I know it's not cool to say but I really like working where I do. It's the people you see, they are, for the most part, good people. Yes, all the Waiter Chums from one through to four, gently, rock my world and that's despite their many many faults - from unchecked veganism to rampant teenagism. They'll grow out of them I suppose. One day I'll let one of them on here to give you the lowdown on what a never ending joy it is to work alongside me - the tears, the trauma, the laughter, the obsessions and compulsions which are it has to be said, legion, the whims whimsies and foibles all exposed.
Or maybe not.
It's true to say that I can be a difficult chap to work with with more moods than a paint shop and more tantrums than backstage at a Prince concert. But when you get to know me you get to love me. Or at the very least you are able to judge my minute to minute mood swings and make rational decisions about staying the fuck away. I'm not easy. I save all the good stuff, the laughter and politeness and the witty remarks for the guests. By the time they have had their pound of benevolent flesh from me I am spent, all tapped out, I have no love left to give.
But when I went back to work on Sunday I was met with a generosity of warmth and good spirit that genuinely touched me. Not that I let them see this of course. I was also called buddy, big fella, sport and champ on numerous occasions which was eh decidedly odd as people gently trod on egg shells around me. Bless. All joking aside they have been great.
Being back at work felt a little weird, a little like I shouldn't have been there even though I really did want to be back. There is only so much moping any one person can do, and I speak as a recovering goth. But the weirdest thing of all was that nothing seemed to be annoying me. Not the mess from the night before. I didn't swear when I happened upon some very out of place and dirty cutlery, I mean why was it in the ice bucket? Why? Why? Why? I neither flinched nor felt the need to punch the wall when I read the somewhat hysterical note on the board regarding St Valentine's day bookings, a note that completely contradicted my previous instructions. A week earlier and I would have been catatonic with rage at such a proclamation, but not today.
Someone had, metaphorically speaking, been peeing in the corners of my restaurant and I wasn't upset, how queer. Had I changed in a week? Was I turning over a new and more pleasant leaf? Was I growing up? It was all jolly strange that's for damn sure.
The first table arrived about ten minutes after we opened. They were wet from the snow but had dressed accordingly. Actually they looked like mannequins from an outdoor pursuits shop such was their get up. It took them five minutes just to get their matching cagoules and hats off. Sake. After a good ten minutes of blowing on their hands, I assumed the blood supply had been cut off due to the ridiculously over the top gloves they were wearing, I bobbed over to get their order.
"And folks are we ready to order?"
"Yes.....eh just a few questions first", said the Chris Bonnington-a-like
"Yes sir what ya need to know?", I replied in an affable and almost jovial manner. It was early and I was tired.
"The Yorkshire puddings with the roast beef are they fresh made or bought in?"
"Oh they are fresh made sir." Lie.
"I'll be able to tell the difference you know"
"Okie dokie." No you bloody wont. A pudding expert, how marvelous I thought.
"Okay that's fine then and the beef itself is it local?"
"Sir if it was anymore local it would have a Belfast accent", this being one of my most often used lines and regularly gets a good reaction. Cows? Speaking, oh Manuel you are a hoot. Not this time though. Ooh tough crowd
"I can tell if it's not..."
"I can tell if it's not local you know. I eat out a lot. An awful lot." Ooh a dead cow expert to boot, oh how the evenings must just fly by in that house what with all the blind meat tasting and Yorkshire pudding evaluating.
"Sir all our meat is local as stated on the menu", and I pointed a stubby finger where it says, "All our meat is local". This seemed to reassure him.
"So sir will it be the roast beef then for lunch?", I asked in attempt to get things moving.
But chummy wasn't done yet, "The potatoes are they mashed or whole or just how are they served?"
"All the roasts sir are served with both champ and roast potatoes. Proper roast potatoes sir, not bought in. Is that okay for you?" I was trying to preempt his next question.
"Mmmmmmm champ eh." That was a mmmmm of contemplation rather than one of salivation.
Now normally, under usual conditions, I would have quite probably snapped by now or at the very least been fingering the stabbing fork. But given my new dispensation and with a new zest for life and for living I remained both calm and strangely enough pleasant.
"So sir will it be the roast beef eh?" I asked again.
Slapping his menu on the table, consequently sending a starter fork crashing to the floor, he announced, "I'll have the pork!"with a firmness of voice and clarity of decision that right up until that moment had been missing. I didn't see it coming at all, nor the fork either.
Pop went the vein in my neck and all the rage and enmity was back in a flash. He got the silent treatment for the rest of the meal. It was a small thing I know but it did feel good to be back on my high horse again. I was quite worried there for a moment that all my rage was gone, dissipated, diluted by the kindness of my work chums. Now to find the manger who's been writing angry notes, he's gonna get some.
I just need someone to call me a fat bastard again, at work that is, and I will know everything is back to normal. There's never a chef when you need one.....