Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cinema Customer Scoop #4: 'Sir.'

Working at Cinemas have likely been detrimental to my health. Not from eating too much popcorn (can't stand more than a handful of the stuff), or from an overdose of caffeinated beverages, but from those people who seems to mindlessly wander in and expect nothing but my indebted servitude. I've likely lost a few blood vessels in my eyes due to the stress given by the amount of needless stupidity expressed by cinema clientele.

For example, I opened on a Saturday a few weeks back, and for some reason some of the front doors was left unlocked from the night before. Mind you, there you have to go though two sets of doors to enter into the lobby, so there is a small area between the sets of doors, forming a makeshift zoo enclosure. A few people entered into the lobby before we actually opened, and I told them to please wait outside as we were not yet open for business. The first group of people understood and promptly waited outside in front of the box office, sadly the subsequent people did not have the mental capacity to understand and follow such orders.

The next people who came found the first unlocked door, but did not take the time to check all of the doors in the second group, instantly coming to the conclusion that they were trapped. Simply going back out of the door they just walked though never even occurred to them, and they didn't bother to warn any of the poor souls coming in that they too would also be stuck. So, in the span of about five minutes a horde of idiots flooded the small space, only to have walk back outside once the doors were unlocked, as the window where you pay is outside of the lobby, not the other way around.

Upon the day of me writing this, a boy found a way of making my brain explode by doing something so stupid that made my brain nearly perform an illegal operation, and have to shut down. At my theater we have a machine that makes a particular frozen beverage, of which we have two flavors. But, due to the extreme cheapness of our general manager, we rarely (if ever) perform any maintenance on the machine (I wouldn't be surprised if he just took it out of the dumpster from another theater.) So, when it isn't producing soupy drinks, it feels the need to cause the beverage to expand inside of its cup. This has led to many people being given drinks which overflow and spill on the counter. No matter how many times you tell people that it will expand, and that they should drink it, they never listen.

But today was no different. Normally you can catch the expanding drinks before the flow out the top, and dump out the excess in the sink, but some get away. Normally people who get away with an expanding drink notice, and dump the excess in the trash, or down it in one gulp, yet not today. A young lad of Tom Sawyer age had his grandmother buy him a cherry frozen-drink, then went on his merry way. My friend Jerrod and I become occupied with filling out a crossword puzzle when I heard the word "sir" being said in the lobby. I looked up to see the little gremlin standing towards me, holding up his now overflowing drink in the air like the Olympic torch.

He just stood there stupidly holding up his drink, and saying "sir" as though I could enter in a fantastical code that could make his drink stop spilling and go back into his cup. Perhaps he was waiting for me to come around and take it from him, but I guess kids don't believe in counters, seeing as one was standing in between the two of us. In the time it would take me to venture over to where he was, I'm sure he would have found a way to spill the rest of his drink, then set the building on fire. After a few seconds I sighed and told him to bring his drink over to the counter, because apparently he didn't know such a thing was possible. Thankfully someone else took care of his mess as Jerrod and I both had to retreat to the scullery to both laugh hysterically, and become enraged.

The following emotions were so contradictive that my brain melted from exhaustion and had this article written by the Alejandroid 2.0.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Retreat into Madness Part 2: The Dungy Baker's Dozen

Ultimately there would be no premature exodus for me escaping "the Ranch," I would have to plow onward until my sentence was though. If I was going to stay, I figured I would have to mill around the courtyard and try to make nice with my fellow inmates. Apparently not many of them made lasting impressions with me, as most have blown away from my memory like a sneeze into an air-duct. Though most are gone, a few remain locked away in my mind-grapes.

Apparently those who sponsored the retreat were part of a worldwide organization, so there were imprisoned children from all over Rand McNally, rather reminiscent of that prison movie I referenced in the previous blog entry. There were two foreigners who I remember the most, a Dutchman who's name escapes me, so let's call him Jacques, as he was from the French border, and had a largely French accent. The other was a Swiss, likely named Johann or something; he was largely less noticeable as a foreigner, his accent was then, and looked like any other American youth. I'm assuming there were other alien children, seeing as there was more than one hundred in attendance, and both Jacques and Johann were both in my activity group.

Wondering what sort of activities we had to go though? Well, I'll tell you. There was the usual group talk mumbo jumbo, wherein you sit in a circle and talk about your alleged "feelings" and make visual representations of teamwork using carpet samples or some other malarkey. I was always lacking in these activates, as years of diligent training had led me to no longer have those human actions known as "feelings." So, as people would go around the group and speak about how we think hugs could end ethnic wars in foreign countries, or something. Whenever it became my turn to speak, my response would always disappoint, people would end up pouring their hearts out, over what was essentially nothing. Following their sob stories with my torpor towards the activity may have insulted their feelings, simply because I didn't have some tear jerker of a story to tell a group of strangers. Well, excuse me for being a robot!

Thankfully there were also some physical activities to be bad, seeing as we were in a large activity ranch, I suppose it made some sense. I think we spent an entire day out and about, doing physical labor, and being prohibited from eating or drinking anything. Unfortunately, I can only really remember a few of the things we did on that day.

One challenge given to us was to pass though a large rubber tube that had one end tied to a telephone poll, and the other being moved in a circular motion by one of the team leaders. You would have to time your movements just right, if not you would get a large smack in the back, and be forced to retry it, until you went through unsaved. I was the last to go, and being the maverick that I was, I decided to try another way around the double-dutching tube of death. I used my brains to analyize the trap, and noticed that the tube moved the least on the end tied to the poll. Grivously, my actions were far from graceful, as I flopped around on the ground like a fish until I bypassed the poll. Many a lady swooned that day.

The other activity I can recall was a mock minefield; the more I remember the more I believe that this retreat was just a front to recruit soldiers into the French Foreign Legion. We were taken to a secluded area in the woods surrounding "the ranch" and shown a obstacle course of sorts, which we were told was a mine field. The group of candidates were split into pairs, one of which would be blindfolded, while the other would shout directions of how to cross the field, without being dismembered. Thankfully I was paired up with the Swiss kid, who spoke fluent English, while he who was with the Dutchman, I can't say was as fortunate.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Retreat into Madness Part 1: The Baseless Escape

I may have already mentioned in posts made long ago, that I was always labeled as a "leader" by people in charge of my education. This label never really seemed to suit me, people never listened to what I had to say, and I preferred (and still do) not to actually deal with people, as I found them agitating, and chaotic as a bag of rabid mudskippers. Yet, despite my overt distain for being pushed to take charge, I was still pointed at and told that I should take charge. Eventually I was "persuaded" to attended a leadership retreat sponsored by the Rotary club, boy what a weekend it turned out to be.

The event was held at Newcomb's tennis ranch, which thankfully was only a fifteen minute drive from my hometown, so it's not as though I was to be banished to a smelly Radio Shack in the Australian Outback. Anyhow, I was herded into the registration area on Friday night, I suddenly was overwhelmed with a feeling of despair. I never really wanted to go, but at this point my feelings of wanting to back out reached its zenith. I felt as though I was a Soviet scientist planning on defecting, on my way to the border, only to find that you were being delivered to the KGB, instead of freedom from the Iron Curtain. The darkness only added to the ambiance, with only the soft glow from the building illuminating the silhouettes of the activity leaders becoming me to misery. Unfortunately I was unable to turncoat and run.

Anyhow, the actual retreat was okay when we did activities, unlike the ACTS retreat I went on, we didn't have people tell their personal stories and burst into tears. But, there was an over abundance in pep, which I don't mix entirely well with, especially when I was overly pushed into being peppy as well. The area in which we slept was reminiscent of a World War 2 prisoner camp, as seen in films like The Great Escape, and Chicken Run. So, in a sense it was a cult compound that force fed people with peppiness until they conformed, and smile brilliantly. I had to escape... But though a combination of not having a thorough plan, and laziness, I didn't not escape. Though thinking back I probably could have walked home, it would have taken an hour or two, but the tennis ranch wasn't too far away from New Braunfels, where I lived. Though the prospect of simply walking home in the dark wasn't as exciting as racing a gang of Nazis on motorcycles to the Swiss border. But there was one person I knew of that did escape from the madness that was the leadership retreat.

During our assigned feeding times we were forcibly told to sit with someone different individuals, I'm guessing in an attempt to quash any possible rebellions. One of the evenings I was trying to down some rather watery spaghetti while sitting next to a rather ponderous fellow, whom I had not seen socializing with anyone throughout my captivity at "the ranch," perhaps there was one who wanted to be there less than I? I remember spending the meal at the end of the table having to try and make conversation to the people on my left, for on my right lay a mute beast who decided to be as loud as possible without speaking. So, the meal continued onward with me hearing various slurps and chewing noises behind me, afraid to turn around as I may see a rancor eating one of Jabba's dancers.

Anyhow, after a night haunted by nightmares about a rather large sobbingly eating beast, I continued to the next day without having to see he who is without table manners, for a while. However during a lunch of gruel and capers I looked out the front windows to see a familiar shape placing a suit case into the trunk of a car, then shuffling inside the automated-mobile. By the hammer of Thor! The bastard had done it; somehow he had found a way to escape the fortress of cheery-tude. Had he set fire to the Australians practicing tennis? Or funded illegal snail jousts? It is a mystery that I don't believe I shall ever solve. As he rode away in quiet victory, I turned back to stuff another span of time at "the ranch."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cinema Customer Scoop #3: If Only Phonics Came In Pill Form...

Evidently, the company which owns the theater where I am employed seems to believe that it's employees should both follow the USPS's code, and have the patience of Prometheus. Upon my arrival to work at three PM (Central Time), on Thursday the seventeenth day of March, in the year of our lord two-thousand and eleven I entered into the box office to find my coworker David. I was glad to find that I would not be suffering the wrath of brainless customers alone. Seeing as I would be there until after midnight, I needed all the help I could get. Though David only worked until five, I was later joined by Mattie later in the day, and we both learned to become greatly annoyed a incredibly irking mechincal problem.

To my dismay I discovered a horrible plague which had affected the electronic money machines throughout the course of the day. Apparently the building's internet service went down at some point during the night, an no one noticed or cared and it had gone on unresolved. Because of this, whenever you would enter in a credit card transaction, it would take eighteen seconds of your life away, and not give them back. This led to many a supreme awkward silence as you wait for the computer takes it's merry time printing out the ticket. As it took eighteen miserable seconds for this to transpire, a large portion of my life has been spent not talking to people while holding their debit cards.

But eventually the day came to an end, and I went home for a handful of hours, only to return to the theater at ten-thirty the next morning. To my great disappointment(and expectation) the internet had not been repaired, and card transactions still ate away a third of a minute of time away from me. According to one of the managers who called the company's corporate office telling them about the fact that the machines were acting so slowly, and likely was causing the company to lose money by simply accepting cards despite the fact that the information could not be sent out to the card companies the card made a purchase. The head office said they might get around to it on Tuesday. Showing that the company doesn't even care about earning money at this point, we decided to simply continue on possibly losing money.

Eventually the internet became operational again (thanks to some elves I guess) and I was able to send customers away quickly, instead of being forced to stare at their meaty faces longer than needed. Once again I was given Mattie as a cell-mate, but we also received several visitors, who would eventually crowd the box like a phone booth filled with 1920's college students. Around four thirty Bow came in to take away the cash monies from my drawer so I wouldn't have to work for the last half hour. But as she was pulling the cash from the drawer a rather portly and ape like man waddled up to the window. Sensing that something stupid was coming she rapidly said "Someone get them" many a time, but it was to no effect. It was bad enough when customers come up to the employee who is obviously busy with something that is not helping a customer, and demand satisfaction, but this was historically different.

The man came up to the window, looked down at Bow, read her nametag and decided for some unknown reason to shout out "Me Bow!" like a Neanderthal. This led to four grown men to shuffle out of site and laugh themselves stupid. After hearing the customer Bow's jaw tightened to an extent that it could make diamonds out of coal. A happy moment I will treasure forever.

After the not-Gieco cave man left, I still had about twenty-five minutes before my shift ended, and there was no money in my register. Unfortunately a line started to build up in front of Mattie, so I had to go back and work on my impoverished computer. Despite me constantly informing the line that I had no cash in the drawer, and was only able to process credit or debit cards they still came up clutching those pieces of green paper.

Eventually Bow decided to write a sign telling customers that I was only able to accept those wallet dwelling plastic planes. But this would require customers to actually read something, which as we know is one of their least developed skills. Hell most of them don't even know to put the money into the opening at the bottom of the window, a surprisingly large number of them press the money up to the glass, only to find that there is some kind of shield between me and them.

After the addition of the sign, I still had to constantly point and inform people that my line would not accept cash. Eventually another apish man came up to me and tried to give me cash money, to which I told him I would only accept cards. Apparently this was believed to be a verbal attack on him so he quipped at me with a mighty "Well, where does it say that?!" to which I pointed to the piece of paper which appeared to float above my left shoulder. So he countered with a crushing "Well you should get a bigger sign!" Granted the sign was not the largest size possible, customers still would not have read it anyways. Apparently reading is a chore to them. So, to assist them I place the note directly in front of my face, but apparently this was still not subtle enough for them. If people actually cared about reading, Hooked on Phonics would make a fortune off of nearly illiterate baby boomers.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Alejandro's Anti-Amazing Athletic Adventures No. 4: Nine Man Diamond Ball

As with many young American boys born before 1995 I participated in a number of sports teams. These may have been a vain attempt by my parents to keep me away from that magic glass box that I love so much. But, it was to no avail. Out of the sports openly available for young non-talents such as myself, I only played in to leagues. Once of which, was one of Japan's most popular sports: Baseball.

Yes I was entered to be a on a baseball squadron. My brother played on one many years before I, and I remember him saying how much he hated his coach. Also, that the only time he and his teammates had a good time while playing a game was when the coach was absent from the game (likely due to a severe Orangutan related incident.) On that occasion they were led by the assistant coach, who was well liked among the children, and encouraged them when they slipped up instead of running at them with one of those boards with a nail in it by Wammo.

It would be some time after this that I would try my hand at the competitive field of baseball. All I mostly remember from my brother's tenure in baseball was the snacks they would receive after their practice was over. I would scamper over to the ice chest lined with barrel shaped drinks and ho-ho's and become a small leech and take whatever snacks I could get and stuff down my gob before the parents could swipe me away.

Several years down the line, I felt the need that it was my time to play that sport that is very popular in Latin America. Though in all actuality I was not entered into the normal spring season of play, but rather the "Fall Ball" league, where the good players kept themselves from getting rusty, and the crap players were actually admitted onto the field. This was my place. The team itself was not the most horrible group of outcasts and delinquents that you might find in a children's baseball movie, so that was my first sign that this wasn't going to be as fun as the Bad News Bears. Unlike my brother's team, our coach was a rather nice fellow and was rather encouraging in our wanting to play the sport, and I actually enjoyed playing. Also, our team was the only one which had a girl on the squad, so we fit the sports movie formula even more.

As I was far from skillful, I was only placed in the outfield, as it was less essential that I have fantastical skills to get a player from the opposing team out. Plus, for some reason I was never able to throw the ball in a straight line, I always had to take an alternate route in which to propel that sphere of horse leather. Whenever I actually received the ball, and needed to pass it to the infield, I would have to throw it at an upward angle, making a parabola. The ball would always make it to the person I threw it to, but alas perhaps not as quickly as it would had it been thrown by someone who had an arm.

One of my main memories was the only run I ever scored directly. I was rarely up to bat, so every time I did get the chance to swing the bat, I cherished it. The team did score a few RBIs thanks to me, but I never got past the short stop. But at one point I somehow was propelled to second base, and there was a decent batter at the plate, so I waited like a child in line for the rocket cars at a carnival. Suddenly the bat made contact, and the ball flew over my head, and I started pumping my crazy legs. I rounded third, and bolted (relative term) down to home. Knowing that his was likely my only chance at scoring, I decided to make it as action packed as possible. So, I decided to slide (another chance I didn't learn.) Following my adeptness, I tried to slide on my knees like a rock star, rather than on one leg like a baseball player.

As the dust cleared it was revealed that I had stopped about two yards from the actual target. So in a spasm of excitement I scrambled to the home plate, taking all of the grace out of my attempt to be cool, continuing my streak of awkward un athleticism. Needless to say, the team didn't make it to the little league world championship in Japan.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Saint Crapintines Chocolate Clambake

If it's not already largely apparent, I am far from being commodore Suave, and I don't try to be. Because of this condition I call "dorkalitous" I am in an eternal state of loathing that day in February which is supposed to be about Saint Valentine. I don't think if Saint Valentine went around giving people chocolate instead of marrying early Christian couples, he would have been remembered as much. Though perhaps if he did, he wouldn't have been sentenced to death by Claudius II, unless he gave him those chalky hearts with stupid sayings on them. What is "very fine" all about anyways?

As a young American child, you would be forced to participate in the ritual of being forced to give treats to the rest of you classmates, wither or not you liked them. These were the years in which I actually enjoyed Valentine's day, as I knew I would without a doubt receive candy to make myself sick with. Yet, this feeling of excitement was not meant to last, and disappeared during the sixth grade. Up through the fifth grade, you would be placed in one classroom for the entire day, much like cattle placed in dairy barns to feed and be milked. As we were being milked, we were placed into a lull, which the school overlords felt could be covered up by red, pink, and white paper, and the exchanging of confectionary.

Though we were given the freedom to set up a NAFTA of children exchanging candies, the products were usually far from delectable. Many of the children (or more likely their parents) were cheapskates, and only purchased sub-par chalk based candies with rather uninspired sayings written upon them. Or very bland heart-shaped lollipops with a suspicious white detailing which often poorly applied.

Yet, starting in sixth grade, we were no longer confined to one teacher, and one group of children the entire length of the school day. So it became a rarity that I received anything for Valentine's day, and by rare I mean rare. It was about as rare as finding a dramatic movie that resonates within you when it has David Spade in the lead role. Upon one hand I can count the number of Valentines I have received in the past ten years, they number two. One was from a friend of mine in middle school, it was a Hello Kitty brand card without Hello Kitty upon it. The other came from February 14th 2011. As I woke and walked to class I noticed a piece of paper tucked underneath my windshield wiper:

If you may be confused by what this means you likely don't watch the British car show Top Gear. Which has a "tame" racing driver who sets the lap records for all the cars reviewed on the show, and apparently knows two facts about ducks (both of which are wrong.) As I Christmas gift I received this sticker:

Though it's far from a romantic gesture, it's much better than being ignored by someone who may peak your interest. So it becomes much more important than those imaginary Valentines you may receive, like a honey baked ham or a hardy handshake. Plus the heart with hyphen on either side is a nice touch.

Becoming rather bitter over time (we are talking plain radish and black coffee bitter,) after years of unaffection, I have found a sort of light at the end of the tunnel. The day after Singles Awareness Day is blessed with the mark down of candies, which "bachelors" like myself can horde and feast upon in an attempt to fill the void in our souls with chocolate, peanut butter, and cherry flavored hard candy. It seldom works. Though there is a feeling of exuberance going down the aisles grabbing those sweets which chumps paid top dollar for only twelve hours previous.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Folly Gorge

Every child of the American public school system come to a point in their educational career when they are selected wither or not they are considered "gifted." For me, it apparently happened sometime during first grade, though nothing would really come of it for three years when I reached the fourth grade. From that point on, I was looked upon as slightly more clever than the majority of the children New Braunfels had to offer. The majority of the time, I was still in the regular classes and did not special treatment because of my "condition" as it was.

But by the time I was in eighth grade, it was ousted as being somewhat exceptional, though frankly I still have a bit of a hard time believing that I was smarter than most of the kids. Then again, looking back most of the students didn't even know where Argentina was on a map of South America, so it wasn't much competition wise. I was still in classes with the regular herd, but in some classes me, and the smarter kids were given different assignments from the lesser humans. This primarily happened in history, and science courses.

Anyhow, the assignments were usually just a variation of what the rest of the class did, only with a few more questions than normal. So, being smarter wasn't providing a much greater amount of work for the most part, but it did lead to some bullying, and being picked on. Emotional trauma aside, it wasn't particularly hard. Though on some occasions, we were given a completely different assignment from the rest of the class, making us feel even more separated than we already were.

The most notable occurrence of this was during in my United States history class, where those of us who were set aside were given a completely different assignment than the rest of the class. At that point in the school year we were studying the American Revolution (Brittan's whoopsy) and it's battles. The handful of us who were stupidly challenged, were assigned to write four pages on the events of Valley Forge.

For those who are uninformed, Valley Forge was a military encampment in Pennsylvania where the Colonial forces resided during the winter of 1777, during the war. Before this point in time, the public educational system did not let me know that his happened during the war. In my then eight years of education mainly told me that the events of the war was that we wrote the Decoration of Independence, then some years passed, then we won. They failed to let us know that thousands of soldiers froze to death, or severely suffered frostbite while waiting for the weather to lighten up.

After a month or so, the paper as due. I somehow filled out four or so pages, and turned it in, happy to have that thing over and done with. But, it was not two weeks later that we got the assignments back. I was given a fifty. Why you ask? Apparently it was meant to be a letter written from the point of view of a soldier with a solid black foot during the winter. The teacher never made this explicitly clear, but did not feel any sympathy for me, and did not give me a chance to fix the grade, what a rabble-rouser. Though after recieveing that grade, I would have likely given him something like this:

While not entirely educational, it was in letter form, so by his rules, I would have gotten a better grade.

As if this wasn't enough of an insult enough, I was enraged when I learned of what the other half of class did instead of a multipage research paper. Instead of taking weeks to write a paper, those muttonheads simply got to draw a picture depicting a battle between the colonials and the British. And despite how grossly inaccurate the picture may have been, they still received a 100, what a scandal. So, not only did I receive a bad grade, but kids who don't even understand how to use perspective in art received perfect scores for being able to scribble on a piece of printer paper.