September 2nd, 2007 by Tim Lovett
Slammed (adj.) - a restaurant term meaning, really, really, super, duper, I want to kill someone fucking busy.
It’s a slower night than usual at the restaurant. It’s already 6 P.M. and I have only one table to wait on, the only one I’ve had all night. I’m standing at the front door and staring outside while imagining myself out doing a thousand better things. It’s a shame my mind rarely thinks this way when I’m not at work.
The cashier, even more bored than I, continues to pollute my ear with idle chitchat. Feigning interest is quickly becoming an uphill battle.
“I might get a new tattoo this weekend,” she says.
“Oh, cool,” I lie, while focusing on replaying an awesome song in my mind that I heard on the radio earlier.
“I saw the strangest thing on TV today…” she begins.
“Hold on a second,” I reply, “I need to get a drink, I’ll be back.”
Little does she suspect I’m not coming back.
I go into the kitchen and gulp down some lemonade. When I reenter the dining room, I see that I have another table. Finally, I have something to do. No more idle fantasizing about sex and violence for me.
I greet my customers and take down their drink orders. As I return from the kitchen with them, I see that another table has been seated for me. I become even more excited in hopes that I will actually make some money tonight.
After I bring out the next table’s drink orders, I see yet another table seated for me. That’s three tables that I have been given in the last ten minutes, giving me four tables total. Now I begin to worry a little, since having five or more tables makes it difficult to keep up with one’s work while still providing optimal service. I see that the other waiter on duty tonight has also gotten three tables in the last few minutes. That’s an awful lot of people for this small establishment to get in such a short time period.
“Please don’t let me get a shitload of people at once like this,” I say to myself, dreading the possibility of another overly stressful night. However, I quickly convince myself that this is probably everyone who is going to show up for awhile. I figure I’ll be able to focus on just these four tables and everything will be fine.
I walk out with more drink orders to discover that I have been given two more tables at the same time! Where the fuck did these people come from?
The hostess jogs over to me. “I just sat you two parties of four,” she says, “Can you take them? Are you ok?” as if it makes any goddamned difference whether or not I’m ok.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I’m forced to lie, since not being fine won’t make the situation go away. The fact is, I’ll be in a jam for the next hour or so and most of my customers will have to wait a while for service. It’s a no-win situation.
A few minutes later, the hostess once again observes me frantically running to and from, trying to stay on top of everything.
“Is there anything I can do for you?” she asks, while standing in the middle of the aisle.
Yeah, shut the fuck up and get out of my way!
“No, thanks” I reply while rushing past her.
The next 25 minutes are spent putting on a magnificent display of server skill, a display that no one will ever appreciate but myself. Using my 22-year-old body to my advantage, I effortlessly power walk my way through the dining room.
Order slips go in, drinks, soups, and entrees come out without too long a delay, although things get most difficult when the entrees start to come up. The chefs in the kitchen are now just as busy up as I am, except they have less patience and more vocal cords.
“LET’S GO! GET THIS SHIT OUT OF HERE!” One chef shouts, while mashing the dinner bell.
As last, I’m almost completely caught up, a permanent testament to how good of a waiter I am. But before I can suck my own dick too much, I get seated another party of five, three of which are kids.
Oh come on! That’s not fucking fair!
Several minutes later I arrive at their table. I badly need to get their order down quickly or else I’ll fall way behind again. I try valiantly to pull it off.
“What can I get for you sir?” I ask.
“I’ll have the Prime Rib with stringbeans and applesauce.”
“Ok, great. For you ma’am?” I say, turning to the mother.
“Can I get the Fried Flounder with Pickled Beets and Coleslaw?”
“Absolutely. Thank you.” So far so good.
I look at the first child.
“What would you like?”
There is only silence.
“Tell the man what you would like.” The mother encourages.
The child continues to stare blankly.
“Come on sweetheart, what do you want? They have hotdogs…” the mother continues.
What the fuck.
“I…I have…the…hot…dog.” The child finally stammers.
I quickly attempt to move on to the next child.
“What do you say to the man?”
The child stares blankly once again for a few seconds.
“Come on, what do you say? Say thank you…”
Are you fucking serious lady? I don’t have time for this.
“Thank you…” the child finally spits out.
“You’re welcome.” For Christsake, can we move this along now?
Out of the corner of my eye, I can see that one of my other tables has finished eating dinner and are ready for dessert. They are already giving me the stares. I buy myself time by giving them the ignores.
“Now tell the man what you would like Bobby,” the mother says to one of her other children, painfully reminding me that, oh my god, there’s two more of them.
“Mommy, do I like spaghetti?” he asks.
“Yes, you do,” the mother replies.
“Ok, I’ll have spaghetti then.”
“Thank you,” I say, imagining the wonders that Hitler Youth could have done on the little conformist.
Once more, I hear the bell from the kitchen ring in the distance and hear the Chef shout my name. I now have an order up and cannot get to it because of these kids and their dipshit parents, but at least there’s only one more left.
“And what can I get for you?” I ask him.
“I want the turkey platter.”
“No,” the mother interrupts, “get something off the kids menu!”
“I want the turkey!”
“No, you won’t eat it all. Get the kid’s spaghetti.”
“Nooo,” he groans.
“Noooooo,” I groan to myself.
“You’re getting the spaghetti and that’s final. He’ll have the spaghetti.” the mother decides.
“Thanks everyone.” You assholes.
I rush back to the kitchen to serve more entrees and add up a check, when out of nowhere, one of my customers grabs me.
“Excuse me, we’re finished eating, can we get our dessert now?” the woman asks.
“Of course, ma’am. What would you like?”
“Me and my husband will have the rice pudding.”
Luckily, our desserts are already prepared. I quickly grab the two servings of rice pudding, apply some whipped cream, and deliver them to the customers literally thirty seconds after I took their order. How’s that for fast service?
“Jillian always puts extra whip cream on my pudding,” the woman says in an irritated voice, referring to another waitress who has worked here for over ten years, but has off tonight.
I’m not Jillian, get off my nuts! I can’t believe someone can make a fuss over an extra cubic centimeter of whipped cream!
That’s when I noticed she had to have weighted two-hundred pounds, easy.
“I’m sorry, I’ll go put some more on for you…”
Once the pain-in-the-ass has her precious extra whipped cream, I hurry to a new table that must have been sat for me several minutes ago. I’m relieved to see that it’s just a deuce and that their menus are already closed, showing they are ready to order. I figure the table should be simple and quick - precisely what I need. Once again, my figuring skills suck.
“Good evening, what can I get for you tonight?”
“Wow you’re really busy,” the elderly woman says, because clearly, nothing gets by her.
“Yes, and we’re also short-handed,” I reply.
“Oh, how I remember days like this. I was a waitress for over thirty years you know…”
Don’t care, don’t care, don’t care.
“…I wish there was some way I could help.” she continues.
SHUT THE FUCK UP AND ORDER! My God, do people leave their brains at home when they go out to eat? And to think, she used to be a waitress, she should know better, unless she is doing it out of spite, in which case, great job!
“I’m afraid there is nothing you can do. So what can I get you for dinner?”
“I can’t decide. I’m torn between a few things. What do you recommend?”
My God, I really think she is doing it out of spite!
“But what about the seafood? If you were eating here, what seafood would you get?”
Now she’s making me answer the same question twice. As a universal rule, a dickhead question deserves a dickhead answer.
“If it were me, I wouldn’t order seafood. I would get steak.”
I see her smile. It worked.
“Oh, very well, I’ll try the broiled crabcakes.”
After I take her husband’s order, she decides she’s not quite finished being an attention whore.
“Your busboy is horrible,” she says, “What you should have him do is…”
The bell rings again in the kitchen, giving new life to the “Saved by the Bell” cliché.
“Excuse me ma’am, I have dinners I must serve.”
As the madness drags on and the number of disgruntled customers grows, I begin telling myself something I’ve often said before.
“I can’t stand this fucking job any longer. That’s it. After tonight, I’m done, no more of this bullshit!”
One Hour Later:
The dining room is nearly empty. The insanity has ended nearly as quickly as it started. Physically and mentally exhausted, I reach down into my pocket and throw the large, disorganized cluster of cash tips onto the table for counting. There is $96.
“Meh, I guess I can work here a little while longer.”
Am I stupid for continuing to work there? Perhaps, but for now, it’s a living.
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