It’s Sunday and we’re mad busy.
Fluvio’s home sick so I’m left with the keys to the kingdom. The waiters are all working doubles. The “who gets to go home first” begging ritual is in full swing.
“Oh man I am so tired,” Shlomo says to me. “You can have the rest of my tables and take the cash.”
I’ve been sick for three days. Stoned on antihistamines I’m performing my duties on autopilot. I don’t feel like picking up the slack
“We’re all exhausted,” I reply, “let’s see what happens.”
“Dude pleaseeeee,” Shlomo pleads. He looks crisped around the edges.
“Let me think about it.”
Now Shlomo was out carousing last night. His car broke down on Jerome Ave and he spent all night trying to get a tow truck. He got no sleep. I sympathize. But I have a hard and fast managerial rule I live by…..
What a waiter does the night before is their problem.
Hungover? Detoxing? Burning urination? You should have gotten some one to cover your shift. If you come in and tie on your apron I expect you to do your job. That’s the ethos of working in a restaurant.
I stumble through the rest of my tables and try and remember to smile. When my entrées are delivered I sit on a crate and drink some coffee. It’s the first time I’ve sat all day.
“Someone is at the front door asking about a job,” the hostess says interrupting my rest.
“Is it about the waiter position?”
“Goddamn it,” I say wearily getting up.
As I walk over to the front I see one of the busgirls wearing a garbage bag over her head like a poncho and latex gloves on her hands.
“What’s with the outfit?” I ask
“Someone mierda all over the bathroom,” Olega replies.
“Huh?” I mumble incomprehensively. That Day Quil is really screwing up my synapses.
“Look cabron,” Olega says gesturing to the ladies room.
I open the door. Mistake.
There’s shit all over the bowl and floor. Someone had a bad case of the runs. The smell is overpowering.
“See?” Olega grins.
Sometimes women don’t want to plant their lily white asses on the bowl so they try and “hover.” Combine alcohol with bad aim and you get a mess.
“I’m so sorry you have to clean this up,” I mutter
“It’s ok. It’s my job,” Olega chirps. Grabbing some bleach she enters the hot zone in her makeshift hazmat suit to clean up gringo shit.
We don’t pay her enough.
When I get to the front door the prospective applicant is waiting. He looks like he stepped out of the pages of GQ.
“Are you the owner?” he asks superciliously.
“No, I’m the manager. How can I help you?”
“I’m here for the waiter position. I’m very experienced,” he says looking me up and down. Suddenly I’m conscious of the tomato sauce stain on my tie.
“Please come back tomorrow between 10 and noon,” I say, “The owner will be in then to conduct interviews.”
“Those times don’t work for me,” the man sniffs.
“Well, you coming in during the evening rush doesn’t work for me either. If you were experienced you would know that,” I retort.
I hand the man an application and he leaves. He’ll never come back.
I return to the back where Olega has finished her clean up operation. It’s bad enough the busgirls have to scrape slimy plates of half consumed food they can’t afford to buy themselves. But to clean up some Yuppie’s bowel movement? Gimme a break.
I’d love to find the culprit and leave a little post Tex-Mex present in HER bathroom. You know what I’m talking about.
As the night stretches on the waiters begin to squabble angrily over who gets to go home first. I call them into an impromptu huddle.
“Listen. Sometimes this job just sucks. Long hours are part of it. No one is leaving early and that’s that,” I say. If Olega has to clean up shit – they’re all staying.
Shlomo has a gleam in his eye. I think if he had access to a firearm he might use it.
“That’s it people.” I pronounce. Another rush of Yuppies queues up hungrily at the front door.
You would think the waiters would be happy to make all this money but they aren’t. When a server’s tired money ceases to be a motivating factor. When business is slow they bitch about not having enough shifts. When it’s busy they want to leave early. You can never win.
The night grinds on. Not being a complete asshole I take the last rush of tables and let the other guys cashier out. The kitchen crew is close to mutiny. I close the bistro early.
After I complete the night’s paperwork I clock out and head over to the Irish pub. I shouldn’t be drinking with a cold but my knees are killing me.
Lenny pours me a Guinness. While I’m waiting for the pint to settle I admire the expertly drawn shamrock in the foamy head. Suddenly one of the pub waitresses runs up to the bar.
“Some asshole just shit all over the ladies room!” she cries. Talk about being literal.
“Goddamn it,” Lenny and I exclaim in unison.
Lenny disappears to handle the problem. I stare sullenly into my beer.
“Gringo yuppie motherfuckers,” I sigh taking a sip.
It never ends.