In November of 2015 I participated in NaNoWriMo, which is National write a novel in a month, month. I got a random hankering to do it, and so 2 weeks before it started I still didn’t know what I was going to write about, and then finally it struck me. Write what you know… So I wrote my first draft of Confessions of a Restaurant Manager. It’s a fictionalization of my career where most of the characters represent someone I know or have worked with, names changed, and most of the events in the book actually happened to me. It was really fun to write and eventually I will get around to editing and publishing.
Since it’s almost the weekend, I thought I would share some of the funnier moments in the book. A few notes. Anything said inside <> is being sad by another person over a radio that’s in my ear. I changed pizza to burger for the book. I have barely started the editting process, so please excuse any grammatical errors, and for the storytellers out there I’m always welcome to feedback! Both of these events actually happened to me, and I exaggerated very little in the retelling of each tale. Here is Crazy Carol and the Marine:
Walking in is a short thin normal looking woman, brown hair, wearing a scarf, has money in her hand. It’s crazy Carol! Except at this point we don’t know that Carol is crazy. She’s here to pick up an order of Lasagna to-go. She pays and starts eying the gelato case. She asks for samples of gelato (the Gelato case is brilliantly positioned right by the front door for this very reason). I give her a sample of strawberry and of lemon while she’s waiting for Heidi to box up the lasagna.
“Oh my goodness, I’m in heaven, this is SOOO good.”
“Would you like a scoop? I can put it in a container to go for you.”
Pretty normal so far….
“yeah I’ll take a scoop of each. How much are they?”
“$3 per scoop”
I scoop it out, put them in a to-go bowl and ring her up. She hands me $3 crumpled up dollar bills.
“Alright, here you go, the total is $6.57 after tax”
She calmly hands me 1 more crumpled up dollar bill out of the wad of cash in her hand and looks up at me.
“Ok, we’ve got $4 so far, I just need $2.57 more.”
She counts out $1.30 in coins and slides them over to me on the counter. Looks up at me again.
“alright, almost there, just need a little more…”
“Oh nevermind, looks like I don’t have enough.”
“Well, that’s alright, I tell you what, I’m feeling good today; One scoop is on me! It’s already scooped up for you anyways!”
She then slowly starts to walk backwards towards the door. Heidi comes up with her lasagna and is unsure what to do with it since Carol is walking backwards towards the door with a weird look on her face. I look over at Heidi and with my eyes and a head gesture tell her to leave the lasagna up here, and I’ll take care of it.
Carol starts to wave her hands and shake her head and say, “No, no, No, that’s weird..I can’t, I just can’t”
I still have her money and lasagna in my hand. I try to reassure her that it’s perfectly fine.
“it’s ok, I’m a manager here. You enjoyed the gelato so much, I just want you to have it.”
“This is weird, I can’t….. I can’t…. no, no no” Shaking her head waving her hands out in front of her.
“Well ok, umm… at least take your money back and you’ve already paid for the lasagna. I’m sorry if I upset you.” I slide the lasanga and the money to the edge of the counter.
She is at the front door now, turns towards the door and grabs the handle. She quickly snaps her head back towards me and looks at the lasagna and her crumpled pile of cash and coins on the counter. I step back from the counter with the gelato in my hand.
She then bolts for the counter, and grabs all of cash and her lasagna as if she’s stealing it and runs out the door. Heidi and Erica are watching from afar.
I grab a lid for the Gelato. I’m taking it home. Free Gelato is free gelato, It’d be a travesty to let it go to waste!
Before I can step away from the host desk in walks a scruffy looking black dude wearing a big jacket and carrying a grocery bag filled with God knows what. He makes a B-line to table 4.
“Hello Sir, How can I help you today?” I “politely” yell as he barrels past me.
He mumbles something along the line of “It’s ok, I know these guys”
Table 4 is a 2-top. Young couple, looks like they are on a date, enjoying their meal. I make eye contact with the lady at the table since she looks up at this guy who is rushing to get to their table. They do NOT know him. So I almost leap over the counter to hustle my way over to table 4 to try and diffuse the situation before it starts.
He makes it to the table; I’m one step behind him.
“Hey sir, how can I help you today?”
“I’m hungry.” As he is angrily pointing to their food.
“Oh ok, well I’m pretty sure they are enjoying that food, lets get you a table and a menu.”
I try to walk him over to a table far away from the young couple and grab a menu on the way.
He keeps pointing at their food as I am trying to gentle turn him away from table 4.
I open the menu, and try to point out some of my favorites. We are about 3 steps away from the young couple at this point. He’s not buying it.
“I DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY” he shouts as he starts to puff his chest out at me.
“You know what sir, that’s fine. You’re hungry, and I’ve got a kitchen. Lets get you a burger on me.”
At this point we are about 4 steps away from table 4 which as far as I could get him. He starts pounding his feet and slapping his chest with one hand while he still holds onto his grocery bag.
“I’M A MARINE! I DON’T HAVE ANY MONEY”
At this point, he’s standing as close to me as Kevin was to Heidi earlier and I can smell liquor, sweat, and general funkiness. I am about 90% sure that he is going to swing on me. So I start to bow my chest out, standing taller, planting my feet, and try everything to look like I could handle myself in a fight (which is totally not true, the last fight I got in was in middle school).
“Ok sir, You’re now causing a scene and I’m going to need to ask you to leave.”
“I’M A MARINE!” pounds chest. I surprise myself by not flinching. I am ready to get punched in the face. He leans even closer to me, I stand tall.
“Sir, I don’t want to have to call the authorities, please leave.”
He deflates a bit and walks past me towards the door body checking me into a near by counter. Tripping on chairs, tables and lastly the host desk on his way towards the door
“America is SHIT because of people like YOU” he shouts in between stomping more and hissing. He throws the door open, give me the finger and runs out into the night.
I take a deep breathe, shake it off and calmly head towards table 4 to help them process what just happened.
yes, this actually happened to me, both people in one night came in with about 30 minutes in between each incident. Next up, is another true story of one of the worst messes I’ve ever had to clean up. You asked for this Jamison! Also a true story. Another Note: in the story the Protagonist is named Andy, and that character is basically me. Brian is Andy’s Boss. On this day in the story I was a mid manager who finds himself still there at closing time.
I know I’m trying to stay positive, but at the end of a busy-ish Friday night those are not the words I want to be hearing. I shouldn’t even be here right now, and I DEFINIETLY don’t want to solving any “situations” in the bathroom.
I make my way over to the bathroom. I see Marvin over there shaking his head and holding his nose, Kevin has his face in his palm, and Brian has his ear to the bathroom door. What am I walking into?
“Ok Marvin, tell Andy what’s going on over here”
“So you know the guy that comes in all the time carrying a plastic grocery bag with bottles of Sprite and sleeves of oreos?”
I’m know exactly who he’s talking about. He makes just about everyone uncomfortable. He isn’t all there mentally, but he’s cognoscente enough to come in to a restaurant and order. He normally has enough cash to pay, so we let him come in. He has a tendency to wander around the restaurant talking to all the little kids in the place which is what makes most of the staff uncomfortable, so we generally try to always seat him in the bar area so that this is less of a problem. Strange fellow.
“Oh yeah that guy… is he stuck in the bathroom or something?”
“He’s been in there for about an hour and a half. He’s talking and singing to himself a lot and it smells like a dirty foot covered in road kill that got set on fire. I want to die just standing near the stench”
Luckily my sniffer is still malfunctioning due to lingering effects from the flu or whatever I had.
“So, what do you need me for?”
Brian comes over to the huddle. “Oh, Hey Andy, can you stand here and make sure this guy is not dead? Kevin and I need to start the closing duties. I’m going to go check the kitchen out while Kevin starts counting money. Let us know when he comes out. If he doesn’t come out in the next 10 minutes we need to start knocking on the door and potentially calling an ambulance.”
“AN AMBULANCE? You should call Ghostbusters because whatever it is that just left this guy’s body is going to haunt this place for years to come.”
“Marvin, let’s go do your cash-out. Andy’s got this situation handled.”
How did I just get volunteered for weird-guy-stuck-in-the-bathroom duty? Oh well. Knowing Brian, he’ll probably buy me a drink or something on down the road to make up for it. Jill is probably already asleep so I don’t mind staying; I just hope I’m not on the cleaning crew for this.
“The guy hasn’t paid his bill yet, I can’t cash out.”
“You know what, I’m going to comp his bill. Judging by the sound and smell of it, this guy is having a rougher than normal night.”
Kevin and Marvin make their way to the back register to cash-out and start counting money. I hear the guy starting to whistle. So creepy.
“SIR, ARE YOU OK IN THERE?”
“um…. I’m not to sure about that to be honest. I seemed to have gotten some mess on my britches. I have a spare pair in my bag, If someone could bring me my bag I really would be much obliged.”
I go grab his things, and I knock on the door again. I hold my breathe just in case my nose started to work again. He cracks the door and his long thin wrinkled fingers poke out and grabs the handles of the grocery bag from me and shuts the door behind him. I hear the click of the lock on the door.
“Doing alright in there sir? We are closing up for the night.”
“Well I hate to admit it, but I made a real mess in here my friend. I’ve got these stomach problems you see, and something I ate must have just messed me up real good. I tried to clean it up and I’m afraid I just made it worse. These stomach problems. They make for some really hard BM’s. My doctor told me to stay away from cheese, it’s just so hard because damn near everything has cheese on it. I haven’t had a BM in over 2 weeks now. The last time I was on the toilet in my apartment, the toilet broke on me and my landlord refuses to come and fix it. It’s rough I tell you, rough.”
Why he felt the need to tell me all about his BM history I have no idea, but wow, I learned way more than I bargained for. I’m starting to smell the death that is inside that door and I can only imagine the “mess” that he has made. I think about just leaving and letting Kevin deal with it. I decide to stick around and stay the course; it’s already making for a great story.
“Well ok sir, Don’t worry about the clean up, we’ll take care of that. Why don’t you go ahead and come out since we are closing up for the night.”
“Are you sure? I can stick around and help clean if you’d like and I haven’t paid my bill yet.”
“We took care of your pizza tonight sir, it’s our pleasure. Don’t worry about the mess. We’ll clean it up.”
He cracks the door open. A giant poisonous wave of putrid stench escapes from the bathroom. I use all of my energy and power to focus on not throwing up. I force a half smile. He emerges from the bathroom wearing a pair of ill-fitting sweatpants and he’s got his “messy britches” in the grocery bag. He’s got socks and sandals on and his glasses are on crooked. He looks like he’s been through hell and back. I escort him to the front door. The whole walk to the door he is recounting the tale of his doctor, the landlord and more nitty gritty details about his bowel movements that no one would ever want to know, but I guess it’s the only thing he can think to talk about on this awkward walk. He thanks me for the meal, and apologizes some more.
As soon as we get him out the door, I turn to Kevin and we paper-rock-scissors for who is going in there first. He throws scissors and I go with paper. I cover my mouth and nose and open the door to assess the damage.
It looks like a port-o-potty at a music festival. It’s such a mess that it’s genuinely confusing as to how he had this much inside of his frail old body, how it left him so vilolently, and how he made it out alive The mess combined with the stench stuns me like tear gas at the WTO riots. I immediately stumble out of the bathroom. I absolutely cannot leave this mess for the morning cleaning crew to clean up, and I feel like it would be inhumane to ask anyone on staff to clean this up, so I swallow my pride and decide that I need to clean it up. I go to the back and put on already used chef’s coat and apron and tie a clean rag around my nose and mouth like I’m robbing a train. I’m not trying to get any of this guy’s mess on my clothes. The toilet isn’t broken, but the dark brown water has overflowed onto the floor and for some inexplicable reason there is smear marks on the walls near the toilet. The plunger and toilet brush are laying on the ground in the corner by the sink as if they were weapons that ran out of ammo. The sink has soiled paper towels in it and the trash can has the same swear marks as the walls do. I’m amazed that this guy only got “mess” on his pants, and that he didn’t slip and fall into it. Round 1 goes to the mess. I decide that I don’t have enough armor on for this battle. I go to the back to get more aprons and rags. I tie an apron around each of my legs and arms. I put another rag on my head like a bandana. I put on the long bright yellow kitchen gloves and cover those gloves with a pair of disposable gloves. I grab the plunger and toilet brush out of the ladies room, a mop, a deck brush and a wire coat hanger, some bleach and a spray bottle filled with sanitizer. It was like bringing a knife to a gun fight the first time I went in. Now I’m ready for round two.
I take a deep breathe and charge forward into the war zone. I head straight for the toilet and I catch a glimpse of myself in the brown reflection from the toilet. I start to laugh and that causes me to open my mouth. I immediately throw up right on top of the already disgusting toilet. I shake it off and start plunging away. After about 12 good pumps of the plunger, I decide to change over to the metal coat hanger. I unbend it so that I can try and shove it into the toilet hole. I start stabbing away and I hear the water bubble. I plunge a little more and I notice the water start to go down a little bit. I roll the dice and try to flush the toilet again. It doesn’t flush all the way down, but it doesn’t overflow either. I step out of the bathroom for some fresh air and let the toilet water try and go down a bit. I consider this round a draw, but I’m gaining momentum.
I get a mop bucket and some bleach and I walk back in “liberally applying” the bleach to all the surfaces of the bathroom (I dumped bleach everywhere). I start to to scrub the floor with the deck brush. I take a break from scrubbing and start spraying down the walls with sanitizer. I sprayed enough to get all the smears off the walls, the garbage can, and the sink. I stick my head outside the door to breathe some bleach-fumeless air. I’m not ready to give up this round. I take a peak into the toilet and all the water and mess has gone down the drain. The bowl is still covered in brown death, but at least it has flushed. I kick the plunger on the toilet so that it will flush again. It flushes with no trouble, so I start spraying the toilet down with sanitizer. Before I’m ready to mop I take two buckets of water and throw them onto the floor and walls to help get any remain crud off. I mop up all the dirty bleachy water and call it a night. I won, no one died, and the bathroom is no longer resembles a battlefield. As I shed my armour in the back, Brian walks past.
“How’d it go?”
I used to have pictures of the mess that guy left on my phone, but I must have deleted them like an attempt to delete the memories of that guy’s bowel movement history from my brain, and sadly the memories still remain but the pictures do not. Probably for the best though.
I really should be editting this novel, but instead I’m considering participating in NaNoWriMo again this year, not sure what I’ll write about, but something will come to me for sure.
Cleaned up a worse mess? Dealt with weirdos? Let me hear about it below! Hit that Follow button, and have a great weekend.