It was one of the first nights I’d worked in the brand-new restaurant. Anyone who has worked in restaurants before knows that the first months after opening are a fucking zoo: The pond scum slithers it’s way off the pond and into the joint to try it out – and torture the staff in the progress – the usually new management has no idea how much of everything to order and the waitstaff is so new they can’t tell you if they even stock honey. For tea. At a pizza place. In fact, no one knows if there’s any honey, so it’s a safe bet there’s no honey. It’s a pizza place, after all.
As one of the only servers who’d waited tables before, I got handed the biggest section and was frequently given tables that other servers couldn’t keep up with. It was pizza, not rocket science, and yet, I had the most experience.
One of the tables I’d gotten just as we’d run out of pizza sauce (at a pizza place!); something that sparked horror and general flailing about from management, cooks and servers alike, was a two-top, or deuce, as we called them. Old people. Whatever. I maintained that groups of women are the worst to wait on, so the old people, I wasn’t worried about.
Barely audible over the din of the shrieking waitstaff and patrons (no! pizza! sauce!), they placed their order. I, like I always did, wrote it down neatly in my notebook. It wasn’t to help me remember, no, it was so I could have BACKUP whenever anyone insisted I ordered something wrong. I’d take the fall for a lot of mistakes, but I wouldn’t own it unless it was mine.
I placed the order in the computer and got them their drinks. Pizzas took at least thirty minutes to cook, so I knew I had time to get caught up on the rest of my tables. Like I said, it was a busy night.
When their order came out, I brought it out and served it, just as I’d been showed.
I placed the pieces in front of the woman, she smacked my hand, “THAT’S NOT WHAT I ORDERED,” she screamed. I whipped out my hand-dandy notebook to show her that yes, in fact, it was.
“NO!” she screamed, “it’s not!”
Well, there wasn’t any point in arguing. I apologized. It had obviously been my error in both writing down and repeating back to them. Fine. I knew I was right.
I grabbed the manager and sent him over to deal with her. This was beyond my pay grade.
He fixed it somehow – maybe he gave them a coupon or a new pizza, I didn’t know and didn’t care – and when I brought over drink refills, I apologized again for what had happened.
They looked at me as though I had killed their puppy. Or Jesus. Or their puppy AND Jesus.
Except, they were in my section and every time I went near the table, their mournful, sad and somewhat hateful eyes followed me, just like those haunted house pictures. Every movement I made, they watched, hatefully.
I wanted to yell, “It was just a pizza, you assfuckers!” but I didn’t. Instead, I smiled more brightly with each passing glare. If you can’t win ‘em, be cheerful as fuck about it.
Finally, they left, their eyes no longer murdering me every time I stepped foot near the table. My fellow servers patted me on the back. “Eh,” I said, “she looked like a bullfrog anyway.” Because she did.
The following day, I stopped by my pharmacy to pick up a wrist brace. I know what they say about us Midwestern chicks, but I don’t have cornfed ankles OR wrists. So carrying trays that weighed 6000000 pounds did a number on me. Hence the wrist braces.
Who should walk past me?
The bullfrog lady and her husband. They looked relatively normal until they spied me, squatting there, examining wrist braces. Then, again with the “you killed Jesus stares.”
This time I wasn’t at work. This time I was off the motherfucking clock.
So I did the only thing that made sense: I stuck my tongue out at them and blew a gigantic raspberry.
They glared harder (perhaps I’d been upgraded to “kills baskets of puppies and/or Jesus) as I walked back to the register, a bounce in my step, feeling that I, for once, had finally been able to speak my mind.
(they became regulars at the pizza place and I refused to wait on them ever again)