“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.