Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
This was posted on one of my favorite blogs Waiter Rant. While I am not a waiter I do understand the frustrations of my fellow employees (I work at a restaurant) when dealing with foreign diners. Enjoy!
Many waiters, especially in these tense economic times, need every tip they can get. Unfortunately, tourists from foreign countries, unaware of American tipping customs, frequently forget to leave their server a gratuity. Martin, a server from Raleigh, North Carolina, and was recently stiffed by a large group of what he described as “very pleasant Britons.” His outrage at their behavior inspired him to write a letter to Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. I have decided to republish the letter on my blog. (Please note that Martin’s political sentiments do not necessarily reflect my own. If you wish to respond to Martin, he can be reached at milleronic[at]gmail.com.)
The Right Honourable Gordon Brown;
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland;
First Lord of the Treasury; Minister for the Civil Service
10 Downing Street
Westminster, London, England, United Kingdom SW1A 2AA
October 12, 2008
My Dear Sir:
While it may trouble you to receive this correspondence regarding the behaviour of your delightful citizens abroad, specifically in the former colonies; now commonly known as the United States of America, I feel compelled, as a citizen of afore stated former colonies, and thereby a cousin, if you will, of the otherwise pleasant British, to inform you of some rather disturbing actions which your people engage whilst visiting or travelling this side of the Pond.
Personally I find the British charming, polite, urbane, civilised, and otherwise of a generally agreeable lot. Not having had the pleasure of personally attending an Arsenal or Manchester United football match, I leave the reputed hooliganism and accompanying rows to cultural idiosyncrasy, one not evidenced in my experience. Nevertheless, the one behaviour of your citizenry here in America of which I find the most annoying, disturbing, and ultimately maddening is the ignorance of a peculiar American cultural artefact, which manifests itself most obviously in the act of the tip. As a waiter, and one who has served the Queen’s subjects (and your constituency) on more than several occasions, and because of the vagaries of the American economic system, professional waiters in America depend wholly upon the tip, which, as I understand in Great Britain and Europe, is meant to be an extra reward for good service, due to the fact that waiters there receive a salary of liveable degree. In America, waiters receive a pittance salary, usually of an hourly nature, and far below the minimum wage, which is more often than not applied to income tax; subsequently the majority of waiters in America owe taxes at the end of the year. To put it simply: American waiters depend upon tips for their livelihood.
Mr. Brown, I urge you, if only for decency’s sake, to inform your citizens, before travelling abroad to the United States, that while dining out in a restaurant where waiters take orders and serve food, that the tip is not compulsory, but mandatory, the amount of which is meant as a level of satisfaction of service provided. Excellent service is rewarded in excess of 20% of the total cheque amount, for example, a $100 meal with excellent service deserves a $20 (or greater) tip. Average service requires a 15% tip, and poor service can be indicated with a 10% tip. Under no circumstances is it acceptable to “stiff”, or simply not tip, a waiter in America, or leave a tip under 10% (with the exception of absolutely abysmal service).
As the global economy continues to deteriorate, I can understand a certain reticence in the spending of money; however, British people in America have been displaying this ignorance for far longer than the duration of the current fiscal crisis; therefore, I can only surmise the problem stems from a lack of education of the British People, and you Sir, are the political leader of Great Britain, so this grim task must remain your responsibility, nay, your duty, for the sake of the continuing good reputation of the British abroad.
I have prevailed upon the United States Department of Homeland Security to distribute proper American Etiquette Pamphlets, including proper tip technique, an e-z Tip calculator (sponsored by Applebee’s), and common American slang terminology to all foreigners arriving in America, in an effort to improve international waiter-guest relations. As of the date of this letter, I have not heard from the Department of Homeland Security’s Undersecretary to the Assistant Adjunct of Customs Enforcement and Cultural Assimilation’s Office’s Secretary’s Assistant, although the Border Patrol is very interested.
Please Sir, I beg you, do not let this simple lack of education evolve into a further international crisis. Yes, our military are busy at the moment, but after the elections next month, we may have some troops to spare. Do you want to be remembered as the PM who let Britain’s subjects starve while in America, or truly, has the sun set on the British Empire?
The Waiters of America
PS. Please forward this letter your your pals, the Prime Ministers of Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, as we have similar problems with them, and post this letter in a good location in the Hague’s Bulletin Board of International Notices next time you’re there - the European Union has been slow to adopt our policies as well, and is in need of a gentle reminder. Actually, we’ll deal with the Canadians as we see fit.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Summer is truly over!! Well, it's been over for weeks now but I refused to acknowledge the fact. Am not looking forward to winter at all...save for Thanksgiving (day off from work and just hanging out at home) and Christmas (more of the same, except at in-laws' house). The cold weather means more hot drinks, as witnessed by the steaming cup of tea above! And can't wait for the skating rink at Millenium Park to open up! But I loath walking the Mag Mile during the holidays...too many people!! The holidays will test my patience, for sure. Bring it on.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
I have been watching this series the last few weeks on PBS where Chef Mario Batali (who I hated for the longest time when he had that one cooking show with that one sidekick of his..but he wasn't bad in these new series...), Gwyneth Paltrow, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman and Spanish actress Claudia Bassols cruise around Spain exploring it's culinary traditions and history.
In episode 106 "Rockstar Surprise In Catalunya" Batali surprised Paltrow by picking up a hitch hiker who turned out to be...Michael Stipe. But Michael, Michael, Michael, why must you ruin the tapas experience by texting on your phone? You were showed on camera being on the phone and texting a couple of times at the table, buddy. Quite rude of you.
It's quite a good series for Spain, travel and food lovers. I don't know anything about Claudia Bassols work, but she turned out to be a foodie who also spoke six languages. And the mouth-watering food featured, especially freshly-caught seafood served on the same day...I wish it was as easy and inexpensive to get really, really fresh foods here in America, it's quite difficult to eat good, fresh and organic food unless you aren't poor or grow them yourself....
For more info on the series click here
Photos from spainontheroadagain.com
Monday, October 20, 2008
We got to see the fam this weekend. Also Mr. Bex's niece whom we haven't seen in aaaages!!!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Rants by Bex at 10:57 AM
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Walking home from work tonight I saw a girl talking to her friends. Nothing out of the ordinary about that except that she had her cat with her, on a leash!! Sooo cute!
That reminded me of the brief period of time that Mr. Bex and I had our first pet together, a red mackerel tabby named Mr. Peabody. We were trying to leash train him so that we could take him for walks around the block like a little puppy. Only he wasn't having it, I suppose he deemed it undignified for a cat to be led around on a leash like, ahem, a dog.
For those of you wanting to leash train your cat, here are a few helpful tips:
1. Buy a soft buckle collar or harness made specifically for felines. Buy a separate lightweight leash approximately 6' long, with a loop handle. Placing the loop over your wrist will help to prevent the dropping of the leash.
2. Trim your cat's toenails.
3. Begin training before your cat's regular meal time, when they're most receptive. If you feed your cat "free choice", take up its food for several hours prior to the training session, so she is hungry.
4. Allow the cat to smell the collar/harness.
5. Start in one safe, small room, with delicious tasty treats your cat loves. Put the collar or harness on the cat. (A small area will prevent a panicking cat from becoming lost in the house wearing its collar or harness for the first time.) The cat will probably do one of two things: sit very still, crouching low to the floor, or squirm in a frantic panic. Immediately give your cat his regular meal. Stay calm and don't interfere unless the cat seems like it will hurt itself. Repeat this several times a day so that it associates the sensation of the collar/harness with good things.
6. Allow the cat to walk (and lounge) freely in the harness for a time when you can supervise the cat, then take it off.
7. Repeat this process for however long it takes for your cat to feel comfortable.
8. Set a path through your home to walk after your cat gets used to the harness. This is essential if your cat has never been outside and you want to train it to walk with you before exposing it to the outdoors.
9. Clip on the leash. If you are using a harness, this is also a good time to watch and make sure the cat can't squeeze out of its harness -- they can be incredible contortionists. A well fitted collar is safer than a harness, as a cat cannot back out of a collar.
10. Let you cat walk around your home, following your cat as you hold the leash. Frequently reward your cat with delicious treats.
11. If you plan to walk your cat off your property, choose a route on which to walk the cat outside, and walk it solo for the first few times to see if it's also a route used by dog walkers. Being confronted with a dog may cause your cat to panic and escape, so it's important to try to prevent this. You can also prepare a cat carrier to bring on your walks and so that you can secure the cat in it if you see a dog coming your way. A pillow case also makes a great emergency cat carrier. Carry human breath spray with you. Dogs and other cats hate this safe but strong smelling spray.
12. Leave the front door open and start making your walks gradually further in that direction. Guide your cat, (don't pull), to the door.
13. Take your cat outside for 5 minute increments, 3-5 times a day, gradually increasing the amount of time outside. Call the cat as you walk it and be consistent in where you walk the cat each time. Eventually the cat will become familiar with the process, but you must be patient.
14. Give the cat treats during your walk and as soon as you get home, and eventually your cat will love going for a walk.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Another video from Moloko "Familiar Feeling"..I love the club scene at the end..it's supposedly a take on the Northern Soul scene popular in England. Love the song!
Sunday, October 12, 2008
It's very lively along the route from Ashland to Halsted, people were cheering the runners and urging them on, my neighbors across the street came out with bowls of sliced oranges and ice for the runners and the neighborhood people volunteered at the water and sponge stations. As well as getting out their water hoses and spraying water at the runners. It's heartening to see the neighborhood coming together to support the marathon! Quite a few runners were in costume, I saw Wonder Woman running by around the 5 hour 30 minute mark, and earlier on I saw Napoleon, Batman and Robin! And a guy in an inflatable horse costume.
blocked by those people's giant heads.
Endless stream of runners.
Monday, October 6, 2008
Thursday, October 2, 2008
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
I love this photo of piksi, she's got such a great sense of style....
Paolo Maldini...your boyfriend since high school =)