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.

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