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At Your Service: Tales From The Front

From the trenches of a Chicago pizzeria:

For as busy and understaffed as we were last night at work, and as sick, it went pretty well. No one made any major mistakes, there were no fights, we ran out of most of our appetizers and a majority of our light beers. But there is no night, ever, that does not provide an anecdote. My favorite from yesterday? There was a woman in her mid 20s with her mother and grandmother that provided a great reason why we should not always listen to our parents. I will provide the dialogue.

Me to the daughter: "What may I get you to drink?"

Polite daughter to me: "Can I have . . . "

Mother interrupting her polite daughter: "Don't ask her, you TELL her what you want."

Daughter to mother: "Fine."

Daughter to me: "I want..."

[Mother smiles and nods to herself]

So . . . now we teach our children how to not have manners?


I had a very pleasant older couple one afternoon. I walked by to see if they needed refills on their soda and I noticed a red spot on the man's shirt near his stomach. It is not uncommon for our customers to spill food on themselves. The dialogue:

Me: "Oh, did you spill some pizza sauce on your shirt?" [I have already moved one foot closer to the soda fountain to grab club soda to help him clean his shirt]

Nice older gentleman: "No, that's blood."

Me: . . .

Gentleman: "Oh, I'm fine."

Me: "Salt and cold water usually works well for blood or red wine stains. Let me know if you need more napkins."

What else can I possibly say or do? He was casual about it, his female companion was still eating. This is where the acting comes in. But it was pretty disturbing.


A woman asked me if we had "hot bacon dressing." Huh?


When we're busy, customers who have to wait for a table often get a drink at the bar, so sometimes they are a bit tipsy by the time they are seated. I think that's what happened here. A party of five was seated in my section. I rambled through my usual introduction, finishing with, "Would you folks like any appetizers?" One of the women reached over the table, grabbed my left hand, and proceeded to gnaw on it.

After a couple of seconds of this woman whom I have never seen before gnashing her teeth against the back of my hand, she leaned back. Her companions seemed just as confused as I. My supreme acting abilities kicked in.

"You're lucky I put nice-smelling lotion on this morning," I said. "May I get you anything else to snack on before the pizza comes out?"

Seeing that I was not going to scream and kick them out, her companions relaxed. We exchanged a few more jokes and I rushed to the kitchen to share my story.


The restaurant is very small. As is, the room where the bar is located has a narrow path between the actual bar and the tables in the room. So when we get crowded, it is often a shoving match to get through. We have learned the easiest way to get through the mob is to yell, "I've got a hot pizza coming through!" Sometimes I indulge in just elbowing people out of my way. As I broke free the other day and had almost reached the kitchen, some faceless gentleman quietly said to me, "This isn't worth it for you, is it?"

It didn't sink in right away so it would have been pointless to turn around and try to connect a face to the voice. It may have been anti-climatic anyways. It is that phantom voice, speaking what my conscience whispers to me constantly, that made me realize not everyone that steps through our doors is a complete douchebag.


Every summer, we hire several new people. Very rarely for the kitchen, but always for the hosts and servers.

We keep re-hiring hosts who were not good the first time. They go away for school and come back even worse than before. Maybe if they were attractive, or nice, or halfway intelligent, it would make sense. As it stands . . . I don't get it.

The managers have done a slightly better job hiring servers this year. There are a few that all the older staff (three years under their belt or more, which is the majority of servers) don't actually hate. Only one has gotten fired, for four write-ups in a month. Her excuse for everything? "I have kids at home."

I do miss the entertainment last year's hires brought. There was the small, thin guy who was either really hyped up from all the coke he was doing or really mopey from coming down off the coke. He liked to talk about all his gunshot wounds. Then there was the guy who was fired after he pulled a butcher knife on a cook who wouldn't check on his pizza. After he was fired, he hung around outside, in uniform, asking employees if they were sure they wanted to go inside. He eventually just stopped coming by.

These are the people who serve you your food.

I'lI have more co-worker stories next week. Maybe I'll even share the one the male server who has a foot fetish . . . especially the feet of of large, hairy men.

Bon appetit!


The pseudononymous Patty Hunter brings you tales from the front lines of serverdom every week. She welcomes your comments.


Posted on June 17, 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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