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At Your Service: Smells Like Feces

Stand with me now and close your eyes. Absorb the sound of water rushing by. Imagine the mighty river we must be near. The beautiful, tree-laden banks. Perhaps a sandy beach. And yes, we must be near, because you can feel the river lapping at your shoes. Really, your feet are getting wet. And what's that smell? That's not suntan lotion and Mai Tais . . . it's . . . shit. For real.

Water from the alley - and our sewage system - is flooding the restaurant, thanks to a broken drainage system. This isn't the first time. It usually starts out back and stops right at the doorway that separates the alley from the restaurant. This time, though, it's creeping closer and closer to the dining room.

It's about an inch deep and the odor has nearly induced two incidents of waitstaff vomiting. The smell is noticeable all the way to the host stand.

*

A half hour of bleach and cleaning fluid later and the floor is dry, though the smell lingers. The servers have begun calling the dining room "the poop room."

But it's not that funny. On top of the stink of rot, we're one appetizer short, missing ingredients for two of our specialty pizzas, and one busser dropped an entire pizza on a woman's foot.

All in a smelly day's work.

*

Whenever there is a customer complaint against a server or host, management posts it for all to read. One of the new girls whom no one liked got a complaint that was so bad the managers chose not to post it. After pressing one of the managers, I found out one of the things she did was stand behind the customer as he wrote in her tip on the credit card slip and say, "No no no" when she thought it wasn't enough.

The only reason she was hired in the first place was because one of the managers (the 30-year-old who still lives with his parents) thought she was hot. He was the only one who thought so. She was fired.

*

We had a famous director come in recently. When the staff found out who it was, nearly everyone's first response was, "Shit, I hope we don't mess up his pizza." Then came the "Holy shit I can't believe he's coming in!" I'm sure if fans had known he was going to be here they would have talked about it from dusk 'til dawn.

He had placed his pizza order before he came in so it was ready a few minutes after he sat down. He kept his head down the whole time and left very quickly after he was done.

I don't blame him; people come to eat because they're hungry not because they want to sign autographs.

I'm not usually star-struck, but it's pretty neat that I can add his name to the list of celebrities who have passed through our door. And I heard he was really nice.

We didn't screw up his order, by the way.

*

People always talk about how perceptive kids are, more so than we realize. One young boy recently displayed this brilliantly while a server was taking a drink order.

The son (not more than 9 or 10 years old) ordered a lemonade and so did mom.

Then the son looked up from his video game and said, "Mom, just get wine. You know that's what you want."

*

The highlight of this month was being told to make up drinks with the liquor we don't use very often. After surveying the various flavored vodkas that most of the servers don't even know we carry, I created a list of various possible concoctions. Then I was given the go-ahead to start making - and sampling - them.

If this sounds too good to be true, well, that's what I thought too. But the bosses actually trusted me not to abuse the assignment. And truthfully, I didn't; I was having too much fun inventing all sorts of martinis and other manner of mixed drinks.

Three lucky gentleman at the bar became my guinea pigs. They appreciated the free alcohol and I appreciated the input. Five successful new drink recipes later, my shift was over. I got paid to drink and create. Sometimes, it isn't so bad working at a restaurant.

-

The pseudononymous Patty Hunter brings you tales from the front lines of serverdom every week. She welcomes your comments. Catch up with the rest of this series and its companions in our Life At Work archive.



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Posted on August 20, 2009


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - Charter Schools Complicit With Segregation.
SPORTS - USA Gymnastics Bans Illinois Coach.

BOOKS - The Randomness Of Harvard Admissions.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Public Lands Matter.


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