Wednesday, August 31, 2005

The Server Plays Manager

-Epilogue-

This story takes place in The Bar. It happened less than a month ago.

Recently, two managers left The Bar. One got canned for nailing a server after close, while the other moved to a location nearer his home. To pick up the slack, the GM asked my to run some "key shifts" until the new managers arrive. Basically, this means that my responsibility will be to take care of the servers, the customers, and the appearance of the front of the house. No biggie.

-A Description of Zo-

Zo is somewhere between 27 and 35. He is short (about 5'4''), and only slightly overweight. His hair is short and curly. It also seems as though his face is too small for his head. In several years, when osteoporosis sets in, he'll look like the guy on the Keystone light commercials. Bitter-Beer Face.

Zo is a low talker. For those of you who don't watch Seinfeld, a low talker is one who speaks so softly that it is difficult to understand what they are saying. He mumbles. Worse, he talks really fast.

Zo is one of the new managers. He's had the roughest start I've ever seen at The Bar. All the servers hate him, but with good reason- he treats them like crap. Case in point: We're doing a new promotion for our wings. Zo stopped one of our veteran servers to ask where her Wing Pin was attached to her uniform. The server had a tray full of drinks at the time. She almost dropped them while pointing out that the Wing Pin was indeed attached to her apron. Zo's remark as she's walking away, "Good, cause else you'd be in trouble!" In a place where it is difficult enough for servers to show up to work, he decided to pick on one of his best veterans for a pin. Picking battles is not Zo's strong suit.

-The Server Plays Manager-

I hop out of my Jeep dressed in manager garb. In other circles, this is referred to as 'business casual.' I'm excited for the upcoming day. While I'm an outstanding server, I feel that managing people is my best attribute.

It's 11 am, and we've just opened for business. The Bar does a decent lunch business. Nothing like The Restaurant, but decent nonetheless.

I walk into the back to talk to the GM. He's going through his paperwork.

"What's up GM?"

"Hey, Server, you ready for this?" He puts his paperwork to the side and pulls out a manager card. The manager card is the key to the city. I can adjust checks, comp food, 86 items, the works. Only problem is, I have no idea how it works.

"Can you show me how to wield this thing?" Normally, I don't use words like "wield" in everyday conversation. Somehow, it feels right today.

"Sure thing." He hops out of his chair and leads me to a computer screen.

He swipes the card and gives me a two minute crash course. When he's finished, I'm still completely unsure as to what I'm doing.

"Got it?" He's ready to go back to the books.

"Got it." I'll figure it out as I go.

The lunch rush goes off without a hitch. No customer complaints. The only issue I have is the staff's teamwork, which is non-existant. Oh well. Can't fix it today. One thing at a time.

The servers cash out. They all leave except for the late check. She handles the entire bar until the 4 o'clock servers arrive in a few hours.

I use the time to eat, make up the night floor chart, and clean up the place. So far so good.

The first problem arises at 4:05. One of the PM cooks hasn't showed.

Cooks are the backbone for the restaurant. Without a solid kitchen, any restaurant will fall apart in a hurry. This is a problem that needs to be fixed in a hurry.

"GM, one of the cooks didn't show." The GM is packing his briefcase. He's been here since 5 am doing inventory. He's ready to go home.

"Let Zo take care of it." He snaps his briefcase shut and walks out the door. Way to take care of business. I guess the buck doesn't stop here.

Zo walks up. It's his first shift. He's nervous and taking it out on the servers.

"Where's your Wing Pin?" he yells as each server walks in for their shift. I'm already sick of that question. Obviously they are too. One of the servers pulls me aside.

"Dude, I can't take that guy any more. He's such an asshole. I'm going to quit." I agree completely, but since I'm wearing manager garb and I have The Card...

"He's new. It's going to take him a while to get used to things. You know how new managers are. They want to change the world on their first shift. It'll be OK." I can see that she's still pissed. I also know that she's well-liked in the restaurant. If she walks out, I get the distinct feeling that others will be right behind.

"Well, just don't walk out. I'll see if I can't talk to GM and get things squared away."

This seems to placate the server. Whew. Bomb diffused. I've seen a mass staff walkout before. It ain't pretty. That's not how I want my first shift to run.

Six o'clock rolls around. For some reason, we're busy as hell. We're staffed for a Monday night. The place is filling up like a Friday night. SHIT.

I head back to the kitchen. All hell breaks loose.

The ticket machine that prints each server's order is spitting out chits like a Gatlin gun. There is a pile an inch thick behind the printer. The cooks already have a full kitchen. There is no place on the grill for more burgers, no free basket in the fryer. The cooks are staring at the machine, mouths agape.

I spring into action. I track down Zo, who's chasing servers around with the Wing Card, which is supposed to go hand-in-hand with the Wing Pin. For every order of 10 Wings, a customer gets a Wing Punch on their Wing Card, which could earn them a trip anywhere in the continental U.S. Wing-derful.

"Zo, the kitchen is in bad shape. Can you help them out?" We need a kitchen manager directing traffic. Since no one can understand what Zo is saying, I figure it's best if I stay up front and deal with the customers.

"Make sure they're doing their Wing Punches!" He ambles, hobbit-like, back towards the kitchen. I watch him go, shaking my head.

No time to dwell on that now. Servers are lining up with myriad problems.

"Can you take off this guy's steak? It was cooked too well-done."

"Can you check and see if the guys at table 110 are ok for another round?"

"Can you buy this drink for my friend?"

"Can you put this tab onto this one? I messed up and..."

Time flies by. Not cause I'm having fun, but because the place is busy as hell. People are standing in the aisles because there is no place to sit.

Soon I'm sick of my own name. Each time I hear it, there is five minutes of computer work ahead of me. I soon realize that I should have spent more time learning how to use The Card. Oh well.

Finally, I get some time away from the computer. I use it to mark down the 4-drink calls. Servers write down a description of the customer, what they've had to drink, and how they're acting. This prevents us from paying a huge lawsuit if some drunken yuppie has a few too many and wraps his Beamer around a telephone pole.

As I'm filling out the chart, I look up. Bedlam. It's a rowdy crowd. Guests are standing on chairs, shouting to each other across the bar. I see two college-age guys having a chugging contest with $6/pint beer. Then my eyes settle on a middle-aged couple eating dinner. My heart goes out to them. Here they are, trying to enjoy a decent meal and a nice glass of wine while all around them, hell is breaking loose.

I turn to the host.

"Turn down the music." He looks at me like I'm nuts. But he's a friend of mine. He does what I tell him.

I walk across the floor, pulling guests down from chairs as I go. I finally reach the older couple.

"Hi folks, how is everything tonight?"

They look up at me. "It's a little wild in here for us."

"Yes, things are a little crazy tonight. I promise that it's not normally like this. Tell you what... I've got some coupons here for a free meal. I'd love it if you would come back and visit us again on a night when things are a bit less... hectic." They smile and thank me.

Feeling pleased with myself, I am walking back to my 4-drink sheet when a server stops me.

"Hey, there's blood in one of the stalls in the men's bathroom." She's gone almost as quick as she came.

This is just what I need. I grab the spray bottle of bleach and some paper towels. Hopefully this will be quick.

I open the door to the men's room. Immediately, I realize that this is going to require a bit more effort than I originally thought. The sharp, coppery smell of blood assaults my olfactory sense. I can't see it yet, but I sure can smell it.

I open the first stall door. Clean. Same with the second. That leaves the handicapped stall. Opening the door, I choke back the bile that rises in my throat.

It looks like someone had a knife fight in the stall. Blood is everywhere. The toilet seat, the floor, the walls are all covered in quickly drying blood.

Closing off the restroom, I am grabbing cleaning supplies when Zo comes up to me.

"mumble...mumble...Wing Punches?"

"What? No, I haven't done any Wing Punches. " I can't believe he's asking me about this shit now. The servers are running around like chickens with their heads cut off, and I'm about to clean up a bio hazard. Wing Punches are the last thing on my mind.

"Well, you should be doing those. Hey, we're almost out of napkins. I know you were supposed to be off an hour ago, but could you run to the other location and grab a pack for us?" I looked at my watch. 11:00. I was scheduled to get off at 10. Oh well.

"I'd be happy to," I say, grabbing my keys. "Oh, by the way, there's some blood in the bathroom. Would you mind taking care of that while I'm gone?"

As I'm heading down the highway toward the nearest sister Bar, I reflect on the night. I remained calm, made at least one customer feel special, kept a server from quitting, and saddled a bastard manager with a horrible job. All in all, not a bad first shift. I wonder how many Wing Punches Zo has done....

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

The Least Popular Server

-Prologue-

It's not fair to call her the Least Popular Server (LPS from now on). The managers loved her. I don't know why. She was an awful person.

-A Description of the LPS-

The LPS stands 5'5'' and weighs nearly 300 lbs.

She always wears shorts to work despite the fact that her legs are pasty white. She also wears knee braces on both knees. The cloth kind. They're sweat-stained and smelly. Kind of a mixture of B.O. and week-old Chinese food.

She has long red hair. It's unruly and always tied back in a ponytail.

Her voice is raspy and whiny. She is both bossy and abrupt when she speaks. This is not a good combo. Hearing her speak is similar to listening to nails grate across a chalkboard. Yech!

-The Least Popular Server-

It's Tuesday night in September, our slow month. The Restaurant is slow, yet steady. The atmosphere is subdued.

I hate working nights like this. You have to scramble to make money. Getting sat a party is the only way to cover your gas money.

The only redeeming factor about this shift is that I'm working with my girlfriend. (We've only just started dating. Everything is still new, exciting, and mysterious.) She's trying to make the best of the shift. She tied a balloon to my apron as I was walking to my first table. I took their burger order with a helium-inflated balloon hovering about a foot behind my head.

The LPS is standing against the wall. I walk by, two thoughts flashing through my mind. Is she trying to hold the wall up? Followed by, Shouldn't she be doing something?

Reading my mind, she says, "I have no tables. This place sucks." She walks away. I don't know where she's going, and I don't care. I just hope she stays there for a while. Honestly, if you don't like your job, find work elsewhere! Serving jobs are a dime a dozen. It's not rocket science, and almost any restaurant will take on a new server if they have any experience.

My girlfriend walks over.

"Hey, you got sat. Go make some money so you can take me someplace nice." I look up in alarm. I'm not worried that I'm going to be late. I'm worried that I'm dating a gold digger. I see her face break into a huge smile and I realize that she's yanking my chain. Whew.

I walk to my table. Friendly folks. As I head back to the side station, I notice a two-top sitting in the LPS's section. Normally, I'd search high and low for a server to let them know they have a customer. With her, I don't really care. Hopefully they'll complain, get their meal comped, and the LPS will be sacked.

By the time I reach the soda fountain, I realize that I'm being a Bad Server. I turn around, about to search for the LPS. The girlfriend is trying to tie another balloon to my apron. Busted.

"Oh, hi," she gives me a big smile. She lowers the balloon.

"Hey, can you let the LPS know that she's been sat?"

"I'll look for her." She marches off, head on a swivel.

I deliver the drinks to my table and take their order. Lots of modifications. Oh well. I have plenty of time.

After taking their order, I notice the couple is still sitting, unattended. It's way past the shopper-acceptable 2-minute greet time. They're looking around, slightly miffed.

I spot my girlfriend. She's walking a lot faster than she was before. give her an inquisitive look. She shrugs. I nod at the table. She nods at me. I love server sign language.

As I disappear behind the side station wall, I hear my girlfriend greet the table.

"Hi folks. I'm so sorry that it took so long to greet you. This isn't the way things work here at The Restaurant. If it'd be alright, I'd love to buy you folks an appetizer." Damn, she's good.

I enter the food order for my lone table and look around. The LPS is nowhere to be found. Oh well. You snooze, you lose.

My girlfriend comes back into the side station.

"How are they?" I ask.

"Fine. I smoothed things over. If I do a good job, I may pull a sympathy tip, but I'm not betting on it. She jumps on the computer and enters their appetizer. She heads off towards the kitchen.

I start rearranging the cabinets, trying to keep busy.

"What are you doing?! They're mine!" Fingers on a chalkboard, yech!

I peek around the corner. It's worse than I thought. My girl looks as though she's in the middle of taking the couple's order. The LPS is standing uncomfortably close to her, looking murderous.

"I'm sorry. I couldn't find you, and these nice folks had been waiting a while. Would you like to take them?" All this in front of customers. Great.

"No! I don't want them. I'll just take your next table." She stomps away, feet thundering like an elephant. I'm reminded of a 2-year old throwing a fit.

I see my girlfriend trying to smooth things over with the customers. Actually, the LPS's outburst probably helped her tip percentage. At least they know that it wasn't her fault they were greeted late.

I follow my girl as she heads to the back. Even from behind, I can see the tension and anger consume her. She's practically shaking as she starts pounding away at the touch-screen computer.

"That effing bitch! I save her ass and she acts like this?!" She hisses.

I know better than to get in between to angry women. I'll let them work it out. I peek around the corner.

"You're getting sat with a party! Go make some money." This puts a smile on her face. She grabs a stack of bev naps and heads out the door.

She stops in the doorway. The bev naps fall to the floor. I run behind to see what's wrong, although I have a pretty good idea already.

Sure enough, the LPS is setting down bev naps as the party is sitting down.

Now, I'm going to break aside here for a moment to explain an Unwritten Rule of Serving.

If a server takes a table in another server's section (usually because the server is running late and The Restaurant is getting busy or the hostess mistakenly seats someone in a non-present server's section), it is common courtesy to allow them to have a table in your section.

However, this rule does not apply when a server takes a table in another's section in an attempt to do what's right by the customer. Also, this table swap does not include party tables. Taking another server's party table is like kicking them in the groin, opening their wallet, and stealing a wad of cash while they lie writhing on the floor. Not cool.

Back to the story...

My girlfriend is seething. The LPS looks directly at my girlfriend as she begins her spiel.

"Hi folks, my name is _______, and I'll be your server tonight." She's smiling evilly.

My girlfriend walks to the back. She's upset.

"I can't believe this. That was my only chance to make money!" She puts her head in her hands and sighs. Time for damage control.

"Hey, don't let her get you down. If she sees you like this, she'll know she got to you. Pick your head up," and win one for the Gipper! I should have been a motivational speaker.

"You're right." She shakes her head. Suddenly, her face transforms. The forlon look is gone, replaced by a combination of anger and mischief. Uh oh. I think I just tossed gasoline on smoldering ashes. Woops.

She runs to the back. A few minutes later, the manager on duty comes strolling up, stopping in front of the computer.

"What kind do you want?"

"Just chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry. I know the oreo shakes hurt your food cost." My girlfriend's voice is sugary. Too sugary. Toothache sugary.

The manager types in an order. I look over his shoulder. Ten shakes; vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. Enough for the whole staff, including the cooks. Nice guy. Milkshakes are like crack for our servers. A free milkshake is the server's version of a bonus. It's too bad we can't have the oreo shakes. They're the consesus staff favorite.

I pull my girlfriend aside. "What are you up to?"

"You'll see. If something happens to her, it will be her own fault." I'm scared of my girlfriend right now.

She walks up to the bar and grabs the shakes. Instead of heading to the side station, she heads back to the expo line. I have to get back to my table, so I can't follow her.

When I get back, my girlfriend is back up at the bar. I'm confused, but I'll wait and see how it all pans out.

When she comes back, she has a tray full of milkshakes. I notice there is an extra shake. An Oreo! The bartender must have accidentally made an extra one!

The servers are swarming like a pack of starving wolves. I'm wondering how we're going to decide who gets it when the LPS waddles around the corner, stinking like old Mongolian beef.

"Milkshakes! Are these for us? I get the Oreo!" She snatches it from the tray with her sausage-like fingers. She licks some of the whipped cream off the top. "Haha! Mine!" She turns up her nose and walks away.

The other servers watch her leave. They're pissed. My girlfriend is laughing.

Everyone turns to look at her. What was so funny? She tries to compose herself to explain. She's still trying to catch her breath as she starts talking.

"Little (gasp) known fact. (gasp) Parmesan Peppercorn salad dressing (gasp) looks just like an oreo milkshake." The servers are all smiling. They all scatter, taking up strategic positions so they can watch the LPS, unnoticed, when she gets back.

So that's what she was doing! She got the shakes, went to the back and filled one with dressing, then went back to the bar and topped it with the whipped cream! Counting on the LPS's greed and selfishness was a brilliant stroke of poetic justice.

I'm waiting, pretending to refill the pickles on the expo line, when my girlfriend runs around the corner. She's smiling so big, I think her head's going to break open like that flip-top head in the Reach Toothbrush commercial.

"Did I miss it?" I thought I kept the 'shake' in view the entire time.

"No! Look!" She thrusts a credit card slip at me. It's the couple that she picked up from the LPS. Their bill was $20 after the comp. In the TIP line is written $50. At the bottom, written on the credit card slip, thanks for the great service. We're sorry that the other server stole your table. Hope this helps.

Just then, the LPS storms around the corner. She looks pissed. She looks at my girlfriend.

"Your stupid party only left me $20. On a $200 bill! Oh well, it's more than you'll make tonight." She reaches up and plucks her 'shake' from the shelf.

She licks her lips hungrily, and slowly wraps her lips around the straw....

What happened next is not fit to write, but rest assured that the night ended as it should. Poetic Justice is a beautiful thing!

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Email

Hi all. Just a quick note to let everyone know that you can email me now. My address is server_stories@yahoo.com. I am going to be spending some time housesitting for my parents while they are out of town. This translates as... I'll have plenty of free time to write some posts! Look forward to a busy week on the blog.

The Server

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

The Server Goes to the Loony Bin

-Preface-

Sorry it's been so long, everyone. I hope this makes up for the time lapse. This story has its funny moments, but its tone is more somber and serious than the usual posts.

I am giving you all a glimpse into my personal life on this one. There are a couple of things you should know before we get started...

1) I suffer from depression. I take meds, but every now and again I need to get the prescription adjusted. Keeps me level.

2) While I was at school, I used to date a Canadian. I don't talk to her any more. You'll soon see why.

3) My family is really close. I'm serious. We're like the Cleavers and the Cosbys.

-The Server Goes to the Loony Bin-

It's a beautiful day at The Restaurant. The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and the waitresses are wearing short shorts. I'm walking in, swinging my apron around like a kid going around-the-world with a yo-yo. Life is good.

The only thing weighing heavy on my mind is a conversation I had the night before with The Canadian. It didn't go well. In fact, it ended with me yelling, "You make me want to shoot myself!" before hanging up. Mature, I know. But I'm young and emotional, which isn't a good combo.

As soon as I walk in, Valerie calls me into the office.

"Call your Dad. You no work today. I get your shift covered." I blink and rub my eyes. Valerie is going to give me a day off? Something must be really wrong.

My mind whirs. Is my Dad hurt? My Mom? My little Sister? What the hell is going on?

I grab the office phone and dial my house. My Dad picks up on the first ring.

"Dad, what's going on? Is everyone ok?" I brace myself, preparing for the worst.

"Everyone's fine, buddy. Can you meet me at the gym?" This is weird... my Dad doesn't take days off, and all of a sudden he feels like he needs to miss work and start working out?

"That's fine. Can you tell me what's going on?"

"I'd rather talk over a game of HORSE, ok?" We used to do this when I was little. Everytime there was big news, we'd talk about it over a game of HORSE. This must be important...

This day just went from beautiful, to odd, to ominous.

I drive over to the gym and start warming up. A short while later, my Dad shows up.

We go at it for two games. He doesn't take it easy on me any more. We split the games. I kill him with trick shots and threes from the corner. He makes me look silly with his left-handed reverse layups and free throws. Funny how old-school fundamentals and new-school flash even out.

My curiosity grows throughout our games. The old man hasn't said a word, and he seems to be in good spirits. Normally, I can get a pretty good read on people. In this case, even though it's my father, I'm clueless. Finally, he's ready to talk.

"Hey, buddy, got a call from The Canadian this morning. She's a bit worried about you."

What?! This whole thing is about a stupid fight I had with the Canadian? And what the hell is she doing calling my parents? I feel like I'm in a fifth grade feud... 'I'm telling on you!'

"OK...." I can't think of anything else to say.

"I think it's time we go back to the doc to adjust your meds." Ah, I see. No big deal. It's probably time for an adjustment. A quick visit to the doc and I'll be good to go.

"What time is the appointment?"

"Well, we should just make it if we leave now."

"Alright, let's go."

We hop into his car and head off towards the doctors office. I didn't sleep well after the fight with The Canadian. I'm tired. Watching the trees shoot by the car, I start to nod off.

When I come to, we've stopped. There's just one problem. We're at the hospital, not the doctor's office.

"Dad, what's going on?"

"I got a reference for a new doctor. He works here. The family doc says he's like a chemist with anti-deppressants." Sounds good to me.

We walk in past the front desk. We amble through the corridors until we reach a set of double doors. A placard reading "Mental Health Ward" hangs over them. Whoever did the sign has a macabre sense of humor. The words have been scrawled in an olde English script, conjuring images of the old asylums where the inmates were tortured. If they weren't insane when they arrived, undoubtably they were batty when they left.

After passing through these doors, my Dad turns to me.

"Son, I've already talked to your doctor. He thinks you should stay here overnight, just to clear your mind." Ah Ha! So this is why he was acting so oddly.

"Why? I don't feel that bad." I don't mind changing my meds, but this place is kind of creepy. Buncha folks walking around in paper pajamas, looking really unhappy.

"Well, the Canadian told your mom and I that you were thinking about suicide. That makes us kind of nervous."

"Whoa... hold on there. That was taken completely out of context! I'm fine, really!" I carry on like this for about half an hour. I can see the steely resolve in my father's eyes. I'm staying here whether I like it or not. Shit. This puts a damper on my afternoon plans.

"Fine. What do I have to do?" I turn to the orderly. He makes me fill out a form. He takes my belt (in case I try to hang myself), my shoelaces (in case I try to use them to saw my wrists), and my dignity. Even though I'm 90% clothed, I feel as naked as I've ever felt.

My Dad hugs me before he leaves. For the only time in my life that I can remember, I don't hug him back. I'm pissed.

I sit on a bench for a while, watching the other "guests" in the ward. There is a woman in her mid-30's. She's got a visitor, but she isn't talking to him. She's completely listless, holding her head in her hands.

Another woman, in her early-80's, is walking towards the orderly stand, across the hall from where I'm sitting.

"Where is my red pill?" Her voice reminds me of sandpaper scraping across gravel.

"Delores, you don't get a red pill tonight." The orderly is friendly.

"I need my red pill, you bastard." Delores is getting angry.

"Now Delores, don't be like that. The doc says you don't get one tonight." He remains calm and friendly.

"Give me my red pill you stupid motherfucker." I'm trying not to laugh. This shit is better than TV.

"Delores, if you don't calm down, we're going to have to put you in the restraints."

"Fuck you!" Delores turns to go, then stops. She turns back to the orderly, murder in her eyes. I outweigh Delores by about 90 lbs., but that look makes me uncomfortable.

I'm looking for something blunt and heavy when I hear something that sounds like a shotgun.

I dive behind the bench.

Now the orderly is cracking up. I sneak a look.

Delores has just shit herself. There's a brown stain on her otherwise pearly-white night gown. Oh... my... God.... No way I just saw that!

The orderly takes Delores to the bathroom to clean up. While he's gone, I notice a phone on his desk. I know he'll be busy with her for a while, so I decide to take advantage.

I use a calling card to call the Canadian.

"What the hell were you thinking?" Beats 'hello' anyday.

"What do you mean? Calling your parents?"

"Yes, calling my parents. Do you know where I am? I'm in the fucking loony bin!"

"I didn't mean for that to happen!" She sounds sorry, but sorry doesn't get me out of the loony bin, does it?

"I can't believe this... I don't know if I can forgive you for this one. I better go, the orderly is done cleaning up the old lady that shit herself." I hang up and let her stew on that one.

Over the next couple hours, I'm privy to some of the everyday occurrences of the mental health ward. A fight nearly breaks out when someone switches the channel from PAX to Lifetime. One older gentleman mutters to himself in the corner. I'm introduced to my roommate, who has two fresh bandages on his wrist from his most recent suicide attempt.

I'm going through this whole thing in a haze, alternately cursing my parents and the Canadian. Ultimately, I realize that I'm more pissed at the Canadian. My parents were just looking out for their son. She was looking to hurt me after our fight.

That evening, everyone is told to retire to their rooms. It's 8:00. The orderly gives me a pill to help me sleep.

"Doctor's orders," he says with a wink. He's a good guy. I take the pill and slip into the void of sleep.

***

"GET THE FUCK OFF ME YOU STUPID MOTHER FUCKERS!!!! I'LL KILL YOU!! GET OFF ME!!!"

I shoot out of bed, disoriented. Where the hell am I? Oh yeah, the booby hatch.

Two orderlies are dragging my roommate out of his bed. He's screaming bloody murder.

A third man stands in the corner. He's tapping his clipboard with a pen. He looks bored.

"What are they doing to him?"

"He has ECT this morning." For those of you not in the know, ECT stands for "electro-convulsive therapy", the newer, happier-sounding name of electric shock therapy. The same electric shock therapy that we all remember from "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest." Good times.

I get to call my parents. They tell me that the doctor is supposed to meet with me by 10, so I should be out by noon. Thank God.

The morning passes uneventfully. The only event of interest is "exercise hour". This is actually a half hour in which the "guests" are allowed to walk around a small courtyard.

There is a ping pong table. I ask one of the guests to play with me. It's the same lady that had a guest the day before. I was looking forward to a nice, quiet game.

Turns out the lady is bipolar. Last night, she was down. Today, she's manic. She's talking a mile a minute. I know her life's story by the end of the game.

The doctor doesn't show up until 6 pm that evening. My parents are here. They're ticked. They wanted me to be able to relax for an evening. Instead, they worry that I've been traumatized. Can't say that I blame them. Honestly, had Delores not started the events on such and uplifting note, I would have been miserable.

The doctor prescribes me some new meds. Sweet.

I get my shoelaces and belt back, and we're on our way.

In the car ride home, I reflect back on my stay at the loony bin. I'm not mad at my parents for putting me there. They always want what's best for me. However, I feel bad for those who make a permanent home there. That's no way to live.

As for the Canadian... I haven't forgiven her. Honestly, I don't even know how she feels about it. I haven't spoken to her since. I don't know if I'm being shallow about this whole thing. I mean, after all... I did get a great story out of the ordeal.