Based solely on my seniority and despite my willful hatred of waiting tables, I'm often asked to train new servers. Sometimes this makes the shift function more smoothly, especially when the trainee is over-eager and seeking my approval (in vain). All my drinks are refilled, all my food is run, and all my mistakes are blamed on the newbie.
Other times, however, the trainee is a boil on my ass, usually due to incompetence, ego, or laziness. With Shane, it was all three. Toxically macho, entitled, and not quite handsome enough to be so cocky, Shane rubbed me the wrong way the minute I met him.
As I was about to introduce myself, he interrupted me with a sigh and asked, "What time's this shift done?"
"When our section's empty," I said, switching my tone from passably friendly to pointedly curt.
Shane was now at the end of his training week, meaning this was his night to take one table by himself. He'd still follow and assist me when not dealing with his trial two-top. Unsolicited, Shane let me know that he wasn't working here "to make friends or meet women," but instead to "make money" (unlike the rest of us who are just here to practice our empathy on entitled strangers).
Eventually Shane's lone two-top was seated. While he greeted them, our MENSA-level hostess sat me with three four-tops while the rest of the restaurant remained empty. Once Shane took his table's drink order, he stood in the doorway between the dining area and the kitchen. Arms folded, glare forward, not a single fuck given. He looked like Dylan McKay protesting Donna Martin's right to graduate. Once I caught up with my new tables, I raced towards him and asked if he'd take four waters to one of my parties.
"That's not my table," he said.
I stopped in my tracks. "No," I said, "It's our table, and if I ask you to take a round of waters to the women's restroom, you need to do so."
"Whatever," he said, begrudgingly breaking his bad boy pose to fetch my waters.
Before I had a chance to grab a cocktail (for myself), Shane's one two-top flagged me down like shipwreck survivors.
"Every single thing on my plate is wrong," the guest said. "Wrong bun, wrong kind of patty, wrong kind of sauce, wrong side. Jesus, the only thing he got right was the plate."
I laughed, making sure Shane could see me getting on well with his table. I apologized on his behalf and assured the guest I would correct her order. I walked the blundered burger back to the kitchen, breezing past arms-folded Shane and ignoring him when he asked "What happened?".
"Everything on this plate is wrong," I told the chef, quickly assigning blame.
"That's impossible," Shane said. "She was on her phone the whole time I took her order, how would she know what she got?" It was hard to argue with that kind of wisdom.
"Of course," I said, "it couldn't possibly be your fault."
The chef, who's perturbed merely by eye contact, didn't waste time informing our general manager of Shane's mistake and his attempt to pass the buck. The G.M. asked me if I shared the chef's low assessment of Shane, which I eagerly supported. Minutes later, I saw Shane and the G.M. sitting at a table. Firing time. Shane rose shortly and walked out. Arm raised and middle finger in the air, Shane trudged slowly out of my life for good, looking kind of like this: