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Sunday, January 26, 2014

All the Nuts aren’t with The Pancake’s Part 6

The Graveyard Shift tends to have the same people work it all the time.

There is Lois, a waitress and Paul her boyfriend, who is a line cook. Paul and Lois moved here two years ago from Colorado because they were looking for a change. There is no bigger a change I can imagine that trading Colorado for Colonie New York.

Lois is in her early 50s and Paul is in his mid 20s. She tells me that she used to be his babysitter but I don’t know if she is joking, or saying it just to get a rise out of me.
As a couple, they have a great dynamic but Paul clearly thinks that he is working at a four star restaurant. He will refuse, by yelling at the top of his lungs to any substitutions that I might try to slip in unnoticed. Lois can substitute her heart away.

“Geoff!” Paul will scream while bringing the back of his spatula down on the “pick up” bell. “Ting, Ting, Ting” it chimes. So if I didn’t hear Paul yell at me the first time, the constant “ting, ting, ting’ of the bell should clearly get my attention.

It does get everyone’s attention within a 5 mile radius of his cooks line.

“Yes Paul?” I will say before I pivot over to him. I will actually act as if I don’t know why I am being called over and take my sweet time walking.

Paul will huff and puff but wait for me to be standing directly in front of him. He will shake the order in my face, his face turning a light crimson and scream “You can’t substitute Pancakes for Grits!” “Go back to that table and tell them!” Then he will ball up the order and bounce it off my head or face for effect.

So now, I have to walk back to the only table that I currently have, un-ball the check and tell them they have to change their order. Every time the table will try to reason with me “But we are the only ones in the entire restaurant!” “Uh-huh,” I grunt.

Paul will scream back at the table from the cook’s window. “Geoff is new here, he is just learning the rules!” “Don’t baby him!” I suddenly become the asshole. It gets old fast.

Another oddity on the team is Jason. He is the official Graveyard Busboy that we work with. He stands about 6’3, he’s bald with dark framed glasses, a hulking build and a strange crooked stare. Clearly he has had some sort of head injury because he tends to stand and stare at women customers he thinks are pretty. He does this to the point where they become alarmed.

When this happens, he try’s to be cool by staring at them from a distance and from behind things. He will hide behind a potted plant or the register until the patron freaks out, usually screaming for a manager. Then one of his will have to calm down the customer that is complaining. We have to explain that Jason is a bit odd and clearly has a head injury. Then we try to make her comfortable while Jason will go to the kitchen to calm his nerves by eating something from the bus tub. He will stay there until the customer leaves.

Everything at Denny’s is done by seniority. Open shifts have to first be offered to the people who have worked for the company the longest. So even though the Breakfast Crew, who will not work a Dinner or Graveyard Shift, still have to be offered the open shift first. If they say “No” then it gets trickled down to new people. If someone from the Graveyard Shift goes on a vacation, one of the women from the Dinner shift will work their original dinner shift and cover the Graveyard Shift. It is so hard to work an additional shift.

One of the woman with the least amount of seniority on the Breakfast shift has been working at this particular Denny’s for 35 years.

I can never pick up any available shifts, since I have been here a couple of weeks.

Also the rule I learn the hard way is to “Never ask any of the girls (as they refer to themselves) from the Breakfast Shift if you can either cover their shift for them.” It’s bad enough that they barely talk to you and that their customers show up at the end of our Graveyard Shift sit in our seats but refuse to order because they are waiting for the Breakfast Shift Waitresses to take over.

It’s cool that some of their customers have been arriving every day for the past ten years and it’s a little like family. Unfortunately, these customers want nothing to do with me waiting on them.

I get called Fag, Homo and Queer by customers on a daily basis and not even behind my back or mumbled into a napkin, but right to my face. If I complain, the boss tells me to “Ignore it,” and that there is “Nothing” he can do.

I remind him that “Its is illegal to discriminate, even if its discrimination by a customer.”

He just laughs, shakes his head, and then asks me, “Well, why don’t you just quit?”

To be continued…

Geoffrey Doig-Marx holds all written and electronic rights to his writing "A Day in the Life/Down the Rabbit Hole". It cannot be reprinted in part or whole without his written consent.

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