I haven’t memorized a number in years. Staring at the ceiling as if one’ll slowly, like a feather, fall into my hands I dialed the only one I knew.
Dad? I need some help.
After confessing my whereabouts, he came but would not speak. In the car, words were replaced with heavy sighs while I attempted to replay the nights events in my polluted brain.
How did I get there?
…Where are we going?
He pulled into a treatment center, the same one I’d made repetitive false promises about.
“You asked for help. Go, or I will tell your mother.”
This was written in response to: Friday Fictioneers. The objective is to challenge yourself to write a 100 word (or less) story that is influenced by a single photo. To read other submissions written for this photo, or to submit your own: click HERE.
No, not the ones that provoke raw emotion while you’re trying to do your job in the real world, the nightmares that come to you while slumbering. I want to know why, as a waitress, I can never just have waitress dreams; the kind that make me feel good. Never once have I woken up, rested, excited to tell someone about waiting on Miley Cyrus and her leaving me a $500 tip. No. They are always nightmares, reoccurring ones at that.
The I Got Lost Nightmare
Sometimes it’s the actual place I work but more often, I have never seen the building in my life. Either way, they always consist of me running around frantically trying to figure out where the hell I’m supposed to deliver the damn cheese curds.
These people are hungry, clearly that’s why they ordered an appetizer – WHERE THE $%#@ ARE THEY?!
Most of my current co-workers were in the most recent lost nightmare but we were working in some sort of multi-level adult arcade, and we traded in our black button-ups and neck ties for more risque attire. It had potential to be an actual dream, and not awful until I was running up and down stairs trying to find my section in 6-inch heels.
The I Can’t Remember Shit Nightmare
You take an order, you write it down, and when you walk over to the system to send it off to the kitchen, your page is blank. Nothing. Wrack your brain and try to remember what they ordered, fail miserably, go back to the table, take the order again…aaand repeat.
It never stops, until you wake up. I have had this dream on a continuous cycle for what seemed like my entire slumber, multiple times and it’s terrible.
The Only Thing I Can Serve You Is Chicken Strips Nightmare
I’m not sure if other servers have this particular nightmare, but this one is almost comical. If there is ever an instance where I can squeak some rational into my sleeping brain it’s with this one.
I am in the kitchen traying up my table’s meal. After triple checking to make sure everything is there, I lift it up onto my shoulder and carry it out to the dining room, but once I’m there and set it down – it’s nothing but chicken strip baskets. My place of employment doesn’t even serve chicken strip baskets! These people are expecting steak, seafood, and other deliciousness and all I have to offer them is a checkered lined, red chicken strip basket.
I take it back to the kitchen, ditch the chicken, retray up the right food, bring it out, and BAM! Chicken strip baskets again. FML.
The Overwhelming They-Won’t-Stop-Coming Nightmare
This is the dream that inspired this post – had it just last night. I had a party of 14, a party of 10, and a party of 20. Everyone wants their beverage, the second party is annoyed because they ordered theirs before the ones receiving theirs and I just can’t keep up. The running to-do list in my brain is growing to the point of craziness and all night, I basically feel like I’m losing my mind.
I have to imagine most people fall into their work lives while they sleep, servers are not alone, but at the rate these things come at me… I think I need a vacation.
I moved around quite a bit as a kid, changing schools and attempting to make new friends quick enough that I’d never be labeled, “the new girl”. In sixth grade it was as simple as having the same name, quickly becoming best friends with Jenny Hoffman.
We had notebooks we’d pass back and forth gushing over our latest crush, fully equipped with nicknames – based on their initials, of course. We lived close to each other, but not close enough to share a bus stop so we’d alternate, meeting half way between our houses because best friends do not make entrances onto a school bus alone. We also had (have, if we’re being serious) nicknames for each other… Fur-Fur and Imp – we were pretty unstoppable.
When I think about the shit we got into I often wonder how we are still here to talk about them. Both of our parents considered the other the bad influence when in reality, depending on the day and whose outlandish idea was better for that moment, we both were.
Today is Jenny’s birthday, and as a gift I’m documenting my most favorite memories of us.
Not for us, for unsuspecting folks like our sixth grade teacher and a few others. We found it hilarious to call Pizza Hut and order pie’s for people, but it did not stop there. When we were able, we’d perch ourselves up on the hill outside and watch them get delivered. Looking back we probably should have felt bad for the delivery driver more than the recipient.
College, Cat, and Cornfield
While visiting Jenny at college she had a simple question for me: Have you ever driven through a cornfield? Growing up in the cities, this sounded intriguing: Sign me up! When two nineteen year old girls borrow a car (please keep in mind that this was not our vehicle) to speed through a cornfield, what could possibly make the decision worse? Let’s bring a cat with us. This actually happened, people. It wasn’t our proudest moment, but hot damn did we laugh hard. She drove, I held the kitty. It was all fun and games until we began spinning out of control, I was screaming at the top of my lungs and looked over to my BFF – there she is, perfectly calm, claiming: I got this, I got this… The car came to a halt and while she looked for the cat I sat examining my scratched up body, just happy to be alive. This was the night we realized we were indeed, ride-or-die bitches.
Band – Last Two Chairs
We both played the flute and if you’re familiar with band you know about the “chair” system to show how great you are, or how much you suck at playing an instrument. Maybe it’s supposed to push you to be better, Jenny and I? We were last and second to last chair consistently and never got any better, and we did not care. We had a great time pretending to play at the concerts and socializing during class.
We sat up in her bedroom one night and made Cosmos. I do not remember how old we were, but absolutely not 21. I do not even know if they were actually cosmos, but I trusted her bartending skills then just as I would now. I’m not sure if ‘cosmo night’ was the same night we decided to play out an entire photo shoot and tell each other how hot we were. I mean, look at these pictures, we probably should have sent them to agents or something – is that how modeling works?
My first job, at fourteen years old, was cashiering at a drug store. It wasn’t long before I recruited Jenny and we basically ran the place. We worked a lot so we could afford to walk to the mall and buy one shirt from Abercrombie & Fitch with our earnings. We had creepy boys come in and flirt with us, and we liked it – giving them discounts on disposable cameras…because those were still a thing then. We had full access to the magazine rack, providing us free Teen Bop reading pleasure and while I hope we didn’t steal the posters, I wouldn’t have put it past us.
Karaoke Videos and Stickers
Do malls still have the karaoke booths? If not, they should. We choreographed these things, like, legit practiced dance moves and executed them (not so) flawlessly in a 4×5 box. If I had to guess, we did this at least 10 times. Picture this: Lisa Loeb, Stay, matching tye-dye gap purses and terribly frizzy hair. We’d exit the box after our stellar performance and wait for the VHS to pop out of the machine so we could run home and watch it, and talk about how awesome we were. Looking back, this hobby of ours (yes, I called it a hobby) was my favorite. The mall also provided us with picture booths and The Limited Too had the best one – it made stickers out of your photos. What more could we want? We stuck those bitches everywhere. The metal poles at the tennis courts in Richfield probably still have the faded goodness on them.
It was with Jenny that I stole my step dad’s car to skip school and go shopping. I will take credit for this idea, but let’s get real – she thought it was a spectacular one. You can read the full story here… but just know that I drove from Wisconsin to Minnesota, picked her up at the bus stop, bumped to some Missy Elliot, threw some tuna fish sandwiches out the window and got home without getting caught – until three or four years later.
Jenny is one of those people who entered my life at just the right time, I sincerely hope that our children will find friends like we were for each other… while especially hoping they don’t do half the shit we did.
Happy Birthday, Jenny!
It is one of the blessings of old friends that you can afford to be stupid with them. -Ralph Waldo Emerson
You don’t have to. If you received ridiculously poor service, while you watch your server yuck it up with co-workers, sure, make a statement. I’m not here as a career waitress to tell you what we’re entitled to, however, there are a few simple guidelines that might clear a few things up.
I get paid $2.33/hour – to which I never see because of those things called taxes. Minimum wage rules don’t apply to us because… we receive tips. If you scoot back up to the first part when I said, you don’t have to? You’re just an asshole if you don’t.
Serving is not an easy job. Imagine a constantly growing to-do list in your head while customers are asking you if you have <insert special from two years ago> still and balancing seven entrees over your head. We do not get breaks, we hold our pee so that your food doesn’t get cold in the window and then enjoy our dinner at 11:00pm.
We work hard, and if you’re lucky enough to have a server with their shit together – compensate them.
Compliments do not count as tips. Say it with me: a compliment does not count as a tip. We get legit nervous when a table starts dishing out nice words about the service we’ve provided them.
"Hi, Electric Company? Your service has been excellent this month, loved the lights." -Me, paying my bills how some people tip.
Nice words are always pleasant but I cannot pay my bills with your kindness. If you feel your service was good enough to verbally talk about it, with us, tip accordingly. *Cough*20%*Cough*
Fifteen percent is fine. It’s okay.
It’s like when you have your review with an office job, expecting them to applaud your valiant effort and tell you how magnificent you are, and instead they tell you that you’re average, you are mediocre.
If what you ordered does not taste the way you wanted it to, that is not your servers fault. We ran out of mashed potatoes, or the kitchen is a little backed up and your grub takes a little longer than usual, that is not your servers fault. If you ordered a steak medium, and it comes out medium – but in your opinion it’s too rare – that’s also not your servers fault.
When you arrive to the restaurant at 4:00pm and sit there until close drinking water, tip accordingly. What does that mean? We counted on flipping that table more than once, as many times as we can actually. Sure, you’re welcome to stay as long as you’d like, that’s what we’ll tell you, but common courtesy would suggest you pay us not only for the competent service, but for how long I have to provide it to you. This is especially true if you are the only reason we are still in the building.
If you’ve never worked in food service maybe you’re unaware that most servers share their tips with other restaurant staff, which I personally do not bitch about, they provide a service to me. Whether it’s the bartenders making adult beverages for my table, or the busser cleaning up a mess I just made over by table A2 – they earn their tips. The difference is we pay them a set percentage, regardless of what we get paid by our diners. If we get stiffed, we’re still paying our co-workers.
A few more things, and then I’ll wrap this up…
If you are with a large group of people, want your checks separated and combined with individuals that are not sitting anywhere near you – please understand there is 5,346,294x more work involved.
Telling me I’m pretty, or how much Jesus loves me also does not help with my day-to-day expenses. This is my career, I do not show up to a restaurant five days a week for the company and conversation. Sure, it’s a perk but, get real, pay us… or stay in for the night.
Oh, and one more thing, when we ask you if we can bring you anything else – please stop responding with: Winning Lottery Numbers. I’m out of courtesy laughs for that one.