Would You Like One Lump or Two?

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a story about one of my many colorful experiences of working in the service industry.

Submitted: December 05, 2011

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Submitted: December 05, 2011




 Would You Like One Lump or Two? 


Brandi Reiter


“Alright you guys, that’s it!  Have a great night and remember, a smile is the most important part of your uniform!” Dan’s voice oozed with sarcasm.  He has been my manager at the Tavern for three years now and is always good for some comedic relief.  That’s exactly what was needed tonight.  Friday nights at our bar are consistently busy and a little crazy.  It is best to start the night off with some laughter and a little light-heartedness, although it’s rare that the end of the shift will find us in the same mood.

My co-workers and I disperse from the pre-shift meeting, finish putting our black aprons on, and head out onto the floor.  I am greeted by loud music and numerous TVs showing every possible game that is to be seen tonight.  We all congregate around the floor chart to see what sections we have been assigned.  I sigh a heavy sigh as my eyes fall upon my name followed by the dreaded number three.  It is my least favorite section in the entire restaurant.  The only benefit to having this group of tables is that it is located right next to the bar, which means less walking for me tonight…sweet!

It is close to four o’clock and people are trickling in at about the same pace that they are trickling out.  The bar looks unusually barren and even a little depressing.  I have two tables that, quite honestly, have the personalities of a wet mop, but are low maintenance enough so that I don’t have to spend too much time with them.  I make about eight rounds around the restaurant and then head to the kitchen, hoping that the back of the house boys can entertain me for a bit.  As I swing the double doors open, I am hit with the smell of hot wings and french fries.  The head line-cook, Jorge greets me with a half toothless grin, “Hola, mi amor!”.  “Hola Jorge!” I reply.  He wraps his thick arms around me and squeezes tight.  Jorge smells of fryer oil and hamburgers, a fragrance that, oddly enough I have come to like after fifteen years of waiting tables.  We talk for a few minutes until an order comes up in the window.  I run it out to table forty-one and then make a U-turn back to my section. 

I have a new table.  Three men, possibly in their early 30’s, smile up at me as I greet them.  I rattle off the specials; they order three beers and are still deciding whether or not they want to see a food menu.  I walk over to the computer to ring their order in.  It takes three times for my swipe card to register (I’ve had it for a year and the magnetic strip is quite worn), and then I am able to type the order in.  Meanwhile, a noisy co-worker saunters up to the computer next to me, singing along with the obnoxious song that is blaring throughout the bar.  I count to ten, so as not to turn to her and shove a napkin in her mouth.  I make the two steps over to the bar and wait patiently for the bartender to pour my beers.  I lean on the bar to take some of the pressure off of my back, only to feel a wetness on my forearms.  There’s nothing like some bar spillage to add to the perfume that I had put on earlier.  Yuck!  I grab a towel and clean myself off before loading my tray and heading back to my table of thirsty men.

As I distribute the beverages, another guy joins the table.  He is a little older than the others.  We exchange pleasantries and he orders a drink for himself.  After stopping to check on my other tables, I walk over to the computer once again.  I feel a light tap on my right shoulder.  I turn to see Dan’s head pop up over my left one.  His maturity is of constant amazement to me.  We chit chat; I ask him about his newest fling and he inquires about my daughter’s dance recital.  He is, by far, my favorite manager to work with and I tell him so as I am loading yet more drinks onto my tray.  I heave it up from the bar and, with a twist of my wrist, rest it on my shoulder.  As I turn around, I see one of the boys at my table standing up, beer mug in hand.  I close in on them as the guy brings the mug up over his head and crashes it down on the head of his unsuspecting table mate.  Glass shatters everywhere! 

Now, let me take a moment to say this.  We (meaning my co-workers and myself) have always wondered what it would take to break one of these thick, heavy, 14.5 oz. beer mugs.  They are dropped on the floor, knocked against tables, and abused on a daily basis.  I have seen the handles break off.  I have seen small chips taken off the top.  But I have never seen one break, I mean really break.  Who would have guessed that all it would take is a human head?  Not that I’m making light of the situation, but that thing really shattered!

I set my tray down on a nearby table and yell at the bartender and Dan for some help.  The man with the pieces of glass now protruding from his head was knocked back from the blow and is now trying to stand up.  I suggest that he remain seated.  Reasoning with him is proving to be a tad difficult.  His “buddies” have run out the door and he insists on joining them.  I have a firm grip on the back of his shirt and am attempting to pull him back down.  I dig in my heels and with one final tug, he falls backwards and lands right on the chair.  The bartender arrives with kitchen gloves (much like the surgical ones) and we put them on and attempt to clean this guy up.  This is definitely not something that was covered in training, but being a mom seems to prepare me for cleaning up blood and other bodily fluids.  I continue to wipe his face gently and pick shards of glass from his head.  I inform him that the paramedics should be here any minute. Dan, along with my co-workers, have tackled the task of sweeping up glass, sanitizing the surrounding tables, and running damage control with guests that might have been traumatized or offended by all of this (yes, that is sarcasm you hear).  The paramedics arrive and question the victim.  For one reason or another, he isn’t naming names.  Now, that’s a great friend!  He is hauled away in the ambulance and I am left to clean up the mess. 

In all of the chaos, another server has taken over my section.  I take full advantage of this and sneak outside for a smoke break.  Dan follows me out to the area behind the back fence.  He takes this opportunity to thank me for being a “rock star” and for being “on top of things”.  As a reward, I am cut (server speak for done for the night) and he is going to buy me a tasty beverage when I am done with my side work.  I am grateful for that, especially since the table of trouble-makers didn’t pay their tab and in turn, did not tip me. 

After my work shirt is shed and I have done my checkout, I sit down with a few friends and recap the events of the night.  Aside from hardly making any money and giving out some free medical care, my night was pretty uneventful.  I have often referred to my job as glorified babysitting.  To be honest though, I have seen better behaved four year olds than what walks through the doors of the Tavern. 

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