About Me

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thought i was a donut, ya tried to glaze me

1.31.2008






When I was a teen looking for a summer the only real option was to work at the Gilded Pigeon Beach Club.* One of two beach clubs at the western-most tip of my peninsula, it was the closest to my house and within reasonable biking distance for me. Nearly everyone I knew worked there at some point in their life, whether as a lifeguard, maintenance worker, or cafeteria staff, and I spent my first year in the club as one of the camp counselors. I worked with "3" year olds, who were adorable, enjoyable, and most definitely not potty trained or actually 3 years old yet. I loved working with the kids, but the hourly pay was low. we relied mostly on tips, but a majority of the grimey parents would simply not send their kids in on tip days. This made my weekly pay sometimes around $80. At 16 I didn't have many expenses, but that was the summer I started to deposit my salary into one of the local brew halls around town, and eighty bucks for the week could not afford me many Amaretidori sours or Smirnoff ices or whatever it was I drank back then at the Tap and Grill. Also, I was growing tired of getting peed on. After one summer in the camp, I made the decision to leave the kiddies behind. I decided to take a chance and interview for what I considered to be my dream Golden Pigeon gig--working the Gate. I wanted the gate job because it was a step-up from camp counselor--a job so hated by the other workers that we weren't even invited to the employee party--and a good chance to continue my rise on the Gilded Pigeon ladder of success.

The hierarchy of coolness with the jobs went as follows : Camp Counselor & Maintenance worker tied for bottom, Cafeteria Worker (and within that had it's own subsystem--if you worked in the Kitchen or in the Ice Cream Stand), Register, Gate, Reception, Lifeguard, Cabana Boy/Girl, and Valet. Another reason I wanted to become a Gate Girl was the improvement on wardrobe. The polo color (maroon) was a lot more flattering than that of the camp counselor (pee yellow, in more ways than one). The club also gave you this really heavyweight sweatshirt that said SECURITY on the back--fucking badass. It was enviable. Long story short, I got the job, one of my greatest accomplishments at the age of 17. I was moving up the ladder, albeit slowly. It was only a matter of time before I was parking all the members' cars!

But before I get into that, let me go a little bit more in-depth about the Pigeon. It's a private beach club that takes their private status very seriously. Their claim to fame is that the 80s classic Flamingo Kid was filmed there, and there's a huge movie poster in the bar showcasing this. It's owned by Mr. Dom July*, a sad, lonely old man who owns a bunch of other clubs in Queens and Long Island. He was rarely seen, a seemingly mystical character who hardly ever comes out of his office; and when he does, it's to yell at a pimply deck cleaner for mopping wrong or complain that the cafeteria coffee's too weak. A favorite story of one of my friends involved him getting caught slacking off at work by July--a fate feared by many, and almost assured to get you fired. Instead of getting yelled at, he asked him if he wanted to watch the Met game with him in his air conditioned office. I don't know if this is true or not, but it just added to my own image of him, to this aura of someone so rich yet so unhappy. Below Mr. July was Ted McNulty*. Mr. McNulty was a handsome, middle-aged man who enjoys wearing pastel Polos and short khaki shorts; he is living proof that it takes a real man to wear lavender, or coral, and is high on my list of HOGs. He, too, had an air of mystery surrounding him.

The guy everybody saw too much of--from the interview, on--was a guy name Dan Ortom.* His confusing name was the first thing people remembered about him. "Did you meet with Dan Or Tom?" someone would inevitably ask after an interview. "I think I interviewed with Dan. I don't know who Tom is" was the usual response, and then someone would explain that it was one dude. Dan was a short, stocky guy who rode around the small club in a ATV: radio at one hip, Nextel at the other. As soon as you start working at the Pigeon you hear all the stories about him--how he supposedly knocked up one of the cleaning ladies, how he used to band the female lifeguards from wearing another bathing suit under their see-through orange LG ones, how he was just a self-important whooping boy of the club. As a counselor you could hear Dan coming a few minutes before he even parked his go-kart, and the exhaust pipe helped serve as a warning to start looking like you were paid enough to care. He was moody and impossible to please, an adult bully picked on for years by those above him and now taking it out on teens. And to perhaps sum up all of his deluded, narcissistic tendencies, he used to wear monogrammed Nike Shocks--DAN on the back of both sneakers.

Once I started working inside the gate, I saw a lot more of these three men, for better or for worse. Looking out for them was just one of the many tasks I had throughout my day in that box. Besides swiping in membership cards, selling guest passes, and casually checking trunks and backseats for hiding guests (members would do almost anything to scheme the club out of the $50 guest fee), I'd have to look out for one of Mr. July's many Cadillacs as he drove in, knowing not to stop him for a card. and remembering to look busy, pleasant, and happy to be there.

Even with all the looking-out, I enjoyed the job. The gate was like a private sanctuary, and the 4 other workers and I pimped it out with a TV, fridge, and posters. I planned my lunch breaks around All My Children and Maury; we were given free food by kind guests, stuff like Wendy's and pizza from New Park and antipasto salad from Ragtime. Sitting in that 6'X6' foot box, making small talk with the members, watching my VHS copy of Zoolander five times a day--it was my dream job. If St. John's offered a "Gate Guard" major (and snap, with THIS major now being offered, it could be possible ), I would have gotten a degree in it.

Not that I really got the whole point of the beach club, anyway. I never understood why people would pay such exorbitant amounts of money ($60 for a one-day guest pass? $4000/summer for a 12X12 cabana?) for something that was essentially free 2 miles down the road (especially for those members who lived in Rockaway to begin with--you got a beach on our corner!) The pools weren't even that great. But the members loved that place. They loved their routines, their little shacks and the complaining about the stupid rules, and even though with all the money they spent year after year for pool and beach access they could have installed an in-ground pool in their own houses-- the Gilded Pigeon was a place built on tradition and loyalty, on generations passing down the same car ride from other parts of Queens and Brooklyn. I was proud to stand guard.


My second summer working I was home from college by mid-May and as a result was one of the only gate guards working for most of June. This month, spent mostly alone, working overtime, as barely anyone came into the club, allowed me to gain some sort of clout in the gatehouse. Although it was never spoken, and it was never reflected on my paycheck, with all the responsibility I was given (making the schedule! fixing the computer!) it was clear to me that I was now The Head Gate Girl. And I took this never-discussed position very seriously. I tried to accommodate all workers when it came time to make the schedule, but I always made sure to give myself off the day after Wacky Wednesdays and the early shift on Saturdays, so I could try to be on my beach before it closed. I even started doing some work on the computer, mostly database entry, which Dan was very impressed by. I was making a little more money, hanging with my new friends, and rocking the Security polo with the collar up. Life was good.

One Friday in late July I was working the early shift. It was pouring rain, but it was also Free Guest Friday, which meant the diehard members still came ("It was sunny in Brooklyn!"). At around lunchtime one of the Cabana boys came up to the gate to pick up a large pizza order from someone in his court. When the pizza guy came, the order turned out to be bigger than they originally thought--6 or so pies, a few bags of garlic knots, plus soda and cutlery. Cabana Boy had no idea how he was going to get the pizza inside the club. "Wouldn't it be easier," the delivery guy said, "if I just drove us in with the food?"

The biggest rule at the Gate was to never let in any outsiders. A lot of different things were implied by the term "outsiders": people not possessing a member pass, a guess pass, or the money to pay for either; people who were too ethnic (I was honestly told once by one of the top three guys that "a good rule of thumb when deciding whether to let someone in for a tour of the club is 'no accents'"); and any food delivery people. This was the clubs way of forcing people to eat in the overpriced caf--by making it so inconvenient to order in cheaper food that they'll just give up and get the $12 Spicy Chicken sandwich. This no food rule was drilled in my brain from day one, and I was reminded of it every day as I reminded countless members of it, regardless of how big the order was.

But this day was different. Or maybe it wasn't, but I was just feeling different, because I agreed with the driver, took his license as collateral, and let him drive with Cabana Boy into the club. He returned 10 minutes later, grabbed his license and drove, and I went back to my seat and my TV. No harm, no foul.

That was until a few hours later, when the same pizza guy came back with another order a. This time the actual club members were waiting for him at the gate, and they hopped in his car. As soon as they got to the window, I knew what kind of shit they'd pull.

"We'll only be a few minutes."

"Come on, you did it with him before."

"Look, he already has his license out."

"We have so much pizza!"

"Please?"

To this day I don't know why I let those assholes browbeat me into letting them drive in. First off, they didn't even offer me any of their pizza. And second, they were never that nice to me as they drove in every day--I think I might have even caught them trying to sneak a guest in once. On any other day I woulda said, "I'm sorry, I'd love to, but I can't." On any other day I would have reminded them of my favorite saying--the saying I had posted on the wall of the Gate House--:"I don't make the rules, I just follow them."

But I didn't. I let those grimey-ass, pizza-grubbing heffers sit shotty as an Outsider with a Papa's Pizza sign on his car drove into the private gate of the Gilded Pigeon Beach Club. Within minutes the phone rang.

"Gate, this is Katie..."

"Who?! What?! Why do I see a delivery car? What's wrong with you?! Argghwk! Rarrrr!!!"

CLICK.

It was Mr. July, screaming, then hanging up, the phone. I forgot that I'd seen him drive through about an hour before. He must have been in his office, watching it all on the security cameras.

Moments later the phone rang again; this time it was Dan, asking the the other gate girl who it was that let the pizza guy in.

"He wants to see you," my coworker said, and I began the walk to the main office in the rain.

It honestly never once crossed my mind during that walk that I'd be fired. I was The Head Gate Girl. Without me, who would make the schedule? Who else would have the same witty conversations with the members? Who else would remember kids names, remember to ask about Grandma Esther who had surgery? I figured I'd get yelled at, or, at the most, moved somewhere else in the club. I was, after all, the first line of defense and a valued member of the Gilded Pigeon : Forty Years of Fun In The Sun. Right?

Dan met me halfway in the parking lot. He didn't even have the decency to do it inside.

"Katie, why did you do it?"

(don't you just hate when bosses ask you that?)

"I'm sorry. I just...there was so much food. They couldn't carry it all."

"Well, you know our rules."

"I know, but..."

"You know we can't keep you there."

"I know, but..."

"Go back to the gate and bring me your keys."

"But..."

"... and your hoodie."


With that I turned around and started walking furiously back to the gate. I knew it then--I'd been fired. Fired! Motherfucking fired for letting in a pizza delivery guy in the rain! I felt like someone came up from behind and hit me over the head with a frying pan then punched me in the face.

Giving up the hoodie was the worst part. There are few things in your life worth carrying with you. Family and friends are one, and a good, strong, comfortable hoodie is another. I started crying on the walk back, thinking of what I'd do for the rest of the summer, how it felt to get fired, to no longer feel irreplaceable, to loose a treasured piece of clothing. When I got back to the gate I made my announcement loud and clear:


"I JUST GOT FUCKING FIRED."

All the other gate girls looked shocked; I ranted and raved until I noticed Dan at the gate, looking terrified.

"Now Katie, calm down.."

"WHY DON'T YOU FUCKING CALM DOWN?!"

"Now, come on..."

"NO. FUCK YOU. THAT'S THE MOST PETTY SHIT I'VE EVER HEARD."

"I...I..."

"THEY DON'T EVEN SELL PIZZA IN THE CAFETERIA!!!"

The best part about getting fired is that you're finally given permission from the universe to say everything you've ever wanted to say to the people you've had to be quiet around for so long. There was rage in my voice; anger in my eyes. For the first and last time ever at the Gilded Pigeon I had the upper hand.

"I CAN'T FUCKING BELIEVE THIS!"

"FUCKING RIDICULOUS!"

He finally left and I called my mom to pick me up. When I told people later on that I got fired they'd laugh and then say, "Really? I didn't think you could get fired from there." It made me happy to know I did the formerly impossible, all with the added bonus of bitching out Dan Ortom. And once it all settled I learned an extremely valuable lesson.

There are few situations in life where you are truly irreplaceable. A summer job at an overpriced beach club is not one of them. Neither is any job, most sports teams, and more relationships than we'd like to admit. I've kept this in mind with every job I've started since that Free Guest Friday, which has made me work a lot harder (follow the rules, too). The Pigeon was fun while it lasted, ended a lot differently than I hoped it would, but still gave me a story to tell and some funky tan lines for 2 and a half summers. I now have a story to tell, and when I move on from jobs or get dumped by a boyfriend or from a job I hope to leave those places with the same. The best part, though--


I still have the hoodie.

1.18.2008

scratch off

While readingthis storyI started to cry.

It also made me want to go buy some Lucky 7s.

1.15.2008

Boys



I don't know how to date. There should have dating 101 in Stella--maybe then students wouldn't have gotten knocked up and shit.

-Casey Brouder


I've never been on a real date. And I wouldn't be so open with that admission if I didn't know a whole string of other people--prettier and skinnier and more date-able than me--who have also never been on a date. In high school, there was no asking out of dates; there was asking to go for walks, where there would be making out and other bases being rounded. If that happened more than once, you and that person would be "hooking up." Then, if that happened for an extended amount of time, and if there was also some hanging out during the day (read: sober) and maybe even a trip to the 101 Deli, you and that person would be dating. You would make it official by putting a date in your profile, along with some quote pulled from whatever song was popular on Z100 or KTU at that time ("Baby you're all that I want, when you're lying here in my arms..."). At 6 months you'd get a double-heart ring; at a year, an XOXO necklace. You'd go to each other's proms. You'd wonder if it could last your Spring Break trip to Cancun (or hell, would even want it to last).

I read a lot of articles that talk about the rules surrounding dating, in Seventeen, Teen, CosmoGirl and Cosmo. One of these rules is: no kissing until the second date.

Imagine my surprise when I first read that. No kissing 'til the second date? But wouldn't there had to have been kissing for a date to even happen? What's this about people asking you out before getting a little somethin' somethin' first? Why do Matt and Mary Camden keep going on dates to the pool hall on 7th Heaven but never makeout? Why do boys talk to you one the phone in movies but never in real life?

What were we doing wrong?

It didn't get any better in college. The process still stayed the same. So when Casey said that to me earlier today, just hours before she was going on her first date, I immediately felt like we had grown up in some bizarre universe. Or worse--that we still hadn't, at 22, even grown up yet. Here we are, two grown-ass women with college degrees who still aren't sure how to date somebody. We're still waiting for a boy to ask us to go out on a walk, when what we really should be doing is finding men to take us out to dinner first. I told Casey to be calm, limit herself to two drinks, be herself, but to also "Carrie Bradshaw" it--

"Be charming, funny, evasive...you know, like on the show."

Please, try to aim the vomit away from your keyboards, readers, I don't want to be responsible for broken computers. I love SATC, but even I recognize how sad it is that as an adult, the only dating advice I can offer to another adult is an example of a television character. And what did Carrie even know about dating (Fucking Mr. Big in a hotel room while her boo Aidan stay fixing up their apartment, their home)?

I can't even talk from experience to my friends, which is sad but again, I'm not alone. How am I--how are we?--ever supposed to develop meaningful relationships with boys--ha! we still call them boys!--if we're still playing by the rules set out for us at 15? I know people my age who are getting married, or who are married already. I look at them, and look at me, and while I don't really envy anyone else's progression in life, it makes me think. Like, really hard--what I'm doing wrong, what I'm doing right, what the fuck I'm even doing that all I really secretly want is a double-heart ring and a date to put online.

Hi--Def!

On Sunday I (sometimes when I say "I" I really mean my parents) purchased an HD TV. I'd been told by people who have it that there really is a difference in the picture clarity, and the people on TV look...different.


"It's not the most flattering look," I've heard. And they're right.


PEOPLE WHO DO NOT LOOK BETTER IN HD
Jay DeDapper
Len Berman
BIll Ritter
Diana Wallace
Oprah
Sarah Silverman
Donald Trump (he looks worse, is that possible?)
Hulk Hogan
Justice (The American Gladiator)




PEOPLE WHO LOOK THE SAME IN HD

Billy Bush
Liz Cho

1.14.2008

The Big Picture

One of the shows I watch on a regular basis is House Hunters. For those of you not up on this HGTV gem, it showcases a person, couple, or family who are looking for buy a home, and follows them as they visit three houses with a real estate agent. The houses are always comparable to one another, so the reasons why the people would pick one over the other are usually very minute. Simple things--like a garage not being big enough or the kitchen not being updated--can make or break a sale. And I can understand that--who wants a tiny bathroom? Who wants to live with something you can't easily adapt to or change?

But most of the times I watch, the house hunters spend so much time focusing on things that aren't important that I sometimes have to switch the channel. They'll say things like, "Ugh, I hate that couch!" or, "This wallpaper has got to go!", as if the fucking couch is coming with the home. The real estate agents will always remind them, "The wallpaper is actually easily removed..." but still, at the recap, it'll come up.

"I liked the house, basically, but I didn't really like the way the living room was setup. The TV shouldn't be facing the window..."



As for me, I'm all about the what I like to call the big picture. Forest for the trees and all that. When I look at something-- even someone--I like to think not of the tiny, unimportant details, but at the structure of it all. The framework, what makes something stand up and stay up, what makes it tick. I've seen too much flimsy craftmanship in my time, dressed up to look like something beautiful. Unlike those couples looking for a home, I'm not as concerned with the small stuff, just the big stuff. I want to find the real thing.

Anybody get what I'm saying?

1.08.2008

Just In Case You Might Need It

There is a balance to be found within yourself; a solid foundation on which you can stand. You belong here and as a dear friend once told me, Every cell in your body fought for you to make it into this world.

Feel many things but never feel as though you do not belong. You are a valuable piece of this universe and as important as anyone around you.



Source

1.04.2008

Sabotaging My Future

I'm in the process of looking for work. As you might have guessed, it's tedious and boring and, for the most part, futile; I'd say I hear back from 2% of the jobs I apply to (that's internet job postings for you). Sometimes it feels like I'm stuck in a hole and the more I dig that deeper I get.

Even when I get called in for an interview I feel I get so nervous that I freeze up. If someone would have asked me last year I wouldn't have believed it but I've come to realize that I'm a dud in interviews. Monotone, quiet, filled with "um"s and "uh"s. Probably a whole bunch of "like"s and my small problem of stuttering and making sentences that don't make sense or saying words that don't exist. Cover letters, shaking hands--it blows. And it's gotten me obsessed with some funny ways I can liven this whole process up.

Let's start with the application. I wouldn't want to lie or make things up on my resume--that shit's unethical--so I'm gonna leave that past display of accomplishments (that is slowly becoming more past than present) as it is. Oftentimes, though, a company will ask you to include salary requirements. This is always tricky; I don't want to seem greedy, but I also don't want to undersell myself. But then again, it's not like these companies are going to actually give me what I want, or that I won't take a job if it's less than what I put down. So the next time I fill out a cover letter, I plan on putting down something ridiculous. For example:

I feel a comprable salary range for this position is between $31,978 and $67,812.87.

Based on the job requirements and my past experience I feel a sufficient salary would be ONE. MILLION. DOLLARS.



As I said before, I'm a shitty interviewer. I've gotten better, but I've always had this secret desire to really push the limit and see how much crazy shit I can do before someone laughs or asks me to leave (in real interviews, though, I've actually had to work really hard to fight off the urge to use the term "balls out" when asked a variety of questions).

When someone asks me "where do you see yourself in 10 (5, 2..) years?" ..

...Slouch down, shrug my shoulders, and say, "shit, bitch, you think I know? what I look like, a motherfucking psychic?"

...look down, pretend to cry and whisper, "Alive. If I ever find a donor match..."

...sit up straight and firmly say, "With you calling me boss."


When someone asks me, "what are some of your strengths?"...

"Mario Tennis."

"Do you mean inm or outside of the bedroom?"

"SimCity 3000"

"I once made a bowl out of an apple."

"Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?"

"I'd say I'm hard-working, but we're being honest here, right?"

"Playing Mario Tennis after smoking out of my apple bowl."


When someone asks, "What do you feel you can bring to our company?"...

"Higher bandwidth use from all the music I intend on downloading. This office's wireless, right?"

"Brownies."

"I'll stay late sometimes. But only if I'm going somewhere after."

"I'll be awesome at the holiday party."

1.02.2008

any takers?

I wanna have a baby so I can buy it this $900 jacket!

J.Crew is crazy!

I wonder if my writing has even improved?