"Sunday, Bloody Sunday…"

January 26, 2011

Well, hello.  It’s been a while; how’ve y’all been?  Me?  Oh, fine, just fine.  Why yes, I have been working a lot…

After coming to the realization (duh!) that I make my own schedule, and that I really need to take two entire days off each week, my work routine has settled down a bit.  I still have split days off as the restaurant is closed on Mondays, and the other manager has a commitment that makes Tuesdays off impossible for me; but I’ve kind of gotten used to it.  It’s almost like a 3-day weekend every week, if you don’t count the 10 hours of work right smack in the middle of it.  Such a rude interruption…

Really, though, the only aspect of my job that I even mildly dislike is the schedule;  and that only because it involves working Sundays.  No, not the dreaded brunch as I would have opened an artery long ago if Sunday Brunch were required.  Just like Jeff Golblum’s line in Jurassic Park, that “life finds a way…”, brunch also finds a way, every week, to suck.  We are open for brunch and dinner on Sundays, the only day we open the doors during daylight hours; but my “keyholder” manager is there on Sunday mornings, and God bless her for it.   That, and HBO On Demand are the only things that make working on Sundays tolerable, barely.   I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank the bosses at my two previous jobs for giving me almost four years of Sunday-free work schedules.  As Joni Mitchell sang, “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…”

Sundays, and the people who dine out on the 7th Day, are a different breed of cat altogether.  You see people out to dinner on Sunday nights that you never, ever see any other night of the week.  They say in the Bible that God rested on the 7th day, and the leper colony we get in each Sunday is your proof.  My theory is that all the people who dine on Sunday nights crawled out of the primordial ooze when God took His one day off because He, too, just couldn’t deal.  God was at home, in His sweats and wife-beater with His feet up and Sports Center on the tube when these people snuck their way into the evolutionary cycle.

And just to add salt to the gaping wound of working Sunday nights, and simultaneously drive a dagger into the heart of our check average, we offer a three-course “supper” for $20.  This is just to make sure that we not only get the weirdos, but also the cheap weirdos.  We have people who ask if they can split the $20 meal.  Really?  Look, if you don’t have enough money to eat out, just stay home…

Last Sunday night was a classic.  Knowing the check average is always down, and often cover counts as well, I was sympathetic to my staff’s need to make a little coin even on Sundays; so I went with a lean crew.  Three waiters, one bartender, one food runner, one hostess and I did over 120 people; and all of them came in at once.  The parties of 8 and 9 started coming in around 7:15, so we were all sufficiently lulled into complacency by then.  And they kept coming through the door, like extras from The Walking Dead.  We have an alarm system that makes a “beep-beep” in the back kitchen when the front door opens and, as I am back there madly buffing glassware and silver to keep us afloat, it was going off to the beat of Funkytown.  Let me take you down, beep-buh-beep, to Funkytown, beep-buh-beep… as more and more piled in.

In the midst of all this fun and good times, my bartender decided now would be a grand time to cut his hand, taking me off the floor and him out of a very busy bar while I triaged his wound.  I found our sparsely stocked First Aid Kit, (and someone please tell me why it is that restaurant First Aid Kits are either stocked to the hilt with eye cups, defibrillators, and enough stuff to treat the victims of the Haiti earthquake, or they have just three band-aids and some dull scissors?) and got his hand wrapped; but the bleeding just wouldn’t stop and the kitchen had run out of latex gloves.  Perfect.  Now wouldn’t this be an excellent time for the Health Department to stop in?  I got on my cell, called in a “Stunt Bartender” who, thankfully, was both nearby and willing to come in: go figure.  She arrived about 20 minutes later and jumped into the fray.

I had just barely hung up the phone when my hostess, who was still doing restroom checks despite being drafted into service running food and bussing tables, informed me that the toilet in the Men’s Room had backed up.  Dealing with the shitty situation in the bathroom brought new meaning to the term “Manager’s Log”.

As I was pushing the mop bucket from the restroom back into the scullery, I noticed that there was no one on the Sautee Station in the kitchen.  The sous-chef informed me that he’d had to send one of the cooks home because he had been caught drinking the cooking wine in the back, and was drunk.  Perfect.  He told me this as I was helping one of my weeded servers process the nine separate checks from a party of really snotty Nelly Queens who had decided they needed to leave, now.  All I needed was a good, old-fashioned computer crash to really make my night complete.

So then, another server comes up to tell me that the four-top on 72 wants to “speak to The Manager.”  All restaurant mangers know that these are words that are generally never followed by anything good; and a big Shit Sandwich is most likely coming your way.  As a manager, I like to remain in the background, offering support to the staff.  I am like an Offensive Lineman in the NFL.  The only time my number is called out over the PA system is when something bad has happened; but instead of “Holding, number 72, offense…” and the touchdown is called back, it’s “Overcooked Veal Chop, table 72…”

The tidal wave of business is beginning to withdraw from the beach, and the crew is starting to pick through the rubble, straightening out the beach chairs and umbrellas; so I cinch up my tie, shoot my cuffs, and head on over to 72.  The gent at Position 3 who, as I was seating them, had made an off-color joke about the “diverse” crew and the “war zone” of the neighborhood surrounding the restaurant, had appointed himself spokesperson. They are four very old, very Jewish people.  Oy.

“Lizzen, I just vant to tell you some-zing, here…”

Okay, here we go.  Open wide for the Shitburger, and make it a double.

“Our soiver, fen-tehs-tic!  And the Duck, to die for.  We loved it all.  Job vell done…”

I was speechless, as an ear-to-ear, decidedly non-shit eating grin had commandeered my face.  A perfectly mashugana end to Sunday, Bloody Sunday…


"Is There Anyone Hiding Down There In The Dark?"

November 3, 2010

When I first started writing this blog, I went all over the web looking for advice on how to make it successful (honestly, how to make some money off it…).  One of the many sites I researched advised against making the blog too much about current events, as once the event is no longer current, the entries become dated; and outside of high school kids trolling the internet for a paper to plagiarize, those entries would ultimately go the way of the Dodo.  So I’ve always tried to put up posts that were timeless, stuff that would have some validity and meaning when read by people 200 years from now.  Posts that would continue to ring up that 37¢ per week in Google Adsense cash for years to come.  Yeah, right. My blog is about as “timeless” as Flava-Flav.

Timeless. But with a clock, just in case you forget...

That being said, there was a current event this past month that I feel bears mentioning, as it could almost be considered timeless.  I’m talking, of course, about the Giants winning their first World Series in 58 years.

I spent many summers of my youth listening to games on my Dad’s little Motorola transistor radio in the backyard; and then listening to him curse at it when the voices of Lon Simmons and Russ Hodges relayed the bad news of yet another Giants’ disappointment.  Sometimes those curses and disappointments came as early as the last day of school, with the annual occurrence of the “June Swoon” wherein the Giants would drop precipitously in the standings for no apparent reason.  Some years the euphoria would last until late August; or in the very rare year, into a late-September first-round playoff loss.  After 40-plus years of this I think it’s safe to say that my Dad and I have more than paid our dues as loyal fans.   Many people would jump ship over to the A’s during those years, as they were the closest thing to a winner that could be found.  But for me, it was always the Giants.  They were like your family dog:  maybe he has gotten old, and a little fat; maybe he’s a flea-scratching, bag-o-bones that doesn’t see so good or fetch so good, and at times smells pretty bad.  But he’s YOUR dog, no matter what.  This year October brought the good times, finally, for we Orange and Black Faithful; and it was somewhat spooky that on the Orange and Black Holiday, the Orange and Black Team was still alive and kicking.

Halloween is my second favorite Holiday, after Thanksgiving.  Both have less societal pressure to consume (shop) attached, so you can enjoy yourself without going into debt for the first eight months of the coming year; and both have their observances centered around eating and partying.  Thanksgiving gets the 1st Place nod (tryptophan pun intended) in the Holiday Standings because of two things:  more food choices than just candy, and football.  Having the Giants still alive added a welcome, if somewhat disorienting and distracting, sports component to Halloween this year.

One other thing puts Halloween high on the list: spooky movies on TV, in abundance.  When I was a kid I was the first in line for the new Dr. Fibes movie, or any cheesy vampire flick with Christopher Lee; but these days, I’m not so big on the slasher-movies until Halloween.   Plus, I am a choosey about my gore. I am all about the Classics.

Scary cheese for a 10-year-old...

But this year, whenever I saw Halloween, Night of The Living Dead, or Psycho was on, I’d tune in, only to find the more recent, CGI-enhanced re-makes being shown instead of the originals.  It seems that about 20 years ago, Hollywood ran out of original ways to kill busty Co-Eds in cut-off jeans, so they just started making the old movies over again.  Technically perfect special-effects gore is just not the same as the terror that builds up while Mike Myers slowly shuffles toward Jamie Lee Curtis, hiding in the closet with that coat hanger, ready to skewer his eye like a Stay-Puft at a campfire.

Fortunately for me, this year Halloween was the premiere of “The Walking Dead” on AMC.  I am a huge fan of AMC:  Madmen, Breaking Bad, Rubicon, etc., all get Tivo-ed at our house.  The Walking Dead looked quite promising in its promos, and had the added interest of being filmed here in Atlanta (the running joke is that they didn’t need any Extras for the scenes of Zombies shuffling around Centennial Park downtown, they just used the crackheads already in residence); but due to the scheduling conflict presented by the once-in-a-lifetime World Series featuring Your San Francisco Giants, I would have to wait until Monday morning to see it.

So the next morning, after the wife and daughter head off for work and school at 7:30am, I grab my coffee and fire up the DVR.  Once again, AMC did not disappoint.  The excellent production values, acting, directing, and script made the first episode truly frightening.   If it hadn’t been for the full light of day outside, I would have been going through the house turning on every available light.  It was that good.

Trying to compose myself, I tuned off the TV and started going about my house-husband duties, when suddenly our dog starts barking at the front door.  This is a regular occurrence that usually solicits no more severe a response from me than a “Shut up”, as there is never anything to really be barking at.   Unless you count blowing leaves or the mailman arriving at the curb.  But Maya was insistent, standing by the door barking and snarling, so I started to get nervous. H-m-m-m…  I sidle silently up to our front door to investigate, halfway laughing at myself for being so spooked and halfway worried that the lack of lights on and no car in the driveway had someone seriously contemplating a daytime burglary.  As I neared the door, some motion near the front room windows caught my attention.  Someone was OUT THERE!!  Now I truly am frightened as nobody had knocked or rung the bell, and I can barely summon up the nerve to look out the small window in our door (cue the  music from Psycho:  “REE-REE-REE-REE!!”).  I look out, and nearly jump out of my skin when I see two people standing on the porch, looking back:  Jehovah’s Witnesses.  With copies of The Watchtower in hand, these two 70-something ladies had been waiting, contemplating a knock at a silent, apparently unoccupied house.  They took a last look, decided there was no one home, and shuffled off; and I collapsed onto the couch, trembling with the adrenalin rush of surviving a Zombie attack of a different sort.

Gotta wrap up this tale of abject terror as the Giants Victory Parade is coming on TV, and I think I hear some Mormon Missionaries shuffling around in my basement.  REE-REE-REE-REE!!!