Industry Studies: It's Closing Time; Put Some Respeck On It
"What are you getting out of all of this?"
Talk about some light and dark shit. Heavy hand gestures and tongue struggles aside...is this an accurate description of 5/7th's of my night a week? Yeah. Kinda'. Industry...you're the worst fucking thing that has ever happened to me. And I'm not mad at it.
In my industry, any given closing shift is a testament to ones own patience. Usually the longest shifts are the ones that require the most responsibility. These hold a continuous sequence of irritations ramped up by a conflict of psychological interests; where even the smallest of actions can magnify into full blown rage. Psychological interests? Setting aside the rolodex of asshole guests and choosing to forget about all of the repetitive bullshit night in, night out...the best of the best in my industry routinely engage in what is essentially mental chess matches staged upon checkered boards of self reflection. Pawns, rooks, knights - irrelevant when all you want to do is flip the game over to nullify all previous decisions. Fuck the Queens and Kings you serve.
We like to operate via defined spaces and frames so that we may leave as little as possible to chance. Because when you leave things to chance, you're really just gambling on things not going wrong. And considering life is constantly atrophying into a state of chaos and decay, A.K.A. a little thing called entropy, those odds are not in your favor. It's 10:54PM. The defined hours of operation in my microcosm end at 11:00PM; or fifteen minutes afterward if you're feeling neighborly. Most people would do the math and realize that six minutes before closing equals zero fucks given when it comes to the chosen establishment. That was my initial folly. I expected too much. Assumed too greatly. These individuals were something special. Strolled right through my disdain. Might as well have skipped to their merry fucking lou's.
This wasn't a matter of some shitheads being innocently ignorant of the fact that it was late and that contrary to popular belief, the server doesn't live to get you coffee refills, and the dish washer doesn't live to rewash the coffee pot for the second fucking time tonight...
...stop; I know it doesn't seem like a big deal, but when you send a fax, or organize your shitty #1 father cup's, or whatever the fuck it is that desk job people do, you don't want to have to resend that fax. Because little unnecessary trivial actions pile up and eventually overpower the soul. Or maybe you do want to. Maybe the other sides fax machine being turned off gives you something to talk about at the water cooler like how I'll never hesitate to mention in the back how much I fucking hate people stacking their own plates. Look bitch, I've become very accustomed to the physics of stacking shit. Don't hand me that sloppy lopsided stack. I can see the level of distrust even in yourself. And you handed it to me over your child's head, no less? How dare you. Don't put that evil on me bitch, you know damn well the chips are stacked against me if a ramekin falls on that fucker...
...no. These people were bad. Here, incase I've lost you: It's closing time, and a bunch of assholes walked in. I don't want to serve them. They want me to serve them. There's a conflict here that I'm not going to win. But...I did gorilla warfare-up some petty bullshit. Small moral victories here and there of death glares, well timed come backs, and no water refills. Yup. That's right. They. Went. Thirsty. They got hit with a two minute window to order food, and I dug my heels into the dirt with that one. Seven more joined afterward and were denied. I'm not going to allow you to fuck with cooks who were already pushing probably twelve hour days. I never got that loud bitch her sample of beer either. It's a watermelon flavored beer. The fuck you think it tastes like? A couple other more heinous things went on, but I'll let you use your imagination. One rhymes with clit in shake. Which, coincidentally, is where I wanted to punch the bitch when she forced me to set up and clean the dessert station all over again to make her that fucking shake. Right in the clit. The point is, I wasn't letting these mother fuckers enjoy themselves. They were loud, rude, demanding and degrading. I wasn't mad at the tip from that group, which was understandingly bad. I was in fact an asshole to them - understandably though. Hear me out. I'm ok with people being ignorant. I'm not cool with people acknowledging that what they are doing is rude, and then taking joy in it. There's an important difference in the details there for me. I suppose act versus intent is the best way to describe it. Their intent were to be assholes. I only responded as a person, equivalently.
They laughed when the lights eventually came on, reviling vocally in the fact that we would still serve them. They ordered things not on the menu, knowing that it wasn't going to happen but engaging in an act of social jerking for cheap laughs from the rest of the fucks there regardless of probability. I learned not to deal with massa' antics from some of the most jaded and callous industry fuckers long ago. That was when I first saw the bitter swallowing of pride for a cheap dollar. No thanks.
...a school of mutts met with a rare breed of pups that give a fuck. That's what was left at the end. A breed of mufucka's that is real. Individuals that are equipped to understand the dynamic of money earned versus given. Grown to be numb to the leash; bitch if you jump may you rest in undisclosed peace... I'm just gonna count some money while weighing it against the nonsense...
It's cute in a parental sense when I hear my hosts, food runners and bussers complain about how rude people can be. I say parental, because I'm fully equipped with the emotional callouses and versed with the psychological ploys necessary to handle the less than pleasant, but I know they aren't. What you say to me is one thing, what you say to them is another. I love being asked mid-shift how I juggle people, by the way...99 problems, but since you asked...
I'm not saying that people walking in within minutes before closing warrant flashes of rage; instantaneous regrets of all left turns in life where lyrics of Jim Morrison twist in and out in the back drop telling you to ride the snake. Melancholily gaining momentum while reflecting upon saddened spirits that only exist because of the vacuum that allows for such empty vessels to persist...
There's a special phenomenon that occurs in my industry that generally just doesn't anywhere else. And that is the shit-stain that enters a restaurant within minutes of closing time; expecting you and your now irate chefs to treat them like golden-dicked Sheikhs, like their gracing of your establishment should be considered the fucking cherry that your nine hour shift-sundae was lacking. How preposterous it is to suspend all common courtesy toward your fellow human beings over your tum-tum wanting food that is essentially left-over quality at this point. Oh, it's ten till close and you want the soup of the day? You fucking godless heathen. This shit doesn't occur in other industries. I don't walk into a grocery store ten-till, purchase an orange, and walk around that bitch peeling it an hour past close. Try making a bank deposit in person past close. Shit, calling Cox about internet problems during normal business hours seems unreasonable half the time.
It's not like hours of operation is some obscure new age concept either. Jesus himself would've wanted to crucify some straggler that wandered in after the last supper was finished. "Ya'll still got those shitty wafers and wine? Good, good, make sure my wafers are extra crispy." I bet it was the elusive 11th commandment that never made the cut. "Thou shall not fucketh with thy labor costs and staffs sanity." Moses would have been pissed as fuck if he had to re-part the sea for some fuckboí after already closing that shit down. And you thought your side work was a bitch. The fucked up and aggravating part? You have a right to do so. Honestly, you do. And, logically, I have no real leg to stand on to deny you. I'll admit that people.
I'm conflicted. One side of me agrees with how my sous chef looks at it: the last hour of the restaurant is for people who are already there to enjoy themselves, not for others to come in. The other side of me knows that we are in the business of hospitality and that there seemingly isn't anything really wrong with coming in right before close. It's an issue that leaves me torn. Kinda' like abortion. I know, I know. Apples to oran - no, cocktails to coat hangers. Yeah. I like that. That'll stay.
Without further ado, here is one of my favorite closing stories...
At the time, I'm working at a spot you might have heard of via CNN, Food Network, or some other cliché media that likes to pimp out spots that have enough money to flaunt their nonsense. Taco Guild. So I'm closing one night at the Guild, and I have a party of nine people on the patio that made it perfectly clear that they knew we were closing soon, but would grab a drink and some tacos before being out accordingly to hours of operation. Oh, and they're industry apparently. Your dangled carrot is not doing a good job of appeasing my anger-boner, lady. My depleted emotions need more collateral. I need more reasons to give a fuck...but, whatever. I'll pick up the dice and roll. Welcome to the 298th Server Games, may the tips forever be in your favor.
Yo, they hung out for a solid 40 minutes past close. Loyalty with industry started to...lessen. I cleared as much shit off that table as I could after already detailing the restaurant twice. After going back and forth between acknowledging how angry my fucking manager was at that point, and daydreaming on what I'd do to this group of hipsters...I finally had enough. I snapped. Fuckin' right ho'. Let's go stir some fucking feathers. By that, I mean I went out and sparked up innocent conversation with them. I was curious. "You guys said you were industry...where do you work?"
I mean...they're industry. Surely there's a little guilty regret in them right now, and their tip will make up for it. I get it. People want to just have fun and live in the moment. I've been in places past closing time and have made sure I'm completely out of the way and that compensation is resting in that check presenter. At the end of the day, it's a simple struggle of dollars made versus minutes spent. They get it. It's coo'.