Secret Shoppers Suck

So I work at a corporate restaurant as a server and bartender. I’ve been there for 11+ years. They have Secret Shoppers, which basically means that once a month a private company would send in spies posing as customers to make sure that the employee hits all the proper steps of service. Did the server mention a specific cocktail, appetizer, entree, dessert, ask if they were a club member, etc…

Well, long story short: I got Secret Shopped. And I failed. It’s my fault for not hitting all the steps of service, but the Secret Shoppers are normally pretty obvious and these ones were not. I got a final written warning so I could get fired if I fail again. That’s all on me, that’s fine, I have another job. But my general manager also got a final written warning because our restaurant failed two months in a row. His job is in jeopardy because I didn’t do mine. I wrote him an email and apologized.

The Secret Shopper system is to blame. Yeah, it makes sense from a corporate standpoint but it’s a terrible way to run a restaurant. People go out to eat to enjoy themselves. They don’t want their server to harass them into buying souvenir glassware, to add guacamole to their nachos for an additional charge, to tell them to buy a shirt, to upgrade their fries to cheesy bacon fries, to save room for dessert, to sign up for our membership program, to round up your check for charity. I literally have to do all that stuff to pass the Secret Shopper. I have to bug 99% of my tables on the slight chance that one of them is a Secret Shopper.

Secret Shoppers aren’t professional spies. They are bored people who sign up for the program so they can eat at for free in exchange for writing a report. They can get people fired for this. I get that I deserve to. My boss doesn’t though. His livelihood is threatened because a random couple wanted free food. Hope those chicken tenders were worth it. Secret Shoppers suck.

Critically Rated at 1/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Sneeze Emphasizer

There’s a guy that I worked with that I really respected. He seemed very professional yet personal. Friendly personality, responsible, reliable, smart but not arrogant… basically a coworker you actually want to work with. I respected him because I thought he was well kept and had everything together. And then I heard him sneeze and realized the sad truth. He is a sneeze emphasizer.

He can’t just sneeze. He has to vocalize it and draw attention to himself. He makes a weird sound when he inhales to preface the sneeze and signal it’s arrival. Then the sneeze itself is accompanied with an actual achoo. He uses his vocal chords and there’s a verbal achoo. He’s not saying “Achoo!” He’s actively amplifying the sound to be as loud as possible.

It’s physical. He uses his full body. He leans back, flails his arms, and whips his head forward as he sneezes. He’ll pause for a second or two to see if he can get a “Bless you!” or “Gesundheit!” and sneeze again and again until he gets one. It’s not allergies. It’s attention.

I can’t respect myself if I respect a sneeze emphasizer. I don’t need that type of negativity in my life.

Critically Rated at 4/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Taco Bell Cantina

I had some time to kill after work one day last week and I decided to explore the area. I came across a Taco Bell Cantina and decided to give it a shot. Taco Bell Cantina is like a fancy Taco Bell. They have the standard Taco Bell menu items, but they also have shareable meal baskets and alcohol. There’s no hard liquor but there’s beer, wine, and sangria. Alcohol is alcohol, and alcohol definitely makes Taco Bell better.

The layout of Taco Bell Cantinas are also a little different. They don’t have drive-through so you have to walk in to order. Flat screen TVs line the walls playing sports. There are big communal tables so you sometimes have to sit next to a stranger but it makes the restaurant feel more open and inviting. It definitely has a cooler vibe than your standard Taco Bell.

That being said, a Taco Bell Cantina is basically a Taco Bell that sells booze. That makes it better for me. The food isn’t any better. But I like beer and I like the fact that I can get a beer with my meal in lieu of Pepsi. Would I go back? Yeah, probably. But I’m not making it a priority.

Critically Rated at 10/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Words with Friends

Words with Friends is a mobile multiplayer word game for smartphones and tablets. It’s basically like Scrabble in that you get tiles with letters on them, you use those tiles to spell out words, trying to maximize your points by strategically placing your tiles. It was first released in 2009, and it was one of the top mobile games of 2010 and 2011. That’s when I used to play it. I was pretty addicted for a solid six months. Then I got bored of it and deleted it and forgot about it for years. You might be wondering why I am suddenly talking about Words with Friends after such an extended hiatus.

Well, you can blame Debbie for that. Debbie is a friend from work and she just discovered the game because she lives under a rock. And Debbie decided to challenge me to a game. And I decided to accept her challenge because I’m a sucker. And now I’m addicted again. I challenged another friend to a game and I started another game against the computer. It’s only been a few hours but I’m already regretting my decision. Once an addict, always an addict. Fuck you, Debbie.

Critically Rated at 9/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Where’s the Entrance?

I was ringing in an order at work a few days ago when a customer came up to me and asked, “Where’s the entrance?” I had to do a double take and asked her to repeat her question. “Where’s the entrance?” My mind went to a million different places. Where’s the entrance? What the fuck do you mean? You’re already inside. Why do you need the entrance? And how the hell did you get in here? I didn’t say any of those things. I put a fake smile on my face and walked her to the entrance. Then I went around making fun of her. They say there are no stupid questions. But there are a hell of a lot of stupid people.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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She’s Got Things She’s Bad At That Are Less Obvious

I was walking down the street and I passed by a trio of British guys sitting in front of a cafe having lunch. I overheard a snippet of their conversation and it was delightful. One of the guys had starting seeing a girl recently and evidently she was a catch because his friends seemed impressed that he had landed someone so attractive. One of the friends said that she was perfect, to which the guy responded, “She’s not perfect. She’s got things she’s bad at that are less obvious.”

Let me repeat that: She’s got things she’s bad at that are less obvious. What a great statement. It’s such a nice way of criticizing someone. I’d almost take it as a compliment. It could be a bumper sticker. It’s definitely a phrase that I’m going to use from here on out.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Don’t know what pic to use, so here you go

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Hide-and-Seek

Hide-and-seek is a popular game for children of all ages. The rules are simple. Someone hides and someone seeks. It’s a timeless game. You played it. Your parents played it. Your grandparents played it. Even kids today have been known to stop playing Fortnite for a few minutes to play a few rounds of hide-and-seek.

Kids mostly play it on playgrounds and schoolyards. Angsty teens play it in graveyards at midnight. I’m thirty-something and I play it in my apartment. Seriously. Me and my girlfriend have started playing hide-and-seek in our apartment, but there’s a twist. We play with our dog. My girlfriend will distract the dog while I hide somewhere. Then she releases the pup and he runs around trying to find me and gets really excited when he does. Then I hold the dog while my girlfriend hides. He prefers running around the park or going crazy at the beach, but he enjoys hide-and-seek when he can’t go outside. He’s getting pretty good at it. The only problem is that he thinks we are going to hide whenever we leave the room to go to the bathroom or grab something from the fridge and gives us the stink eye.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Fair Weather Fans

I was born a San Francisco Giants fan. Win or lose, they are my team and nothing can change that. They famously won three World Series in five years and suddenly Giants games were constantly being sold out. Tickets became more and more expensive and overpriced. But then the Giants started to suck. They’ve been one of the worst teams in baseball since the second half of the 2016 season. I would be disappointed by this, but it’s a blessing in disguise. It weeds out all the fair weather fans and makes games affordable again.

Losing all the fair weather fans has been a boon to my wallet. I can get two tickets to club level for less than twenty dollars with fees. I can get two nosebleed tickets for less than ten bucks. Giants tickets are cheaper than A’s tickets right now. That’s pretty amazing. I went to my first Giants game of the season a few nights ago. The stadium was half empty. It was glorious. Every single person that was there was a real fan. The energy was more genuine despite there being fewer people. Quality over quantity. Good riddance to fake fans.

Critically Rated at 5/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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SpikedSeltzer Lowered Their Alcohol Content

Lately I’ve been drinking a lot of spiked sparkling water as an alternative to beer. SpikedSeltzer was my brand of choice, not for their flavors but because they had a 6% alcohol content. Truly and White Claw have a 5% alcohol content by comparison. SpikedSeltzer was the obvious choice. But not anymore. They lowered their alcohol content down to 4.5%. That’s a significant drop, drastic enough for me to stop buying their product. I didn’t want to switch to other brands. They forced me into it. They won’t be getting my money anymore, and I spend a lot of money on booze. Someone deserves to be fired for that blunder. Hey SpikedSeltzer, bring back the 6%!

Critically Rated at 4/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Plastic Drinking Straw Ban

Attention fellow residents of San Francisco: the plastic drinking straw ban officially comes into effect in July. I can’t wait. I’ve been serving and bartending for over a decade and can attest to how wasteful they are. People are weird about straws when they go out. They want them served with every soda and cocktail they order. They expect them. They demand them. It doesn’t matter that they don’t use straws at home, as soon as they leave the house they want all the straws they can get.

I’m in public. I can’t tilt the glass and take a sip. That’s barbaric. I need a plastic tube that I can throw away after one use. Fuck you, turtle. I hope it gets stuck in your nose and you die a slow, painful, and entirely unnecessary death. “Barkeep, another straw! And keep them coming!”

Americans are addicted to making trash. Banning plastic straws is a good thing. Let’s ban the Kardashians next.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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No Hot Water

I knew today was going to suck when I first woke up and went to take a shower and there was no hot water. It was ice cold. Some people like cold showers. They find them refreshing. I’m not one of those people. I like my showers piping hot. I want to have visible steam leaving my body when I shut the water off. A few degrees short of scalding is ideal.

I had to get a little creative. I put a pot of water on the stove and brought it up to a near boil. Then I turned on the shower, dipped the shower scrunchie poof ball into the cold spray, added body wash, and quickly lathered up, shivering all the while. Then I turned off the tap and slowly poured the pot of hot water over my head and shoulders, letting gravity do the dirty work. It wasn’t the ideal situation but it got the job done. I was able to wake up a little bit more and stink a little bit less. Hopefully there will be hot water when I get home tonight or my landlord will feel my wrath.

Critically Rated at 6/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Coca-Cola Orange Vanilla

Every now and then something new comes along and completely changes everything forever. Coca-Cola’s new Orange Vanilla flavor is not one of those things, but it is still worth talking about. I like Coke. I like Cherry Coke. I like Vanilla Coke. Now I like Orange Vanilla Coke. It tastes like how it sounds it would taste. It’s like someone melted a creamsicle into Coke. It’s delicious and refreshing. It’s not for everyone, but you’ll probably enjoy it if you like Coke and trying new things. Get a bottle or can of it and join the revolution.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Dry February

I decided to take a short break from drinking. It’s been a dry February. There’s not a real reason for me doing it. I just felt like it and February is the shortest month so it seemed like the perfect time. Four short weeks, a mere twenty-eight days… totally doable.

The first night was the worst. It always is. I planned ahead though. I was stocked up on nonalcoholic beer and some indica pods for my vape. My sleep was mostly restless with weird dreams but I made it through. I noticed I had more energy in the morning after the first three days. I still needed coffee to really get going. One of the biggest obstacles to overcome was the Super Bowl. Luckily the game was so mind numbingly terrible that I didn’t need alcohol.

It’s the twenty-first today so I only have a week to go. I’m not going to lie, I’m looking forward to ending my self imposed sobriety. It’s nice being clearheaded and all, but the sheer boredom is starting to get to me. I’ve done a lot of Netflixing, reading, and a bit of writing in my spare time, but those are all tasks that go better with a beer in my opinion. Ultimately I’ve realized I don’t need alcohol but I really like it and would like to continue having it as a part of my life. In moderation of course. Everything in moderation.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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CORE Hydration Caps

CORE Hydration is a fancy brand of functional or enhanced bottled water. It’s basically overpriced water with added electrolytes. The bottle is easily distinguished by its big blue cap. The cap is way bigger than it needs to be. You could easily use it as a makeshift bowl for a dog on a hike or at the beach. The big blue cap is totally unnecessary. If you crack it open there is a regular bottled water cap underneath. CORE more than doubles the amount of plastic that it needs to just stand out on the shelf. Bottled water is already a scam and terrible for the environment. CORE Hydration takes it to a new level. I’m beginning the boycott. Say no to CORE!

Critically Rated at 3/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Crosswalk Revolution

I was walking around downtown San Francisco and had to cross the street. I went to the crosswalk and waited for the light to change and for the little green guy telling me it’s ok to go. A couple of people came to wait behind me. The light still didn’t change. A few more people started waiting behind me. The light still didn’t change. I looked to the right. No cars were coming. I looked to the left. No cars were coming. A quick glance to the right, still no cars. So I started to cross the street. And the people behind me followed me. I lead a crosswalk revolution. We crossed the street in defiance of the light and the law. We could have been hit by a car or fined for jaywalking but the sky didn’t fall and nothing happened except for everyone getting to their destinations a little faster. Would I do it again? Absolutely. And I already have. I’m a badass like that.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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The Wrong Toilet Paper

I fucked up. I bought the wrong toilet paper. It could have been worse. At least I didn’t get one-ply. It’s two-ply but it’s not the proper grade. It’s the cheap kind that disintegrates with each wipe, creating dingleberries in its wake. I should have known that QQ Bear was an off brand, but I got duped by the cartoon bear on the packaging. It definitely isn’t Charmin quality. My butthole knows the difference. I will suffer through it until it’s gone and hopefully I won’t accidentally buy it again. You live, you learn.

Critically Rated at 3/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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My Facial Hair

I would like to tell you about my facial hair. It won’t take long because I barely have any. I’m incapable of growing a beard or sideburns. My sideburns consist of six little hairs on both sides of my face. My beard consists of seven hairs scattered across my chin and one hair poking out of the top of my neck. The hairs don’t grow very fast either. I could let it grow for two months and they would still look like stubble. It’s actually faster for me to pluck my beard with tweezers than to shave it. I have a little bit of a soul patch under my bottom lip. It’s not much but it’s nicer looking than my beard. I can grow a mustache, but I don’t because it looks beyond sleazy. Not like ’70s porn star sleazy, like convicted child molester sleazy. I’ve been asked by multiple people to not participate in Movember. My facial hair offends them.

Critically Rated at 3/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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