Friday, January 23, 2015

There Save for the Grace of God ©2015 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     Do you ever enjoy a salty snack while you're consuming a long-awaited new episode of These American Servers™? If so, insert the Orville Redenbacher® product into your trusty Kenmore­® microwave, 'cause it's Popcorn Time!
     I ran into Sheldon Silver, a fellow waiter of my acquaintance, today. He shared a story with me about how he'd visited the little wannabe doctors' office at Walgreens® recently. He told how this super-wasted drunk guy was in there, yelling and falling down and shit. One female client of the place was scared to walk out to her car because she didn't want the guy to follow her. Sheldon volunteered to escort her and dude did follow them. The lady got in her ride and then Shel went back into Walgreens and the drunk did too. It wasn't a situation that seemed dangerous, just annoying. Eventually, some law enforcement arrived and dealt with the drunk.
     Sheldon allowed as to how he was a little non-plused by the whole ordeal, but mostly he felt sorry for the guy. Sheldon says he himself used to be a real bad drunk, so his reaction to the incident was sympathy.. I've also had some major alcohol abuse issues in my life—I haven't consumed any adult beverages since 2010—so I completely understand where Shelly's coming from. There's a little story that I couldn't decide if I wanted to tell or not and Mr Silver's little vignette made me decide to go ahead on with it. There save for the grace of God could easily go any of us.

     Back in 2012 I went in search of a night job, still having a day job at The American El Chico, which closes too late for me to want to work PM shifts there. A restaurant I call The Valley of Despair has hours that work better for me, it's a big, successful chain and has a location not too hard to get to from where I stay, so I put in an application online. The next day I got a call from the General Manager at my nearby TVOD  and we set up an interview  for the next afternoon at Three O'clock.
     I arrived about five minutes early and was told to sit at a table near the restaurant's office. I could see the office from that seat. I looked around. I saw a well-dressed, fairly attractive, very businesslike-looking middle-aged black woman talking to a guy I (correctly) guessed was the kitchen manager. I suspected she was a lawyer and maybe the KM's wife. Their convo ended and she walked toward the office. She looked my way for a second and we made eye contact. I smiled and nodded. "Didn't you wait on me and my friend at The American El Chico last week?" she asked.
     I didn't remember her. "Oh yeah," I replied, "Good to see you again," or something like that.
     She told me that she had been a manager there many years ago and she liked to check in with them from time to time and thanked me for taking good care of her that day. I assured her that it was my pleasure and that I hoped I'd see her again. Then she walked into the office.
     After about ten minutes or so, she left the office and walked out of the restaurant and again we exchanged smiles and nods. About ten minutes after that, a guy (the General Manager) stuck his head out the office door and with a smile bade me enter.
     "Placenta tells me you've waited on her at The American El Chico and that you're good. Why're you leaving there?" he queried.
     "Actually, I don't plan on leaving them, I want to stay there lunches and I'd love to work for you on nights," I replied. Then we went on with the usual interview blah-blah-blah and I was told I was hired and could I show up for training in 48 hours and all that.
     On the drive home, I wracked my brain for a minute, trying to recall the woman who's name was apparently Placenta. After a little cogitation, I think I remembered her and maybe another lady coming in and having dinner and not more than one (really girly) drink, a Mangotini or Bahama Mama or something like that. They'd been pretty low-maintenance and tipped decently.
     So I went through training at The Valley of Despair and got out on the floor in real stations in a few days. I'd occasionally see Placenta in the restaurant. It turns out she was an Area Director for the company. We have an Area Manager, who oversees about four restaurants and is the immediate boss of my store's General Manager. Placenta Pills was the Area Manager's boss. I didn't see her often and when I did, it was smile and nod and maybe "how's it going?" again. My GM said she'd told him to hire me on that day of my interview and that's why he did, although he admitted that he probably would have anyway. Placenta Pills was not in our restaurant every day (or even every week) and when she was it was usually before I arrived to work my dinner shifts. On our very few, brief, interactions, Placenta Pills was never anything other than pleasant and courteous to me. I never saw her be anything less than that to anyone, although to hear my managers occasional comments, she could be a bit of a hardass with them.
     So I worked Saturday night. I closed, in fact. We close at Eleven PM on Saturdays and I didn't get out of there til about One. Placenta Pills wasn't mentioned by anyone in my earshot and she didn't cross my mind all evening. I love being off Sundays and that one I was. Yay! Placenta didn't cross my mind that day either. She did on Monday though. I didn't have to be at work until Five that day and when I got there, all I heard from my co-workers was "Did you hear about Placenta? It was on the news!" and like that.
     "No. I didn't hear about her. What's up?"
     It turns out that Placenta Pills and a friend had gone out to a bar (or maybe some bars, that's not really clear yet) and indulged in a major amount of alcohol and a negligible amount of food. Placenta and her drinking buddy had left one establishment in Ms Pills' 2003 Cadillac Escalade®—I've seen it and it's a sharp ride, or at least it was—got on the busy street, clipped another motorist and kept going. As near as my co-workers and I can determine, the hit-and-run accident was not very serious and its victim unhurt. Placenta was pretty fucked up and may not have even been aware of the mishap. I suspect she wasn't. Then Placenta got on the Interstate at a high speed and headed southbound. Tragically, she was in the northbound lane. She head-onned  a late-model Camaro® while doing at least 85. The 41-year-old driver of the sports car was killed instantly. His passenger, a woman of 31, had to be helicoptered to the hospital. Last I heard was that she was alive, but barely. Maybe you could spare a good thought for her, OK?
     Word is that Placenta cooperated fully with law enforcement on the scene and took the Breathalyzer. She blew something like a .21, which is pretty blitzed. I read an article on the local newspaper's online edition. Placenta made bail and has been suspended pending further notice from her job as Area Director by the company.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A Diet Coke® Decision ©2015 by Joe Sixtop all rights reserved

     So working a lot of lunches at one place and dinners at another. I try to have all checks at the AM job ready as soon as everything is rung in. We're supposed to present all checks in check presenters at both jobs, but I don't. So when my customers are ready to go after eating lunch, I'm ready to turn and burn.
     The other night at the PM job, a nice, 30-ish couple and their toddler came in and sat at table Eleven. It's a two-top but pretty big so the two-and-a-half diners fit in OK. Like we're supposed to, I pimped some beverages to start off. The guy contemplated a beer—I could tell he really wanted one—but opted instead for some tea. The lady acted like she really wanted a Diet Coke®, but just ordered a glass of water. The kid got something in one of our kids' cups.
     Ms Lady had a Rose Parade grilled chicken sandwich and dude had an Alabama Football burger, the child had chicken tenders and fries. I rang in their order, printed their check and stashed it in my server book, just like I would have done on a lunch shift.
     Someone else ran their food. I did a call-back—within two bites or two minutes!—and they said everything was fine and  seemed to be enjoying their chow. I noticed the guy's tea glass was getting low, so I cruised over with a pitcher to silently refill it. The lady looked at me with a smile. "Can I get  that Diet Coke now?" she queried. She'd mulled, then eschewed, the low-calorie treat when it was first offered. You know how sometimes your guests will ask you to "bring it when the food comes?" She hadn't done that and didn't act like she had and it'd been my fuck-up. She was just asking for something she'd earlier declined. "Sure thing," I said and went and got her refreshment.
     Like I'm pretty sure it is at your job, we're supposed to ring in any beverages before they're made, much less served. And like you'd do, I went and got her drink and delivered it before I rang it up. Then something distracted me for just a second and I didn't ring in the D C.
     Soon, the family was through eating. They considered, then declined, my suggestion that they share a dessert, even after I told her how good chocolate goes with diet cola (and it really does). The guy just asked for the bill and I pulled the already-printed check from my apron and presented it immediately, with the Diet Coke not rung in.
     The ticket was dropped face-down and not perused. A piece of plastic from Capital One® was put on the table. I picked up the check with the credit card and went to settle things. No one at the table had looked at the ticket. When I got to the Squirrel® cash register, I remembered the unrung Diet Coke. With tax, our non-alcoholic bevs are just under three bucks. I though about saying "fuck it" and running the check as I'd presented it. They were nice and she hadn't needed  a refill. But we're supposed to ring up drinks, and fountain bevs are a big part of the company's bottom line. So I rang in her drink, ran the plastic and gave them the voucher. They left me a good tip.

     From the management and staff here at These American Servers™ (me), a Happy New Year is wished to each and every one of you who were kind enough to stop by for a minute and read this and, what the hey, to pretty much everybody else. Let's have 2015 be the best year yet for all of us!

                                  RIP Sandra 1945-2014