Sunday, November 02, 2008

In Which I'm Reminded of Why I No Longer Wait Tables

Well, good news everybody - the problem was my car battery, NOT the alternator NOR the starter. I got off with paying only a fraction of what I cannot afford to pay on car repairs right now, and I entirely avoided the worst case scenario which involved me dying to avoid pushing my car. This was thanks almost entirely to a kind co-worker who shuttled me around town and helped me get the thing started and into the repair shop. (It must be noted that my Jill also offered to assist, and had I realized she was already in the area, I probably would have taken her up on it.) So, everybody wins today (except my bank account, but it got off with a slap on the wrist in the end).

Funny enough, I thought I recognized the guy behind the counter at the repair shop. Since I've been into said shop previously when assisting Gray with truck troubles of his own, I figured that's why his face seemed familiar. When I went back to pick up my car after work, he asked me if I used to work in the area...which indicated that he recognized me as well. Fortunately, as one who never got the opportunity to sleep around, I didn't have to wonder if he had perhaps been a fling or a drunken one night stand. Because I've heard of that happening other people, and I'm sure it's awkward. I don't need any assistance in the realm of awkwardness. That is one thing that comes naturally. Envision a scenario you would deem "awkward", super-impose my face onto any person in that mental picture, and rest assured that it's happened to me.

Then the guy mentioned the Macaroni Grill, and EUREKA! I had indeed worked with him as a server waaaaaaay back when I first moved to Minnesota in 2001 and 2002. I felt badly for not remembering his name, but many moons have passed and many brain cells have since been extinguished. Plus, he had the advantage of seeing my name in the computer, otherwise I'm sure he wouldn't have known it either. I'd be "the girl with the nose that I used to work with somewhere".

I wasn't really friends with this guy when we worked together, but I do remember him now in his black pants and long apron and hideous necktie. It's not all that often I've worked places where the men and the women are barely distinguishable from one another, thanks to the homogenized uniforms. I remember him as a nice enough guy, helpful, may have covered a shift or two for me. Seeing him brought back a memory of one of the most mortifying moments of my existence on this planet, and I thought I would share that with you all here. For shits and giggles and stuff. And because I'm guessing someone else out there may have done something very similar, and it soothes me to know I'm just one of many morons.

For those of you who have never been to a Macaroni Grill, I would encourage you to do so. It's not the worlds greatest Italian food, but it's pretty darn good as far as chains go, and it's not too expensive, and they have oodles of wine. I love the place, although I never go anymore, probably because the closest one isn't really very close, and I'm way too lazy to be bothered to drive from my area to another area simply for a meal. Unless the meal is free. There was also a time when I'd simply been burned out from eating there twice a day. Anyhow, most of the M.G.'s are similar inside, dark lighting with an open kitchen line and big islands in the middle of the room which house precarious stacks of glasses, blocks of Parmesan cheese, and those big pepper grinders. It's one of those places where the tables are covered in big sheets of paper and you get crayons to doodle while you wait. All of the servers write their name upside down on the paper when they're doing their opening spiel (the better with which to scream it across the room when you need more iced tea).

As far as waitressing jobs go, it was one of my favorite simply because of the lack of behind-the-scenes drama and the steady patronage. It is where I learned to speak the little bit of Spanish I do know, as the cooks were all Spanish-speaking, and although I heard every last one of them speak perfect English, they pretended like they couldn't understand our requests unless we made them in Spanish. This explains why my Spanish consists entirely of food words, and of course the ability to tell you to go fuck your mother, bitch. A cook cornered me in back one night during a smoking break, and spewed a bunch of Spanish words at me, then clearly was waiting for a response that I couldn't give...then repeated the question in English for my benefit, and apparently he wanted to marry me. I'm not sure if he was looking for citizenship or if I really looked that hot in a tie, but I politely declined.

My ex worked in the kitchen there for a time as well, now that I think of it. That was a bad arrangement, as he often would finish his shift before me, and would walk over to an adjacent bar to wait. More often than not, I had to corral his drunk ass into the truck (once we searched 20 minutes for a lost wallet which was found under another booth, and another time I made it just in time to break up what looked to be a nasty fight) and back home to bed in his brother's basement, all without waking up the brother's wife. Ah, the joy of spraying vomit off a naked man with a hose by moonlight. But I digress.

As a server, my side duties often included hauling racks of steaming glasses to stack on the dining room islands, or stacks of bowls out to the kitchen line, which as I mentioned was open to the restaurant. I got cut early one night ("cut" as in they closed my section of the dining room, not as in actually cut), and was in a hurry to get out of there. I hauled armload after armload of the damn bowls up, and was nearly ready to leave...when I slipped on a puddle (left by the dripping bowls) and went ass over teakettle in the middle of the dining room in the middle of a dinner rush. It was, as you can imagine, an incredibly loud distruption. IMPOSSIBLY loud, at least to me. There were a few beats of my heart when the only sound was that of people craning their necks to see what idiot just broke what must have been a gazillion bowls in front of the entire restaurant. Yeah, that was me. People actually cheered and clapped while I laid on the floor and died from embarassment. DIED.

It ended up costing a small fortune to replace the bowls, but the management had mercy and didn't dock my pay (although no one let me forget it). It was the only such incident I directly caused (at that restaurant), though I remember many other dinnerware incidents involving the towers of glasses and wayward elbows or strollers. I was reassigned to rolling silverware, presumable because the forks stood a chance of surviving my clumsiness.

And that, my friends, is just one of the many reasons I no longer wait tables. Other reasons include: serving makes me hate people, nightmares in which people scream at me over drink I did not refill quickly enough, and very much wanting a steady paycheck. Oh, and the time I dumped a fruity pink drink on a girl. A girl on her way to her prom. On her way to her prom in a white dress.