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Friday, July 2, 2010

Please Don't Eat the Garbage

One of the best things about working in a restaurant is usually the people you work with. I can't tell you how many times I have kept a job for longer than I should have simply because I so enjoyed the people I worked with. (Okay, I can tell you how many times: three.) Maybe the business has dried up or the menu has changed and the business is slow but all your friends are keeping their jobs, so you keep yours too. Plus, it's easier to keep a shitty job than go out and look for another one that may end up being even shittier. Yes, a shout out to our co-workers. This is a story about a woman I worked with at The Black-Eyed Pea in Houston, Texas on West Gray.

I always liked Connie. She was older and had been a waitress for a long time. She could always make me laugh and never took the job too seriously. Like me, she held on to the belief that "it's only lunch and there'll be another one tomorrow. Chill out." One time as I was carrying a huge bus tub of dirty dishes and pretty much balancing some glasses on my head, she got right up in front of me and said, "Hey, I've been meaning to ask you a question." I was thinking, "Really? Right now is when you're gonna ask me something?" But I was young and naive (and not yet bitchy) and patiently waited for her to organize her thoughts. I readjusted the bus tub. Connie paused and said, "yeah, uh...when you...uh...oh shit I forgot what I was gonna say...oh yeah. When you...oh never mind." She started laughing and I realized she was just fucking with me to see how long I would be nice before I told her to get the fuck out of my way. It doesn't seem that funny now that I write it out, but then it just made me laugh.

Most people at The Pea didn't like Connie. I was new and didn't know any better I guess. After a few weeks I heard someone say "Bus Tub Connie is at it again." I looked over at a side stand and saw Connie eating scraps of food out of the tub of discarded dishes. I saw her eat a handful of fried okra. Now, I am all for grazing while at work. Always have been and always will be. A french fry here a cup of soup there. But to eat off of someones plate after they have finished with it? And out of the bus tub even? Oh hell no. My opinion of Connie changed immediately. Cool Connie was actually Bus Tub Connie? I asked another waiter if this was a regular occurrence and the smart ass said, "Why the fuck else would we call her Bus Tub Connie? That bitch is always eatin' out of the fucking garbage."

After that day, Connie didn't make me laugh anymore. She sorta made me feel sorry for her. I felt like I should save scraps for her and slide them into her purse or buy her a can of cat food for dinner. But she definitely left an impression on me. Chalk it up to one of those people that makes your job at a restaurant even more interesting.

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12 comments:

Chrissy said...

Ok, while reading this I could feel the gag reflex workin...It is sad, was connie overweight from all that eating?... I guess some do whatever whenever the desperation sets in... Guess she didn't care whether the plate had germs galore or if the person who ate off that plate had the plague...she fits in the sorry soul dept.

Guy said...

There's any number of reasons she might have eaten leftovers: compulsive behavior, poverty, a sense of moral duty not to waste, or it might have been just another way of messing with you and holding on to her boundaries with the staff. You still wrote about her tenderly, and I appreciate that. Being a waiter sure gets you close to the human condition. We see all kinds.

Levonne said...

I think that the folks I work with at a job are one of the main reasons I keep going back! Keep the humor!

LogicalSarcasm said...

I also work in the industry, and while working breakfast at the hotel the other week, we had run out of plates for the buffet. Since people are impatient in the morning they will typically grab a plate that holds the tongs for the biscuits or sausage. This time though, they took the plate that held the spoon for the gravy (biscuits & gravy) which had hour old congealed gravy all over it. I feel your pain.... and gag reflexes.

LogicalSarcasm

Lynne H. said...

My first read here, will not be my last..
"buy her a can of cat food for dinner" that is effen hilarious..I guess i should leave a better review but all I can say now is you are witty, observant and my kind of waiter...

Noelle said...

Ugh! The Bus Tub Buffet. Gross!
So many in the industry do it. I don't even like to share a plate with a friend.

Professor M... said...

Can't imagine. I wonder what caused her to choose that particular deviant behavior. Did she call in sick much?

the career waitress said...

many many moons ago i cooked part time at the esteemed Cracker Barrell: at the end of the night the cooks had to throw away all the perfectly good food on the steam table. We had to do this right in front of the dishwashers, (all of whom were mexican immigrants), who were so hungry they were eating soggy french fries out of the bottom of the bus tubs. Sad stuff. But i can't imagine why a server would do it--there's always unrun customer orders in the service window ripe for the plundering!

Angelina said...

I was just having a conversation with my boyfriend the other night when we were at a restaurant about what happens to leftovers that people don't take home. We wondered if anyone in the back ever ate what patrons left behind. Guess there are some who do. Ick!

Anonymous said...

i know EXACTLY what you are talking about!! now as a banquet server, we have our fair share of an hors douvre as we are taking them out for butlering, or eating the extra entrees after everyone has been served. but we had one lady - "compost kim" we called her, because if there was something she wanted that had been dumped into the compost, she would reach in and grab it and put it aside for herself. it was GROSS!!! she would even take the unused individual packets of crackers with soup all over them or already crushed out of the compost and say that they were perfectly fine to use again! umm no - i would throw them away when she wasn't looking because that is revolting. but yes... "bus tub connie" must have a friend - our "compost kim"!! LOL!

weare138 said...

The servers and bartenders at my restaurant eat bus bin treats every day, and they are not poor and have no problem wasting food.

LawLucy said...

That is absolutely disgusting. I used to laugh at fellow servers who would dine off of the plates of others until ONE DAY...the manager got us all together as a group and announced that BillyJoeBob had some freaky illness and was in the ICU. BillyJoeBob admitted to eating off of DannyDiners plate who was also in the ICU. BillyJoeBob languised in the hospital for 7 weeks, got kicked out of the State Patrol academy he had just been admitted to (and could not reenroll for 12 months) for having such a disease.

I forever lost the urge to nibble or touch anyones food ever again.