Guerillas in the Midst 2

KG reminded me that I hadn’t written a thing for my blog since St. Patrick’s Day. Damn it….

A few months ago I wrote about some of the unique folks I’ve encountered in my travels through This Restaurant Life.  I’m sure that every industry has its share of kooks, crazies and criminals.  I guess ours just has more.  A lot more.

Even I can’t make this stuff up…

There was the Asian vendor for eatZi’s who provided us with an amazing bottled salad dressing and who had a thing for Tiffany, our female receiving manager. This guy was awesome, and would come in on a regular basis to sample his wares for our customers with a great big smile and infectious attitude.  Every once in a while, however, after “being in his cups” (drunk) he would text that manager with an amorous message that read

“Tiffany, I’m a lil bit hoo nee”.  

Say it a few times…it will come to you. Tiffany never took him up on that offer, but it was always fun to repeat when she was around.

In Tulsa, there was a southwestern cafe named “Arizona’s” where a young server decided to go shopping with a credit card that was left behind by a guest. Now, this is every consumer’s nightmare, right?  Of course, this was in the days prior to the Internet so, unlike today, you couldn’t sign up for an automatic fraud alert from your bank to your smartphone. Nope, back then what you got was a phone call asking why you had so many charges that day.  This young lady took the card to Woodland Hills Mall and leisurely pranced up and down the aisles, taking her sweet time purchasing this blouse or that lipstick.  Turns out she stayed there so long, that police were notified, once the card’s owner realized that 1. he left his card at the restaurant and 2. the bank was wondering why he was buying so many Madonna records.

They first called the restaurant and asked for a description of the server.  Then, because they knew from the bank that the card was being used in stores at that mall, merely went in, looked around and apprehended her.  She was a struggling single mother and I’m sure at the time it seemed like a desperate but necessary thing for her to do. She ended up paying a fine and getting some jail time.  Ouch.

There was the GM of a local SoCal eatery who would take pictures of his privates and in an attempt at humor, text them to one of his subordinates after consuming a few bevs.  Trouble was, his assistant kept those pics and eventually when HIS ass was on the line, he produced those shiny photos for the Home Office to see and let’s just say it wasn’t the assistant who got fired..

In every kitchen I’ve been in, when someone sneezes, you will hear the respectful “salud!” shouted out in Spanish, which translates to “health” and is a shortened version of “buena salud” or “good health”.  Almost immediately AFTER that you will hear one or more of the guys pipe in with “Sancho!”.  This of course means that if you sneeze, Sancho is at your house.  Who is Sancho?  Well, he is the guy who is at home with your wife or girlfriend, of course.  It never gets old, and you will see a cellphone flashed in front of the cook who sneezed as if to say “Bro, call your house”.

It’s like being at recess for 10 hours a day..

There was the server at Full Moon Cafe who would never use a swear word.  Ken was a passionate Christian and didn’t want to offend anyone.  That being said, his human side would get the best of him at times, usually after a few beers or when he saw a pretty girl.  Or just generally when he was pissed off.

“F that S!” is what you would hear from the side station, in reference to a poor tip or something else Ken was unhappy with.

“I can’t believe that S…” in response to something he didn’t believe.  Ken was a naive guy and you could usually get him going on false story pretty easily.

“You see her?  I want to F that B.”…in reference to…well…you get the picture..

Back in the kitchen, cooks will drop pans behind each other (and the servers) in order to scare the “S” out of them.  I could be anywhere in the restaurant and hear the jarring crash of a 16” x 6” stainless steel “hotel” pan slamming to the bare tile, the intended target jumping out of their skin in response.  I guess I became a restaurant lifer when someone dropped an empty pan behind me and…I didn’t budge.  I was so used to the cacophony of noise in our thing that it didn’t faze me.

There was a busboy who, in order to satisfy his alcoholism, would take bottles of booze from the restaurant and stash them in a an electrical box outside, retrieving them to take home after his shift. One day, my manager, Dennis, handed me his car keys and said, “Go out and sit in my car and wait for me.  We have an assignment”.  Now, my young brain at the time couldn’t process whether this was James Bond type stuff or if Dennis was trying to get into my pants. Regardless I did as ordered and about 20 minutes later he came out and got in the driver’s seat.  We pulled around the corner to get a view of the building’s electrical box.  Lo and behold here comes the busser, apron off and shirt untucked, headed for the box.  He opened it and at that moment, Dennis floored the gas pedal to roar up next to him.  The busser’s face when he realized he was busted was pure fear, shock and confusion.  The manager got out of the car and stormed up next to the poor kid.  I got out and stood by the car, realizing that a witness was need and that was my role. Dennis dressed the kid up and down, ripping the bag of booze from his hands.  The kid stood there, shoulders slumped, and finally loped away once Dennis told him he was fired.  I always wondered what happened to him..

I wonder what will happen to all of us.