Fluvio and I are eating lunch at change of shift. It’s payday. The lunch waitress happily counts the day’s take as the dinner staff trickles in.
“Hey Arlene, how was lunch?” Louis asks in greeting.
“$200!” Arlene chirps merrily. She had a great shift.
“Not bad…” Louis murmurs appreciatively.
“Maybe I should grab some lunch shifts,” I interject.
“Don’t even think about it.” Arlene growls.
I laugh softly. Lunch is Arlene’s kingdom.
New Guy walks in the door. Wearing his black and whites, apron rolled tightly in his hands, he looks pensive.
“Can I get my money?” he blurts. No “hello” or “how is everyone?”
“Can’t you see I’m eating?” Fluvio says.
Unfazed New Guy continues, “I need to deposit my check today.”
Mistake. One of the cardinal rules of the bistro is never bother Fluvio while he’s eating. It’s like taking food from a Doberman.
“Wait,” Fluvio mumbles through a mouthful of pasta.
New Guy exhales loudly, “I really need the money.”
Arlene and I exchange glances. We know from experience that a new waiter desperate for cash is trouble.
“Goddammit,” Fluvio says getting up from the table. He goes downstairs to the office to retrieve the checks. When he returns he thrusts them angrily at me.
‘Hand ‘em out.”
I pass out the checks. I get to New Guy, sadistically, last.
New Guy opens his check. He looks disappointed.
“Is this it?” he huffs.
“You only worked a couple of training shifts. Next week you’ll be on the floor and making money,” I reply. He’s lucky. Not every restaurant pays a training wage.
New Guy keeps staring at the check hoping it will suddenly be worth more.
I sigh inwardly. Being a waiter in training sucks. Paired with a veteran, you do all the work and keep none of the tips. Basically you’re my slave for a week.
“Am I taking tables tonight?” New Guy asks.
“Fluvio, how’s New Guy on the floor?” I say.
Fluvio just shrugs.
“We’ll give you a few tables tonight and see how you do,” I reply.
“Will I work Saturday night?” he presses.
I don’t like this guy. “Saturday shifts are assigned by seniority,” I say evenly.
New Guy stares dumbly at me. “Can I go to the bank and deposit my check?”
After he walks out the door Fluvio says, “He’s not coming back.”
Fluvio pantomimes a junkie mainlining smack. “He’s off to get a fix.”
“Wouldn’t be the first drug addict we’ve come across.”
An hour passes. Sure enough – New Guy doesn’t come back.
“Where do you think he went?” Louis asks.
“He’s probably passed out in an alley with a needle in his arm.” I say.
“That’s mean,” Louis laughs.
“Check the alley. I’ll bet he’s there.”
Louis and I think about that for a moment.
“Well, we thought he wasn’t gonna work out,” Louis says.
Trainees are a pain in the ass. Hungry for money, often to fuel one addiction or another, they want the best shifts irrespective of seniority. Working their way up the totem pole is an alien concept.
“Fuck him.” I reply.
New Guy was an asshole. Good riddance. Yet, another green recruit who stepped on a land mine.
I’m glad I never learned his name.
Please Write A Book. Please.
Waiter, on Friday I was hanging on for your next installment and thought maybe we wouldn’t hear from you until Monday the earliest with a busy weekend schedule…
Thank you for continuing to “serve” us a much needed dose of entertainment with a side of brilliance – it is becoming a rarity out here in the jungle.
I have been hitting the same people for the last 30 years in my business. I drive a big rig cross country and the new guys always want to know why I make 5 times what they make for doing the same work. It never does any good to mention that you have been doing it a long time and you really know what you are doing, with out asking questions.
It is almost like they want to blame their mothers for not giving them enought experience at birth, to take over my job.
You have to learn to laugh, are the stupid people take over.
ha! this sounds just like diner I’ve ever worked it. fantastic! 🙂
All I can say is please don’t stop, I really dig your stories and as I am a cab driver who has been on an extended vacation it has been great reading some of your stuff and I hope to pull out some juicy bits in the near future. I have aded you to my blogroll and will be frequenting your establishment, later…
Too funny. Thanks for the laugh. I second the motion: Please write a book.
You definitely need to write a book. I await the book.
How can you even begin to assume you know what that guys story is? There are countless explanations for him not returning…one, y’all seem to be assholes. I wouldn’t come back etiher.
Milo: Experience. No, they can’t KNOW what he did, but they can make a reasonable guess based on past experience, much in the way surveys work.
Well, everyone’s a newb once in a while. And, I have been one of those newbs who were stressed for cash and it had nothing to do with drugs (thanks for NOTHING student loans). Too bad for him he didn’t tough it out, he would have found out that once you’re no longer training that’s when you start making decent money.
The newbies should go to the restaurant I was at. Training consisted of 1-2 shifts following someone and then regardless if they were ready or not, they were put on the floor because we never seemed to have enough staff.. And all the new ones couldn’t handle very many tables (because obviously they were still learning) and then the experienced ones ended up getting screwed because we’d have 10 servers on the floor! I’d also love to work at a place where your seniority actually is a positive thing! The new ones were always treated the best where I worked.