Wednesday, September 22, 2010

the squid from the underwater mario levels

Everything about human interaction and communication that people take for granted seems so strange to me. Not because i'm afraid or anxious, i just get these moments where it freaks me out for a second. i'm like "damn, look at all these life forms. listen to their mouth sounds, i cant believe i understand this and can translate all this social nuance and signals and whatnot." all of these beings, moving through the space i'm in, all of them conscious of themselves in different ways, yet oblivious to so many things. willfully omitting from their perception certain indescribable truths and realities in order to live their "normal" lives.

damn. i want to write but i cant find the groove. i guess i'm not drunk or pissed off enough. be back in a few beers.


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

zaniness in zimbabwe

i finally graduated. what a relief. now that my every waking hour isnt consumed by tending to plastic heads and work, i figured i would update this thing.

first, some incongruities that have bothered me today:

in an attempt to follow some of the advice presented in the the archdruid report, i purchased about $20 worth of weatherstripping and did my best to fill in the gaps around my door, ac unit, and windows. in the process, i broke one of my windows, creating a very large gap, more of a hole really, which could not be filled with 3/16" adhesive weatherstripping. i made do with taping some cardboard over it for now. oh, the irony.

it is so fucking hot here, i was sweating in the shower with the hot water turned off.

the tailpipe on my van has broken free of its moorings, which upon inspection turned out to be about sixteen coathangers in various esoteric tangles. it now makes a delightful scraping sound wherever i go. as it turns out, driving still sucks.

the ladies at the office which handles my student loan thought that my phone number was my social security number. i really dont see how you can mix something like that up.

i had to go through a practice state board exam, in which all of my carefully labeled and organized cosmetology test supplies got pulled out and thrown into a trashbag, as is the way of things at the exam apparently. now i have to redo what was undone. what bothers me about this is that i have seen multiple students graduate without taking this mock exam, and it has suddenly become a requirement. upon taking the test, i passed with a pretty good margin for error, as i knew i would. now i just have to pay my school a minor sum and pay the exam people a minor sum and then pass the exam and then pay the state yet another minor sum and i will officially be a cosmetologist in the state of TX. when people talk about "paying your dues" to get into this industry, they arent fucking kidding.

how about a quick school rant? (lol we know i dont do anything quickly XD )

it took me almost two years to finish a one year program. i paid dearly for my schools leniency in attendance, to the tune of about $4000 over and above my tuition. the program at my school is apparently designed for people who dont need to work, who live with their husband/boyfriend/parents/guardian, as it is pretty much a job you pay to attend. it starts at eight and ends at five with an hour lunch break. your advancement is based on clock hours, so you clock in and out every day just like working at some factory. throughout my tenure there i went through various states of exhaustion and listlessness caused by trying to pay my bills while basically working five days a week for free at some dojo monastery for beauticians. the parallels are striking: the students pay a great sum of money to the school, thereby ensuring poverty; the students practice the techniques of the senseis and study the texts handed down by the elders (for a fee, of course), they clean and maintain the monastery, and they trade their time and effort for rank and experience, in order to one day go out on their pilgrimage into the sinful world of the professional cosmetologist.

i fell asleep in class a lot, though i could pass the tests after reading the chapter once. i did everything i could to avoid actually working, and did my best to read trashy scifi or fantasy novels, eat, or sleep while i was there. my constant lateness and absence was due to poor foresight: i did not realize that i would be physically unable to wake up at 7:30 every morning and work nonstop until midnight and then go to bed around one am for a year straight without some major fuckups. i would miss for two weeks straight. when i woke up late, the "absence anxiety" as my university friend termed it, would make me rationalize not going if i woke up late, as it starts to feel wierd to go back after being absent so much. the shit you have to put up with as far as people asking you where you've been and trying to catch up to whats going on are pretty good deterrents to coming back.

this is one of the main reasons i saw so many people start the program and drop out: absence anxiety. it wasnt that it was difficult, its just that you can convince yourself that it is and you just stop going. most people drop out without ever coming back to do it formally. they just quit coming, afraid to come back and face what they've missed, and in the process rack up a surcharge so high that even if they did want to come back and finish, they would be working for months to pay off the time they missed, in order to get their hours released so they could test and get licensed.

i suppose this requires an explanation: the surcharge, as pertains to beauty school, is based on how many hours you miss after a grace period of 150 hours. your tuition is based on hours, working out to around 7-12 dollars an hour depending on where you go, so if you take more time than is allotted in the original program, you would need to pay extra to cover the extra hours that you were enrolled, even if you werent there to attend them.

confused? yeah, so was i. especially when i learned, well after my grace period and after racking up a metric shit ton of absence and lateness, that the surcharge is separate from you tuition, and has to be paid before your hours are released and you are allowed to test! when you sign your contract, this is not stated. this is not explained. what i figured, and what everyone else thinks when they hear about this, is "oh, no big deal. they just tack it onto my tuition and i pay off whats left over a few years after i graduate." well, thats what we thought, but we were wrong. DEAD WRONG.

not really dead, but definitely dead in the water when you realize "oh shit, now i've got to not only somehow get through all this shit without being late or absent EVER AGAIN (impossible) but i now have to somehow pay off this extra shit BEFORE i can get into my new career while simultaneously paying my rent, tuition, gas, utilities, phone, oh and buying all the supplies that i was told my school would provide, trying to eat once in a while and maybe occasionally trying to do something nice for myself to keep me from COMMITTING FUCKING SUICIDE."

lovely, right?!

(it should be noted that one student i knew racked up a surcharge which exceeded the actual tuition amount before she was forcibly dropped from the program. if you cant go and cant pay the surcharge, drop the fuck out as soon as you can! you can always start again later if you want! another girl managed to graduate this week, but is looking at slaving away at the fryers of church's chicken for an untold number of years to pay off her surcharge before she can get her license.)

now i, being a single, strapping young lad, capable of much labor and sweat of brow, managed somehow, through much luck, hard work, and conniving schemes, to actually have this surcharge pretty much paid off by the time i finished. i feel bad though for the women and girls i met in this program who have children and families, dont work, only managed to start school with financial aid and have zero chance of coming up with a couple grand in cash to pay off a surcharge that mounts up because of necessary family absences, personal obligations, or even just plain fear, laziness and absence anxiety. did i mention that it has to be paid in cash? the owners of the school are so shady that they only accept cash or blank money orders for surcharge payments. i've got a hunch that its basically just a slush fund so the owners can go to the titty bar or keep their country club memberships running. granted, the ownership has changed, and the previous owner was nice enough to make an "adjustment" to my surcharge to bring it down to something i could reasonably pay off within a few lifetimes, so i cant badmouth the guy too much. but come on, a blank money order? cash? why cant i make it out to the school? just what the fuck are you doing with my money?

certainly not buying supplies for the school, keeping cash in the register, hiring enough instructors, keeping the a/c running in the summer and heat on in the winter, stocking kits for new students, hiring enough staff so that the school director can retire before 70, or making sure that the school was run with some sort of credible competence. because that shit did not fucking happen.

if you plan on attending beauty school, get a combo lock and keep your shit in your locker or take it home with you. never let anything valuable such as shears or hairdryers out of your sight because that shit will disappear without a trace. dont lock your keys in your locker if you dont have a combo lock, because the school doesnt provide bolt cutters. also, if you want a locker, make sure you know someone with bolt cutters or a dremel because all of the available lockers will be locked up and full of some dropouts shit. one day i did everyone a favor and cut open about a dozen lockers that had been locked up and abandoned, most of which were empty or full of trash. more than once i had to either straight up break a lock or rip off the latch for someone who had locked their keys in their locker because the school couldnt be bothered to keep a ten dollar pair of boltcutters on hand.

be prepared to teach yourself just about everything as a competent or caring instructor is not guaranteed. i went through three instructors, the first of which was burnt out and apathetic, another which was stressed to the point of being rude and sociopathic, and the final one who was a godsend to all of us because she knows her shit and knows how to run a herd of bitchy, listless girls while keeping them productive, learning, and happy.

when you start seriously preparing for your state board exam, get a copy of the criteria which you will be graded on. read it carefully, as you will be taught any number of things which may be useful or not, but arent necessarily part of the scoring criteria. this makes sense if you think about it, because there are so many different instructors teaching different ways of doing the same thing. the criteria has to be generalized. all you have to do is make sure that you listen to your instructor and learn how they do things, regardless of what you may have learned in the past. it doesnt do anyone any good to piss and moan, and argue about how that wasnt the way you learned it at the last school/in jersey/in buffalo/in iran/in mexico/in vietnam or even from the last instructor. just listen, smile, nod, do what you're told, learn all you can, synthesize it for yourself and remember that when you actually take your test that your instructor is NOT GOING TO BE THERE.

there's more, but i think thats a rant for another time. as i slowly and willfully forget the experience, i may decide to not write about it at all. however i'll definitely write a detailed description of the texas cosmetology state board licensing exam, since there isnt anything remotely like it on the internet and i think that there should be. too many people go blindly or fearfully into situations like this, and too many never have the balls to do it at all. at one point in school i met a woman who had graduated 8 years before and tried to come back to review for the exam so that she could finally get her license. needless to say she left nearly in tears and never took her test.

when i graduated, we went out to eat. we always go out to eat or have a pot luck at my school, no matter what the occasion may be. its no wonder most of the women there are obese. anyway, i'm not the speechgiving type, so when they asked me to say a blessing and some inspirational words for the students, all i came up with was the only prayer i know, which i learned from the show good times:

"we got bread, we got meat, thank the lord, now lets eat!"

compare that to the last guy who graduated, gave a ridiculous and aimless speech and ended it in tears and i'd say it was a bit anticlimactic. but hey, i just wanted to get the fuck out of there. i am, however, very good at writing clearly and frankly about my experiences and i think that the cosmetology school students of texas deserve to hear my story, and to know what to expect. i'll do my best to put that down here.


Friday, May 07, 2010

2 weeks... again

man i'm pissed. what the fuck is this shit. i come home and there are flies everywhere. before i come home there is a shitstorm at work.

yes... work. arbys. the legendary clusterfuck. my previous manager is dead. with her died any hope of a successful and happy work environment. when she got promoted out of the store i had high hopes for her, and i hoped also for a decent replacement. instead we get this guy. why does the restaurant industry attract passive aggressive psychopaths? he's alright one minute. a great guy, and a good boss, really. but the next minute he's a fucking lunatic. his main problem is absenteeism. how can you expect to run a store if you're never there? managers in my company get salaried for 50 hrs a week. my last boss was there for like 70. and not just shuffling papers or dicking off. she was right there, in the trenches, working just as hard and most of the time harder than everyone else. she was psycho too, but in a different way. the guy i'm dealing with now is unreadable. this is a guy who can sit in the dining room shuffling papers and trying to call a meeting with me while two people are working the store, running 15 minute wait times and serving raw meat. totally clueless. he recently rearranged the office so the the monitor is up against the back wall, enabling him to completely turn his back on the store, the staff, and anything that might be going on out there. talking about sticking your head in the sand.

back to the 50 hrs a week thing. so everyday i get in at 5 and i look at the punches and hes clocked in at 8 when he really got there between 9 and ten. ok, understandable. i wouldnt come in early if i was in his shoes. but the thing that galls me is when i have to punch him out at 6 when he actually split before 3pm. i havent seen the guy for almost two weeks straight. he works less hours than i do and im not even there for 40! now this wouldnt be so bad except that even for the hours that he's there there is no participation. his way of motivating people is to yell and threaten to fire them or write them up. in the cookbook of management, the recipes would say to use this type of attitude sparingly. luckily for me i dont have to work with him because he's always gone by the time i get there. the problem is that since he's gone by the time i get there, there is absolutely zero communication between him and i. so i'll only learn about important things or changes in policy secondhand at best, not at all at worst. we started to keep a notebook log of all manager communications to attempt to remedy this, which worked for a few weeks. but as of now i've written countless things in there, questions and statements that demand action and answers, and gotten almost nothing in return. not the least of which being a health inspection which had issues that needed to be addressed. after several days of no communique and inaction i wrote some questions in there about how we should address the issues raised in the inspection. so instead of thinking it through and answering me on all points, he highlights the minor questions and gives snippy answers that dont solve the problem.

you know what? i dont really give a fuck anymore. go ahead and fail your health inpection follow up. because i'm out of there. i finally found another job. it pays less, but it's closer to home and its not located in some shithole outskirt of town. go ahead and let the store run to shit while you blame everyone but yourself. shit rolls downhill man, and you're at the top. what i'm going to do is get the fuck out of the way.

it was nice when times were good, but now that things are spinning down the drain all you can do is be a dick and leave the store as soon as you get there. the crew doesnt much care for your attitude and neither do i. every day i come in and the place looks like a fucking hurricane came through, there is no product prepped or tempered, the dining room is a mess and i look around and there is no one but me to try and get shit back the way its supposed to look. this wouldnt be so bad if we were staffed accordingly, but it winds up being three people to clean up after you and your crew as well as deal with our withering dinner rush.

you wonder why your food cost is so high? i'll tell you why. at the same time as ARG in its infinite wisdom decided to launch a dollar menu, our back office software got reset. couple that with no one counting inventory on a regular basis and no established system of tracking waste and you've got a mess on your hands. and leaving a bunch of passive aggressive all caps notes about how no one eats for free, nothing gets thrown out and everyone is fucking up is not going to solve your problem. asking us to leave everything we throw out in a single trashcan and then put it on the desk for you to go through is fucking retarded. you want your bonus back? you want the higher ups to get off your ass? try a little thing called leadership. call a meeting, address the issue. let everyone know what the problem is and how we are going to solve it instead of just turning into a 300 pound preschooler and throwing a shitfit and expecting everyone else to take care of the problem for you when they dont even know what they're doing wrong! i walked in on someone today making a recipe with double the amount of meat that it called for and she's been doing this for months! was it her fault? was she wasting product on purpose? no! she had been trained wrong and there was no one there to correct her when she fell off course. big surprise there when you consider the fact that "training" in our store consists of reading a vague sheet of corporate instructions and signing the bottom stating that you understand, whether you do or not. no demonstration, no questions and answers, just a blind assumption that everyone will "get it". this may not be rocket surgery but we are not staffed with astral physicists.

basically not only are we dealing with the "everything must be a total clusterfuck at all times" arbys mindset, we have a person in charge who is totally incapable of leading his people through this morass of corporate insanity.

i'm sick of dealing with a person who expects way more out of his people than what he is willing to give them. its garbage to think that the store just "runs itself". if you're in charge, you have a responsibility to make sure that things run the way they should. coming in late and leaving early everyday is not the way to get that done. your food cost is high because of a software reset, poor inventory tracking, and the introduction of a vastly discounted new value menu. and to top that all off, as if we arent fucked enough right now, we are dropping fucking coupons this week. cue the sycophantic upper management myrmidons wondering out loud "wow, we're so busy, yet we're over on labor cost and we're not making any profit! food cost is out of control!" well, lets see. if you are selling something and making money, then you decide to give it away for free or at a tremendous discount, you are going to start losing money. man, i didnt even have to go to college to fucking figure that one out. anyone remember the great roastburger giveaway of 2009? or after that when they gave away "patty" melts for a month? or for the rest of that summer when every wednesday we gave something away for free? great business model assholes!

couple that with a corporate leadership so inept that they cant even capitalize consistently on their own goddamn buzzwords such as "five fer five" or "5.01 combo". am i the only one who saw the total lack of follow through on this? you introduce a bunch of combos for "five oh one" because they're "worth the extra penny" then not even a month later you come out with a dollar menu...

........ are you seeing where i'm going with this?

you spent all this money getting a new concept in customer's heads of being different for charging that extra penny for your slop and you cant even think hard enough to figure out that maybe you should carry that over to your new dollar menu? instead of "new 1.01 menu, worth the extra penny, just like the combos we just advertised" you totally trash all of the marketing capital you just spent on a huge ad campaign and you start over with "um, its like they give you bang for a buck, but we give you... um like ka boom"


i cant even begin to talk about the vagaries that we went through on the various recipe changes, product revisions, policy changes, procedure changes, etc. suffice it to say that my franchise decided to deride the corporate edict and not apply any of the "big new changes" that were taking place because after years of working with the crackheads at ARG in atlanta they knew that as soon as we enacted the new changes they would send us a revision, then as soon as we took care of that we would receive another, and another, and another, until finally those fools forgot what they were going on about and moved on to some new corporate mandate that had little to do with the actual running of the business. our company decided to wait it out until they had undone their little procedural wedgie and go with the final revisions.

also, who the fuck launches a new value menu that is supposed to launch your business back into sustainability and then makes the drive thru point of purchase advertisement so fucking microscopic that NO ONE CAN SEE IT?

arbys restaurant group, thats who. bunch of fucking retarded, overpaid corporate schmucks. fuck these guys. there should be a tried and true fast food law that states:

when you work in the corporate arm of a foodservice establishment, any change to procedures and practices must be carried out for at least one month in an actual restaurant location by the people who formulated the plan for change. only then can a change go forward in committee to be established nationwide at the franchise level.

if these fucking suits got a load of the shit they were dropping on people and actually had to deal with it themselves they might, MIGHT think about making things a little more practical before they decide to mandate the adoption of new practices.

anyway, i'm quitting. i found a new job, for less money, thats closer to home. i may run into the same problems, in fact i know i will. but it will be from the standpoint of a powerless employee instead of a powerless manager. i'll be able to clock in, work, clock out and go home and not know about any of the insanity going on with the corporate side of things. and that makes me very happy. thankfully i'm almost done with school so i can say for sure that this is a temporary gig and i'll be out of there before the one year mark.

i stayed at this job longer that i've every stayed at any other, and they've made me regret it more and more every day. no wonder i used to change jobs every year.

fuckin rejects. work a day in the trenches and you'll see how business really is.


Monday, March 29, 2010

also, this

poetry written while under the influence of drugs? why yes, we have that too! here is a sample:

i've seen you now
i know why you had to die.
i know why

i can see
it must end
to be set free

squeezing through a hole cut for one
everything and everyone
leaving only me

it hurts me to leave you
until i'm gone
but it hurts you to lose me
so i'll stay,
for now.

but now i know why
i have to die.


psychic seduction
emotional vampiromancy
clinging on even through the host's defenestration

why do you need someone else to feel whole?
how can you tell me that i'm lying
when i'm just not telling you anything at all?

the only words i have
would cut you to pieces
and they are only hurtful
because they are true.


when you understand why shamans go through a symbolic death, you understand the struggle of life, and the way they help others through it. try and die sometime, and you will know your life.


several thousand sickles, synonymous with sound

i want to make a new travel show. i want to show the food and scenery as i see it through my eyes, from salisbury maryland to san antonio and back. this may be a result of me drinking an entire bottle of thunderbird and a sixteen ounce beer. whatever the case, things are changing for other friends of mine. some are moving out, some are moving in. life is always in flux, yet mine is in a stasis. i have to work to get out of this. what the hell am i waiting for? fried pork skin and blue crabs. flashing lights and cornfields as far as you can see. whats the story behind that? i'm pretty sure i'm the only one who can really tell you. all i can say now is that i will try. and i will do it utilizing fire.