Sunday, March 13, 2011

On the Floor at 8 p.m.

Last night we had 59 people on the books. About 100 showed up. Park Kitchen is little- intimate. Tables are close. Close enough that you would be lucky to leave without getting knocked into by your server every so often. We call that a love tap- and it's free! On weekend nights, sometimes it's more like a full body check. Last night, it was a full body massage.
This is because last night we were totally packed. Every bar seat taken, the chef's counter full, no extra chairs, packed. We got close with everyone. They loved it. We loved it too- but it was a hell of a ride.

Have you ever been a server? If you have, you know what it's like. You start the night by drinking 3 to 5 cups of coffee. By the time the first crowd has arrived, you are dancing between tables, smiling and fresh faced. At 8 pm, between the two big turns, you feel like you are getting away with something. Everything is going so smoothly! Maybe you have one more cup of coffee to keep you going. Could it really be this easy? But then that first turn decides to linger over dessert. The second turn is packed in at the bar, hungry, anxious. They look at you with sad, hungry eyes. Your blood pressure rises. You have now run from the front to the back of the restaurant for 3 hours and your bangs are starting to look a little messy. Maybe you're sweating. This is when things really get wild- but this is also the part that I can't describe. I know it involves making sure a lot of people are happy about leaving and happy about arriving, but otherwise it's a blur. I have heard that women forget the pain of child birth in order to keep the planet populated. I guess this is what nature does to keep servers in jobs- nature gives us stress, which causes us to temporarily black out. I remember once a table asked me if I was having an out-of-body experience during one of our most memorable rushes. I had to admit that I was. Last night when it was over we tried to remember the details of the evening but we were so breathless and exhausted, we couldn't look back.

Luckily I do remember the very end of the night- meatball subs for staff meal. They were like medicine.


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