Rebuttal to Myself

November 6, 2010

So if you haven’t read the last post, I’ve been having a rough day in a bad string of days in a shit week… really it’s been a long, bad time for me for quite a while now. I really needed a night like tonight, one where I’m on, where I’m kicking ass instead of getting kicked.

 

I hadn’t hardly clicked post on the previous entry when I’m in my car and speeding off to work. 4:40 or thereabout, work at 5, and I’m late. It’s a 25 minute drive to work on a good day, and right now I’m stuck at the train crossing – it’s a great train, passes by the house precisely at the time when I’m guaranteed to get stuck behind it if I’m running late. There’s one chance though – I slam into reverse, cut into the non-turning lanes, hit the green and go. The train is on my left, our paths cross in about a mile, and I’m gambling that I hit enough green lights to cut her off at the pass. There’s 4 crossings, and at the first she’s right next to me. Second, she’s just behind me, we’re almost there, no, red light. Third I’m speeding, she’s stopping at the college, but it’s almost red again, and I’m sweating – hit the light, play speed racer, and it’s probably orange – no cops – clear sailing now, I’m through the crossing and already life feels better. Small victories.

 

I make it into work a couple minutes late, feeling instantly better when I see another coworker coming in late also – we’re both covering shifts, and at least we’re in good company. Almost all my favorite people are working today – the regular Friday crowd, plus some good substitutions. Bullshitting, setting up tables, and getting ready for the rush, I slip into work and let my mind go free. I’m really lucky to have this job – with all the stingy, angry restauranteers in the world, it has great ownership, a family feel, and a sense of camaraderie to it that is too rare in this industry. We’re an up-and-coming place, 4 months old today, and so the night starts out slow. We all horse around, trash talk, make friends with the guests. I think it says a lot about a business when the employees go out of their way to befriend customers, and take on duties outside their own. We all really want this place to succeed.

 

Success means hard work, and once the place fills up, you’re slammed. We all help each other out, and so I’m covering a bus shift for one of the younger guys. It’s physical work, far more so than waiting – lots of lifting, carrying tubs of plates, garbage, glasses, ice – interspersed with waiter work – taking drink and appetizer orders, serving plates, schmoozing to kill time while some overworked waitress is taking another table’s food out – and then you’ve got to keep bathrooms clean, clear tables, sweep up messes, wipe up spills… At the end of the day, the bus is the guy keeping the chaos of a full restaurant from turning into a shitshow. You make minimum wage, but all the servers tip you out, and if you’re lucky you’ll double your pay like that – it behooves you to make everything run properly. Plus, you never know when the right conversation with a customer will make her night and convince her to bring the whole golf team over to try lunch next week. Since we all love the place, and want to see it work, the whole staff is pretty going full-out the entire time we have customers – no bathroom break, no cigarette, nothing while the rush is going on.

 

What this means is that we make up games as we go along – If you don’t have a break, you’d better be enjoying the work itself, and this crowd loves to talk shit. The kitchen staff bags on me, calls me “google” and asks me obscure questions I’m supposed to know the answers to. They rip into the dishwasher, each other, hit on the waitresses and hostess. Everyone plays along, the girls threaten to beat up the boys: even the cook plays a thug ass gangsta on TV. There’s no room for dwelling on problems when you’re busy, and this job is a full mind-and-body workout. No thinking… that’s a nice change. Moreover, every in this group is on their A-game all night long, and aside from one table that came in complaining, we sail smoothly through the entire evening. I even got to change a few kegs out and play with a couple of dogs. Taken all together, it was a good night’s work.

 

When the crowd dies, the waitresses do their tallies, clean their station and after a victory cigarette go home. The cooks spend an hour on preparation, cleaning, washing and scrubbing and hosing down everything. This is a fantastically clean place for how much food goes through it – our chef has the boys tear the whole room down to pieces and put back together every single night. Meanwhile, as bus I’m cleaning, sweeping, mopping, sanitizing the front end – the whole eating area, the patio, the entryway, the lunch counter, and then there are bathrooms to restock, silverware, napkins, the bus tubs and cart to clean. Plus, like every other Friday night there’s that one table that snuck in at 8:45 and is still hanging out drinking wine and having a great time, which would be great if we hadn’t closed an hour ago! The cooks start to head home, the table finally goes, and we hose down the floors and patio. Finally, 10:15, I’m off the clock. I say my goodbyes, head out into the world, and I realize how much I don’t want to go home just yet.

 

Luckily a couple of other guys are down to party – we have a prop 19 pity party, a round of beers, and a great conversation. I get to speak Spanish, we tell dirty jokes, and well, laughter really is the best medicine. That’s it really – I drive home listening to jazz, end up running into my mom on her way back from dancing, and follow her home. Glorious shower – I will never stop appreciating hot water – stop to soap, Parov Stelar playing spygames, say goodnights all around, and lay down to type this night out. I needed a victory, however small, and I’m glad to have it. Until the next day; goodnight world.

 

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