"Hola," I blurt out to the boys in the kitchen as I dash towards the bathroom, already pulling my long brown hair up into a messy bun.
"Hola, Sarita!" they exclaim back happily. Along with their greetings come a number of expressions of love. I sigh, having given up on convincing them that my name is not Sarita months ago. It's Sara, but the guys I work with seem to enjoy the "pet name" if you will.
The bathroom is empty, as I knew it would be. It's only ten in the morning, and the Mexican restaurant I work at doesn't open for another hour. The managers aren't yet there, so I don't have to worry about getting yelled at for being late. I look in the mirror to make sure I don't look as bad as I feel. I groan a bit, realizing that I really should have put on some make up this morning. The bags under my eyes make it quite apparent that my insomnia has gotten the better of me again.
After checking the bathrooms to make sure they're clean, I wash my hands and get to work. Opening the restaurant is something I do nearly every day, and it really only takes me half an hour to do on a good day. However, today is not a good day. The bar tender from the night before left a huge mess. After I do a little happy dance over the thoughtfulness of my coworkers, I take out the trash and wash the glasses left from the night before.
Cutting lemons and limes doesn't look to be on the list of things to do this morning, as there are plenty of them. Scratch that, there were plenty of them. One of the cooks, Pacha, decided that they should be thrown out just a moment ago. He kindly did just that. I groan and hit him on the arm. "Why did you have to go and do that?" I ask, exasperated.
He sort of just looks at me. "No comprende," he says. I glare at him. He understands. I know he understands. He's just being an ass. He knows that I know he understands. I know this because he's grinning.
I guess that I should tell you something very relevant to this situation now: I don't speak Spanish. I took French in high school. I'm very, very slowly learning a few things. Pacha speaks English much better than he likes to let on. All of the Mexicans do. They do enjoy being assholes about it, though.
I pick up the empty container of lemons and shake it before pointing to the trashcan. "Por que?"
He's still grinning. "No good," he says. "Get more."
I nod, heading towards the basement. I hate the basement. It smells bad, and it's very cold in the middle of December. Nothing is ever in the same place. That obviously means more time looking for lemons and limes for poor little Sarita. It takes a few minutes, but I find the box of limes under the box of tomatoes. The lemons are hanging out over by the flour tortillas for some reason. I stopped asking about these things a month ago. I don't move boxes; I just give people their chimichangas.
The stairs are slippery, and I nearly fall climbing them. That's okay, Bob is standing there ready to laugh at me if I do. Bob is another cook. He's Mexican, and I don't know his real name. I call him Bob and so does everyone else.
After getting all of the lemons and limes together, I go in search of a cutting board. Thankfully, it's in the cooler with the beer mugs. God only knows why we keep the fruit cutting board chilling in the same fridge as the vino con frutas and the "frosted" mugs. To save you the Google search, vino con frutas is sangria. It's a punch made with red wine, fruit, and some other stuff.
Anyway, I eventually get to start cutting the lemons with a steak knife. That's what we use to cut fruit. It makes things slightly more annoying. If that were my biggest problem with the whole situation, I'd be a very happy person. Well, cutting lemons is okay assuming you don't have any cuts on your hands. I do. Luckily, though, my hands will end up smelling delicious afterwards. My paper cut is burning, and Pacha has come out of the kitchen. He's staring at me while I cut lemons. And grinning. I'm well aware that he's laughing at me and just too nice to do so out loud. Apparently the way I cut lemons is funny.
Now he's saying some things in Spanish that amount to "stop that," I guess. Next thing I know, he's shoving me out of the way and cutting the lemons much more nicely with a knife meant for fruit and vegetables. He's also much faster and looks better doing it. I can't really help but smile and thank him.
I actually like Pacha a lot. I don't think he knows, and I like it that way. I'm pretty sure that he's unaware of how much I like assholes with a heart of gold. Or funny assholes. And I guess assholes in general. I enjoy harassing people, and I can respect that others do as well.
I watch Pacha for another minute or two before going into the kitchen. It's just my luck that no one rolled silverware the night before. I dance again as I head back into the basement to find some napkins. Rolling silverware is my favorite pastime!