In the restaurant business, as in life, there are those who are gracious, friendly and treat others with a healthy level of respect and then there are those who are put on this earth to piss everybody off. If the former were my only concern I would have had the greatest job in the world but unfortunately for me and everybody else in the restaurant business, this was not the case. And the kicker about the whole thing was that you could be having the greatest day in the world and all it would take it is one ignoramous who thinks the world revolves around him/her and your entire day is completely ruined.
I will call Exhibit A Frank and Sue. This mother-and-son team had a notorious reputation around town and put the fear of God into those in the restaurant business. On the exterior, this duo had the makings of two close family acquaintances you would invite over for Christmas dinner, but on the inside, these two next of kin were pure evil. I was introduced to them by a very vile co-worker named Elizabeth. More on Elizabeth later but because of Elizabeth’s lazy nature and her mean, vindictive spirit, with a smile as wide as Texas, Elizabeth walked Frank and Sue to my section after proudly announcing to me that she was giving me a table. She returned after seating them and told me they were very nice and that she used to wait on them herself. Oh, how sweet. Then she began laughing when she told me that she told them they would like me much better. Great. What was she up to? She then informed me that they could be “a little demanding” but tipped very well and were, once again, “really nice.” But, something seemed a little off. Anyway, it didn’t matter. I convinced myself that I was in LA to succeed in the entertainment business no matter what, and no one, especially some seventy-something-year-old woman and her momma’s-boy son were going to ruin it for me, so I decided to step up to the challenge.
My initial impression of them was a pleasant one as I felt a warm glow emanating from their table. They assured me they were in no hurry and that I could take my time bringing them their order. This seemed fair enough as I was very busy. After I brought them their fruit punch and diet coke as per their request, they were ready to order their starter, a chopped salad, which they intended to share. They told me they wanted extra garbanzo beans, extra corn, extra scallions, extra ranch dressing and extra tomatoes all to be put in little side cups with easy cheese on the salad and an extra bowl so they could split it. Okay, now the order was becoming a little presumptuous, but I figured once I entered it into the computer, it would be all downhill from there. This assumption turned out to be a huge miscalculation.
When I returned with their specialty salad, there weren’t enough garbanzo beans, and there was too much cheese. “Should I take it back?” I asked, to which Frank politely replied, “If you don’t mind.” When I returned with the corrected salad, Frank said, “It looks good,” but they just needed some extra dressing and a few more napkins. Frank was now well on his way to becoming a royal pain in the ass so I ran off to do a couple of other things before I tended to his latest task. When I got back with Frank’s most recent request, in the most courteous way possible, Frank asked me for more fruit punch. I quickly refilled his drink and returned to find their menus folded. They were now ready to order. “We would both like the chicken parmesan platters, but make sure they are hot,” Frank insisted. And I guess what he meant by “hot” was “cook them until they reach the core temperature of the sun.” It appeared the old lady’s taste buds no longer gauged thermal gradations and only the results of nuclear fusion registered as warm on her palate because even though I picked up their entrees directly from the line immediately following their completion they were still not hot enough.
I became aware of this fact when out of the corner of my eye I observed the ancient fossil tasting her chicken and then abruptly shaking her head no. After Frank leaned down to sample his, he waved me over in the most courteous way possible and asked me to “nuke” their platters. Since we only had one microwave, this running of the chickens entailed me taking the entrees back to the soup station where I battled for supremacy on the re-heating mechanism. I’d heat up one dish and then run it back to the table before any air had a chance to touch it, all while leaving the other plate smoldering in the microwave. Over time, no matter how scalding hot these dishes came out to their table or how much I zapped them before I served them, they were never hot enough. The only thing that seemed to satisfy these two inbreeds was when I had to wear oven mitts to deliver their plates to their table. And the thing that over time really pissed me off about this whole ridiculous process was the amount of time it took for them to eat their platters once they received them. Week in and week out, they would literally take over an hour and a half to nibble on their recurring entrées even though at least fifteen minutes into their whole annoying routine their meals had to be ice cold.
After the first two or three weeks of their circus act, I was able to overlook this minor detail, but after a month or two of these two traipsing in every Thursday night, requesting me and only me as their waiter and then pulling this same stunt over and over again I began seething with anger. After another couple of months of this nonsense, I was bringing their lunacy home with me where it would linger in my psyche for two to three days. Yes, they would tip me eight to ten dollars on a forty-dollar check, but they were starting to appear in my dreams, and I was waking up from my sleep in a cold sweat. I knew this was self-destructive so I started challenging myself to see if, for just one time, I could serve them their meal without any glitches. When this failed, I thought I’d try to kill them with kindness. So much kindness they would puke up their chicken parmesans. Then I tried being rude. They told me they wanted to make me a Democrat, and I told them Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan were my childhood heroes. No matter what I did to counter these two dimwits, I could not slip them. I started dreading coming into work on Thursdays. When I switched shifts, they would leave and come back on a night when I was working. These two were haunting me like the Ghost of Christmas Past and I had to do something before I sawed them into little pieces and put them in their chopped salad.
I now had some very difficult questions to ask myself. As I searched deep inside, was I finding that, after just two years of pursuing acting in LA, Hollywood was already starting to get the best of me? Could I not even handle this aging predecessor and her coddled son? Then a realization! For my own survival and for the sustenance of my dream, I had to pawn these two deviants off on someone else. But who would be gullible enough and who did I despise badly enough to pass these two devil’s spawns off onto? It didn’t matter. I just wanted to get through a Thursday shift that entailed someone else toiling over these two despots. I will always remember that final Thursday as “The Last Supper” and the lucky winner of these two ingrates was the first person I laid eyes upon who looked like he wasn’t busy. It just so happened to be a new guy, Andy, who was as smart as a box of hammers and who would have no problem telling these two ass wipes where to go if they pushed him far enough. He was perfect!! …