bingo mafia

Bingo Mafia: if you knew Bingo and how the Hall and all the charities worked, I wouldn't need to explain it to you. But I'm sure you don't know. And I'm too lazy to get into it.

Two games down this week, two more to go.

We were shortstaffed for the games, so out of desperation, I called a Bingo Mama to fill in on Wednesday morning. It's hard finding volunteers willing to give up 4.5 hours of their time, just to count books and money, and to inhale at least a gallon of second hand smoke an hour. Yes yes, aside from my company and the crazy delicious hot dogs at the snack bar, there isn't a whole lot to look forward to at Delta Bingo (unless you're a player and the Player's Progressive prize is up to $10,000 and you managed to fill your card in less than 53 numbers). So we did the illegal and sought a pro.

Bingo Mamas were big way back, spending as much time at the halls as the employees did. They were hired by charities that didn't have enough suckers volunteers/staff members to help out at games. Many Mamas worked for over a dozen charities at once, and could make enough to get by with just this one job. But the city's licensing department cracked down and made it illegal to hire people for the sole purpose of working Bingo. It's crunch time for grants this week, so we really couldn't spare any office staff -- we'd heard of this woman who was still 'freelancing' at the halls, so we gave her a call and she happily accepted. Let's call her Bernie.

There was a time when Bernie had a portfolio of 14 charities. She was upset at the city for cutting that number down to five, then down to one. She was still on another charity's payroll as Fundraising Coordinator (similar to our arrangement, only we identify them as Casual Labour), but no other charities have approached her since. She kept raving and blaming city hall for its stupid rules and now she could have been making better money with more charities. I reminded her that what we were doing was illegal and that she should just be happy I called her because I was desperate. Not exactly those words, but something to that effect.

What she didn't know was that most of those charities stopped hiring her back because they always seemed to be short in the float every time she worked a game. I kept a pretty good eye on her and in the end, we managed to break even. Even though she counted all the books and cards at lighting speed and was on a buddy-buddy, almost conspiratorial, basis with the head runner, there was something about her that made me not want to call her back for tomorrow's game. I fibbed and told her I'd call her this afternoon, in case we needed her -- but at the time I didn't have anyone else and knew I'd have to scramble to find someone -- or else I'd have to stick with Bernie.

I asked my colleague (the less busier one) to fill in so that I wouldn't have to call Bernie -- she was extremely hesitant, but I was firm and told her she had no choice -- for someone whose hourly is more than mine but whose workload is a lot lighter, she'd better damn well come to bingo when I needed her to. So she isn't very good at it and has a tendency to overreact in pretty much any situation -- still, it was better to have her there than to worry about a worker who was rumoured to have ripped off a few charities while on the job. That seed of paranoia planted by the bingo hall staff really had me worried.

I called Bernie this afternoon.
"Hi. May I speak with Bernie please?"
"Uh, she's not here right now. Who is this?"

I started to tell this person who I was, the nature of my call, the message for Bernie -- then she stops me.
"Oh hey L, this is Bernie."
"I thought you said..."
"Oh. Haha. I was just trying to trick you. You know, a joke!"
Right. The collection agency was the first thing that came to mind.
"Ah. Very funny. Listen, thanks again for coming out yesterday. But we won't be needing your help tomorrow." Or ever again, I wanted to say. But Serge thinks we should always consider her as a last resort. After this weekend, I am going to look into building a list of last resorts, so that we'll never have to call Bernie.

I just wanted to blog about the phone conversation. It was weird. She was weird. But it took a long-winded entry where I come out as the bitch of the story just to set it up. Bet you were expecting something meatier. But that is all I have for you right now.

On a different note, 49 days of beef abstinence are over. I ate a hot dog yesterday. I spoke with Mom this afternoon and she informed me that after 49 days, she too restarted the beefeating with a jumbo dog because the hot dogs at Costco are simply amazing.


please wait to be seated

When I came back from Asia, my boss asked me to host during the brunch shift -- the last one left right before the holidays and he hadn't a chance to re-hire. He buttered me up, told me how reliable I was, and how he knew he could count on me to just dive right into the role without any training. Tasks included seating people, starting waiting lists, dealing with hypoglycemic [read: cranky] people while maintaining a generally pleasant disposition. Sounded simple enough. Of course this also meant a higher hourly wage, but a 1.5% net sales tipout. So while the servers got to leave with a nice wad, I'd be leaving work with just enough to cover grocery purchases for a couple days.

"This will only be for a few weeks," he assured me.
"Just a few weeks?"
"Yes, I promise."

My second shift hosting today. After being called a "fucking bitch" last week then being a slipped a twenty because he felt "terrible" about it -- that he was "completely out of line" -- I wasn't exactly looking forward to it. If it wasn't already past my bedtime, I'd list all the incredible things people would tell me, their sob stories, just to get seated.

Fortunately, today wasn't so bad. Of course we weren't super busy -- busy enough to still be completely full at 2PM -- and someone was actually assigned to help bus tables. Most of the diners were nice -- the nicest group actually had to wait the longest, but they were quite content waiting in the lounge while figuring out the crossword.

My favourite exchange of the day:

"Table for three? It will be about a 40-minute wait."
"40 minutes?!?" they asked incredulously. Because normally, one should not expect to wait more than ten minutes when they walk into a packed restaurant at noon on a Sunday.
"Yes, about 40 minutes."
"But there are only three of us."
"And there are also several groups of three ahead of you."
"Well my friend here is pregnant."
"Oh, well I can pull up a chair so that you don't have to stand while waiting."
"A chair? Is that the best you can do?"
"Well, she did say you were pregant. And so I thought you might be more comfortable sitting..."
"But she's pregnant, so..."
"I don't quite understand what you're trying to tell me." Of course I knew what she was getting at. I just had to hear how she'd tell me.
"So, wouldn't we get, you know, preference?"
I smiled sweetly and shook my head. Saying "no" never felt so good.


boys can look good in pink too!