I’m exhausted. Yesterday was the longest day I’ve had at work in over a year. Not stressful. Not bad. Just long.
I was awoken at 9:00 a.m. by one of my bosses calling to ask what we could do in figuring out how to get her friends tickets to our New Year’s Eve bash because of course they didn’t buy them when they had the chance. Instead they called and complained about the lack of availability.
When we first released our tickets for sale we set the number at 150. On Sunday we upped it to 175. Yesterday we added 15 more. Making the grand total number of 190. Which is okay. I just don’t like having to be reactionary. If we were going to sell 190 we should have made that the number to begin with.
So after chatting with my boss I jumped in the shower because Adam and I were off to the wholesale flower market to buy flowers for the shindig.
I drove to the U-Haul place to rent a 26′ truck to move furniture at the restaurant.
I got to my restaurant at 12:10.
For the next two hours we moved furniture. Both inside and out. Most of it ending up in the truck, which has to be packed with care because even though it’s 26′ the furniture barely fits. By 2:30 the furniture is packed, on the truck and arranged in the dining room.
Now it’s time to make it pretty. We drape all the tables with linen. My dining room manager has been arranging flowers while I move furniture. We cover the place in candles. It takes another couple of hours but by 4:30 or so it’s starting to look like a party.
By this time the staff has arrived. Bartenders are batch mixing welcome drinks. Cutting front. Getting ice. Wait staff is polishing silverware, and cleaning base boards. I have to remind both my bar manager and my dining room manager that although it’s fine to help its important that we save the menial tasks for the staff. Not that it’s beneath any of us to do those things, it’s just that you have to keep the group moving.
At 5:30 I change into my suit. I look very nice if I do say so myself.
At 5:45 we gather the staff for a preshift meeting. Of course none of the bartenders are anywhere to be found. Seems they’d been told they could go look for food. Fuck!
By 5:55 everyone is there. David the owner gives his regular speech. He tells how the evening will work. What the menu is. Everyone has heard it a million times. No one is new to the space.
When all the questions are answered I give my speech. I start by reminding my staff not to drink. Even though it’s New Year’s Eve I don’t want them getting drunk. Or drinking at all for that matter. Last year a couple of people were a little tipsy by the end of the night. I don’t want that again.
Then I put my serious hat on. I thank my staff for doing such a top notch job. I remind them that they make my job easy because they do theirs so well. I then let them know that we beat our revenue budget by almost a half a million dollars. I tell them that from the bottom of my heart that I’m lucky that they work for me. Then I hug a couple of them and everyone is dismissed.
I then find my bar manager and tell him to do his thing. What this means is to round up five shots of bourbon on the rocks for the management staff. We toast at the beginning of each party. It’s five seconds in the office with the door closed, feet up on the desk to relax before the night gets crazy. It’s casual. We all do it. It has to be bourbon. You can’t get vodka or a glass of wine. It’s the rules. The first time we did this was the night we opened. We’ve done it for every party and every important milestone since. I like it.
The party doesn’t start until 7:00 but the previous year people started showing up at 6:30. The same thing happens this year. By 6:45 we have 25 people in our restaurant. By 7:00, the official starting time it’s close to 7:00. A few of the guests are grumpy because we did not start the open bar until 7:00. Anyone wanting to drink before 7:00 had to pay. There is some push back but I remind the guests that six hours is a long time to drink and it’s a VERY long time for us to provide booze for the small price we are charging.
By 7:05 the party is in full swing. The DJ is playing “dining” music. The people are mingling. There is a line at the door waiting to check in. The crowds continue to enter. The food is passed. The drinks are served. Everyone is happy. I mingle. I’m the face of the restaurant. I hug and kiss regulars. I shake a lot of hands. I smile. I pick up dirty dishes. I wander through the kitchen asking everyone by name if they are doing okay. “Kathy are you in the weeds?” “Chef are we ready for the next small plates?”
The party continues to grow. By 8:30 most of the guests have arrived. It’s crowded but not to bad. You can still move through the dining room. We’d counted on our guests being able to use our covered deck which we’d rented heaters for. But the heaters can’t keep up with the bitter cold. You can see your breathe out there. People wander out. They don’t stay. They look around. They come right back in.
The dance music starts at 8:45. It takes about three minutes for people to get going. Now the crowd is moving. You can start to see the first signs of too much drinking. No one is out of control, but it’s clear that a few people are tipsy.
I continue to wander. Saying his. Checking in with my staff. Swinging by the bathrooms to make sure they are still in order. i relieve the host who is manning the door so that she can pee. I tell the dining room manager that she doesn’t need to be at the door any more. I check on the bars.
So far everything is great. It’s now close to 10:00. I find my way to the office where I find David sitting icing his knee. I join him with a Diet Pepsi. We chat. We have become good friends over the past two years. I like his company. We talk for a while. About his son who is getting married, about his wife, about Adam, and the party, about our bosses.
We are sitting there when a server bursts through the door to tell us someone has fallen. We are on our feet in seconds. We head to the dining room where we find two people on the ground. David goes into full on paramedic mode. He gets latex gloves, he grabs towels. He assess the situation. I head back to the front door. I don’t want anyone to call 911 from the restaurant/hotel phone because it sets off alarms that take forever to reset. As I go, I had my cell phone to Kathy and tell her to call 911. Tell them we need an ambulance stat.
I go back to the dance floor. When I get there I see blood every where and a woman lying on her back looking unconscious. It turns out that there is an ER doc in house. They are helping. I find Kathy. She’s still on the phone with 911. They are asking questions that she can barely answer. Finally they hang up.
I go back to the front door to wait for the ambulance. It’s then that I realize that the valets have stacked the parking lot. Don’t ask. The number of cars they can get in our lot is stunning. And scary. I go into the lot and tell them to start moving cars. I want a clear path for the paramedics. Then I go back into the dining and scatter the onlookers. I make them move clearing about a 10 foot path so people can get through.
Finally the ambulance arrives. The paramedics arrive. Everyone is attending to. They walk the two people out. Seems that what happened was they were both drunk and the guy (who was quite large) fell, knocking his wife out, and splitting his head open on the fire alarm attached to the wall. He was the one doing all the bleeding.
By 11:15 it was all over. Of course a lot of people had left by this time. I don’t mind. I tell the DJ to start playing again. Within minutes everyone is dancing. The party is back in full swing.
It’s 11:45. Time to plan the toast. We gather all the champagne glasses and get them filled. The wait staff hands them out. I find a nice bottle of bubbly in the walk in and pull it out for the management team. I take it to office and pour four glasses. I have every intention of toasting at midnight. But NOT with the cheap proseco. I want the good stuff. We gather all the staff in the front of house, including the kitchen team. The DJ counts down midnight.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Old Lang Syne plays. We toast. Everyone hugs. It’s midnight.
It feels the same.
I make my way to the office with my drink. Davis in there calling his family. I toast him and tell him that I’m glad he’s my boss and friend. We hug.
I sit down and call Adam. He can’t talk any longer than I can. We are both at work.
It’s now 12:15.
At 12:30 we issue last call.
At 12:45 the DJ plays their last song. The music ends
It’s quiet. What a lovely, lovely sound.
By 1:00 almost everyone is gone. I don’t care. I turn the lights on. I change out of my suit back into my jeans. I never wear jeans at work.
I takes forever. There are drinks dumped on the floor. Broken glass. Chocolate ground into the carpet. It takes about an hour before we are ready to start unloading the furniture. I dismiss the wait staff and bartenders.
It’s just me, David, and my moving crew.
They start unloading the carpet. The first thing we have to do is get the rug back in it’s correct spot. That takes about 30 minutes. The rug is about 50 feet long and it’s on a curve. It’s important that it land exact because it informs us to where the furniture go. I look at the marks we’ve made on the floor each time the rug has been moved. There are at least six of them. As much as a foot apart. We guess.
The furniture follows. By 3:00 we are done. We all say goodbye. I grab my coat. Scarf.
I drive the U-Haul back to the store. Pick up my car. I stop at McDonald’s because I’m starving and very, very thirsty. The Diet Coke might be the best I’ve ever tasted.
I drive home. It’s 3:45 when I get home. I’m beat. Adam is just getting in the shower to go to bed. I get undressed. I pour myself a glass of bourbon. I sit in the living room, in the glow of the Christmas trees, under a blanket and breathe. I read Facebook. I try to relax. At 4:30 I get up to take a shower. My whole body hurts. I feel like I’ve been run over by a mac truck.
It’s been 19 hours since I started my day. I’m beat. It’s time for bed.
(I have not proofed this. I wrote it and hit publish. Please forgive grammar, punctuation, etc.)