Fear and Loathing in the Restaurant Biz
A cocaine-fueled journey into the mind of a server.
Being stuck with the Sunday skeleton crew waiting on the crustiest bunch of Christians the Bible Belt has to offer wouldn’t be so bad if I wasn’t by myself, or at least so hungover. I don’t even remember my hour-and-a-half commute. I drank too much last night and stayed up too late. Now I’m way too hungover with way too many tables and not enough fucks to see me through the week, let alone the end of this shift. As soon as the old man in front of me spits out his order, I’m going to the restroom. Just as soon as those mortuary-thin lips part and the cobwebs clear from his esophagus. Just as soon as he upholds the patriarchal chain of command and orders without consulting his wife. Just as soon as he—
“Y'all's tea fresh? I don’t want no spoiled tea.”
Standing here, hurrying up just to wait. This job wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t for these people. They turn a 10-hour drag into a sadistic hell full of assholes huffing their farts and asking if you like the smell. I know a lot of servers don’t feel this way, but I do, and I don’t think it’s my fault.
My Job Has Made Me Lose Faith in Humanity
It’s not the 30 hours of work or even the 15 hours of class every week that kills me. It’s not my three-hour round-trip commute or my strung-out coworkers. It’s not even my sycophant manager or the horndog owner.
It’s not any of that. It’s the other part: the never-ending requests for more butter and ranch. The idiots that can’t remember what they ordered. The lame-ass jokes and recycled cliches. Asking for a “strong” drink or food we don’t carry because they’re too illiterate to read the menu. The lactose-intolerant, gluten-free fuckwads expecting the red carpet in a dive bar. The bootlicking homophobes calling me a “fag” when I cut them off. The racist sacks of shit in cowboy hats and their undeserved sense of entitlement. Oh, and every single fucking dipshit that orders a filet mignon well-done. Get fucked. All of you. You’re the reasons I hate my job, lost faith in humanity, God and any hope of escaping this Midwest circumstance.
It’s not that I don’t want to work or that I’m lazy. It’s the unconscious morons that would rather shoot the shit and polish a turd instead of ordering. It’s not my fault I lost hope in everything; it’s the public’s.
“I think I'll take me a sweet tea.”
“I’ll have that right out to you.” Right after I get myself where I need to be.
How did I get here, spreading out white lines on a toilet paper holder? I could’ve been a teacher like Mom wanted. Or anything besides a wannabe cliche, another table-waiting writer. If the Christians could see me now, their knickers would be twisted up further than the stick in their ass. They’d wonder, how in heaven’s name could anyone wait tables on drugs? But honestly, how in the hell could anyone wait tables not on drugs? There are a few things in this world you can trust: a fat cook, a dirty mechanic and an inebriated bartender. Granted, I’m coked out and not drunk, but after this, I’ll type a 3,000-word essay on the ideologies of the French Revolution, then wake up for a lecture on historiography and start over again.
Right now, I’ve got 50 bucks of blow in my nose and a restaurant full of hungry assholes whose kindness went out the stained glass when the dollar bills hit the offering plate. I’ve got bills to pay and old folks waiting on teas. An appetizer for 12. Seven needs salads. Shit! The regulars. Tom and Tracy need a drink. Honestly, fuck those little kids and their coloring books. I’ll pretend I forgot.
Did the door ding again? Great. Any boog-shug in the Batcave? Nope. I’m good. Let’s do this. Well, what’s one more? WHO-AH! Shit, did they hear that? I sound like a Hoover going over a wet balloon. Fuck it. Sniff, sniff, it's allergy season, you know how it is.
Hell Is Other People (Especially When You’re Their Server)
“Hi, how are we—“
“We have six.” Alright lady, cool, I’ll go fuck myself. I didn’t give a shit how your day was anyway. More people coming in. Fucking awesome.
“Ma’am, I have a table here, and I’ll be right with you.” This stay-at-home mom eats so much Xanax, she double taps Vyvanse to pass the time between strokes of the broom. What am I saying? That’s rude to assume. I’m sure she has a maid.
Do I know this couple? I hope I don’t know anyone who still wears boat shoes and pastel polos.
Goddammit. He knows me. “Whaddup, dude?”
Shit. “Hey man, how are you? Just two?”
I think I recognize him. His face is so fat and average. I’ve seen it a thousand times on the Frat Chads in knee-high khakis, Apple Watches and Oakley shades. Cardboard cutouts that left their small town for a big university, earning a business degree only to pick up the family legacy where Daddy left off. They’re the generational circumstance of a silver spoon. They either have their nose so high, they’d drown in the rain or so far up their ass, their face could be an enema.
“Oh! Before you run off—” Before? Motherfucker, I’m already six steps and a hopscotch across the dining room. “Babe, Bloody Marys?”
“Yasssss, that sounds so good.” It pisses me off that she’s hot.
“Oh, can we … alsooooooooooo … geeeet … an order of oysters?”
“Oh, and bud, make those drinks strong, mmkay?” Did this cuck seriously wink at me?
How about some vodka and ketchup and then you can drive drunk straight to hell? Wait … is that the same guy I heard got beat up for shitting on someone’s carpet and woke up in his Beamer, smeared head to toe in poop? Good to see he’s still a shitstain.
Alright, they need their drinks. I ran that appetizer, got those salads. Tom’s good. Tracy’s nursing her drink. Now I just need to get the table of pre-cremated corpses their drinks and I’ll be good. These old fucks probably saw me talking to Shitpants McGee instead of doing my job. Oh well, they’ll take it out of the ten percent they weren’t gonna tip me.
“Here’s your sweet tea, sir.”
“Where’s my lemon? I told you, sweet tea with lemon.” No you didn’t, you gaslighting old fuck.
“I’m so sorry. One moment.”
If they’re the people I’ll meet in heaven, I’m glad I’ll miss out. It’s never just one trip to a table of old people. There’s too much hair in their ears to hear you and not enough dental glue to tell you what they need. We should just take away their rights. No driving, no voting, no cell phones, Facebook or Fox News. These cunts are getting the local news, golf and Matlock. Anything else is too stimulating. While we’re at it, no sugar or dairy. It’s Splenda and powdered creamer only, or no senior discount.
“Here’s your lemon, sir. Are we ready to order?”
I Work My Ass Off, but It’s Not Worth It
You move to their beat and stop when they say, or you’re rude and lazy. I wish I could say it gets better, but it won’t. It’s the same every day. I wish I could say the old fucks and the young cunts tipped me well. I wish, despite all my negative thinking, that I was wrong, but I’m not. They tipped a collective $7.
But I don’t care anymore. I’ve got nine hours of ricocheting from table to table like a fly searching a window pane for financial freedom. I can’t wait to close so I can sit down in my car after ten hours of serving, in that silence between a commute and an essay, where my feet burn with relief and my mind throws away its list of everyone’s bullshit. Then, when the time’s right, I’ll light a joint, drive home and start over again. For now, though, I’m stuck serving old Christians, coked out of my mind, trying to make ends meet between a dead-end job and a stupid dream.