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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Too Darn Hot

It's hot here in New York City. It's so hot that part of my face melted off yesterday while I waited for the bus to take me to a job. I was wearing the required all-black outfit of course. Nothing says comfort like black pants and a black shirt in 102° weather waiting for the Q60 bus in Queens. Lucky for me, I was working inside but what about those people who have to brave the elements? I look around the city during a heat wave like this and feel such empathy for the folks who have to work outdoors. Okay, "empathy" is a bit much because it implies that I have feelings and concern for others. Maybe when I say "empathy" I just mean I'm glad it's not me. Those men who pour asphalt and stand all day over a big cauldron of boiling tar? Awful. Those people who work on the tops of buildings replacing roofs? Horrible. Those servers who carry trays of fajitas to people on the patio? The worst.

Ages ago I worked on a patio for Houlihan's. If you are familiar with New York City perhaps you know where the big fancy Apple Store is right at the corner of Central Park and across from the Plaza Hotel. Well there was a time when there was a Houlihan's under there and it had a huge patio. Then one day it was filled in and covered with concrete and the Apple Store came in and no one ever remembers that there is a fine dining establishment buried there. Sad really. This country does not care about its history and architecture. How can they just bury a place like Houlihans'? Anyhoo, I worked on that patio one summer and it was so freakin' hot. It was a giant square of cement that just soaked up heat and sun so when you stepped out on it, it was like the Gobi desert. I seem to recall there were a few pitiful trees that tried to give us some shade but even the trees knew it was futile and they were like, "oh fuck this shit, it's too hot." I hated to wear sunscreen because I was greasy enough from the food and sweaty enough from the humidity that to add another level of oil to my face seemed wrong. I can recall more than once seeing sweat drip off of my nose and onto a plate of food as I served it to someone. First class service, indeed.

I was only there for three months before I was transferred back to my home Houlihan's. I never really liked it there and never bonded with any co-workers. One guy that was a waiter there was the brother to the manager. So you know he didn't do shit and got away with murder. I don't remember his name, but let's just call him Richard. Or Dick for short. Everyone hated working with Dick because we all knew that no matter how half-assed he did his side work, the manager wouldn't give a shit. He never got in trouble even though he was a complete prick. One time some foreigners stiffed him which wasn't all that surprising. It was a regular occurrence seeing that we were on Fifth Avenue at Central Park and in front of FAO Schwarz toy store. Tourist central. Well, Dick was not pleased with his 0% tip and let them know about it. As they were leaving, he went up to them and asked them why they didn't leave him a tip. They were all, "er, uhh, err, no English, errr." Richard went off on them. I was shocked at how he was yelling at these people who didn't even know what he was saying. "Well, this is America and in this country, we tip. Alright? You got that?? You know what your problem is? Ya got deep pockets and short arms, that's what your problem is. Get outta here, go on and don't come back with your short ass arms and deep damn pockets." Yes, he really said that. I mean, I'm bitchy and all but that is epic asshole.

The manager, his sister, heard about it. He was told to not do it again. Such authority. That patio sucked. The people sucked, the customers sucked, the food sucked. But the suckiest thing about it was definitely the heat. Stay cool.


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13 comments:

Chrissy said...

Well I heard u guys are suffering w/the heat... As far as wearing all black.. out here (Cali) u will find most migrant workers covered up even w/a hat.. apparently by being covered up and wearing black its suppose in insulate and cool you down... Case in point, my landscaper would come covered up head to toe and grade the yard before laying the sod down.. He never broke a sweat...
Then again the East coast has about the worst humidity... Just hope the A/C doesn't kick, then u will be up a creek w/the rest of NY...

jmlowman said...

Maybe it was just because this Houlihan's was located in a resort area (I'm sure that servers just LOVE tourists) but, based on our experience at the location in Wisconsin Dells last summer, we wouldn't go out of our way to try another.

Our waiter didn't listen well and didn't know jack shit about wines. The food was okay, but the service sucked. Only redeeming factor was that it was easy walking distance from our hotel.

OHHHHHlivia said...

Ok, first of all I don't really enjoy people either. At all. BUT I LOVE YOU. I don't know you but I now stalk your blog. Happy? See what you've done to me? Anyway, keep writing because I always need a laugh during my boring ass day.

Mary A. said...

I don't get the whole black on black either. And of course you aren't going to buy a million black pants & a million black shirts, you are just going to wear the one set over & over. You can tell a server's tenue by how grey his clothes are.

Shawna McCoy said...

I'm in Baltimore and I feel your pain. The heat sucks. I understand why people always want to fight during a heat wave. It puts you in such a crappy mood. It's days like this that make me remember the blizzard...fondly.

MK said...

I guess I can 'empathize' with that too...I live in Pakistan, and summer here is like hell a million times over. Scratch summer, even early spring and august are like that. We have mazdoor (labourers) working in the heat, constructing roads and bridges, and I marvel how they manage to stay alive. I mean lots of people I know can't stand 5 min out of an airconditioned room.


The black uniform must have been awful. I think restaurant management should consider changing its colour.

Queen of the Rant said...

Its not tooo bad here on the West Coast and if it was I could not complaint his is the first sun we have seen in months...

Anonymous said...

Food service in the summer. Is there anything better? My high school summer job was as a car hop in a drive-in restaurant. Imagine the scene: large asphalt parking lot surrounding the restaurant, no shade anywhere, cars idling (and throwing off heat) with the windows rolled up and the air conditioner on, me in a paper hat and a bow tie and long black pants (but thankfully a white shirt), knocking on the window to get them to roll it down long enough for me to pass their tray of food in to them and sneak a breath of their cool air. And to add insult to injury, there was a bank down the street with a huge time/temperature sign. I still have less-than-fond memories of the day the temperature kept going up and up further into the 90s as the sun went down, and I imagined being consumed in a fireball sometime before the place closed at 11 PM.

David said...

I live about 10 blocks from the original Houlihans. It took over for a clothing store called "Houlihan's Men and Boys" Mr Gilbert and Mr Robinson named the restaurant after the clothing store. It was a landmark in town. The corporate offices are still in town, but the restaurant is now a California Pizza Kitchen. Beautiful tile and hardwood replaced by tacky paint and pizza box art. There is no appreciation for history.

Manda said...

ugghh heat wave in new york!! I thought of you today as I was carrying my tray out to the patio today. It was so freaking hot, I don't even know why people would want to eat out there. I rather would have stayed in the kitchen then serve on the patio. How many times has it been cooler in a kitchen then outside? Stay cool and off the patio!

Donda said...

If that little peckersnot would have said that to me, I would have been learning English (or French) damn fast!!

Jasmine said...

We got this same heat crap in Michigan. It's ridiculous and I can't wait for it to end.
I could never work with someone like Dick and his sister. I probably would have just reported them to a higher authority. Maybe even pretend to be those customers and make a complaint about that Dick waiter...

California Girl said...

Didn't you envy "Dick" just a little? I mean, come on, he said what you say in your blog but he did it to their face.

Close friend of mine did the same down in Key Biscayne. She worked for Pelican's, a very nice restaurant. One night a group of 18 came in from a country in South America. They were in banking. They had a very large bill when they were done. She was uncorking, waiting the table, the whole nine yards. They tipped 10% on a very large bill. She followed them to the valet parking and asked if she "had given good service." They say "yes". She aswked why they only tipped 10% and explained it should be at least 15 or 20%. They gave her more money.

I've always admired that about her.