Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Drive-By Faith

Riding along in my sister's car last weekend I noticed a large banner posted on the grounds outside a local church - Presbyterian, I think, though I'm not 100% sure. The banner read : "Christian Lite!" with a flame as the dot over the 'i' in 'Lite'.

Now, intellectually I know that the Lite is the flame of faith and the Holy Spirit, and that the banner was intended to invite non-parishioners or non-believers into the fold. And yes, I was just drivng by in the car and so didn't have the opportunity to read the small print beneath the triumphant title on the banner. But I have to say that to the drive-by observer it looked less like a banner proclaiming the fire of faith and more like an advertisement for an easy sort of religion, a low-cal, low-effort version of the real thing.

And really, when you use the standard beer spelling (LITE) rather than the actual word you mean (LIGHT) - what else can you expect?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Night Owl

People always say that working in the restaurant industry gives you a terrible schedule and messes with your sleep patterns. And in a way it's true. Working from 4pm to 3am is nothing if not different.

My non-industry friends tend to be very judgemental, giving me a look or a lecture when I tell them what time I got up this morning (read: afternoon) or when I went to bed last night (read: this morning.) My mother always tells me that I should go home immediately after work and go straight to bed so as to get a proper sleep. But think about it. If you work 9a-5p, the standard workday, would you ever think about going straight to bed when you get home at 5:30p? Skipping happy hour, skipping dinner, skipping tv/internet/phone time? Skipping the necessary end-of-day unwind? Of course not. Even if the day was long and intense and all you want to do is sit down with your feet up, you need that time, on the COUCH, not in bed, to relax.

So no, mom, I can't get home at 3:30a and go straight to bed. For one thing, I'm usually starving. Sure, I ate before work or at the start of the shift. But that was almost 12 hours ago, and most people don't leave that much space between meals. I know that 3 in the morning isn't a good time to eat, but if I'm going to be up for another few hours then at least the food has time to digest. And I need to work on my crossword, and catch up on my emails, because restaurant or bar jobs don't include a 'lunch' to help break up the hours of work. I never got a chance to sit down and make a phone call, or read a bit of my book. I worked for 11 hours straight and now I want to sit. I have to watch my tv shows OnDemand, because I missed them when they aired hours earlier. And I want to veg on my couch and read, because that's how I unwind, regardless of the hour.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining about my job or the hours - I actually quite like it, the night-owl lifestyle fits me to a tee. I've never been good at going to bed early, even when I had a job that required a very unfortunate 7am alarm. Even when I worked at Starbucks and had to be there at 5am, I never went to bed before 1a or 2a. I just existed on a lot less sleep back then, and it all worked out fine. I still made it through school, a lot of school, with good grades and plenty of social time. All I'm saying is that I wish people didn't so look down upon me for my late-night tendencies. Just because I got up at noon doesn't mean I slept an absurdly long time. If I went to bed at 5a, I only slept 7 hours -- if you went to bed at 11p and got up at 7a, you slept longer than I did!

I also wish that the late-night life wasn't limited almost completely to restaurants and bars. I would LOVE an all-night grocery store, something other than 7-11. And I know in some places that Targets or Wal-Marts are open all night, but in the city my options are pretty much nonexistent. Grocery shopping is a normal, post-work activity. Get off, buy food, cook dinner. But I can't buy anything other than chips or frozen pizza when I get off work, which is not at all conducive to healthy eating unless you're quite the advance planner!

Oh Giant, when will you open a 24-hour location? With a 24-hour deli and bakery? When, oh when, will all bar workers be able to shop freely at the natural end of day?

(p.s. - could you make sure it's one of the locations with the built-in Starbucks, so I can get my frappuccino while I shop? you're the best)

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Metrobus Madness

As a general rule I am proud to be a native Washingtonian, one actually born and raised inside the city limits (as opposed to all the suburban Maryland and Virginia neighbors who claim DC as home to make things easier for others to place them.) I am also very proud of the fact that I have been riding the bus and Metro my entire life - since my parents never had a car, the bus has always been my friend.

I have long been a staunch defender of Metro and its drivers, even in the wake of 2007's rush of bus accidents, both minor and major. I firmly believe that if a large bus is barreling your way on a city street and you choose to thwart the rules of time and physics by strolling to a spot directly in the path of the bus and then stopping dead and the bus subsequently hits you despite the driver's best efforts to stop, Metro and the driver cannot be held entirely to blame. Obviously not all of last year's accidents can so simply be broken down, but still. It's a good rule of thumb not to take on a bus in a head-to-head competion. Unless you're a mack truck, the bus is probably going to win.

There are days, however, and yesterday was one of them, wherein I question my defense of Metro and its employees and in fact my own decision to continue using mass transit. I boarded the bus on my way to work, something I do most afternoons around 4pm. I greeted the driver, a woman who often drives my route and so knows my face, and took a seat near the front. I noticed another Metro employee standing near the driver and assumed her to be one of the inspectors who frequent different routes in a random pattern in order to assess the system's performance. As we drove down Connecticut Avenue the aforementioned Metro employee announced loudly that she was tired of trying to 'splain the outfit to her friend (my driver) and that she would just have to see it for herself. And out came the iPhone, buzzing away with pics of this obviously important ensemble. The two women then proceeded to scroll through the photos while commenting at varying degrees of volume on the absurdity of what they were seeing (I gathered from the conversation that it was a third friend's terrifying outfit that was providing so much amusement.) I'd like to point out at this juncture that it was the DRIVER who was holding the phone and doing most of the scrolling. To say that the bus began to weave noticeably along the lane markers would be an understatement - we were most certainly driving smack in the middle of the line. A passenger pulled the stop request cord and she jerked her head up, saw the stop passing us by and screeched to a halt while vaguely pulling the bus over towards the right, opening the doors and scrolling away.

All I can say is that I'm glad the weather was nice ... I took my chances with other errant drivers and walked the rest of the way to work.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"My cousin is a porn star and my mom is 56!!"

What more could you hope to hear ring out at the top of a sloshed blonde's lungs at midnight on a Sunday? Nothing, I tell you, nothing at all.

Holiday weekends certainly bring out the 'we have Monday off' crazies. And it's not just the college students. It's the young professionals and the middle-aged success stories and the retirees -- everyone seems to get long-weekend fever. Which is good for business, sure. But I keep wondering, what's the big deal? Friday and Saturday were as slow as any other August weekend in DC, while Sunday was as frenzied as the last day of school - only, if you think about it, it should have been more like the first day of school, what with September starting and all.

I guess there's something forbidden about staying out late on a Sunday, a daring, rule-breaking feeling that gets under everyone's skin. And more power to them, I say. Dare to be different! Drink, drink on Sundays and everyday! Just, perhaps, try to keep certain personal details (your cousin's career choices, your mom's age - and why/how are they related, by the way?) to an inside voice.

Now that I think about it, I go out every Sunday. I think I like this maverick gig!