Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Drama Continues

The letter finally came.

The City of Chicago Consumer Services Department has filed charges against that bootleg taxicab driver who wouldn’t take me home a few months ago.

It would seem that I have a knack of running into drivers that won’t take me to the south side.

It’s kind of like a gift, really.

While it sucks in the moment, at least in my own way I’m rooting out crappy taxi drivers.

Like a scrubbing bubble, I’m doing the hard work so you don’t have to.

Nonetheless, the form letter from Consumer Services states that the driver could “demand a trial.”

I say bring it on, homeboy.

We could have avoided this whole mess.

Everyone involved in this rigmarole could be going with the countless other things they have going on in their lives had the driver simply taken me home.

Personally I can name about twelve other things I’d rather be doing than taking a taxi driver to task over refusing me service.

It really is just that easy.

Why didn’t my cab driver think so?

If history is any precedent, the night driver of 6215 will think twice before he pulls that crap on anyone else.

South side, represent.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Now that I’ve been on the hustle for about six months as a waitperson, I’ve come to recognize my favorite type of customers. This is in no particular order:

St. Ignatius Football Fans
University of Chicago Employees on a payday
Construction Workers
Groups of six or more---especially the ones who drink.

Now before you get your panties in a bunch, I closely monitor my customer’s drinking.

If I think you’re getting close to that line, you’re driving or walk in completely bombed, I won’t serve you. I don’t care how much money you’re going to spend. If you’re in a group I’ll at least limit you to 21 Jaeger Bombs (don’t laugh---that actually happened)

My least favorite types of customers:

People who start a conversation---“I’d like a (fill in the blank). How much does that cost?”
Demanding patrons who can’t ask for everything at the same time.
Anyone who treats you like and/or makes you feel like the help.

That last one would fall under the heading of asshole.

Now just because you or people like you may fall under the heading of “favorite type of customer” doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re a big tipper.

What let’s me know that I may get a decent (read: 20% or more) tip is the graciousness of a person's demeanor.

Not all gracious people are great tippers but all of my big tippers are gracious people.

Those are the ones I love to see coming.

But make no mistake folks, I bring a lot of waitressing skills to the table.

The busboy drops your waters, shortly thereafter I come over to greet you again and take your drink order.

Once I bring back your drinks I take your food order(s), come back with silverware, condiments and any think else I may think you may need for your meal.

In short, I make sure you don’t have to ask for anything unless you actually forget to ask me.

Despite my best efforts---and the best efforts of many other servers---these actions sometimes do not bring reward.

Most people don’t care that I have to tip out my support staff.

I lose 7% of my money off the top.

Most people don’t recognize seamless service and a pleasant experience until you forget one water refill and they base their tipping on that one incident.

Believe it or not, I’ve made my peace with those types of people.

What can a girl do?

I can’t control the world.

And for every cheap ass---and there are many---there are people who are so easy to deal with you should pay them for sitting in your area.

I get that these are hard economic times but if you have enough to go out, you have enough to leave 20%.

If not, me and the rest of my serving brethren implore you to stay home.

‘Cause in the end, you get what you pay for.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


It’s nice to know that I’m not stupid.

That what I’ve been seeing and writing about since 2005 wasn’t a figment of my imagination.

And because people were too greedy or too clueless to see the warning signs all of us are paying the price.

Yeah I know that borrowing beyond one’s means for a home they couldn’t afford played a huge part in this mess.

But if that was the beginning of the end, foreclosures were the final nail in the coffin.

Basing business decisions on asset back securities that can’t be reliably verified is little more than a shell game.

But I think the powers that be kinda picked up the clue phone on that one.

And now the American public is left picking up a 700 billion dollar tab.

And the punch line is it may not be enough.

But the fascinating wrinkle in this whole mess is how Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has taken a stand against tenant foreclosure evictions.

A sense of moral justice and easy on the eyes? Like that happens everyday.

With Cook County’s foreclosures tripling this year to over 40,000, Sheriff Dart said that too many innocent renters were being evicted in a process not of their own making.

Now where did I hear that before?

Then of course a nice little community group from Albany Park neighborhood did their part by alerting the Sheriff to the fact of the innocents trapped in this foolishness.

And there’s the rub my friends.

While I’m a huge fan of personal responsibility, as a culture we’ve gotten away from the notion of looking out for the collective.

Or does that smack of socialism?

While potential subsidized housing and mortgage fraud may not necessarily be poppin’ off in
your ‘hood, it doesn’t mean that somewhere down the line it won’t affect you personally.

So while some people sat up and tisk tisked about the high mortgage defaults on the south and west side of Chicago, little did they know that similar situations were happening all over the country.

A financial storm was brewing and little was done about it in my humble opinion due to the fact of where it was happening and who was immediately affected.

That’s my nice way of saying racism and classism reared its ugly head in an incredibly genteel way.

NIMBYism at it’s finest.

Yes, some people made wrong choices in attempting to afford too much house and signing their name on the dotted line of a mortgage product whose terms they didn’t understand.

But it pretty much a foregone conclusion that the mortgage industry and a whole and the packaging of those mortgage backed assets---with little oversight or regulation might I add---was a time bomb waiting to happen.

And now it’s come to this my friends---my backyard is your backyard.

Too many foreclosures in too many neighborhoods have brought down some venerable and far reaching institutions.

Hell, the government of Iceland might have to go on Link.

So while we may not be our brother’s keeper, it may be on our best interests to listen to the far off drumbeats before they become deafening.

Monday, October 06, 2008


You know what’s tougher than being out of work for 11 months?

Trying to play catch up on bills.

And when I say bills I mean the actual amount of money that I owe to friends.

If you’re thinking money and friendship is an explosive mix, you’re right.

That’s why I’m back to the grind at the restaurant during the weekends.

Do I like working six days a week---no.

Do I like being on my feet for seven hours after working a regular eight hour work day---no.

Do my feet hurt like a mother---yes.

And before you ask, yes the new job is going well, thank you.

But in these scary economic times, you have to get your grind on. Unless you have a war chest saved, you have to get on the hustle.

And that’s if you’re starting from zero.

But if you’re playing catch up, trying to make the war chest thing happen is a little tricky. It’s pointless to try to save money if you’re in debt.

And my job is a contract position so they could choose to let me go at any time.

So I’m on the hustle.

It’s tough to place a priority on who gets paid first. Frankly there are a great many people who have saved my ass over the past 11 months (and beyond).

But when I sit down to think about it, I have to whittle down my debt. And unfortunately that means I have to do that so in some type of order.

You gotta crawl before you can walk, right?

So if you happen to find me one late night a little blurry eyed at some south side dining establishment, don’t worry.

But I would very much appreciate you bringing in your non-demanding, cocktail drinking friends and their disposable income.

‘Cause I’m gonna rock it out and retire some of this debt before the end of this calendar year.

I’m a hustler baby.