Devia Robinson has seen it all. From the woman who walked out of a restroom naked to the man who tried to order a pizza from her sub shop, she’s borne witness to a full cast of drunken characters in her role as a late-night manager of Jimmy John’s in Five Points. But one in particular sticks out to her.
“She was super drunk,” Robinson says. “We called her Mayo Girl.”
As Robinson, a fourth-year biology student at USC, remembers it, this particular customer really loved mayonnaise. Her order was the same every time: a Club Lulu turkey sandwich with extra mayo and a handful of extra packets on the side. The routine was the same just about every night.
When one manager got fed up and refused her the additional mayo, things got ugly. A fiery exchange between the two wasn’t doused in the least when she angrily punched the soda fountain and yanked out all of its spouts, hurling them at the manager while soft drinks sprayed the restaurant. Employees shielded themselves from the spewing soda with their aprons as they hurried to stop the flow. Mayo Girl stormed out, leaving the Devine Street deli for the last time.
“We banned her from the store,” Robinson said.
Drunken antics from the late-night denizens of Five Points aren’t anything new, but nobody knows them better than Robinson and the crews of restaurant employees who work into the wee hours of the morning, serving up the meals that mark the end
of a night.
For these workers, the tipsy customers are not only a source of income. They’re a source of irritation and of entertainment. And depending on the night, they’re the best and worst parts of the job.
‘They’re just so rude’
On Wednesday through Saturday nights, Kadijah Clemons clocks in at the Waffle House on Harden Street around 9 p.m., and she doesn’t leave until morning, sometimes as late as 8 a.m.
She goes home to sleep and spend an hour or so with her 2-year-old daughter before her cosmetology classes at Kenneth Shuler start at 9. The day ends at 3:30 p.m., when she goes home for another few hours of sleep and caretaking before starting the cycle all over again.
Because she has such a straining schedule and such little sleep, Clemons says her customers’ attitudes influence hers a lot — sometimes, one table can make or break a night. Those who are pleasant and tip well make her night, but rude and stingy customers can get under her skin.
“Those customers that run you, and run you, and run you, for nothing — and then they have such bad attitudes — I really hate that,” Clemons says. “And it puts me in a bad mood. I think, ‘Oh my gosh, somebody go take over that table, ’cause I just can’t do it.’”
“You have those people who just come in here, and they’re just so rude, because they don’t have a life and their life is so miserable,” she says.
Qdoba manager AJ Shoemaker isn’t as concerned with customers’ attitudes as their cleanliness. On St. Patrick’s Day, the restaurant’s busiest day of the year, trash piles up in the booths, in the bathrooms — everywhere. The floor gets so dirty it turns black, obscuring its tiles.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen this place that destroyed,” says Shoemaker, 23, who has worked at Qdoba for about a year and a half.
Normal weekends aren’t quite as hectic, but they can still be pretty messy. The main concern for Shoemaker, and for employees at any establishment that caters to a late-night, largely intoxicated crowd, is vomit.
Antoine Harley and Eden June are all too familiar. The two Benedict College students, a third-year English major and a second-year mass communications major, respectively, are in charge of keeping the front lobby and bathrooms of Cook-Out clean, a challenge at the Harden Street fast food staple.
“Oh my god,” June says. “The worst part about working this shift is people throwing up.”
‘It’s always something different’
While Mayo Girl never returned to Jimmy John’s, employees there started noticing an odd trend last year, Robinson says. Every so often, a delivery order would come in for a Club Lulu sandwich with extra mayo and more packets on the side.
She was undeterred.
Robinson and the rest of the staff were shocked by her persistence, but restaurant employees throughout Five Points and Columbia’s late-night scene say their jobs leave them incredulous all the time.
Just ask Jon Plato. He’s a delivery driver for Insomnia Cookies and Domino’s Pizza, so most weekends find him waiting on the porches of Columbia’s house parties.
Over the past few years, that has made for some interesting encounters. He’s never quite sure who — or what — will greet him at the door. Plato’s most memorable delivery was to a man who emerged wearing only a paper plate. Others have opted to wear less, streaking past him (or at him, as the case may be) as he drops off their food.
“Normal college things, I guess you could say,” Plato says, sitting at Qdoba around 10 p.m. on a quick break from work.
And about twice a night, he’s met with a certain kind of generosity — invitations to parties and offers of beer and, well, other substances.
Standing with Shoemaker behind the counter, Dee Haynes, 21, says she’s seen some of that sharing spirit herself.
She remembers watching a customer walk outside to a parking lot with his burrito and sharing it with a homeless man, passing it back and forth one bite at a time.
“It’s definitely interesting working here,” Shoemaker says. “It’s always something different.”
Over on Greene Street, Hannah Young says the nights and the chaos of Pita Pit’s peak hours all blur together — a medley of fights, lines of indecisive customers and hours of churning out pita wraps.
But as far as Young, 20, is concerned, the most intriguing part of the job is off the clock, when she and her coworkers step back and observe late night’s milieu from the restaurant’s front stoop.
Their hangout sits in the hub of Five Points. It was stirred into a panicked frenzy earlier this semester when a man opened fire on a police officer across the street; it’s just uphill from the fountain, where cab lines meander and groups congregate; and it’s along the main connector of campus and the bar district — on the way downtown or on the way home.
Racking her brain for what she finds most interesting about a night on the job, she throws out a few memories from working inside the restaurant, but it’s the antics outside that she settles on.
“Actually, the most entertaining thing is when we sit outside and smoke cigarettes and watch the drunk asses that walk by,” Young says.
‘What makes me come to work every day’
When a woman walks into Cook-Out wearing a tiara with a yellow feather boa and a 21st birthday checklist draped around her neck, June, the lobby manager, bounds toward her.
As they pose for a photo, a few men jump in the frame, and one starts to sway before a friend holds him up. June smiles for a Snapchat with another patron. A few minutes later, she’s walking around the restaurant with a single yellow feather plucked from the boa, tickling a few customers on the ear as she passes by.
In the meantime, she tends to the restaurant’s housekeeping. She mops, picks up bits of trash from the floor and confiscates a wet floor sign from a group who’d put it on their table. All the while, June belts out a few rhythm-and-blues tunes.
June’s singing has won her some recognition among the restaurant’s regulars. Walking around with a mop, she is stopped by one customer who makes a song request. She happily obliges.
Every so often, she says, the whole restaurant will join her, singing along to Alicia Key’s “No One,” and other tunes.
“When I’m out in the streets sometimes, I feel like a celebrity, because they’ll be like, ‘That’s the girl from Cook-Out,’” June says. “I love my customers.”
While she and Harley, her coworker, willingly acknowledge the downsides of working the Cook-Out night shift, they both say the customers keep them coming back. They say the entertainment and interactions make it all worthwhile.
“What makes me come to work every day is you guys, because the check is not even worth it,” Harley says. “I could do better, [but] it makes you want to be here to see the next customer that comes in.”
June nods in agreement and adds that she enjoys connecting with so many different people in various walks of life and states of mind.
“People are usually in their own little world, and you never know what’s going on,” June says. “You don’t know if they’re having a bad day or they just had a breakup,” so being able to make them smile, she says, gives her great satisfaction.
And just as rude people can drive Clemons, the Waffle House server, crazy after several days of classes and work, cheerful and polite ones can make up for it.
“The best part of my job would be my customers,” Clemons says. “If I’m having a bad day and I just come in and my customers are here, they make my night so much smoother.”
Robinson, the Jimmy John’s manager who’s been known to patronize the deli herself on nights in Five Points, says despite all the exasperation of a long, late-night shift, it doesn’t take much to keep her happy.
“Just don’t throw up everywhere, and we’re pretty good,” she says. "That could be our slogan — we can deal with your shit, just don’t throw up.”
As you're running from class to class and squeezing in study sessions at the library, it can be hard to stick to a healthy diet. These tasty superfoods will give you the energy and nutrition needed to tackle that mountain of assignments and tests and can easily be incorporated into your daily routine.
A nutritional powerhouse with loads of antioxidants, heart-healthy benefits and detoxifying nutrients, kale is an insanely healthy vegetable to add to any meal. Grill, sautee, have it as a side dish or add into pasta. Kale certaintly has versatility. Pick kale, go green!
2. Dark Chocolate
The darker, the better - so break off a piece of that chocolate bar. Cocoa is packed with disease-fighting antioxidants, and it can lower blood pressure. Select bars with a 70% or higher cocoa content.
3. Coconut Oil
You probably know about olive oil, but I bet you didn't know that coconut oil is also a healthy alternative to butter and margarine or that it has so many functions in your body. It helps trim your waistline, strengthen your immune system, absorb important bone-strengthening minerals, raise good cholesterol and control blood sugar levels.
Need a boost? Blueberries boost your metabolism and your immune system. Pair them with yogurt, cereal or granola for a quick and tasty snack, or put them in a fruit smoothie to take with you on-the-go.
5. Edemame Beans
Salt them up or keep them plain - either way, edemame beans are delicious and help build strong muscles because they contain little fat and a lot of protein. They're also antioxidant-rich and contain a lot of fiber to make you feel full longer.
Even when it's not cold out, you can embrace cinnamon's health benefits. Just the smell of this spice boosts brain activity. It also reduces headaches and migraines. During finals week, try adding a bit of cinnamon to your coffee or tea.
Vampires aren't the only things that garlic wards off. Garlic helps to lower the risk of heart disease and reduces the risk of prostate, stomach, colon, and breast cancers. Garlic can be sprinkled on fish, vegetables, bread and many other foods.
Feeling old? Add some mushrooms to your meal. The selenium and Vitamin E found in them work together to help protect cells and keep your skin looking young. They also contain potassium, which helps lower blood pressure. Mushrooms are a versatile ingredient and can be mixed into all kinds of recipes like salads, soups and sauces.
Next time you go out to eat, ask for a lemon with your glass of water. Just a few drops of lemon juice can do wonders for your immune system. Its high Vitamin C content makes it good for fighting infections and relieving illnesses like asthma, fever and tonsillitis. Lemon is also a detoxifer and aids digestion.
Sink your teeth into one of these! Use it as a spread on a sandwich or throw slices into a salad. This heart-healthy food helps improve eyesight and is a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids. In fact, avocado oil is often an ingredient in mouthwash because it's good for your teeth and helps prevent gum disease.
A healthy substitute for sugar, honey can pacify your sweet tooth. Try adding honey to a salad or even as a glaze. While honey is a yummy sweetener, it's also one of the oldest-known medicines. It increases your immune system and helps to keep away coughs and sore throats.
Tips to Live Healthy and Stay Fit:
- Ingredients matter. Look at the nutrition label on your food - if the list contains a bunch of words you can't pronounce, and you aren't sure what they mean, it's best to steer clear. The less processed, the better.
-Eat when you wake up to boost your metabolism after a night's rest. Pack snacks to munch on between classes to fufill your body's daily nutritional needs throughout the day and ward off any hunger attacks that might end at the vending machine.
- Cook at home. Controlling how your meals are prepared and which ingredients are used allows you to get the maximum health benefits. Boiling, grilling, steaming and baking are all healthy ways to cook.
- Cut down on portions. When out at a restaurant, splitting a meal with a friend is an easy way to make an ovesized meal more manageable.
- Carry a re-fillable water bottle with you to stay hydrated throughout the day. The USDA recommends drinking around 64-ounces a day. Water boosts your metabolism and is 100% healthy.
- Burn off the day's food as you snooze. Your body re-sets its metabolism while you're asleep, so the more you sleep, the more you'll burn.
Step One: Admittance
I, Katie Witherspoon, am a horrible cook.
That was easy enough.
Step Two: Recognizing a greater power that can give strength
I recognize that this blog will be a kind of therapy; a place I can express my feelings without fear of prejudice or judgment.
Please do me a favor and leave nice comments.
Step Three: Examining past errors
I have had a long history of cooking mishaps, but perhaps the worst involved an ex of mine and a chicken. It all started out innocently enough. I was going to make a chicken dish straight from a box. Simple, right? I thought so too, until my inability to read directions became apparent. The result? Bland chicken that couldn’t be saved. My romantic meal for two ended up including two Whoppers at Burger King.
I keep telling myself it’s the thought that counts. All that really matters is I wanted to make the dinner, the fact that I ruined it is obsolete.
Step Four: Learning to live a new life with a new code of behavior
I must now realize that as a college student, at some point I will run out of meals on my meal plan and be forced to fend for myself. Because of this, it is crucial I learn to prepare a dish that won’t give me food poisoning.
I wonder how long I could survive off of Spaghetti-O’s and Mac n’ Cheese...
Step Six: Helping others that suffer from the same addictions or compulsions
To all of those that suffer from Bad-Cook Syndrome in silence, join me on my journey to overcome my poor cooking habits by baking my way through some of Patricia Moore-Pastides’ recipes. Could I be USC’s very own Julia & Julia?
Stay tuned to find out how close I come (to burning down West Quad).
Recipe #1 (maybe): Honey frozen yogurt
2 cups plain Greek-style thick yogurt (nonfat works fine)
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup buttermilk (skim or low fat works well)
• In a large bowl, stir together the yogurt, honey and buttermilk until all the ingredients are well blended and smooth.
• Chill the mixture in the refrigerator until it is very cold and then transfer it to an ice-cream maker.
• Process until the mixture thickens, approximately 25–30 minutes. Transfer it to a flat airtight container and freeze to firm. Five to 10 minutes before serving, take the yogurt from the freezer and let it sit on the counter to soften a bit.
--from Moore-Pastides’s book and thestate.com