The phone rings.

“The Bistro,” I answer, “How can I help you?”

“What kind of cuisine do you serve?” a female voice asks.

“Northern Italian madam.”

“And what’s your sushi special tonight?”

I pause a moment.

“We don’t serve sushi madam.”

“Why not?”

“Because we’re not a Japanese restaurant?”

The caller thinks about that for a sec.

“Do you serve tuna?” she asks.

“We do.”

“Can’t you make sushi out of that?”


“Why not?” she asks incredulously.



There’s a long pause. I can visualize this woman sucking her thumb.

“Would you like to make a reservation?” I ask

“No, I really wanted sushi tonight.”

“Sorry,” I verbally shrug.

“Could you suggest a place?” she asks testily.

I give her the name and number of a very expensive sushi house and hang up. I look at the clock and sigh. So far I’ve put in eighty hours at the Bistro. When Fluvio comes back this Sunday it’ll be 110 hours without a break. Phone calls like this threaten to destroy whatever sanity I have left. It’s time to self medicate.

I go to the back and fetch a can of my new best friend – Red Bull.

“Cocaine in a can?” Gerald quips as he walks by.

“I can’t afford the real thing,” I deadpan.

“The dumpster dealers will cut you a break,” Gerald says, referring to the criminal element that delivers behind restaurants everywhere.

“Never did that stuff actually,” I reply.

“A couple more of these double shifts and you will be,” Gerald observes.

“I’d settle for some Prozac,” I say, “Got any?”

“I’m fresh out.”


I go back to the front and start reading The Times. The Red Bull kicks in. Great. Now I’m wide awake borderline psychotic.

I try and lose myself in the Dining In Section. There’s a good article about aperitifs. I crack up when I get to the part about Cynar, a liquor made from artichokes. Sounds disgusting I know but it’s quite good on the rocks with soda. We have it. No one orders it. Hmmm. I wonder how that would taste mixed with Red Bull………….

Gerald interrupts my reverie.

“The lady on 26 left her credit card on the table,” he says handing me the checkbook.

I look at the folder. Not only did she forget her card – she forgot to sign the receipt and leave a tip.

“Was this woman drunk?” I ask.

“I wish she was,” Gerald replies, “she and might have been less of a bitch.”

“What was the problem?”

“You know the type,” Gerald says drolly, ”water with lemon, chicken Caesar spilt, and three hours of prattling with her friend.”

“You can retire on checks like that,” I observe humorlessly.

“You’ll take care of it?” Gerald asks.

“I’ll lock up the card,” I reply, “maybe she’ll come back for it.”


Two hours go by. The lady doesn’t come back. I call the credit card company.

“Hello, Credit Card Company,” a pleasant voice chirps, “How can I help you?”

“A patron left her card behind in my restaurant,” I say, “Could you call her and let her know we have it?”

“What’s the number on the card?” the rep asks.

I rattle of some digits.

“Thank you sir,” the rep says, “that card has now been deactivated.”

“Wait a minute,” I yelp, “I just wanted you to call the woman and tell her we have her card!”

“I’m sorry but its procedure to invalidate a card when it’s reported lost or stolen.”

“Could you at least call the lady and tell her she left her card here?” I ask.

“I’m not allowed to relay messages to a card member,” the rep drones robotically.


“Please destroy the card.”


“Destroying the card protects you and the customer,” the rep continues.


“Thank you for calling the Credit Card Company. Have a nice day.”


Gerald comes back up to the hostess stand.

“Were you able to get a hold of her?” he asks.

“I called the credit card company and they canceled the card.”

“Why didn’t you call information and try and get her number?”

Now why didn’t I think of that? Maybe because I’m exhausted.

“Too late now,” I say.

“Try anyway.”

I call information. The name on the card is unique. Of course they have her number. I ring her up.

“Hello,” a professional voice answers.

“This is %*&%* at The Bistro. You left your credit card here.”

“Oh yes I know.”

“I’m sorry but I tried to have the credit card company contact you and they invalidated the card.”

“WHAT!!!!!!” the woman shrieks, “I just got that card!”

“I’m sorry. I should’ve tried to call information and find you. But my first impulse was to call the credit card company.”

“THAT WAS THE WRONG IMPULSE!” the woman yells.

“Well it’s been deactivated for your protection.”

“You’re really stupid,” the woman huffs.

“Well madam,” I reply angrily, “you left your card here, didn’t sign the bill, and forgot to leave the waiter a tip. I don’t know you. What would you have me do?”

“Now I have to get a brand new card!” the woman moans ignoring my tirade.

I look at the name embossed on the card. It has the letters Ph.D on the end.

“Pardon me,” I ask, “are you a psychologist?”

“I’m a therapist,” she says, “Why?”

“Just satisfying my curiosity,” I murmur.

The woman hangs up violently. I hope she wasn’t with a patient. Then again I feel bad for anyone she’s treating. I cut up the card into tiny pieces and dispose of it.

Gerald returns. “So what happened?” I tell him.

“So I don’t get a tip?” he asks.

“Something tells me you weren’t getting one anyway,” I reply.

Gerald laughs. “Fuck her.”

I echo the sentiment and return to my paper. I look at the clock. Monday will be my first day off after eleven double shifts. I can’t wait. Phone calls like this don’t help. I’m burnt out. I start praying for a blackout so I can close early.

Of course it doesn’t happen. I’m not gonna make it three more days.

I better get some Prozac soon. They should start putting it in Red Bull.

Hmmmm. Now there’s a million dollar idea.

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