helplessly taking the plunge into the world of Facebook.

So I guess some smart kids at Harvard started this little network to keep in touch with old friends, then it spread to Berkeley and Stanford, and now even mediocre students like me can be a part of it. Basically, along with being a convenient way to see pictures of your drunk high school comrades, it is an ingenious excuse for thousands of college students to waste... oops I mean spend even more of their invaluable time. What features are so irresistable to all of these scholars, you ask? The Checking Addiction. The same concept applies with cell phones. Why are people always looking at their cell phones? Do that many people really call them? Most likely the answer is no, and this is proof that evolution has certainly taken another leap in this day and age: young people of today now have a slight modification in their DNA structure that necessitates knowing at every moment whether anything with a pulse is trying to contact them, because heaven forbid if they miss the important message that Strongbad has posted a new email. Thus the features of Facebook are a perfect place to channel this energy. Students need to check if anyone has written on their "wall". They need to check if anyone has updated their profile. They need to see if they have been "tagged" in anyone's photo album. And most importantly, they need to know if anyone wants to be their friend. Yes, in this age of technology, we need a computer to keep track of who we are friends with for us. As with cell phones, most of the time when students sign on to check their Facebook status, there are no changes. Yup, it's still exactly the same as the last time they checked it (an hour ago.) But hey, at least it's something to do.

If you are one of the smart kids who started Facebook, please do not think this is an attack on your idea. Everything I've written is really meant to praise. And remember, I'm only a mediocre college student compared to you. It took me an hour to figure out enough HTML to turn my blog background red. Now excuse me... I have to see if anyone has written on my wall.