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.

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