I hated buying more than one uniform shirt because I wasn’t going to be there very long. Sometimes I wore a long grey skirt instead of black pants. And a plain black long sleeve tshirt instead of a Jolly Roger shirt when I was tending bar. Because rebelling is not my strong suit but dammit, I hated that uniform.
I had never had sidework like that before. Two hotel sheet trays of tiny solo cups of horseradish. Four of coleslaw. Make sure you are prepped to make at least 100 Bloody Marys. On Sunday. At lunch.
Sell all the soup you can, but don’t eat it. Eat things you see being made. Made to order. Fried eggs. Not scrambled. Don’t ask about what you saw in the walk in. It is a strawberry. Even though it looks like a grey furry mouse. It is a strawberry and it is someone’s idea of a science experiment.
Never, ever run out of cigarettes. The other waiters, career waiters that have been at this since you were in elementary school and will still be at it when you are long gone, they are not likely to strike up a conversation with you unless you catch them on a smoke break. Get someone in the kitchen stoned. Just once. So they know you are not stuck up.
Figure out how the hostess station works. Because that is where the money is made. Coffee and $1.99 breakfast and a two-top of surfers. They are cute. But it won’t pay the bills. Suck it up and hope you get the family with the screaming kids and that they didn’t see the big sign that explains you can eat a LOT for almost free. Write down their order. Because it doesn’t impress anyone that you don’t have to. And later when a customer tells you that they ordered wheat toast and sunny side up eggs even though that is total bullshit and they may have said that in their minds because what they actually said was French Toast and scrambled, you will have it written down.
Be nice to the people that everyone knows. They have been eating here for a decade. The man that eats breakfast at the bar all of the time, he knows where the sour mix is when you run out. Go ahead and snicker and say “I bet you do” when the creepy guy say he likes his eggs “Over Easy.” But do not serve him a Budweiser with a Jack back at 11:57 am on a Sunday. Drop a tray of six dinners. But do not lose a credit card slip.
Don’t look too closely at the Christmas ornaments that hang from every surface in the entire restaurant. You will begin to wonder when was the last time they were dusted. And these thoughts of cleanliness will linger. And drive you crazy. Put your tray jack back exactly where you got it from. And never set an empty pitcher of iced tea down.
Learn to wash your own bar glasses. Quickly. You will run out if you send them to the dish pit. Get your own ice. And then get two extra buckets. Everyone is slammed, not just you. But it will be over soon enough.
Do not stay for late night drinks. Do not ever sing karaoke. Don’t ask any questions about Alan Ross’ Traveling Karaoke Road Show. Specifically how it is that it is traveling if it is here every single night. Do not breath an ill word to Carol Ann. Don’t bother making a request for a specific day off. Schedules were made this summer for Christmas. You are working someone’s shifts that quit. It is assumed that you will quit before the next summer.
I walked out of every shift wondering if I was going to get fired. With more money than I thought I had made. This is what I learned there.
I worked Christmas at the Jolly Roger. And all I got was this lousy ornament.