Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Weediest Restaurant in America™ ©2012 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     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.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's Occasionally Crossed My Mind ©2012 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     My work friend Darlene caught her long-time boyfriend cheating. She immediately moved out. Darlene and her dog Shazza moved in with an old friend of Darlene's. About that time Darlene's economic situation went to hell, partly because of her relationship ending. After a very short time with the roommate, Darlene was told that Shazza the dog couldn't stay. That's the Waiter's Digest® version of the previous episode of These American Servers™, in case you didn't see it. Don't feel bad, nobody else did either.
     ANYWAY, Darlene needed to do something about Shazza. She didn't ask me or drop any hints. I totally voulunteered to let Shazza stay with me for one week, which I hoped would be enough time for Darlene to make arrangements about her pet. A co-worker of ours, LaTrishya (who probably deserves her very own episode of These American Servers), expressed interest in becoming Shazza's owner. LaTrishya came over and met the doggie. They hit it off and LaTrishya decided to adopt Shazza. Tree-tree had something going on in her life right then and could I keep Shazza for a few extra days? No problem. I kind of enjoyed having a pet around again, even though it irritated me just a little that Shazza seemed to like my neighbor Jakey G more than she liked me, but oh well.
     Darlene stayed with the roommate for several weeks. Apparently, the friendship kind of deteriorated. Darlene wasn't kicked out or anything but she decided to leave. She moved in with her mom, who's crib is pretty close to mine. The roommate's place had been pretty far from the restaurant where Darlene and I work but Mom's house is nearby to it. I think that, even though Darlene didn't feel good being 40 and living at home, she loved not having to use a lot of gasoline on her commute.
     I put in a good word for Darlene at the football stadium where I'm a beer vendor ("Yo, Beer Man!," January, 2011) and she got hired there. A big new restaurant opened across town. Darlene applied for a bartending gig there but didn't get it. The battery in her 1994 Jeep® died so she'd ride in with me sometimes. Around that time, I lucked into a battery and gave it to her. She needed money and tried to pawn her title but she doesn't have a valid driving license so that didn't happen.
     On the last gameday of the season, I called Darlene and asked if she wanted a ride. She told me she had one. I showed up at the stadium but Darlene didn't. Her ride had a little bit of reefer and offered to spring for a twelve-pack of Keystone® Light™ if Darlene would bag the game. Darlene got a job at a small local gourmet pizza restaurant. New hires there get one free meal during training. Darlene ordered her pizza with a lot of toppings and it wound up having a retail value of more than $30. She was terminated. Her Jeep runs pretty well but because of bad emissions it won't  pass inspection. Without a valid driver's license, Darlene can't risk driving with expired tags. She rides in with me a lot.
     I might have given you the impression that Darlene's a loserish fuck-up and that's really not all that accurate, although she is kind of a fun, party-girl kind of person. She and I are pretty close in age and it's occasionally crossed my mind that there might be some hook-up potential. So far, nothing's happened and I doubt anything will. Whether figuratively or literally, boinking your co-workers–and I know what I'm talking about here–is usually a bad idea. Darlene's got a lot that's good about her, but also a lot of drama, and I hate drama. For the most part, she's pretty good-looking but, tragically, she suffers from Pancake-Ass Syndrome. She's mentioned some guy she's gone out with a couple of times here lately and I wish them well. I've never met dude and don't know anything about him but he must be really cool; after all, his name's Tony.

     I think some co-workers are starting to talk about me and Darlene, even though it's none of their business. How did Reggie the dishwasher so eloquently put it? Oh yeah, "Joe, you hittin' that?" was Reggie's question. I told him to ask her.This morning, right before deadline time here at These American Servers, Darlene borrowed $30 from me.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

That Morning She Stormed In ©2012 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Darlene lived with her long-time boyfriend in this big old house that had been converted into four apartments. One morning she got up early to run some errands before work. She got through with her business a little quicker than expected and lit up a smoke. That's when she realized she was almost out of cigarettes. She could have gone to the store and bought another pack but since she had a few minutes, she went home, where she had a nearly full carton. She walked in and found her boyfriend, in the very bed he shared with Darlene, fucking another chick.
     She'd only been out of training at our restaurant for about a week. She'd been pretty quiet and I hadn't talked to her much. That morning she stormed in with "Goddammit this!" and "That motherfucker!" that. I work with a lot of women at that job so of course I heard the story whether I wanted to or not. It was told, between curses and sobs, while we prepared to open. To her credit, Darlene got it together enough to adequately wait on her tables.
     Darlene worked at my daytime restaurant Monday through Thursday lunches. On most Fridays she did some work—exactly what I don't know—for an electrician. She got paid $100, under the table, every week that she did that. She also worked two or three nights a week slinging brewskis at a small, beer-only neighborhood tavern. She got $25 shift pay, again under the table, and a free cheeseburger whenever she worked there. Plus she got whatever tips she could harvest, the amount of which varied each night from "shitty" to "pretty good."
     Darlene still works for the electrician some Fridays but he's getting up in years and is taking on less work. I think maybe the recession clipped him some too. Anyway, instead of almost every Friday, now Darlene's lucky to get every other Friday with the electrician. Some months here lately she's only worked for him one Friday out of four. As for the beertending gig, Darlene's erstwhile boyfriend is good buddies with the bar's owner. She didn't get fired, she just got phased out. It happened pretty quick and she doesn't get any shifts there now.
     Darlene got her stuff out of the apartment that very day and moved in with an old friend of hers. Darlene's dog Shazza moved in too. Things started out pretty cool. Darlene was hurting financially and grateful to have a place to live that she could afford. She was paying about $35 or $40 a week, which her friend was glad to get. But pretty soon the roommate got real tired of having all those dogs around. It didn't take long before an edict was issued: Darlene could stay, but Shazza would have to go.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Welcome 2012 ©2012 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     I hope you had a nice Christmas. I'm happy to be able to be able to report that I did. I worked my ass off at day job on Christmas Eve. I had to drive several hundred miles to my old hometown after I got off work at my night job. So of course the motherfuckers made me close. We shut it down at eight o'clock that night but since I work at the weediest restaurant in America, I didn't get out of there 'til after eleven. It was great to spend some quality time with family, extended family and friends old and new. Driving back here on the evening of the 26th wasn't all that rough; my car's got a good radio and the NBA is back!
     I didn't request this or anything but, through some fortuitous quirks in the schedules, I was off both places on New Year's Day and the day after. I've been wanting to go on a road trip to a casino the next time I had some time off that didn't have to be spent getting things done. I'd like to get someone to go with me—the closest one's a pretty good hike—but I've got no problem going by myself. But I didn't go. Hell, I didn't even get on the computer and check out or anything like that. I mostly caught up on sleep and just generally lazed around.
     So on the third, it was back to bidniss as usual. I worked at my day job in the morning and at the weediest restaurant in America in the evening. I've been making OK money and things seem to be going allright for me I guess. Of course, that's subject to change without notice. I ended 2011 with a couple of fairly positive, upbeat posts here at These American Servers™ and I'm wanting to not start 2012 all negative on y'all. But don't worry: there's been plenty of fucked upppedness going on, if not with me, then with people I know and I expect to be serving it up pretty soon.
     How was your Christmas and New Year's?