Friday, January 28, 2011

A Different year a Different Feel

This year I decided to do somethings different, first I have started working again, but at a place that was most unlike of me...a fast food restaurant.

It is strange because, before when I was a paying customer, it was a different feel to now that I am working there, it is challenging and interesting. It seems that fast food restaurants have a very high turnover, and lately they all have hiring posters like, "We are hiring..." and stuff, so I said to myself, "Let me see if they will take me in", so I signed up, and two weeks later I received a call, got my uniform...and cap and trained to say to hungry/angry/impatient Trinis, "Hi Welcome to ..................., what are you having?"...topped with cherry cheeks and a smile.

As a paying customer you want to be pleasantly treated, and served quickly. Sometimes you get a bit of attitude from the workers, this is not right because it is a service industry, and they have to provide the service. You are spending your money you want good service.

Now lets look at the workers' perspective:

He/She is putting in 8-12 hours of work a day for $12-$16 an hour tops. Basically, they are supposed to work for 8 hours, with one 30 minute break. You are actually on your feet for 7 hours and 30 mins and even more, if, like me, you are early and start working as soon as you reach. With a full staff, this is quite easy, and after the shop is closed, they can clean up within the hour. When we are short staffed, clean up takes from one to two and a half hours.

Let me break it down for you, One person is cashing, three people are serving the customers, one person is washing up and one person continues to prep the food so that it does not run out. These jobs can be switched, and each person can assist each other so that at the end of the day, all workers can return home early and at a safe time. Most times this is not the case.

In reality, you are grossly understaffed, and because of this some workers have to work double shifts like 17 hours. Other workers simply do not turn up for work, just like that. And yet still, others don't pull their weight. So one person have to do two or three jobs. And 8 hours feel essentially like two days, and you will not be getting paid for that.

And then there are the customers like the following:

The Drunks- this is a free country and you are free to drink as much as you can, please, pretty please, don't be fall down drunk and decide to, "Ooooooooorrrrder aaahhhhhhhh *swaying*  *drifting* HEY! yuh aint seee meeee standin' hereeee?" *blubbering*.

Please, order first before drinking, and then burst your liver later, we simply can't be bothered.

The Elderly- I love my old folks, but if you come in and there are 15 sour faces in the line, please don't make an order. Return later when there are no one or at least three people, or else you will simply get no respect. We have to serve each customer in under 5 mins, we cannot handle 50 questions plus prices, and, "Why you not smiling, I could be your granny." Yes ma'am, while I do understand your plight, this is simply not the place for such discussions when there are aggressive glaring customers behind you.

The Joint Smoker - I have nothing against marijuana, but please take us servers into consideration, who have to smell your green tainted breath, while your scrambled brains try to  decode the colorful messages swimming around in your head, sleep it off and return later.

The Gunta (or Bad Boy)- A hungry man is an angry man, please, take a chill pill, pocket the gun, knife, daggers, etc. We are not going to call the police, and we don't want to beat you up. We only need your money.

The Charmer- You will get the best service, and the best pieces of meat, you are loved.

The Flirt- You are loved as well, but many of us have kids, and boy-friends and husbands, and the worst thing that can happen is that they come in and see you flirting with us, unless you can kick like Bruce Lee, you need state your order, pay and get out.

The Crazy Eyes- yes your stomach is controlling how you can see, focus, please, focus. You will get your order in no time.

The Order Barker- Yes we make 70% less than you. So while you are glaring at us, and treating us like dirt, we are smiling, and will give you less than you are paying for, no lie. I am not a pro at this, but the other girls can win Oscars©  in this category.

The Know-What-You want- you are pleasant, patient, and direct. You are a shining example.

The Bad Breath- We are dealing with food, and you just make us want to puke all over it, say it with me: PEPPERMINT. Thanks.

The Silent Voice-Trinis can cuss, and they do so very loudly, especially where I am working, and they are usually very quiet. So, if I ask you to speak louder, please do so, and since I am tonal deaf, I will need to read your lips to help with your order.

The Slug- Yep you are slow, and you painfully drrrrrrraaaaaaaggggggg your order. Please no questions, just mmmooooooooovvvvvvveeeeee along.

The Smoker- Please see The Bad Breath

The Boulder Mouth Pointer- Do you see that glass screen, it is to prevent foreign contaminant, and saliva missiles. In addition, do not reach over and point your busted finger at me, my clothes or my face, it is offensive and again....foreign contaminated.

The Tourist- Welcome to Trinidad and Tobago, and please come again. 

That is all I have for now, there is a new story every day, and new challenges...but with some soft shoes, determination, and a smile, I will be out of there.

2011©Lisa Marie Bonaparte

Monday, January 24, 2011

As if I have nothing else to say....

I found this article, it is so interesting I decided to add the link from the BBC. I should comment with my thoughts later.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Diversity and Black Yellow, Brown and Pink

For a while I held off discussing race on CafféLatté Magazine, because I did not want to be controversial and add fire to the flames of hate. So bear with me and and chill. Here we go:

When I first got the idea for CafféLatté Magazine I was in college. Our project was to design a magazine layout on any subject, I believe it was our 2nd term, and it was one of the most projects oriented term at Katharine Gibbs School. I offered the idea to my professor and she was not too impressed, and I did not understand then, as I do now. Even though there are many interracial couples and mixed people in NYC, using a magazine to target them could cause some serious trouble. However, I was disappointed, but my mom grew us up to believe that if we don't stand for something, we cannot stand at all. And so I defended my right to design the magazine. On a conditional watery approval, I excitedly computerized my ideas. In a nutshell I got a good grade. Which is not so bad, but my layout was a bit off, and the heading font design had some issues, because even my mom had some problems with it.

For that sample mag I interviewed my first couple, they met at a factory, she was from Italy, and he was from North/South Carolina, they had three grown children, and they were only too happy to share their story. To this day they are still married and in love, and I think their last daughter just got married.

I was not always too open on the prospect of race mixing. I believed in pure race and anything that smacks of any other race, I could not be bothered. But inside of me, in my inner sanctum, there were questions, and blah answers to go with them. So, I sat and read and looked at movies. There was nothing that I held myself back from, except the book, Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler, which I think was basically a do not go there decision. All I had to do was read up on Germany's history during the period of WWII, plus countless of books, and tapes and articles on the Holocaust, The Pianist (personally, this is on of my favourite movies) and the Tattoo-skin lamp, and the Concentration camps and Anne Frank's Diary. I also looked at movies like Rosewood, and Roots, the movie and the book by Alex Hayley. I looked up KKK sites and felt repulsed, but because of free speech I remained with an open mind to hear what they had to say. I looked at the Black Panthers and what they wanted America to understand, and I read up on the Tuskegee Airmen. Basically I decided to educate myself, so that when I made a decision, it was not by hearsay or "theysay", it became I think and I understand.

In my last term, my Sociology Professor, said many things and warmed my heart. She began the term by stating her race, and she spoke about her DNA make up. She was one of the curious few who decided to do DNA testing to trace her ancestry. And one of the things she encouraged us to do, is to take that test, which I plan to do. She encouraged us to think about the world around us, and migration, and poverty, and what makes a freak, we also did a brief segment on American History X. If you are interested I will search to see if I have her name. She was lovely, and I profoundly remembered how she made Sociology very socially appealing.

Which brings me to my longtime guilty pleasure, the book, Stuff White People Like. I am a frequent visitor to the website and the stuff is hilarious. I look at it purely out of entertainment purposes. I don't take it too seriously, but author has made some pretty interesting observations. I have not read the book, but with some more guts, I will take a look in due time.

2011©Lisa Marie Bonaparte

Sunday, January 16, 2011

A free ride

One thing I notice about living in the Caribbean is that people love a free ride. Now, I don't mind if someone needs help, and you have the means to do so, its a personal decision and the ball is in your court.

Growing up, I have found that friendship is a very expensive relationship to have, so by all means it must work for the both or the whole lot of you in that group. Let me explain. You grew up with this person, you both lived in the same area, you shared your dreams, goals, moments, tears, braids, etc. Basically, they have your back and you have theirs, a beautiful friendship.

Now, life tends to change things, divorces, unemployment, accidents, migrations. Suddenly, you find yourself growing out of the friendship, and you both are no longer close. Then one day you bounce up:

"Hey, what's up, how is your mother/auntie/uncle?"

They good, what about you? How is Amber and ....."

Suddenly, there is a common bond there, you exchange notes, history, address, telephone numbers. You are excited. But then, there is a little seed called "Strange". It does not appear right away, it is growing. Strange the Seed, can start off real cute with some "kitchy-koo" flowers, but little did you know, that "kitchy-koo" usually grows into "Ungrateful the Gobble".

You find that whenever there is a problem, you are the first person of choice, you have to leave your job before break to help them out, you have to give them money every-time you meet, babysit their hordes of kids, listen to their midnight rants, loan them this and loan them that, and don't get it back, drop them here and drop them there. When you really take stock of yourself, and them, you find that in terms of accomplishments they are always one step ahead of you. While, you are always in their shadow. And when they sense that you will out shine them, they suddenly develop another problem for you, the Friday night bobolee, to help them out of. And you say yes.

"Friendship is a very expensive word", said one partner of mine.

Now, you all must think, that I don't like to help people, and that is how folks used to do it long time. I have an experience. There is this person I know who has a car, they go to work with it and then they return and park it up, that person has a  friend with stiff knees, they are very close, when the friend with the stiff knees needs a ride, does "Park-up-car" offer her a ride? Nope. "Stiffy" must travel.

So, if I am going out with a group, and I am requested pick up folks, I have several requirements: you must live 5 mins from me, or meet me by my street; if I do have to pick you up, gas and car parts are expensive, I require some compensation upfront, as you sit in my air-conditioned space; and if you want me to do the following: wait, pick-up an unknown person, or something, or take a detour, find someone else to make pick up arrangements. This applies for returning home. Lastly, for free benefits, and my Heart of Gold VIP card service, you must be of this group: family, elderly, single parent who is seriously strapped for cash and, the disabled. And so far, it has been great. I am able to reserve space in my vehicle for beautiful people, and I enjoy talking with the older ones, they are the gemstones of society, and they have really good advice for young people.

You learn as you earn and grow up. Learning to deal with people are one of the most rewarding experiences in this common bond of humanity. Not learning to deal with people causes wars and strife. Also, setting standards, brings about a measure of respect and good relations, not to mention, quality service. Respecting standards encourages great human relations. Finally, if you disagree with something, do it with class and humility, remember there is nothing wrong with humility.

2011©Lisa Marie Bonaparte

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Long Week

First, I would like to say how sorry I am for missing so many days here. I am in training until next Tuesday, and it is for the whole day, so for my avid CafféLatté readers, I will post some more stuff next week.

Meanwhile take a look at this group of talented youngsters who love gymnastics, and they are really good too! I am also amazed at their professionalism at such a young age.

The video is posted by a group called Kids Who Rip. They show young people who keep themselves busy through sports and other creative activities. It is such a great site that I am checking it out as I am writing, its really awesome stuff!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Busy as a Stinging Bee

I have been as busy as a bee since last Friday, plus organizing my place for a lovely visitor. I can't believe I have so much books, plus Encyclopedia's.

Do you ever remember when Trinis went wild for Collier's Encyclopedia? My grandmother still has her 1970's set, and I have the 1985 set. That salesman made a mint, so I am organizing that, and some design books in my collection. Its been 2 years since I bought my last fashion magazine, now its all about NatGeo, I figured if I have to buy a book or something, it better be educating me. Plus, I gave away my Vogue magazines anyway, but kept my Bridal's though, just in case  I get the marriage itch, which hits me almost every year. My favorites are Elegant Bride, I simply like their eye for detail and colour. Nothing beats Architectural Digest and Florida Digest, which I hoard. I have a Maco magazine which is about Caribbean living, I only buy those if I see them, frankly I actually love the layout, it is very clean, but I have one, if I can get a gift subscription that would be fine thank you.

Finally, I am on Skype. Which is interesting, because I now have to be well dressed to speak to my people, not that there is anything wrong with that, but does get pretty warm here, and that's that.

Lately I have been looking at this chick on Youtube, she is so hilarious, have a look:

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Never judge a book by its cover

Take a look at the guy in the video. He looks nothing like a radio personality, but his voice is on FIRE! its like he is awakening something in me to just listen to him. It would be great if someone just take him in, so that he has a real job!

I found out his name, its Ted Williams.

Turns out, he did get a job. Here is the video.

2011©Lisa Marie Bonaparte

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

When all you want to do is run away

Avoid Nalovent the Negative in 2011
At the age of 25, I packed my bags, and left home. I did not have to make two trips, and I never looked back. It was not easy, I have been dreaming about this day since I was 14. The whole process happened in less than a month. And here I am, still thriving, although age has crept up on my face, and I no longer have that youthful, fresh glow. well I  do have a natural glow, that comes from oily skin, and constant reminders of, "Like you going to work at KFC, your face so oily".

Have you heard of the term, "A face that only a mother could love". That does not apply to me.  Have you ever met some folks, who are sort of unpalatable on the outside, but when you get to know them, suddenly their 'unpaletableness' disappears, and suddenly they are radiant and beautiful...without a physical makeover. Whereas, some of the most beautiful people have horrible personalities, its like one moment you are admiring their perfectly manicured nails, and when you look up they have the face that resembles the top of an old time car battery.

Do you feel like you are in a deep well and you can't climb out because the walls are slippery? Or you are surrounded by a gang of expert losers and you can't seem to get past them? Do you feel you are holding yourself back?

Before I left home, I wondered if it was ever possible, can I do it, what if...The thing is, you have to know yourself, and what you can handle. Communication, is what I love, if I have to hear the good news, or the bad news, I'd rather hear the bad news first, and here is where good communication comes in. With good communication, you hear words like tact, salt and seasoning, smoothness, pronunciation, honey chocolate, anything that makes the news better to handle, though not taking away from the 'bad' aspect of the news. Bad communication comes with vile, sarcasm, acid irony, rough gravel, pelting big stone, and rotten fish speech.

This year I want to make a difference in my life, I am tired of folks telling me I can't do this or I can't do that. While I admire Thomas the Train for saying, "Yes I can-Yes I can." I want to be like Bertha the Bulldozer that says, "But I must-But I must." Or Applebee the Airplane that says, "I can fly-I can fly." Or like Melba the Mind who is poisoning the depression weed, and cultivating the Sunflower of positivity.

While it does help to leave your problems behind, it also helps if you can face them, not like Nalovent the Negative, but to face them with a positive mind and just be open to new ideas and interests, even people. Speak to someone, whom you normally would not talk to, you would be amazed at what you can learn from them, or how much you have in common.

Besides, I feel like I must do the thing I have never done before, I feel so nervous, the Butterflies in my stomach are raging like a crazy manifestation of hybrid bees.

2011©Lisa Marie Bonaparte

A Husband and A Father

I read a story in the Sunday Guardian about a father's anxiety about his new born child. It was so positive, I had to share it. And he is funny too. Very rare do you hear of men who openly express appreciation for their families, and their wives.

Last year so many men killed their own 'ribs', it was like nothing to them. Their wives became 'nothing', a broken vase, a rusty nail, something useless. And here is this guy in the newspapers, in public, stating how proud he is of his new expanded family circle.

Here is the Clipping:

Click in image to read article in larger format.

2011©Lisa Marie Bonaparte