I sat at home for the half hour just before my shift, trying to psych myself up. Ok, just think. In a few hours, it will be over. You can do anything for a few hours. Think of things that also take a few hours that you’ve endured, even tried to make interesting…The orthodontist who didn’t wear gloves through what felt like a days-long appointment. The time you played a singing stage hand in a rough three hour musical for a director who thought for sure his rickety production was Broadway bound and your own boyfriend walked out of the theater. (you learned a lot that day). You made those fun. You can do this. You are a champion.
But taco tuesday is its own fresh hell. And I try to be a positive, life is beautiful type of person. I am happy to have a job that pays for my next adventure and my education. But still.
For any server, there is a special mindset required to gear up for such an event where cheap liquor is discounted even more ($2 margaritas with barely tequila, anyone?) and tacos are 50 cents. When we don’t even pass out silverware, you know the night is going to be off the rails. There’s something of a mentality about people who come in for the night, too. It’s a hunger beyond the physical. It’s spiked with testosterone, as if they have been somehow training for this night for all of adolescence and finally have a chance to prove their manhood by eating as many cheap tacos as their bodies will allow. And it’s not just men, by any means. I am the last person to box this in to a gender thing. There’s just a decidedly masculine aura in the room.
I will eat and drink as much as possible and spend less than $10. And then I will sling my significant other over my shoulder and beat my chest. Is there any raw meat in the back I could gnaw on?
There’s a cockiness to it. And for a server, it is the nightmare of every single table filling up at once. Not even getting triple sat. Just getting infinity sat. You just look around and make a decision to laugh or cry. Not cry really. But just get overwhelmed.There is a party of 50 in the back so you have the rest. At one point, I think I blacked out for 30 minutes. I looked at the drinks and food on the table and thought- who brought those?
My mind feels a little like this..Drink for 33. How did those ladies sneak in to 32? Who brought them that margarita? Was it frozen or rocks? I have never seen that woman. Is she coming or going? Did I serve her- Oh god I did. That’s why she looks familiar.Separate checks? Or course I can. But honestly, it will take me a long time. internally: Your check is $6.50. You are all teachers. I can’t. The hockey game. I have no idea what time it starts. Another pepsi refill- no problem. Internally:How fast can a person drink a Pepsi? Do you want an IV drip for that? This should be illegal. If I were a politician, I would make separate checks illegal. Register out of paper. Credit card declined. We don’t take American Express. Who is that Stella for? Of course I cashed out that check. Crap. There is sour cream on my boob. (rubs it in nonchalantly). Oops I am sorry I forgot to bring you your change. Thanks for being patient.(they were sitting there for a long time). Every table is full. People are drinking shots like whaaaat. Every time someone orders Fireball shots, I want to tell them that there’s freon in the alcohol. But that would be anti-tip so I don’t because no one likes a wet blanket. Drop everything. Silverware. Glasses. Knives. Nothing breaks. Realize what a true klutz I can be. Get compliment on my boots. Realize that they are actually a sexy version of those shape up shoes because my butt is burning like I’m working out. Stop thinking about butts: you’re at work. Talk to a co-worker about crocheting bikinis and what that’s all about.
Pretend you don’t see a new table just for a second so you can get your head on. Take a breath. Bring menus for no reason because you know its tacos.
It’s like a really not-fun circus.
Mostly everyone who comes in is lovely.They seem to understand that you are physically incapable of being at every table at once. That you are not their mother and it is not your job to recreate the womb for the time they are guests in the restaurant. It is my job to take care of them to a degree that is reasonable and I accept that and do it well. My job is called server. There’s no mistaking what I am there to do. So it’s not the work that ruffles my feathers. It’s when there’s a sense of entitlement beyond that basic social agreement we have when we leave the house. I think if both parties are respectful and understanding, it will be a great night. And that’s how I look at my job. I employ the things I learned while living abroad. You are a guest in my home. I will treat you with respect but it will be mutual. I want you to have a lovely evening while you’re here. Eat well and drink a bit. That’s my job. I get it. Sometimes, I really like it. Responsibility is low. If I have an off night, someone won’t get drunk or eat too much. I think of it like I am like a good time chemist. If I mix the atmosphere and do my job well, sprinkle in a little bit of charm, then I create an aura for people to live within for that time we’re together.
I make them laugh or tell them what I’m up to. It can be really nice. I see people on first dates and crying at the bar. I talk to a tattoo artist about design ideas. Sailors want to tell stories while their wives look on, grateful they don’t have to talk about it with their husbands.There is an adorable old couple who are renovating a farm house. The way he looks at his wife makes me want to be in love forever. He orders hot chocolate and she always orders wine. And they never stop laughing. It’s the best. A group came in who made up an erotic back story for the party we were waiting on and it made me laugh for the rest of the night.
I counted that I have roughly ten taco Tuesdays left before I move away. I will make each one an adventure. Every Tuesday, I will learn something new about the world through the lens of a server flinging tacos at people.
Or at the very least, I will stop saying out loud how I am feeling at the height of craziness.
Now if I can come up with a plan for Wing Wednesdays…