My New Restaurant

“Seriously?” my sister whined.  “We don’t have time for a stop!”

“I’ll just be a minute,” I tried to assure her.

“You don’t really need it.”  My brother added his voice to my sister’s.

Exasperation poured from me.  “It’s my purse.  Of course I need it.”

Without fail, Mother chimed in.  “You’re not even wearing shoes or socks.”

“I’m not wearing a bra either, but that’s not going to stop me from grabbing my purse.”  Okay, so they had a point.  What normal person stops by their work on a holiday to pick up something which they don’t really need.  But, I figured, since Mother was driving, it was a good time to grab it (I hate driving without a license.)

When I walked in, Joe and Marty were the only two employees on the premises.  No waitresses, no management.  Just a busboy and the chef.  “What’s going on?” I asked.

“Nobody showed up.  We’ve been here all night.”  Joe looked to Marty and added, “I don’t know about you, but I’m done.”  With that, he took off his apron, slammed it on the counter, and walked out.  Marty, ever Joe’s shadow was right on his heels.

I stood there in shock for a moment before taking a cleansing breath and heading for the door.  After getting my mother’s attention, I waved them all in.  While waiting for them, I got my apron from my locker and went out to wait tables.  When my family came back in, I put them all to work.  “Eric, you’re cooking.  Mother, dishes.  Alex, I need you to help me wait tables.”

They all just looked at me like I was insane.  None of them had ever done any restaurant work before.  “It’s not that hard,” I insisted.  “Eric, the recipes are all basic and the instructions are on the wall.  I’ll try to push the special.”

“What’s the special?”

“Whatever you’re good at making.”

“A Denver Scramble,” he decided.

Denver-Scramble-with-Prosciutto

“Perfect!”  Turning to Alex, who looked shell shocked, I soothed, “It’s super simple.  Just write it down, key it in here, and then deliver it.”  Thank heavens the owners had switched to an easier computer system last year!  “Just let them know the Denver Scramble is $2.99.  All the cheapskates who come in here should jump at that!”  After giving my mother a sympathetic glance for giving her the worst job  I added, “When you can, maybe help Eric make toast, drop bacon, hash browns, or pancakes on the grill, or whatever?”

Trying to get them pumped up, I said, “We can do this!  It’ll just be for a couple of hours until the next shift comes in.  Plus, it’s a holiday.  Who goes to a dump like this on a holiday?”

When, oh when, will I learn to keep my mouth shut.  The moment the words left my mouth, the hordes of people came in, table after table.

And of course, the first table was the worst!  A fat, middle aged man loudly informed me, “I want a Slow Comfortable Screw Against the Wall.”

I looked at him, all words having left me.

“Did you hear me?” he blared.  “I want a Slow Comfortable Screw Against the Wall.”

Regaining my professional composure, I responded, “Yes, Sir.  I did hear you.  I’m just not sure how I can help you with that.”

At that moment, his dainty wife leaned over to me and cleared it up.  “It’s a drink,” she said, barely above a whisper.

“Oh.  I’m sorry, Sir.  Our bartender isn’t here at the moment.  It is 5:00 in the morning.  I can get you some iced tea.”

“I want a Slow Comfortable Screw Against the Wall!  How hard is it to make a drink, dammit!” he demanded.

“Well, everyone who is working here right now is Mormon.  None of us have ever had a drink in our lives, let alone knows how to mix one.”

“I guess it’s time you learn, huh, Girlie?”

Knowing that the customer is “always right” I nodded and took the rest of his order, along with those at his table.

The rest of the morning went about that well.  But, what was to be expected?  We had three inexperienced people working a restaurant, and I seemed to be their leader.  It was like a really bad sit-com!

Somehow, we managed to make it through those two hours until the morning shift arrived.  By the end, it was more of a horror story than a funny one.  We all did our best, but it was horrific.  I tried to help my family as much as I could while still keeping my customers happy.  I was frazzled, exhausted, and a bit sweaty.

The elderly owner was the first to arrive.  He took one look around, grabbed my wrist, and dragged me back to his office.  “What the hell is going on out there?!” he bellowed.

I answered him, trying not to throw anyone under the bus (which was extremely difficult!)

“Why didn’t you call me?”

“I called every half an hour, leaving messages each time,” I insisted.

Reaching into his pocket, he argued, “Do you think I would have ignored my phone?  This thing is always on me!  Don’t try to tell me…” his words stopped abruptly as he looked at the screen on his phone.  After a few taps and swipes, he looked up at me with remorse.  “I’m so sorry!  I had no idea!  I went to a movie last night and must have forgotten to turn my ringer back on.”

I shrugged.  What was I going to do – chastise my boss?  “No biggie.  We made it through.  I’m glad we could help.  Although, you will need some more onions and red and green peppers.  It was the only thing my brother knew how to cook, so we sold a lot of them.”

As the regular employees were taking over for my family, my boss walked us out.  I thought he might have slipped us some money or something, but no, he just sent us on our way with his quiet words of gratitude.

Had I not needed the job so badly, I would have quit right there and then.

That evening, when Mother pulled into my driveway to drop me off, there was a car already there.  A man in a suit got out and approached us.  “Mr. Tibbits wanted me to inform you that you are now the owner of his restaurant.”

We all just looked at each other.  “What?” I asked.

Stepping forward with some official-looking papers, he clarified, “He’s been looking for someone to buy his restaurant, but he wanted to sell it to the right person – someone who could handle the stress and someone who would care about it.  The four of you demonstrated those qualities this morning.  He said the work you put into it was payment in full.”

We looked at each other in shock.

My sister was the first to speak.  “Could we really do it?”

I looked at each of them, thinking of their strengths.  “Sure we could!  Mother, you take care of all of the financial crap.  Eric, you take care of all of the supplies and ordering and whatnot.  Alex, you take care of the menu.  And I’ll be in charge of the employees.  We can totally do this!”

And that’s how we got a new (to us) restaurant.  And I did all of it without shoes, socks, or a bra on.  Think of what I could do fully dressed!

And then I woke up.  That dream was exhausting!

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