"Night Sweats In Broad Daylight…"

April 4, 2011

I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been contemplating making yet another career change, or if it was the spicy BBQ pork sammy for lunch today, but I have just woken from the Mother of All Waiter Nightmares.  Those of you that have had them will know what I’m talking about when I say they come from out of nowhere.  I know I’m still in the restaurant business and, granted, I have some waiters at work who ARE nightmares; but I haven’t worked a shift as a waiter in almost five years.  Waiter Nightmares?  After five years?

I’ve written about Waiter Nightmares before (click and read), and about how I had learned a kind of “Directed Dreaming” technique, ala “Nightmare on Elm Street: The Dream Warriors”; so I can usually pretty much just sit back and enjoy the comic relief that comes with the absolute futility in most Waiter Nightmares, somehow knowing that this stuff could never really happen. But today’s was scarily different.

This one started at Chops in Atlanta, except that it wasn’t Chops.  In my dream I knew it was Chops, but the dining room had absolutely no resemblance.  Some of the waiters were guys that I worked with at Chops, as was the Manager, and the room was that kind of Boys Club Steak Housey kind of place with button-tuck booths, men in suits, cocktails clinking, etc.  I am back to work there, and it’s my first night back.  I don’t think I’d gone through any re-training, I think they just threw me out there.  I do remember being strangely happy to be back to work there.  Most therapists at this point would say, “Maybe you should look at that…”

I had just arrived at work, and was saying hello to some of “the guys”.  Everyone is shaking my hand and welcoming me back when The Manager tells me I’m working solo (Chops was team service with a partner, although I had some living Nightmare nights there when somebody no-showed and I DID work solo) but I will have a smaller station, over by the bar.  No prob, it’s my first night back and I’m feeling pretty bulletproof.

So, I’ve got my waiter jacket on, and my little metal badge with a number on it; I’ve got my notepad, my Cross Pens, corkscrew, crumber and all that crap.  I’m feeling good, cocky, ready to take some tables.  I had found my station in the gigantic restaurant (they’re usually gigantic in my nightmares), four deuces and one four top all in a neat little cluster near the end of this horseshoe shaped bar, and it all seems pretty manageable; after all, I’ve worked here before and know the drill.   Then I notice that the Host is walking away from seating a single diner at one of my tables, a professional looking woman in a business suit with briefcase.  I know what you’re thinking:  what kind of useless Shoe Clerk am I, to be having a Waiter Nightmare over a SINGLE!!??

Anyway, I greet madame, and get her a cocktail, a Manhattan or something I think.  She orders:  Spinach Salad to be followed by an 8oz. Filet, medium.  I don’t remeber ordering the salad, but after a couple of minutes I notice it’s on the table and, yikes, she’s almost done with it and I haven’t fired her steak yet.

I’m mildly panicked about the fire time on her Filet but, hey, it’s Chops.  They have about a billion 8oz. filets in the broiler at any one time on busy nights, and maybe I can use my one “New Guy Get Out Of Jail Free Card” to get them to rob another table so Milady won’t have too long of a wait.  But first I have to get to the POS and fire her order before I can go throw myself on the mercy (Ha!) of the Sous Chef.  And, as they say in the Circus, this is where the fun begins…

My cockiness and confidence is beginning to waver a little as I realize I don’t know where the POS is.  I walk out of the bar, into another gigantic dining room that is almost completely empty, and over against one wall is a POS touchscreen about the size of a 52″ plasma TV.  I make my way over to it and, of course, it’s a system I’ve never seen or used before.  I manage to log in, find a screen that looks like a table map, and double tap the icon for my single diner’s table (#63).  But instead of neat rows of buttons, or screens that have actual menu items, the screen looks more like a website; one of those really hard to read websites that was designed by some genius who thought red letters on a black background would be a good idea.  Almost all of the screen is taken up by pictures and advertisements for cars and other stuff.  Way down at the bottom are lines of uber-tiny type, hyperlinks to click on for menu stuff; but the type is the REALLY tiny stuff you get at the bottom of a company’s website where they put stuff like “Privacy Notice.  Site Map.  Contact Us.  Careers.”  And it’s a touchscreen, so every time I try to double tap a tiny link I get the wrong one, and some other gigantic window opens with more pictures and ads.

Now I’m really starting to freak because I know that spinach salad has been cleared and my single is sitting there, tapping her fingers, waiting for that Filet, and wondering where the hell her idiot waiter has gotten to.  In my panic state, and willing to try anything I can think of to navigate this behemoth screen, I decide that there’s not enough light in the room to see it properly, so I take it down off the wall and carry it over to another corner where some sconces are beaming spotlights down on the carpet, creating circles of light in the murky room.  Strangely, there are no wires; and, strangely, this doesn’t even factor into my thinking as I pick up this unusually light, strangely wireless, and utterly useless Piece Of Shit.  Under the glow of the spotlights on the other side of the room the screen is no more readable than it had been on the wall.  And I still haven’t fired her steak.  And, even with the panic really starting to set in, I’m thinking, “Shit, all these steaks are ala carte.  I didn’t ask her about sides!”  I figure I’ll deal with that after I get this DAMN STEAK FIRED!

Still tapping at links, still getting the wrong screens, I try turning the screen around, rotating it, thinking if I can get a closer look at these damn tiny hyperlinks, I would actually be able to read them.  I’m trying to hold it out in front of me, like some massive artist’s sketch pad, and the screen is rotating with the movements, like on my wife’s Droid; so every time I turn it to make the links closer, the screen changes and they move back to where they were before.  Now I’m totally sweating, full blown dread is setting, yet all Mr. Sensitve To The Needs Of Others here, can think about is “I wonder if someone else needs to use this terminal…”  This turns out to be an non-issue, as I look back across the room to see that the screen I have taken down has been replaced by an even LARGER one, about the size of a small billboard, a veritable  JumboTron of a POS.  In my panic I’m willing to try just about anything to get this one stupid, stinking steak fired, and I consider going over to the giant screen, thinking the type must surely be larger on that one, right?  Just as I’m putting my screen down I see the link for “Fire” at the bottom and hit it.  I set the screen down on the floor, and start sprinting back to my station.

As I approach my tables, I am mildly relieved to see that no one else has been seated in my section during my adventure in the Gigantic Room with the Gigantic POS Screen.  The only catch is that my station is now somehow outside, and it’s starting to rain.  Guests at other tables are being moved inside by their waiters, but my single is standing up and looking around.  She starts picking up all her stuff, briefcase, purse, and is grabbing the silverware and napkin off the table and walking off toward the inside area.  I catch her and relieve her of her burdens, and tell her I will usher her into one of my “Inside Tables”.  I don’t know why or how I knew I actually had inside tables, but I did.  Except I don’t know the table numbers, so I don’t know if I’m seating her at one of my tables or someone else’s.  It doesn’t seem to matter, and I’ve still got to get to the kitchen to tell them to hurry that 8oz. Filet which, despite my being out of my station for what seemed like an eternity, has not arrived.  And shit!  What about those side dishes?  I forgot to ask her.

I get my single diner situated at an inside table in a dining room that is now a gigantic white event tent, like they set up at wine auctions.  I know I still have to get to the kitchen, but I can’t stop myself from helping the Manager.  He’s trying desperately to get tables set up for all the people coming in from the rain.  The tables are all 72″ banquet rounds, with one flipped upside down on top of another, so I take my place on one side of the two tables to help him flip the inverted one off.  I’m waiting for him to flip the legs up and lock them into place when I notice a stack of 6 B&B plates sitting on table we are about to flip over.  The Manager has not seen the plates, has locked the legs on his side into place and flips the unusually light table off the other one, sending the stack of B&B’s flying.  Oddly, they all stay together in one stack and fly out onto a road that is outside an open flap of this massive circus tent of a dining room.  I’m waiting for the sickening crash of shattering china, but instead hear a metallic clang; and I realize the plates must have been sitting inside of one of those metal plate covers.  Huh.  Didn’t see that one coming.

Anyway, I still need to get to the kitchen, get that Filet on the fly, and then get back to my section where I still didn’t know what the fuck the table numbers are.  Shit!  And I need to ask her about those sides!  I contemplate just ordering her a baked potato.  I mean everybody likes those, right?  But that would entail a return to the JumboTron POS again.  It’s at this point I see a guy that I used to work with about 10 years ago at another restaurant, who is apparently now working here.  Nothing about this strikes me as the least bit strange, and I stop him to say hi; but he doesn’t know me from Adam.  He does know enough to remind me I’m covering his lunch shift tomorrow, though.   Even though I haven’t been back to check on my one and only guest, I somehow know with all certainty that 8oz. Filet is NOT on the table yet, and I am a total loser.  This is when I wake up to my cell phone buzzing on the nightstand and thank God for text messages!


"That Really Takes The Cake…"

June 30, 2010

Last Saturday was one of our best friend’s birthday, and we were invited along to celebrate at one of our new favorite restaurants.  I already have a general unease dining out on a Saturday night; plus we had a cake to commemorate the auspicious occasion of her 2nd, 30th birthday, and a nice bottle of New Zealand Pinot Noir.  So, corkage and a cake plating fee which means, essentially, little or no alcohol sales and no dessert sales on our table of six.  It wasn’t a conscious conspiracy but we had become a Waiter’s Nightmare before we even walked in.  Fortunately, we got our favorite server at the restaurant; and, like a pro should, she didn’t bat an eye at either concession.

The alcohol sales part didn’t concern me much.  I knew the personalities at the table; and I knew there would be at least some cocktail sales, if not a bottle of white to go with the apps.  So our server wouldn’t be completely shut out.  It was the cake that I was just a tad uncomfortable with, and it wasn’t simply because it would negate any possible dessert sales for the server.  Desserts at this place were only $6, so how much could they really be out in sales?  But, bringing in a cake, or flowers, or an engagement ring, and leaving the item with the host or manager at the front door to be presented later on is much more of a leap of faith than most people realize.

As a manager, I was confident that I could handle any and all special arrangements needed for such items; it was what happened to said items after they left my sight that always worried me.  If you had a hidden camera, and followed your cake into the dessert station and/or walk-in box at many restaurants, you would probably see things like a Pastry Chef or Sous Chef pimping on your cake (even if it was the most beautiful cake ever made by the hands of man, they didn’t make it; and so ridiculing it is required); you may see it taken out of the box, and stored near buckets of cooling Lobster Stock, or some other pungent product, allowing your Red Velvet beauty to fully absorb the garlic, onions, or fish smell in the walk-in.  You may see a dishwasher or busboy removing a frosting rosette or chocolate cigarette, and smoothing over the evidence with their fingers.  And, as it goes from host to manager to Chef to Pastry Chef to walk-in, the potential for someone dropping or losing it, and effectively taking a dump all over your special occasion, is huge.

We arrived, they took the cake, and we watched as it disappeared behind the kitchen doors.  We thought nothing more of it until dessert time arrived and, as our server was putting dessert menus down, I reminded her we had a cake.  Well, not so much reminded, as obviously no one had told her word one about it.  It had gone from our hands to the fridge without anyone opening the box or even mentioning it any further.

After being informed by us that we had brought the cake in, our server went off to investigate.   I watched as she disappeared into the kitchen and came back out a few moments later, beckoning to the Chef.  Chef disappears into the back kitchen, and soon after returns to the hot line.  I can see him gesturing wildly and ranting on and on about something, getting the full attention of everyone on the kitchen staff.  They are all shaking their heads and looking very worried as the Chef goes off on them.   Next, the Chef summons the floor manager and our server for a serious-looking discussion.  They look like a pitcher, catcher and third baseman deciding how to pitch around a bases loaded, one-out situation; and discussing all the possibilities for disaster.  They are talking, arms folded, glancing furtively over at our table, then back to each other.  I can see our server shaking her head, Chef shaking his head; and the manager with that “I’m about to eat a big Shit Sandwich” look on his face.  Now what can be going on here?

The manager sheepishly approaches our table and, kneeling down next to the hostess for our group, asks “Uh, excuse me, but was that cake untouched when you brought it in?”

Up until that moment it never occurred to us that telling them the birthday girl had taken a two-fingered dip out of the cake earlier in the day might have been a good idea.  They hadn’t opened the box until it was time to present it to us;  and I can only imagine the terror our server must have felt when she opened it and found it looking like Homer Simpson had gotten to it first.


“M-m-m-m-m-m…cake…”

We explained our guest of honor’s pre-dipping to the manager, and his head drops in a silent prayer of thanks, looking like a guy who was already strapped into the electric chair, rubber thingy between his teeth, and the guard’s finger on the button as the phone from the Governor’s office rings.

They presented the cake, having nicely shaved off the finger-craters and smoothed them over with the cream cheese frosting.  The lesson here:  Always check, as you just never know when someone might want to have their cake and eat it too…


"Your Main Course Will Be Out In Just A Minute…"

March 24, 2010

Lots of stuff going on this week, so I don’t have time to post a full-blown entry.  That and I’m just a little lazy and well into “Vacation Mode,” which starts tomorrow.  I’m excited about a spring vacation that will refresh and revive; but I’m also a little worried that by mid-June I’ll be totally fried again and staring straight into five more months of “season” with no possibility of relief, as my vacay days will be gone until next year.

Being in the restaurant business dictates that I work when everyone else is playing and vice-versa.  I have gotten used to going out to dinner on Tuesdays instead of Saturdays, working on every significant holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas; and I kind of enjoy the luxury of never having to wait in line for stuff like going to the movies, because nobody is there for Monday matinees in March.  But because we have a daughter that is in 8th grade, we are subject to taking our  vacations when the school calendar says to.  So it’s Christmas Break, Spring Break, and June-July-August, right when all the people with the “real jobs” are all in line at the Airport Security Checkpoints and on the freeways.  Not fair.  I should get a special lanyard to wear at airports that says “Works Every Weekend and Holiday.  Please Step Aside!”  I should automatically get to be one of those “Cart People” in the airport, whisking by all the losers who actually have to walk to their gate and are forced to jump out of the way when the little golf carts with the flashing yellow light goes beep-beep-beeping past.  “Restaurant Guy!  Coming through!  Get your ass out of the way!  Restaurant Guy!”

I’m not sure if it is a sign of being totally relaxed and ready for vacation, or worrying about what shit will hit the fan at work the minute I buckle into my airline seat next to the single mom with the two screaming kids; but I have been taking some deep-sleeping coma-naps in the afternoons lately, complete with the attendant “Waiter Nightmares”.  Some are from the “Greatest Hits” archives in my brain, some are new.  But they have all been fairly vivid and disturbing.  My fellow blogger, Waiternotes, who has lived the same life as me, but in a parallel universe in Southern California, wrote a couple of blogs on the topic that are hilarious and also frighteningly unnerving in their familiarity.  You can read his posts here, and here, and here.

"Oh my God! Six Hot Teas!!??"

So in the interest of laziness and a general lack of mental stimuli, I am re-posting one of my very first entries, from back in June of ’09, on the Waiter Nightmare topic.  I didn’t have what you might call a huge readership back then so, to my wife and the other three people that have seen this before, my apologies.  To the rest of you out there (and Waiternotes this is especially for you):  Enjoy!

“To Sleep, Perchance To Dream…”

The long hours and high stress of the restaurant business can lead to a lot of things. Drug abuse, failed relationships, and bad eating habits are some of the many side effects of the tense situations we can find ourselves dealing with at work. But, God help us, we love it. I think about Harry Dean Stanton in Repo-Man, looking at a group of civilians emerging from a church on a Sunday morning: “Ordinary fuckin’ people, I hate ‘em. They spend their entire lives avoiding tense situations; Repo-Man spends his life getting INTO intense situations.”

One of the things this life has led me to is a nap. Like most kids, you could not get me to even think about a nap when I was 8. When I turned 30, I lived for them. This was partially due to the late hours I kept, working as a bartender, and all the attendant lifestyle choices we denizens of the bar and club scene made back then.

Naps became an important part of the routine and remain so, but for different reasons now. These days, I usually get home from work around 12:30am, sometimes later, sometimes earlier. After winding down by watching a little TV, I crawl off to bed around 1:30 or so. Several years ago, my wife went over the wall, making her escape from the restaurant world. She now has a “real job”, 8:30 to 5:30. My daughter is in junior high. So if I didn’t get my ass up at 6:45am, I would see them only on my days off. As an investment in my relationships with them, I get up, have some coffee, chat, and when they go off to work/school I do a couple of things (like writing this) and then crawl off for at least an hour’s worth of nap time before I head to work at around 2:00pm.

In my experience, naps need to be either 20 minutes or more than 1 hour; anything in between makes you more tired than if you had stayed awake. Twenty minutes will refresh and revive. Two hours will give you the chance to hit that really deep REM sleep stage. Although you might be groggy and drooling with a wrinkled face when you awake, the long nap gives you that “starting a brand new day” feeling and that can be a pretty good thing. A little more coffee, a shower and I’m out the door.

One side effect of the long nap, however, is the Waiter Nightmare. These are generally disturbing, stressful and always recurring. I have talked to former waiters who have gone on to be doctors, and lawyers, and business executives, and many have had Waiter Nightmares years after they finished their last shift. Maybe subconsciously they are wishing for a return to simpler times. Maybe they long for the adrenaline and go-go-go of a busy restaurant, or the camaraderie. Maybe they are just twisted.

Even though it’s been many years since I worked as a waiter, I still have them. Hell, I still have Kitchen Nightmares. I still have bits and pieces of a recurring Kitchen Nightmare wherein I am a grill cook at a very busy bar and grill in Carmel back in the 80’s. This was in the olden times, before the widespread use of computerized POS systems that print orders in a neat, uniform fashion. Back then it was hand-written checks. Trying to decipher the hastily written scrawl from 10 different waiters was a nightmare in itself; plus the fact that the Guest Checks we used were made of three parts you could tear off. Designed so you could separately order apps, mains, and desserts, all the tags were different sizes: little tiny skinny stubs for the apps, larger squares for mains, and small rectangles for dessert. My dream was usually that I had dozens of plates in the window ready to be picked up and cooling rapidly, but I was always missing one item on a ticket, so nothing could go out. I am frantically looking through the tiny scraps of paper that are my tickets; and as I look down the line asking “Where’s the Chinese Chicken Salad for Table 16?” the hot line is stretching out and away from me like the upstairs hallway in the haunted house in Poltergeist. And no one else is there to help me. Cue the alarm clock!

Lately, though, I have unintentionally began employing a kind of “Directed Dreaming’ technique when I have the occasional Waiter Nightmare. I have somehow developed the ability to realize in my dream-state that even the biggest idiot to work the door at any restaurant, anywhere, would not seat me 10 six-tops in a parking lot with a foot of standing water in it; and that the people at those tables would surely notice something like that. Or that I no longer work at the place I am dreaming about, and that there is no way I would not know the table numbers, or where my station was; and I always wore shoes to work, didn’t I? And I never wore a big bow tie like Dianne Feinstein used to wear. I would also think that if I just ignored some of these tables, maybe they would get up and walk out and be gone by the next time I came by. There was no way I was getting to all of them anyway.

"I know my station is around here somewhere..."

I have worked shifts in my career that were living Waiter Nightmares. Once, while I was a waiter at a very expensive local hotel, I was working a Thanksgiving Day shift. My friend Mitch and I were the waiters assigned to a downstairs banquet room that was set up to take all the large parties that wouldn’t fit in the main room upstairs. On Thanksgiving, it is nothing BUT big parties. Sixes, eights, twelve tops all began appearing in my station. The host/manager would walk these people down the stairs, seat them and disappear. I had a food runner, a back-waiter and the two of us shared a busser; but the computer to ring all our orders into the kitchen was UPSTAIRS. So every time I needed anything from the kitchen or had to run a credit card, there was flight of 22 stairs to be negotiated. I was so busy, I remember at one point thinking, “I know SOMEBODY in my station needs an Iced Tea, but I can’t remember who”.

Hamlet was bat-shit crazy and driven to the brink when he uttered those lines about dreaming. Maybe he used to be a waiter?


"Ch-ch-ch-chan-ges…"

January 11, 2010

Conventional wisdom would suggest that restaurants don’t institute major changes on busy nights.  Even though all of us should have had enough experience with the business of making these changes that we should know better, we don’t.
We do our best Amelia Earhart, and fly directly into the face of that “conventional” wisdom.  I have worked at restaurants that scheduled their opening day for New Year’s Eve, installed a new menu on Valentine’s Day, and one that started their new lunch service on the Monday of a three-day weekend in May.

So it didn’t seem like such a big deal that Friday night we instituted not one, but two new menus and made sweeping changes to the format of our “standard” menu.  Ten new dishes for the kitchen meant new ingredients, mis-en-place, and timing adjustments.  The servers had to adjust menu presentation “schpiels” that had been recited thousands of times.  Computer POS screens and buttons had to be added/changed, menus had to be formatted, printed, and stuffed. Suffice it to say, there was a logjam of logistics for me to coordinate.

Read the rest of this entry »


"To sleep, perchance to dream…"

June 9, 2009

The long hours and high stress of the restaurant business can lead to a lot of things. Drug abuse, failed relationships, and bad eating habits are some of the many side effects of the tense situations we can find ourselves dealing with at work. But, God help us, we love it. I think about Harry Dean Stanton in Repo-Man, looking at a group of civilians emerging from a church on a Sunday morning: “Ordinary fuckin’ people, I hate ‘em. They spend their entire lives avoiding tense situations; Repo-Man spends his life getting INTO intense situations.”

One of the things this life has led me to is a nap. Like most kids, you could not get me to even think about a nap when I was 8. When I turned 30, I lived for them. This was partially due to the late hours I kept, working as a bartender, and all the attendant lifestyle choices we denizens of the bar and club scene made back then.

Naps became an important part of the routine and remain so, but for different reasons now. These days, I usually get home from work around 12:30am, sometimes later, sometimes earlier. After winding down by watching a little TV, I crawl off to bed around 1:30 or so. Several years ago, my wife went over the wall, making her escape from the restaurant world. She now has a “real job”, 8:30 to 5:30. My daughter is in junior high. So if I didn’t get my ass up at 6:45am, I would see them only on my days off. As an investment in my relationships with them, I get up, have some coffee, chat, and when they go off to work/school I do a couple of things (like writing this) and then crawl off for at least an hour’s worth of nap time before I head to work at around 2:00pm.

In my experience, naps need to be either 20 minutes or more than 1 hour; anything in between makes you more tired than if you had stayed awake. Twenty minutes will refresh and revive. Two hours will give you the chance to hit that really deep REM sleep stage. Although you might be groggy and drooling with a wrinkled face when you awake, the long nap gives you that “starting a brand new day” feeling and that can be a pretty good thing. A little more coffee, a shower and I’m out the door.

One side effect of the long nap, however, is the Waiter Nightmare. These are generally disturbing, stressful and always recurring. I have talked to former waiters who have gone on to be doctors, and lawyers, and business executives, and many have had Waiter Nightmares years after they finished their last shift. Maybe subconsciously they are wishing for a return to simpler times. Maybe they long for the adrenaline and go-go-go of a busy restaurant, or the camaraderie. Maybe they are just twisted.

Even though it’s been many years since I worked as a waiter, I still have them. Hell, I still have Kitchen Nightmares. I still have bits and pieces of a recurring Kitchen Nightmare wherein I am a grill cook at a very busy bar and grill in Carmel back in the 80’s. This was in the olden times, before the widespread use of computerized POS systems that print orders in a neat, uniform fashion. Back then it was hand-written checks. Trying to decipher the hastily written scrawl from 10 different waiters was a nightmare in itself; plus the fact that the Guest Checks we used were made of three parts you could tear off. Designed so you could separately order apps, mains, and desserts, all the tags were different sizes: little tiny skinny stubs for the apps, larger squares for mains, and small rectangles for dessert. My dream was usually that I had dozens of plates in the window ready to be picked up and cooling rapidly, but I was always missing one item on a ticket, so nothing could go out. I am frantically looking through the tiny scraps of paper that are my tickets; and as I look down the line asking “Where’s the Chinese Chicken Salad for Table 16?” the hot line is stretching out and away from me like the upstairs hallway in the haunted house in Poltergeist. And no one else is there to help me. Cue the alarm clock!

Lately, though, I have unintentionally began employing a kind of “Directed Dreaming’ technique when I have the occasional Waiter Nightmare. I have somehow developed the ability to realize in my dream-state that even the biggest idiot to work the door at any restaurant, anywhere, would not seat me 10 six-tops in a parking lot with a foot of standing water in it; and that the people at those tables would surely notice something like that. Or that I no longer work at the place I am dreaming about, and that there is no way I would not know the table numbers, or where my station was; and I always wore shoes to work, didn’t I? And I never wore a big bow tie like Dianne Feinstein used to wear. I would also think that if I just ignored some of these tables, maybe they would get up and walk out and be gone by the next time I came by. There was no way I was getting to all of them anyway.

I have worked shifts in my career that were living Waiter Nightmares. Once, while I was a waiter at a very expensive local hotel, I was working a Thanksgiving Day shift. My friend Mitch and I were the waiters assigned to a downstairs banquet room that was set up to take all the large parties that wouldn’t fit in the main room upstairs. On Thanksgiving, it is nothing BUT big parties. Sixes, eights, twelve tops all began appearing in my station. The host/manager would walk these people down the stairs, seat them and disappear. I had a food runner, a back-waiter and the two of us shared a busser; but the computer to ring all our orders into the kitchen was UPSTAIRS. So every time I needed anything from the kitchen or had to run a credit card, there was flight of 22 stairs to be negotiated. I was so busy, I remember at one point thinking, “I know SOMEBODY in my station needs an Iced Tea, but I can’t remember who”.

Hamlet was bat-shit crazy and driven to the brink when he uttered those lines about dreaming. Maybe he used to be a waiter?