Archive for the Alcohol Involved Category

The Outback Chronicles: Part 2

Posted in Alcohol Involved, Bad employment, Downtown Bristol, Gourmet, Outback Steakhouse, Restaurants with tags , , , on December 5, 2010 by Divide By Zero

Working in the restaurant industry, when you’re not some stupid kid on Summer Break, or saving up for a car or something, you get to watch things unfold that probably wouldn’t happen outside of a restaurant kitchen.  Some things are funny and everyone tells the story for a while and laughs about it.  Other things are terrible, and you spend years drinking and trying to repress the memory.  It depends on the day you show up to work.

Down here in Bristol, we have a NASCAR racetrack.  I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of it, or have ever been here to visit it, or even follow NASCAR at all.  I don’t, I did a whole write up about how awkward that whole situation is.  But I digress, there are 2 “race weekends” a year, and our simple, slow-paced little town turns into a touristy, throbbing metropolis.  People travel from all across the nation to be here for the race, it’s crazy.  They spend tons of money to get here, tons of money to stay here, and tons of money on souvenirs, entertainment, and food.  Food being the key word in that sentence.  They go out to eat 3-4 times a day, and when the race is a few hours away, they don’t mind waiting an hour and a half to sit down and have a steak and some beer.

Tensions run high, and I mean that is putting it very, very mildly.  And Larry, one of my best friends to this day through my former job at the OS-Lounge, is a trained chef.  He is a no nonsense kind of guy, and gets the job done by any means necessary.  As I said in my previous post, Larry worked prep, he was on the back line.  When we were slow, Larry had time to relax, have a good time, and show his true colors.  During race weekends, he would help do everything involved with the inner-workings of the kitchen because he knew how to, had the physical ability to, and was willing to, no matter how hard it may have been.  He was the owner’s “Ace-in-the-Hole”.

I forgot to mention this, but it is pertinent to the story.  Before I started in the dish room of the OS-Lounge, there was another dishwasher there.  For all intents and purposes, we’re going to call him “SWard” (short for “Socially Awkward”).  I didn’t like working with him.  I worked with him, and I bit my tongue when he talked, because he was very awkward.  I didn’t want to provoke him talking to me any more than he already did.  I think a lot of people felt the same way, or at least that’s the general consensus I got while on my breaks with other employees.  One thing he did have going for him though is he was one heck of a musician.  From what I heard, he was mostly interested in the drums, and played all the time, and was rather good at them.  Other people told me stories of him playing guitar and keyboard and being at least better than average at anything else he picked up that could play music.  Okay, back to the story…

One crazy race weekend (before I had been hired on), SWard was using a crutch, and had a cast or a sling or something.  Whatever it was, he was too crippled to be working in the dish pit, so the management put him out front as a bus boy.  No one was in the dish area, and all the cooks, prep guys, and servers were pitching in to keep up with the dishes.  If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant kitchen, you know that is a slippery slope and can get really backed up, really fast.  That was the case at the OS-Lounge this particular night as well.  So then Larry, being the man he is, jumped back there to help get everything done, so he could get back to his regular job.  When he went around the corner, SWard was in there doing nothing but drumming on shelves and any stainless steel surface he could find.  That is the kind of thing he did all the time, even when he wasn’t crippled.

Larry then told him in a very commanding, very stern voice “You either need to get to work, or get * out of my kitchen!” (*insert whatever colorful language you’d like here).  In all honesty, you learn to take those kind of comments in stride while in a commercial kitchen.  As soon as I walk into the kitchen, I know I am the low man on the totem pole, so when someone tells me “move”, “GTFO”, “coming down”, or anything like that, that’s exactly what I do.  Also though, I never stand around on company time drumming on stuff with spoons.  In this case, SWard didn’t want to move or go back to work or anything.  So while Larry hopped to it and started pushing dishes through the machine, SWard started to get angry and hobbled himself out of the way a little bit, while cursing Larry out under his breath.

Well, another thing you know not to do around a bunch of irate cooks is to piss them off any more than they already are.  This is exactly what SWard did to Larry, and Larry is not the type of guy to mess with like that.  Especially not on race weekends.

This is my artist's rendition of why SWard shouldn't mess with Larry. And why he should have pee-pee'd himself.

When Larry tells me this story, the words he uses is “yolked-up”.  What that means is that Larry backed SWard into a corner and made it so SWard wasn’t getting away from Larry without Larry being able to do something about it.  Arm-bar, Head-lock, whatever it was, whatever you want to call it, that’s what being “yolked-up” means.

While in the corner, Larry pretty forcefully explained to SWard that if he had something to say he’d better * come out and say it.  If he didn’t have anything to say, he’d better shut * up and get * back to work.  Yes, all the asterisks mean there was some colorful language involved, way more colorful than I’d like to post on the internet, but you get the idea.  With that, SWard didn’t have anything to say, so Larry let him down, let him go, and turned to walk away.  He was walking from the dish area towards the fryers, into the cold-side of the cook line.

This will help.

As soon as Larry turned to walk away, SWard decided to start cursing Larry under his breath again.  Since Larry had already yolked-up SWard, warned him, and let him have a moment to respond, Larry didn’t take very kindly to SWard being a little girl about the situation.  Larry wanted you to say something to his face, not behind his back, (literally and figuratively) he didn’t play that game.  So Sward got hit a time or two.  He was already crippled, yes, but it wouldn’t have made a difference even if he was in great shape, and uninjured.

Pandemonium broke loose in the kitchen.  Whatever orders were being made, whatever tickets were in the window, whatever anything anyone was doing, came to a nasty halt.  Papa had to hurry his self over toward Larry, grab him and drag him to the employee bathrooms, where Larry was then locked in.  Rightfully so too.  There may have been people in that kitchen that could match, or beat Larry in speed, no one could match him for power.  So Papa was freaking out because of how volatile of a situation he was in, Ted was screaming and crying because he didn’t want to get near Larry.  SWard was threatening to call the police, and sue Larry, and the restaurant.  Everyone else in the kitchen was laughing their butts off.  I would have been too, had I been there.

Like I said, this happened before I started working there.  I kind of wish I could have seen it because apparently it was a paramount event.  Everyone talked about it later like it was epic.

I remember hearing about it when I was in one of the employee bathrooms with the employees who smoked, while we were all on break.  One of the other people in there, a waiter, said: “Yeah, if I knew we were allowed to hit one person and get away with it, I’d have hit someone like that a while back.”  Which begged me to ask the question.. what happened to Larry after that?  Lose his job?  Cops get called?  Fines & penalties?

A verbal warning.  Nothing else came of that situation.  And that, I believe is the way it should be.  Especially in any high-stress situation, or career-field.  If two people have a disagreement, they should be able to smack each other around a few times, then get back to work.

This was a few years ago, maybe the policies have changed since then.  I don’t know.  I do know, and can tell you that back then, the owner/manager had a bail bondsman on speed dial because of the staff.  That’s right, on more than one occasion the management had to bail out their better cooks/preps to make sure they made it to work.  They also had to invest in a breathalyzer so that people would stop showing up to work plastered.  So maybe a few things have changed.

That’s the kind of stuff that’s going on while things are busy at that place.  Don’t worry, there’s more to come.  Be patient.

The Jester.


Top 10 Tuesdays: Thanksgiving Week Special!

Posted in 1980's, 1990's, Alcohol Involved, Cinemassacre/James Rolfe, Forgotten, Halo, Modern, N64, NES, PS2, Retro, Video Game, XBox, Zombies Ate My Neighbors on November 23, 2010 by Divide By Zero

Thanksgiving is here again.  A lot of the “Early Birds” are doing Christmas shopping now, or are anxious to stay up for 36 hours straight and hit all the sales on Black Friday.  This week, families are relocating to other parts of the country for days on end.  Most of us are going to be engrossed in football, and gorging themselves on food until they are legally comatose.  It’s all good times.

In between my gravy-induced black outs, I like to hit up some video games.  Especially if we have little kids, cousins and such, at the house, I like to get them involved.  As many kids as possible.  The more the merrier.  So here are my…

Top 10 Video Games to Play… During Thanksgiving Week.

#10.  Chip N’ Dale Rescue Rangers.  (NES)

This is an easy to play, fun, nostalgic game.  The game play is smooth, and it’s pretty easy to do well throughout the entire game.  It’s last on the list only because it’s a 2 player game.  Two players only?  We live in a world where we can play with anyone from anywhere in the world!  Yes, and that’s all well and good, but Thanksgiving is a time for family.  No matter how weird they are, it’s always better to spend time with the family than with strangers who have an internet connection.  Suck it up.

#9.  Starfox 64. (N64)

This is an oldie but a goodie.  It helped define the Nintendo 64, as much as the original Starfox helped shape the SNES.  It was an instant classic.

Pictured: The good old days.

This is so low on the list, because this one is only a one player game.  I’m only taking into account the campaign mode of the games for this list.  Yes you can compete against each other in Starfox 64, but when you’re with the family you want to move towards a common goal, rather than destroy each other (which is also fun too).  The good thing about this game is that even if you haven’t played it in 10 years, you can beat it in under an hour.  Also, even the younger kids will remember this game.  Most of them have probably played it.  It’s easily substituted so you can hand off your controller smoothly and get to the kitchen before the last turkey leg is gone.

#8.  Duck Hunt. (NES)


If you have the means, this is totally worth it.  This is also only a 2 player game.  THAT’S RIGHT!  Two players, baby!  Did you know that?  If you plug a regular NES controller into the 2nd port, the second player can control the Ducks!  How’s that for a family get together for Thanksgiving?  “You be a duck, and I will shoot you”.  It doesn’t get any better.  This game is also easily substitutable, and it gives an opportunity for the older kids to teach the younger kids what they played when they were growing up.

#8.  Zombies Ate My Neighbors.  (SNES/Genesis)

I did a whole write up on this game.  So I’m kind of biased towards it.  It’s a classic, and it’s perfect for right around Thanksgiving.  All the kids are getting off of their Halloween buzz, and they like seeing all the monsters in one of the games they’re playing.  You can easily learn to play this game in a matter of seconds which makes controller hand-offs really easy.  It’s still two player, but you can let kids play, or if you are surrpunded by adults, you can make a drinking game out of it.

#7.  Marvel Vs. Capcom.  (Dreamcast)

This game made the list because there is something memorable for each age group.  There are easily recognizable characters.  The fights are quick, and the game is addicting.  All the ingredients you need for a room full of people.  I think this is only a 2 player game, but it’s a button-masher and Marvel Vs. Capcom 1 & 2 are pretty much the same game.  This is good if you have about 10 people in a room and they all want to play something.

#6.  Powerstone. (Dreamcast)

This game has all the same qualities you find in Marvel Vs. Capcom, but it’s a 4 player game, and it’s even easier to learn.  There is so much beginner’s luck involved with playing this game, it’s un-comprehend-able.  This is truly one you have to just check out.  And come on, get a nice Dreamcast for about $20, and all the games for free?  This is a game that is both retro and modern.  You can’t beat that.

#5.  Halo. (XBox)

Pictured: The most epic, of the epic.

I’ll be honest, I’m pretty biased about this game.  If I were being honest to myself, this game would make number 1 every week on any top 10 list I’ve ever done, or any I will ever do.  The build up of this game when it was new and “all the rage”, the excitement that came with it, was amazing.  For you younger kids, you had to be there.  It was the only reason I bought an XBox, originally.  But it’s great, like I said, if you have the means you can have up to 16 players (if you have 4 tv’s lying around, and a hub… you’re in good shape.  Now, if only I had 15 friends that wanted to hang around me long enough to get through a round.  It’s also weird, the thing about halo, and any alien game all the way back to space invaders are categorized as favorites among people with Xenophobia; the fear of foreigners.  What a perfect game to play while celebrating the British taking a country away from the natives, and calling it their own — creating a new nation/nationality with it?  This is one that everyone will enjoy.  It takes a while to pick up the controls, but it’s well worth it.  And there’s never really a bad time to play it.  Thanksgiving or not, pick up a copy of this, and it’s game on, baby!

#4.  007 Goldeneye.  (N64)

Remember when Pierce Brosnan was on top of the world?

Who can say ‘no’ to this?  Everyone loves 007!  Or at least everyone knows about 007.  It’s great for the kids to play, as the N64 is within their grasp, it’ll bring the 20/30-somethings back to the past, and it will give the older people in the room something to watch.  This game I think helped make the N64 what it was.  It was a yard stick for all 007 games that followed it.  It’s up to 4 players, so it’s great for getting out frustration with your little nephews, or cousins.  Shoot’em in the face!  That’ll show them to take the last of the stuffing.

#3.  Rockband.  (XBox 360)

Making tweens think they can start a band, since its release date.

You knew this game was going to make the list.  I haven’t been to a party that didn’t have this all set up since it came out.  Personally, I hate it, but I have it at my house.  Just in case a party breaks out, it’s there, in a box, in the closet.  This game, everyone knows how to play, but no one is good at.  People pick up the mic, and they can’t sing.  The quiet guy in the corner can play the guitar on expert and get 99% or better on every song, but show him a real guitar and he scratches his head.  The drums are okay, because it’s kind of similar to the real thing.  It’ll make for some good stories later.  Either way, play it if you’re into it, if you’re not, skip ahead to….

#2.  Mario Kart 64.  (You guessed it: N64)

Need I say more?  4 players of competitive Thanksgiving-y goodness.  Everyone loves it, everyone can play it, and everyone will have a good time.  The only thing you have to worry about is gravy on your controllers.  Gross.

#1, and the winner this week.  Guitar Hero 1 or 3: Legends of Rock.  (PS2)

Awesome classic, I like this game.  It takes a while to get used to, but it’s a great way to bond and everyone will try it at least once.  Later on you can say to your uncle Silas: “Whoa dude, you totally melted face on that solo.”  Because I mean, who gets to say that to their uncle?  And more importantly, who has an uncle named “Silas”?  Your family is weird.  It’s also got a little retro mixed in, because of the songs, but it’s more modern than anything.  And I’ve been told if you stare at the screen for long enough, you get some really trippy visual effects that are always good in a party-like setting.

There you have it.  My top 10 best games to play for Thanksgiving.  Pick one and try it out.  Or don’t.  I already got your page view, so if you don’t like my advice, come back next week.  Another list, another 10, another category.

I’ll see you by the fridge, I’ll be the one with a guitar hero guitar strapped to my back.

The Jester. 

*All pictures are property of their respective owners, and may be subject to copyright laws.  Images obtained through Google Image Search.*

The Outback Chronicles: Part 1 of ???

Posted in Alcohol Involved, Local, Restaurants on November 20, 2010 by Divide By Zero

For a while, I worked at the Outback Steakhouse.  Keep in mind this was back in my “demon days” when I was making choices that weren’t very.. shall we say, good.  I have thought about how to write this article over and over again, and have even come close to writing it before, but I would delete it in hopes of getting a job there again.  It has recently been pointed out to me though, by another former Outback Steakhouse (OS-Lounge) employee, and now one of my best friends, that neither of us are probably ever going to work there again.  So let’s just jump right in, shall we?

There were so many things that happened in the back of house (BOH), or in other words, the kitchen area of the OS-Lounge.  I honestly don’t know where to begin.  Let’s start with the organization:

Background information

There was a prep crew,who always came in early and prepped the food.  There was some overlap in the shifts they worked and the shifts I worked.  The shifts I worked were usually 12 noon till about 3am.  No lunch, no official breaks, though there were 2 employee bathrooms in the back that everyone used to smoke cigarettes (or partake in other activities) in.  There were the dish guys.. which were 2 guys stuck in an area of the kitchen smaller than a cubicle.  It was always wet, it was always hot, and it was impossible to stay clean.  That’s where I was most of the time.  I tried to do a good job, it just depended on how busy we were.  But the dishes were rarely ever spotless, so the guys washing them were nowhere near clean.  Then you had the cooks.. there was “hot side” and “cold side” over there.  Cold side consisted of one guy running all the fryers, and another making all the salads, they were a team.  Hot side consisted of one guy running the saute station and the grillmaster, they too were a team.. or dance partners, if you will.

I’m just going to call it like it is, I don’t want to reveal anybody’s name, so we’ll call the grillmaster the GrillMaster, and the saute guy, SauteGuy.  My friend and the only guy I still talk to from there, we’ll call him Larry, the kitchen manager at the time we’ll call Ted, and I’ll make up the rest of the names as we go along, Okay! So…

Mischief & Mayhem…

If I took the time to write out everything that happened while I was working at the OS-Lounge, I’d have a book’s worth.  And like the title says, this is only part 1 of…. however many I feel like coming up with.  Here’s the basic outline of different things that happened there, and i will end on that.  All I really wanted to do in this article was whet your whistle for what’s to come.  Next week, I’ll jump into some of the serious stuff, but first I wanted to let you know what really goes on in the kitchen, and get you familiar with the characters.

  • One of my dish washing partners would sneak off to the bathroom, crush up a loritab, snort it off of one of the cleaning supply shelves, then come back to work fired up.
  • SauteGuy, Grillmaster, and a girl, we’ll call her TheWaitress, would constantly smoke the ganja in the employee bathrooms.  We’d use a metal shrimp skewer to lock them in, so they would get blamed for the smell.  They never got in trouble for it though.
  • Larry (this was back in his demon days as well, he’s not like this anymore) would show up most days hungover.  To be fair though, most of the kitchen crew did as well, Larry was the only one that would show up with a pistol strapped to his back though.
  • Another guy, we’ll call him Parolee, would come in with 64oz. plastic gas station cups full of beer, or some type of alcohol and drink it during his shift.
  • Ted was a good manager.  He did his job, and was #1 in the region.  He had to be balanced though.  What I mean is, if he were too broke, he couldn’t afford his drugs, and he’d just be pissed off all the time.  If he was making too much money, he’d be too strung out to really care about anything.
  • Food preparation… that’s all I’m going to say, I’ve got a ton of horror stories about that.
  • A waiter, we’re going to call him “Papa” once urinated in a can of Monster, and gave it to SauteGuy.  When SauteGuy took a swig of it, he said: “Whyzit taste like piss?”, and Papa’s answer to it?  “Because I pissed in it.”  These are the guys cooking and serving you your food.
  • It was so bad in the kitchen that if an employee had something to eat, then stepped out of sight for more than 10 seconds, came back, and the other employees even had a smirk on their face, they would throw their food away.
  • Drunk & rowdy customers.
  • Have you seen the movie “Waiting”?  Remember the after parties?  Those exist, and happen frequently.

Are you satisfied for now?  Keep checking back, and as the weeks go by, I’ll fill you in on all the goings-on behind the scenes.  You’ll probably want to read what I have to say before you decide to go eat there again.

Happy dining!

The Jester.

Rhythm & Roots Special!

Posted in Alcohol Involved, Annual, Downtown Bristol, RHYTHM & ROOTS! on September 20, 2010 by Divide By Zero

I had the opportunity to go to Rhythm & Roots this weekend, and I had a blast.  I haven’t been in about 4 years, but could tell right away that it has been getting better every year.  The atmosphere was great, and embodied everything it should have embodied.  And the personality of State Street was allowed to shine through.  There was a great turn out this year, and from what I could see, everyone enjoyed themselves.

This might be the reason why.

It was great, the old shops got customers, the new shops got their name out there in a very big way, and the other shops that are wanting to sell got some advertising.  In any case, here’s the rundown of the weekend I had.

I got to go into the Cameo Theater.  A big thank you goes out to Kroger’s for sponsoring that stage.  Ted Olsen put on a very good performance, with a fair audience.  I took a few pictures, but wish I had the opportunity to go into the balcony (something the Cameo has that the Paramount does not).  I also noticed that even though the Cameo could use a face-lift, it was in pretty decent shape for not being renovated in a while.

Inside the Cameo.

I loved seeing all the local artists come out and offer their work for reasonable prices.  It was pretty awesome.  I almost got a “Charcoal drawing by Nick” of the Burger Bar that was being offered for $40.  The only reason why I didn’t was because I was short by $10.  It’s okay though.  Another highlight was Java J’s gelato.  All of the flavors I sampled were delicious, but the one that stood out the most was the caramel latte.  Definitely a good treat to cool off from the heat with.  While I was enjoying the gelato, I sat outside of J’s at one of their bistro tables.  The stage by the Bristol sign was featuring a band by the name of “The Possum Playboys”.  They were very good, very funny, and put on a great show.  No local band was better, in my opinion, than the 3:00 Paramount performance by a band called Red Molly.  They are 3 enormously talented young women who were astonishingly entertaining.  I can’t lie, I went to their performance by accident, and hadn’t heard of them before Rhythm & Roots, but glad it happened.  I looked at the wrong showing and ambled into the paramount expecting to hear ETSU’s Celtic band, as I am a huge fan of Celtic culture and music.  I was disappointed for a second when I was informed this wasn’t the Celtic band, but that feeling went away quickly when they started singing.  They all have a great set of pipes, and really brought the house down.  I loved the encore song they sang.  I don’t remember the name of it, but it was an accapella number that really showcased the range of each individual ladies voice.  It was incredible.  I recommend their CD to anyone who likes the troubled love songs.  Anyone period, really.  They are a great overall band and were my personal favorite band of the entire weekend.  Another thank you goes out to Red Molly for attending Rhythm & Roots, I hope you all come back next year!  You can visit their website here.

They're not bad to look at either.

In other R&RR news, Whimsical Gems & Treasures had an outstanding weekend, and I would like to thank everyone who played a part in that.  I had a chance to meet with the owner of Shoozies, and we were both interested in me interviewing her for this blog.  Her name is Peggy, and she is a wonderfully nice woman who is very approachable.  She informed me that her and her workers busted their humps to make sure they were open in time for Rhythm & Roots.  I applaud her efforts and will surely follow up with her in the near future.

The vendors this year were fantastic, and there really did seem to be something for everyone.  The atmosphere (as I said) was great.  Especially with the vendors, I usually feel pressured to buy things from vendors in similar situations.  At R&RR though, there wasn’t any pressure, everyone was very friendly, had a lot to talk about, and were interesting people.  I was able to pick up new dog collars and tags for my mutts, and they loved them.  My whole family (minus my brother who’s in the Air Force), my girlfriend and I all had a fantastic time.  The event that capped off the entire weekend was Joe Diffie’s performance at the mural stage on Sunday.  He played a lot of songs from his new bluegrass album (released Sept. 26th), along with a lot of his older hits.  He had a lot of fun with the audience, and the band that accompanied him were fantastic.  It was some of the best Banjo pickin’ I’ve heard live in a long time.  I can’t wait for Rhythm & Roots next year, and the years after.  It has been a blast for me and my friends, and I hope it continues to be.

Thank you to everyone who attended, performed, and participated.  I couldn’t have had more fun.

*All photos are subject to copyright, and are property of their respective owners (I obtained these images off of Google Image Search)*