Archive for December, 2008

23
Dec
08

I knew I’d hate this job

I’ve been slow to update this blog recently, due to having a lot of shifts to cover at the “VIP” bar. This, however, is a situation that may be about to correct itself. My colleagues and I have theorised that many of us will be let go in the new year, which is not a prospect I find myself alarmed by. Frankly, I’d be happy to leave the place.

Ok, I realise in our current climate I should be grateful for any job, but the truth is I simply dislike the place. I dislike the set-up. I dislike the management, and how we have 16 different bosses telling us 16 different things (though I have no ill-feeling towards my immediate supervisor. She can be a bitch, but I suppose she has to be). One thing that gets to me, for example, is that we can’t leave the premises during our break, which would be perfectly acceptable if we had some on-site facilities other than one vending machine that’s permanently empty. In addition, on one occasion – just as I was starting my break – someone took all the chairs from the canteen. So we had a few dozen people sitting on the floor balancing sandwiches on their knees because apparently there were people in the building more deserving of chairs than we were.

This flippant attitude towards staff can, however, all be overlooked. It’s nothing uncommon for people who work in the service industry. Without question, the aspect that really gets to me, and drives me to want to run from the place screaming, is the customers, the clientele, the vips, or whatever they want to be called. Let me tell you something about these “very important people”, they’re scum. I honestly hate them, and I especially hate having to serve them.

In the past I worked in a 5 star hotel, and enjoyed it. So you might think a VIP bar would be similar. In practice, however, I have found there to be an important distinction. The people who stay at 5 star hotels want the staff to want to help them. They expect to receive the highest service because the staff enjoy providing that service. Simply put, they’re happiest when they know you’re happy. It’s an attitude that assures a level of mutual respect, all of which is absent from VIP bars. The people who go to VIP bars expect you to dance for pennies, because it reaffirms their self-serving belief that they have all the pennies. I had thought that a recession would quieten these people, but it seems to have made them worse. They’re so far up their self-important holes that the prevalence of money equates only to the stink of shit.

Now it’s wrong of me to tar everyone I serve with this brush. I have dealt with some decent, sincere people (for instance, Evelyn Cusack was nothing but nice to me). I must also admit that – because my bar is somewhat of a distance away from the bar the “celebrities” go to (I use inverted commas because, seriously, how pathetic is it to be an Irish celebrity?)  – I don’t have as many phoney scumbags to deal with as some of my colleagues. Still, I can’t help but feel there is something wrong with people who go to gigs and stick to the VIP areas. It’s like people who go on safari holidays and get upset if their hotels don’t have clean linen. Gigs to me are about stale lager in plastic cups, abusive security staff, sneaky naggins of JD, and god-awful hot dogs, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Nothing about rock and roll should be comfortable.

So there you go. This blog might return to being properly unemployed rather than just semi-unemployed. If this happens don’t feel too bad for me. At least I’ll be mostly dealing with normal people again.

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18
Dec
08

To those with a positive, “can-do” attitude, calm the fuck down and stop making things more complicated for everyone

My return to the service industry has naturally been met with a return of everything about it that I hate. As any barman or waiter will tell you, this isn’t a business marked by major difficulties, like – say – working down a coal mine. Its curse is the sum of a million little problems. For me, at least for now, chief among these is a phenomenon I’ve encountered in almost ever bar and restaurant I’ve worked in, the over-eager busy-body who thinks he’s helping everyone but is actually making the whole experience far more painful than it needs to be.

This particular individual, I’ve notice, has a penchant for taking charge of various situations, even if they require no forethought or direction whatsoever. For instance, the task of going to the cold-room to retrieve a case of wine comes with instructions on what route to take, what route to take back, other types of wine that might be suitable if the first choice isn’t available, how to bend your back when lifting a heavy box, etc. Just to be clear, this guy isn’t any level of boss or the holder of some certificate that makes him qualified to give such instructions. He just enjoys telling people what to do.

He’s worst offence was having us prepare trays of drinks for guests as they arrive, hours before the guests actually arrived. We ended up having to throw them out (the drinks that is, not the guests). Now all this might be some way forgivable if he had any talent as a barman, so let me point out one little thing; he thinks a half-pint goes into a slim-jim glass.

I’ve tried figuring out what motivates people like this. I suppose it’s a desire to be noticed above the herd. In this case, however, I don’t think that’s the point. I think he just gets a kick from the sense that he’s in charge. My first clue what the list of utterly pointless questions he asked our supervisor on our first shift. I seriously doubt he asked these question because was unsure of the answers (nobody could be that stupid). I’m positive he thought the rest of us would learn something if he brought them up.

Of course a level in initiative is necessary in any industry. It’s what turns an average service in to a great one. But when you’re seeking to maximise the benefit from every conceivable scenario, what you’re actually doing is wasting time and effort combating problems that never existed in the first place.

Apart from all this (and a small level of dickery from one or two superiours), the only other event of interest involving my new job occured last night when I served a particular girl. She’s a very active voluteer with Fianna Fail, and I worked with her quite a bit during the summer when I was covering the Lisbon campaign. This was slightly humiliating. I mean, to go from being a proper journalist to serving drinks to privilaged fucks is quite a downgrage. Of course I realise lots of people have proper jobs and do a little bar work on the side. Still, I think I would have felt better had she not been there.

15
Dec
08

Iraqi journalist gives Bush his shoes, possibly in return for freedom

By the way, when will they get around to building that town square in his honour?

14
Dec
08

Gillian McKeith is pure evil

One of the laziest – though compelling – examples of television programming that has marked our generation is what I like to call the Parade of Patronising Fucks shows. These are the shows where self-styled “experts” invade the lives of ordinary folk and tell them how they should be doing things. It started with home makeover shows, eventually branching out into every area imaginable until a true genre was created, giving rise to Trinny and Susannah and a host of others. RTE even got in on the act with At Your Service, in which two 5* hoteliers run around the country trying to make dodgy B&Bs somewhere you might actually like to stay.

Now most of these shows get a pass because the “experts” to some degree usually know what they’re talking about, and the recipiant of the advice being imparted will often benefit from it (At Your Service gets extra points as RTE doesn’t shy away from how patronising people often find the concept). Then there’s Gillian McKeith, who’s a whole kettle of deep-fried fish altogether.

I noticed last week that “Dr” McKeith’s You Are What You Eat is being repeated on TV3. Its pretty predictable, yet still disappointing, that TV3 would broadcast such a show (clearly of appeal to their target demographic), ignoring how damaging it has shown to be.

The show credits McKeith as “Dr Gillian McKeith”, indicating that it was produced before the ASA forced her to stop stop describing herself as a doctor, not least due to the efforts of Ben Goldacre in exposing her PhD as the worthless pseudoscience it is (incidentally, if you are not reading Goldacre’s “Bad Science” column in the Guardian every Saturday you are really short-changing yourself). Remember, this is the woman who seemingly expects us all to have a flashlight stuck up our arse. The stink of pseudoscience also permeates the show. In one episode I watched as “Dr” McKeith berated her victim over one of her favourite snacks, four slices of white  bread with a big dollop of jam. “All that salt and sugar is killing you,” moaned the good doctor. Was this unhealthy? Probably. But you know what, strawberry jam sandwichs were a staple snack-food for me as a kid, as it was for many others I’m sure, and I grew up to be reasonably healthy.

Clearly “Dr” McKeith is a fraud. But this does not lend itself to my initial hypothesis that she is evil. For this I ask you to examine her mantra “you are what you each” (which if true, as observed by Dara O’Briain, means she has eaten a fucking shrew). What is it that this actually means? Here’s my reading: We are what we eat; we therefore need someone to guide us as to what food is fit for human consumption, making us in turn individuals fit for human society. There’s a touch of the Khmer Rouge about Gillian McKeith and her doctrine that’s quite worrying.

Via Channel 4

Via Channel 4

If you think that I’m reading too much into it (because I can assure you I’m not exaggerating for effect), just look at how each episode of You Are What You Eat is ended. We’re given a “before and after” examination of McKeith’s victim. The language used to describe the “before” version is not just negative, but quite undermining and insulting. Seriously, she’s just a couple of rungs away from declaring, “look at the fat fuck. She’s a disgrace to herself and all around her.” Gillian McKeith hates fat people in the same way Hitler hated Jews. Fact!

While we’re discussing the before and after shot, there’s something else that pisses of (and I’m really surprised nobody else has mentioned it). The poor victim in the before shot is paraded in front of us in nothing but her underwear, with all her unflattering flab and cellulite out for the world to see. After the eight week intensive course (or whatever it is), however, she is presented with dolled up hair, fabulous make-up, and a lovely black blouse, black shawl, or black something to hide all the curves. She may look great, but she’s still clearly fat. McKeith will of course point out that the victim has lost 3 stone or thereabouts. Of course she has, she’s been living on radishes and extra green leaves for two month. That doesn’t make it healthy, which crash dieting rarely is.

14
Dec
08

If I’m serving you that means you’re a VVIP, but not a VVVIP

This weekend I completed a second shift of my shitty part-time job. I’ve avoided stating here what this job is or where I’m working, as that’s the kind of thing that get people fired, but I’m think I’m safe enough saying that it involves the VIP section of a popular Dublin music venue.

This particular establishment has different grades of VIP, based on who you know and how much you pay. Essentially, however, it all boils down to a few simple necesities; clean toilets, bars with carpets, and access to the best seats in the house. Now I don’t wish to begrudge VIPs their nicities. Access to any VIP area that I know of isn’t cheap and people deserve to get something for their money. But there’s one aspect to the whole culture that is really pissing me off.

I was told by one of my supervisors that the kind of people who avail of these services would not normally attend gigs. Mosh pits and pissing in a trough is below these people, so it’s nice for these to be able to attend some gigs in comfort and style and avoid slumming it too much. On top of this, because of the price-structure of my place (don’t ask me for details, that’ll get me in trouble) it’s most likely going to be used by corporates so that they can treat their best paying customers to fancy nights out.

So these people, who rarely go to gigs and in all likelihood will not have even heard of the bands they’ll find themselves seeing, are going to be getting the best seats in the house. Whereas the true music fans, who actively support bands by regularly attending gigs (and who provide the venues with most of their profits), will have to make do with whatever leftovers are below the VIPs.

Now I ask you, is that fair?

In other news, I went and blew €300 I don’t have on an X-Box 360, because using my rent allowance check to pay my rent seemed a little…obvious.

12
Dec
08

If you’re thinking of seeing The Day the Earth Stood Still, don’t!

I don’t know why I keep doing it to myself. I let myself get all excited about some big Hollywood event movie, when I’m ultimately just building myself up for a fall. I think it’s because the original is such a celebrated classic that I told myself Hollywood would allow itself to fuck this one up. How could I have been so stupid?

Truth be told, I’m not a huge fan of the original. I recognise its importance, and its fabulous timely message, but it has never been essential viewing for me. So I didn’t except to be too upset if they changed much. But upset I was. Obviously, the Cold War couldn’t be used for the premise, so some vague references to the environment were employed. This would have been fine had the whole thing not been made like an underwritten episode of Captain Planet. The aliens in the original had a real, understandable argument: fight among yourselves if you must, but don’t bring your space rockets into it. In this case, however, Klaatu just comes across as a patronising little fuck, like someone who comes into your home uninvited and tells you how you should decorate.

What I missed about the orginal most of all, however, was the politcal discussion inspired by the arrival of a spaceship, replaced here by the typical military men who try to blow everything up because it’s all they know how to do. It’s all been seen a hundred times before, turning an important sci-fi film with something to say into a below-average thriller. This being said, The Day the Earth Stood Still doesn’t fail because it disrespects the original. It’s awful all on its own. You may never have heard of this film before, and it’ll still be a boring, uninspired waste of a night out.

Thankfully, I made up for it by sneaking into Lakeview Terrace afterwards, which is better than I expected it to be. I suggest you go see that instead.

10
Dec
08

Éamon Ó Cuív will always love you

This has to the the best story of the day. Éamon Ó Cuív opened a can whup ass in Galway last night when some rowdy students got a litle too familiar.

His reason for the smack-down; he was protecting his secretary. Brilliant! “I think I was right to defend my secretary,” he claimed, “she was very, very upset because one of the protesters had a piece of timber.” Fuckin’ A!!! How bad-ass is this, in a strangely pathetic sort of way

Ó Cuív pointed out that it wasn’t the first time there was trouble. “It was the second time in a week that she had been intimidated by some of the same students because they forcibly entered my office last week. They occupied my office and there was only female staff there at the time.” Female staff, worry no more. Éamon ain’t gonna let you down again.

If I had been told a week ago that we have an action hero for a minister, I would have guessed Eamon Ryan. He’s the only one with the looks to pull it off. Possibly, this man might have gotten a mention, but I would never have thought of that Connemara blow-in who looks like a bank manager.

Anyway, I’m dedicating this to Éamon, ’cause it’s what I thought of when I read the story.