Sunday, February 27, 2011

Did I Sound Snarky?

The following sentences are from the bio that I posted on this site.

 In between office jobs, I worked in the retail field; that's always been my choice of interim job. Sad to say, I'm domestically dysfunctional, and, probably because of this, I have no aptitude for restaurant work.

Golly, I hope that last sentence doesn’t sound snarky. I have a lot of respect for people who work in restaurants. Those jobs are not easy ones, and sometimes they don’t pay well, even with tips included.

And I really don’t have the aptitude for restaurant work. I found that out one afternoon, way too many years ago, when I was shanghaied to impersonate a waitress at a friend’s restaurant.

It was mid afternoon on Saturday. I had been some-where, I forget where, and was on my way home. I didn’t think the restaurant would be too busy, so I decided to stop for coffee and conversation. When I walked through the door, I noticed that several customers seemed to be waiting for their food or waiting to order. They did not look happy.

As it turned out, Sam was working alone. He did not look happy either. Sam called me into the kitchen. He told me that the waitress who was supposed to be there hadn’t showed up. He had called another waitress. She was coming in—eventually. She couldn’t leave the house until her baby sitter arrived. In the meantime he needed my help again. Before I could escape, he stuck an order pad in my hands and gave me a shove. “Go get the orders,” he said.

I didn’t want to do it, but I sort of felt sorry for him. I knew he was having trouble hiring good employees. One evening, not too long ago, a kitchen helper hadn’t shown up. Sam had drafted me to wash dishes. Every time he popped into the kitchen he had complained that I wasn’t doing the job right. He had been especially annoyed when I tossed the pots and pans in with the glassware.

That afternoon, my first customers were two twenty-something men, probably college students, who ordered sandwiches and sodas. After they left, I found $1.40 in change on their table. I scooped up the money and headed to the kitchen, “Sam,” I said, showing him the coins, “those guys forgot their change.”

“That’s your tip,” Sam said, rolling his eyes.

During the next twenty-five minutes, I took orders, delivered food, and got more tips. And then a woman asked for a cup of coffee. “Put an ice cube in it,” she said.

Well, I’d never heard of anyone doing that before. I stared at her for several seconds; then I retreated into the kitchen. “Sam,” I said, “there’s a woman sitting at the counter who wants me to put an ice cube in her coffee.”

Sam shrugged and rolled his eyes again. “Well, PUT. AN. ICE CUBE. IN. IT.”

So I did and made both Sam and the customer happy.

By the time my replacement showed up, I knew that working in a restaurant was something I didn’t want to do ever again, even for forty-five minutes.

Postscript: Many years later I lived on a ranch in the Santa Catalina Mountains, several miles from a very small town. My job opportunities were so limited that they were almost nonexistent. I was offered a job as a bartender, and I accepted the offer. That job lasted all of two weeks.

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