Among many other things, I used to be a waitress. My best friend had helped me get a job at a small Italian restaurant. I worked a few nights here and there, but I mostly worked in the morning on weekends when they served breakfast.
I loved my breakfast crowd (for the most part). A lot of people that came in were "regulars" as we say in the biz. There was a man named Harold that I had such a soft spot for. Harold came in on both Saturdays and Sundays. On Sundays he came in before church and after. I sometimes wondered if Harold ever actually cooked because he was in so often. He was a quirky old man. He liked things "just-so" and usually had some interesting fact or story to share with me when things were slow. He always sat at the counter unless a bunch of people came in after church, he usually had someone invite him over to sit with them.
Some days he would be more quiet and introverted and order things like a banana cut up in milk. I wanted to say, "Seriously, you can do that at home for practically pennies!" I don't think it was ever about the cost for Harold, I think it was about the company. I had heard that he may have been a brainiac over at IBM years ago, but I never really knew much about him. I still think of him from time to time and chuckle when I think about the few times they got his order wrong and how flustered he would get, but wouldn't want to be a bother. Luckily, I could tell he was flustered and I would usually fix the problem.
Another great character was one of our chefs, Elvis. Elvis was larger than life, loud and just arrogant enough to run the kitchen. One Sunday, we had a large party coming in for an early Sunday dinner. It had been slow all morning and I'm not going to lie, we had pretty much been goofing off all morning. The owners were out until the afternoon, so we had the run of the place.
When the party came in , my order pad was too small to write all the orders, so I thought I'd be smart and section them off and number them so Elvis would be able to differentiate the orders. Here is an artist's rendering of what the ticket may have looked like.
I got busy getting rolls and making salads. A call from the owners came in saying they would be returning within the hour. Everything was going well.
Elvis called out that my order was up. I walked over to the counter and that's when the horror set in. All of this food started coming out of the kitchen, he had thought I meant that they wanted ONE sausage calzone, TWO fettuccine alfredos, THREE chicken parmesans...UH OH!!
He immediately saw the look of panic on my face and he yelled, "OH NO , you numbered them...why did you number them!!??"
The good news was, we had everyone's food, the bad news was , we had a lot of extra and the owners were on their way back.
I grabbed the correct orders while Elvis orchestrated the kitchen help into grabbing take-out containers and getting the other food packed up. We then all split it up amongst ourselves and gave one of the dishwashers the keys to our cars. Not a super proud moment for us, but we thought better than the wrath of the owners. We all worked a extra hard the rest of the day to try and make up for it and I never wrote an order out like that again.
During the holiday season, we all decided to do a Secret Santa gift exchange. It was my last shift before Christmas and I hadn't gotten anything yet, but I wasn't worried since I didn't even know the person I had drawn since she worked nights. I figured I would get something eventually. I was just about to leave when one of the dishwashers, Juan, the sweetest quietest guy, handed me a big box. "For you" he said. He didn't speak much English. I said , "Oh, thank you, is it from you?" He just sort of nodded over and over and Elvis finally chimed in saying that Jose was my Secret Santa.
I went to open it, but Jose shook his head and said, "No, no...open at home." "Okay," I thought. As I was getting in my car Elvis came out. "What did you get? Do you think it's a VCR or a DVD player?" I thought this was unlikely even though it was that shape and weight of a box. "Elvis we had a $20.00 limit, I don't think so."
Still as I drove home, I was wondering what it could be.
I couldn't have even imagined.....(this is not the actual item, but the closest replica I could find on the internet...mine had a lovely stripe of blue in it)
That's right people, my "could it be a dvd player?" was a giant glass sailfish. I mean what 21 year old girl still living with her parents doesn't want one?
My parents were in awe. Everyone I knew was wondering why. It was so heavy and sharp, I could have probably murdered someone with it. Still, it was such a unique idea from a mild mannered sweetheart, I held onto it for a few years just in case I won the lottery and built a beach house. I would need a tasteful way to kill intruders.
When I returned to work, I thanked Jose and disappointed Elvis when I told him what was in the magical box.
I will forever be grateful for these characters in my life story.