4:32 pm: Having not left for work in time to avoid traffic, I call my manager and fabricate a flat tire as an excuse for being late for my 5 pm shift.
4:58 pm: It turns out traffic wasn't so bad. My manager asks how I arrived so quickly after pulling over to change a flat. I lie and say God and time were on my side.
5:02 pm: In our pre-shift meeting, the chef asks me to describe the salmon. Having made no effort to memorize the new menu, I get about 15 seconds into a brilliant story about Gruber, the fictitious man who caught the salmon, until I'm cut off.
5:11 pm: It's vodka-in-a-kid's-cup time.
5:15 pm: I greet my first table, a seemingly sad man waiting for one more. He apologizes for taking up a table with an incomplete party, and I thank him for doing so.
5:20 pm: A party of six loud Persian princesses occupies the table next to the sad man. They warn me they're celebrating a 21st birthday, and that they'll require a lot of attention. I apologize in advance for the lack of attention they'll receive.
5:30 pm: The Persian party expands to 10, and they take over the empty tables in my section (without asking). I now have only them and the sad man in my section.
5:40 pm: The party asks when the sad man will be leaving because they need the table for even more friends. I inform them he's waiting for one more and that it will be awhile before that table's free. They throw a small fit. Which reminds me...
5:43 pm: It's vodka-in-a-kid's-cup time.
5:57 pm: The seemingly sad man apologizes profusely for holding up my table. I explain the situation with the party next to him and once again thank him for holding down the fort, an idiom that doesn't completely apply or land. He explains he's waiting for a Tinder date. I get the feeling he's been stood up, and it makes me feel feelings. Awww.
6:05 pm: With people filing in and out, the party makes an attempt to order. They try in vain to get me to split the bill, which I refuse with the steely resolve of Faye Dunaway.
6:10 pm: I return from placing the party's order to find the head party princess asking the seemingly sad man when he'll be leaving. I intervene and tell her she's not allowed to bother other guests.
6:17 pm: The seemingly sad man's date finally arrives, claiming she had a flat tire en route. Yeah right.
6:32 pm: My belief in God is reignited when the party moves to a completely different section to accommodate all their add-on guests. The hostess asks if I'd like to keep the party. I cackle. Which reminds me...
6:35 pm: It's vodka-in-a-kid's-cup time.
6:40 pm: The princess party insists they left a camera in my section. They did not. One of them accuses me of stealing the camera just moments before she realizes it was tucked away in her coat pocket. I cackle.
6:55 pm: The seemingly sad man and his date order. His date is sweet. They're having a good time. I bring all three of us a round of drinks to celebrate.
7:05 pm: I ask the hostess why my three empty tables haven't been re-seated. In between selfies, she explains to me that there's a large party coming in at 9 pm. I start to explain that she could easily re-seat me with parties of two, but then I realize I'm asking her for customers. I stop, smile, and nod.
7:45 pm: Seemingly sad man is now halfway happy man. He and his date are holding hands from across the table. Awww.
8:15 pm: We're off a wait, and I ask one of the opening servers if he'll stay and close for me. He asks for $20. I begrudgingly agree.
8:20 pm: Out the door, I race to my car and begin the trek home. I stop in my tracks when I notice my car has a flat tire.
8:45 pm: I was kidding about the flat tire! I arrive home, put on my face, and refill my lucky kid's cup.