I open the back door to a chaotic scene for which I’m totally unprepared.
The Sunday morning rush should be about over by now and I’m scheduled to bus tables during the lunch and early evening shift, but no one seems to have been in the dishwashing station for quite a while. It’s overflowing. Every bit of space where one could possibly place a tub of dishes is piled high and there are at least three loaded bus carts just sitting there.
A waitress bursts thought the pantry doors pushing another cart. She sees me and turns to leave, shouting back through the doors as she goes.
“Rick! Brian’s here!”
The assistant manager of the Rochester Perkins Cake & Steak, appears almost immediately. “Brian, you’ve been promoted. Get an apron and start washing dishes.” I hesitate, trying to get out any one of the several questions that immediately come to mind after hearing this news.
A cook appears at the door to the kitchen. “I need plates and bowls NOW! Where are those plates?” The cook disappears and so does Rick, I run to grab an apron.
“Shit! Where’s Jim?” No one answers. Jim was supposed to have been washing dishes for the morning rush. Sunday morning is the busiest time to work at Perkins. No doubt about it. All the families going out for brunch after church, religiously descend upon this most popular local family restaurant. They come all-at-once and it’s complete mayhem to try and keep up with their ritously delivered demands.
The completely incompetent management seems to only care about meeting those demands with zero concern for how hard the staff must work as they try to do so. Rick appears again and turns right around. I catch a look of frustrated confusion on his face.
“Where’s Bill?” I shout, to no answer from Rick. A waitress is entering with more dishes at the same time however, and she answers me.
“Bill’s gone a-wall. No one knows where. Rick’s been shitting his pants all though church rush. Kinda cute actually.” The waitress (I can’t remember her name) giggles a bit as she leaves.
I get going on the dishes. I’ve been bussing tables at Perkins for almost two months now, so I’m completely able to do this. It’s not hard, just hard work. Hard and frantic, and steaming hot. I’d rather bus tables. At least doing that I get a chance to snatch the occasional untouched steak and/or potato for my dinner. Dishwashers at Perkins have a very short job life span and I just started mine thinking I’ll be lucky to last the day. Correction… Perkins will be the lucky ones.
I work my ass off for I don’t know how many hours. All the time, having to ignore Rick’s pissy pestering. As if he can do anything to make me go any faster. All he can do is piss me off and make things worse. If he thinks he’s got any chance at all of taking over for Bill, the general manager, he’s stupider than I thought. Bill’s an asshole, but at least he knows how to pitch in and get things done during a rush like this. Rick just stands around yelling at people.
I hear the back door and look over my shoulder to see Wayne and I’m shocked thinking… “Has it been this long already?” Wayne is scheduled to take over the next shift. “Did they call him in early?”
“Dude!” I hear Wayne behind me. “I’m quitting. Tonight. Not going to even start my shift.”
“What?” I shout back though the crashing of dishes, glasses and the pressure spray nozzle as I keep working. “I’m not doing it man… no way. Bill’s no where to be found and Rick’s been a total prick the whole time.”
“Yea, I thought so.” He turns me around and we face each other. I can see he’s not even dressed for work. “I’ve been thinking about this for a while man. These assholes deserve the worst we can give em. Even Bill. I know several waitresses and others who are ready to walk out if we do. Even a few cooks. Let’s leave Rick to sink in this crappy old tub.”
“Hey Wayne, stop gabbing and get dressed.” Rick shouts, poking his head in from the pantry. I pick up the spray nozzle and point it at him and he quickly disappears. “You wouldn’t dare, von Ahsen.” I hear him say from the other side of the door.
I look at Wayne and smile. Rick pokes his head in again and I wave for him to come in. Looking like I’m about to apologize. Our so called assistant manager comes all the way in. Into what we dishwashers know is our domain. He walks closer, and just as he opens his mealy mouth to speak, I let him have it. Full in the face with the hot hard spray.
Rick scrambles to get out of the way and out the door. Wayne and I can hear cheering from the other side as Rick shouts at them to shut up and get back to work. The restaurant is still full of customers and the dinner rush is about to get into full swing. It starts early on Sundays with hardly a break after the church rush. This is why Wayne chose today to quit.
I’ve obviously thrown in with Wayne and all that’s left is to leave but first…
Rick suddenly appears and tries to hit me with a rock-hard dinner roll. Ha! Pathetic. I easily dodge it and nail him again with another spray of water.
Wayne and I never see what happens next. We are done and gone. Whenever Rick musters the courage to poke his head in again, he’ll see nothing but a bunch of dishes to do with no one but himself left to do them. Wayne has been washing dishes at Perkins longer than anyone here. I don’t know how long but I can tell he was savoring this day. It seems to have gone just they way he’d hoped.
I’m a lot younger than Wayne and still basically a good boy sixteen-year-old. But Wayne taught me a lesson. A crash course in restaurant rebellion that will come back to me three years later.
Three years later when I realize I’ve been screwed over by the management of yet another restaurant.
I can continue that story now so…
To be continued…