Wednesday, February 11, 2009


I frantically scribble down food orders on a blue sheet of advertising paper. I can barely read my own writing on that dark paper. The regular ticket book for taking orders was not in my pocket when I reached for it, so now I will have to track it down and rewrite all these orders before I can give them to the kitchen staff. I am getting nervous. People are pouring into the dining room, expecting to be waited on immediately. Everyone is coming in at the same time and the area I'm responsible for looks huge. I have taken only 4 orders so far, but already the orders are becoming confused in my mind. I decide I must get these off to the kitchen so that at least some of my orders will be in at the front of the slam.

I deliver the 4 orders and then literally run back to the dining room, my long legs moving smoothly over the carpet and my blond pony tail bobbing behind me. The booths are almost full of customers now and almost all of them look fidgety. I will start to get complaints soon and my mind races to choose my strategy. I go to the back where the customers look most anxious and whip out my ticket pad, but before I can even say hello, a medium built mousy woman coming from the bathroom area demands my attention.

Her long straight hair is pulled back into a loose pony tail. She is slight of build, atheletic looking, and angry. She directs my attention to where the carpet of the dining room transitions to the tile in the hall to the bathrooms. The carpet there is worn and threadbare and several pieces of silver duct tape have been applied to one edge. The woman tells me that several days ago, one of her daughters tripped on that area of carpet. She starts telling me exactly what happened and her story drags on because she insists on adding every little irrelevant detail, but it's clear that if I don't attend to her concerns diligently, she will go ballistic. She is in a rightous ferver. As she blathers, I am looking at the carpet and trying to figure out how anyone could trip over a few patches of worn carpet the size of silver dollars. I do notice the floor is slightly uneven there, causing a subtle rise in the height of the carpet in one area.

I imagine her two little girls are playing there, teasing each other and not paying attention. They are giggling and one of them is twirling around on one toe and doesn't raise her other foot quite high enough, instead dragging it on part of the carpet. Since she is already off balance, it doesn't take much to cause her to fall down. She flops painfully on her hip and the sudden motion finally catches the inattentive eye of her Mother. The girl cries for a few minutes until the pain subsides.

As the Mother fusses over the sniveling child, deep inside, she feels guilty for not paying attention to her children and allowing them to run wild while she prattled on with her friends. But it's easier on her self esteem to blame it on the carpet and the restaurant. Her guilt is converted outward to an anger that protects her from self examination. In her mind, the carpet has become an imminent danger to children everywhere and a grievous oversight on the part of the restaurant, a problme that in her mind must take precedence over all other activities.

The woman finally pauses in her tirade long enough for me to ask if she wants to speak to the manager. She looks happy at my statement, probably assuming I share her concerns, but really I am only looking for a way to get back to work. I start searching frantically in the big restaurant for the assistant manager who is on duty today, but as usual, he is difficult to find. Eventually, I track him down in the lower offices under the main dining hall. I give him a rough rundown of the problem as he ascends the stairs with me back to the main dining room. His dark grey hair is slicked back in a strange puffy blob away from his calm implacable face and I idly wonder how he gets his hair to stay in place while still looking natural.

Soon we are approaching the dining room and we immediately know something is horribly wrong. There is quiet, nothing but quiet. Normally we would hear the loud buzz of ceaseless chatter and clanking plates, but now there is a somber silence. I see one woman bustling out the front door and I ask her what is going on, but she doesn't want to talk to me. She just keeps trotting away without answering.

We enter the dining room and hear an angry snarling voice. It is the bartender in his little drink alcove. He is wiping out a glass with a rag while simultaneously cursing and snarling loud expletives. The depth of his anger startles me. I can't understand why he hasn't just left if he is that angry.

As I pause in my tracks, I am surprised to see the assistant manager who came in with me is moving steathily behind a wall. I realize he is not going to deal with this issue but instead has chosen to just hide and listen for now. For a moment, I entertain the thought of going up to the bartender and trying to help. We have always had a good rapport. But the intensity of his snarling hatred scares me. He is not now the man I thought I knew. I also slink behind the wall next to the assistant manager.

I feel sorry for the bartender, but my strongest emotion is of relief. Most of our customers have left and it wasn't my fault. I had nothing to do with it. And now I'll easily be able to catch up with my food orders.


  1. There is no sequel to this, is there? I have been that waitress and most definitely been that bartender, the details you describe along with the atmosphere, I enjoyed it a lot. Makes me want to know what the tirade was about!

  2. I want to know the rest as well! I only know what I saw in that dream. Seems like there is a limit to how much info will stuff into my brain in a short amount of time.

  3. I wish there was a method or a machine that could help you remember certain details of your dreams. You've probably already wondered about that though.


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