I'm kind of a big deal. It's just really unfortunate that no one else seems to get that. Really, I'm amazing. The guests love me, I fix everyone's problems, and I have the menu memorized. That last bit is more of a feat than you'd think. Our menu has 167 entrees, deserts, and appetizers. That doesn't count all of the variations of each dish or sides. Or alcohol, for that matter. One might think that knowing these things are my job. I agree. I also feel that it's a gosh darn shame the rest of the wait staff doesn't see things that way.
I'd just like to say that pretend and struggle though I might, I still don't actually speak Spanish. Sure, I've been working with Mexicans for a reasonable amount of time so I know food words and unkind things to say to people. This always manages to cause problems for me with the rest of the wait scum I work with. "Tell the kitchen what I'm saying" comes up very often. Depending on whether or not I'm feeling particularly bitter at the time, I generally try to help smooth whatever mistake they've made over.
As Friday nights tend to be, tonight is particularly busy. As I'm rattling off a list of alcoholic beverages I need for a table to Ivan the bartender, Helayna comes running over. What she has to say clearly cannot wait until I've finished speaking. She begins screaming over me that she needs me to translate for her. After a moment of trying to ignore her and get my drinks, I stop talking. Very slowly I turn to the older woman. I stare blankly for a moment, even though I know I don't have the time. "Has it ever occurred to you that I am also busy?"
She looks dumbfounded for only a few seconds before, without apologizing for interrupting, she tells me again what her problem is. She's yelling, and it's very high pitched. Ivan looks as though he'd rather be clawing his own eyes out. "I'll help you in a minute. Slow down. Decide what you want to say to me. I'm getting drinks."
Ivan is pretty much as awesome as I am, so he managed to pour everything I needed while I was indisposed due to my coworkers again. I don't think twice about helping Helayna before handing my beverages out to my table. They're regulars, and they like to drink and get pretty rowdy over the course of the night. When they give me their order, I write it down correctly. This is a technique that seems to be beyond the grasp of the other waiters.
To their credit, listening to something in your native language and then translating it into a language you don't speak isn't exactly simple. It's also not rocket science to write what the guest has to say in English and then have someone who knows what they're doing help translate it. That's usually what Helayna does, and more than likely what she needs help with.
I go into the kitchen to post my order and Bobby stops me. "Sarita!" he calls loudly. He looks annoyed.
"Que ole, Bobby?"
"Stacey! She is stupido!"
I groan. "What this time?"
"Que es eso?" He knows I don't speak fluent Spanish, and also that we're busy. Normally, he'd be speaking very quickly in words I don't understand. I am thankful that he asks me in simple words what the ticket is supposed to say as he points to the words on the ticket.
I stare at it for a moment. "Camarones… uh… I don't know. This isn't even on the menu." He looks at me expectantly. "Uno momeno, por favor." I take the ticket and dash from the kitchen to find Stacey.
The funny thing about me asking Stacey what the hell her order is supposed to be is that she trained me. It's a particularly awesome learning experience to be taught by someone who doesn't know what they're doing. I question the woman who is a number of years older than me about what she wants. The incredible amount of back peddling and bull shitting she does shows quite well that she doesn't even know what she wants. What confuses me most is her insistence that what she ordered is indeed on the menu.
The problem with being a server and trying to fix a problem is that the guest knows you're not actually management. I can't very well tell him that the general manager is at the bar trashed and attempting to tend bar but only succeeding in driving Ivan bat shit. The man isn't happy, but I finally get things worked out and I hope that he likes his food well enough to come back despite the terrible service.
We've recently started doing a good deal more take out orders because our food is spectacular but the service is abysmal. I'm not really sure how the other servers can't get their shit together when I can stumble my way through managing and wait on a full section of happy guests. It's mildly depressing that I am forced to give myself a smaller section for the greater good of the restaurant. I guess I'm just that nice of a person.
I scoot back into the kitchen wishing for roller skates so that I might move a bit more speedily and hear shouting. It's Michelle and Negro. I hear Bobby laughing and Jamie muttering in Spanish. Michelle's face is read and she looks as though she's about to slit Negro's throat with a butcher knife. "Michelle? What's wrong?"
Though I know I'll only get lies from the wait trash, I always ask the people I understand first. "They're being assholes! They say they don't understand my ticket and they're calling me a witch."
"Por que you call Michelle bruja, Negro?"
"Because she is!"
Jamie nods and cuts in. "She say she is bruja."
I groan loudly and strike my forehead with my palm. "Why did you tell them you were a witch?"
"The short one kept trying to kiss me!"
I shake my head, smiling. Michelle has never been kind to the kitchen staff, and I know I'll be unable to repair the situation. From my experience, Mexicans tend to be rather superstitious. Michelle has long dark hair, pale skin, dark make up, and is something of a bitch. They didn't think very highly of her in the first place, so believing she practices black magic isn't too much of a stretch.
Deciding to address the issue I can remedy, I grab her ticket. It's written properly, Spanish shorthand and all. "Bobby!" I point at the ticket. "Tu comprende?"
He reads it and smiles. "Si, senorita! I love you." Pacha is standing nearby. He's grinning at my misfortune. I glare at him and leave the kitchen, hoping none of my tables are feeling neglected. Ivan is delivering a new margarita to one of my guests and I smile at him. He's always got my back.
The night drags on in similar fashion and by the end of it I'm contemplating mass homicide. Instead, I drive my maroon Buick home through terrible conditions and bitch to Ivan over the World of Warcraft about how much I hate my life.