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At Your Service: Rock of Ages

I'm not so sure I want to quit my job anymore. I still hate it, but where else does a world-famous rock group's order get botched, a jerk of a has-been actor sit at one of my tables, and an aggrieved aged customer old fling food at me all in the same week?

And here I thought I'd really seen everything at the chain restaurant where I used to work, what with the music-themed stores and constant flow of guests from The Jerry Springer Show. I saw more little people making out with transgender hookers than I ever thought possible, and employees doing enough cocaine to give a DEA agent the shivers.

But I work at a family-friendly restaurant now. Our customers are supposed to be sedate. We expect parents, real estate agents, teachers, occasionally biomedical engineers and sometimes even polite celebrities to come dine with us.

On the only night I was off last week, a music group that recently decided to tour again came to the restaurant. No doubt their fans are happy they're back together. They came in with a group of about twenty, placed their order, and were very nice to everyone. Even when the kitchen forgot to make a full half of the order they put in. At least we don't discriminate; we'll screw up anyone's food.

We got a second chance a few days later when an actor came in with his family. A couple of girls were swooning over his dreamy blue eyes, gushing about his days as the sidekick of a dark-cloaked hero. The tights and costume were gone, substituted with a wife, five young children and a nanny.

When I walked over and greeted the family, before I could even ask what everyone wanted to drink, he barked the kids' drink order at me. He ordered a beer without a please or thank you. I heard him tell his kids to "shut up" at least twice. When their pizza came out he was a little nicer. He complimented the pizza, then told me they usually go to another pizza place while in Chicago but it was packed so they came to ours instead.Thanks? He left a 20 percent tip at least . . . but he's still a has-been.

Management did not expect us to be busy on Monday night. There were only two people scheduled in the kitchen, one of them being a woman who has been there for 35 years and had heart surgery a couple of years ago. She can't and doesn't move very fast. We had to call someone in and have the busser help in the kitchen as well.

As a result, pizzas were taking about 75 minutes.

The host stand didn't help; it was three new people and one who has been working there for about a year but still walks around dazed and asking which tables belong to whom, even though she has a chart right in front of her.

We were crashing and burning. Hard.

In the midst of this, I had a table of four elderly people who were drinking their appetizer and overall pleasant. Until the table sat behind them came with a young cranky child. One of the women at my table requested either the family be moved or she get a new table. I told her neither were possible, so she waved her wine glass at me and demanded another. I obliged, hoping it would calm her. Shortly after, their pizza finally arrived.

I checked on the table a few minutes later, and they said the pizza was fine. I was happy it was one less table I had to worry about. Then I check on them again 15 minutes later. Most of the pizza was eaten, and they appeared to be finishing up. I asked how everything was. The same woman who demanded the baby be moved look at me like I just told her I wanted to kill her dog and told me, in a high-pitched, aghast voice, "It was horrible!"

I thought she was joking. I was stunned for a split-second, so I looked at her companions. They were serious. Her husband told me the pizza was uncooked. It wasn't. It was fine. When you have a pizza that has a whole layer of sausage on the bottom, the dough directly beneath it is just not going to be as crunchy as the crust. It's logic. As I tried to explain this to the table, the husband took a piece of the dough from the piece he was still eating and held it out to me.

Husband: Take it.

Me: No, sir, I can see it from here.

Husband: Take it! Take it!

Me: I'm sorry, sir, I don't think I need to take it.

So he flung it at me.

I stepped away from the table, told them I would be right back and went to look for a manager. I wasn't really angry; I was just trying to recall if that was the first time I'd had food thrown at me by anyone over the age of two (and no, this was a first).

The two managers on duty were standing right next to each other. I flashed a smile and said, "Hey guys, who wants to deal with some old people that just threw crust at me and said they hate their pizza?"

For their less than splendid behavior, they were rewarded with a free meal as well as a voucher for a free meal on their next visit, should they choose to come again. One of the hags still didn't let up; she kept telling my how awful it was, how disappointed she was, how they'll never come back. This was while gripping the voucher for the free meal.

Talking to the manager afterwards, I asked him why he'd been so kind. His response?

"They wouldn't have shut up if i didn't. They're three steps away from the grave anyway, it's not like they're going to come back."

Aside from a tirade of potty language and me telling a co-worker I didn't care about her needs, the rest of the night was uneventful.

-

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 July 8, 2009


MUSIC - The Weekend In Chicago Rock.
TV - Cricket vs. Brexit.
POLITICS - An Odd Call From Bermuda.
SPORTS - All Is Not Forgiven, Bears.

BOOKS - Turning Points Of The Civil War.

PEOPLE PLACES & THINGS - Baxter's IV Bag Shortages.


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