Bob, an evenly average, boring, cold man with less-than-average social skills, brought his girlfriend, Linda, into the restaurant to celebrate their one-year anniversary (dating, not marriage). He warned me of this by arriving one hour before their reservation and asking me to "set aside and then decorate" a booth that I was to hold for him.
"The Hell I will," I said, until Bob unexpectedly slipped me $20. It might be a small amount to you but it's the difference between buying vodka or putting gas in the car vs. buying vodka and putting gas in the car).
I did my lackadaisical best with the streamer and lone yellow balloon he gave me.
Linda arrived, unequipped for such an outlandish gesture in such a brothel-like bar, and smiled politely while offering faint praise. Despite her best efforts, she couldn't give a convincing performance of happy. He could tell something was up.
"Nothing!" she smiled when he asked, almost hysterical. "Let's drink!!" Her smile terrified me. She was not into him. She honed in on me like her escape plan from this night of charades.
He ordered a pitcher of our finest margaritas and some "guaco dip," for class and style.
They sipped awkwardly on their drinks. I wasn't there for, nor able to stand close enough to eavesdrop upon, much of the ensuing conversation. But it all seemed like very minimal interaction save the desperate "THANK YOU"s to me for my chip and water refills.
It became so awkwardly obvious to me that she wanted nothing to do with him, yet he clung on as if she were his plan b life raft. I kept wondering if tonight would be her night to tell him it was over, but she kept going through the motions, and the tequila, which let to a slightly more convincing evince of warmth, manufactured as it still seemed.
Soon they were both sloppy drunk, and I saw this was just a normal episode among their pattern.
Eventually they paid, tipped just fine, and left. Together. And she was as unconvincing physically as she was emotionally when he not so subtly suggested to me that they'd be "in beeeeeeeeed" soon. Gross, oh my God. She walked out like a nun in winter whereas he had his boner leading the way to their Uber.
I consumed the generous remnants of their most recently ordered pitcher, cleared off the table, and popped that stupid yellow balloon.
4:58 p.m. - I emerge from my car and head to the restaurant. Before I can open the door, a woman exits in a huff. "Do you work here!?" she asks. No I wear this huge salsa-stained apron to contain my enormous erection, you intellectual trailblazer. I nod. She tells me that no one ever took her order, so she left, and that I'm to pass that on to management. Bored, I speak in a fake Australian accent and assure her I will.
5:00 p.m. - Head straight to the bar and prepare myself a vodka and vodka in a kid's cup. At no point will I inform anyone of the woman's complaint from earlier.
5:25 p.m. - After a misleadingly slow shift start, the place fills up for happy hour. Hookers, thugs, rednecks, Persian pricks, and series regulars from every late 80's failed sit-com demand cheap drinks. I fill my tank with a bit more vodka and persevere.
5:40 p.m. - Someone I'm supposed to know from one of those tapeworms-of-humanity Kardashian series keeps name-dropping D.J.s, back-up dancers, and other people who scrape their nails as they hang on the edge of forgettably talentless. I give myself those weird stars in your peripheral from rolling my eyes so much.
5:45 p.m. - Time for another drink and a quick puff!
6:00 p.m. - I return from the Dumpster area in a muuuuuch better mood. The Kardashian Krew are, like, ready for their checks (to be separated by me clearly, that goes without saying). For fun, I inform them that a "check" is a form of payment, and that a bill is for goods and services received. I also tell them I can't split parties. Their tip is automatically added so I am fresh out of fucks to give.
6:05 p.m. - Time for another drink break and a quick puff!!
6:10: - A man who loves to tell stories is wasting so many minutes of my life boasting about his heyday in the agency mailrooms in the 1970s. I'm interested at first, ready to think about ISIS shortly thereafter.
6:15 p.m. - Time for another drinl break an d q uick pufff.
6:20 p.m. - Coffee, the shitty restaurant kind. I'm awake.
6:30 p.m. - I'm focused, and dealing with three pleasant, polite, well-spaced-out parties of eight. No stress. All is seamless and peaceful. Too peaceful.
6:45 p.m. - We're officially on a wait.
7:00 p.m. - All three of my large parties are long finished with dessert and coffee and rounds of drinks. All three credit card bills lie signed and ready for return. I keep dropping them off and picking them up again to drop subtle hints. Nothing. I am screwed, save my one constantly revolving two-top, which is mostly dining space to older men and their hookers. Just drinks, no food of course.
7:20 p.m. - Hallelujah! One of my large parties leaves. And drops a glass under the table. Which must be swept up. By the broom that the bus boy, who no one can find, had last.
7:25 p.m. - The bus boy emerges from the Dumpster high as fuuuuuuuck.
7:30 p.m. - After several attempts and help from people, including the customers at the neighboring table, the bus boy finally contains the glass spill.
7:32 p.m. - I am sat with a party of two. We're still on a wait, my tables are better-suited to large parties, and I get sat with two?! I run, bitch-faced, to find the host and dig my finger nails into his neck.
7:34 p.m. - Minutes later we're laughing. We're so bitchy to each other.
7:35 p.m. - The new two top is in a hurry, which I'm into. We have a nice few minutes together, they tip 20%, and I wish them well. They leave soon after. They get it.
8:40 p.m. - We go off a wait pretty quickly. After about two more turns, in an effort to split the labor as thinly as possible, the manager tells me I can do my sidework and head home.
9:05 p.m. - I remain at the bar because it's empty and shoot the breeze with the new bartender, who's not a shithead. I pretend to be interested in the football sports on T.V. Tired, I send for a Lyft - BECAUSE YOU SHOULD NEVER DRINK AND DRIVE - and leave mercifully with $52, my dignity, and more salsa stains.
As I become less and less of a people person in my underwhelmings 30s, the trait that sends me running fastest from mankind is any hint of neediness or co-dependency. People who live in constant need of external validation make me want to call it a day with humanity.
Veronica sat in my section early one evening with her gaggle of sycophant gay boys, each of them glued to his phone for most of the dining experience.
Veronica was, to date, the neediest customer I've ever served. She's the type of person who makes a minimally funny joke and then, high on the fumes of that mediocrity, she beats the Hell out of the joke with innumerable follow-ups.
"Tell me your suggestions. On everything. Literally, like, appetizers and how to dress."
Polite, fake laughter from me.
"Like, what if I was like, 'What should I wear tomorrow?', 'What should I do with my life?', 'Who am I, waiter?' Oh my gah what if I, like, paid you to follow me around and suggest everything to me?"
I can't fake a follow-up laugh. I grin as goosebumps of awkward revulsion wash over me.
Veronica and her fairweather fan club ordered a pitcher of margaritas. "We're going to get tipsy and become best friends with you then we'll totally order food." She said, no doubt picturing herself as Jennifer Aniston just NAILING that cutesy scene in one take.
"You're, like, always so good with waiters," I heard one of hers gays say after I'd walked off.
Shortly thereafter, Veronica was overplaying her mild buzz as completely smashed, reveling in the echo of her own voice and taking an abundance of "drunk-fies - drunken selfies, let's totally make that a THING!"
After Veronica and co. ordered a second pitcher, I was sat with three tables at once and had my ass handed to me for a good 10 minutes getting out of that mess.
I returned to V + 3 to find her with an exagerrated frown.
"We've seen you all over those other tables so I thought maybe you didn't like us and it made me weally, weally sad."
"I've been all over those other tables," I said, "because I was sat with all three of them at the same time and have been trying to take drink orders, find some high-chairs, and slap the host."
"Oh, I, uh..." she stammered. "I can tell you're busy, sorry." (switches to overly sweet fake baby voice) "We're ready to order whenever you have time!!!!!!!"
"I'm ready, thank you for waiting."
They ordered in painstakingly slow, ass-kissing fashion, with "please" and "thank you" sandwiched between each and every word.
They received their entrees and ate quickly, then asked for the bill.
Before I could run off with the cash, make change, and get them out of my section, Veronica asked me to lean in.
"Can I share something with you?" she asked.
"Sure," I replied.
"Just so you know...I rarely tell anyone this unless I'm, like, suuuuper comfortable with them."
"So, like, growing up, my parents literally smothered me with love. And so I have this thing where, like, I am such a people-pleaser who, like, totally needs everyone to like me."
"Okay..." I said.
"So, yeah, the service here was really, really great. Like, even though you were busy, you checked on us, so that was awesome."
And the point of your anecdote was...?
"Well, sure, it's my job, it's no problem."
"Can I add you on Facebook?" she asked.
"Excuse me?" I asked.
"Haha, no, nevermind," she said, reading my reaction of disgust. "It was just a lame joke, haha. Like, hey, I'm that needy girl you waited on who wanted to be your Facebook friend."
Polite, fake laughter from me.
"Like, what if I slept on your front doorstep and in the morning I was like "Ahhhh let's be friends" and I just totally stalked you."
I can't fake a follow-up laugh. I grin as goosebumps of awkward revulsion wash over me.
Rick was an asshole who'd just bought a big boat, and he went out of his way to make sure everyone around him knew both.
He and his three big-breasted Russian conquests sat drunk and sweaty in my section one recent evening after a day spent boating near the Santa Monica Pier (the Times Square of aquatic tourist spots). Rick himself was a greasy, blubbering, leathered tan old man with some egregiously botched facial injections. He looked like Joan Rivers but with a hairy chest of blond and gray.
I greeted the table, and instead of answering my attempt to take a drink order, Rick pulled out his iPhone (in a jewel-encrusted leopard print case with flowers around a skull so you KNOW he's living in class). He showed me a pic of a truly impressive yacht.
"We've been getting shit-faced on this beautiful boat, cruising around Santa Monica," he slurred. "What did YOU do today, hahaha."
I avoided having to pay three 57-year-old Russian whores to pretend to like me, that's what I did today you asshole.
"Well why don't we continue the party with another round?!" I asked.
"A big pitcher of your strongest margaritas," he said, then burped. "We took Youber [Uber] so we're crawling out of here!"
I ordered a pitcher so expensive it required half a bottle of tequila. It was almost clear in color and smelled like fire. I wanted these people drunk, quickly, as to either leave or get kicked out, quickly.
I returned with the pitcher to find Rick making out with one of the whores, while the other across the booth tried to wake up their friend.
The one Rick was tongue-dozing stopped long enough to flash me a lipstick-bathed smile and attempted to order.
"Vhat vas where will nachos?"
"Excuse me?" I asked.
"Vhat. Vas. Where. Will. Nachos?"
"Is English her second language?" I asked Rick. "Because that means nothing to me."
He gave me a wink, then leaned in for another kiss from her, because that's a logical follow-up to my question. I walked away and ordered them a big plate of nachos.
The pitcher remained untouched when the food arrived. The other two were both passed out, napping on each other, as Rick and VhatVasWhereWill kept touching each other under the touble.
A few minutes later, the third girl awoke to throw up aaaaaaaaall under the booth. All the fuck under it. Everywhere. Rick wisely observed that it might be time to leave. He gave me his credit card for the bill (which was about $55, considering the pitcher I'd ordered). Neither the pitcher nor the nachos were even seen, let alone touched.
In what I imagine was a drunken error, Rick tipped me $55 (probably attempting to leave nothing, but hey - you sign it, you tipped it).
Their Youber shortly arrived. I took the pitcher to the back, poured it into a water pitcher, kept it well hidden, and took a large swig. Because shortly thereafter, I was cleaning up puke.
After that, however, the rest of the evening was smooth sailing.
I have only myself to blame for hating excessive self promotion yet remaining in a town where it's as prevalent as traffic or bisexuals.
You'd think person after person after person would catch on to the fact that we're all relatively self-involved individuals and not as interested in someone else's tedious life details. But no.
Meet Dane, a 50-something star of (local) stage and (the computer) screen. Dane teaches an actor's boot camp at a park in the northeastern San Fernando Valley, so you know he's got room to talk!
Dane's nephew, a recent college graduate, accompanied him in hopes of gleaning all sorts of show biz wisdom. In turn, Dane made sure to project his voice so that all within earshot could benefit from his vast knowledge.
"Oh man are you going to learn a lot from me," Dane told his nephew with a chuckle. "I know everything there is to know about Hollywood."
Except how to make it.
I set down the chips and salsa, fully aware yet not acknowledging that Dane was staring at me in an effort to reel me into his world of Fascinating Tales and Accomplishments.
"They should write a book about me, they really should," Dale said to all.
"And to drink?" I asked.
Acting as I'd just said "Let me give away all my tables and pull up a chair," Dale persevered with his monologue. In lieu of answering me, within minutes his nephew and I learned more about his "award-winning" actor's boot camp, his lunches with "big-big time producer" Gene Hart (Who? Exactly.), almost bedding Tanya Roberts, and being a stand-in for Luke Perry on a pilot that was produced but never aired, 12 years ago.
They first ordered some drinks, and then two plates of fish tacos. Once the entrees arrived, Dane summoned me with a loud, vaguely British impersonation from some show or movie with which I wasn't even vaguely familiar.
"EXCUSE ME, SAH!" he said, chuckling.
My face was a beautiful blank slate of indifference.
"You know, from...[mumbles name of reference]?"
Cut to me, still a blank slate.
"Did you need anything?" I asked.
"Well, it's just, eeeeeeek," he stammered, pretending that complaining was really tearing him apart. "These fish tacos taste...fishy."
"As opposed to tasting like Death By Chocolate?" I asked.
"Any fish back there that doesn't taste so fishy?" he inquired.
Well earlier when I licked each individual fish I recall them tasting great, you fist-fucking idiot.
"Why don't we try a different entree altogether?" I asked.
Dane's nephew was perfectly content with his fish tacos, but Dane requested a plate of carnitas instead.
Eventually, after an additional 90 minutes spent jib-jabbering in my section, Dane left, bestowing upon me a 15% tip *and* a glossy postcard for his class.
Not that I'd ever take the class, but I can picture every bad collegiate level acting technique imaginable, except in a public park. I picture Dane wearing a needless sweatband, doling out his delusion turds to a gullible audience of brow-beaten dreamers. I picture his poor nephew, guided only by ass-backwards advice.
And then I picture myself taking a flask to this park, incognito, and just laughing my ass off. End scene.
In yet another attempt to impress a rather unimpressive girl, one of our tightly tipping Armenian regulars pulled out all the stops whilst dining with a classy girl.
She of dark skin (a blend of something beautiful and Persian), 5'8", and sporting generously inflated basketball breasts; he of hair everywhere except upstairs, 5'5", and sporting a silk button-down boasting three competing shades of purple - they were a sight to see. And they deemed themselves royalty.
He snapped his fingers at me as they were seated.
"Two shots Grey Goose and Red Bull," we said in unison, me being quite accustomed to this instruction after enduring it for countless nights.
"Yeah we still don't carry Red Bull," I said.
"You did last time..."
"We did not last time," I replied. "Your server was desperate enough to run into the drug store next door to buy one for you."
"Well then why don't you..."
"No, absolutely not," I interjected.
"I come here all the time," he countered.
"No, I come here all the time," I said (an overused favorite, but a favorite nonetheless).
"Fine just two Grey Goose and cranberry shots," he said, waiving me away.
I returned shortly with the shots. I said nothing.
"We're not ready to order yet!" he barked as if I had suggested it at gunpoint.
"Did I ask?"
"Yes!" he said.
"I most certainly did not."
His girlfriend would have weighed in but she was busy taking selfies, each one with lips more insincerely pouty than the one before.
"We'll let you know when we're ready," he said while staring directly down his lady's decolletage.
Minutes later I was once again summoned snapped to the table.
"We are hungry," he informed me.
"Good thing we're in a restaurant," I said.
"I want fried burrito," we said in unison, me being quite accustomed to this request after enduring it for countless nights.
"Yeah we still don't have fried burritos," I said.
"You did last time..."
"We did not last time," I replied. "You are thinking of Casa Vega down the street."
With no rebuttal, he ordered for the two of them.
Shortly after their food arrived, I was snapped back to the table.
The girl was pointing expressionlessly at her plate, believing perhaps that I'd been imbued with a gift of supernatural sight. I couldn't see anything.
"There is long black hair in my cheek-en," she said with a mock pout.
Everyone in our kitchen that evening was male with short hair, and all wearing hair nets. The girlfriend, however, was constantly and conveniently playing with her many long black hairs as if they were a newspaper she was attempting to read.
"And we've ruled out that the hair might have been yours?" I asked.
"Nah I swear I saw right when plate was sat down," she said.
"Uhhh huh..." I said while retracting the dish.
The kitchen kindly and quickly remade the entree. I delivered it with a noticeable layer of Saran Wrap around the plate.
"Just to be extra safe," I said with a smile.
He eventually asked for the bill, this one a predictable $56.34, his usual total (give or take a few dollars).
"Take dis and keep change," we said in unison, me being quite accustomed to this instruction after enduring it for countless nights.
Years ago, when I'd had less life experience, I used to react in horror at the sight of a mother breastfeeding her baby in public.
But now, with so many friends who are young moms, I get it. Sure, I still think you should make every effort to cover up, mostly to protect yourself from the testosterone-laden morons who've regressed to the caveman era of chivalry. However, I will defend your right to feed your baby in my section, exposed melons or not (I don't really call breasts "melons" - as a gay man I rarely call them anything).
Naturally not everyone shares my view. Darryl sure doesn't.
Darryl, a contractor covered in dirt and sweat, was dining with his co-cavemen. Jenny, a young mom with a fussy baby, was trying to have a quick lunch in a concealed corner of the restaurant.
Darryl and company were drinking generous portions of tequila, always a safe choice during a mid-day lunch prior to building houses. En route to the restroom he happened to see Jenny nursing her baby. Despite her best efforts to cover up, the blanket had slipped, but the baby was content.
"Now that's a lunch!!" he shouted in her direction as he walked by.
She rolled her eyes, undeterred, and continued.
As he returned to the booth, Darryl was shaking his head in disapproval.
He said something to his friends that made them snicker while turning their heads towards Jenny.
She asked me for her bill, finished her meal, and left quietly.
Darryl called me over.
"Not that I'm complaining, but don't you all do anything about women flashing their tits in public?" he asked me.
"Not when they're feeding a baby, no," I said.
I imagine Darryl thought I'd either apologize or give him a fist bump. Naturally he felt inclined to turn his machismo anger in my direction.
"Well I'm a paying customer and I think it's offensive that women do that."
"Not all women do that," I said. "Just new moms who, like everyone else, are allowed to dine in public."
"So anything goes, huh?" he countered. "I could just whip out my cock?"
"I doubt that would make much of a splash," I said.
Instead of letting it go, Darryl really wanted to make this an issue. I can only hypothesize as to why a seemingly straight male would so willfully protest public breastfeeding.
He inevitably asked to speak with management, who also offered a similar show of support for Jenny. He paid, left no tip, and lingered at the table in his drunken stupor.
A few minutes later, lying through my teeth, I approached the table.
"More than a few of our customers have complained about the stench and volume coming from this table," I said. "So unless you can find a way to shower, I'm going to have to ask you all to leave."
And leave they did. My manager, God love him, started to applaud as they exited. I followed suit and tried to start the chant, "Don't! Come! Back!" What ever, it didn't catch on, I chanted it alone a few times. But I meant it.
But seriously, fuck you Darryl, and your mysoginistic view of how the world works. I'm sure your mother - THAT POOR WOMAN - found herself in many situations in which you were a crying infant during an inconvenient time to nurse, yet she put your well-being above the judgmental strangers around her.
Jenny wasn't trying to draw any attention to herself. I'm sure it wasn't optimal for her, but in lieu of hogging our one female bathroom stall to breastfeed, she chose something more expedient and convenient.
To Jenny and all moms out there - you are welcome in our restaurants. Now, please don't bring in a hungry infant at, like, midnight - that I won't normally defend. But the times are changing, and it's the world's problem that we're so stunted regarding issues such as these, not yours.
1. The frozen margarita...I've seen that sometimes served in a martini glass. Does that mean you all, like, shake it frozen in a martini shaker??
Yes. Any liquid poured into a martini glass must first be shaken in a martini shaker. Your ability to pick up on details is astute and rare.
2. We want to sit outside. Is it hot on the patio? (asked right after coming in from the outdoor parking lot)
Yes, we keep the heaters on during the day in the summer months. Also, I'm glad you asked, because to clarify we do use a different kind of natural air in the patio and a different one in the parking lot, so even though they're both within 30 feet of each other, yes, the temperatures often vary drastically, you world-changing thinker, you.
3. Don't you live in North Carolina??
Yes, I just commute on the weekends to this shitty Mexican bar in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. I'll bet you gave everyone in your high school's Honor Society a run for their money!
4. I'd like to send this back because it was overcooked. Can you take if off my check but box it up for me? I can feed it to my snakes.
Yes, we never charge people for meals they order if another person/being eats them. Say, for instance, you ordered a steak that was overcooked and wanted it taken off your check, but also let your husband eat the steak. You didn't actually eat the steak, your husband did, so of course we wouldn't charge for that. Also I have come delicious magic beans to sell to you intellectual revolutionaries
5. Any chance I could get the rest of this margarita in a to-go cup?
No. You can get a FULL brand new one in a to-go cup with our restaurant's name on it, for no extra charge! If anyone asks, tell them I was your server! We can clean up the sides of the Hollywood Freeway together, and I won't resent you at all, you Rhodes Scholar.
One terrifying type of diner is the enthusiastic-mom/psycho-bitch hybrid. While satiating baby's palette with an organic fruit snack, she's simultaneously screaming her condescending list of demands at every server within earshot.
Meet Margaret, spokesperson for the aforementioned mix of mom and witch. She, her thankless nanny Chita, average-looking baby Charlotte, and a few silent but equally bitchy young moms sat in my section during an otherwise leisurely brunch shift.
I greeted the table. Margaret was performing sign language (no, the baby wasn't deaf, no one in the party was, but Lord how I wish I were) and telling Charlotte to "use our words!"
"DON'T let those chips and salsa touch the table if they've been anywhere near any sort of peanut!" Margaret freaked while keeping my arms safely away from the table's surface.
"We're one of those rare Mexican restaurants that doesn't really use peanuts," I said, aggressively shirking her unwelcome hand from my person and releasing the chips and salsa to the bunch.
"Whatever, like, a nut allergy is very serious," she patronizingly informed me.
"Yes, I am aware, thank you," I said, "and I doubt our restaurant would go around just setting down peanuts in front of potentially deathly allergic customers. These, everyone, are tortilla chips and salsa. Corn, salt, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, peppers. No peanuts."
Margaret noted my tone but moved on.
"We have a serious milk situation here," she told me. "I need a cup of hot water. Do you think you could do that now, and then come back for the rest of the drink orders? And do you think you could just put the hot water in this sippy?"
She handed me a Dora sippy cup.
"I think I can," I smiled.
"Is this filtered hot water?" she asked.
"No, it's unfiltered hot tap water."
"Ew," she said, clearly expecting to have elicited more of a reaction from me than my narcoleptic death stare. I don't speak passive aggressive. "Ew" tells me nothing. If you want me to ask the bartender to boil a bottle of still water, say so. Otherwise, go lick yourself, you patronizing emasculator.
She then began the tedious task of ordering everyone's drinks and food for them, frequently pausing me with a hand gesture to ask them questions instead of, oh I don't know, letting them put on their big girl britches and order for themselves.
Instead of not wasting my valuable time spent checking used martini shakers for excess vodka, Margaret decided to let Charlotte, the barely one-year-old, order for herself. Charlotte just keep screaming, while Margaret repeated that she needed to "use our words!!", every time said slower and more intensely than the last.
Finally, Chita forged the cajones to say, "I think I heard quesadilla."
Margaret relented and completed the order.
The food arrived shortly thereafter. As is the case with all child plates, Charlotte's kid's quesadilla arrived after cooling down, at a safely warm temperature, on a cool plate. I know this because I carried it out myself.
That information is useful because, seconds later, Margaret beckoned for me, on the verge of crying.
"WHY is my daughter throwing a fit?!?!?!?" she asked me with a red, irrational anger filling her face.
"I have no clue, you should probably use your words and ask her,"
Well that didn't please Margaret.
"Either that plate was TOO hot, or there is some kind of PEA...NUT in there..."
"Or, she was hungry? Tired? Has a filled diaper? I'm no pediatrician but I know there could be a few different reasons."
"Well if I find any kind of peanut on that plate..."
"OH OKAY..." I interrupted her with a big smile and walked off.
Needless to say, Charlotte stopped crying shortly after eating, and no one found any peanuts in their food at any point throughout the duration of the day. The end.