Monday saw the arrival and obvious departure of my last French tour group of the "summer" season. That's the summer that never really started. Well it's over now for sure or rather the false hope that tomorrow may be sunny is over.
And it's this time of the year that a young waiters mind turns to Christmas, and mine too. That's right I said Christmas and it's not even Halloween yet. The season of supposed good will and wrist breaking fourteen hour shifts looms large in all our minds. What started as mindless and giggly chatter a few months back is now the sole topic of our jabbering and indeed our blabbering too. The new young 'uns think we are embellishing our stories of battles past. Our eyes gloss over and we stare into the void as we recant stories of waiters that didn't make it, of tables of twenty, no, thirty teachers all sarcastic and all half drunk. Of tables arriving 20 minutes late and of the difficulty of 10 minute resets. We speak in hushed tones, our voices trembling. Long draws are pulled from quickly smoked cigarettes until they are down to their soggy wet stub. The look in their little innocent faces, terror-disbelief-trepidation, keeps me warm for the rest of the night.
Oh but don't get me wrong there's no embellishing to be done. Christmas is all that and more.
I wouldn't be overstating it to say I was mildly pooing myself about this seasons Yuletide turkeyfest. It's shit mittens* for sure. The kitchen has been a shit storm, nice mental image, for the last couple of weeks. Chefs disappearing never to reappear. New chefs coming and inevitably going again. Hey if you cant handle the heat and all that jazz. There's been more drama and incomprehensible plot twists in the kitchen recently than in your average episode of Lost. And I hate that show. Chefs wind me up too. If the kitchen ain't right then the whole thing will go belly up in the worst and most dramatic way.
And then there are my fellow plate carriers. The new kids have yet to fill me with confidence. A restaurant full of drunk accountants and civil service employees is no place for the weak and indecisive. Every sitting is the equivalent to fighting the end of level boss on any video game ever. You have to keep bombing them until your thumbs are sore and you have the cramp shaped hands of a teenage boy. Our newbies need to be toughened up. I suggested the rest of us walk off the floor on a Saturday night and leave them to it for an hour. It's much the same nightmare as Christmas service but this was roundly poo pooed by the glorious leaders. Pfft!
What we really need are a few old pros, restaurant ringers if you will. A drunk Scotsman in the kitchen who can cook whilst nailing tin after tin of supermarket beer would work wonders for the, still wet behind the ears, wee lads who will make or break my Christmas season. And on the floor we need a couple of hard working, hard drinking, hard looking ladies. Black and whites, the mercenaries of the hospitality industry. Loyal to no venue, they take the money and run. I love these old warriors, they can carry six soup at a time and fear nothing. No teacher can out sarcasm them, no accountant can intimidate them. You cannot intimidate women with 6 teenage kids and a taxi driver for a husband.
Sure there'd be no finesse, no refinement, and certainly no "excuse me's" either. But then again Christmas isn't about finesse, refinement, or "excuse me" it's about surviving.
And tips, it's definitely about tips.
The countdown has begun. Onwards to insanity......
So what say you? Is there a time in your work year that causes you to weep gently into your pillow late at night with fear when no one else can hear you?