I used to have them every night, back when I first started waiting tables, 20-plus years ago. No, I'm not talking about hangovers (although I guess I could be); I'm talking about server nightmares. You know, you've got a full station of 79 tables and the floor's covered in Super Glue®. Or the dining room's in a building way across town from the kitchen. Maybe you've had the one where you're sitting in your grandmother's lap and then the train goes through the tunnel. Hey, go ahead and forget I mentioned that last one, OK?
Anyhow, as the years have gone by, I've had fewer and fewer bad restaurant dreams, less than one a year now. Even when I start a new job I usually don't get serving nightmares about it. But I feel like I'm having them all the time here lately—when I'm awake, no less—because I work at the weediest restaurant in America.
It's not the worst restaurant I've ever worked at. I've had jobs that made me unhappier than this one does, some much more so. It's got it's good points. But always if you need something even a little out of the ordinary, and usually if you're after something totally normal, you're fucked. If the soup wells are empty or low and you go back to the Alto-Shaam® for refills, it's empty. Need some tea? The urns will be dry, as will be the pitchers, if you can even find any. If you want lemons for that tea, you're shit out of luck. When the fountain beverages run out, you have to hunt down a manager with a key in order to replenish them. I could go on. And on. And on. But you get the idea.
I joke around with my co-workers about it a lot. I've taken to calling our workplace "the weediest restaurant in America," to the considerable amusement of my fellow sufferers. Sometimes, when I'm back in the kitchen, frantically seeking something I desperately need that we're out of, I'll affect this cheesy, disc jockey kind of voice and say something like, "Thanks for calling WRIA (get it?) rockin' restaurant request line where we're cooking the platters that clatter. You say it, we serve it. Whaddya wanna hear? Full ice bins? Ooohh, sorry. We don't have that one. A manager's help? We're good, but we can't work miracles. I tell ya what, how about a double-shot o' double sat?! Hang on the line and we'll send ya life-size poster of horndog former restaurant industry lobbyist Newt Gingrich wearing nothing but a smile! Thanks for calling WRIA!"
Right now I'm only telling y'all about what it's like when we're fully staffed and the manager's ostensibly keeping an eye on things. When most everyone's cut and the cooks are trying to get a jump on their closing stuff and the MOD's in the office, holding up his life-size poster of nude Gingrich with one hand and doing the five-knuckle shuffle with the other, it gets way, way worse if you're still on. The weediest restaurant in America has two speeds: deadly slow and full-on crash and burn. Do you think your restarant is weedier than mine and feel like telling me about it?
The first week in January of this year, I got out the request book and asked off for Friday, February third through Monday, February sixth. No one else had yet requested those nights off ( I made my request about a month in advance). A couple of days ago, Dale, the manager in charge of the waitstaff at the weediest restaurant in America, approached me unbeckoned and said, "Hey buddy, I got ya those days off you requested." I thanked him very much and went about my bidniss. Tonight, next week's schedule was finally posted, and guess what? I'm on the schedule for both that Friday and Saturday night.