Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Pugnacious Bartenders & Peace Signs

You know what I dislike more than drunk people? Parties. Which is why I was very happy not to be scheduled to work on Thursday night which is when the bar was having their highly anticipated (by them if by no one else) '60's party.' In fact, I was quite relieved because the one thing I hate more than parties is dressing up. The other staff seemed to be excited, chattering over what they were going to wear and how much fun it was going to be, etc. I did not partake of this chatter; I rarely partake in any chatter especially if it revolves around clothes, parties, or any kind of fun whatsoever.
It had been a long week and I was looking forward to a relaxing Thursday of coffee and lunch at the mall in Ma'ale Adumim with my father and then making dessert (in a clean and fully stocked kitchen) for the family we were staying at for Shabbat.
I had worked Sunday, filled in for someone on Monday, worked as scheduled on Tuesday, and answered the summons to help out at the restaurant on Wednesday (explanation to follow). Frankly, I was exhausted. As for working at the restaurant, the manager had been calling me every day asking me if I could work that night. Obviously I had told him no, I had a job, I was working that night, whatever would make him stop calling me. I finally told him that there was no reason for me to work at the restaurant because I was getting paid 25 shekels at the bar and I wouldn't work for less. He called me back the next day and told me that he'd relayed my message to the owner but had told him that I would only work for 27 or 28 shekels an hour. The owner actually agreed to guarantee me at least 27 shekels an hour (which just shows how desperate he must have been). So I agreed to work on Wednesday. I needed the money and the pay and hours were better than at the bar so I figured I may as well work there a few times if they needed me.
First however, I was expected at the bar for “arts & crafts” time. They had asked all the waitresses to come in to decorate for the 60's party. They offered us free food and drinks (including cocktails) as an incentive because obviously they weren't paying us for our time. I guess they thought we'd come in due to our clearly feminine love for cutting out hearts and peace signs and for the chance to chat about our love lives and gossip about the customers. I passed kindergarten despite being the kid who glued her fingers together and I have no great love of arts & crafts. I also wasn't going to be drinking any cocktails seeing as I had to work at the restaurant afterward. So I wandered in an hour late trying to hide my annoyance at this irritating obligation and trying even harder to ignore the idle chitchat which is considered to be interesting to the other waitresses. They didn’t even end up having free food or drinks (which didn't altogether surprise me). All I could do was look forward to my day off on Thursday.
Thursday came around, and I was happily carrying out my plans of coffee and cooking. I had just finished making the dessert and had moved on to making peas when I decided I should probably check my phone. I'd left it in my bag and forgotten about it for the past few hours so I was not surprised to find a missed call and a text message. They were both from the head waitress at the bar. I was not anxious to read the message knowing that it was probably something that would ruin my day. And it did. She wanted me to come in at 8:00, dressed up. After wailing and cursing for about 5 minutes while mournfully stirring my peas I looked at my watch and realized that it was already 6:30. There was no way I was going to make it on time if I had to go back to my apartment first. Plus I didn't happen to have a 60's costume lying around. Really, who has random costumes sitting in their closet? Do they think I live in the backstage of a theater? So I pulled something marginally retro together and told them I could be there by 9:30.
It would not be an overstatement to say that I was dreading it. And justifiably. When I got in the computer they use for ordering was down so the other waitress asked me to give the bartender the order while she was busy elsewhere. I took a step into the bar area in order to catch the bartender's attention and he went nuts on me. He said, “I don't know if anyone told you but you may NEVER come behind the bar. This area is bartenders only and waitresses aren't allowed back here. If you need something you have to call me or put in an order, not come back here. Bla bla bla, you're bad, what were you thinking, I'm a territorial caveman with prehistoric instincts, etc.” At some point I think he regressed a few million years back to grunting and making threatening movements at me. When he was finally done proving his superiority over me, the lowly waitress, I just kind of stared at him for a few seconds and said, “I forgot what I wanted.” I finally remembered and asked him for ½ a liter of Heineken and a Coke and he responded that I should put it in the computer and then he'd make it. I was starting to get quite exasperated so I told him none too gently that the computer wasn't working and that I'd put the order in afterward. All this and the order wasn't even for me. Last time I do anyone any favors.
The night didn't get much better from there. We had a special drink, a “dirty hippy” that they wanted me to push. Evidently their marketing for the party hadn't been particularly effective because everyone I told about the drink just looked at me blankly. I'm like, you know, in honor of the 60's party. More blank looks. Did you not notice the cut-out peace signs taped to the mirrors and the cliched 60's slogans adorning the walls? Do you think the staff dresses like a bunch of burnt-out hippies all the time? I had two big tables that night of barely legal teens who kept ordering more and more and by the end of the night had ordered so much that they had no money left for a tip. One table even stiffed me 15 shekels.
At about a quarter to 4 in the morning I was getting worried that I'd miss the last late bus back to Talpiyot. I went up to the manager to tell him that the last bus was at 4:10. He then asked me when the first bus was. I couldn't understand what he was asking me. I was like, well I missed the first bus long ago. He's like, no, the first bus in the morning. I was like, are you serious? The first bus is at 6:00 or so. What, I'm supposed to wait here until then? He was not very sympathetic.
So I went back to cleaning stuff and waited for him to come down and organize the money I had on me. First he had to take out the cash that people had used to pay for their meals and then count the tips (which was whatever was left). Somehow though, I was missing 200 shekels from the computer account of how much I'd sold. This was not good. We looked everywhere, did the accounting again, but still couldn't figure out what had happened to that 200 shekels. In the end the manager said, “we'll figure it out” and let me leave without taking it out of my paycheck.
I started walking home even though I was pretty exhausted because I didn't feel like waiting around for 45 minutes for a bus. This was a mistake. There are many creepy people out in the early morning even if it's fully light out. I shall not go into detail so as not to worry anyone, but suffice it to say that if you're going out that early in the morning, take a dog with you. A big dog with lots of teeth.

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