I am so overbooked on this one particular Friday night, I just don’t know where the hell I am going to put all these people. Let me re-phrase: I can probably find a place to put them, but we will surely go down in fiery glory as a crew if I seat them according to the way they have been booked. I had snoozed on configuring the Open Table sheet properly for this particular shift and was not at all looking forward to following it: a serious logjam at 7:00pm which will result in each and every waiter in the restaurant getting at least 3 tables, most of them 4, simultaneously, with one of them being a large party of at least 6.
I occasionally have moments of accidental genius; and I’d had one of them the day before when I was doing the call backs for this massive clusterfuck that had been keeping me awake for the past three nights. I was verifying the time and number in party for one of the 7:00 o’clock reservations for Friday’s book and the guest on the other end of the phone says “Oh, I thought our reservation was for 7:15?” Oh, why yes, it is Mrs. Blahblahblah, we will look forward to seeing you tomorrow at 7:15. Click. The lightbulb goes on. It’s so simple, it’s brilliant!
I selected some of the parties who had either made their reservations over the phone or via a concierge at their hotel, not themselves on Open Table, and proceeded to call them to let them know that I was calling to confirm their reservation for tomorrow night at whatever-damned-time-that-was-convenient-for me, o’clock. And they all bought it. Oh joy, oh rapture! I might survive tomorrow without eating the big shitburger I had anticipated when the hordes all walked through the door at 7:00 en masse demanding to be seated. I did a Johnny Drama “VICK TOE REE!!” cheer and slept better that night
So the next night was a bit of a challenge, but workable due to my epiphany about re-arranging the reservations. We were all keeping our heads above water, but I had little or no wiggle room. If someone showed up ten minutes early for their reservation, they were waiting at the bar for ten minutes. Then, at about 7:45, the Russians arrived; four chicks that could have been low-budget models or high-budget hookers, I couldn’t tell which. One of them says “We haff reh-surh-vah-shun for eto-clock”, and gives me a long last name almost bereft of vowels which is nowhere to be found on my book for that night. So I do a search and type it in, letter for letter. “Sorry”, I’m thinking, “no nem in sees tem, sweetheart.” Nadia or Olga or whatever her name was with the 80’s-looking stack perm, insists she “make her silf, on compooter…” Back in olden times, before Open Table, anyone with a set of balls could walk in and bully the host of a restaurant into giving them a table just by insisting they had made a reservation. With manual, hand written reservation books there were lots of ways a reservation could fall through the cracks, and people knew it. All they had to do was stamp their feet and make a scene (“My secretary called weeks ago!!”) , or start to tear up (“I’m sure I made it, please check again”) and they could make you think you were about to ruin their night out. But the beauty of the Open Table database is that even if she had made the reservation and it had been canceled, or even made on the wrong day, “nem would still be in sees-tem”. So she’s lying; or she’s stupid and went to the wrong restaurant; or she’s counting on her face and body to get her in the door. Whatever the reason, she was not getting over on me. If this were an older couple, or any couple for that matter, I would act as if they did have a reservation, so as not to throw whichever one of them that forgot to make it under the relationship bus; I’d apologize for the “mix-up” and get them a table ASAP. But in cases like this, where someone is clearly trying to run a game on me, I cannot resist subtly letting them know I am on to them.
As a cordial host should, I assured her I would do my best to get them seated and I am so sorry about the situation; but in my mind I am thinking, “I own ’em.” I don’t have a four top to spare for at least 45 minutes, so go grab some pine. The four war-brides take seats at the bar, and get cocktails.
After about 15 minutes, the spokes-model for the group returns to the podium to try pleading her case again, and I realize then that all of them are already pretty much in the bag, alcohol-wise, as one of her tits has popped out of her shimmering blue, 80’s Disco-style halter dress (matched the hair perfectly; if the retro look was what she was going for, she nailed it) and it is staring happily up at me. And I am thinking “You know, sweetheart, you could pull them both out and it still wouldn’t get you seated a minute earlier”; but by that point my back-waiters (all young males) had seen the four of them waiting at the bar and had re-set a four top with such speed that it was ready to be re-seated before the departing guests had even reached the front door. If only I had boobs popping out every night, turns would be a breeze.
So, the tit went back inside, the girls were seated and proved themselves all to be walking cliches of blondness. The breast made a return appearance a bit later in the meal, which insured them of the undivided, if slightly distracted, attention of the entire male portion of the staff. I survived my Friday and the tit was the only falling out I had with a guest that night.