As I said in my last post, I need some practice. Truthfully, I also want to put some of my memories from the early years in the restaurant industry in print for the simple fact that I am hoping it will jog more memories that time or red wine have hidden in my conscious.
The second restaurant job that I was able to acquire while still in high school was across the street from TGI Friday's in the slightly more upscale Houlihan's. Instead of being a host, this time I got hired as a waiter. Now the big bucks were going to roll in. Never mind the fact that I had never in my life waited tables. How hard could it be? I would just take the customer orders, punch them into the computer, deliver the food, and rake in the tips. Evidently Houlihan's wasn't very worried about my development as a waiter either. My training consisted of memorizing the menu items, taking a test over them, and following one of the more senior waiters for a couple of shifts.
There I was- like a spotted fawn staring right into the headlights of an oncoming freighter. I could look down into the "pit" at my 5-table section, as it was a lowered section of the restaurant that was 4 stairs below me. The guys on 65 had just been sat, the ladies on 66 needed lemons for their Iced Teas, Dammit, what did the couple at 67 need? The 5 top of businessmen at 68 had been waiting for their steaks for more than the 17 minute standard that had been on my test, Oh good, another table sat. I was, as industry terms go, "in the weeds".
The first physical sensation that I felt was that my head started to feel a little funky. I never knew that I could actually feel the earth spin, but there it was. My heart started beating at an incredible rate, and my palms were instantly beyond sweaty. Fries! That's what the couple needed- I had forgotten their fries! I walked thought the door into the kitchen to grab a couple plates of the seasoned fries that were under the heat lamp. Vision- blurry. Heart- about to pound out of my chest. Pits- even sweatier than my palms. I heard the expo say something like "The new kid doesn't look so hot" as I leaned backward into the wall and slumped down.
I don't think I was out for very long, but it was certainly long enough for a small crowd to gather around me. Joe, the hot-shot Assistant GM got me a paper bag, told me to breathe into it, commanded someone to go look after my section, then suggested I take the evening off.
Great- I was a week into my first waiting tables gig and already being handed my pink slip.
Nope, Joe assured me. I just needed some training. He had me come in the next day early, took me under his proverbial wing, and taught me properly how to wait tables.
I always wonder what happened to Joe. He just wasn't there anymore one day. As waitstaff rumors often go, there was speak of money missing from a safe, cocaine addictions, and sleeping with the 17 year old hostess, none of which had anything even approaching confirmation.
Houlihan's had lots of great stories involved with it- more to come soon.
In the meantime, have a great day and drink something good.