Hello Dear Reader, and thank you for picking up a copy of An Anthology of Idiocy, written and edited by yours truly, with an introduction by me. It is truly an honor that this is now available to the public, for your reading pleasure and pure amusement, and that I was so kindly and humbly asked to offer a preface to the stories that follow.
The following tales are idiotic accounts of my less-than-intelligent daily life, provided to you in bite-sized excerpts. I can be quite the dunce sometimes, when I’m not editing books or saving the world from rogue Superman or writing essays about The Great Gatsby until I’m referring to inanimate objects as “old sport.” Yes, I can be quite the fool, and I intend to illustrate to you just how ridiculous my moronic slip-ups can be.
So, go forth, read what I have offered up here for you, and laugh despicably and cruelly at my frequent lapses in logic.
Chapter 1: Fridge Flour
A few months ago, I was serving at work. It was a slow, Monday night and not many people had visited the restaurant, as Monday nights usually go.
At work, we have a small reach-in cooler behind the server line, for things like butter and milk and ranch–you know, refrigerated items that are commonly needed for guests. When the items in the reach-in run out or run low, they are replenished from either the walk-in cooler or the dry storage.
So, it was a slow Monday night and I was looking for things to do around the restaurant–house-keeping things, cleaning things. I checked the reach-in cooler, and it was running low on apple juice and milk, so I went into the back to get more of each.
Apple juice, I grabbed three containers, but when I got to the walk-in cooler, I couldn’t find any milk. Usually it’s sitting waist-level to the right, but there were no white gallon jugs, and I read all the cardboard boxes’ labels and none of them were milk.
I stocked the reach-in cooler with the apple juice, but the milk remained at the same quantity. The remainder of the night was slow, and so I forgot we were low on milk because no beverages involving milk were ordered. Finally, I remembered though, so I mentioned it to my manager.
“I think we’re about to run out of milk,” I said.
“Let me take a look,” he replied.
Usually I preface statements like “We’re out of ___” with “Unless I’m totally blind, I think…” but this time I did not, because I saw absolutely no milk and it’s not something too easy to overlook.
Of course, a minute later, my manager came waltzing down the server line with two gallons of white milk.
“Are you kidding me?!” I cried. “Where were they?”
“They were right there,” he said, shrugging and setting the jugs down on the counter. “I just had to open the box.”
That’s when they upsetting realization occurred to me–the realization of my obnoxious error.
So, when I was in the walk-in, scanning cardboard box labels for one that indicated “milk,” there was one box in particular that I dismissed because of its label. However, the label very clearly said, “FOUR (4) GALLONS MILK.” But I dismissed it promptly.
I dismissed it, because in glancing at the label, I misread the first word as “FLOUR.”
Yeeeah… I thought the cardboard box in the walk-in cooler contained four bags of flour. And that’s why I didn’t read the label further. Because I thought to myself, “Flour? Oh, that’s not what I’m looking for. I need milk.” Never mind that I automatically accepted that flour would be stored in the walk-in cooler.
Chapter 2: Over 9000
My idiocy must be especially inspired at work, because most of my dumbest moments happen at work. Maybe it’s because I spend so much time there, and I begin to get stupid with the automatic routine and the mindlessness of repetition. For the most part, I stay alert and engaged on the job, but there are some times when my brain just calls off duty.
So it was another slow Monday night. This Monday night was especially slow. I mean, Monday nights are quiet, but this one was ridiculous. I had twenty guests in a period of five hours. Obnoxiously slow.
Because it was so slow, closing down the restaurant was really simple that night. I got most everything done at a pretty early time and my manager swept through the dining room with an attentive eye and gave the sign of approval to clock out and go home. I was planning on going right over to my friend Bessie’s house after work, so I wasn’t in a real hurry but I didn’t want to take longer than necessary. So it was nice to get out about thirty minutes after closing.
Now, I’m saying the night had been really easy. Real quiet. Nothing noteworthy to speak of. Comically slow, or would have been comic if it weren’t kind of sad.
So, I went to clock out. The thing about serving at a restaurant is that you do get paid hourly, but it’s significantly less than regular minimum wage; servers get paid half the amount. But, they get to make and keep tips from guests, so they have the potential to make a lot of money. You know how the government and the IRS are, so they’re all about wanting to keep tabs on how much you make so they can decide how much money they can get away with taking from you. Thus, your tips can’t go directly into your pocket; you have to declare at least a portion of the tips you made, and that minimum portion is 9%. If you don’t claim at least 9% of whatever tips you make, the wrath of taxes comes down and you get audited or slapped on the wrist or murdered by the government–I’m not sure which, I actually don’t know for sure what they do if you don’t report 9%, but I’m pretty sure it’s one of these three things. Anyway, so at the end of every shift I put in close to the minimum required amount and I get on my way.
Well, Monday was so darn slow and I made out pretty bad, tips-wise. Nothing I was gonna complain about, but it was a real sleepy evening and I had had Monday nights far better than that one. So, when I clocked out, I put in an amount that the computer system must have deemed too low because it followed with a warning message: “Warning: It is against the law to claim less than 9% of tips. Do you want to continue? Yes/No.” I had never gotten the message before, so I hit “No” so I could change the amount to something slightly higher. It’s not that the first number was less than 9%, it was just so low that the computer didn’t know better. I entered a new tip amount and hit “Okay” again.
This time no message appeared, but right before the screen went away, I noticed with a quick flash of observation, that the screen where I entered the tips I wanted to declare read, “Declared: $50,900.” Then the page disappeared and a success message that I clocked out followed.
My error was quickly realized: I had assumed the computer would automatically clear the amount I had initially entered, and so I merely put in the new amount instead of deleting what I had already put and then entering the new amount.
I declared fifty THOUSAND nine HUNDRED dollars in tips????
That’s not 9% of anything I’ve ever made! That’s more like 9,000 times what I wanted to declare! I haven’t made $50,900 in my life! Oh my god, the government is gonna think I’m loaded. They’re gonna tax me to pieces! Tiny, little, broke college girl pieces! Oh my god, I’m gonna get audited!
I sheepishly approached my manager and told him what I had done. There was no way for me to change it–once the tips were declared, that was really it. My manager laughed nervously at the sheer ridiculousness of the dollar amount–not even $500 or $9,000 I had declared, but a whopping $50,900, which was clearly and admittedly funnily outrageous. $50,900 off of twenty guests… Impressive. But the laughter was nervous because I had generously created quite a doozy of a problem for him to fix, and after a couple minutes of fiddling around at his computer, it was clear he would need to pass the problem on to the owner.
But damn. $50,900? My boyfriend laughed when I told him and said, “Must have been a good night.” I mean, I’m good, but I’m not $50,900 good. Maybe one day, but I’m still down here in the measly three-digit shift tip feats.
In any case, this riddle is still unsolved, and I am avoiding eye contact with anything even remotely tax-y, lest I get paid a visit from the IRS about my total incompetence.