Monday, 24 November 2008

You know it's a bad day when you need a hacksaw.......

stop fingering my forks....

Ladies and gentlemen, my name is Manuel and I am a control freak. There I've said it. I'm not ashamed to say it but sometimes, just sometimes, I wish I wasn't such a control freak. I'd like to be a guardian of control or an occasional babysitter of control but not a control freak. You have no idea how exact Wikipedia's definition of control freak describes me.
"In some cases, the control freak sees their constant intervention as beneficial or even necessary; this can be caused by feelings of superiority, believing that others are incapable of handling matters properly, or the fear that things will go wrong if they don't attend to every detail. In other cases, they may simply enjoy the feeling of power it gives them so much that they automatically try to gain control of everything around them."
And? What's the problem?

When you add a huge case of OCD to my control freakery you get a real fun guy to work with. I'm so bad now that all my bathroom products are faced off so that the labels all face the same direction like the wine bottles etc behind the bar at work. My curtains must be equidistant on either side from the wall, just like work. My glasses are all stacked in equal rows and my shoes are in a perfect line from Converse to work shoes. It's oh so depressing and time consuming.

It would be so much easier if everybody else shared these obsessions goals with me. Waiter chum number one is nearly there but the new kids are years away from developing a full Obsessive Compulsive Disorder like all true waiting staff have. No really, the laughing never stops. But that's mainly at me rather than with me. I wonder sometimes if a restaurant is the best place for a controlling freak with obsession issues to work. I mean the most satisfying part of the day for me is that final minute before we open when everything is just so symmetrical and perfect. And then the guests arrive and start touching things.

Cunts.

Lets take Sunday for example. All was well in my world. The guests were neat, actually neat not neat like you crazy Americans say, that is to say they weren't spreading themselves over two tables when one would suffice. That shit irks me actually it vexes and irks to the point of distraction. Your coat, bag, children etc have a large enough table to fulfill your dining needs you don't need to involve the immaculately set table beside you. Anyway my restaurant was free from any of that nonsense and it was clam, calm like a Sunday should be but rarely is.

I was in a jolly mood and was acting the convivial host between my regular gig schlepping plates to and fro. I was exchanging pleasantries and laughing gayly with all the nice civilised sorts about this and that and the other. Even the children on table ten were keeping their sticky mitts off table twelves cutlery. This was just lovely, too good to be true but lovely.

And then the door opened.

Taking no notice of my charming welcome and pleased to see you expression a rather brash couple sidestepped me and wandered through the restaurant. Well they tried to. When I finally cornered them they explained that they were looking for the rest of their family who they had arranged to meet at the restaurant. After a quick shufty about we all agreed that they weren't there.

"Well you need to get us a table then", blustered Mr Brash. He seemed annoyed that I didn't have his family.

"Yes sir and how many will there be of you?"

He stared at his wife who stared back at him who then stared at me. It was like the end scene of Reservoir Dogs, you know when everybody is pointing guns at everybody. Soon someone would die, me, obviously.

"Deirdre, Sean, Sam, Bob, Brian, Matilda, Roisin, she bringing her Dave?"

"Aye, her Dave and his kids and wee Dave too and......", continued Mrs Brash counting out family members on her fingers. No wonder she looked so haggard. I stood there wondering when the roll call of names would end. I also wondered how wee was wee Dave but decided that it wasn't really a priority right now.

"Bout 20 of us", says Mr Brash.

"About 20?"

"Aye 20 at most", Confirmed Mrs Brash.

"And you don't have a table reserved, for 20, today, here, in this restaurant, for 20?"

"No do we need to?"

I got shot of them and told them I would have their table ready in about a half hour. I necked an espresso and tried to push the vein in my neck back down. But it wouldn't go down. In fact a half hour later, when the table was ready and looking magnificent, it popped out a little further.

In they strode with babies here and toddlers there and special bags with baby equipment and small boys with PSP's and screaming, oh the screaming. I can still here the wails of wee Dave as his brother beat him for no apparent reason. The men all wreaked of cigarettes and the women of cigarettes and Calvin Klein. Is there anything more annoying than the sanctimonious complaints of an ex-smoker?

"Here..." begins one of the women with a child at her legs "...er's nat enough seats fer us uns."

And she was right there wasn't enough seats for all of em uns. When Mr Brash said there would be about 20 of them he meant to say there would be about 25 of them uns. My bad, apparently, as they took the huff with me as some of them had to sit on a separate table. That's right, my bad. Sake.

At this point I decided waiter chum number three would be doing this table. My marvelous Sunday mojo was in tatters and I deduced that serving this lot wasn't gonna bring it back. Standing, or was it hiding, behind the bar I watched as cutlery hit the floor, each little clang forcing the vein in my neck out a little further. Why bother setting the table and making it pretty when a couple of buckets and trough would have done the job better? The three window blinds were raised and lowered and raised again like it was an Olympic sport and when they had finished with that all three were at different levels. They're mocking me. If there is one thing I really cant cope with it's my window blinds at different levels.

The order was secured and then changed and then sent to the kitchen and then changed again. Children were rushing round the place like it was an outdoor pursuits camp. Up the walls they went and under tables too. The toilets became a water park and other customers were just trivial inconveniences. Funny thing, I didn't sell one dessert after that table arrived. It was as if they had all decided, en masse, that now was a good time to leave and they did. Or at least they tried.

Someone had locked the door. The door to the restaurant, the door through which people enter or in this case leave. The door was locked and we needed a key to get them out. But alas they key would not work as the lock had been bust when said individual had locked it. Mother of all that is holy I was stressed. Three lovely couples were staring at me with, "please get us out of here" eyes whilst I fidgeted and pulled at the door. But the door would not budge. At this point the computer system decided that because it doesn't need a door to exit that it would leave in it's own special way and it did, it crashed. I had lost all control and was drowning mainly in a sea of toddlers and falling cutlery.

I ushered the nice people out the backdoor. It was like saving the Jews from the oncoming Nazis. Yes it is! Now, taking customers out the backdoor of a restaurant is like inviting your mother to read through the history file of your internet, that is to say there is shit in there you don't want them to see. But what was I to do?

Food was served and food hit the floor. Thankfully the restaurant was empty now, obviously as the door was still locked. But after someone, the manager I assume who was running between the office and the front door trying to fix all our problems, secured a hacksaw we managed to get the door open again. As we watched them eat/drop their food we discussed what had happened to the door and wondered how it had become locked. Various reasons were offered and in the end children were blamed. "Not so", responded waiter chum number one who had been on a smoke break (oh how I envied her). One of the dad's had done it. She had over heard him explain to his wife that he had locked the door to stop the kids getting out.

UN-FUCKING-BELIEVABLE.

The children were now through the restaurant like an invading army. I had tried to reason with a few of them and had even tried to coax them back to the "loving" arms of their various mothers. Like they listened. No they would much rather ping cutlery off wee Dave's head. In the end I gave up. I gave up trying to keep the restaurant tidy. I gave up picking food off the floor. I gave trying to push all my elevated veins back under the skin.

You can't control the weather and you can't control a half dozen children if they want to ping your cutlery off their cousins head.......

35 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

Vinyl Crescendo said...

Oh goodness. It sounds like you had the kids I babysit times ten. It's a shame you can't pay them back for their bad behavior, such as sticking forks in the floor in between the kid's toes so they can't move, or something to that effect. Perhaps it would tell them not to come back ever again?

Too bad you didn't have those extra lemons from weeks back- those kids could've had fun with those if some faces were on the produce!

I'm sure the next day will be better. Tomorrow I have to deal with a man old enough to be my father asking for my phone number for the millionth time. Being a drive thru bank teller can be quite interesting as well....

Masquerade said...

Oh. My. God.

*gives you some Vicoden*

There are days I'm very glad I"m not you.

Manuel said...

Vinyl Crescendo: tomorrow certainly will be a good dya....I'm off!

masquerade: some? wants more!!!!

daisyfae said...

a tranquilizer dart gun - with extra valium for the wait staff? will get it in the post immediately... came in handy when i coached youth football...

Medbh said...

You can't do anything more than get out of the way and go to your happy place, Manuel.
Nightmare!

ggwinner dot com said...

Deadly day you had! :)

savannah said...

you poor thing! xoxox

MJ said...

Does weed count as smoking?

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

That was horrific. When I have to serve a bunch of kids I don't care anymore. Just feed him but that sounded so bad all the other guests left in a heartbeat. Sounded like a Chuck E Cheese birthday party or something. Good on you for not smoking!

B said...

so... basically you picked this job purely cos of how it doesn't suit you so you can write about it?

A.B. said...

MJ - only if you inhale.

I'm one too, pal. It's why I work for myself..... it's soooo much easier.

Old Knudsen said...

Ha hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahahhahahahahahahaah and ha!

What a glorious tale of disaster. I would like to know how she counted 20 on her fingers? with the names Sean and Brian and a ton of kids they must have been mutated Fenian types.
A good advert for abortion maybe the Pope should work the odd Sunday in a restaurant.

Silverstar said...

I'm with Daisy Fae, tranquilizer dart gun, and good drugs for the staff. Often had days like that at the nursing home. Never knew whether to dose the residents or the staff. Or both.

Lottie said...

Lots of deep breaths. I used to be a control freak then I just gave up. It's easier this way.

Manuel said...

daisyfae: send asap.......please

medbh: I know but then they've won....

ggwinnerdotcom: welcome! oh yeah a real fucking peach......

savannah: thanks....

mj: I have a lawyer checking my non-smoking contract.....

steve: it was worse than a chuck e cheese.....much worse

b: seriously though it would seem that way..

a.b: a lot of popped veins for you then.....?

old k: that's why I added protestant names like Matilda and Sam and Crawford......ha!

silverstar: hey if the door had been locked with me on the other side I wouldn't have said a thing...

lottie: how? I mean how did you do that.....?

fatmammycat said...

Jesus, that made my ovaries shrivel up and dry just by reading.

Mrs. Toast said...

Delurking to say, that was a very very funny post. My cornflakes have now been sprayed in a wide arc over the table. (Hope that doesn't further upset your need for orderliness. I'll wipe it up now!)

Poor Manuel. *Offers tea, biscuits and gentle back rub*. Hope the troublemakers find a different Sunday hangout next time.

Manuel said...

fmc: crikey......but it;s not the kids though is it? it's the parents......I mean one kid didn't like his kids sized roast beef lunch so he refused to eat it so mum ordered him a burger. Ordered him a burger? get the fuck outta here! kids these days....grumble grumble moan moan

mrs toast: welcome, crikey! I hope their cars/mini vans breakdown on the side of the motorway or something.....I hope your wee one will learn the ways of the waiter.....or at least how not to ping forks off other kids heads.....

harried_dad said...

My friend has two boys aged 4 and 2. He irons all their clothes and hangs them in order (by season and them by size) serious case of OCD. When we were at school together I used to amuse myself by mixing up his CDs and putting them in different covers. Only thing was that I ended up more OCD than him because I had to mess things up couldn't stand it if things were tidy.

Conan Drumm said...

Hmm, a little fire would have been very interesting... the lock-em-in parents would have sued you out of business.

Manuel said...

dad: cd's in the wrong covers.......[pops veins back in place]

conan: oh no doubt......if they had survived....

Red hair, Red face said...

How did your man get the key to the door in the first place???


Love the comparison of kids to nazis....very apt!

Maxi Cane said...

They actually locked the door? And you kept serving them? Politely?

I obviously made the right choice in leaving that behind, because I'd have made a scene.

NextSeatOver said...

A table for 20!!... no reservation!!... In which alternative reality??.. you are good and kind to even consider feeding them..

red leeroy said...

must have taken a few hours to peel off the 60 or 70 nicotine patches eh ?

sheepworrier said...

Thought you worked in one of the city centre restaurants Manuel? How'd you manage to sit an unbooked table of 25 on a sunday?

Manuel said...

red hair: it didn't need a key to be locked.....it; was a bad door with a bad system....

maxi: dude it was one of those tables that wouldn't take criticism well.....you know the sort smack the fuck out of you and deny questions later....

nextseatover: welcome! these are tough times and you take anything.....anything!!

red: bwahahaha yes, yes it did.....

sheepo: yes I do......and as I say these are tough times and when it comes to it you can find room for a twenty when needed. They seemed so ok-ish at first....

savannah said...

something bothered me bout this when i read it earlier! and now i fiogured out what it was (nothing about you, of course, sugar!) i call ahead and book resos always, even when it's just the 2 of us! what sort of non thinking boob thinks you can walk into a resto with more than 20 people INCLUDING children and get a table? what gall! ok, i know the answer, but i'm just venting on your behalf, darlin! xoxox

Lisa said...

I was thinking the same thing about a fire. And maybe you were able to add all the missed desserts to the family table's tab *hahahaha*

MikeTheWaiterDotCom said...

OMG, Manuel...this sounds like the waiter nightmare I occasionally experience after a particularly difficult nite! as far as Sunday goes, we always have what we call Happy Sunday at my restaurant... no managers, no owners, no stress ... I appreciate that you pawned off the large party and foregoing the tip ... sometimes making nothing is better than the aggravation... hillarious story, thanks...
peace, mw

Manuel said...

savannah: oh we talked about that for ages at work.....you just wouldn't do it!!

lisa: welcome: next time i'm starting the fire myself.....

mike: we pool our tips......and anyway it ended up being one of those tables with three people working it....nightmare

Lone Waitress said...

What an unbelievable day! As if serving a table with children isn't bad enough...It's amazing that when some people have kids they think that the rules the rest of the world has to follow don't apply. Locking the door?!? How did that ever seem like an OK thing to do?

waxydan said...

Reading your terrible tale reminded me one of the more horrible incidents of my years spent teaching. What finally drove me out of the profession was my schoolyard experience.

I strode across the yard, swerving to avoid any contact with the young morlocks, expertly rolling a smoke in my coat pocket (one-handed I might add), when I saw one girl from my class race toward another.

I arrived too late to stop the first punch being landed and the first girl being thrown to the ground in retaliation. The girl on the ground quickly reached into her shirt and produced a short knife and tried to get to her feet; swiping at her opponent as she did so, I really didn’t know what else to do, so I tackled this 14 year old and pinned her shoulders with my legs.

I desperately hoped that would be the end of it but was immediately robbed of that illusion as I saw several quick booted kicks landed on her head. The other girl taking advantage of my pinning her adversary.

For a few short minutes, until more staff arrived to my rescue, I found myself in the thin moral ice of sitting on one 14 year old; applying all the pressure I could to her knife-brandishing arm, while punching another girl repeatedly in the chest with my one free arm to try and halt her assault.

All around us dozens of their peers gathered; shouting obscenities, screaming incoherently and, in some cases, tearing open their shirts and bras (I shit you not).

"Ah", I thought, "The future is in good hands".

Michelle said...

What a bunch of a-holes, and yes, it's always the parents. That story reminds me of why I am fond of saying "I hate people". (Well, not ALL people, but you know what I mean)

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