Some nights you have to work when you have a massive cold, and on those nights the devil wrings his hands in glee, plotting the slow, snotty demise of your soul.
Because I was sick, naturally the hostess saw fit to triple-seat me, in between shooting her shitty Vine videos.
As for the customers, they were:
1) Two stretch-faced cougar women, "in a hurry" to see a movie
2) A bratty British teenager and her boyfriend, "in a hurry" to see a movie
3) A near-dead elderly couple, "in a hurry" to see a movie
I told parties one and three I'd be with them shortly, knowing they'd take the longest to order, and greeted the Brits. Ella, the Brit brat, batted her eyelashes at me as if I were susceptible to her few charms.
"Hiiiiiiiiiiieeeee," she said. "We have a movie to get to, so we're kind of in a hurry. Is it okay if we just order tea?"
"Nope," I replied.
"Oh, uhhhh," she stammered. "Well, may we do two chamomile teas and then we'll look over the menu?"
"Okay," I said. "But you have to order food."
I moved down Dante's line of guests to the elderly couple.
"Hello," I said.
"I WANT CHICKEN," the old man announced, handing me back the menu.
"Great, in which form?" I asked. He looked at his wife with a grating, clueless look of helplessness, as if I'd expressed this question by clacking my tongue repeteadly.
"HE WANTS THE COBB SALAD," his wife informed me. "AND I WANT THE COBB SALAD."
"And to drink?" I asked.
"YES," she said, "WE'RE SEEING A MOVIE SO WE'RE IN A HURRY."
And last but not least, the thirsty cougars.
"We're in a hurry to make a movie, and we're ready to order," Barbara told me through her wax candy lips. "Is it going to take long?"
"I have no idea what you're ordering, so it's nearly impossible to tell," I replied.
"What's something quick?" Claudia asked, her poor, painted eyelids never quite staying at the same level.
"Water," I answered.
"How about an appetizer platter?" Barbara asked Claudia.
"We don't have an appetizer platter," I said with offense. "May I bring you something to drink while you look over the menu?"
After much hemming and hawing, they settled on two glasses of sweet wine, a hummus plate, and two cups of tomato bisque.
"But quickly," Barbara reminded me. "We need to be out of here quickly."
"We want the same thing," I assured her.
I checked back on the Brits, who pretended to look at a menu when I approached. I told them they had four more minutes before I brought over the bill.
Shortly thereafter, the elderly woman shouted that she was waiting for the iced teas she never ordered, and the cougars both asked for straws for their wine. Then the Brits needed more honey, the cougars wanted ice cubes, and the elderly man requested a pillow to sit on. I received two new tables, but thank God they were inhabited by normal people with normal restaurant needs.
Ella waived me down. "We couldn't decide on anything, so I guess we'll just tab out," she told me with strained earnestness.
"Whatever," I said as I thrust the bill on the table. They left exact change and no tip.
The elderly couple was the next to leave. I dropped off the bill, and the old man immediately tried to sign it.
And finally, the cougars, who informed me they enjoyed "nothing" about their meal, asked me to box up said offensive feast.
Once all three groups left, I swear I felt my cold back off slightly, out of sympathy. I tallied my tips from the three groups - a collective $12, which I should have spent on NyQuil, but I figured the best cure would be a bottle of Malbec.