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Friday, December 7, 2012

One Big Meatball Family

So many of us work in restaurants and very often we let the restaurant become the center of our social life too. It's easy to do since we spend so much time there. Coworkers quickly become friends because they are on the same crazy schedule as ourselves and it's simple to all go out afterwards to lift a glass and discuss how the day went. I think that the word "family" is thrown around a lot, but in the restaurant business, it still seems appropriate. Maybe it's because so many times at restaurants, we all start our day together with a shift meal sitting around a table and talking. After we are done, we all carry our plates to to the kitchen and put them in the dishwasher. It's not that different from being at home sometimes. I don't think that if you work in a bank everyone has a meal together before they begin their day.

I went to dinner last night at The Meatball Shop and as I was waiting for my table, I spotted a note hanging in the side stand.

Ballers! Peace out and much love! I will miss all of you. At the risk of sounding cheesy y'all have been like a family to me. Keep in touch, drinks soon (as long as I get home early). Good luck, babies. 

Love xo, Meg

What can we learn from this note? First, we can see that Meg has some really great handwriting and that she has little or no respect for a seating chart. Secondly, we know that she likes to drink but she likes to get in early which sounds just like me. (Hint: drink at home in bed. That's what I do and it makes life so much easier.) Lastly, we learn that Meg really cared about her coworkers. The hostess told me it was Meg's last day. When my server arrived at the table, I told her I saw the note and asked her if she was Meg.

"Oh, no, she already left."

"It's a sweet note," I said.

"I know, we're gonna miss her so much but she is so excited to not have to wait tables anymore."

I imagine that Meg got her big break on Broadway or finally finished law school or won the lottery. For whatever reason, Meg got out but it is clear that she is leaving a little bit of her heart at The Meatball Shop. If not her heart, then at the very least some good friends.

Over the many years that I have been wearing an apron, I have made some very close friends. Who would have thought that Houlihan's in Times Square would have given me anything other than recurring nightmares, high blood pressure, angina and a raging case of lice? It turns out that it also gave me some good friends. I left that hell hole over 15 years ago and I am still in touch with people I met there. Just moments ago, I got a text from Jane who made her way into my life via nachos and chicken fingers on 49th and Seventh. We now live on the same street and still see each other on a regular basis. Every holiday season I get a phone call from Abbass who I worked with at the Marriott. I left that job over eight years ago but I can always count on his yearly message telling me to have a wonderful Christmas.

The people you meet at your restaurant job sometimes are the best thing about your restaurant job. Many times, they are the only reason you stay at your restaurant job. My point is that we all have jobs and we all have co-workers, but something about slinging hash ties us closer together, and I'm not talking about the apron strings. I don't know what it is, but when you work so closely with a  group of people and your goal is all the same, something happens sometimes and you start to care about them. Maybe it's because we all lean on each other for support whether it's picking up a shift or doing the side work for someone who doesn't feel well. Maybe it's because so many of us in the restaurant industry share a passion for something else like acting or writing and we find ourselves amongst kindred spirits. Or maybe it's just that I've been extremely lucky and have so often been surrounded by really great people who I like. (Except, you Moe. I still really don't like you. It's been almost two years and you still get on my last fucking nerve.) Am I alone in this feeling? I doubt it.

Good luck, Meg. I hope your life after waiting tables is a fulfilling one but more than that, I hope you maintain your friendships with the people at The Meatball Shop. Judging by your note, you really like them and judging by my server, they really like you.

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Mark Christian Miller said...

Lovely....I was a waiter at the same place in Beverly Hills for over 20 years, and have been out of the restaurant business for six years....I stil think of my restaurant friends as family. I love restaurant people - for the most part. :)

Alana said...

Houlihan's! What a hellhole. They have great taste in employees though. They were my first restaurant family and they still do well by me

Anonymous said...

I think that it is similar in many fields. When I worked in hotels, my coworkers were "family" .. in fact one of my best friends is from my night audit days. When I worked in banking (we occasionally shared a meal before a shift but trust me, a lot of us resented it because it was bagels at a morning meeting) my coworkers were "family" and many are still great friends. I now work part time waiting tables and many of the younger partying crowd have bonded outside of the restaurant. My bond is more an at work kinda thing :)

Anonymous said...

Awe this made me tear up thinking of all the amazing friends I have made working in the business for the past 16 years. My best friends.... their children who call me aunt jenny. .. even regulars that think of me at Christmas and invite us into their homes for summer bbqs and parties and not to wait on them. Of course I have my arch enemies I would love to forget but dealing with them is a small price to pay for my work family.

anne marie in philly said...

there are only 8 of us in my office; yes, we all work together as a family because it affects all our paychecks.

I will never work in a place where I do not consider my co-workers my family. after all, I spend 40 hrs/5 days with them every week.

Melissa Rose said...

"Bitchy" I love all your posts but this one may be my favorite. I've been working in restaurants more or less since I was 16 (so for almost half my life now). Like Meg (maybe...) I'll finally be finishing law school next year. I'm still friends with the people I worked with in my very first restaurant job and I can't imagine how sad I will be to leave the place I work at now! (I have to say, though, I am also lucky to work at a place with great owners, customers, and where I make good $$ with minimal bs). I'd like to think I've touched my co-workers too, and when I have to quit, they will say the same thing that your server said about Meg.

Anyways, thanks for this blog post. It brightened my day :o)

~ Melissa

Anonymous said...

You hit the old nail on the head BW. I have stayed at my first and only NYC job for this very reason. The friends I have made there are my closest and dearest. Yes, we are all actors, writers, etc. so I agree this is what helps us connect and keep supporting each other.

And yes I shared this blog post with them!

Noelle said...

Touching post. Eating together is intimate. Serving the intimate is a talented passion and some of the best acting in the world. Don't think of yourselves as unemployed actors. You've just landed a gig with side work.

Anonymous said...

I love this post! I think of the people I've worked with as family, they are wonderful and a big part if what keeps me hanging on when I just want to quit, and I've found this to be true especially in the restaurant business.

Anonymous said...

i work at a incorporated restaurant and sunday is usually a day filled with people working doubles. At least half the staff worked lunch and dinner shift. After one particularly hard day we went to dinner and kind of just started doing sunday night family dinners with whoever from the restaurant wanted to come