When I returned home Sunday evening, exhausted and sweaty after a 30-hour weekend, I thought to myself, “Well, that wasn’t too bad.” Outside of the woman who screamed “Miss” so loudly and shrilly that I’m pretty sure she loosened a few roofing tiles in the process, I had had what, in the restaurant business, amounts to a relatively uneventful, but still very long, weekend.
Then it occurred to me that my perception of what is “relatively uneventful” may be slightly skewed. For those of you who have run-of-the-mill jobs, you may find some comic relief in what, for me, passes for normal. For those of you in the industry, I’m sure you can relate. And, let’s admit it, in every walk of life there often exists a little weird mojo.
To the screamer, who surely has a future in horror film voice overs if her career as a prostitute doesn’t work out — I can’t really imagine what other type of work she could be in, dressed as she was on a Saturday afternoon and allowing herself to be pawed at by her much older companion in one of the nastiest displays of public affection I’ve ever had the displeasure of witnessing — I was the “Miss” in question. If I didn’t need my job I would have asked the old geezer why he was bothering to wine and dine this woman. Clearly, she was a “sure thing”.
When Street Corner Sally decided that she needed my attention right that minute she employed the dulcet tones that one normally associates with someone who is making a valid, yet futile, attempt at waking the dead, I was standing not two feet away from her. Trust me, I wasn’t avoiding this pair. In fact, I’d have to say that I was being overly attentive to this table, wanting, as I did, to get them the hell out of there PDQ.
Was she screaming because she needed me to extricate her from the clutches of her overzealous “date”? No. No, she was not. Was her wig, in fact, on fire as a result of being pushed up against the wall lamp by her handsy companion? No. No, it was not. She just wanted to let me know that she needed a box to wrap the morsels and the scraps that were left on her plate. Calling them leftovers would be playing far too fast and loose with the term.
Although these remnants that I can testify were at one time food now looked more like something one would feed the neighborhood cats than anything a human would ever willingly consume, our lady of the afternoon announced that they were “snacks for later”. When I encounter this type of thing — and I encounter it more often than I’d like to admit — I oh-so-want to say, “Really? Seriously? You’re going to eat that? Later? ” In this case, I would have added, “How about you stop at the 7-11 on your way to wherever it will be that the sex act will take place and have your sugar daddy grab you a bag of chips?” I’m sure he’d have bought her the name brand ones. After all, he encouraged her to order the most expensive margarita. I don’t think he would have cheaped out on the chips.
Who “snacks” on meat gristle and previously masticated potato? Who? Crazy people. That’s who.
While bartending later in the weekend, I began to get the distinct impression that a “crazy person spell” had been cast upon a couple of the barstools. It sometimes happens that throughout the course of a shift all the loonies wind up sitting in the same location. It’s a strange phenomenon. Odder still is that the spell seems to gain momentum and the wacky grow wackier as the shift progresses. Weird mojo.
As this night wore on, several former (or current, what do I know?) mental patients chose the enchanted barstools. I’ll just tell you about a couple of my favorites.
“Thirsty Man” was a real standout. When he and his friend came in and chose those stools I thought that, perhaps, the spell had been broken. They were in their 60’s and didn’t appear crazy. I should, after all these years, have known better than to make assumptions based on appearance. It’s true that sometimes crazy people do, in fact, look crazy. It’s also true that just because someone looks normal doesn’t mean they are.
I saw them sit down and indicated by both body language and actual language that I would be right with them. They seemed to have understood. Thinking that I no longer had to worry about the “crazy person spell”, I breathed a quiet sigh of relief, which, unfortunately, turned out to be premature.
I was stunned when, within seconds, one of these grown men began pounding his fist on the bar while chanting (yes, chanting!), “I’m thirsty! I’m thirsty! I’m thirsty!” Uh-huh. I got them their drinks. When they asked for the check immediately, which indicated that they were going to spend the rest of their time with us at a table and not at the bar, I said a silent “thank you” to the higher power. This wasn’t the last I would see of them, though. Oh, no. Their server wasn’t fast enough for “Thirsty Man” who continued to make appearances and demands for beverages throughout the course of his stay. Yeah.
Fifteen minutes prior to closing time — just when I thought it was safe — two gentlemen shuffled in and occupied the magic stools. They kept asking me questions about our chicken and rib “combos”. I pointed out that while we have a couple of “combos” on our menu, none of them include combinations of chicken and ribs. I pointed out that patrons can make their own combos by adding chicken to their ribs or ribs to their chicken. I showed them where they were on the menu and how much they would pay for these additions. Needless to say, this took some time — time that was, at fifteen minutes prior to closing, of the essence.
Following a number of mathematical calculations that had to be figured by me — you don’t think these guys could do their own arithmetic, do you? — these two time-wasters decided to go up the road and try their luck at another steakhouse, one that apparently has combos and combo pricing listed on their menu — a place where patrons are not required to do their own math. (Or, in their case, enlist the bartender to do it for them!) When they meandered out I looked at the clock. It was 9:58. I sorely doubt they made it to our competitor’s establishment prior to their 10:00 PM closing time. Oh, well. A nicer person, a better person, a less worn-out person would have pointed this out to them. I was not, by this stage of the game, any of these things.
My parting thought for them was not, “Oh, what a shame! They won’t get to have chicken and rib combos tonight.” No, it was not. It was, in fact, “Sayonara, suckers! I hope you enjoy your Whoppers!” Go ahead and judge me if you want to, but keep in mind that it was the end of a long weekend and, really, I’d put up with enough from the magic barstools already!
I felt that a little spell breaking might be in order. Desirous of changing the bad juju, I decided to sit on the affected barstools myself. It was the most fun I’d had all weekend. Hoping to remove the curse, I sassily rubbed my bottom across the stools. I won’t lie, I also engaged in some evil cackling. It wasn’t lost on me that the nuttiness associated with the patrons who sat upon these stools might just be replaced by outright bitchiness.
What can I say? Sometimes you have to cast your own weird mojo.