How not to Christmas Party

Since graduation in November 2015 I have working the real hustle. I’ve started my own business, which may well the smallest business in Scotland. I’m a dog walker, with about 4 regular clients. Alongside this I took a job as a waitress in a 4 star hotel with  big brand name, which I will not go into details about. Except in the work that I do there…

I started at the very end of November, which incidentally is the start of Christmas party season. I have put together a small guide of how to behave at such events, from the point of view of the people working there. Please, feel free to share this around the office when Christmas time rolls around again. Or spread it around passive aggressively after the fact. I will even put the headline in Christmas song format, so they will be easy to remember.

He sees you when you’re sneaking,
Booze out of your bag.
(Santa Clause is Coming to Town.)

So here’s the thing. We’re all adults (apart from the KPs who are generally under 18) and we know that adults will imbibe fermented fruit in alter to temporarily alter their brain chemistry. And it’s Christmas, so rock on. But don’t think for a second we won’t see you sneaking your guilty bottle in to avoid drink prices. Most hotels will allow you to bring in your own alcohol, providing you don’t mean a corkage charge. And there’s a reason. Your company will probably pay around £15/$30 per head for a Christmas meal. When you consider how that money is split between the cost of the food, the labour hours involved in prepping it, the chef’s wages to cook it and the waiting staff’s wages to serve it, £15/£30 doesn’t go very far. It’s no secret that hotels will make the most money from the bar, and that’s why we have to charge corkage to bring your own booze in.

I’ll be frank, if we see someone sneaking booze in we don’t think “Oooh, how edgy and system-breaking.” Instead we will roll our eyes and think you’re tacky AF. Sorry about it.

Shoes akimbo,
I bump and grind in front of my boss, a lot…
(Santa Baby.)

Remember, you will be the talk of the staff room not only at your own place of work, but mine too. I know a lot of office romances blossom at the old Christmas do, but you have to face these people again. If you’re the one crying at 10:30 because your boss capped the bar tab at £400/$800, please rethink your life choices. By all means, get lairy, get messy! It’s Christmas so fuck it. But just know when a good night out with work turns into a Gincident that marks you as a wild card at work.

And taking off your shoes and all is fine, but don’t wander about my hotel in and out of the bathroom in your ratchet tights, ladies. It’s not cute. Bring flats in your bag, like a lady. Alternatively, make sure you can walk in your heels. Watching you teeter ever so slowly across the lobby with your large Pinot Grigio and a Cosmo in either hand is frankly embarrassing.

We’ve pulled out all the tricks ba-rum-ba-pum-pum
Weeee deserve some tips ba-rum-ba-pum-puum
(Little Drummer Boy)

I know, it’s not something that is customary in a lot of places. Your company has paid their £15/£30 a head for the 3 course meal, put a £500/$1000* tab behind the bar, what more do you want! The thing is, at the end of your tab, when all the money has been drunk, your staff tend to get a bit boisterous, and ore often than not, sassy AF. I’m sorry we’re all out of Cointreau, but Lisa has tanned our last bottle since she’s ordered 15 of them. If we have to smile and grit our teeth when you insist on leering over my shoulder to make sure I’m getting your 8th round of drinks right (females) or leering down my shirt when I’m trying to clear your table of thousands of beer bottles (men) I think it’s not whitin the realms of common decency to leave a small tip. I mean what’s £20/$40 on top of an enormous bar bill? One can only dream.

*Yes, that’s a thing that happened…

And finally a note for those you have to work at these types of events. These people are actually paying  a lot of money to have a night out away from the stresses of work and to have a good time. Show them one. It’s hard to grin and bear it, but at the end of the day, it’s one (or two, or 9) evenings out of your whole year, and you never have to see these people again. And think, One night it will be YOU having one of these nights out, don’t inflict your worst customer self on other wait staff.

And wait until AFTER the beat has dropped to take your full tray of empty glasses back to the kitchen. Take it from the more experienced, it’s comical, but terrifying, to make your way across the dance floor at the pinnacle of Bohemian Rhapsody.

Have a safe and happy holiday season everyone!

 

 

The GART – pt 2. CanaMex route.

Route 93 – The CanaMex Highway.

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The standard CanaMex Highway is the major North to South American route. You don’t have to cross the border, starting at Port of Roosevelt in Montana and ending up in Wickenburg, Arizona, or you can really travel the Americas by starting in Jasper, Alberta and cruising over three states to Tucson, Arizona, about 70 miles away from Nogales at the border. The first route is around 1457 miles long (or 2345 kilometres) and would probably take around three weeks. The latter is around 1995 miles/3210 kilometres, and I would suggest taking around 10 weeks to do it.

Now that the logistics of the trip are over we can get along with the Fun Parts; starting up in Jasper, Canada. The only place I have been to in Alberta was Edmonton which, granted, was a riot, but was a bit too north for me to get a look in at Jasper and Banff. However I’ve called upon some sources (Thanks Brad!) and hopefully can give some good enough information about everywhere!

Jasper is found pretty much in the middle of the Canadian Rockies. Depending on the time of year you go there are different things to do there. However, what I would suggest doing is visiting Maligne Lake. There, you can fish (check permits first!), rent kayaks and canoes, and in winter they offer snow-shoeing and Canyon ice-walking.  It’s beautiful camping territory up there as well, if that’s your thing! As for food I would suggest Evil Dave’s Grill. Their Caesers (or Bloody Mary’s for those UK readers) look lethal, as do their Lollipop shrimp and Alberta beef. Yum!

Because Canadian distances are incredibly deceptive, Banff looks close to Jasper, though it is a good 4 hour drive away. But worth it, as there is a wealth of beautiful countryside to go through and indeed see once you are there.

You can hike Sulphur mountain which is pretty much right in the town itself. It’s not terribly difficult at all and has some nice views on your way up. If needs must there is a cable car (I’m such a fan of cable cars) and I’m lead to believe it’s free to take down if you’ve walked up… however you have to pay to ride up. I have also been suggested to go out to Johnston Canyon which is about a 30 – 40 mins drive from the town. It’s a great a hike with some walkways that ends in a beautiful waterfall.

After all that hiking you’re bound to get up an appetite, so I shall give a small list of places to go and things to get there. Courtesy of Brad!

  1. A Barpa Burger from Barpa Bill’s Souvlaki Restaurant.
  2. A ‘Litre o’ Sangria from Magpie and Stump. I’ve been told it’s the best Sangria our of Spain. Ask for a ‘litre o’ to get a litre of your favourite drink!
  3. Head to Eddie’s for a gourmet burger – Aussie style! For drinks try a TrashCan. I just hope it’s tastier than it sounds!
  4. Another good watering hole is the Rose and Crown, with live music at weekends
  5. For those late night munchies head to Aardvark for pizza and sub sandwiches.

So we’re done with Canada! For now…

There’s sadly no Man v Food stop in Montana (Get on it Adam) so if you can face the prospect of a state without food challenges, travel six hours south and you’ll reach Sun River, Montana. The main information I found about this site revolves around fishing and camping. Some companies offer packrafting, which I have sort of down in my own country and would definitely root for – it’s great fun!  Another two hour drive south and you’ll come to Missoula, MT.  Now, if I was going there I’d personally be hitting up the Ghost towns, which may not be for everyone but it looks right up my street. There also a number of breweries and campsites you can visit, and if you just aren’t happy with that you can try the bar where time stands still for two hours a day and head to Finn and Porter’s bar and grill, where happy hour lasts for three hours…

Next on out whistle-stop tour of the United States (and Canada) is Bitterroot National Forest, which borders Montana and Idaho, the next state we’re heading into.  Bitterroot offers a Full Moon Walk, which starts at about 7pm and lasts an hour and a half. There’s so much else you can do during the day, such as hiking, horseback riding, boating, and hunting. Not sure how we all feel about the option but hey. The option is there for us.

Pass through the forest and we end up in Idaho (No, Udaho. Guess whose least favourite joke that is. Hint, it’s everyone I know because I say it all the time) Unfortunately all three of the Man v Food locations are located in Boise, which is near the border of Oregan and far away from Highway 93. About five hours south of the Montana border is Sun Valley, where you can ice skate, snow board and climb up numerous mountains such as Bald Mountain and Dollar Mountain. There’s an activity there called Snow Tubing, which caught my attention, so after a quick google I found this video. Look at it. How peaceful does that look? Very.

For the more adventurous head down through Idaho to Twin Falls. There you can head to Shoshone Falls aka “The Niagara of the West”. It’s over 200 feet tall and 900 feet wide, and although it’s $3 entry fee it seems to be well worth it.  You can also BASE jump at Perrine Bridge, where there are festivals yearly that are worth a visit.

Let’s move swiftly through “the Loneliest road in America” to yet another state; Nevada – famed for its gambling. To break up the enormous nine hour stoat from Twin Falls to Las Vegas I would suggest a stop off at the Great Basin National Park and take a little trip up Jeff Davis’ mountain. You know, to stretch your legs a bit. After that you can jump back in the car for another four hours to the gambling centre of the world, the epicentre of cash flow, Las Vegas.

There are three spots to eat in Las Vegas, according to Richman. Let’s jump in at the deep end and eat at the challenge restaurant, the NASCAR Cafe. Food won in this 6 pound burrito challenge. If eating something the size of a small baby does not appeal to you our pal Adam can suggest Hot N’ Juicy Crawfish or Hash House a go go  which probably has a different meaning to some, but I can assure you they are talking about hash browns.

For those of you looking for something to do in Las Vegas I suggest you turn your television on and watch any American made sitcom from the 1980s onwards, as they will each have at least one episode where a main character is swept up in the lights and glamour of being in a brightly lit room 24 hours a day gambling away their children’s inheritance money. If that’s not your thing I suggest a trip to the Venetian – the biggest hotel in the world. It’s the size of a small town and has underground chambers to help staff keep the efficiency. If that doesn’t float your boat, Red Rock is a 30 minute drive away, as is Hoover Dam.

Passing through the Grand Canyon National Park at Lake Meade should provide some much needed respite from the built up chaos of Las Vegas. Drive through the Grand Canyon state and hit up a rodeo in Wickenburg before hitting up Phoenix; where our Man v Food fun begins.

Tragically, the challenge establishment Big Earl’s BBQ, where food won in a 12 slider challenge has closed. According to my (minimal) research the wonder has opened up a new place in Scottsdale, but alas. Instead, head on over to Alice Cooper’stown (no, that’s not a typo). This rock star turned golfer turned restaurateur serves up an interesting menu and you can bet your bottom dollar that it’s gonna be a memorable experience there with such a character at the forefront of it all. Acknowledge Arizona’s close links to Mexico by eating at Los Reyes de la Torta  and then heading south to Tucson.

So we’re nearly at the end of our journey. You’ve been driving for about 35 hours in total and covered 3,050km. You’ve crossed one international border and two state lines (the states are long and skinny in the west huh?) You’re so close to Mexico you can almost taste the tequila; however, you gotta make a couple of stops first. Tucson’s Lindy’s on 4th is our challenge restaurant of the city. The OMG burger (now called the OMFG burger…) is nine 1/3 lb. patties (3 lbs.) of meat with cheddar and Swiss, lettuce, tomato, onion & Lindy’s sauce and, astonishingly for the first time in a while on this trip, Man won! If you don’t fancy high blood pressure I’d suggest El Guero Canelo, famed for its hot dogs or the little nest where you can rest before the final leg of our journey, Mi Nidito.

Finally, Head through Green Valley which has some of the most diverse flora and fauna in the United States until you get to Nogales, AZ, where the film Oklahoma! was filmed…. Watch yourself here; a year ago the largest underground drug bust was carried out, resulting in the arrest of three people. Marvel at the immense security measures at the border of Mexico. Nogales, MX is one of the main ports of entry from the USA to Mexico especially for tourists. It consists of bars, strip clubs, hotels, restaurants, and a large number of curio stores, which sell a large variety of artesanias (handicrafts, leather art, handmade flowers, clothes) brought from the deeper central and southern states of Mexico. Local dishes commonly available in restaurants include many types of antojitos (Mexican food) such as enchiladas, tacos, burritos with carne machaca (dried meat), menudo and tamales, but sadly, no Man v Food.

Money saving tips for (a Scottish) winter!

It’s the time of year where I have to choose between heat and meat (meat’s expensive here, for those of you who are unaware.) So I took to the internet and the depths of my common sense to come up with some money saving tips. Seeing as some of you are spending winter in different places I figured that some of these might help you stay warm and in the black. 

  1. Blankets are wonderful. If you sleep with one underneath your duvet it keeps you a lot warmer, so there is no need to have the heating on at night.
  2. I’m also a fan of the old school hot water bottle, though I usually put it in my bed before the whole bed time routine, to let it heat up. 
  3. If you have a odd glove lying around, or a depleted scarf or something similar don’t throw it out. Cut and shape it into a sort of insole shape, tuck it in your shoe and wham, cheap insulation for your feet on early morning frost walks.
  4. Another tip I found on the internet, though I have not tried out as it doesn’t seem appealing to me is to put plastic bags around your socks for if the weather is very wet, as it keeps your feet/socks dry. I just don’t think I could be bothered.
  5. With winter, for me, comes exams. Perfect excuse to hit up the library for a study session and save money on the heating bill! Sitting down for long periods of time allows your body to cool, so it’s important to keep warm while studying.
  6. And at the mention of exams… For those of you who suffer Reynold’s, or are just sensitive souls like me, a handwarmer is the way to go, to stop your hand from freezing up during an essay. However, I think you can make them for next to nothing at home. Take an odd sock or small bag (like one you might get when you buy knock-of specs… ahem…) and fill it with rice. Put it in the microwave for about a minute and a half, depending on your microwave, then pop it in your pocket. Hand warmer.
  7. Invest in an electric heater. Cheap ones cost about £17/$27. Leave it near to your bed for a quick 20 minute blast of heat in the morning to coax you out of bed. I find that my electricity bill is almost always cheaper than the gas, so this way saves you a little bit of cash to celebrate when exams are over.
  8. Hit up charity shops for cosy jumpers. I myself do this at all times of the year…
  9. Eat. It sounds stupid but you do need to eat more in the winter. If you’re worried about weight I recommend porridge, which costs about 60p for 2kgs. Add lots of dried fruit and a bit of honey so sweeten it up. Or salt, if you’re over 50, because that’s a thing in Scotland. I also recommend a winter fruit compote which my mother makes. I’m not going to give you her recipe because one day I will make my millions off of it, but the BBC have a good, cheap version of it.
  10. Keep soups and canned goods in the cupboards and some frozen veg/meat in the freezer. Sometimes it’s too cold to go out and it’s nice to have emergency supplies.
  11. If you live in a flat you can put drinks in a plastic bag and hang them out the window to keep warm if you’re having a party! More room in the fridge for food.
  12. If you’re asthmatic/under or over a certain age/working in the health care profession, you are entitled to a free flu vaccine (in Scotland anyways).  Check your local GP of free clinic to see if anything like that applies to you in your area, as skipping out on the flu can save a lot of money in medicine.
  13. Speaking of medicine, a hot toddy will cure most things from a cold or sore throat to a broken heart. Or so I’m told, I’m not much of a whiskey fan myself. On the same vein, ladies, you can use gin as a mascara thinner if you run out of make up wipes. ho ho ho…
  14. Those those of you who celebrate Christmas, set up a secret santa with friends or colleges and stick to a budget. Alternatively try and make a “homemade pact”, where you give each other gifts you’ve made yourself. You’d be surprised at the nice things you can make at home, like bath bombs, some lovely felt gifts, food, or, if you can, knit something! It means a lot more, and isn’t that time consuming.
  15. If you have a radiator, try not to put sofas/desks in front of it. They really hinder the circulation, and while it might be nice to have cosy feet while you’re working, leaving that little spot seems much colder. You’ll use the same energy to heat up less space, which is just wasteful. 
  16. If you have the heating on, keep doors shut and turn off the radiators in rooms that are not in use. Every little helps!
  17. If you have a car, spray the wind shield with anti-freeze at night, then in the morning you won’t need to chisel ice off as much.
  18. In your car keep anti-freeze, a de-icing tool, a blanket, a first aid kit and a paper copy of ICEs (in case of emergency numbers) and your insurance people. Keep a couple of cereal bars and a big bottle of water wrapped in the blanket (make sure the lid is on tight) and a shovel in the boot (trunk). Winter is a dangerous time on the roads and you never know how long you might have to stay in a place. 
  19. Invest in a flask. Mine isn’t great so it also acts as a heating pad in the library. Most places don’t charge (or charge very little) for hot water, so bring some herbal teas and your own flask to the library. You even get a discount in some Starbucks with your own flask.
  20. Finally, make hay while the sun shines. Or make snowmen while it snows out. Make the most of winter by checking out free activities in your area, or taking a cold walk through the park to take some snaps during Golden Hour (which is now like 3 hours long and pretty early). Make snow men, go ice skating (not on ponds though, too dangerous) and wrap up warm!

I realise that Scotland isn’t the coldest place in the world, and those of you in North America/Canada and Russian are probably scoffing, but most of these will get you through a rough winter in Scotland. We’re entitled to moan because our winter usually lasts until April, and then we just get rain. 

If you have any other tips let me know!Image