110901 Bees in the GarbageToday's story comes from Starbucks.
My shift was a good one, the closing shift from 230pm until 1100pm. This week we have all been getting short shifts, ostensibly because we've been completing the training of the staff who will be transferred to the two new stores opening nearby to us. They aren't getting any book training, but they're getting as much work time as possible making drinks, talking to customers, taking money and just being friendly baristas.
There were four of us this afternoon: Cassie, Kyumin, Jason and me. Plenty of people for an afternoon, even a busy one. We had line ups, but it was hardly busy. Early on in the afternoon Cassie asked me to do the garbage.
Once I got outside, I found a disaster. Often it's a mess, really. This time the bags of trash and cardboard were piled near the recycle bins. Now while I'm free to clean up such mess, I must advise, nay, I have to ask the permission of the Shift Supervisor before I take a lot of time outside. Julie, the morning Shift was still around (barely). I asked who did the garbage, and it was none other than Jason. I told her, and she said I could tell Erica about it. No, I don't want to make trouble for someone, especially for someone new. I just want them to not do it that way again because I will have to personally fix it if they do. I called Jason aside, and told him, and he was eager to fix the problem. Cassie and Kyumin would be fine looking after the floor, so she blessed the arrangement.
I pointed at all of the stuff, and so the two of us carted it all to where it belonged, in the big white cardboard recycle bin.
The bees weren't really worried about the cardboard, but did they ever love the empty boxes of milk and lemonade. When I picked up a bag of containers, they acted like I was going to take it all away from them! That is when one of them got me on the wrist. The other monster somehow got lost inside my pant leg, and hurt me when it couldn't get out right away.
I suppose I should clarify is that they probably weren't real bees, since they are interested in flowers. These seemed more like Hornets and these monsters were trying to take the garbage from my hands.
Now, not many years ago, I was terrified of all striped insects. I figured they had that colouration on them to remind me that they carried venom or something in that stinger. I can't remember exactly when, but sometime recently I just got too lazy to make a scene around the bees. I used to dislike them, "Ohmygod! If I get stung I'm going to die." Now the extent of dislike is more akin to getting pizza for dinner four times in a row: a much weaker dislike. "Oh, you again. I saw you last year too, and didn't like you."
For you people who want some details, I will offer this: the stings (or the bites) did not really hurt. They pinched me. That was the entire pain experience: a pinch, twice over. I think I may have been bitten because of something that I observed in the fall perhaps 20 years ago. I was taking the family for lunch on the way home from the cottage, and the garbage at the KFC was swarming with the same kind of bees we have behind our Starbucks. Out of curiosity, I held a chicken drumstick bone up, and watched the little guy walk over to it, find a small strip of meat, rip it off, and fly away with it. Pollen indeed! These monsters ate chicken, and knew how to clean the bone off. They knew how to eat meat, and if this guy was looking at me, well, I could feed him (and his family) for the next year, easily. So maybe I wasn't attacked with a stinger. Perhaps I was just tasted.
I hear all of that terrible buzzing. It sounds like a call to Jihad. But what if I'm wrong? What if the buzzing sound is simply a cheering sound, that dinner is now served, and I am the main course? I know that I'm splitting hairs here. It shouldn't matter to me whether I'm being attacked by a swarm of angry bees, or happy ones, should it?
So Jason and I kept on with the garbage, but suddenly I felt off. I told him I'd leave him to carry on, and I went back inside the store. I started to feel my heart speed up and pound very hard. Also, the store felt so very hot; we keep our store very cold, so I knew something was up. I was sweating profusely: my golf shirt was entirely wet against me, and the sweat from my face kept burning in my eyes. I mentioned the stings to a customer I was serving, and she said I should go to Shoppers Drug Mart and get some Benadryl (antihistamine) right away. Or that I should call an ambulance promptly. I asked Cassie if I could run away quickly, and she was fine about that. It looked like my eye was swelling closed, but it was just the sweat stinging my eyes so much.
The drugstores want people to believe that the correct price for antihistamine pills is $1.00 each. I went to the prescription counter and requested 100 generic chlorphiramine maleate, or Chlortripolon. That was $12, including the taxes. I didn't spend a lot of time brooding over whether I should get six boxed pills for $12, or twenty boxed pills for $19, etc. I'd considered all of that on a previous visit.
Of course they didn't have any tap water at the drug store. So I walked it all the way back, and got some at the Starbucks. About 20 minutes later, the perspiration settled down, and so did the racing heart, and the "hot flash." But perhaps a half an hour after the good symptoms, I got a simple bad symptom: I was weak. I just wanted to sit and stare. My stomach wanted a bathroom too, but mostly, I just wanted to stop standing.
I think I heard Cassie asking Jason if he wanted to go home early. The store was certainly quiet enough that it only needed the three of us: One on break or off the floor, the other two handling guests. I asked Cassie if I could go home instead. I was feeling wrong. I kept smelling something too; perhaps from all of the sweating, I developed a bad odour.
I made an obligatory sample frappucino and took it around the plaza. Everyone already knows my favourite flavour for this is a Coconut Cream Frapp, with twice the Coconut syrup. It sells itself: people take the sample, and usually get themselves something later. Oddly, not the sample drink, but some other kind. Don't kid yourself: the pictures of drinks around the store has a powerful effect on the sales. We used to sell a lot of Passion Tea Lemonade during summer part one. But for summer part two, the signage all changed, and there were pictures of that drink everywhere around the store. Our guests kept ordering it, and came in again and again, even when it wasn't very hot outside.
I clocked out for the day at work, and found the bathroom. I love the bathrooms at Starbucks, with this exception: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs each came and tested the door, knocked on it, talked to it, and tried the handle once again for good measure. It is a wonder I was able to use the toilet at all. My guts reacted to every little sound when I'm locked inside.
Or at least partially reacted. You see, the whole reason I wanted to go home and not continue working was this terrible fatigue I was overcome with. So while part of me detested this crowd of children wanting into the throne room, there was another part of me which found it all distant. The chains they kept rattling weren't really for me, were they? I'm so glad our bathrooms have a strong handrail, as I just wasn't myself, and felt myself tipping over.
After that, I found a table in the lobby, and just sat there, sipping my drink, kind of sleeping with my eyes open, watching people come and go. Someone, maybe Jason, asked why I didn't just go home. I was just a little too sleepy to have to deal with our transit system just yet. I wanted to lie down at the store, but sitting would do before choosing to rush away.
By the time I was ready to leave, I sent Abegail a text message, and figured we should meet, rather than me just rushing home to sleep. I had a lot of rest already, perhaps an hour at the store. But if I slept too early at home, my next day at work would be compromised by alertness at the wrong time. So Abie and I just wandered very slowly downtown. No hurry. Just a plodding step from one familiar place to another. When we needed a break, we would stop in a Starbucks and stay there half an hour, only to carry on again.
Along the way we found a new place, WOW Sushi, or Sushi WOW. I just wanted to see how it looked inside, but the guys who ran it were full of energy, and gave us each a cup of green tea to relax. Even though we were rather full, and just wanted to keep walking, we tried a chef's surprise California Roll. He starts the usual way, with Avocado, imitation Crab and Tobiko. Then he tops it with Scallop and Unagi, a squirt of BBQ sauce, and then he toasts it using a small blow torch. He pointed out how he also dusted it with real gold! It was amazing. Go there sometime, as they've just opened up. 11 Charles Street West, near Bloor-Yonge subway station.
On subsequent visits there I hope to visit Seven West, a 24-hour cafe and a new Burger gourmet store next to it.
I am always surprised by new Starbucks stores I've never seen. I saw a few new ones on my walk today.
Around 1000pm, the exceptional fatigue returned, and so we started walking towards the subway system. It was Dundas station. What was going on tonight? The subway was entirely full! They were not drunk or disorderly they way they might be after a sports event. I didn't see any programs on the floor, so I can't offer you any positive ideas, only clues of omission.
Having a shower at home was the most wonderful sensation. I had humourous ideas of throwing all of my old clothes into a bonfire outside.
Sharing this tale with you has been a challenge, but not an impossible one. At home, lying down, I find myself waking up every two hours. Either my mouth is dry, or I have a dry-mouth breathing nightmare, or I just have to use the toilet, but there is always something making me get out of bed every two hours once I decide to sleep (unless I take some kind of sleeping sedative). Once in front of the computer, I get tired, but know better than to lie down instantly. Instead, I recline here, and try to get perhaps half an hour rest in a seated position before returning the bed.
The last time I wrote you, the CNE was about to open. This Monday is Labour Day (the day the CNE closes), and I will spend my free time looking for fall fairs around the city. My birthday is coming too, and this year we're thinking of Montreal. Nothing fancy, just three days, two nights. We will do the same kind of walking we do in Toronto, but in Montreal. I want to find that Portugese place where they serve Steak et Frites. There is something unpretentious about that kind of French food: steak and French Fries, done right.
Gawd. Has facebook really taken over the personal web log? It's scary.