Monday, February 8, 2010
Let Them Eat Steak
There is a hierarchy in the world of waiting tables. The longer you are at a place, the higher up the proverbial totem pole you go. As with all jobs, we aspire to move up the corporate ladder and finally reach the pinnacle of positions in a restaurant: head waiter. (This is not to be confused with head hostess which has a completely different job description which may or may not involve giving oral sex in parking lots and bathrooms.) It is an honor and a delight to hold such an important job at the restaurant. Other servers look up at you with awe and inspiration. They must suppress their jealousy and only hope that some day they too can have such a title bestowed upon them. And as head waiter, it is very important that one does not flaunt their power and let it feed their ego. "Head waiter" implies a lot of things (pot head, blow jobs, loser) but basically it is the person who oversees the dining room and ensures that things run smoothly. The title comes with some responsibility and some perks.
Maybe it's called different things at different places. At Houlihan's we called it shift leader. The main thing the shift leader had to do was check everyone's sidework and make sure it was done. Did so and so restock the creamers and re-ice the dressings and roll their silverware and fill the salt and pepper shakers? These are all very important things don't you know? But the only reason anyone wanted to be the crappy ass shift leader was because you got a free meal out of it. You could have whatever you wanted off the menu so you know the shift leader always ordered a fucking steak. Usually we were limited to chicken fingers and soup or a quesadilla. You know, crappy cheap food. But the steak was crappy expensive food. One time my friend Randie was shift leader and the bitch was ready for her steak. She went into the kitchen with steak knife in hand and went to the line to place her order. One of the managers was there, Kahlil. He asked Randie what she was doing. "I'm ordering my shift leader meal of steak, why?" It was never an issue to have the steak, but for some reason big fancy pants manager that day said no, because it was too expensive. Now the free meal was the only decent thing about being the shift leader. No one wanted to do it for the glory or the power. We did it for the goddamn free fucking steak. And he was going to deny Randie? That did not go over well. The steak knife that was in her hand suddenly developed a mind of its own and flew from her fingers, ricocheted off the stainless steel counter, bounced to the wall and fell to the floor. Bitch wanted her free steak. Kahlil seemed satisfied that he had squashed the tiny bit of enjoyment anyone got out of working in that hell hole and left the kitchen. Now I am not positive, but if I know Randie she had her steak anyway. She probably bribed the cook with a pitcher of Coke and then ate the steak in a matter of seconds before the manager made his way back out to the dining room. You don't fuck with Randie. Once she slammed a coffee pot down and shattered it because she was sick of people using the last bit of coffee and then putting the empty pot back on the burner. Yeah, she's not in the food service industry anymore. Lucky for her. And lucky for those of us who got in her way when she wanted a steak.