Author Archives: Alexander Greenblatt

Tips Come in Waves

“Alright so I worked in ummm…. I worked in like multiple restaurants since I was like a freshman in high school and ummm…. one thing that they’ve always had in common was ummm…. was that there was a superstition around how servers got their tips. So the superstition was that just sort of that they come in waves and like servers take it very seriously like on a day where they get like… zero dollars in tips from multiple tables and they’re not bringing home that much money, they like… it’s really easy to get down about it. but in restaurants there is this attitude that’s like incubated that like what goes around comes around… kind of… so like if they get zero dollars from multiple tables and don’t bring home that much money one day, the next shift they’re very confident that they’ll get a lot of money and because they’re confident that that system will work, they probably serve better and they probably get better tips because of that so it’s sort of like a self fulfilling prophecy so because like, when a server has a bad day for tips because they believe in that philosophy that they’ll have a better day next time they actually do which is very interesting”

What I enjoyed about this superstition is that the informant realized how the superstition worked and how it was a self fulfilling prophecy within the superstition. Aside from that it’s also this superstition within the job as Tok Thompson has said is a way for the people within the job to control something out of their control. In this case it was the servers trying to control how many tips the get.

Sideways Shoes

“I have a strong belief… that whenever someone take their shoes off and they leave the shoes sideways… ummmm… their mother is gonna die… somebody told me that when I was very young and it stick to my head… I don’t know how popular that belief is… but whenever I go on a place and see someone’s shoes sideways I have to go and fix it.”

This piece is from a person from Brazil. I don’t know many people from Brazil with the same belief. Yet I feel like this belief was from her socio economic background. She was raised in an upper class, proper family that was heavy on etiquette and I believe that this belief was from her culture trying to instill this etiquette within her.

Ziti Recipe

This informant comes from a Middle Class, New York Italian family. He learned the recipe from his father, he has never bothered to ask his father were he learned the recipe from but here is how he describes it.
“we melt mozzarella and Polly O’ String cheese and onions and garlic
it’s like a layer cake made of pasta… one layer of pasta,then meat, then cheese then sauce…
shove it in the oven… we are a very white family”
This dish really follows no real traditions, it seems to be made whenever. The informant has made the dish by himself but usually makes it with his father. It seems to be a recipe passed down from his family.
I believe that this dish is a combination of both of the informant’s cultures. It’s a very traditional Italian dish of layered ziti but with American bought items. His phrasing of how he must use Polly O’ String Cheese as supposed to any other brand of string cheese. A string cheese found in many New York supermarkets and convince stores. It’s a homogenous blend of both of the informant’s cultures, combining both cultures from his family’s past in Italy and his family’s current situation in Queens.

Annapolis Tug of War

“So in my ummm… hometown… ummm… my parents live in Annapolis… and in Annapolis there’s a divide between two smaller little… like… sub cities. There’s downtown Annapolis and Eastport and what’s dividing them is the chesspeak bay and theres the… there’s the bridge. an unnamed bridge that connects the two. and so ummm… each year the city of Annapolis puts on this ummm… tug of war that goes along the chesspeak bay. So they get this massive rope that’s at least a mile long and they get citizens of Annapolis to tug from Annapolis and citizens of Eastport to tug from Eastport and so… it’s usually twenty people on each side of the rope and it’s going across the entire bay and they have like boats like it’s just a rope across the entire bay for like one mile which was super cool to see every year and I participated in it on my ummm… last year and Eastport did win last year, that’s where my family lives and it’s a super cool tradition”

This tradition seems to span an two entire boroughs of a town and seems to focus on conflict between the boroughs of Annapolis. The rivalry doesn’t seem too bitter though as the towns to dedicate this one tug of way every year to this friendly rivalry.

Cootie Shot

“We had this ridiculous thing in elementary school… where we had cootie… well we had cooties in elementary school… but we had this ridiculous thing called a cootie shot… did you have cootie shots”

“yeah sort of”

“It wasn’t even like… it wasn’t even like distributed or anything. it was literally… it was literally…just that we would mime…. we would just mime and that would instantly cure cooties so… I mean cooties still had the same amount of seriousness as any other disease it’s just that cure was really really easy to get I mean anybody can just mime a cootie shot, there was no effort in making it or anything we just had to mime it and yet no one picked up on how plentiful this cure to what was the…ummmm… worse disease in elementary school was”

This is an interesting way that people cured the cooties in the informant’s elementary school. In my experiences with the cootie epidemic, people had to be able to fold some sort of origami to be able to cure cooties and only the people in my class talented enough to fold origami were blessed with the gift of being able to cure such a horrible disease. I wonder if this mime like policy was instituted because a teacher didn’t want to waste paper of if nobody in the school knew how to fold origami?