Sunday, July 25, 2010

When Paradise Isn't

For the most part, living on St. Thomas IS paradise. To steal a quote from a friend (Krisinta Ciolino- she moved to Aspen at the same time we moved here): My life is your vacation. I love that! So what, you ask, could make living here not so poetic? Well, it's been a rough few weeks on the rock.

Two weeks ago tomorrow, on July 12th, a teenage tourist was caught in gang crossfire and killed. Here is a link to an article . To sum it up, she was in the wrong place at the wrong time. The shootout was in retaliation for a murder that was committed in broad daylight at the mall. That murder was a retaliation for another murder. It's a vicious cycle. The crime rate on STT and gang violence is out of control. We've had 47 murders to date. While that doesn't seem high, based on our population it would be the equivalent of 4500 people being murdered thus far in 2010 in Chicago. Before the murders at the mall, crime had stayed pretty much out of my mind with the exception of what I read in the police blotter. I know where not to go and what to stay away from. I've generally felt safe. Do I still feel safe here? Yes. Why does this not get cleaned up? Because I moved to the one location more corrupt than Illinois! Who would have thought that was possible??
This past week we had more than 20 inches of rain. That's not a typo: 2-0. I've never, ever seen anything like it! We had 7 alone on Tuesday. It's affected both Tim and I's jobs. Tuesday the course was closed- you can see why below. That river on the left? That's actually the 12th fairway! The pond in the front? The pathway between 12 & 16 (not to be confused with the pond that is ACTUALLY on 16 as a water hazard). Surprisingly, the course was open Wednesday.... until about 3 o'clock when the next wave of rain came :(

Me? Let's see, Monday night our Wine Tasting was rained out. Tuesday, we had to close early which sucked because there was a late ship in. Wednesday we had to close before our sunset party even started because (a) the band wouldn't be able to play without being electrocuted and (b) it was pouring AGAIN. Tuesday, our office flooded. This is Julie trying hard to shop-vac the water out. Too bad it was coming in twice as fast as we could suck up. Finally we just moved anything that might get water damage to a higher shelf and went home :(

The first pic below was a storm coming our way shortly before I was supposed to leave for work on Tuesday. Lucky me! The next picture is the street when I went in at 1 PM- a main road through Havensight. When I left work the road was completely closed and impassable. The third picture, well- have you ever heard the saying 'shit runs downhill'? Look closely at the harbor and it should bring that saying to life. It's not supposed to be that color. Whenever it rains torrentially here, everything from the top of the mountain to the bottom is washed out to sea. Unless you are up to date on Hepititis and Tetnus shots it's recommended to stay out of the water for a few days!
Wednesday night we, both having been sent home from work, were sitting on the couch watching TV when, all of the sudden, the house moved. As in for 5 seconds for so the ground below us was rumbling. It was like a big truck had driven down the road and shook our house except we don't live on a road that would accommodate a big truck! We heard our neighbors ask each other if they felt that and kind of looked at each other. About 10 minutes later someone posted on FB that it was an earthquake. What??! Sure enough- 4.5 at 8:04PM on July 21st we had an earthquake!
What's funny about all of these things is that, through it all, none of them made big news in the US. The tourist shooting made the internet but I never saw it on TV. I only had one friend email me about it. It wasn't until the rain was past us that it picked up enough wind speed to be named Tropical Storm Bonnie. THEN people were all over it. There was no damage in the earthquake so no reason for a news report- it wasn't even in our local paper online! So it makes me chuckle that 45 minutes after the earthquake struck Haiti my mom was all over the phone making sure we were okay. After educating her on where we are in relation to Haiti we hung up. Point is, my mom is very vigilant about calling to make sure we are okay yet three major happenings and she hears NOTHING on it. Since she heard nothing on any of these things, I figure no one else has!
Oh, and if all those things aren't enough to lead me to believe that the world is ending I had the kiss of death Thursday: our repairman was 15 minutes early. This. Never. Happens.
So, see? It's not all fun and games down here. It's just that my FB posts will never show otherwise :)

Friday, July 23, 2010

A Few Late Additions..

It's rare for me to re-open a post but, as I worked this week, I thought of a few more rules of restaurant/bar etiquette that need to be shared:

* Have You Made Up Your Mind or Not?: Don't flag me down as I'm running with food in my hands as if you have an urgent need to have me come over, ask if you're ready and then sit there while you ponder. Same thing goes for the bar- don't approach it if you don't know what you're ordering (slight forgiveness if you have a question). There are likely people behind you (and one in front of you- me!) that will not appreciate your hemming and hawing. Time is money people!

* Que Pasa?: Please don't speak to each other in a foreign language while I'm standing in front of you taking your order when you've just spoken to me in perfect English. It's just rude and makes me uncomfortable. Kind of like when I'm getting my nails done and the technicians are all speaking to each other in their language- are they talking about me??

*Watch Where You Stand: If the large number of servers getting drinks doesn't tip you off to the fact you are likely at the server bar then does the BIG SIGN ABOVE IT???

That is all :)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Just a Little Lesson!

Trust me, I'm truly enjoying being out of Corporate America. Truly. However, there are things I would like to let people know about the restaurant/bar industry that maybe they've forgotten (because let's be honest- 90% of us have spent at least SOME time in it)- namely a little etiquette. To be fair- I spend most of my time behind the bar vs. waiting tables but I feel that I give 100% fairness to both. I'm also not gonna lie, I've been guilty myself. So here goes, in no particular order:

* Order Where You Stay: Unless you plan on sitting at the bar don't you DARE order a drink at the bar and then sit at one of my tables. Really? You couldn't wait to the 15 seconds it will take me to walk across the room to get your order? You do this then don't expect service out of me. I make my living on tips. If you order from someone else and give them that tip, what do I owe you? Nothing. Should you be ordering more drinks and dinner this will be forgiven. Oh- but don't play the 'I didn't know you had table service' game. I don't buy it.

* Take The Menu: Please don't let me offer you a menu, you say 'no thanks' just to have you ask me what I have to eat and/or drink. What?!?

* I'm Not an Animal: Don't clap, whistle or wave at me. I see you. I know you need something. I'm getting there. This goes quadruple for if you are doing these actions while I'm AT another table.

* I'M Your Waitress: This means ME. I understand if I'm slammed and you see someone else I work with walk by and you may grab them. Okay. However, if I was JUST at your table and you 'needed' NOTHING, now is not the time to grab the first person you see to get something. Please also don't look confused when you ask me for your check and your waitress is 5'10'' and blonde and I tell you I will let your server know- clearly we are not the same person.

* Push In Your Chairs!: You wouldn't get up from your dining room table and walk away without pushing in your chairs so why do you think it's okay to do so in a restaurant? Your moms would be so disappointed!

* It's Not An Insult: Ah- the autograt. Without it, Tim & I would be destitute. Without it, some days it might not be worth going to work for me (Costa ships, hello?!). With it, I'm a happy camper. It's impossible to 'read' a table. I've tried. I've tried the experiment of 'maybe they'll be super duper tippers' and failed (family of 8 from St. Louis with the Mizzou visor? Even though you aren't reading this, I'm looking at you! Really? $5 on $41 after I spent 20 minutes talking Tigers?!?) So please, please, please don't be offended. If you normally tip 20% and you get gratted at 15%, add it in! This is our livliehood, not a game and it's NOTHING personal. When you ask me if tip is included and I reply, 'Yes- but just 15%' that's a hint! Who really only tips 15% these days anyways? (Dad- should I be looking at you? Please tell me no!)

* Either You're Ready or You're Not: Do people not remember hide-and-seek? Ready or not, here I come? Then the seeker came to find the hiders? If you SWEAR you are ready to order then hem and haw over the menu I may kick you.

* When You Assume: If you mean a virgin pina colada, then say it. You're at a bar- I serve drinks with alcohol. If you mean sauce on the side, then say it. Just because YOU always get your wings with their sauce on the side doesn't mean I know that. It's not on the menu that way! Good thing to remember? If you assume- you make an ASS out of U and ME.

* I'm Not in it for the Exercise: Yes, waiting tables/bartending is a great way to keep moving. It doesn't mean for you to order things one by one by one.

I've always had the stance, since my first industry job, that everyone should have to wait tables for a day. Doing it 15 years after I first did has only reinforced my stance. I'm super lucky to work with an amazing group of people. We watch out for each other, can complain to each other and can laugh about all the things that happen to us. I welcome all the comments I know this will draw out of other industry folk. Well, the few I have that read this blog!!