Thursday, January 17, 2013

Tales From An Ex-Waitress: Gluttony Is A Deadly Sin



I stood in the blind spot of the restaurant's security cameras, hiding from our Big Brother owner and his new favorite live feed. We knew he watched them religiously, and it left us with not many places to go unseen. 

I checked my phone – boredom from a lack of business on a lackluster Monday afternoon. No messages. Why did everything feel so weird? The town was quiet, grey clouds blocked out the sunlight and gave the appearance of impending rain. But rain was not on the forecast. The light filtered through the frosted windows, basking the restaurant in an unnatural glow. 

The other three employees working were also in a daze. The bartender stared off into space, absentmindedly cleaning the inside of a wine glass. He was probably wondering to himself how long he would remain at a restaurant where, during the winter, the stream of customers quickly dissipated, like a river slowly stretching out until it was dry and barren. We were in a customer drought, and when you rely on tips for the majority of your income, you start to get anxious when this happens. 

I looked around for the busser, who was non-existent. He was probably outside inhaling a cigarette for the seventh time in the last four hours. Cigarettes and alcohol are the two main food groups of servers. Being that I hardly consume either, I often stuck out like a marker in a crayon box. I simply just didn’t belong. 

The hostess was in her usual place-- at the podium waiting to greet customers, and was probably drawing cartoon hearts on the floor plan.

I sulked. I wanted to go home.

Even doing laundry and homework is better than this.

Jingle jingle jingle.

My eyed darted to the front door.

Just when you think your day is going to be another pit of mindless daydreaming, sometimes the universe sends something Zeus lightening-style out to strike you down. 

I could see the hostess straighten up and prepare herself to greet the costumers. And then I saw it. An enormous woman positioned herself in front of the hostess stand, waiting to be seated.

Now, I’m not normally one to judge someone for being obese. I get it. Our culture practically sticks a Coke-dip into our veins. But sometimes, you see something so unbelievable that you can’t quiet your inner-monologue. 

The woman was wearing a giant floral mumu, and her hair was twisted into rollers. I couldn’t see her feet, but I almost wanted to wager money with the bartender that she was probably wearing slippers. It was as if she had just walked out of a trailer park contest with an award for “The Most Trashy”.

....Am I being punked?

Like many other servers, we are essentially actors. We are used to people being rude, gluttons, or asking stupid questions (like, “Do you have italian dressing?” when they are eating at an Italian restaurant). I pulled deep from within myself the best efforts to maintain a carefree, non-interested facial expression. The bartender couldn’t even handle it-- so he went off to the supply cabinet, clutching his mouth with his hands to hide his shit eating grin. I pretended to put an order in on the computer monitor, but kept her in the corner of my eye.

“Just waitin’ for my husband to park the car. There’ll be two of us,” The woman said, voice deep like a cross dressing man who reveals his true identity the moment he speaks. “Somethin’ by tha’ winda’?”

I cringed. I had an available booth facing the harbor – prime real estate. The hostess instantly turned on her heels, two lunch menus in hand, and led the woman to the open table.

I leaned back against the wall in silent protest.

Jingle jingle jingle.

And then there he was. The woman’s Prince Charming, her Knight in Shining Armor. The ridiculousness of his appearance made me wish I wore glasses with a secret camera. I felt a deep desire to have proof of this moment, because surly, at this point, nobody would believe the story. He had such a protruding belly, that if he was a woman, I would be convinced she was in her tenth month of pregnancy. This was perfectly put together with a once-white and now sweat-stained tank top, complemented by worn and ripped khaki shorts. They both seemed completely out of place, and I wondered where they came from. 

He shuffled his way through the restaurant in search of his Queen, and I saw his eyes lock onto her outside. As he passed by me, I hid my face in my hands and turned in the opposite direction, as if I had to sneeze.

 Moments later, the hostess walked up to me, eyes wide with intense amusement.

“Good luck with that one,” She said, tucking her straightened brown hair behind each ear. “They both smell disgusting.”

She sulked off towards the hostess stand, and I took a deep breath. I glanced outside to assess the situation. To my surprise, they were not at the table facing the harbor. The menu’s were sitting alone, untouched.

A tiny bubble of excitement rose within me. Maybe it was my lucky day. Maybe they changed their minds and decided to eat somewhere else. Maybe I wouldn’t have to practice an unbelievable amount of self-control for the entirety of their meal.

Maybe.

I walked outside to investigate.

As my eyes locked onto the only people on the patio, something just didn’t make sense. At first glance, it appeared as if the table I had waited on thirty minutes prior had suddenly ballooned seventy pounds each and decided to finish their meals fully instead of complaining about how greasy it was.
I wanted to tell myself that it really was the previous table, and not what my eyes were telling me. But there it was, plain as day-- the glorious couple, sitting at the yet-to-be-bussed table, finishing off the previous costumers left over Fish N’ Chips and shrimp appetizer. 

I wished I had bussed the table. The lazy afternoon made us careless. On days like this, we often would let things sit for far too long, leaving the remains to be picked over by seagulls and other birds. But this was much, much worse.

In silent horror, I stood frozen in the middle of the patio, completely abandoning all sense of composure. I stared at them, eyes wide and mouth gaping. The woman inspected one of the remaining pieces of fried fish on the plate, dipped it into the same sauce sitting openly on the table, and ate it without another seconds hesitation.


Now, I know that yes, technically we would have thrown that food out. It is more or less still edible and some people may see throwing good food out as a waste. There are starving people all over the world. Sure, there have been a couple occasions when I’d sneak fries off a tables plate, but that was always before it got to them. This was far beyond anything regarding "finish your plate!" than I had ever witnessed before.

The husband repeated his wife’s movements, picking up bits and pieces of food from the plate in front of him. He scooped out the remaining bits of tartar sauce left in the ramekin, using his bare hands. They smiled at one another, triumphant.

I felt myself begin to gag. I didn’t know what to do. I started to get fidgety, like I do when I see a giant spider make it’s way into the corner of my room. I was panicking openly, and was in desperate need of somebody to do something. Stop them. But everyone knows the cardinal rule in the restaurant biz: the customer is always right. I hated that rule. They are almost never right. 

I spotted the busser inside, and I quickly ran towards him. I could see the concern on his face as he saw my expression. 

“What is it?” he said, still reeking of cigarette smoke. I grabbed his arm, and dragged him to a window so he could see the outside patio. From the corner of my mouth I whispered, “They're eating the previous table's food.”

We exchanged an intense look, saying more things than any words could have said.

“What should we do?” I asked, watching the happy couple finishing off what was left of the meal.

“Let them,” the busser said. He shrugged it off, with a look of disgust plastered all over his face. What can you do?

Let them.

I took a deep breath, and prepared myself to greet the table with the same amount of respect and enthusiasm as any other table. However, there was nothing I could do to quiet the phrase, Gluttony is a deadly sin, from repeating itself over and over in the back of my mind. 

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2013 Resolutions



2013 is going to be a big year for me-- I'm graduating with a Master's Degree in Clinical Psychology, and have my first Ultra lined up in May (coincidentally, the day after my graduation, OOPS).

In leu of the new year and impending resolutions, I shied away from making any definitive goals.

But that's just silly. So here we go.

1) Get my Master's Degree AND finish my Thesis. This is my numero uno priority this year.

2) Finish my first Ultra uninjured. 

3) Focus on eating whole, healthy foods. Minimize dairy, gluten, sugar and starches.

4) Spend more time writing non-school related essays/ short stories.

5) Apply to Ph.D programs.

6) Publish my previous research from my undergrad.


Six goals is the perfect amount. Not five, not ten. Six.

Here's to a great 2013, you guys!