"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


The Year of the Rat

It's coming.

My year. The year of the Rat.

Epic days and epic nights. Weekends, and the month. 2008 is the Year of the Rat, and although it is technically next year on my birthday, the Year rolled in on the heels of my ride back from Evanston on last Sunday night, thunder rolling in the distance and finally soaking me to the skin as I arrived at my door shortly after midnight. Lightning flashed on the blowing leaves, like a camera-shot, showing green in the night, as though it were a negative in my eyes.


Where do I begin?
...rats are leaders, pioneers and conquerors...
Last month began, as I so meticulously cataloged, with my layoff from my corporate job, and my life tumbling head over heels down the stairs and out the set of the creaky doors, spilling out into the sunlight. I took advantage of the daylight, and never took a faltering step. The very same week, less than two days later I was up before dawn to ride and train, bringing pain to fight the pain. Very soon after, I completed the race of my life, and began interviewing for jobs I never would have considered myself qualified to take. Including waiting tables.

How could I have ever thought I would be in this position 5 years ago? I wouldn't have occurred in the most delusional fantasy, much less that I would be good at it, or that I would like it.
A rat's natural charm and sharp demeanor make it an appealing friend for almost anyone...
At first the training was degrading, menial. Following around a server, being told the most basic tasks -, so obvious, that of course I would never have thought of them - of serving. And to smile though it all. The rudeness, the complaints, the too-fast pace, 5 tables sitting down at once, and going home with nothing but a $4.50 an hour wage, a free meal, and no tips. That is training at a restaurant. Fortunately, it only lasted 3 days, and then I was thrown to the lions.

And like Daniel, didn't fight them, but swallowed my pride (heh heh heh) and joined them. I have come to enjoy everything about this job, and my new identity as a server. It has made me much more humble, thrifty, independent, and not afraid to ask for help. And much more generous and understanding. The last two qualities I feel I have never been short on so I feel that is saying something.

The highlight of my new job however, came just this past Thursday night. It was one of those, yes, epic nights, as my friend Luke likes to say. It was Cubs Night, Game 2, highly anticipated after the nail-biter the night before, and I was closing. The best tables for money, right by the bar. Those people aren't there to eat dinner, tell their kids to stop playing with their food or send back the soup. They are there to drink. My new boss was sitting right at the middle table, as well, racking up a huge tab, including 2 bottles of wine. But when the ladies came in, the night was not looking as promising as I'd hoped, as many of the tables, had camped out, waiting out the long game with water instead of beer, not paying for their prime real estate.

But, the ladies came and rescued me. A bachelorette party of 12 came and sat in the back room, and it was inexplicably given to me. I already had the prime tables, but I drew first blood when they opened the party room up. It was round after round of shots, some on the tab, but several in a row of comped drinks, as the bartenders tried to get rid of some old, cheap alcohol. The tab grew longer and longer.

At one point, as I brought in another round of blow-job shots, the girls asked me to settle a debate. What is the proper "motorboating" technique?

A "motorboat" - since a visual is way better than a description:

"Do we push 'em together or leave them apart?"

I knew where this was going immediately, and stayed quiet, just smiling. It didn't work. "Would you do it on her?" And pointed to the girl at the table who appeared to have cantaloupes under her sweater. "Ohhhh, no," I laughed. "Are you serious?" Melon-girl was most enthusiastic that I motorboat on her. "Noooo, noo, nonononono," I protested, laughing. "Really?!"

Another girl screamed, "her boobs are a size G!" I looked at Melon-girl, who nodded sheepishly. I confirmed that they were absolutely serious. "Should I have you sign something that I won't get sued?" This brought waves of laughter, and Ellen just pulled her neckline down. When would I have a chance to do this on a set of G's again? The pictures were all too late, if I had waited for the flash to go off, I would had my face in her tits for at least 10, long, beautiful seconds, an eternity in which any number of other employees could've walked in, not the least one of the all-female managerial staff. But, I swear, true story. Later, when I walked in with another round of shots, the top was off. Girls just wanna have fun.

They left me more than a 30 per cent tip on a pretty big bill, and combined with my manager's tip on her 100 per cent comped tab, it made my night pretty worthwhile for the lack of sleep.
Rat in general should guard themselves against hedonism, as it may lead to self-destruction...
The actual birthday on Monday was an amazing one, the best I think I've ever had. It included an 80-mile solo ride down just past 145th street, past the south-side city-limits, a team-meeting, a rehearsal, and a last-minute change in plans to meet up at Quencher's. Good-friends, new-friends, old-friends alike. Quencher's kicking us out couldn't keep us down, and we loaded up and headed to Underbar. Rudy dropped us off at 4:30 in front of her apartment. She called in sick when the alarm went off about 4 hours later, and we had a leisurely lunch across the square around 1.
They are charming, passionate, charismatic, practical and hardworking...
And Friday, following my very successful (hopefully) interview in Northbrook, networked through a teammate, I helped him install his new bike rack on his car after he drove me back to the city. We shared a couple beers, cursing over stripped screws, bruised thumbs, and the dying daylight. We planned to drive out to the Fall Fling road race the next day in Rockford.

He left on a date, and another teammate invited me over for wine and pizza as a birthday dinner. He is a wine rep by profession, and is helping me network in that area. I love wine, and the chance to have fun night chatting and BSing over some bottles I'd never find on my own was too good to pass up. We drank too much, ate too much, and I got home too late. A great night. I rationalized that I didn't want to sit in traffic 4 hours to ride in a 40 mile race, when I could sleep an extra hour, not drive anywhere, and get in 80 miles, and still be home in time to get a nap and not be late to work. It was a grand ride, missing the usual suspects - at the race, but it was scorcher, and I met several new potential teammates. I certainly began to feel the benefits of my new training plan on the bike, since having hired the coach. We rode very hard, and had at least 5 sprints.
They are energetic and versatile and can usually find their way around obstacles, and adapt to various environments easily...
The interviews are coming in fast and furious, and hopefully growing to a critical mass. As of Friday, I will have had at least three in seven days, barring any new ones popping up on the schedule. 2 of them could potentially double my salary.

Hopefully all of them will let me continue working at the restaurant.

If all this can happen in one month, just think of what a year will bring.

1 comment:

Sam Kim said...

Year of the Rat is our year! 1972 represent. haha