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At Your Service: Neck-breakers

This week I learned that school is not the only place you can expand your vocabulary.

A young lady came in with two others and sat at my table. When I walked over to greet them, it took everything in me not to gape at her almost entirely exposed bosom; her neckline was more like a belly button line because of how low cut it was and it was open almost as wide on the sides. I didn't even know it was legal to wear those kind of shirts outside of a strip club.

The bartender that night was walking back behind the bar when he noticed the free show. I laughed as I watched him struggle to not stare. He told me that's what you call a "neck-breaker." Apparently, when there's something about a girl that makes you whip your head around to get a second look, she's called a neck-breaker.

While I don't feel enriched for learning this term, it did provide some amusement. I usually pride myself on knowing words like noumenon, which is defined as "abstractions (like geometry) that exist independently of corporal reality." I think neck-breakers could safely be called noumenons under some conditions.


One of our other bartenders, "Fred," has been there for more than 30 years. He's very sweet, but not capable of keeping up when it gets busy. However, since he's got the most seniority he tends to work a lot of the busy shifts like Saturday nights. I commented to a manager the other night that he was probably a good bartender when he was younger but the manager just laughed and told me he'd heard Fred was never very good. I've been told Fred is between 64 and 67 years old but I decided it's more likely he is actually ageless like the tale of Beowulf.


I mentioned a co-worker, "Chad," a few weeks ago (the one who loves the feet of large hairy men). He refers to these large hairy hunks of his as "bears." The other day as he walked by me, I heard him singing this under his breath: "I'm a bear-watcher, yeah, I'm a bear-watcher." Though a couple of fellow employees thought I was crazy as I collapsed into giggles for what seemed like no reason, they would not have found it near as funny as I had. It was one of those things you had to hear for yourself. And I can't describe my joy for having overheard his little private song.


One of my other co-workers, "Keith," is known to occasionally come in drunk. Not slightly buzzed, not tipsy, not sobering up from being drunk . . . but dropping things, reeking of booze drunk. The managers either don't notice or don't care enough to say anything, but they don't have to deal with him on the floor.

When you've got a drunk guy who's a little creepy anyway really intruding on your personal space while he's waiting to use one of the ordering screens it becomes a trifle irritating. Especially when he tells you at least twice each hour about his cousin in town whom he hasn't seen in years.

The strange part the other night was that he didn't seem to sober up at all; he was just as annoying four hours later as he was when he started. He must have sneaked alcohol in. And of course, this was the night before our quarterly inspection from corporate - the night the managers refer to as "perfect clean" night, when every single surface, readily visible and not, must be wiped down until sparkling. Luckily Keith left early that night to spend time with his cousin. Better to be short a pair of hands than have a drunk pair.


I've often felt guilty that I don't let French-speaking tables know I understand them and could respond in French to make their lives a little easier. Maybe it's passive-aggressive, maybe it's revenge for all the English-speaking tables who don't give me the time of day. Last night, however, I almost blew my cover with two separate tables.

I had a table of two elderly couples who could barely speak English. I explained best I could, in English, about the food and how long the pizza takes. I could tell they didn't understand so I wrote down the time and showed it to them since it looks the same in French. Sure enough they were surprised. One of the women asked me, in French, if it was really 45 minutes. I nodded. Oops. To make it worse, after the other woman ordered a pasta, her husband told me in French he wanted the same thing. I wrote it down. I don't know if in their panic to communicate they didn't notice I understood or if they assumed I was just able to magically figure out what they wanted.

The other table had four young adults with a slightly larger grasp on English. Two ordered beer and I asked for identification. As they joked to each other about having to show IDs here I shrugged a little. Luckily no one noticed. Then, while taking their order, I advised three of the four to split a larger-sized pizza rather than getting three personal-sized pizza of the same thing. They began talking about the price - and between the three of them none of them could do that math. Three pizzas at almost $9 a piece or split one for $25, which would also give them a little more pizza? They decided it was cheaper to get the three separate ones. As I wrote it down before they repeated the order in English, I couldn't help but look at them for a minute. I mean, really? None of you could do the math? Although one girl looked at me a bit suspiciously, I blissfully continued to pretend to be a monolingual American.

C'est la vie.


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.


Posted on August 27, 2009

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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