Tonight’s shift ranked right up there with “The Worst Shifts I Have Ever Worked”. It didn’t knock off December 26, 2011 — I shudder to think of the shift that will ever be THAT bad. Tonight was close, though. Very close.
I walked in at 3:30 (for my 4 o’clock shift) and did not stop until 9:30. Six hours of hell. I have very little recollection of Dante’s “Divine Comedy”, but I know the portion entitled “The Inferno” had to do with circles of hell. Certain sinners were relegated to the circles that corresponded to their sins, I think. Adulterers, for example, were condemned to being tossed by stormy seas onto rocks — an allegorical reference, I suppose, to being swept away by their physical passions while they were alive.
I mention “The Inferno” because I, like Dante, would like to believe that God has a sense of humor and of justice. I know that I would be more of a believer (not to mention better behaved!) if I knew that God stayed up nights pondering interesting punishments.
Peter the Great did just that. In addition to being the originator of a really fun game —- dwarf tossing! —- Peter lost a great deal of sleep dreaming up fun punishments. One of my favorite Peter the Great stories has to do with his affinity for “rewarding” those members of his court who had fallen out of his favor for one reason or another, often, unbeknownst to them — until, that is, they were “rewarded” — with new servants; servants who were either not quite up to the job or whose disabilities might simply be categorized as annoying — a one-armed field hand or a club-footed housemaid, for example.
I bring this up because since the publication of Dante’s “Divine Comedy”, the world has changed. People have more opportunities to behave horribly. Mostly, I am sad to report, in restaurants. Specifically, I am sadder to report, at my restaurant. As a result, I think it is altogether fitting that I take this opportunity to add another circle of hell to Dante’s “Inferno”. I don’t think he’d mind. I think he had seven circles, so we’ll make this the eighth.
Condemned to the eighth circle of hell will be every asshole who has ever walked into a packed restaurant and decided to jump the wait list and eat at the bar. Because, you know, they’re hungry. And impatient. And stupid. They seem to think that the bar has a different kitchen. It doesn’t. They also seem to think that bar seats will miraculously appear for them to plant their fat asses on because, as previously stated, they are hungry. And impatient. And stupid.
Really? You came to a restaurant because you were hungry? News flash! That’s why everyone else is here. Another news flash! They got here before you!
I know exactly who should inaugurate my eighth circle of hell. We’ll call him “Hat Dad”. He’s the guy who came in last night with his wife and four children in the midst of what I will call third-degree mayhem. He managed, by some miracle or by virtue of muscle, to wade through a wall of people — people who were waiting patiently for my attention prior to his arrival — and demand that I provide him with menus so that he and his family (six people, including young children!) could eat at the bar.
I was, at that point, both insanely busy and in no mood for nonsense. At the time there were, at my 15-seat bar, twelve people who had already decided that they were going to eat at the bar, none of whom had ordered yet because I was unable, as a result of being the only bartender on the shift, to fit in taking their orders amidst my other duties — doing fucking take-out, making eight-million bullshit Mojitos and specialty Margaritas for the service bar, dealing with our constant glassware shortage, and listing the tap beers for the other bar patrons who appeared to be either illiterate or visually-impaired — whichever they were, the end result was that they were unable to suss out (from the writing on the giant tap handles!) which beers we carry on tap without assistance from yours truly.
I could not, for the life of me, figure out where “Hat Dad” thought he and his party of six were going to sit. The mathematics of it were just not going to work out. And so I took the time and energy, neither of which I really had at the moment, to explain to him that there was “no room at the Inn” and that I would be unable to take his order. “Hat Dad” was a fairly large guy and, as is often the case with big doofuses, decided that he would use his size and his gruff demeanor to intimidate me, the little, old lady bartender, into changing my mind.
In the face of his blustering, I did what I often do — I countered his loud with quiet, his belligerence with logic. I calmly explained to him that I was “concerned” for him and his party, as the consumption of our food requires utensils and plates and, because this is the case, a place to rest those items. I pointed out to him that we are not, in point of fact, a sandwich shop. He walked away grumbling about “seeing about this!”, but I never saw him again. Perhaps he fell into a ditch in the parking lot. I can only hope that the ditch led directly to the eighth circle of hell.