Stare of the Iguana

“Hey, when we have guests in the dining room, maybe it’s not such a great idea to read the paper.”

Blank stare. “Okay,” said the server with a puzzled, you-hurt-me-by-saying-that look.

“Hey, when we have guests in the dining room and we are still open for lunch, maybe you should keep your apron on and not toss it on a bar stool.”

Intense stare. “Oh! Sure!” said the other server with an I-hate-you-for-trying-to-appear-like-a-real-manager look.

“Hey, who’s taking that table?”

Hardened stare. “Not me. He’s an asshole. Make the other server take him.”

Equally hardened stare. “I don’t want to. He’s a douche bag. Especially after the way he talked to me.”

“Well, one of you better take the table. Because I cannot have servers telling me they won’t take tables!”

I stare at the dusty podium countertop, my shoulders slumped. Jesus, what is it with everyone these past few days? I command such respect that my servers whine at 1:30 to be let go early. I command such respect that they collectively beat me up until one gets the okay from the others to go at 2 p.m. I command such respect that the whiniest of them all pronounces this question as a statement: “It’s 2:13. Can I just go?” I command such respect that at 2:20, one server simply clocks himself out and leaves, without checking with me first.

I command such respect.

And the phone rings incessantly, and the guests become more demanding in their demands for 10-top reservations at 7:30 p.m., and the private event clients decide they don’t care that they now have 36 people attending when the room only holds 26, and the bank deposit is fraught with errors, and the invoices aren’t properly approved, and the fax machine is a piece of shit that is always jamming paper, and the chef needs the copier just when I need it, and the wine pages need copying, and the new maitre d’ is always spending way too much time away from the podium in the early part of the night so that the best host we have is always beside herself when she has to work with him. And I try to help her out but I am burned to a crisp and feel ashamed that I am, and I leave for the first time ever from any job when work still needs to be done. Because it will all be there tomorrow morning, and I will get it done then, along with everything else.

“RG, call on line one.”

Always, a call on line one. “Thank you for holding, this is RG.”

“Mom!” cries RG Daughter’s voice. “There is this HUGE lizard on the lounge chair by the pool, staring at me. He is opening and closing his mouth at me!”

I stare out the window at the sidewalk in front of my restaurant, wishing like all hell I was with RG Daughter at the pool. “You mean an iguana is there? Wow, never seen one at my place before.”

“But Mom, he’s really huge and scary. Do they hurt you?”

“Nah. You scare them more than anything.”

“Maybe. But, he’s HUGE. Maybe I won’t stay at the pool. Maybe I’ll go to the beach.”

I stare out the window past the sidewalk and wish I was going to the beach, too. I wish I could see that iguana. I know they are pests. But they are so sleek, so cool in their awkwardness, their totally out-of-place beings. They never scare me. Mostly, I scare them when I stare too long at them.

“RG, call on line two.”

I would stare that iguana right in the eye, just as he sat just so on a lounge chair at my pool.

And he’d stare right back at me. With respect.







16 responses to “Stare of the Iguana”

  1. Kim Ayres Avatar

    Forget the dog. Get a pet iguana and train it to stare at the servers

  2. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    Kim–Ha! Of course!

  3. Julie Avatar

    Oh, I hate people like that. (The “Can I leave now?” crowd) When you’re at work, you work. That’s just how it is. When the work is finished and your shift is over, then you leave.

    Of course, some things can wait for tomorrow like the stack of papers on my desk. Time to file today.

  4. jali Avatar

    I don’t think the server’s attitude is a reflection of the respect they have/don’t have for you. I imagine their attitudes would be the same no matter who the boss might be. They’re just in whiney mode – it’s contageous.

    I love lizards, snakes and frogs – hey, maybe I’ll get a lizard… (jali wanders off talking to herself)

  5. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    Julie–Yeah, I feel the same way: Spare me the drama and just do your work!

    Jali–Whiney mode, yes. But I also think I am not the strongest manager-type personality, in general. I don’t know why that is, but it is. Anyway, back to the salt mines again today.

  6. María José Avatar
    María José

    hehe we wave them here, too. Iguanas. In maya, thay’re called “tolocs” (i mean, one is “a toloc”, two are “two tolocs”. i love that name. And i love them,. They are so old, sonething evolution couldnt replace. And thay´re still here.
    Your iguana is small. I’ve seen tolocs so houge, like a Komodo Dragon.
    I cant imagine anyone not respecting you! i say you kick their asses. But thats just me 🙂

  7. RG Son Avatar
    RG Son

    I agree, a pet iguana is the way to go! But you need the big one that hangs on the pipes near the bridge, that’ll get your servers into shape…

  8. Natalie Avatar

    Big lizards are cool. I too would much rather stare at a lizard than deal with whiny people.

  9. upset waitress Avatar

    Nah RG, doesn’t really sound like a respect problem. Sounds like the staff is a bunch of whiny bitches. Most servers feel they are entitled. They are happy when it’s busy and have no problem sticking around. Once it’s slow, they are whiny crampy shits. Maybe they need something to do during these times? Light a staff members hair on fire, it’ll give them something to do and talk about. Or let a bird fly into the restaurant, that’ll keep them busy and entertained. 🙂

    So you like the iguanas? Come down here, we are inundated with them. You would have a hay day! Especially when the bastards they eat your whole hibiscus tree in less then a week.

  10. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    Maria–Consider the asses kicked, as of today.

    Augs–Were that i were so cool!

    Natalie–Lizards very cool; people, not.

    UW–Matches bought, bird ready to fly. God, I hate people this week. And yeah, give me a flower-eating iguana any day over some over-entitled freak who has decided I am not worth answering to.

  11. Brave Astronaut Avatar

    It would seem that in 2008 your writing has gone up a notch. I now get your updates in my google reader and I have had everyone of them starred to come back and read again and again.

    You write so effortlessly and so expressively. I love reading your stuff. But I’ll stop staring now. I don’t want to freak you out . . .

  12. upset waitress Avatar

    See, I have the hardest problem working because I don’t play well with other servers. Most of them can kiss my tight ass. I’ve made plenty of them cry. I’ve fired many more. Cut some shifts and see who you can weed out haha.

    Uh Oh RG. Looks like you got a new fan 🙂

  13. Don the retired restaurant manager Avatar
    Don the retired restaurant manager


    That day is exactly the kind of day I do not miss.

    Peacefully recuperating from 22 years in the business, and loving every minute of it.


  14. Restaurant Gal Avatar
    Restaurant Gal

    RG Son–You snuck in there, didn’t you? Yeah, Bubba the iguana would definitely do the trick.

    Brave Astronaut–Good to hear from you again. As always, thank you for the compliments. I actually am struggling with my writing these days, so a double thanks.

    UW–As you know from the following post, I reduced someone at work to tears for the first time ever in my life. Can you imagine if we worked together, you and me?

    Don–How the hell are you? I was just wondering about you and your new-found life. Hope all is great, and quit rubbing it in!

  15. A random reader Avatar
    A random reader

    Too funny! Just don’t ever approach a ‘guana thinkin’ you’re gonna pick it up. You will find out right quick what the wrong end of a bullwhip feels like. Maybe my momma did raise an idiot….