Better When We’re Together

Kelly and Heather, 2010

Tara asked if Mike and I wanted to see an early screening of Argo. Yes. Thankfully, I don’t have work today. Mike does, but we have a plan. It will be cutting it too close for him to come home after work and pick me up for the 9pm show, so instead, he’s getting a ride to work at 4am and I’ll pick him up tonight. Which is perfect anyway, so I have the car for the day to get stuff done that I can’t do without a car – Target, bank, search for pumpkin beer.

I wake up before 9. Didn’t get to bed until 2am last night after working at Zinque aka worst place ever. A little after 10 I’m out the door. I just…the keys aren’t here. I look around. Sometimes Mike leaves them by the computer or maybe the end table. Not there. I search. Please don’t let this happen. I text Mike. Where are the car keys. One minute later. “FUCK! I’m such a fuckin idiot.” Oh my God. “Well that just fucked everything up. I don’t know what to do.” Well there’s nothing I can do. I’m stranded now. “No movie either.” So that’s it.

It’s here that I start taking deep breaths and keep telling myself that it’s not the end of the world. OK. Let me at least be productive right now. I walk to the bank to deposit my check. On my way back I text Mike. Is there any possible way to get the keys to me. “I don’t think so.” I talk to Troy – he’s working, Tara is working, Kyle is working, Corinne doesn’t have a car. And that’s it; I’m out of friends. It crosses my mind to call Tropez, but I’m sure he’s busy. Naturally, I tell the girls on GirlTalk the situation. They’re sympathetic. Mike wants me to take a cab but that’s way too expensive. Heather responds first. “YOLO Lindsay. Take the cab.” YOLO? “You only live once.” God dammit. I call a cab. He picks me up at 12. I have a Zinque staff meeting at 2pm. I don’t know if I’m going to make it.

Kelly calls me during the cab ride, surely because she knows I’m sitting in a cab. “Are cab drivers in California like cab drivers here? Or are they just white.” I’m sure it’s the same. “What nationality is your cab driver?” I laugh. “Obviously you can’t answer because he’s sitting right there. OK, say 1 if he’s Indian, 2 if he’s Hindu…” Um, I think 1. Kelly cracks me up. She recently left me a voicemail. “Um, I’m very confused by your voicemail because I thought I was calling Harry Potter.” I don’t really know where I’m going but I know I’m close. Kel, I gotta go… but thanks for keeping me company! I hang up and my phone goes black. Really? My phone sucks. I press the power button over and over. Now the cab driver is asking me where he should go. I guess just pull into this parking lot. Finally on, three missed calls and two texts. Call Mike. Hi, sorry. “You just drove right by me, I was waving.” I don’t have time to tell him my phone died for a second. I get out of the cab. Where are you? “I’m walking back to where you are.” I spot him immediately, about 100 yards away. He keeps walking by. Stop, I see you. Turn around and come back, I’m to your left. He looks the opposite way. The other way. Mike walks fast, then he’s talking fast as he hands me the keys. Stupid keys.

“OK, there’s a cheaper way to get home. Tell him to drop you at Bob Hope airport – it’s right down the road. Then take the shuttle back to Venice. Look for the guy in a blue shirt. It’s $28. Because how much is it so far?” $92. “Yea.” What?? I have a meeting at 2. Where is it going to drop me? “It drops you wherever you want to go. I say nothing. Just give him a death stare. Turn and walk back to the cab. He follows to see me off. I hate today. Can you just take me to the Bob Hope Airport?

After we pull up, and I’m getting out of the cab, the driver decides to then ask me why he’s not taking me back to my apartment. Oh, it’s just too expensive. “I drive you for half price.” No that’s OK. And I get out. Half price would have been about 40 bucks. I should have said, the shuttle is $28, so…, but no, I never think to haggle. I’ve just accepted that this day sucks.

I ask a guy in a uniform where I can find the shuttle. He points me in the right direction. There are people waiting on benches. I do the same. Don’t really know what I’m supposed to do. Feel sick from the car ride, and hungry, so I eat a granola bar. Finally, I see a guy in a blue shirt with a clipboard. Hi. “Where are you going?” Venice. “Venice the city?” Yes. What other Venice is there? “OK, follow him.” I follow another guy in a blue shirt to a van. There’s a girl walking, too. She is probably around my age with a suitcase in tow. She hates everyone. I’m pretty miserable myself, so she actually makes me feel better, even though she probably hates me along with everyone else. I get into the van and sit in the back seat, behind Bitchy Girl. I sit. I wait. It’s fucking hot in here. I’m starting to feel sick again. I don’t want to get out because I don’t know when we’re leaving. I have no idea what’s going on. I’m trying to accept that there’s nothing I can do. Finally, another guy gets in. I don’t even look at him. If I did, I’m sure he would be very friendly. I just don’t feel like being friendly right now.

We start moving, thank God. Our driver is abrupt and short, with little patience. He drops the guy first. Now it’s 1:15. I have 45 minutes. Will he bring me first or Bitchy Girl? I know she’s going to LAX, which is close to me, but not close enough. If he brings her first, I’m screwed. I know her flight isn’t until 3:45 (she told him), so I don’t feel bad when he takes the Venice Blvd exit. I think he’s taking me first just to punish her, because she’s mean. Really, it probably has absolutely nothing to do with that. He drops me at the corner of Abbot Kinney and Venice Blvd, right across the street from Zinque. It’s 1:55. I made it.

Dreading this meeting. But definitely want to get some things off my chest. I do. I know Ayse and Emmanuel think I’m giving them an attitude. Emmanuel interrupts. “I give you an attitude??” He doesn’t say it mean, more like he would never dream of giving someone attitude. No, you think I give you attitude. And I know I’m aggressive so I apologize if it comes off that way. I’m not trying to be disrespectful, but when you tell me I have to bus all these tables, I don’t think you realize I have a lot of shit going on in my head. That table needs waters, table 16 is waiting for drinks, this table is ready to close out. I’ve got a lot of things I need to do and… Donnie cuts me off. “You’re prioritizing.” Yes. I’m not ignoring you, but I will get to bussing tables when I can get to it. This leads into a discussion about getting help from Ayse, our manager. Most of the staff joins in for this, which is nice. We need her to run food when we’re busy. “I have run food and I do help, but then people start to take advantage and don’t think they have to do it. Then they just expect me to do it every time.” Everyone immediately tells her we wouldn’t do that. “Well it’s already happened.” What the fuck are you talking about??? If you don’t want us to take advantage of you then don’t fucking run food when we’re standing around doing nothing. But if we’re busy, fucking help us. She can feel us all ganging up on her. “I do help a lot and everyone needs to stop because now you’re going to hurt my feelings.”

Are you fucking kidding me? We’re going to hurt your feelings. I’m sorry, where am I? Is this not a business? I’m so frustrated. As the meeting goes on, I realize that Emmanuel is still the charming little French man I first met when he interviewed me, and Ayse is still a cool person, but they don’t know how to run a business. Emmanuel is a chef. All he wants to talk about is the food, and it’s obvious he’s passionate about it. Ayse is a nice person, but she has no place as a manager in a bar. That’s the bottom line. At one point Ayse and I get into it. Ayse, if you were to help me more, I’d be more inclined to do anything you ask me to do. She smiles – not the nice kind of smile. “You mean like…” Aaron, a bartender, cuts her off (we get along). “Give and take.” Yes. Ayse disagrees. “No. Like I have to do something for you in order for you to do what I tell you to do.” No, that’s not what I said. “That’s exactly what you just said.” No, you’re taking it the wrong way. Emmanuel tries to change the subject. “Let’s talk about some good things.”

I’m fuming. Ayse is ridiculous. I wish I was better on my feet, responding exactly how I want to respond in those situations. No matter what, I’m going to do my job. I’m a good worker, and I know what I’m doing. I’m going to give good service and make the bar money. If you tell me to do something I need to do, I’ll do it, because you’re my boss. But if you ask me to do you a favor, or ask me to do something when I should be doing something else first, you can forget it. I will never extend a hand for you, as long as you don’t extend a hand for me. You fucking asshole.

It’s almost two hours before I’m finally biking home. I’m starving. Mike has leftover Chinese in the fridge. I house it – don’t even like it – but eat the rest because I’m so hungry. Clean the bathroom and shower. Leave at 5. It’s two hours in traffic. Ew. Realize something as I’m driving and text Mike. Wow…Guess I was supposed to bring the backpack. Shit, sorry.” (Mike left his backpack with a change of clothes and deodorant because he’d be gross after today. He texts me back. “Ahhhhh.” Yea, this day just keeps getting better. I go to a Target near Mike’s work before I pick him up. Today will not be a waste. This just so happens to be the Target I went to when I lived in North Hollywood. Weird how I have such distinct memories of this place when we weren’t here very long and it wasn’t even that long ago. Mike texts. “Can you buy me a shirt?” Yes. “And deodorant?” OK. This free movie is turning quite expensive.

Finally pick Mike up and drive to the Chinese Theatre. Around 8:20 we walk up to a table where three girls are sitting. Mike tells them our names. They don’t have our names. “Who are you here through?” I answer. Smokehouse Productions. Girl – “What’s that?” Mike and I kind of look at each other out of the corners of our eyes. Umm. Mike responds first. “George Clooney’s production company.” “Oh, Shea sent you?” Mike immediately says yes as I lean on the table. Who? She’s unphased. I whisper to Mike. Do you know who Shea is? “No idea.” We get a complimentary soda and popcorn. Sweet deal, but both of us want some real food right now. We walk back out of the theatre. Right outside is a pizza place, a Chinese place, and a cheese steak place. I get a slice with everything on it. It’s literally gross. Oh my God, can I at least eat something good today? No, of course not. Mike gets a chicken cheese steak and fries, but the fries aren’t ready yet. Mike finishes his cheese steak. Where are your fries? “He said five minutes. I walked up to him five minutes later and he said four minutes.” Mike gets up to ask him again. I watch from my seat and see Mike nodding. “Oh, five more minutes? OK.” He looks back at me and we can’t help but laugh. The fries never come. His fryer isn’t working or something. Mike gets his $2 back. “It’s OK, popcorn will be my fries.” Sure, Mike.

We walk in and Mike immediately spots Marcus. He’s with a friend, Brett. We sit near them. Sitting for a while…it’s now after 9 and the movie hasn’t started. Some girl comes in and tells us they’re waiting on a bus to come or some nonsense. At this point, I really don’t care.

On the car ride home, Mike and I decide that Argo was worth it. We both really enjoyed it. I was completely entertained for the entire film. Definitely a great film to see in theatres. We pull into the driveway and Mike reminds me that I have a bunch of Target bags in the back. He helps me and we get all of them in one trip. “Jesus why is this one so heavy?” I walk in the door first and hear Mike behind me. “What the fuck! Why did he put so much fucking stuff in here?” Mike is in the apartment and a bag is left behind, ripped open, sitting out front. I lose it. I can’t stop laughing. “Why are you laughing?” Because of this day. You’re so mad right now. “I hate that guy for not bagging it right and I don’t even know him.” More hysterical laughter. Actually it was a girl. But I know. I think the girl thought she was doing me a favor by putting all the cleaning supplies in one bag.

Once I finally get myself together we start talking about the movie. I start to say something about one scene. When they went, and then they, it was, and then they didn’t. I close my mouth. Mike just looks at me. I can’t speak words! I give up. Cracking up again. “You have the sleepy ha-ha’s.” No Mike, I have the bad-day-nothing-can-go-right haha’s. Either way, it’s time for bed.

*Jack Johnson

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