The Ghosts of Waiters Past

26 Jan

An entertaining responsibility for important business owners like me and my fam comes along during the chilly days of January. The sorting and sending the past year’s W2 forms is ike crusing through The Graveyard of Employees Past. And like any good cemetery, you’ve got the dearly departed, and you’ve got some real shitheads. I don’t usually believe in ghosts, but one look at that stack of papers and suddenly they’re knocking down my door to remind me why I hated/fired/stared at/questioned the sexuality of/loved everything about/hired them. To you, they may have been a friendly face that served you a burger or passed you a deviled egg at a baby shower. To me, they are the thousands of tiny reasons that contribute to why I need therapy more than once a week, and even though I had COMPLETELY forgotten about many of them, they all come rushing back into my head for one last visit.

There are some lines of work that scream “STABILITY!!” but the restaurant business is not one of them. I mean, think back to when you decided to enter the work force. What did you say to yourself? “Self, I will go and pursue my dream job! But in the meantime, I need to make a few bucks. I know! I’ll just wait tables to pass the time! They won’t mind when I tell them I got a ‘real job’ because it’s not like theirs is an actual business or anything.” Or fourteen years after you quit your dream job in the city to move to the ‘burbs and grow offspring, your daughter decides to give herself driving lessons and crashes your Highlander into the fence that your neighbor just put up to keep your kids out of their flower beds and now you need to make some quick cash so you say “Hmm… Back when I was in college I poured vodka cranberries at, like, all of our sorority mixers and my botox is working real well so I bet I can totally get a job bartending!”  Surprisingly, you are not the only person who falls into one of these categories. So let’s just say we go through, like, more than one book of stamps.

Some losses, like in other arenas, totally suck. Like the cook who, like me, enjoyed country music (because it’s the best!) and we talked about line dancing and shit all the time and made playlists, and now I’m left with only people who like Top 40 and I know that the only time I get to talk about Rascal Flatts  is with people who totally don’t give a crap and are just kissing my ass because I’m the boss. And we recently bid adieu to a waitress who began with us when she was 19, and needed off Sundays because she had to go to church. And even though it was a total lie, she took those Sundays off for many years because she came to work on time, entertained us with stories that would be deemed inappropriate in any other work environment, and always smiled. I was missing her everyday, but we hired a waitress who, last Saturday, offered me or Harry (our choice) a sensual back massage to get out of work early. So we replaced our resident naughty comedienne with a blonder version of herself and now I don’t even remember the original girl’s name. There were other entertaining characters, but really over the course of an entire year, most of the departures were welcome.

Among the un-fond memories (some are made up and/or exaggerated so don’t be a narcissist and think I’m writing about you) that have come back to me this week:

  • The ultra-Christian line cook who swore that he was going back to Honduras to aid his ailing brother, but subsequently popped his head out of the kitchen during a recent trip to IHOP for chocolate chip pancakes (on Long Island, not in Central America)
  • The waiter who failed to show up for work for three weeks and then sued us for discrimination against people with Upper Respiratory Infections when we no longer put him on the schedule
  • The manager (who, I have to tell you, I really liked) who drunkenly slurred “Good luck with your crazy problems” as she threw a rack of glasses to the ground and told everyone to “Stick it where the sun don’t shine” in Pig Latin
  • The busboy who stole an iPhone from a customer and the only reason I found out about it was because the cops arrested him during a busy dinner service and I had to wrap up people’s leftovers.
  • The bartender who was offering services other than beer-opening. To my father-in-law. And his girlfriend.
  • Anyone who called me “Shel” before knowing me for at least 4 months.

I mean, the list goes on, but I don’t have all night. I’ve still got stamps to lick.

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