First, let me just acknowledge the awesomeness of the previous entry’s comment section. Everyone who treats a service employee badly should be made to read that list and write a 1603829596-word essay on each incident and why the customer was HORRIBLE and WRONG and deserving of intestinal TOILET SNAKING.

I don’t have any stories that even come close to some of yours, but in reminiscing about my golden years of Dealing with the Great Unwashed Public I randomly remembered this humiliating thing I had to do when I worked at a movie theater.

Before I finally got the revered ticket-selling job where all you do is sit in a glass booth all day, I worked many shifts in the concessions area where I sold popcorn and giant tubs of soda and other crap (including, dear god, hot dogs). We had these containers of hot yellow oil that you splurted on the popcorn if someone wanted “butter”. It wasn’t butter, of course, it was melted earwax or some shit, and so the manager came up with the brilliant idea of calling it buttery.

We ALL had to say “buttery”, as in “did you want buttery on that?”. If we said “butter” or “butter flavoring” we got in trouble, and so over and over I found myself saying “And did you want buttery?” to people who invariably looked at me as if I were missing my helper dog. “Do you mean butter?” they’d say, and I’d have to say “Well….no.”

My uniform included polyester pants, an ill-fitting vest, and a clip-on bow tie. Ah, good times.


The house remodel marches on, and this week is a flurry of activity as progress is made on the plumbing and electrical work. Yesterday we made the exciting discovery that we had no hot water, and the color of the not-hot liquid coming from the taps was a rich, earthy shade of brown. This was especially fun at 2 AM when Riley decided he needed a bottle RIGHT THE HELL NOW and I ran around looking for a source of water that didn’t come out of a potentially contaminated faucet, Brita filter be damned.

Apparently the problem is all fixed now, but too late for me to wash my hair this morning, and thus I am my own private Exxon Valdez today. You’re welcome.

(I’m not really sure what to do with the boy when he wakes up and cries in the middle of the night, because it’s rare that he does it. On one hand, I don’t want to endorse the habit of plugging his snoot with a bottle whenever he bellows forth a midnight wolf-howl, on the other hand he usually sleeps through just fine, or wakes up and babbles for a while, then falls back asleep–so it seems like if he really starts complaining it’s for a good reason? Man, I don’t know. Just when I think he’s becoming somewhat predictable, he changes things up. There was this utterly strange and frustrating five-day stretch we had where he completely refused all solid food, would just start wailing the instant the spoon loomed into view, and then just as suddenly he was eating everything in sight again. What. The. Hell, kid.)

As part of the bathroom work, JB and I have tentatively decided to tile the shower ourselves. We visited a tile store in our neighborhood Bellevue last weekend, and although they had some beautiful products we were way out of our price range, as the woman who talked with us made abundantly clear.

“These are triple glazed,” she said, gesturing to a display of ceramic tile. “We’re talking forty.”

“Forty…?” I said.

She heaved a sigh. “Forty dollars a square foot.” The word “duh” hung unspoken in the air until JB and I slowly backed away, leaving her to attend to the customers who could actually afford to adorn their shower walls with squares of sun-dried black tar heroin.

We went to “Tile For Less” next, where we found tile for $3 a foot. And there was a Krispy Kreme next door. Now that’s the sort of triple glazing I can appreciate.



My boy, while I am sure you will put in your time at a stupid job or two, let us hope you are never asked to confuse the public with bad grammar and toxic popcorn grease.


27 Responses to “Buttery”

  1. Sara on April 6th, 2006 5:57 pm

    Was that expensive tile at Ann Sacks by any chance? Too bad you are a hefty drive from Portland; I would suggest Pratt & Larson’s “seconds” room. And I loved the way you worked the glaze/glaze doughnut comparision. Very tricky.

  2. Shawna on April 6th, 2006 6:24 pm

    I like the red socks with the camo pants – it’s always been one of my favourite combinations. Say, when did you start putting Riley into “real” clothes? Grommet has spent her entire 10 weeks on earth in feetsy pyjamas and it’s hard to picture dressing her in anything else.

  3. sundry on April 6th, 2006 6:45 pm

    Sara: the tile place was, in fact, Pratt & Larson! I didn’t see a “seconds” room though.

    Shawna: feety pajamas are the easiest thing on earth and Riley has a million pairs. If I’m not taking him outside the house he usually stays in them all day. Any ‘outfit’ thing he wears is always a onesie underneath the pants or whatever because t shirts, no matter how cute, always ride up.

  4. Crypto on April 6th, 2006 7:15 pm

    40 dollars a square foot? Why don’t we just just tile the bathroom with 10 dollar bills? If I was going to have the bathroom in a magazine, I might think about it. But really, it’s tile. If I was brave, I’d just make it myself.

  5. Lesley on April 6th, 2006 7:50 pm

    While I would love to read the 102 stories in yesterdays comments, the font size precludes me. Can you increase it for us cokebottle-lensed people?

    P.S. The buttery story made me laugh out loud. The ideas these lame retail managers come up with, as if they’re going to fool anyone.

  6. sundry on April 6th, 2006 8:03 pm

    I tried to enlarge the font size in the comments stylesheet but it didn’t seem to work. Why? I have nooooo idea.

    You can enlarge the view in your browser, though – that’ll work.

  7. crystal on April 6th, 2006 8:47 pm

    why couldn’t you say “would you like that buttery?” which at leasts sounds like an actual question, instead of one completely absent of proper grammar.

    i had to wear a bow tie and vest when i worked at a grocery store. i only worked there for a week.

  8. Annie on April 6th, 2006 8:51 pm

    As though the bad grammar gets you off the hook for selling “real imitation food products”? Somewhere, an English teacher is spinning in her grave. I, too, loved the clever glazing seguay.

    And $40 a foot for tile? I’m with Crypto, just use the $10 bills. My husband just read me a house for sale ad from Pebble Beach and they had real crystal chandliers in their bathrooms. All six of them. At what point does a rational person decide, “Yes, I will spend more money to decorate my crapper than most folks make in a year.”?

  9. Michael on April 6th, 2006 9:59 pm

    The problem with the comment text is that the CSS says to draw it at a small size. I’d recommend increasing the font-size values for the .comtxt, .comli, and.cmeta styles in the file :

    .comli .cmeta {
        font-size: 10px; // try 12px or 14px instead
        font-size: 9px; // try 10px or 12px instead

  10. Michael on April 6th, 2006 11:55 pm

    I realize you wrote that you already tried that or something like it. If it’s still not working, it could be that the browser is caching the CSS file and using the old values (this has happened to me before). Quitting the web browser in between edits is one way to work around that.

  11. Nicole on April 7th, 2006 3:50 am

    Ah, the polyester uniform, the outfit of the workin’ class. In HS I worked summers at a beach that was often plagued by e. coli closings due to overflows from the sewer, and our uniforms were poop brown polyester pants, beige golf shirts and poop brown satin jackets. In the SUMMER. Outside.

    Also, once I got drenched in pee there from a lost child. And they wouldn’t let me go home to change.

  12. Joanne on April 7th, 2006 5:24 am

    Tshirts ride up on my boy too, but I prefer them, since this way I can just look down the back of his diaper. Unfortunately, you might find that if you keep going to him in the night when he wakes up, you might have to keep going to him in the night when he wakes up. It sucks but that’s what happened with us and we had to leave him to cry his little heart out a few nights. I wish there was another way to communicate to him that it’s time to go back to sleep, but leaving him was the only thing that worked. I figured better now than when he’s old enough to say “Mama!” I don’t think I could take that.

  13. omuchacha on April 7th, 2006 6:28 am

    Our guy is five and a half months old and had been sleeping through the night. Now that teething started, he’s about 50/50 on sleep versus wake up. For me plugging his cute toothless mouth with a bottle when he wakes up at night isn’t the worst thing in the world. I mean, usually when he does wake up he’ll drink 4-6 ounces in the middle of the night and be right back to bed. To my way of thinking that means he woke up because he was hungry. Of course, these are three or four bar episodes on the sounds n lights monitor – if he’s just hitting his crib toys and not really crying we’ll leave him to put himself back to sleep.

    If you worry about the bottle rewarding him for waking, you could do what my pediatrician recommended to us – but we never tried – give Riley a bottle of water. That way he gets some attention, but he supposedly learns that the “reward” of the bottle after waking up isn’t probably worth waking up for anyway.

  14. Dana on April 7th, 2006 6:41 am

    I worked at a movie theater, too. We had to call it “topping.” When you ask someone if they want topping on their popcorn, they will ALWAYS respond with, “What kinds do you have?” To which we would reply, “Uh, just this over here.” This would undeniably always lead to a conversation regarding why we called it topping (’cause it’s not butter), and why wasn’t it butter (I have no idea; for the prices you are paying it should be gold.)

  15. Dana on April 7th, 2006 6:43 am

    Hehe, my comment just reminded me of a “golden shower.” That’s what we should have asked, “Would you like your popcorn to receive a golden shower?”

  16. Kristen V. on April 7th, 2006 7:24 am

    I’m the same with middle-of-night feedings: if the baby usually sleeps through, but every once in awhile wants a little chow at 3:00 a.m., I’m cool with that. You can usually tell if they’re starting to take advantage of that policy, before it gets out of hand, and then you can change tactics if necessary at that point.

  17. Lisa on April 7th, 2006 7:28 am

    Krispy Kreme! I grew up a few blocks downwind of a Krispy Kreme- there were some days when we could smell the hot doughnuts now in the air… and sometimes we followed that smell like it was some sort of sugary Pied Piper. Mmmm. And now that I am older, Krispy Kreme is our favorite snack of choice after a night of smoking ~er~ herbal JAZZ cigarettes on my friend’s back porch, which is also downwind of that very same Krispy Kreme. Funny stuff!

  18. Kaire on April 7th, 2006 7:36 am

    Dana’s golden shower comment just made me laugh out loud. I’d some how forgotten the horridness of polyester uniforms even though I’ve not forgetting about my 10 mths. of hell wearing one. Don’t forget the sensible shoes with non-slip soles! I used to have to kneel behind the fry vat and clean the giant cow pattie sized grease dripping piles. The grease would grind into the knees of my 100% polyester blue pants, but some how it always came out in the wash. Best part of that though was that my mother was still doing my laundry!

  19. warcrygirl on April 7th, 2006 7:56 am

    “The word “duh” hung unspoken in the air until JB and I slowly backed away, leaving her to attend to the customers who could actually afford to adorn their shower walls with squares of sun-dried black tar heroin.”

    Bwahahahahaha!!! And we have a dozen KK donuts in our kitchen as we speak. Triple glaze, indeed.

  20. joseph (cuppa) on April 7th, 2006 8:22 am

    Ah.. I worked the candy bar back in the day, and we had to call it “topping”.

  21. jen on April 7th, 2006 8:47 am

    I realize that the whole McJob stories comment area was totally yesterday but I am FAR TOO LAZY to actually click “previous” and enter it on the appropriate page so I will just tell you two slightly amusing anecdotes from my early workforce days. I mean, really, why stop a good thing from happening?

    i think we may have all worked for a video store. Along with the “late list” duties, there was a troubling recurring activity that came up. More than once I had to explain to irate people that no, we didn’t have a porn section, and that no, I didn’t know why and that no, I wouldn’t consider making a porn with you. Ew.

    Second story: I once worked a Christmas season as a “Mall Greeter” and had to wear a red velvet vest and bowtie and open the door for folks and wish them a Merry Christmas. This was before it was taboo to actually say “Merry Christmas” to someone. 99% of the time people were so confused by my prescence that they assumed I was some well dressed homeless person begging for spare change or trying to sell something and avoided me and the door I was holding open. I remember I got promoted to “Mascot Escort” and I actually considered that a step up. Good times.

  22. Sunshyn on April 7th, 2006 9:22 am

    If you’ve ever read “The Talisman” by Stepen King, there is a scene in which Jack, the main character, has accidentally brought Wolf, a “wolf-boy” from a different dimension, into our dimension. Wolf is freaked out because, well, our-world overload, so Jack decides to take him to a movie (which turns out to be a spectacularly bad idea). Wolf wants some of the popcorn, but without the “urine” on it!

  23. Beth on April 8th, 2006 6:39 am

    I also spent my high school years working at a movie theater. We had polyester blue pants, shirt, clip on butterfly tie and choice of vest or “sportcoat.” Anyway, before the big promotion to ticket sales, I did my time at the concession stand, selling popcorn with topping, as in, “would you like topping on that?” The worst was the people who demanded extra, extra, extra butter. After seeing that stuff go into the dispenser in solid chunks, I’ve not had movie theater popcorn in almost 20 years.

  24. amy on April 8th, 2006 10:36 am

    I’ve never worked in a movie theater (though I put in my days as a Pizza Hut waitress) but the people at our old local theater would always ask “Do you want butter?” and my husband would say, “Do you have real butter?” It just amazed him that they would call it butter when it clearly, clearly wasn’t. I can’t eat it either. When we first lived in Hawaii there was one theater that did use real butter, and also sold homemade brownies. They closed long ago- I missed them.

  25. Pete on April 9th, 2006 11:31 pm

    40 a foot for quality tile is not that bad. I would use the really cool looking tile for accent pieces. You might try telling the tile place you are getting the tile for your contractor and get a discount. I got 40% off for one of my tile jobs. YMMV

  26. andy on April 10th, 2006 8:40 am

    Dude, I want some buttery! Also, I should tell you that I worked at a certain fast food place and we couldn’t just say clean, we had to “McD” the stainless steel. I don’t know what the hell that means, but that’s what we had to do. The boxes that contained the shipped in cleaning supplies were also labeled, “McBroom” and “McMop.” Delicious…..

  27. Kelly on April 24th, 2006 7:30 pm

    It’s my first visit to your website. After just a quick browse, I’m really impressed!