Waiter’s Life vs. life of the waiter living it

Okay, you dragged me into it.

I wasn’t resisting, but I’ve been busy lately with a lot of other stuff.

The thing is, the Waiter’s Life, and the life of the waiter living it, are two different things. Read that last sentence twice.

The Waiter’s Life is what goes on in the restaurant. It’s how his/her job experiences affect his view of the world. It’s how his work interacts with his personal world.

The life of the waiter living it, however, is just like anyone else’s life. We have significant-others. We get married. We accrue debt. We pay bills. We buy a house. We have health problems unrelated to ‘waiting tables.’ We have family controversies. We have car trouble. We find a $20 bill in the street. The dishes in our kitchen pile up for three days . . .

You get the idea – although not necessarily all of the above apply to me.

The thing is . . . (wait, wasn’t there just another ‘the thing is’ earlier?) . . . working is a full-time occupation. So in my case, I work two jobs – essentially full-time – and spend a lot of the extra time contemplating/preparing for/recovering from those jobs. That leaves the other hours in the week for the remainder of my life.

I’ve been full lately.

I mean, the Lakers are playing at championship-level. That’s 9 or 10 hours a week. *ouch*

I have to read everything I can about the Lakers at championship level . . . another 5 hours.

I have to read the rest of the paper (internet or hard copy) everyday . . . that’s 5 hours.

Then there’s the requisite martini and ‘relaxation time’ after . . . well, actually after any activity (including a day off) that begs relaxation at its conclusion. I don’t know . . . give it 5 or 10 more hours.

God forbid I currently had an exercise regimen.

So this is my way of apologizing and also explaining.

I’m a waiter. I write a waiter blog. And I haven’t been doing it. These are the things I’ve been doing instead.

Look for more from me tomorrow.

For today: An excellent night at Carney’s Corner. A poor day at Michael’s – $46. Carney’s yielded $305, supported primarily by my massive contribution of $473 to the pool.

I had a party of 13 women – three generations – celebrating Grandma’s 70th birthday. They were so noisy, another table (party of four) was incensed, but didn’t say anything (except to me). I refused to dampen the spirits of the ladies.

Further, I would almost never tell a table to be quiet. Sorry, but it’s a public place, and people are here to have fun. No matter if I think the noise is obnoxious and rude – this is the bargain everyone makes when they go to a restaurant. Frankly, what about the opposite when guests come to a place expecting some action and liveliness but only get a dead and quiet restaurant? Do they complain to the waiter that the lack of other loud patrons is ruining their experience?

Anyway, our 13 ladies were of absolutely of the first class. They were sensitive enough to notice the discomfort the ‘other’ table was feeling. The hostess of the party came to Carney privately and said she didn’t care what they said, she was positively going to buy their dinner, in addition, of course, to the whole tab for her own party. She handed Carney a black metal (titanium?) Amex.

That turned around the attitude of the ‘offended’ party right quick. The beauty of it was that the benefactor was being genuine, and not trying to rub her wealth in the face of the ‘offended.’ Had it been me, I might have been inclined otherwise. But I don’t have a black titanium Amex.

At the end, I totaled both parties’ checks together and added on the automatic 20% gratuity. As I approached the hostess with the check, she reminded me that the other table’s check should be included. I said it was. She said great. Without looking, she handed the check presenter back to me and said, ‘Add a 30% tip.’

Ching.

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The Real Valentine’s Day

I left you last with the specter of Valentine’s Day upon us. Yes, we at Carney’s Corner did see the expected brain-dead trying to get a table at the last minute for he & she.

The best of the night, for all of us, was the Liquor Rep. In this case, I’m not in sarcastic mode.

Our first reservations came at 5 and 5:30 – only a few, still not a full house. [For those not up-to-date, Carney’s has only 10 tables in the dining room-proper. Ten more tables in the lounge/patio.] Phil is the Main Man Liquor Rep. He’s a charming (aren’t they all?), good-looking, dark-haired guy in his early 40’s. Phil sidles up to the bar and starts pleading. He’s in a big bind.

He has four people at his house for Valentine’s Day dinner but his oven is broken down. [Remember, he’s in the Biz, so he understands it’s foolish to go out on V-day.] He needs to get a top-flight meal for everyone or his ass is grass (his words).

Carney is not there, and our restaurant has a policy of no to-go orders. ESPECIALLY on holidays. Not to say the rest of us wouldn’t do it any other day if she wasn’t there – we understand how to do things – but she was due any minute and we’d surely get caught trying to pull a fast one.

So 20 minutes later Carney arrives. Phil pleads his case. First thing Carney says is, ‘We just can’t do it.”

Did you see the period I wrote? Same period Carney stated.

The servers are . . . well, we’re freaking out. We know better. This guy is a good guy. He’s done us a lot of favors. Even if he hasn’t done us a lot of favors, maybe we’d do it anyway. Further, do this for him now, you know you’re going to have an ace in the hole for later. Last of all, at the time it was perfectly within the restaurant’s capabilities to produce a to-go order . . .

We couldn’t believe it. But to spare you the minute-by-minute drama, Carney capitulated.

But then, this guy is their best salesman. Is it any wonder he was able to convince her?

End story: Four dinners to-go, $$240 check = $100 tip.

So that was the start of our evening.

Aside from the idiots aforementioned, the night was pretty smooth. We left the building like Elvis with $375 apiece and a nice buzz from the ‘shifters’ and everything was well.

The only salacious part of the night came from our irrepressible bartender, Frank.

On holidays, Carney’s usually has a policy of restricting the bar from regular customers – ostensibly to reserve the seats for parties waiting for their tables. In practice this creates an empty bar, as Carney runs a tight and efficient reservation book. The trade-off for Frank is on such days he contributes to and takes part in our tip pool. Do you remember that Frank is a snake?

After night-after-night (of special holidays) of sub-par bar business, they reversed this stupid policy. This did not affect the dining room business, but it increased the bar business.

Unfortunately for Frank, it took him out of the gravy-train waiter tip pool. I’m sure he did well, but not as well as us – which burns the hell out of him. Frank was bitter the whole night.

The penultimate moment came when Ciera had a Big Regular, Mario, on the patio who tipped her big, then also offered to buy her a bottle of wine on his tab. Well, she decided to have a bottle of Veuve Clicquot Champagne, on him.

So it’s the end of the night and we’re sitting down for what we call the ‘Sewing Circle.’ So-called because we gather to gossip about all the bullshit that went on in the restaurant during the night, generally about Frank and Carney. Frank asks Ciera what she wants for her ‘shifter?’ He expects her to ask for a simple glass of red wine. Instead, she tells Frank she’s having Veuve Clicquot. She gets it out of the refrigerator and shows it to Frank.

Of course, Frank wants to know what the F’ she thinks she’s doing? Frank is all about his control of the ‘shifters’ for the staff. If we want an import beer, he gives us a domestic. If we want a decent glass of Cab, he gives us the cheapest Merlot. The thing is, the owners, Carney and Harry, don’t care at all. It’s just Frank’s power trip.

So Ciera explains that Mario wanted to buy the staff a drink. She told Mario that we liked Champagne. Mario said, ‘Then get a bottle of good Champagne.’

Frank was incensed. But Mario was gone. The bottle had been paid for. And he wasn’t getting any of our tips.

As we commenced the Sewing Circle back in the dining room, Frank made a point to come out from behind his Sacred Bar to . . . well, it’s hard to say what he was doing besides spying on us, listening to what we were talking about. See, Frank makes it a point never to come out from behind his Sacred Bar when he needs us for anything, be it a new stack of dinner checks, a clean fork, a cup of coffee, a fresh napkin . . .

I hope you get the idea. If he needs something that requires effort, he’s too busy (and too important) to come out from behind his Sacred Bar. But if he wants to spy on us, suddenly it’s no problem to come back to see how many tables are left in the dining room.

During the Sewing Circle, Frank came back three times for various ‘reasons.’

Weasel.

We enjoyed it a lot. We counted out a lot of money, and made a point of hushing significantly and hiding the cash whenever he showed his face.

Valentine’s Day Stupidity

Today’s the big day, Valentine’s Day. The book is completely full. People will be late for reservations. Others will no-show, having made reservations at several restaurants and picking the one that best meets their tastes, budget and time schedule – and they won’t call to cancel. Guests will camp out, nursing waters or coffees, as if they purchased a 99-year lease on their table when they made their reservation. The owners will scurry about, hysterical, issuing conflicting directions to staff – everything is ASAFP! Never mind that you’re in the process of some other ASAFP task equally important. Guests will be irritable having to wait 20 minutes for a table on the busiest day of the year.

                   Proverbial Writing On The Wall

And, believe it or not, the phone will still ring off the hook. Restaurant professionals will recognize how typical and true the following phone ‘transcript’ is:

‘Thank you for calling Carney’s Corner. May I help you?’

‘Yes. I’d like to get a reservation tonight for two people at 7 o’clock.’

‘Mmm. I’m sorry, but we’re really booked up tonight. It’s Valentine’s Day.’

‘What?!’

‘Actually, we’ve been pretty much full for more than a week. We can get you in around ten o’clock, if you can make that work for your schedule.’

‘You’re telling me you don’t have anything at seven? How about 7:30?’

‘No. You’re welcome to walk-in and take a chance, if you like. You never know. There’s always no-shows. But we can’t guarantee anything, of course.’

‘You’ve got nothing . . . I’ve been coming in there for years. I know Carney. She’ll know me when she sees me.’

‘I can have her call you, if you like . . .’

‘Phfft!’ <click>

This will happen tonight. Multiple times.

It’s phenomenal on several levels. 1) It’s dicey to call ‘the night of’ on an ordinary night, but Valentine’s Day? 2) Then being amazed, or even offended, that we’re full? 3) Don’t they know that everybody knows Carney? This is why the restaurant is popular. Do they expect Carney to cancel the reservation of somebody else she knows so she can satisfy you?

Well, so anyway. Last night was absolutely stellar. As I predicted last post, the quality of diners was very good, though there was some ‘amateur’ spill over. I had more than two full turns, and guests ordered well. I brought in $403 for the team, and ended up walking with $272. Our bottom line was improved somewhat by the absence of one busser, leaving us with just Primo. Accordingly, we tipped out a little over 10% instead of the customary 15%. Which was fair because, though Primo was working harder to compensate, so were we. The end result produced much more money for Primo (than if he had a partner) and more money for us. He made over $100, which is a lot for a busser (at least in my experience), and he deserved it.

The week at Michael’s was no great shakes, personally. Though business was higher than usual, so was the staffing. Out of four, I had only a single $100 day. Ended up with a $65 average for the week.

I might pick up Sunday night, depending on Mark’s willingness to give up the shift. They have shifted him to the floor (from behind the bar), bringing in Frank to work the Stick. It will be a good night. I consider it an easy opportunity to get while the gettin’s good. I’ll be taking the Wife out for our Valentine’s Day Monday or Tuesday, so the extra money should cover that event nicely.

Everyone: Have a happy and stress-free Valentine’s Day!

Valentine’s Weekend

From a restaurant perspective, Valentine’s Weekend is a more appropriate phrase than Valentine’s Day.

In my experience, sometime in the last 15 years, things changed. Instead of one day of heavy holiday volume and a day of overflow (before or after, depending on the Valentine’s Day’s placement in the week), it has become a solid week of increased business.

Yes, the day itself is the biggest rainmaker/staff-crusher, but the week around it has become something like a mini-Christmas season.

This week it falls on Saturday. Already at Michael’s the dinner reservations for tonight (Wednesday) are more than double usual. Same with Carney’s. This will trend will accelerate until Valentine’s Day. I guarantee Sunday, the day after, will be as busy as a typical Saturday. Then come Monday and Tuesday, we’ll be getting the extra parties celebrating ‘late.’

This has happened because Valentine’s Day is a nightmare. Everyone has their Valentine’s Day dinner fiasco story (or multiple stories).

I recall one year I when I somehow had the day off at the Rusty Pelican. I made reservations for myself and my girlfriend at another store in the chain. This was going to be fun. I’d never actually been out on a real Valentine’s Day before. I was always either without the night off, or without a girlfriend to squire.

It promised to be a great night. The Rusty Pelican was at the time an upper-echelon restaurant (chain): popular, trendy, high-quality, expensive. My girlfriend and I both worked there, so I didn’t come off as cheap for taking advantage of the employee discount. Plus, we figured to have the red carpet rolled out for us because we were valued ‘team members.’ We went to a high-gloss suburban version Rusty Pelican (quite a lot were situated by the ocean and had a more funky, maritime vibe).

Walking in the door, it was pandemonium. At least twenty people right there in the entry way. Of course our table wasn’t ready – they were running behind. No problem for us, though. We always liked having a drink in the bar beforehand.

We crossed over to the bar – the very large bar – and saw quickly there was absolutely nowhere to sit. Every table, bar stool – even every flat surface on which to set your drink – was occupied. We edged towards the service station at the bar. You waiters know this is a big no-no, but when you’re in the business you kind of feel it’s okay. We waited for a gap between cocktail waitresses and caught the bartender’s attention. I quickly stated the store I worked at, and could he just get us a couple quick drinks?

That worked. Of course, we had nowhere to sit or lean, so we stood there drinking. After the first drink we checked, and still no table. Two more drinks. And finally a third round. After those, it had been more than an hour. I had the little woman go up and ream some ass.

She prefaced that we were employees, and could stand a little wait, but this was ridiculous. At that point, they couldn’t even find our reservation. A manager took charge and led us immediately into the dining room . . .

To an 8-top round – obviously a temporary addition – as flimsy as an old ping-pong table, and listing severely to one side. Right next to the kitchen door.

So we sat at this massive round table, with our drinks in danger of toppling from gravity and instability and had our dinner. The service was slow. The fish was cold and over-cooked. The banging of the kitchen door was constant as a hammer on a construction site. And at the end, they forgot to give us our employee discount. It was such a problem, a manager came over to apologize for the delay in processing the check, alone. (Never mind all the other shortcomings of the experience.)

Stories like this are why all waiters know: Dining out on Valentine’s Day, February 14th, is for losers.

Lots of restaurants jack up their prices, condense their menus, or even serve completely different menus. The crowds make everything difficult. There’s pressure to get in and get out. You’re going to have to wait for your table. Then you’re going to have to wait for your food, as the kitchen is over-taxed. Your complaints will not be addressed, because they are so abundant, managers and servers give up trying to stem the tide.

It’s the other days that are great. You servers out there, make note how many ‘cool’ couples, quality diners, you serve on the other days. Compare that to the fools who show up February 14th.

Also, not to start another topic, but does anybody else take issue with the fact that somehow Valentine’s Day has become Girlfriend’s Day? It’s a day of love, romance, dedicated to couples. Yet you never hear a guy go, ‘My girlfriend’s taking me to Spago for Valentine’s.’

Drama In The Living Room

Apologies to anyone who has come here today expecting talk about waiting tables. This is going to be about personal life.

Also, apologies for retreading some information here, but I kind of want this to be the definitive Phineas and Adele saga for these pages.

The bulk of my last post (ouch! Nearly two weeks ago!) concerned the living arrangement that’s been going on here the last month and a half. We have both sets of parents (in-laws) living with us.

My parents have had a financial stake in the house since Day One, and they’ve also paid rent on their room to keep it reserved for when they visit/live here. Because of this, their presence is non-negotiable. Even so, they’ve been accommodating when others visit, offering their room if not using it themselves. They’ve also endeavored to be somewhere else on occasions when we’ve had house guests.

The Wife’s parents have zero financial stake here or with us in any other capacity. In fact, when the wife asked them for a $10,000 loan less than two years ago (she was opening a restaurant), they declined unless they could get a second mortgage on our house as security. They came here on vacation, and in advance decided they would stay for four months until winter was over (they live in Michigan).

This would not have been all right under any circumstances, but was especially egregious considering my parents were already here. But they forced/weaseled the issue, despite some diplomatic talk from the Wife.

Aside from petty resentment about their lack of contribution of any kind in the present and in the past, financial and otherwise – because as you will see, money is not the issue – all of us (me and the Wife, my parents) were most bent about their complete lack of sensitivity and consideration. Obviously, their objective was some desire to ‘winter in California,’ and that selfish desire was the only factor that entered their minds. Did I mention earlier that they also brought their dog?

When they first arrived, the best was made of it. My parents arranged to leave early, before Christmas, to stay in Northern California with my sister (our family Christmas would be at her place this year), and remain until the second week of January. That cleared out three or four weeks for them.

Just prior to my parents’ return after Christmas (Incidentally, they are in the midst of re-establishing themselves as permanent Southern California residents after living in Michigan – also – for the last several years. They are in the process of finding their own place to buy or rent. So it’s not like their living here is anything permanent.), the Wife had another sit down with her dad. The thrust and intention was for them to move on – or at least take up residence with the daughter now living in San Diego. She emphasized that the downstairs room (separate bath) was my parents’ room, they owned it . . . blahblahblah. Her dad’s reaction was, ‘Oh. Well then we’ll move to the upstairs room right now, if that’s what you want.’ Kind of hurt-like, kind of tip-toeing on eggshells. She said obliquely, ‘It’s just a lot of people in one place . . .’

He didn’t take, or refused to take, the obvious hint. So for the bulk of January we had both parties. And it wasn’t no party. The dad, Phineas, is kind of charming and seemingly innocuous, if time-consuming. The step-mom, Adele, is very hard to take. Just irritating. I talked about it before.

So allow me to temporarily set aside the fact that they are not super-likable people. Let’s even assume they are likable. What developed was a dynamic where they essentially controlled the common areas of the house. Because they don’t have anything going on –both retired, no apparent avocations, just ‘on vacation’ – they are just in wait for fresh meat to walk inside their perimeter. And they start talking. My parents are both quite engaged. My mom is a professional photographer who is studying web design and is currently dedicating herself to scouting for places to live. My step-dad is both a working professional musician and a working business sales consultant, and a dedicated writer in that capacity. They, like myself and the Wife, have stuff to do.

Even when we don’t have stuff to do, I can hide in my office. The Wife can ‘take naps.’

My parents don’t have the same luxury. They do a lot of work on their computers – something very uncomfortable or maybe impossible to do for long sitting on your bed. It’s necessary for them to use space in the common areas to work. But it’s nigh impossible when there is always someone lying in wait to suck the air out of the room. Frustration was smoldering. Especially when Phineas and Adele finally made good on going for a 10-day visit to daughter Dotty in San Diego, only to return after just five days. It wasn’t actually a Dotty visit; Dotty was on a short vacation herself, so they stayed at her place in her absence. When she returned, the first thing she said to them was, ‘I’m really tired. You guys have to go.’

So we got them back.

Believe it or not, even though they would have been back in a few days anyway, this was crushingly disappointing to us all. We discussed it. There was some hope Phineas and Adele would get down there, reflect on the situation in our house, and realize it was time to go home to Michigan – or stay in San Diego. Also, if nothing else, we had banked on four or five more days of calm and silence. And now it was all gone, including the slim hope of their ‘splitting time’ between us and Dotty – Dotty clearly wasn’t having any of that. Even more crushing was that they really seemed to hunker down upon returning. Not even a side-long glance of recognition of the imposition they were making on us. They were dead-set on just plowing through this four months, and everyone else be damned.

Come last Thursday it all broke open. My mom made a conscious decision not to confine herself to her room. It was rainy afternoon and she was reading a book on the couch in the living room, kind of like having your nose in a book on an airplane: ‘Do not disturb.’

The sign was not heeded. Phineas and Adele continually dragged her into conversation. The conversation turned to the recent film, Revolutionary Road. Adele maintained the film was about Women’s Lib, and went on to engage my mom with her own thoughts about Women’s Lib.

***Side note. This from Wikipedia.com from Richard Yates, the author of the book, about the book:

Theme

In the October 1999 issue of the Boston Review, Yates was quoted on his central theme: “If my work has a theme, I suspect it is a simple one: that most human beings are inescapably alone, and therein lies their tragedy.” The Wheelers’ frustrations and yearnings for something better represent the tattered remnants of the American Dream.


According to my mom, it wasn’t that she’s against Women’s Lib. It’s that Adele was drawing conclusions about it and about the two of them that my mom disagreed with. Irritated already that she wasn’t being allowed to read her book, she decided that she didn’t fundamentally have to allow this woman to cram her half-baked ideas down her throat. When my mom (her account here) tried to voice an differing opinion, Adele shut her down repeatedly, in the manner of, ‘Yes, but –’ and then ignoring what my mom had said.

Enough got to be enough and my mom tried to slink away to her room non-confrontationally. Along the way, she couldn’t get her dog to follow her into the room, which got her flustered. Meantime, Adele actually started to follow her to continue her diatribe. The Wife asked my mom what was wrong . . . and she blew up.

Mom started half-screaming/half-crying, saying that she couldn’t take it anymore. It was Adele. She was stupid. She wanted to trumpet her stupid Women’s Lib theories and pigeon-hole everyone else into the same thinking. She had fixed opinions and didn’t let anyone else have another viewpoint. She was just trying to quietly read her book, and they kept dragging her into conversation. And then when she finally engaged, Adele wouldn’t let her make a statement.

Phineas tried to calm things down, saying they were just having a conversation. Mom yelled back, ‘No we weren’t! She was the only one talking. And I don’t know why you’re defending her, Phineas. She was doing the exact same thing to you.’

Within a couple of minutes, my mom was out of the house. (Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, my step-dad was away on business.)

One can imagine the effect this would have on household dynamics. Right off, Adele sat down to confer with the Wife, Adele playing dumb – though that comes naturally. She claimed none of that happened. She wondered why my mom thought she was stupid. She defended herself. Phineas occupied himself with an unnecessary phone call to duck the turmoil. When he finished, he told her to try not to take it personally, that it was just an outburst, that it would blow over and things would be all right.

The Wife had to go to work earlier than I. Adele switched to me, trying to plead her innocence. I told her to try not to be upset, but I knew that was hard. I tried to stay neutral and not aggravate the situation. Additionally, I hadn’t actually heard anything except my mom’s outburst. I found out later about the general nature of the ‘conversation.’

I got ready for work. When I came downstairs, Phineas was talking quietly on the phone. I looked down at the bottom of the stairs, and Adele was lying on her side on the kitchen floor, one hand covering her eyes, the other clutching her rib cage. Turns out Phineas was calling 911. She had ‘fainted.’ Yes, two fire trucks, paramedics, a gurney, medical equipment, oxygen mask, the whole deal.

We’ve seen this act before. Last time she visited she ended up in the hospital for a week. That started with a ‘fainting’ spell, and was followed by exhaustive tests – all negative. Eventually, the doctor as much as accused her of faking, and sent her packing.

This time they discharged her the very next day. Recall she already spent a week in the hospital earlier this visit – again having no measurable symptoms despite for what she claimed to be feeling – and was sent home none the worse for wear.

Because of the situation, they finally were forced to make a move. Adele decided she couldn’t stay here under these conditions, so they started looking for a hotel that accepted dogs.

By Saturday, three days later, they were still here – to everyone’s discomfort. But they had found an Extended Stay Hotel that was acceptable for $93 a night. It appeared they would check in the next day. I don’t know why they couldn’t check in that day, but . . . whatever.

The previous night I’d slept poorly, going over in my head for the umpteenth time everything that was wrong with the situation they’d created here. I imagined having lunch with them and telling them these things in a calm, matter-of-fact way.

Back to Saturday, the wife called to invite me to lunch with the three of them. I normally wouldn’t accept, but figured this was destiny.

I rode with Phineas and Adele to the restaurant to meet the Wife. As soon as we got in the car Adele said she wanted to ask me a question, just to satisfy Phineas.

‘Rather than us moving into the hotel and paying $90 a night, would you rather we paid you the money and stayed here?’

‘I don’t think that’d be a good idea. It’s probably best to get the hotel,’ I said.

Phineas nodded and said, ‘Well, we’re just really sorry about what happened . . .’

‘Well,’ I said, ‘it really has hardly anything to do with what happened the other day. That was just a blow up, from some tension or something. The main thing is it’s just really hard having three separate families in this one house. It puts a big strain on everything.’

Phineas: ‘Well, we just really had no idea there would be a problem . . .’

I said, ‘I don’t know about that. I have a hard time believing that two intelligent adults couldn’t see how unusual it is to come live with someone for four months. When you first had this idea, it seemed like a really long time to me. I went around asking everyone I knew, and no one had ever had it happen to them. No one had even heard of it happening to someone they knew. Coming to visit for a week or two weeks, that’s great. But three or four months . . . that’s just not normal.’

I had said this to Phineas. He proceeded to say nothing at all. He was shaking more than his usual tremors, and he looked a little shocked. Perhaps he was silent just to control himself. Or perhaps it was his usual strategy of ignoring communication that conflicts with his agenda.

Finally, Adele said, ‘Well thank you for being honest. I really appreciate that.’

That made me feel better. I was even shaking a little.

Since I didn’t have a chance to brief the Wife, she didn’t know this had transpired. During lunch, Phineas and Adele said they were going to move out to the hotel tomorrow. Later the Wife told me she was so happy and excited, but had to try not to act that way.

Sunday, the Wife had been doing some work to maybe improve her parents’ situation. She had found a turnkey mobile home for rent (paid utilities, cable, furnished, etc.) for just $900 for one month. She went with them to look at it.

In the car, Adele turned on her, yelling that it wasn’t all about the Wife, that she had feelings too, and she wanted to be heard. The Wife said she didn’t want to talk about – couldn’t handle talking about it, please – several times. But Adele persisted and began to berate the Wife. Finally the Wife said she had to get out of the car.

‘Good!’ said Adele.

So they left her on the side of the street.

The rest of the day, her father’s phone was turned off (he never turns it off). The Wife was sure neither of them was going to talk to her again.

Next day, evening, the wife tries Dad’s phone again and gets him. He says he turned off his phone when they went to a movie and forgot to turn it on again.

The Wife wonders, of course, was he not going to call her? For her it brought back horrible memories of living with them for a year during high school. Adele a couple of times sent her a note at school telling her not to come home. The Wife called her dad and he just said, ‘Well, there’s nothing I can do . . .’ So she would have to beg a friend to stay the night – humiliating and degrading.

So as disgusted as we all were initially, we’re more so now. However, there is a massive feeling of relief as well. Coupled with several cathartic sessions bitching about how hopelessly selfish – amoral even – these people have been, we’re all feeling a bit better. And at least the house is quiet (normal) again.

Phineas and Adele are looking for places to stay in San Diego. I still don’t know why they don’t just impose themselves on Dotty the way they did us. But in any event, Dotty’s about to have her fair measure of pain till they finally go back to their hole in Michigan.