Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Black Holes and Revelations

When I walk in, the shop is silent.  I put my purse down in the back, my breakfast and lunch in the cooler; grab an apron, and take my knife kit to the cutting board.  I think about calling out to Tommy, but then think better of it.  He’s probably in his office, enjoying the lull.  I won’t bother him.  In fact, the quiet is nice.  He most certainly heard me come in—the guy has ears like a cat.
            There was no car parked out back, so I assume that Grace dropped him off and then went to run her errands, which happens often.  I do my usual routine:  put away the clean(ish) dry dishes from the previous day; wash any dirty ones waiting in the sink; dump the cold water from the rag buckets and replace it with warm water, soap, and bleach.  Both boards are a little dirty, and all the knives are as well, so I give them all a good scrubbing. 
I check the case; it looks pretty full.  The filets in there look like shit, so I can’t do any of those yet.  If I put any of mine in there, the old ones won’t get bought, and they need to get sold first since they’ve been sitting there since yesterday.  Pretty sure I still need to cut some for gift boxes though, let me check. . . . In the freezer I quickly find the box of individually wrapped six-ounce filets that I started and filled last week.  I needed 72.  I cut 72.  The box now has 24.  So that’s what I get started on.
There are some tenderloins already trimmed in the cooler; I’ll save those for when we get busy, or if someone asks for a filet with no bacon. 
Soon, Kyle and John walk in.
“Just you today,” Kyle states rather than asks.
I cock my head to the side, indicating my confusion.
“Tommy’s in a black hole; he hasn’t been here all week.”
That’s why it’s so quiet.
It’s funny how they gave him off last Saturday specifically so that they could try and prevent him from going into a black hole during the holidays this year.  I remember thinking that giving him a day off would only delay the inevitable.  

Friday, September 22, 2017

That Old Familiar Bullshit

It’s already September 20th.
            Things are starting to die here.
            Leaves tumble from the green trees with little ceremony; the fallen scrape along the sidewalks and roads, yellow and crunchy. 
            There hasn’t been much work for me this year, which is my own fault.  I was out of town for . . . St. Patrick’s Day:

(went to The Farm where Hunter’s parents live and did a 1-mile beer run)

Father’s Day:

(I was all over Europe for two weeks, but I was in Paris on Father’s Day.
We rode a bicycle-powered carousel.)

Fourth of July:

(Florida with Frank’s family for his parents’ 50th anniversary.
I got to watch these dudes expertly filet a ton of fish—and shark!)

and Labor Day:

(Austin for the World Beard & Mustache Championships.
We got to see the bats!).

            I haven’t even had time to cook anything fun lately.  Breakfast is protein cereal and cashew milk.  My other meals consist of thawing out either chicken thighs (lunch) or fish filets (dinner) and baking them in the oven (or browning some sausage or a pound of ground turkey in a skillet), then tossing seasoning or sauce on it; boiling a bag of frozen veggies, and/or throwing some quinoa or couscous in a pot on the stove.  I haven’t cooked off a recipe in a long time. 

I found this amazing seasoning/sauce combo at the Kimmswick Strawberry festival;
it’s all I use now.

I was going to make a post about Valentine’s Day but just never got around to it.  I worked Easter and Memorial Day, but there just wasn’t much to say about it.  Or there was, but it was all the usual bullshit that you’re familiar with by now. 

*                      *                      *

            Tommy turned 50 in May of this year.  I kept meaning to ask Grace if she had anything planned for him.  I finally talked to her the weekend before he turned. 
            “I was just gonna get him a cake and a balloon, ya know?  I don’t really know what else to do.” 
            Well, I knew.  Tommy had been admiring the apron that Frank got me from for our anniversary this year.  Technically he got it for Christmas, but they handmake every order, so it didn’t arrive in time. 
Obviously, it was already too late for me to try and custom order him one, but a new knife shop opened up in Frank’s neighborhood that I knew had aprons for sale.  The only other place I could think that might have butcher aprons was the knife shop on The Hill where we get our knives sharpened.  (Fun fact:  the shop doesn’t actually own any of the knives that they make, but I do.) 
Both shops are only open during bank hours, (i.e.:  the hours that I’m working my desk job) and I only had one day when I could get there before they closed, so I could only make it to one shop.  I went with the one in Frank’s neighborhood, since I had visual confirmation of their aprons. 
They were $90, and not of as good of quality as mine. 
I didn’t know what else to get him, so I went with a green one and had them gift wrap it. 
I drove directly to the shop so I could leave it there overnight and he would find it waiting for him the next morning.  Lately every time I’d stopped by, Tommy was gone by 2pm, so I was surprised to find him standing in the back door when I opened it.  I tried unsuccessfully to hide the bag from him, and he tried unsuccessfully to hide his smile from me. 
He wasn’t expecting it.
He wasn’t expecting much of anything I think, with all of his family living out of state, and very few friends and not much of a life to speak of outside of work. 
And that’s why I did it.
I’m a softie when it comes to birthdays, and all I could think was, when I turn 50 . . . I hope someone remembers me. 
The next time we worked together, he made sure to let me know that he was going to be wearing his new apron and I should wear mine, too.  He couldn’t help complaining that mine has more pockets than his.

*                      *                      *

No one’s seen Nicole in over six months.  I always ask if anyone’s talked to her; no one really has.  Gus doesn’t work at the shop anymore, since he makes more money building houses with his dad.  And Kyle is actually not her nephew, like I previously thought; he’s just Gus’ friend, and therefore doesn’t have regular contact with her.  Nicole used to call Grace every day just to talk.  Now she might call once a week. 
She met a guy on some online dating site.  For their first date, he took her to Grafton on the back of his motorcycle.  For those not familiar with the St. Louis Metropolitan and Surrounding Areas, Grafton is a town in Illinois known for its steep hills and sweeping views of the Mississippi River. 
This guy tried to take his big ass Harley Fat Boy or Road King or whatever the hell it was, up one of these hills . . . rode over some gravel . . . dropped the bike . . . and Nicole with it. 
Mr. Fat Boy was fine.  Nicole shattered her wrist and had to have pins and plates and screws put in.  She was not expected to be able to work either of her jobs for six months. 
A few weeks later, Tommy hadn’t seen or heard from her, so he sent her a text to check up on her and ask how the recovery was going. 
The response that came was, “Nicole lost her phone this is Craig.”
Tommy already knew Craig as the guy from the Fat Boy incident, so he knew that Nicole hadn’t actually lost her phone.  Tommy simply replied, “Hi Craig this is Tommy.”
When someone finally was able to talk to Nicole, she explained that Craig only takes her phone “sometimes.”  “Because he just gets so jealous.”  Particularly of Tommy. 
. . .
. . .
Of Tommy.
. . .
O-kaaay. . . .

Her daughter Jill doesn’t like the guy, either—says he’s really possessive and insecure.  Grace started theorizing that maybe the “motorcycle accident” . . . wasn’t really an accident.  Stockholm Syndrome, anyone? 
“We gotta get her away from this guy,” Grace concludes.
How?  If you text her, you don’t know if she’ll read it, or if Craig will see it, delete it, and block your number for good measure.  Nicole is my friend on Facebook, and <3’s everything that I post, so maybe try a Facebook message?
Tommy cuts in, “You think it’s Nicole hearting all your posts, but it could be Craig. . . .”
            I’m stuck.  I don’t know how you make a human do something they don’t want to do.  In my experience, any attempt at dissuading a person from doing anything only makes them want to do that thing more. 
            So for now . . . we don’t really know what to do. 
            Blink twice if you need help?

*                      *                      *

Burt passed away. 
I don’t know much about the circumstances, but his health hadn’t been good in a long while.  I know that he was on life support, and they decided to take him off of it.  I missed the service because I was still in Austin.  When I got back, the whole family had left town for a wedding. 
Tommy disappeared for a few days, leaving Kyle and John to run the shop on their own.  They said it wasn’t a problem because business has been super slow lately.  I gave Kyle my number anyways, and told him to text me if they needed anything. 
A few days later, Tommy’s neighbor—the one who always gives him rides to and from work—passed away due to heart surgery complications.  He was 50 years old.

*                      *                      *

Work at the meat shop won’t start up again for me until November, but I still drop by every other week or so.  Hold your loved ones tight, and make sure they know how much they mean to you. 

Cheers, Burt.  Thanks for initiating me into the world of meat.  I won’t forget it, or you.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Squad Goals

Sometimes I wonder what other people think of me.
            Not often, but sometimes I do.
            I know that there are plenty of people out there who just don’t like me.  (Just ask any of my exes.)  And that’s just fine. 
            Sometimes I wonder what the guys at the shop would say about me, if someone asked them:  “What’s she like?”
            Am I . . .
            A bitch?
            I think that I am all of these things and more . . . but I realize that the guys at the shop don’t really know me very well. 
            None of them hit on me, so obviously none of them think of me in “that” way.  Or they know I’m too old for them; or they respect the fact that I am unavailable.  Maybe I’m just the chick at the meat shop to them.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

I Got Your Hollies and Your Jollies Right Here

Grace is really excited. 
            She has this great idea to have me come in weeknights to get started cutting filets for gift boxes.  I can just cut the beef—no bacon wrapping and skewering—and she will cryovac them and freeze them.  It’ll save so much time later on; she’ll just thaw them out, wrap them in bacon, and wrap them for gift boxes. 
            The delivery truck comes Tuesday, so she tells me to text her Wednesday about coming in Wednesday night. 
            Wednesday comes, and she tells me not to bother coming in. 

When I come in Saturday, there are two trays of filets in the cooler. 
“So after Grace asked me to come in and cut filets, you guys decided to have someone else do it?” I ask Tommy.
“I—I don’t . . . Leroy did those, so yeah I guess.” 
Leroy’s new nickname is Leroy the Tornado.  Because he whips through fast and leaves mass destruction in his wake.  He is fast and furiously trimming and tying tenderloin in the back room; standing in pools of blood of his own making.

As I start to get myself situated for the day—clearing off the work space, straightening everything, putting gloves, skewers, and a scale within reach—Grace comes by and whispers, “I love the guy, but I hate how all of Leroy’s filets are different sizes.”
I simply shrug.  I suppose that’s what happens when you call someone else in to do what I do best.
A few weeks ago, she was wrapping up a bunch of six ounce filets that I’d cut, and she kept asking, “Are these sixes or eights?” 
Those are sixes.  That’s what they look like when you weigh them

I’m cutting for orders and gift boxes, not the case.  They stock the case with the filets that Leroy made.  Once I start cutting, their shittiness becomes even more apparent.  Tommy starts throwing them away and taking my fresh ones for customers.  Not even tossing them in the grinder, just putting them in the garbage.  Meat that we could have sold for $19.99 a pound.  One . . . two . . . three . . . and it’s official:  if they’d had me come in for a few hours Wednesday night, they would’ve made money on this deal. 
Grace asks me to come in Sunday, strictly to cut filets for gift boxes. 

Her other great idea—spurred on by Kyle—is to limit the number of orders we take each day this holiday season.  We are accepting 175 orders to be picked up on Christmas Eve; 250 orders for pick-up on the 23rd and 22nd.  After that, customers have to pick up the 21st, and so on.  Orders for the 21st will have to be frozen if they’re expecting to be served on Christmas. 
This will work out great—if they’re actually able to stick to it.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Deer oh Deer

Deer oh Deer

Ugh.  Again?
            Bad decisions . . . bad decisions. . . .
            Not terrible bad, just . . . one too many margaritas . . . stayed out one hour too late. . . .
            And there’s that feeling, in the pit of my stomach, like we went to bed mad. 
            I make a pot of coffee, pour myself a cup to drink while getting ready, and pour the rest into one of my thermoses.  Then I make another pot, fill a second thermos, and leave the rest for Frank.  I’m not fucking around today. 
            I had such grand plans for this morning, too.  I was gonna make a big pot of oatmeal, and clean up the mess that’s been laying around since Thursday. . . .
            I don’t normally shower before going into the shop, but today I need it.  And maybe, just maybe, my body will be able to hold onto some of that cleanliness until the end of my shift, because I have two weddings to attend tonight. 
            So of course there’s no hot water.
            Not how I wanted to start this day. 
            My car says I have about 30 miles until my tank is empty.  I’ll make it to the shop easily, but the first wedding is out in O’Fallon, so I’ll need to stop before then. 
            High of 47 today; it’s been such a warm fall that this is the coldest day we’ve had so far.  It’ll be even colder in the shop; they don’t like to turn on the heat or the air because they’re cheap.  My number one priority today is keep myself warm.  If I can keep myself warm, my hands will be warm.  If my hands are warm, they’ll work better, and I won’t cut myself like I did last weekend.  Although last weekend . . . was a little different.

Friday, August 26, 2016


I can still feel the tears on my eyelashes.
            I really hope it’s not surgery.
            Not again.
            I found a second grey hair last week.

            When my first alarm goes off in the morning, I hit the snooze button.  Frank rolls over and wraps his arms around me so that we can cuddle for ten minutes until my second alarm goes off.
            I have never—not one single day in my adult life that I can recall—woken up rested, refreshed, and/or ready to face the day.  It doesn’t matter how much sleep I get, I don’t want to wake up.

            Frank is still in bed 25 minutes later, when I’m ready to walk out the door.
            I crawl across the covers, snuggle up next to him and ask, “What time are you getting up?”
            “I dunno,” he answers groggily.
            “Do you have to work today?”
            “I worked extra hours all week so I’m off today.”
            “Oho, jerk!  Then you’re driving tonight.”

*                      *                      *

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


“How do you come back from that?”

            How do you come back from that? 
            I’ve been asking myself that question for three weeks now, and I still don’t have an answer.
            Not really.
            How do you go from looking upon mountains to staring at spreadsheets all day?
            How do you climb a glacier . . . and then just go back to sitting at a desk?