My head is still hurting. It has all day. Actually it starts about an hour or so after I get up. Yesterday was the same. I’m going to call my doctor tomorrow to see if I can get in to see him. I’m not even sure the office is open because of the holiday.
Last night at work was a disaster. I got there around 4:00 p.m. as I always do. I ordered my caesar salad with no croutons and changed into my uniform. I said hello to everyone, picked up my salad and two Diet Pepsis (we aren’t a Coke company) and headed over to the private dining room, where everyone gathers before the shift. Everything was completely normal. I finished eating around 4:30 and that was about the time the headache started. Just a dull ache. Not too bad. By this time people are coming in. It’s Saturday night and there are about 40+ servers on the floor. I’m sitting in my usual spot chatting and hoping that the headache isn’t what I think it is. As I sit there I consider giving up my shift. It’s Saturday night, the biggest money night of the week, but my head is starting to kill me and I don’t know if I can take 10 hours of this. Finally I tell the manager, Alan, that if it’s possible I’d like to go home. He kind of grunts at me which is Alan’s way of saying he heard me.
Preshift starts and I quickly realize that I’m not going to get to go home. Only two people have shown up to pick up shifts and two people called out and they are used to fill the empty spaces first. It also doesn’t help that at least four people are running late and there sections can’t be opened right away. Preshift ends and I head to the dining room to do my thing. I pass through with my dinner plates on the way to the dishroom and assess the damage. I hate the first hour of my shift. On Saturdays there are 80 servers on the floor from 5:00 to 6:00, with everyone pushing and shoving either to start their shift or to get the hell out of dodge.
I drop off my plates and come back out front. And then my head/mood sort of explodes. I don’t know which is worse or what caused it, but suddenly I realize things aren’t going to be good. I start going through the motions. I seat my empty four top, I greet the party of five who sat themselves, I ask the three guys at the counter if they need menus and I seat another two top. This is in the first two minutes. Everything should be going as planned and yet I feel like I’m going to jump out of my skin. The three guys at the counter have clearly been there the longest so I stop to see if I can get their drink order. I might as well have asked them to fix the economy. They were clueless. But they wanted to talk about it. By this time I need to say hello to everyone so I just walk away. No goodbye, no anything. I just walk away. The five ladies ask for menus although they don’t know if they are going to have food or not. I get them, and suddenly they have a shit load of questions. And they are bitchy which I’m in no mood for. I answer their questions and then just walk away. No I’ll be right back. Nothing. I just walk away.
I go back and try to get the idiots drink order but once again it’s like herding cats. I get two of the three and I just walk away again. Everytime I walk by these guys for the next 15 minutes they stop me for something. I drop two of the three drinks and FINALLY get the other guy to order. Then starts the questions about the food. First question. Are the ribs pork. Yes that’s why it says they are pork ribs in the menu. Can you get non-pork ribs. No you can’t. They are pork. What about the ribs that come with the ribs and chicken combo? Are those pork? And the trio? Are those pork. And the New York Strip? Is that pork? Are you sure? The spring rolls do they have pork? NO. They are meat free. But it says…I said no. They do not have any meat in them so they can’t contain pork because pork is meat.
At this point I just walk away.
And my head is ready to explode. And I’m ready to shoot twelve people on my way out.
And then I get to the bitchy ladies. Who are finally ready to order. Of course they are only ready to order if you mean they still need to look at the menu and figure out what they want. I’m just about to walk away from them when finally they order. I put their drinks into the computer.
I stop by to see the family of four and finally sane people. I take their order apologize for them having to wait so long for me. And I’m on my way. Of course to get to the bar to pick up the drinks for my ladies I have to pass by idiot foriegn guys. And they stop me and are ready to order. They want the appetizer combo and two steaks. Fine. I walk away again.
I go to the bar. The drinks aren’t ready. I head to the kitchen to get drinks for the table of four only to be blocked by LeeAnn giving a kitchen guy a massage. I tell her to get the fuck out of the way and that perhaps they might find some place more suitable than the kitchen to play around. Everyone stares at me. I get my two ice teas and two Diet Pepsis and I head back to the table of four. But of course I have to pass by idiot foreign guys who want to make sure that there is no bacon on the potato skins on the combo. I drop off the drinks and head back to the kitchen, but of course I’m stopped by idiot foreign guys again to tell me they want to make sure there is no bacon on the potato skins on their combo.
I tell them that they’ve already told me once. Once is enough. And I head to the kitchen to fix the problem. I tell the manager in the kitchen that I need to make sure the order is modified and he assures me that he’ll take care of it. I finally get to the bar to get the drinks for my four ladies. Have I mentioned that by this time my head is about at it’s boiling point and I feel like blood is going to start seeping out of my ears. I drop off the drinks for the ladies and of course the fat one wants to know where her milkshake is. I tell her that it comes from the dessert station and that it will be out in a minute. Did I mention that as I walked to their table with the drinks idiot foriegn guys stop me to tell me they want french fries with their steaks? I head to the kitchen to get the milkshake but it’s not there yet.
I still haven’t waited on the two top that I sat. I stop by apologize half heartedly and get their order. I head to the computer to enter their order and realize that I’ve never stopped to see if the table that was transferred to me is okay.
(The transferred check is a story all on it’s own. At our restaurant at shift change the day servers are expected to transfer any table that doesn’t have it’s entrees. So if they are sitting there with four martinis and four appetizers and they are waiting on their four steaks you have to transfer it. Of course this is entirely up to the evening server. They can’t say no to a table but often they’ll let the day server finish a table that they like or expect to make money from. Last week I let my friend Suzy keep a ten top table because she’d made no money for the day, the added gratuity was going to be about 60 bucks and more importantly I like her.
Yesterday I was seating the two top at the counter when I heard the day server take the order of the other couple at the counter. A few minutes later I asked him to give me the check so I could transfer it and I bit his head off and explained that since he hadn’t taken the order until I started my shift that he WOULD transfer it to me! He gave me the check but he wasn’t happy about it.)
And so here it was fifteen minutes later and I hadn’t checked on them once. They needed another drink so I head to the computer and guess who stops me as I walk by. You guessed it Idiot Foreign guys. I growl at them and they tell me they’ve changed their minds and want their steaks well done. I don’t even acknowledge them I just walk away.
At this point things are getting worse. I don’t know what’s happening. I have no control over my section. My heading is pounding and any semblance of a good mood is gone. I’m now just grunting at people. Fat bitchy lady is still waiting on her milkshake. I go the kitchen and discover it hasn’t been started yet. It’s been 15 minutes. I yell at the dessset guy and I walk away.
I walk by idiot guys and now they want to know why their combo is taking so long.
I walk by fat woman and she’d pissed that she still doesn’t have her milk shake.
I head back to see if by chance it’s ready yet and guess who’s gotten their combo. And guess what’s on the potato skins. BACON!!! FUCK!!! I don’t even say anything I pick up the combo and I take it to the kitchen tell the kitchen manager I need another combo on the fly and then dump the whole thing into the garbage plate and all. Just as I’m leaving the kitchen the original manager hands me the real combo. I take it to the table and just drop it.
I still don’t have the milkshake.
I run to the kitchen finally it’s there. I take it to the table and I drop it.
As I’m walking out of the kitchen Samantha, one of the managers is standing in the corner talking to another server. I walk up to her and wait for her to finish and she turns to me.
I say, “I need to go home.”
She says, “What?”
I say, “I need to go home.”
She says, “Is this about what we talked about a couple of weeks ago?” (I’d told her about the anxiety attacks.)
She says, “Give me two minutes to find Alan and we’ll take care of it.”
I walk back out into the dining room and panic starts to set in. My head is pounding, I’m sweating, I feel like if I just punched one of the idiot foriegn guys all would be well.
I walk out to check on my tables and guess who stops me. They’ve had their combo for no more than 10 minutes and they want to know where there steaks are. I catch myself before I yell at them and walk away. Bitchy ladies are done at this point and want their check. Transfer table is done and wants their check. Nice normal four top is happy and doesn’t need anything. My two top at the counter is great and I think knows something is up because even though their drinks are empty they don’t say a word.
Around this time, Alan finds me and tells me he’s looking for Jason (he’s one of the servers who can pretend to handle my section on Saturday night). As soon as he finds him I can go.
I continue on my path of destruction. I drop the check for bitchy ladies. I drop the check for couple at the counter. I drop the check for someone else although I don’t remember who. I’m now just walking past idiot foreign guys. I pick up the money from the bitcy ladies they don’t need change.
They tipped me 10 bucks on 50. I get change for transfer people at the counter. They tip me 16 on 70. I don’t remember the other table but they tip me 20% as well. It’s long been my opinion that I make more money when I’m bitchy than when I’m nice. Other waiters say the same. I know you’ll all say that you wouldn’t tip a bitchy waiter and it’s my opionin that maybe you don’t interpret it as bitchy. All I know is people were tipping me.
Finally Jason appears.
He asks what’s up. I tell him I just need to go home. I hand him hard copies of all the checks that are still open so he can transfer them. I stop by nice table and tell them I’m leaving and apologize to them. They are very gracious.
My head is still pounding.
I do my cashout and change clothes. It’s about 6:15 when I finally leave the restaurant. My head is still pounding although the need to punch someone has subsided. I take a deep breath and head down the street. There is a street fair on 8th Avenue. I walk about half a block into it and say fuck it and head home. I was still sweating when I got on the train although I was cool from the night air.
By the time I get home the ache has subsided more and the anger has mostly lifted.
I got to bed around midnight last night.
And my headache was gone when I woke up. By the time my coffee had finished brewing and I’d checked my email the dull ache was back. It’s never been the terrifying pain from last night. But it’s still here. I did find the anxiety coming back as I typed this. I typed faster and faster getting annoyed when I hit the wrong keys or couldn’t think of the word, or tense or spelling that I was looking for.
I’m going to call both my doctors tomorrow. I can’t do this much more. I have to have money so I can’t quit my job. Besides, I like it. But the headaches have got to go. The cranky mood swings have got to go.
I did send Alan an email this afternoon giving him the abbreviated story I just told you. I haven’t heard back from him.
I’ll keep you posted on what’s happening.
I’m not going to proof this because reliving this just makes my head hurt worse.