Tonight I was surrounded by assholes. For various and sundry reasons I pretty much wanted to strangle just about everyone who crossed my path. No one was immune to my imagined hands around their necks. I’m not sure how I managed to keep my shit together. I’m really not. Everyone was lucky that I neither own a gun nor do I know the first thing about using such a weapon.
This is why I am a proponent of gun control. Because if a pacifist such as myself can be driven to the brink, to the point of even entertaining the notion of at least knocking someone upside the head with some sort of revolver, then we can’t be surprised when the truly unhinged don’t manage to keep their shit together. I only consider myself mildly unhinged.
What with the whole gun thing really being out of the question and my gender, physical frame, and downright exhaustion working against me in the strangling department, I found myself reminding a co-worker tonight about my access to knives. I pretended to be joking around and he pretended to believe me, yet he stopped his nonsense pretty quickly. It was kind of funny because this guy is a cook. He has access to bigger knives than I do, but he backed off just the same. I think he recognized something in my demeanor that may have suggested my willingness to, as they say, “cut a bitch”.
Like foxes and chickens, cooks and wait staff are natural enemies. I don’t know why that is, exactly, but it has something to do with money and power, I’m sure. From the perspective of the wait staff, the cooks make their money no matter what they do, so they don’t care if their screw-ups cause a reduction in our tips; for this same reason, the cooks don’t go out of their way to accommodate the wait staff.
What the kitchen guys can’t seem to wrap their heads around is this: the requests made by the wait staff are not their requests. We are not eating the food, for crying out loud! We are making these requests on behalf of our guests. Guests that, ultimately, pay all of our salaries. But, the cooks really don’t care. For whatever reason, they insist on taking everything personally. I expo/run food on the weekend, so I get to be the go-between between the cooks and the wait staff. It’s awesome!
There were so many times this weekend when I was nearing the end of my rope and felt like saying “Really, who needs this crap? On a daily basis? Just make the freaking food and shut up already!”, but I didn’t. Until tonight, when the whole “I have a knife” conversation took place.
Before I get to that and just in case someone out there reading this has the idea that I am picking on the poor, persecuted cooks, let me just say that the wait/bar staff is no better. They feel like because they tip me out I am their personal slave. Yeah. All fifteen of them.
Just to make things even more stressful and chaotic, tonight the hosts even got in on the act because the bartender decided that he could just refuse to ring in take-out orders. He was “too busy”. So, the host staff, unwilling to get into it with him, just handed the orders off to me. As I was already jumping between the kitchen window and the adjacent service bar, where I was making the drinks he was also “too busy” to make (though he won’t be too busy to take the service bar tip-outs), I guess the hosts just figured it wouldn’t be a huge deal to ask me to ring in the take-out orders, too. Actually, it was an enormous deal. But they are young and kind of scared of their own shadows, so I took pity on them, but, let me assur you, it was a huge deal.
Why was it such a big deal, you ask? Because I am one fucking person. That’s why. One person trying to insure all of the food coming out of the kitchen is accurate, which includes temping the steaks, checking the sides, buttering the veggies (or, more often than not, not buttering the veggies), garnishing and wiping the plates, and, inevitably yelling (because the cooks like to pretend they can’t hear you) for the one or two items that are always missing from the order that they are screaming for you to clear out of the window. Assholes!
After “expediting” 99% of the orders by myself tonight, I also then have the pleasure of “running” the food out to the tables, which is the job I was actually scheduled to work tonight; the job that the servers tip me out to do for them; the job that is going to keep my family in chicken and Special K this week. No one, not one of the servers, used the right table positions tonight. So, I had the added fun of “auctioning” food (“Who gets the…?), which I fucking hate! Because it’s unprofessional and because the previously lobotomized, the population sector from which most of our clientele hails, never can recall what food they told their server they wanted twenty goddamn minutes ago, and it just inevitably takes longer; and time was what I just did not have enough of tonight.
For added fun, my co-worker who some of you may be familiar with from previous posts, The Persnickety Princess, decided to be his normal condescending, petulant, and narcissistic self and constantly ask, in his loudest, most annoying tone, “Don’t we have a food runner? Aren’t we paying a food runner?” He made these interrogatory statements while standing and gazing at a window full of food. Mr. Professional didn’t expedite or run any of it, mind you. No. He just shot his stupid mouth off. That, apparently, he had the time to do. I resisted sticking my foot up his ass, not because I am a model of restraint, but because I was afraid he would actually enjoy it. Asshole!
If, at this point in the story you are asking yourself where, in the midst of all this mayhem, the manager was? You are not alone. So was I.
The straw that broke the camel’s back, the incident that caused me to remind the cook about the proliferation of easily accessible sharp objects, was when one of the servers came in to tell me that there was a child at her table with a severe shellfish allergy. The order was already in, but the child’s mother had just given the server this information. Of course the server wanted this information relayed to the kitchen so that the child’s food could be cooked in foil (we do this because we cook shrimp on the same grill that we use to cook the steak; we do this to avoid a possible life-threatening allergic reaction; we do this to avoid the inevitable lawsuit that will be the inevitable result of said allergic reaction; we do this because it’s our fucking job!).
My request to the cook was met with, “It’s already almost done. I don’t give a shit. If the kid has an allergy the mother should have told us sooner.” While I certainly agree and, in fact, even suspected that the server was told but forgot to properly ring it up, there was no way in hell he was going to get away with that shit! No! Fucking! Way! So, I went behind the line, shoved some foil at him, and pointed at the collection of steak knives at my disposal. To be fair, I did ask him where he would like me to shove one of them. I did this without raising my voice, thereby not raising suspicion on the part of any of the other cooks on the line (believe you me, those chickens can usually smell a fox). Yeah. It was going to be his word against mine if it came to that. I’m pretty sure that threatening to stab a co-worker, even one who is so clearly an idiot, may be, at best, frowned upon; at worst, grounds for termination.
Once the kid had her food I went to find the manager so that I could tell him that I was leaving (I was not asking tonight; I was politely informing). As it turns out he was in the office most of the night working on screwing up next week’s schedule. Really? You are working on a schedule for next Monday on a busy Sunday night? I just shook my head as I muttered, “Another asshole.”
When I walked in the house my daughter greeted me with some bullshit about school starting in nine days, her lack of cute shirts, something about owning only four pairs of jeans, and blah, blah, blah, blah, blah… I calmly recounted the above story. She nodded her head and agreed that we would talk about it tomorrow. Smart girl. Maybe there’s hope for her yet.