Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Penguin

-Preface-

The Penguin is one of the strangest people I have ever met. She's a compulsive liar with poor hygiene. She's also grossly overweight and short. From the back, she looks exactly like Danny Devito in Batman Returns. This is how she earned her nickname.

Despite professing to always be on a diet, her car always seems to be littered with fast food wrappers. I got a ride home from her one day. The car smells like a combination of fast food burgers and kitty litter. Yuck.

This story describes my introduction to the inner workings of... The Penguin.

-The Penguin-

It's a cool day at the end of September, our slowest month. I'm closing The Restaurant. Normally, I'd be pissed. However, The Actor is the closing manager tonight. His antics keep me entertained.

It's around 9:30. We close the doors at 10:00, and the bar closes at 11:00. There hasn't been a soul in the place for almost an hour and a half.

The Restaurant is losing money every second we stay open. However, corporate policy says that we can not close the doors early, so I'm stuck sitting on my can earning about half of minimum wage.

I'm bored. I think about sticking a fork in my eye so I can go home, but decide against it. I like my depth perception.

I decide to bug The Actor. I get up and head to the back.

The Actor is sitting in the office writing out the daily log.

"I'm bored. "

"Did you clean everything, make sure everything is stocked, and empty everything off the expo line?" He doesn't look up from his scribbling.

"Yeah, I'm completely done. Isn't there something fun in here?" I start pawing through one of the drawers in the office. Lost and found items can be interesting some days, but not today. Couple sets of keys, a credit card or two, and a work ID badge from "Lashawnda".

"If you're going to act like a child, read this. There should be something interesting in there." He hands me a red leather-bound book.

"What is this?" I ask.

"The accident report log."

Sweet. The accident report log contains, in graphic description, any horrific accident that occurred on Restaurant property. This ought to keep me entertained.

I flip to the front. It seems that when the place first opened, there was a goose that made its nest in the parking lot. Damn thing bit two customers before animal control agreed to "relocate" it.

I'm mildly disappointed. The book is written in really boring language. It doesn't even provide any juicy details.

Even worse, the managers' grasp of the English language is decidedly lacking. They try to sound professional, which exacerbates the problem. Case in point:

"The animal is nested on our property between the fourth and fifth line of the parking lot. When too [sic.] customers traveled by the animal, it bit them. One was injured to her buttocks and thigh..." Boooo-ring.

Flipping through, I see that two cooks have cut off fingers, damn near everyone has been burned, and that Deedee, our resident drunk, fell down not once, not twice, but three times in the same month. She's collecting unemployment now.

"Were you working when Deedee had her accidents?" I'm curious what happened.

"Yeah. It wasn't even wet where she fell. I swear I could smell liquor on her breath, too. It pays to be a drunken fool." He shakes his head. Suddenly, he jerks his head around.

"Hey, have you gotten to "The Penguin" yet?"

"No, why?"

"I was managing that night. Check April of two years ago. I had to do the accident report for her slip and fall." He's grinning like the Cheshire Cat.

I start leafing back through the book. July, June, May... ah, April.

I start reading and almost crap myself.

"The Penguin (he actually wrote "The Penguin" instead of her real name) was waddling through the main dining room with a full tray of food. She spotted a baby seal. Because she was hungry, she gave chase with intention to club. She slipped on a patch of ice and fell. The food splattered on several nearby guests, two of which reported burns. There names are..."

Pure genius. He even wrote it in red ink, so it stands out more in the book.

"Was she hurt?"

"Not really. Her pride more than anything else. I must admit, it was really funny watching her try to get up. Have you ever seen a turtle flipped on its back?"

"That's mean." But funny.

"So what? I'm going to hell anyways." He turns back to his paperwork. I look down at the accident report log.

"Isn't this thing supposed to be serious in case we get sued?"

"Yeah, but what are they gonna do, fire me? I'll claim that they fired me because of my sexual orientation. Speaking of which, do you wanna go in the walk-in? You can close your eyes and pretend I'm a girl..." He looks at me hopefully.

"I'll pass. The Woman is waiting for me at the bar across the street. I think The Penguin is supposed to be over there too."

He clucks sympathetically. "You poor, poor man. Have you heard her latest one?"

"What do you mean?"

"Her latest lie. She's a compulsive liar." He pauses and looks at me. "You didn't know?"

"No, I didn't." I actually thought she was kind of interesting.

"So far, since she's worked here...," he begins counting off on his fingers. "She's had cancer. She's remembered repressed memories of childhood abuse. She's been engaged to a wonderful person who broke it off two weeks later. She's been on every crash diet known to man, yet she continues to gain weight at an astonishing pace, and finally.... she's had 3 grandmother's die."

"None of it is true?"

"Not a word. When I found out that I had cancer, I asked her for the name of her oncologist, thinking that since she is so... you know, healthy, he must be a good doctor. She didn't know what an oncologist was. And two weeks after her 3rd grandmother died, she came in and ate with her parents and their parents."

That's messed up.

"So what's her latest?"

"That her cousin was the pilot on flight 93. You know, the one that crashed into the farm in Pennsylvania."

9/11 was still fresh in everyone's mind. It had been a strange few weeks since the Towers fell. People were coping in different ways. But to cope by saying that your cousin was flying one of the planes? That's just weird.

Just then, the door bell chimes interrupt my thoughts. I look at the clock. 9:58. It never fails. Sighing, I walk to the front to take my last table of the night.

***

An hour and a half later, I'm sitting in a booth at the bar sipping a beer. There is a really good turnout. About ten people have made it over to the bar, and we're having a great time.

Pool, darts, pitchers of beer, surly cocktail waitresses... I love dive bars.

The Penguin is starting to get on my nerves. She keeps talking about her cousin and how sad she is.

I wonder if it could be true? I mean, after all, someone has to be related to all the people on the flight. If that's the case, then I'll feel really bad about doubting her.

As it is, after hearing The Actor bash her for the last hour, I'm starting to find her annoying. She's attention-grubbing and clingy.

She also has a large brown stain on her two front teeth. I can't stop looking at it. She doesn't smoke or drink coffee. I'm trying to figure out how she could possibly have a stain like that when The Woman plops down next to me.

"What's up?" She's smiling. Not in a good way. She looks like she's got some sort of diabolical plan cooking.

"Not much. The Penguin is starting to get on my nerves. Do you think her cousin was really on that plane? If he was, I'll feel really bad...."

"I wouldn't," she pauses dramatically and then pulls out a newspaper clipping. "These are the passenger manifests for Flight 93. There's no "(Penguin's last name)" on there."

"What if he's from the mother's side of her family?" I'm still hanging on to the hope that she wouldn't lie about this sort of thing.

"Let's ask," she turns around, looking for The Penguin. She's at one of the bar box pool tables in the back, trying to elicit a pool lesson from Soldato. He looks annoyed.

"Hey Penguin, what's your Mom's maiden name?" The Woman yells across the bar.

"Why?" she calls back.

"I'm doing a family tree on everyone in the office." What a lame excuse. However...

"Oh, how fun! It's (mother's maiden name)." Stupid Penguin.

The Woman quickly cross-checks the list. Nope.

I don't know what to feel. I'm angry at her for trying to take advantage of the situation. I also feel really sad for her. Her life is going to suck if she continually gets caught up in lies.

"You gonna call her out?" I ask.

"Only if she annoys me. I haven't decided yet."

The TVs in the bar are tuned to a baseball game. During a commercial, a news brief comes on about 9/11. It seems that all news briefs are focused on that day now. I wonder if it will ever go back to being normal. I doubt it.

"I can't watch! It makes me so upset," The Penguin is crying. Big, sobbing heaves that make her rolls jiggle. I can't believe this shit.

"Give me that clipping," I whisper to The Woman. I don't know why, but I have an uncontrollable urge to give The Penguin something to cry about.

"Nope, I'm going to call her on this one. I've known her a lot longer than you, and I'm even more sick of this shit than you are." With that, she marches across the bar and confronts The Penguin.
A stuttering explanation, a short screaming match, and a huffy waddle to the parking lot later, and The Penguin has left the building.

***

-Epilogue-

The Penguin called in sick to work the next three days. She said it was her pancreas.

She never admitted to lying about her cousin (or anything else, for that matter). She recently got fired from The Restaurant for being lazy and stealing from the petty cash. She still has that brown stain between her teeth.

Personally, I just feel sorry for her. It's going to be a tough life.

33 comments:

Moghdor said...

You know I hear pancreas problems often cause brown spots on the teeth. They're also related to habitual/compulsive lying. Figures.

BiBi Cambridge said...

I invented mouse mats.

Don't look at my brown spot.

BiBi x

Empress said...

I feel sorry for Penguin. She has a very low opinion of herself and needs professional help.

Great post!

Becky said...

Awesome :) Once again, glad that you're back and in top form.

Empress said...

I forgot to add that I LOVE the way your gf thinks! She's a hoot!

Brad #1 said...

Nice story as usual. I know this guy that used to bartend for me, and his antics are much the same. Pity me for this, pity me for that. But he's had some good ones, like being a pro golfer, selling real-estate in the nicest communities,being part owner of a furniture store, etc...there's too many of them to remember.

I guess it's a good thing for everyone else that he takes a kalidepen before he has a beer, so that we don't have to listen to him long. He's usually out before the second beer gets half way done.

marco said...

I worked in a restaurant where one of the managers had a heart attack and died in the office after everyone else had left for the night - the chef found her in the morning. This was a couple of years before I worked there, I never met her, but I started reading the daily journals from that time - it was fascinating. She had written about two years worth of journal entries, and by the time I got to the last one I kind of felt like I knew her - I was tough to read her last entry. It wasn't until years later that I realized her family probably would have loved to have a copy of that journal, not that the corp office would have allowed it, knowing them.

Anonymous said...

Why the walk-in? Couldn't he just blow you right there in the office?

Amanda said...

I'm a new reader and love your stories, and I just got caught up with all the drama previously with the negative comments. Don't let the Anonymous crackheads get you down. Whatever- if they don't want to read they don't have to. And your stories are good enough to wait for. It's funny how all the negative comments were left by "anonymous", hiding behind a veil of anonymity. Pussies. You do whatever the hell you want to Server, this is your site, no one elses. All the negative people can come over and kiss my ^%$#@!$#!!

Moghdor said...

I invented the pictures on the mouse mats. Ha. *eyes dead ahead*
I told you I could do it Cambridge. *peeks*

Anonymous said...

"It's funny how all the negative comments were left by "anonymous", hiding behind a veil of anonymity. Pussies"

I'll admit I'm confused, Amanda - using your infinite knowledge please explain to me how you are any less anonymous than those who choose to post without using a real name. Also I'll need your personal email address and home phone number so we can chat.

Thanks,
Marco

g4& said...

"crackheads", "Pussies", "kiss my ^%$#@!$#!"...

My, what a foul-mouthed little cunt you are, amanda.

Amanda said...

Awe, so sorry I hurt everyone's feelings. How bout we keep that in mind when we criticize The Server, eh? And if my foul language offends you, well, gee, I just won't use it anymore. Many apologies. And Marco, I'm also sorry that you think I have infinite knowledge. I never implied that I had any. (Yeah, that was a jab to myself, wasn't it? Gosh, I'm so smart). For all you know I'm a 50 year old balding man who has nothing better to do with his time than put down other people. Well I'm not. I just thought it would be nice to address a name when replying to a comment. I don't care what name you give me, it could be your next door neighbor's dog's name for all I care. There's just so many "anonymous'" that it's hard to keep you all straight.

So I'm done explaining myself to you all. I'm sorry Server, if my comment drug up bad feelings from everyone. I was just trying to defend you because you shouldn't have to defend yourself on your own blog.

Sincerely,

Amanda Farfanugen.

(no- that is not my real last name- I had to clear that up also since I think I'm so much smarter than everyone)

Anonymous said...

Amanda Hypocritenugen you are full of shit - read your own comment, you called anonymous posters pussies, "hiding behind a veil of anonimity" just like you do.

Cheers,
Marco

Amanda said...

well I gave you my real first name, and if you think I'm going to give my real last name and number to someone as hostile as you Marco, you must be crazy. We can keep at it all day. I may be a hypocrite, but I'm not going to act all smarmy and know-it-all criticizing someone else's blog. If The Server wants to post a short entry letting his readers know he is busy and not dead- that's his business. He doesn't need an army of people making short, sarcastic, totally out of line comments - like mine! :-)

The only differece is my comments are not directed towards The Server, I think he has great writing skills and tells great stories, and if he wants to take a break, by all means take one. I'll come back when he writes another blog entry.

My this is fun. Who knew I could drag people down to my level? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Blow me amanda

8====>

Anonymous said...

Thanks, that was great

8=>

Confucius said...

Confusius say: Arguing on internet is like running in Special Olympics; even if you win, you are still retarded.

amanda said...

HA hahahahhahahhahahhahahahhahaaaaaaa.

The whole point of this is to get you to realize it's not polite to judge or criticize other people. Especially when it's not your blog in the first place.

Thanks for playing my game, retard.

confucius said...

Sweetheart, you have no game...now wipe that cum off your chin.

amanda said...

Awe. Was that supposed to hurt my feelings? If I really cared what you thought or said to me, I wouldn't have posted my initial comment. Wow- and you all thought I was immature? You all are no better than me. So stop acting like it. With a name like Confucius you are putting yourself on a pedestal. You are no different than me, and no more smarter, so get off your high horse already.

And to everyone's relief, I think I'm about done replying to all this. But believe me, I will not disappear. So keep them immature degrading comments coming. I've stopped using degrading comments right after my first comment (except for the "retard" remark). So don't talk to me like you are better than me. You are not. We are the same. And the only thing that will change this if we stop this useless argument. Because my point seems to have gone lost and everyone seems to want to degrade me. So yeah- you all are real immature. Thanks for the memories. I shall soon forget you after The Server posts another entry.

stove said...

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz -snort. Oh sorry, I must have dozed off. What day is it? Oh, crap is he dead again?

g4& said...

amanda said, "it's not polite to judge or criticize other people"

Sorry, dear, but that is precisely why a comment section exists. Your point hasn't "gone lost" because it was a ridiculous assertion from the start.

The Server said...

stove, please read post entitled "Now I remember..."

Thank you.

stove said...

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

brewerburns said...

Hmmmm...you sure do stir up some controversy don't you? Anyway though, I have known a couple of "penguins" in my life. People who are compulsive liars. I've always found them to be both annoying and sad at the same time since they clearly tell these lies to get attention. How sad is your life if you have to get attention from co-workers by telling outlandish, easily disproved lies to get attention? Great entry, Server. Totally entertaining. Reminds me of when I was working food service.

Sean Santa said...

very interesting story. ive known people like that. what a shame

L,

Santa

Anonymous said...

This was a very funny post. There was a girl in college who's dorm room was next to mine, my friends and I called her Pumpkin because she was so round.

I've also known people who reminded me of Penguin.

Anonymous said...

"and no more smarter" Nice use of the English language. I am pretty sure i am more smarter than you.

Anonymous said...

Amanda the above comment is directed at you

Michael said...

Not that it really makes a difference, but you can have a cousin with a last name other than your father's or your mother's maiden name.

Any sister of your parents who married and took the last name of her husband would change that name.

Ria said...

And I thought the comment wars on my blog were bad.
Anyway, I know this fourteen year old, my neihgbour's child. The first time she met me she started bawling because her dog passed away. Turns out, she doesn't even have a dog. Well over the next two years her father had been arrested, her mother had escaemia and her brother was in a drug rehabilitaion centre. All false, of course.
But the truth is, she had been molested by her uncle when she was twelve, after which she became terribly obese, and her grandmother would sear her back with hot rods because she thought her grand daughter had sinned to attract such unsavoury attention from her nephew(the uncle). By the time she was fourteen, she had no friends, her classmates despised her, teachers in her school would put her down, her parents refused to talk to her, her brother would manhandle her in public and join in with the teasing of her classmates. She would see people crinkle up their noses when they would look at her and for three nights in a row, I saw her banging her fists on the wall, from my window.
People who lie, usually have a reason that is sadder and much much more painful than the lie.

Flo said...

Oooookay....