Annexed: Get Her to the Greek

In this episode of Annexed, we take a closer look at one of the mainstays of The Mall: John’s Grecian Delight. Aside from the cafeteria that caters mostly to our office workers, this is the only other eatery in The Mall.

The Brit and I have passed by “the Greek place” many times on our bi-weekly walks. We’ve peered in but never stopped. In fact, we’ve never even seen any customers in there. Granted, we usually walk by around 4 or so, which is not a real busy time at any restaurant.

The place has your typical greek restaurant decor: posters of the Parthenon on the wall,  Greek God statues on the counter and gyros table tents at each table. The furniture is fairly low-budget and the lighting is dim. Course, it’s dim everywhere in the mall [side note: I worked from the west office for one afternoon this week and the lighting in there was so much brighter – because that office actually has windows and stuff – that my eyes started to water. No joke.]

Wednesday night I had a 5:30 conference call that would run until 7ish and wanted to get some dinner beforehand or else my stomach would literally be eating me from the inside out when I was done. My options were to hop in the car and drive a few miles to the nearest fast food place (and to be honest, I know less than nothing about what is located in that part of town so I’d probably end up driving aimlessly and get lost and still not find anything to eat and then not only would my stomach be eating me from the inside out but I’d also be late for my meeting) or venture downstairs and brave John’s. I opted for the latter and took The Brit down with me for moral support.

We walked in and were immediately greeted by the restaurant’s owner. [Stupid Sarah moment of the week: asking said owner what his name was…I’ll give you a minute…yep, ok, yeah…] He is actually from Greece and still has some of the accent. He was very friendly and chatted with us the whole time he was preparing my chicken gyro plate (complete with french fries and a salad). He actually gave us a nice little history lesson too. 

John moved his restaurant in to The Mall 29 years ago in 1981. The Mall is about 44 years old. He said at that time and for many years after, The Mall was THE place to be. At one time there were 200 stores there and wall to wall people shopping every day. It was a’hustlin’ and a’bustlin! But then in 1993 The Mall was sold to a different property management company that raised rent. A lot of people left then and many more left over the next few years as a new highway was built running right in front of the mall. But, despite the fact that business has slowed way down, John has such a positive attitude and it was truly a pleasure to meet him.

I took my dinner back upstairs and it smelled so good, I literally had people following me back to my desk to see what magical concoction I had in my styrofoam container. The Indians had not been exposed to much greek food so they were particularly curious. A few of the Indians are vegetarian and were concerned there would be no options for them there. Coincidently enough, The Brit is also a vegetarian and had asked John if he had many such offerings. He said that he could make a veggie gyro and of course there were greek salads, spanakopita, and a few other offerings. The Indians were very excited and vowed then and there to have lunch at John’s the next day.

Everyone wandered away and I was left to eat my dinner. I’ll admit that I was skeptical. I mean, greek food from a 29-year-old restaurant, situated inside a dying 44-year-old mall does not inspire confidence. But, I gave it a whirl and I was not disappointed. It was yummy! Now, it wasn’t the best greek food I’ve ever had but it was good. I mean come on, greek food is pretty good no matter what. It was however way too much for me to eat in one sitting and I only got through about half of it.

The next day, I was ready to try another menu item for lunch. The Indians backed out at the last-minute but that didn’t stop Bob, me and our 2 consultants from Texas from going (the Brit was working out at our west office that day. Lucky bitch). This time I ordered a salad and spanakopita. Again, both were good enough to satisfy me. I was surprised to see that at lunchtime, John does a good business! People were steadily streaming in the whole hour we were there. Some stayed to eat and some took it back to the office. John knew many of the customers by name, just as he immediately knew Bob when we walked in and he remembered me from the night before. In fact, he called me “babe”. (Back story: Bob used to work permanently out of The Mall office and apparently was a regular at John’s. Bob has been at the west office now for a couple of years and therefore hasn’t eaten at John’s that whole time, yet John knew who he was right away.)

Today, I was geared up for the Thanksgiving lunch being offered by the cafeteria when The Brit suggested we go down to the greek place. It didn’t take much to persuade me. Ended up being the right decision as I later overheard some co-workers comment on how much the cafe T-giving lunch sucked. Bullet = dodged.

This time I ordered a cheeseburger and fries, to see how well John does with good old-fashioned American food. The Brit got the veggie gyro and Bob had spanakopita and greek potatoes. All were good. I have to admit, John’s fries are THE BOMB! They are the think cut steak fries, cooked to that perfect point where they’re crisp yet not too crisp. Awe.some. Once again, John knew who we were and he talked to me about his grand-daughter who is about the same age as Munchkin. He was such a proud grand-papa. It was so cute.

But, the piece-de-resistance of the whole thing was….wait for it…wait for it…

SCOOTER WAS THERE!!!!

We saw him as soon as we walked in and it really was the icing on the cake. It’s like the Gods of Blogging knew I was going to be writing this post and wanted to give me that extra little gem to include. Thank you Blog Gods, thank you.

[Funny Scooter story: our manager told us that Scooter has been lurking around The Mall for years. In fact, he lurked there even before he had a scooter. And he has always “charmed” the ladies. One day, when the manager and his assistant were coming back from lunch, Scooter walked by them, said hi to the assistant and then LICKED HIS LIPS! I kid you not. I about died laughing when I heard that. It was revolting and magical all at the same time.]

So, that’s the story of John’s Grecian Delight. It turned out to be a diamond in the rough and I’m glad I went in and met John. I really hope he’s able to keep the place going and continue serving up gyros with a smile. 🙂

Extra bonus of the week: the water main burst again!! It really brought the week full circle. I made sure to use the bathroom quickly before they brought in the port-a-potties. Don’t worry, I alert people as to when I’m heading to “see a man about a dog“, given the previous week’s events. If I’m gone too long people start to freak out.

Thanks for tuning in! Until next week, consider yourself, Annexed!!

Annexed: The Haunted Theater

Monday started out as any other day. People were rolling in to the office slowly, trying to drag out as much of the weekend as they could. I was feeling particularly icky, dealing with a virus that had me down all weekend. But, things would soon be looking up!

I ate lunch with one of my co-workers, Bob*, and while sitting in the cafe, I saw a man come in through a door at the back of the room. I asked Bob where that door went. He said it led to the old theater. Holy cheap seats Batman! In all our wanderings around the mall, the Brit and I had yet to uncover the old theater! Bob and I immediately ran back to the Annex to get the Brit and tell her of our find. Upon hearing about the discovery, we decided the only sensible thing to do was grab our cameras and go exploring!

With a spring in our step and a twinkle in our eye, the 3 of us headed to the cafeteria and out the back door. What we walked in to was a small foyer with stairs on one side and a long hallway on the other. The stairs led down to the gym below and the hallway led to the theater. We turned right to go down the hall and were immediately stopped in our tracks by something so amazing that we were all rendered speechless.

The scooter!! Yes, Scooter’s scooter was sitting in the hallway, abandoned.

Where had he gone? Did Scooter really ever exist or was the scooter haunted? We didn’t stick around to find out.

We continued on and came to the theater, which is now a Mexican church. All this time, the bay across from the Annex that we thought was the church was really just their administrative offices. This was their actual worship space. Except, it was run down and grimy and dusty. Very Alfred Hitchcock.

The front of the theater. You can see the sign up in the corner which reads "Iglesia de Dios Fraternidad Cristiana"

 I decided to be brave and go up there, where I found the old popcorn counter. And it still had bags of popcorn kernels and coffee beans in the display case!

I walked behind the counter and it was very dirty and scary and I was literally watching my steps, afraid I would step on a roach or mouse or something even more sinister. The Brit snapped a quick pic and then I was outta there!

 We followed the ramp which leads down to the ticket office (don’t you love the Pepto Bismol pink walls?).

We then turned the corner and found the other side of the Theater/Church on our left and another set of stairs straight ahead.

 

On the side of the church was an emblem. The emblem is a big circle with several bible verse references around the outer edge. In the center is Davinci’s drawing of David, with a church building strategically placed over his crotch. Then it says “THE DWELLING PLACE” in huge letters at the bottom. I’m sure it’s very meaningful to this church, but we just found it kind of strange…almost cult like.

Anywho…

At that point we figured it was time to go back. So we headed the way we came – past the ceiling vent with black mold growing on it, past the old rickety door that is still locked even though it’s so barely on its hinges that even I could break it down with just a strong sneeze, past the “blood stained” walls and back to the hallway that leads out of this dark, desolate place. The very hallway where we first encountered Scooter’s scooter. We had been wandering and exploring for nearly 10 minutes by this point and we thought surely the scooter would be gone.

But it wasn’t.

It was still sitting there all alone, just as we had left it.

We all just stopped and stared at it. Bob said that maybe we should call someone. The Brit thought we should get out of there before he came back. Just as she said that we heard a flush and we all screamed like little girls and went running down the hallway, practically diving back in to the cafeteria. We didn’t slow down until we were safely back in the Annex.

Not but an hour later, I would find myself unconscious on the bathroom floor. Coincidence? You tell me. Could it have been something I encountered in the Haunted Hallway? Was it from breathing in the harmful toxins that surely pollute the air back there? We will never know.  

Due to the unfortunate circumstances of Monday afternoon, I was out of work and unable to spend anymore time in the Annex this week. However, the Brit alerted me to the fact that on Tuesday afternoon, a water main broke in the area and all water to the building was shut down. It just keeps getting better and better! I can’t make this stuff up people!

Notice from Facilities (click to view in full size)

 
Thanks for tuning! Until next week, consider yourself, Annexed!!

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Annexed, The Premiere

Starting today, I’m going to devote every Friday blog to a new series that I like to call Annexed. It’s basically about the craziness and weirdness that surrounds me at my new work location*. I swear, this would make a killer sitcom and it would be a big hit. “The Office” meets “Outsourced” meets “My Name is Earl”. Got ya hooked already, don’t I!

The scene:

Our “office” is located inside a mall that is, for all intents and purposes, abandoned. At one time, this mall was a hustling, bustling place to be seen but now it’s pretty much been left to rot. Here’s a quote from deadmalls.com that pretty much sums it up, “Southroads was built into the slope of a bluff, and the dark interior always reminded me of the mall used in George Romero’s original “Dawn of the Dead.”

Pin'N Out In Bellevue!

The only occupants of the mall are a Mexican church, an awards/t-shirt shop, a barber who advertises military “kutz”, a Greek restaurant, a “musclehead” gym, and a police station (which sells t-shirts of pigs dressed as cops riding on a motorcycle with a dog in the sidecar. No, I’m not kidding). Every other bay in the mall is abandoned and many of them still have stuff lying around inside. And they all smell.

The company I work with resides in a large area of the mall – what used to be a Younkers department store. They also have another bay outside of that, called The Annex. Hence, the name of the series. It’s all coming together now isn’t it? I love it when things come full circle!  

The Characters:

Scooter Man's is not as nice as this, and it's not red. But it does have the basket!

Everyone that plays a part in this new work life is a perfect “character”. Aside from the “normal” office folk, we have a British woman who is one of the few people keeping me sane (Annexed was jointly created by her so I have to give a shout out to the Vickmeister!), vendors from India, Texans and a New Yorker. Then there are the characters that don’t work with us but instead lurk around the mall. There’s a guy on a scooter (you know, like the ones they used to advertise on TV all the time – “it can make a full 360 turn!”) who drives up and down the hallway saying hi to all the pretty women. I think Scooter is drunk most of the time so it’s slurred and comes out like “HIIIIiiiiii….” Then there are the mall walkers. There is a group of elderly men and women who meet there every morning and walk the mall, then sit at one of the old card tables and chat. There is even a sign on the wall that shows how many laps equals 1 mile! Suh-weet. That will totally come in handy when it’s the dead of winter and I need to get my mileage in!

The Extras:

Every show has to have special guests from time to time and this one is no exception! This week, the special guest was The Polling Place. There are apparently 3 districts that use The Mall as a polling place and they set up right inside the entry doors. I got a couple of frowns as I walked through on Tuesday morning. I think they thought my heels clicking on the tile was too much of a distraction for the voters (who sat at card tables filling out their ballots – no screen or anything for privacy). Whatevs.

The Highlight Reel:

1. One of the Indians invited himself back to my house to play with my daughter. This was before he found out that I work and my husband stays at home. He told me we were “reversed” and gave me a look that said, “That shit would never fly back home you crazy woman who thinks she’s equal to a man!” I’m pretty sure he won’t be coming to my house now.

2. The Brit and I have taken to walking the mall for Therapy every afternoon. Yesterday we saw a man on the other end of the hallway who had a limp and was flopping his arms about. He scattered when he saw us.

3. The Odor of The Day is “varnish mixed with mildew”. 

4. The Brit had to call 911 on her way home yesterday as there was a crazy homeless man hitchhiking IN THE MIDDLE OF TRAFFIC! He started off on the side of the road (not on the shoulder or a sidewalk, but literally on the side of a lane on the highway) but as he hitched his thumb to catch a lift, he would stagger into traffic. Awesome.

5. Speaking of traffic, on Monday I saw a woman pushing a baby stroller down the same road as Exhibit #3 above. Again, on the highway, in the lane of traffic. More awesome sauce.

So now that you have the back story, you are all set for the upcoming episodes of Annexed. Stay tuned kids – you won’t want to miss a minute of it! You’ve officially been Annexed!

*Note to all you compliance geeks – no worries, I won’t share anything about the work itself, the company I work for or the names of any employees. This is simply a fun look in to the crazy underworld that is The Annex.