“Miss, can you please tell us if the police officers at the next table are wearing wedding ring?”
“Officers, can I refill that iced tea for you? Yes? You’re welcome.”
“No wedding ring.”
“Can you get their p-number?”
“Can I what?”
“The badge number. My father’s a cop. Can you tell them we want to buy their meal in exchange for their badge numbers? But don’t tell them who, we didn’t dress for this.”
“Gentlemen how was dinner? Great. Okay here’s the thing..the brewhouse is happily buying half of your meal to thank you, of course for your service. A couple of admirers at another table would very much like to buy the other half of your meal. They also want to thank you for your service and would also like your badge number if that is alright. Female. Admirers. No, I can’t tell you who. Personally, I think it would behoove you to do so, they’re cute. I will absolutely let them know how much you appreciate the gesture.”
The officers left there p-numbers and a note of gratitude for the ladies and a nice tip for me.
The ladies left with smiles on their faces and p-numbers in hand. They thanked me verbally and monetarily.
I left a little richer than I arrived and feeling like a bit of a superhero: food server by day, food server/matchmaker by night.
All in all, another good night at the brewhouse.
Tonight I carded someone who was born in 1990.
I did the math and realized, yes, he was of legal drinking age.
When did that happen?
Lunch rush was over at the brewhouse. The hungry herds had come, gnawed quickly on the available carcass and moved on before they became dangerously sedentary. The only remnants of the watering hole were a few strays and the old and the weak, or so I thought.
From first glance she was brittle and small and weak. Grandmother tigress came in for the cheap lunch special and her precocious grand daughter was there to display her melodramatics in a public forum. I let the cub cry and mew and spit as they do. I was not in the position to train, just serve.
Seated directly adjacent from the cat and the cub were a party of two. As I stepped forward to greet table 307, I felt the spray of buckshot from a few well aimed expletives. I immediately side stepped into the shadows of table 306 hoping my presence was undetected. I successfully avoided the direct hit of the bombs being thrown, but the resonating echos were heard well outside of 307’s territory. Table 306 looked up at me with wide eyes. They had gotten their nutrient fill and were anxious to escape the area before the wrath escalated. I gave them their check. “Is there anything you can do?” they whispered at me.
But there was nothing. In a restaurant I am forced to be Switzerland or whatever the jungle equivalent of Switzerland is.
I went to the elder and cub in an attempt to pull them out of the line of fire and into safety, “Can I move you to another table where you might be more comfortable with your surrounding?” I wanted the pair safe from potential errant crossfire.
The cub was now silent and still instinctively aware of the dangers that lie just on the outskirts of her protected lair. Grandmother tigress remained calm and continued to insist cub finish her meal. She then turned to me, “No, Honey everything is fine, because if he uses the F- word again, I have no problem telling him to stop.” I assumed from her confidence that tigress’ teeth and claws might be old, but packed enough power to take down any threat 307 might have thrown at her as well as anyone in the restaurant.
With tigress standing her ground, I continued my assigned duties back of the house.
Tigress and her cub finished their grazing and left smiling and gracious.
Table 307 kept their voice down for the rest of their stay.
Oh, to be a fly on that wall….
Table 416 had already ordered, eaten, and paid, but the Mom’s direct eye contact begged, politely, for my immediate attention. I beelined to the table.
She pointed to her six year old and said, “He has something to ask you.”
“Okay, ” I said and lowering myself to his eye level.
“Do you want a sticker?” he said.
I looked backed at him with big eyes and a half dropped jaw, “Do I want a sticker? Are you kidding me? Like, uh, yea! Stickers rock!”
I offered him my personal check presenter: the little black folder that holds my daily brewhouse check receipts and health cards and order pads. I told him he can choose a spot to place my new sticker and that way I will always have it.
He thumb placed a quarter sized “Trader Joe’s 2011 Rose Parade” adhesive in the lower left quadrant.
I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that my mortgage company won’t acknowledge stickers as formal currency, because that sucker is near priceless to me.
I remembered ‘her’ because trainer Holly remarked about the ‘new girl’ after her first training day. “She said she served and bartended before, but I swear she doesn’t even know how to carry a plate”. After her fifth day in training, Holly had little encouragement for the rest of us, “Today is her last day. She’s supposed to begin service tomorrow and she still doesn’t know how to close a check”.
‘New Girl’ wasn’t allowed to start on the floor as a server. Instead she was given the position of food runner (deliver food to tables and nothing else) until matters improved.
I was in the middle of dinner shift with half a voice when my vocal chords decided to give up on me completely in a coughing fit of tears. I surpressed the epiglottal seizure long enough to run walk to the nearest exit.
My manager saw me dart out the door and came after me, “Are you okay?”
I whispered as I blotted my streaming mascara, “I feel fine, I just can’t talk. Do you want me to food run?”
Sending a non-contagious body home on a busy night was not a managerial option. Thus, I became a food runner and ‘new girl’ food runner became a food server.
New girl was thrown into the mix. I kept an eye on her as I much as I could and treated her tables like they were still mine.
She placed incorrect food orders and forgot which tables she were hers and didn’t know if a baybreeze was rum or vodka based, and tried to process a credit card we did not accept. I got refills and to-go boxes, and accepted dessert orders and dropped checks and cleared empty plates and all other server duties that don’t require vocal chords.
Despite all her mistakes, never once did she panic.
Hopefully in a few more weeks she will learn her drink recipes and memorize the menu and master the computer and second guess the guest. If she can do all of that, she will be a very good server for one main reason: calm within the storm cannot be trained.
Five women were huddled together in a booth over lemon water, iced tea and low calories lunch specials. Gossip was the centripetal force behind their proximity. The occasional peal of outrageous laughter might temporarily blow the five away and against their seatbacks until another juicy tidbit sucked them back in like an imploding 1950’s Vegas casino.
Nine of them were seated adjacently. They were talking amongst themselves but kept one eye and half of their attention on the 5 women in the nearby booth. The nine of them occupied two brewhouse tables pushed together that not only accommodated the nine of them but offered comfortable seating for 16: nine + five and then some. One of the nine might have mentioned that to one of the five. I watched several of the nine intermittently rise and cross the aisle to speak to the party of five. Each time they were politely dismissed.
The table of nine was getting no where with the party of five so their actions became more brash and bold. They talked louder and louder but despite the volume, could not attract the attention of the party of five. There actions were demonstrative and wanting of attention from the ladies they hoped to go home with, but alas, they were invisible to the party of five.
The lack of acknowledgment from the five suddenly made me the unwanted center of attention. The women were engrossed in their ‘girl time’ and I was to suffer the abuse from the neglected. Requests for more drinks were made even though they didn’t need more than what was already in front of them. Selfish tendencies surfaced quickly: they were rude and demanding and disruptive and they had no regard for my other tables or even others in the restaurant; they wanted my undivided attention because the five women had failed to give them theirs.
It was obvious the five women did not know of my abuse, if they did I’m sure it might have been reflected in my tip. No, they were aware of nothing but the sisterhood that held them together. Nothing came between them: not even their nine children they were supposed to sit with but opted not to.
There are two types of people in the world:
People who will pick at their plate,
even though they have had enough,
and are no longer hungry,
but perhaps feel a bit of guilt because those cold fries are going to waste,
and there are starving children in China,
So with cat-like movements they continously extend an arm,
to snatch a cold fry,
or a lonely slice of pickle,
or pick at the edible garnish
just because the plate still sits in front of them.
Then there are
People who are specifically women in their early 20’s,
who dine together,
and have an unspoken contest,
to see who can eat the least amount of food on their plate.
To go boxes? Never!
I’m in the first group.