In the Weeds: Cast of Characters-Part 2
Not too much fallout from last week’s staff introductions, but there was a lot of speculation as to who would be next. Maybe I didn’t get the knife close enough to the bone. Let’s try again.
The 80s Hostess on Blow – This hostess comes to work in bright red tapered-leg suits complete with shoulder pads and a shiny gold belt. The faraway look in her eyes and her slightly behind the beat reaction when speaking to someone actually makes her perfect for our front door, because to the untrained guest it seems as if the restaurant is too busy for her to concentrate on them. People like to eat at busy places. Her hair is long, big, and fried. It completely surrounds her black Ray Bans as she whizzes about town in her 1991 Capri convertible with the vanity plate “ASEXY1.”
The Pot Stirrer – He’s a six-year veteran of the restaurant and could probably do the job in his sleep on the busiest day of the year. But ice-cold competency breeds boredom, boredom breeds contempt, and his particular kind of contempt is played out by him starting s**t just for fun. As long as you are not on the receiving end of his antics, this is the most fun person to work with. He’ll start various versions of false rumors just to see how big of a tizzy the staff with get worked into, and he’s always walking a fine line with management. They know he’s guilty of something, they just don’t know what. A gifted practical jokester, his most legendary prank is from before my time but the story goes that he slipped a hot dog from the employee meal into a bag of portioned lettuce. We make our own salads, and he figured it would pop out on the plate and some server would get a chuckle. But a greenhorn waiter used it to make a Caesar salad, garnished the plate with parmesan and croutons and delivered it the table, failing to see the frank. When he went back to check on things, the guest lifted the hot dog and said, “What is this?” to which the server replied, “That, sir, is a practical joke gone way too far.”
Girl Always Going Down in Flames – She’s gone now but we had a server working with us last year who was always a three-alarm fire. This means she was beyond “In The Weeds” and was just hopelessly flailing about. The thing that made her so funny was that it happened every single shift, and it would happen even if she only had two deuces going. This was constant fodder for the staff. She would run into the kitchen and say “Oh Gawd! Who can help me? I need to get these drinks out, I need salads, who can follow me?” Servers would respond with quips like “What a melt-down.” ”We need a fire extinguisher on table 5.” I think I saw a photo like this one posted in the locker room more than once with her name scrawled beneath it.
The Mexican Mafia – This entry does not describe just one person but rather the whole gang of support staff that shakes servers down for money nightly. Very effectively I might add. We tip out pretty heavily at our restaurant. If I make $400, I’ll probably walk out the door with a little less than $300 after the mandatory tip outs to 1) my server assistant 2) the food runners 3) the bartenders 4) any cocktail server who transfers a tab to my table 5) the hostess and 6) the silverware polisher. Okay, so these people all work hard and deserve their tips…oh wait, the hostesses and the food runners don’t work hard….but anyway, most of these people work hard and you’re happy to share the wealth. The amount that you pay each person depends on your number of guests and your total sales. You could get tipped 10-15% all night but you still have to pay out like your’e a big baller. But the server assisants always expect something “extra,” a thank you for their wallets if you will. And like the mafia, you have to pay them extra. If you don’t, they might forget to fill up your waters or to clear your tables and you’ll be weeded. And then they’ll tell all the other server assistants that you didn’t tip “extra” and they’ll all shun you, too. You can even tip “extra” at the end of the night and they’ll give you this look and then look down at the money, shrug and just say “okay, gracias.” But it sounds more like “f**k you.” So you end up just handing them five dollar bills one at a time until they look happy. Protection payments get expensive.