Friday, December 20, 2013

Pregnant Redheaded Waitresses Named Pepper

   A long, long time ago, one of my first jobs I help was as a server. I worked at a bar and grill, which will remain nameless, and I was eighteen. This job was brought to mind because I recently shared a post on my facebook page about the need to raise servers' wages. Many of them do not even make minimum wage; their employers pay them less then minimum wage (I was paid around $2.13/hr if memory serves), and tips are expected to make up the difference. Except then you run into the issues such as slow operation hours, when there are not enough customers to make the difference unless they ALL tip heavily, which isn't fair to expect, and there are bad tippers, and then there are the places that require servers to tip out to bus boys and hostesses, regardless of what they made in tips. All these things add up, and some places are so packed that maybe the servers still walk away with good money, but not every place is like that. But really, I digress, because my story today is not about the need for a living wage for all jobs. All this rallying for servers brought to mind a story that took place when I was in training at the bar and grill that I served for.
   I had several different trainers during my training period, but the particular story that I have in mind took place with a redheaded, pregnant server, who was named, I kid you not, Pepper. You can't make this stuff up. My trainers were showing some concern over my shyness, because though some of you will not believe it, I was shy. Well, maybe not so much shy as I didn't really want to talk to these people. I didn't mind taking orders and refilling drinks, ect., but this was the South, and everybody wants to talk to everybody, and I didn't want to talk to any of them. So, not super friendly. You wouldn't be waiting for you food forever, but if you wanted to talk about the virtues of the various nightclubs or casinos in the area, I was not the server for you.
   So they worried about that, most of them. Not Pepper. She was a very blunt person, and she didn't really mess around. She told me what tables to take, and then just got on with watching me. She was heavily pregnant, and probably appreciated the break. She didn't care if I was pissing people of left and right; she just wanted to rest her feet a bit. I can't blame her for that. But there came this point when we were slammed and we got seated all eight of her tables at once. One of the tables was a large party; I can't remember how many, only that we had to put a few tables together just to seat them. Now, Pepper took this order because she didn't think I could handle a large party yet, and I took the smaller orders, but at one point, after their main courses had been served, one of the men in the party grabbed my arm as I was passing, and pulled me to the table.
   "This is unacceptable!" he complained, pointing at his half-eaten steak.
   I was confused; I hadn't taken this table, so I wasn't sure what the problem was, but I made a go at it, "Is it cold? Or not cooked right?" I asked.
   "This steak is the blandest steak I have ever tasted! Did you even put any seasoning at all on it?!?"
   Well, no, I didn't. Servers don't cook the food, they just bring the food to the table. I didn't know if the cook had put the seasonings on the steak or not, this wasn't my job. And I didn't know how to handle this. Today, I would have been more aggressive, especially after being grabbed and pulled on because in no way do I tolerate being touched, and probably I would have been fired as a result, but remember, this is back in the day, before I was a mom: one of my first jobs. But I wasn't left hanging, because Pepper had been keeping an eye on me even though we had been working independently for a short while. So in a flash, she was over at the table saying, "This is my trainee, and she may not know how to help you. How can I help you?"
   The man at this point, thrust the whole plate into Pepper's middle. Pepper's occupied-with-a-baby middle. Bad move with any woman, but when you are talking about a redhead named Pepper, who also happens to be pregnant, bad, baaaaaad move. Before I knew what was happening, she smashed the whole plate to the floor, had the manager over at the table, and was screaming, "This asshole just threw his fucking plate into my stomach!"
   I have never seen a more frightened manager. Normally, a manager might have comped the meal and gave a bullshit apology, because even though this man was in no way right, managers tend to try to keep people coming back to bring in that revenue. Sometimes they take this too far, but that wasn't going to be an issue in this case. I think that the manager was scared of Pepper; I certainly was. Don't mess with pregnant redheaded waitresses named Pepper.
   I can't really remember what happened with that family. I do know that several of the women were stammering embarrassed apologies to me; I think they were also too afraid of Pepper to apologize to her directly. I didn't hold that job a year. I wasn't fired, but I quit. I couldn't work there; serving is so much more difficult that people think. Putting in an order is not all there is to the job. Like many jobs, there are issues and problems that people don't even see or think of until they actually have to do the job themselves. I didn't last, that's all I know. Serving remains my worst work experience ever. 

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