Monday, August 31, 2009

You can call your restaurant "5 Star" but that does not make it so.

You can dress up your staff, you can claim to be a gourmet restaurant, but if your dressed up staff is frightfully sub par, and your product is cringingly questionable then a 5 star bistro you are not.

At the time that I became employed at the restaurant where I spent 6 years I also took a part time job in the "5 Star" (who gave these stars was quite a mystery) restaurant at a local resort. I had worked at this resort in another department a year or two before this and was having my share of suspicions about this "Bistro" before I even set foot in the door. However, the manager seemed very positive and extremely organized and the staff members that I was acquainted with said the money was insanely good so off I went, full of hope.

I should have known that things were going to be questionable on my first day of training when the Head Chef announced "The haddock is minutes away from turning. I need you all to push the haddock- it has to go." These words made me think twice about eating anything at all that came out of that kitchen, let me tell you. This was the only kitchen I ever worked in where food quality was an afterthought, at best. Huge chunks of mold were cut off fruits and veggies before they were added to recipes. Almost anything could hit the floor and still be sent out to the dining room. I won't even start with the personal hygiene of most of the cooks, as it was too nasty for me to give much thought to without feeling a bit sick.

My training was done by a girl I knew, and was a most peculiar process. It did not help that she was an inept waitress, who couldn't keep an order straight if it was laid out in front of her on a ruler... She had an air of extreme agitation and nervousness around her, which seemed to be shared by many of the other wait staff. I wasn't long in making the discovery that to get thru a shift, most of the staff used a stunning variety of uppers, downers, and various mood adjusters. It appeared to be common that most would come in either way too shifty and **ahem** teeth grindy, or a bit to mellow and spaced out. Either way, they would be quick to remedy the situation with another dose of their choice substance and be rendered fairly useless. It was a wonder that there was ever any food to send out to the customers what with the excessive snacking and munching that the cooks needed to do to offset the side affects of their "herbal remedies." They could often be found, crouching behind the dumpster in the parking lot snacking on special brownies, or they would emerge from the walk in pantry in a cloud of smoke. Nice!

Despite the extra curricular activities of most of my counterparts I managed to get trained and started to wait for the busy nights and piles of cash that I had been promised. One evening, after we had done about 110 people (with 9 servers, an expeditor, 2 bus boys, a coffee person and a 2 hostesses) one of my fellow waitresses wiped off a bead of sweat and said "WELL, there's a good shift for you!" I examined the 43 dollars that I had made and couldn't help but disagree.

Not only was I fighting a loosing battle against strung out coworkers and questionable food, but there was the problem of the Head Chef dating the Head Waitress (guess who always got her food first) and the fact that after impressing me with his skills the Manager took off, never to be seen or heard from again. By me, at any rate. Things spiraled into chaos and bedlam, with the Head Waitress taking over the scheduling and giving herself and her friends all the good shifts. There was no order in the dining room, as the hostess was having an affair with the bartender and was so busy mooning away over him that people would come in and seat themselves. The tension in the kitchen was about to reach a breaking point, as the Head Waitress, who was dating the head chef had previously been engaged to another cook who still worked there. Things were not civil between the three of them, as periodically the HW would shack up with her ex. Now, why that would cause problems is just beyond my comprehension!!

After toughing out this peculiar working environment for a couple of months I was growing weary of constantly having to dodge angry jilted lovers, huge clouds of pot smoke, and a poor schedule. I was serving a table of two lovely ladies who had ordered a very expensive filet mignon special. Checking back with them, I discovered that one wished for her food to be cooked a bit longer. Making my way into the kitchen I placed this simple request with one of the cooks. "WHAT?" he yelled in fury "THAT STEAK IS MEDIUM, THAT B***H DOESN'T KNOW JACK S**T!!!" "It needs 3 more minutes," I muttered "it's so easy, please just do it for me?" He threw the steak on the floor, and his friend picked it up. "Watch this" his friend said as he proceeded to stick the steak down his pants and do god only knows what with it. I stood there in mute horror as most of the kitchen staff hooted and whistled, encouraging this madness to continue. After hocking a vindictive loogie onto the re-plated filet he tried to pass it to me over the line "You take that out" he jeered "and see how she likes it now!" Looking at him in disgust I flat out refused to do so. The head waitress happened to be in the kitchen at this point, and glaring at me she grabbed the plate of contamination and brought it back to the poor, sweet lady who had no idea what was coming to her. I could hardly believe my eyes, and felt like I was living out a scene from a cliched waitressing film. I hung up my joke of a bistro length apron and quit.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A flash back to a mundane day on the job

Let's rewind again for a moment and take a look at a "normal" day at work:

As I pull into the restaurant parking lot my cell phone jangles in my bag. Reaching for it, I notice that it is the restaurants number on my caller id. "Hello" I say, while wondering if I should just shout from the back door. "Hello? Hello Honey?" an ultra chipper voice says in my ear "Just calling because I got in a little early today so why don't you stay home for a bit." I look at my watch and see that it reads 5 minutes to the hour of my arrival. "Well" I reply with a sigh "I'm here, literally walking in at this moment and since I live 20 minutes away I'm going to stay." She replies will something slightly incoherent and signs off.

As I walk thru the back door and into the kitchen I see my BWF (best work friend) who is rolling his eyes at me. "She has been here for over an hour" he mutters over the line "And I told her to call you with enough time for you to change your plans." I peek out into the dining room and see a couple of tables occupied, which I assume are left over lunche-ers. The bus girl comes running into the kitchen, breathless. "What's the rush?" I inquire "Not much going on here as far as I can see..." "Ugh, she's already running me around" she replies nodding over her shoulder to indicate the other waitress "She'll be in to talk to you in a moment." My fellow waitress bustles into the kitchen at this point and greets me with "I already took a couple tables Honey, so I don't have any prep done but I'll be back to help you as soon as I get control of this!!" "Control of WHAT?" I hear my BWF exclaim, "There are four people out there and you are running the busser!" I start the prep work, which is never so bad when my BWF is there because we catch up on the latest episode of Lost, the things that we expect to read in the next Harry Potter book; and we occasionally think up the worst names possible, Archibald Methuselah and Adinijah Peacock seem to usually top the list.

While making salads I see a fairly big party come into the dining room and wonder how this is going to play out. Being that the other waitress already has 2 tables.... My thoughts are interrupted by the entrance of the OW (other waitress) "Honey, since I was in first I should get the first chance at the big table so I am just going to get them started, okay? still friends, right??" Now it is my turn to mutter something unintelligible, because as much as I tolerate the OW she is not exactly my pal. I tend to reserve the title of Friend for induviduals who have managed to work their way into my cold heart of stone, and I usually feel very warm and fuzzy towards these few people. I'd give them a kidney, or the last bite of pie, or spend time chatting and exchanging monosyllabic words of arrogance. I can not imagine doing any of these things with the OW so I grouchily get on with the replenishing of the ketchups and slicing of the cheesecakes.

After a bit I see another party walk in and watch as the bus girl seats them in my section. "Show Time" I announce to nobody in particular and I make my way out to the main dining room. From behind me I hear a shrill "Hiiiiiii Guyyyyyyys" and I see the OW intercepting me from across the room. As she gabs away to the new table I stand conspicuously behind her, making it well known that I am going to come straight thru her in about point two seconds. "Honeeeyyy" she burbles to me "these are my friends and I'd like to take them if you don't mind" You can have the next TWO tables that come in, still friends right??" Well, if walking back into the kitchen and plotting to kick your booty into next week means "still friends" then yes, we are best buds for life.

Time marches on. I resort to cleaning salt shakers while having a heated game of hangman with my BWF and the dishwasher. I am delighted to finally get a table, but it is the lady who orders a cup of hot water with lemon, and a side salad and leaves me a twenty five cent tip. So my joy is short lived.

One of the perks of being the first one in, as I should have been, is that on slow nights you can go home early and carry on with your real life. And as sure as the sun rises, as soon as the OW gets a bit bored she propositiones me to let her go home. "I know you were the supposed to be the first one in sweetie pie, but since I was and since I did all the prep work I think I'll just head on home, ohhhh kaaaay??" I am ready to argue but I see the bus girl making praying hands to me behind the OW's back, begging me to stay- and knowing that if I do I'll just let her go home and do her homework. "Fine, go, whatever." I say to the OW, not feeling like making a great big noisy fuss. "Off you go." And off she goes, to sit at the bar until close.

At this point I proceed to to get zero tables and give up the pretense of looking busy in favor of sitting on the kitchen floor eating croutons (not off the floor) and trying to figure out how high I'd have to jump to touch the ceiling. My BWF does it easily, the dishwasher does it after a couple tries and I get out the stepladder. Looking at the clock I realize it's 10 minutes to close and am horrified that I have not had a table in over 2 hours. I putter out to the bar and try to talk the bartender into closing up shop and heading on home like normal people. "No way lady" he declares "we might get busy yet!" We had better freaking not, I think to myself as I return to the kitchen. "Did he close?" holler the BWF and the dishwasher together. As I explain the situation, their eagerness to be done turns to disgust "We haven't had people in two hours" the dishwasher howls in agony. "Just cloooooose!" We watch the clock, tick tick tick, as the big hand moves closer and closer I hear the dreaded words "You have a two at 2" says the bartender. "NOOOOO!" screeches the dishwasher, furiously banging a soup ladle on the countertop "no! no! no!"

I make my way to table 2, ready to do a wham, bam thank you ma'am job and send them on their way, fed, happy but pretty damn quick. As I greet them I am horrified to learn that "They want to have a nice relaxing dinner, and are in no rush what so-ever." They are all cozied up on the banquette, clearly very much in love with one another and not scared to show it. "Lovely" I think to myself as I go to the bar to snag their drinks "nothing like obvious romance to really put me in a fine frame of mind at this point. Not." I take an extra moment at the bar, because in addition to a pair of cocktails they have also ordered a hard (for me) to find bottle of wine. I come up for air after rummaging around for several minutes and discover that I can not see them anymore. "Hey" I call to the bartender "did they leave? Where are they?" "I have been here the whole time that you have been under the bar" he tells me "and they are most certainly still at table 2. Feeling a bit odd, I go back to their table and discover why I can no longer see their heads over the top of the banquette. They are reclining, and for lack of a better term totally making out. I gasp audibly, as I am unaccustomed to seeing a display of soft porn at my workplace, drop their drinks (not literally) and run like the wind. I explain to the bartender what is going on and in great amusement he peeks over the bar and checks out the love fest on table 2. "Oh wow" he chuckles "it's getting worse and worse over there. I think you might need to go and tear them off each other." "OH NO" I exclaim "That is so not in my job description and you are far more intimidating than I am. You go over and mutter menacingly in your scariest baritone." Which, remarkable is exactly what he does. Amazingly, the love struck couple is in such a hurry to leave at this point (out of embarrassment or pent up **ahem** feelings for one another I'll never know) but they hightailed it a speedy way. And left me a 100% tip which made up for the bow-chicha-bow-bow in the banquette.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

And speaking of what people might be like....

You watched the movie "Waiting" and now think that you have a pretty good idea of what goes on in the inner workings of a restaurant, right? The drama, the catfights, the sex, the drugs, the sex, the parties, the sex and Oh My! the actual work. I hate to be the one to break it to you but in reality it doesn't quite go down that way.

A restaurant can be an intense place to work, it get hot and loud, servers tend to get very emotional about their food and take it quite personally when they feel that the kitchen is not moving fast enough. This most certainly can lead to many a screeching hair tearing fight. People bump into other people and you share a lot of personal space, which perhaps some might find sexy. Take into account though that the people you are bumping into are sweaty, covered in bleu cheese dressing and often rather short tempered (ok, ok I know that sounds like a dream come true to some of you out there but stick with me and pull your mind from the gutter.) At many restaurants the employees share a drink (or a few) after work and as we all know, alcohol makes things seem even more dramatic and intense than they might actually be. I only worked in one place where the drama and hormones ran on overdrive. There was constantly an undertone of sexual frustration coming from many of the servers (frustration because the object of their desire was married to a really big, tough guy perhaps?) I observed many casual booze fueled hookups. It was rarely safe to walk into dry storage after hours unless you wanted to see a little whatever with whoever going down on the bags of flour (ick, ick.) There were plenty of double entendres, innuendo and borderline harassment from the undesirable members of the dishwashing staff. This was definitely a place where all the cliched things about restaurant employees being over-hormonal looked to be very true.

I was honestly pleased when I gained employment at a different establishment and left all those shenanigans behind. The place that I worked in from the longest time had a very close knit group of employees none of whom had the tendency to accidentally fall into bed with one another (whoops! how did I end up here?). This created a much more fun work environment (that might be hard for some to believe, but really!) I developed an excellent friendship with one of my coworkers (who is not the coworker I subsequently married. no personal life stories from me!) We found that we had many geek qualities in common and had many magical friendship filled years. I was lucky to have a work BFF and generally got along well with everyone. But, those catfights that so many restaurant movies portray? Oh yes, I saw many of those go down. You have never seen fury until you see a waitress take the food that belongs to another waitress. The tempers flare, the gloves come off and a royal smack down over whose fried clams those were begins in full force! Usually, the cooks are able to quickly remedy a situation like this unless they end up getting blamed by the Waitress of Fury and then they get in on the yelling action too. Ahhhh a kitchen battle, nothing quite like it.

At least with your coworkers you get to know them and have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Frequent-Crying-Jag-Jean, or I'm-So-In-Love-With-The-Busboy-Betsy. Your customers on the other hand are a feisty bunch, you can never be quite sure what to expect. All of us who wear a stained apron have at one point or another, been subjected to some ridiculous behavior from people who should know better. A fine example of someone who had not yet learned to keep his naughty words inside his mouth... I was waiting on a family (let me stress that- FAMILY, Dad, wife, kids.) The Dad came in buzzed with a clear plan to get drunk. His behavior was questionable from the start, and he was full of "little jokes" and leering sloppy grins. I was fully prepared to cut him off, but didn't want to make a big deal of it on front of his fam so I bent down and said something to effect of "I'm not giving you any more booze you idiot". "You know what, umm, you know what??" he whispered at me "WHAT" I deadpanned, figuring that he was going to argue a good case for one more drink "Ummmm" he sloppily hissed "You know what would make you like, a perfect 10??? A BOOB JOB." I looked at him with a blank expression and sized up the situation. He had just remarked about the size of my ta-tas in front of his family, he was clearly not the brightest bulb in the box and was probably too tipsy to be able to calculate an appropriate tip. And thanks for the underhanded compliment, sicko, but even with size DD bosoms a perfect 10 I would not be. So sighing, I leaned down and hissed back at him "Evidently, my current breast size is quite similar to your current brain size." And walked away. While certainly not the only person to make fully inappropriate comments to me throughout my waitressing years his idiocy was the most memorable. And was laughed about and reenacted many a time in the kitchen, the bar, and to all the people I know. But where there are asshats there are also many excellent people. The numbers of great, fun and most importantly excellent tipping people I have waited on far outnumbers the bad ones. But, one tends to remember the bad ones.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Step one towards the quest to make piles of sweet moolah is to ace your job interview. I remember my first restaurant interview like it was yesterday....

It was springtime in the year of 2000 and I had decided that waiting tables was the key to my financial freedom, and would hopefully provide me with another key as well. That of a new, shiny car- I was dreaming big and planning for my fabulous future. (In retrospect, I must not have been dreaming that big because the first place I applied at was well known as one of the local seedy dives.) I had put in an application and had been called back for an interview, something that I was feeling very positive about. I entered the managers office and was greeted by a thick cloud of menthol cigarette smoke, a couple cats and the strange realization that her office was decorated with "Hello Kitty" tchochkes. The manager, a woman of nondescript age and very obvious blue eyeliner asked me a few basic questions. While lighting a new cigarette with the end of the old one she proclaimed, "You know honey, I just don't think that you are what we are looking for." "Alright" I replied "I know my inexperience in the restaurant field might work against me but I have a lot of expertise in customer service in general." As I opened my mouth to speak again she cut me off "No, no (hack, hack) honey it's not something you can change, we were really hoping that you were just a bit younger." I caught a glimpse of myself in her bedazzled Hello Kitty mirror and couldn't help but think that I had slipped into a bizzaro alternate universe, where barely 20 equals geriatric. I looked fresh faced and painfully young, and was reminded that just earlier that day I had been asked if I still attended my towns local grade school.... "Younger" I stammered "Well, you are right, there is nothing I can do to turn back the clock at this point in time." "You are right dear, she rasped "We really to try to stick with the local high school girls because that is what our clients seem to prefer." Images of rampant pedophilia zipped thru my head as I stood to take my leave. Walking out thru the kitchen and dining room I noticed that the staff was extremely young, and it occurred to me that perhaps I was fighting a loosing battle against my obvious old age. Amusingly, my job search at that point continued to take some bizarre twists and I was rejected not only for being an obvious retiree, but for "Being a girl" (sorry about my chromosomes) "not having the right look" (no, I'm not platinum blonde and 5'11") and for not being able to work breakfast shifts. I finally hit on some luck when exhausted, I walked into a restaurant and in a desperate way informed the bartender that "There was NO reason NOT to hire me!!" While pounding the bar with my fist to emphasize my point. Much to my surprise he was also the owner and encouraged the manager in charge of hiring to find work for me so that I wouldn't come back and scare him again. And so began my illustrious career, and I am still reminded to this day by that particular individual of our first meeting. (he no longer owns that restaurant and sadly, is something of a disgrace but is not scared to bring up the forceful way in which I gained employment...) My time at this restaurant was rather short lived as, like I already mentioned the ownership/management left something to be desired. I got very lucky getting into restaurant #2, as I had two acquaintances working there. It was one of those situations where, if you were a random person applying off the street you never would have snagged a job. However I got lucky, made my move, did my thang and worked there for 6 years.

Fast forward almost 10 years and here we are in current time. As I ventured back out into the world of job applications and interviews that subsequently made me feel like a 15 year old uneducated school girl I reminded myself of several things. I now have years of experience, I am old, wise, mature and have no desire to party my nights away. I know how to politely talk about my strengths and I am excellent at letting people know how (on no uncertain terms) I would be an asset to their establishment. (and I kept my pounding fists to myself, sadly.) My business savvy self tells me that these are fine qualities to have but my experience thus far argues that point.

I attempted to gain employment at a local restaurant that has a specific specialty, one that I happen to be exceptionally well versed in. They were thrilled to have me call, delighted to take my resume, borderline hysterical at my vast knowledge of their product. When I made a follow up call I was told to wait to hear back from them but to be prepared to start that weekend (but wait for the call. and yes they would call me) After breaking all my rules and actually waiting for a phone call, it dawned upon me after several days that it was never going to happen. I can take a hint- they were "just not that into me." I moved on, made a few other calls and was either shocked by the rudeness at the other end of the line or encouraged by a scattered sounding host to come in and apply. After a bit more disappointment and disorganization, wasted time and frustration I was about to throw in the towel and cry uncle. At this point my eyes were telling me that if hired at many of these places I would be the senior citizen of the group. I had to start wondering if the downhill walk to 30 was going to the equivalent of a walk right out the door.... Unlike when I was barely old enough to drink and could not possibly take a person seriously when they said that I really ought to be younger- the comments of hiring "college age kids" was starting to hurt a bit. But, I'm not a quitter and wasn't quite ready to give up on a good fight just yet. And, as I walked into one of the best restaurants I know, and got hired before I could even hand over my resume I realized that it had been a good choice to stick it out. As I head back into the world of being on the wrong side of the table I start to wonder: What will these people be like?

Friday, August 21, 2009

And speaking of money...

What do servers dream of.... Ahhh, the possibilities- do we dream of frolicking in a restaurant filled with daisies and cabana boys? (or girls, depending on who you are) do we dream of a magical kitchen where you snap your fingers and your tray is filled instantly with whatever your customers desire? Perhaps we do, but other than the nagging and constant nightmares that accompany a waitressing job the number one thing we dream about is making so much money that we can throw it all around and roll in it while screaming in glee. I actually did that once, but sadly- only once... Money is the number one motivator for most servers and that is the bottom line. Back in the day, when I was young and carefree my motivation for making cash was so that I could live in a totally awesome apartment and drive a super fast car. Now that I am a woman of more advanced years I wistfully dream of paying the bills, and being able to make the car payment on my very average and painfully slow Toyota.

For many it seems that the dream of cash involves making so much of it that you can move on to the career you were destined to do. You do not come across many servers who admit to being happy and satisfied, trotting about with trays of daiquiris and popcorn shrimp. It's almost taboo to confess that you wait tables because that is what you do. Case in point: Throughout my waitressing career I have always held down another job, and am self employed. For many, the fact that I waitress means that my business must be quickly sliding down the path to destruction or bankruptcy, which fortunately is not the case at all. Many customers ask "What else do you DO" (like is is shameful to be making more money than they probably do, by bringing them their dinner, right?) My reply "I own my own small business and wait tables to earn some extra money, and to enjoy time seeing all the local patrons" (suck up!) They will look at me quizzically and say something to the effect of "Boy, bet you can't wait until your business isn't suffering so that you can get OUT of THIS!!" No reply can satisfy this particular customer unless you are willing to beat your brow, and declare that you can not wait to give up a couple hundred dollars of fast earned cash, you have always dreamed of a life that involves less money.

If the majority of my table waiting life had not been in a small town where everybody knew everybody else's personal business I would have concocted a lie about my need to wait tables. There seem to be several appropriate answers to the "What else DO you DO" query. From my own coworkers I heard several excellent, and vaguely true, reasons that would get a response of sympathy and a $50 bill from the customer. "I wait tables to support myself and my deadbeat ex-boyfriends baby." (you do not. you wait tables to help put your 3 kids through private school.) "I am working on my screenplay/my novel/I plan to win a nobel peace prize." (a common one, this dream rarely works out.) "I am putting myself thru business school and my only other option was working the street corner of my town but it was already taken by a few underage girls." (OK, that's one that I always wanted to use but thought better of it.) So my basic view on the situation is that if you have a BIG dream, or are suffering grandly it is A-OK to spend your free time waiting tables. But if you are already a professional and hold down a day job it is confusing, and questionable to be waiting tables for extra cash.

What many do not know, is that if you are a good waitress, or waiter and are willing to work hard you make a good chunk of change. It is one of the only things that you can legally do, with no formal schooling that brings in that kind of cash flow. And honestly, looking out at my street corner I know that I could NOT do good business there so throwing around chowder and Cesar salad is still my best option.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I crouch behind the bar, frantically attempting to replace a keg when the panicking bar tender comes back to where he belongs. "Just goooo" he moans "I just put a 4 on 21, a 3 on 8 and a 6 on 12. I survey the mayhem that has fallen upon our previously dead quite dining room and attempt to plan my next move. Hard to believe, that just 15 minutes earlier I had been having a serious test of skill with my co-workers in the kitchen trying to see how many steps it took to cross the room. Needless to say, shortly after we discovered that 41 was the number, absolute madness had overtaken our restaurant.
I quickly cross the room, drinks in hand to figure out how to best deal with the cold, hard fact that there are now over 50 people in the restaurant, who have all come in within 5 minutes of each other, a packed bar, and just me myself and I to deal with the chaos. Since "Drinks" is always the answer to that question I set myself to the task of taking and delivering 50 (oh no, we'll up the total to 60 as the door opens again) drinks before people start getting testy.
As I sprint back to the bar I realise that this is going to have to be a team effort. The sweating, trembling bar tender looks at my drink ticket and in unison we grab bottles of tequila and sour mix and start pouring. "What are you going to DO?" he hisses at me thru clenched teeth. "Triage" I declare, as I grab a shaker and start a-shaking, "that's the only way to deal with this. I have to get the most critically hungry people fed first and out of here before they kick up a huge stink." As the bar tender turns away, moaning and growing more pale by the second it becomes painfully clear that there is no "I" in team and I'm going to be running a one woman show from here on out. I run around making and delivering drinks, pausing to take appetizer orders from what appear to be the most desperately in need of sustenance. I bring baskets of bread out along with crackers and coloring books to pacify the kids. Taking dinner orders becomes my next order of business as well as the difficult decision of how to replenish drinks, deal with my new tables that have arrived and how to fend off the stink eye I'm getting from table 7 due to the insanity that is far, far beyond my control. I hear a commotion in the kitchen and step back to see what the fuss is. "86 Prime rib!" shouts the cook while flipping burgers with one hand and flipping veggies in a pan with the other. "Tell table 2 that we don't have anything on their ticket, no Prime Rib, No shrimp, No Cajun Chicken!!!" AND TELL THE BAR that we have EIGHTY SIXED those items FOR THE NIGHT!!!" Okay, having to go out and tell people that they can't have anything they want can put a waitress in a sticky place. What to do, I ponder to myself... Blame the Kitchen staff! They are always out of sight and rarely discover that they are the scapegoats of many situations. Crisis neatly averted I decide that all things being taken into consideration my next move is nothing short of revenge. Nothing good ever comes from putting in dinner orders for 60 people all at once, especially in a restaurant that can only hold 60 people but it happens. I cross my fingers for myself and sprint off again, to replenish drinks, make sure the bartender is still on his feet and tell lies that "we have NO creme brulee" tonight- because I don't have time to brulee the damn creme, thank you very much. I can hear the sounds growing louder and louder in the kitchen and I know I have only seconds until mass orders of food start piling up. As I make my way to the back of the house to organize myself as best I can, I hear a huge crack and all the lights go OUT.

As I open my eyes I realise that I am at home, in bed. Breathing a huge sigh of relief I look at the clock "3:55" it reads and I groan and strike my pillow with disgust, as I only have 5 minutes to go until the alarm goes off and with all the waitressing I have been doing, I'm anything but well rested. I reflect upon the toll that the years of waitressing have taken on my fragile psyche. That night in my dream DID happen, but many of my waitressing nightmares have more to do with not being able to find the bar, or discovering that my feet are glued to the floor and I can not get the drinks for table 6 than actual reality. It has been 2 years 6 months since I have found myself on the wrong side of a table and I must still be deeply haunted by the trauma of that time. I roll out of bed and look at my floor where I see them sitting there, the items that I had cast out of my life never to be seen or heard from again. My waitressing shoes. "Hmmm", I ponder, only a few days left until I strap those bad boys on and head back to the front lines of the food service industry. As I rub the sleep out of my eyes I try to remember why I am going back... WHY? What is possessing me to relive my waitressing nightmares. Simple answer, MONEY.