You know what's "fun"? Nicotine patches that's what. Oh mummy they are bonkers. I'm surprised the kids aren't lashing them on all over their scrawny drug addled bodies so that they can live the Hunter S. Thompson lifestyle whilst they sleep. The dreams I've been having are the stuff of nightmares, if you know what I mean. Even that old crazy horse Dali would have struggled to create the surreal landscapes that fill my mind in the wee small hours of darkness. It's not just the usual dancing with horses kid of stuff that I usually dream, oh no it's far more peculiar than that. All the mythical creatures are there from Minotaurs to Australians that tip (Seriously any chance? Stiffed me even though I seated them five minutes after we had closed!)
But half man half bull(shit) creatures and Minotaurs aside I'm still off the smokes after five days. Which is nice.
But I was seriously tested and tempted on Friday, the day Bob and all his builder chums were due to depart, never to return, from my beautiful restaurant. I arrived to work filled with optimism as I had been assured my restaurant would be free from builders and builders detritus, Jaffa Cakes and Pepsi Max, by the time I arrived. My optimism was short lived, as short lived as my temper. The next five hours was a race against time. What Jack Bauer does in 24 I can do in five, and I don't have to turn into a right wing poster boy to do it. The thought of me being anybodies poster boy is quite amusing.
12.05pm - After a quick walkabout round the restaurant I couldn't help but notice the complete lack, that is to say none what so ever, of swanky new tables and chairs and a complete lean of builders. Wikipedia assures me that a lean is the collective noun for builders. Really? A lean? I'm sure we could all come up with something far better than that. Hows about a recline? I sought a manager for an update. None to be found.
12.10 - As the coffee machine was plumbed and ready for action I availed of it's services.
12.12 - I discovered that espresso just isn't the same without a cigarette to accompany it. It dawned on me at this point that it was going to be a tough day. I fingered a pear for a moment but decided I would keep it for later.
12.18 - Whilst drinking a pint of water I finally found a manager. He filled me in with all the wonderful things that wouldn't be happening today. There would be no new seating nor new tables adoring the newly varnished floor. There would also not be any new heat lamps and the bar wouldn't be finished for another few days. Where's that pear?
12.30 - I discovered that people don't take your rants seriously whilst you are eating a pear and pear juice is trickling down your chin. See, whilst pears are a good cigarette substitute for maintaining a healthy lifestyle/diet they do lack a certain something when it comes to trying to appear serious and important. Jack Bauer probably doesn't eat pears.
1230 - 1.10pm - Didn't do anything. Stood and watched as builder after builder
1.49pm - Having done nothing but watch Bob and his chums and assistants to chums wobble back and forward what seemed like a thousand times I decided someone needed to inject a bit of urgency/panic into the proceedings. With only three hours to opening we still had no tables and chairs and the place looked like a shite hole. I sought the calming influence of a manager. I had fingered my second pear to the point where it resembled something more like a bad Swiss cheese than a fresh fruit.
1.50 - 2pm - It took ten minutes to find a manger who was drinking coffee and having a gay old time with some sales chap or tother. Was this really the best time to be discussing the price of loo roll? Was it? Really? You sure? He didn't appreciate my line of questioning and I was sent to "calm fucking down."
2.15 - My breathing was more relaxed again so I had another go at the espresso. This invigorated me so I thought I would take my concerns straight to the lead Bob. The lead Bob is a portly man with a roughish wink and all the urgency of a three toed sloth, on holiday. Every thing's "Grand" or "Looking good" or met with an "Ach now..." Jesus, he's infuriating. I addressed my uncertainties with regard to the whole restaurant being open by five thing with him in a calm manner but with a sense of urgency. He replied, "Ach now....it's all grand....looking good"and then winked at me. What the fuckity fuck does that mean? He was so evasive it was infuriating. Jack Bauer wouldn't stand for evasiveness.
2.30 - Whilst destroying another pear the manger comes up to me and tells me that I need to stop bothering the builders. I considered this for a moment.
2.45 - With my moment of consideration and ruminating at an end I decided that I was gonna have a smoke. These were testing times, there was only 2 and a bit hours to opening and the bar was yet to be cleaned let alone stocked and there were still no tables or god damned chairs. Who wouldn't forgive me a little toke at the wet end of a hand rolled cigarillo? Who, I ask you would think I was bad for relieving my own tension? Jack Bauer, that's who. So I didn't.
3pm to 3.07pm - Nothing happened. I didn't totally freak out. I didn't swear. I didn't threaten to lodge a pear up anybodies "dark passage." Not me, must have been somebody else. Jack Bauer probably.
3.15pm - Bob and all the little Bob's, because nobody is bigger than Bob, started packing up their grotty collection of Toyota Hiace vans with all their paraphernalia and assorted lunch boxes. Huzzah! I haven't been so happy to see someone leave since the Russians quit Afghanistan.
3.25pm - I gave myself a talking to. This was Manuel time. I could shine or I could shite, the choice was mine. I had an hour and forty five minutes to get the restaurant ready to open and damn it I always open on time. "Yeah, LETS DO IT!" I screamed. It hurt my throat a little so I calmed myself and then realised my math was for shit and I only had an hour and thirty five minutes to go.
3.30pm - As we were now in the red zone, time wise, I decided I need to pressgang the manager into helping me. And for about ten minutes he did until the assistant manger arrived and the two of them thought it would be fun to try and wind me up. They were as giddy as kids on a school trip. Honestly. I was both tetchy and irascible and in dire need of a smoke and they fucking well knew it.
4.30 - After an hour of ball achingly slow progress, not helped by Beavis and Butthead and their constant giddiness, I realised that we weren't gonna make it, no chance in hell. The tables, now in place, still hadn't been set and I had no idea where the cutlery was. I freaked out again. This manifested itself through a two minute sweat soaked rant which was met with laughter.
"What are you laughing about? I have a table of fifteen coming in at five!" I asked with sweat running down my nose.
"Do you wanna tell him or shall I?" said the ass-istant manger to the glorious leader.
"All yours" says he. By now I'm practically convulsing with an anxiety attack.
"WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TWO UP TO?"
After five minutes of laughter the ass-istant manger informs me that my table of fifteen phoned, the day earlier, and moved their table back by an hour. What happened next is really rather unprintable. Needless to say I didn't cover myself in glory. Manuel is not a fan of jokes were he is the punch line.
But with the arrival of waiter chum numbers three and four we got open by half five and as I stood there surveying mine and Bob's very fine work, and it was very fine work, I couldn't help but think that if I could survive that day without a smoke then the rest would surely be do-able too.
Then the guests arrived which is, of course, another story........