We all hate those people who come in to the restaurant moments before closing time exclaiming, " I know y'all close in two minutes, but we just made it. Whew! Can I have two well done steaks, but don't ring them in yet because I wanna sit here and read the paper for twenty minutes first and can you bring me some coffee? A fresh pot, please." Yeah, we hate those people. I am those people.
I do not work on Mondays. It's my day off and I have never even been to my restaurant on a Monday. But a couple of days ago, I felt like dinner and I wanted something that was on the menu at work. I also figured if I went in, my manager would maybe comp a drink or dessert or something. Now on the nights I work, we close at 11:00 so at 9:30 I was still in no hurry to get there figuring I had plenty of time. I finally dragged my ass off the couch and sauntered into the place at exactly 10:00 giving myself an hour before closing time which would be plenty of time to eat dinner. When I walked in, I said hello to everyone. The bartender was a guy I have met a couple of times but he doesn't work on my days so we don't really know each other. He gave me a simple hello, no big deal. My manager was there and he gave me the stink eye, but that's pretty much par for the course with him, so no big deal there either. I saw the server and said, "Hey, is it alright if I sit at the back booth?" He shrugged his shoulders and said, "Yeah, I guess so. I'll get you a menu." I sat down and felt the hot white dagger stare of the cook who was looking at me from the open kitchen. My server came to the table and said, "So we already shut down the fryer so we don't have fries anymore and if you want mussels, I need to tell them right now before they put them away." I looked around the restaurant and saw the candles were blown out and the bartender counting the drawer. "Are you guys closing early tonight? I asked.
"We close at 10:00 on Monday nights, dude."
Oh my God, I was that person. I thought they closed at 11:00. No wonder my manager gave me a stinkier eye than usual. I was mortified. "Oh fuck, I'm leaving."
"No, we can make you something to eat, don't worry about it. What do you want?" said the server.
No. I was done. Embarrassed, I crawled out of the booth and apologized to the cooks and my manager who now had a big happy grin on his face knowing that I was leaving. They must have thought I was being a total prick showing up exactly at closing time. I left in shame.
A couple of days later, I was going to see a Broadway show. (Porgy and Bess. You should go see it.) I knew where I wanted to go for dinner afterwards so I called to see how late they were open seeing I still had deep seeded shame from my last restaurant appearance. "We close at midnight," was the reply. Perfect. The show was over at 10:40 so I could be there by 11:00, eat a quick bite and be out by closing time. There were three of us when we walked in at 11:02. "Table for four?" the skinny-jeaned Shaggy from Scooby Doo looking server asked us. "Sit anywhere you like." We chose a table and sat down and two seconds later the server was there with menus. "Um, just so you know we close in like five minutes, so it's like last call, like right now. Whadaya want?"
"Wait," I said. "I just called today to see how late you're open tonight and they told me midnight."
"Yeah, we decided to close early so we're closing now. But you can still order. If you want. I guess."
What the hell? I am not going to stay when the servers is already copping an attitude with me for getting there at their newly declared closing time. "No that's alright, I'm not staying when I know you are closed."
"Okay," said the waiter. He flicked his long black hair out of his eyes and turned on his Pixie Boot heel with the menus tucked under his tattooed arms and graphic t-shirt.
Really? I went to another restaurant right at closing time? What was wrong with me? We wandered down Ninth Avenue to find someplace to eat. We saw a place that had people inside which seemed like a good indicator that they were still open. We stuck our head in hesitantly? "Are you open?"
"Is the kitchen open?"
"Can we get a table?"
All seemed good. A man brought us menus. "Sorry they're all wet, but the hostess just wiped them all down before she left. Your server will be right with you."
He was right with us, clearly in a hurry. He took our drink order, took our food order, brought out the drinks, brought out the food, did his check-back, offered another round of drinks, cleared plates, offered us dessert and coffee which we declined and he brought us the check in record time. I think he was ready to go home. We gave him credit cards and he brought them back lickety split. As soon as we signed them he reappeared. "Do you mind if I take those now so I can run my report?" He reached over, took the receipts and we saw him leave three minutes later.
What was happening to me? Was I destined to eat at restaurants that are only seconds away from closing? I felt bad about it. I hate when people do that to me and now I had done it three times in one week. The only way I can rectify this situation is to change my eating habits and start eating dinner at 5:00 PM and take advantage of the Early Bird Specials. I am on my way to work now and I know that karma is going to bite me in the ass. Tonight, these two bitches are going to show up in my station. And you know what? I will deserve it.
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