Juggling Margarita's and Children and Men
January is well underway and it's a given in the restaurant business that it's the most dismal time of the year. Tourism is down and most people are sticking closer to home- Simple as that. You basically have to prepare yourself for the dead days of winter -long ahead of time because anyone in the biz who lives on tips and such should know you aint gonna be makin much in January and February!-and you may as well not complain about it because it's just life.
So far, after surviving the first week of the quiet time- I would say I've dived right into the slower pace. It's a much needed break for me. It's a time to look around and clean and see what needs to be done. I leave Saturday shifts to the younger staff-because even though you make more money working on weekends, to me, I would rather be spending that precious time with my daughter and avoiding any sort of public place-or dining establishment.
Don't get me wrong. I actually do like interacting with people. I am a people person and usually after having a day or two off I'm ready to get back at it. But for myself, as a server I need a break after five shifts of it, whether it's busy or dead. It doesn't take too many needy people dining out to burn a server out -or drive you to the point of being totally "peopled out". Maybe if I worked on weekends and did my writing through the week- that would be a good balance. It is an avenue I may consider-but for now I do it like this because the needs of my child far out weigh the needs of hungry high-end adults, in my view.
On one of these dull January days, I was at the restaurant where I work, Zest Bar and Bistro in Port Hope, Ontario. We had had a few people in for lunch, but were about to get ready to close her down for the day at 3 PM. I usually get off around this time anyway, but these men came in and I didn't feel like turning them away because a patron will never be too friendly if you tell them "No," and they never seem to understand why we close early. You don't want to tell a customer that it's not worth staying open for one table who sits for three hours 'cause it's not enough money to cover the whole costs of running the place for the extra time.
So now I have about four gents sitting at the bar, which is rare for a Wednesday afternoon. But the two late arrivals came in looking for some cocktails. So I put my apron back on - and get behind the bar- as my co-worker is not as comfortable in the drink making department. "What are you feeling like?" I ask.. "martini's, vodka and soda?..." No they wanted Margarita's. Which perked up the other mans' taste buds- who is dreaming of Mexico, two seats down. So I mix up the first two cocktails.
Chill the glasses, drop some ice in my martini shakers and away I go with some Sauza tequila, Triple Sec, freshly squished lime juice, a dash of salt and finish it off with some San Palegrino Limonata. Delicious!
The two men are enjoying the first sips- when the Mexico bound guy breaks and says- "I'll have one of those too, but can you crush the ice?" Sure- no problem. I'm looking at the clock now. Good I still have a half-hour before I have to meet my daughter at the bus stop. No sooner am I finished making the third drink than those guys order some calamari and another round of Margarita's. The big guy gets on the phone to his brother and invites him down for "the best Margarita in town"....he's getting rather obnoxious now... I lightly mention to him the bar won't be open for much longer but that I'll be happy to mix a few more drinks. The chefs are ready to go. Great! no way are we going to get out of here on time now. But that's OK- thank goodness - my daughter's school bus stop is less than a five minute walk from work.
So two more for the guys, then one for his brother. Now I'm telling my co-worker- "o.k I'm going to have to run down to the bus stop, but I'll be back in 10 minutes.- just as I'm about to step outside, Mexico bound guy- invites the lady who owns the flower shop across the street to come over for one and he wants me to make him one before I go- that's where I say, "No, I can't. You will have to wait until I get back. K?" This little party happened quickly and it was fun (mixing drinks and making money) however- I wasn't really up for it at this point on a Wednesday afternoon- and we were staying open for them so I needed the time to go get my child. So I walk quickly to the bus-stop and still have enough time to burn it to my house (across the street) and grab my girls' iPod touch, something to keep her occupied while she comes to work with me so I can close this party down.
So, we get back to Zest-My eight-year-old not too happy that she has to drag along with me. The two men and the brother sitting comfortably at the couch- seem to be fairly content with their tequila fill. They will surely be ready for the bill soon. Flower shop lady and Mexico bound guy don't mind that my daughter is sitting at the bar...waiting. They enjoy their "last drink" because they know this is going to be it.
Kids really do not enjoy having to go to work with their parents. But it's not too often that I'm not done when I'm supposed to be. I feel very fortunate in the small town that I live in that a clientele as classy as they are- do not bat an eye that I would make them wait for another drink because I have to go get my child- even though it is a quiet time of the season and it was the last excitement of Zest for the day it went out as fast as it began.
I never got to mention however, that the other guy sitting at the bar was in for a cup of coffee, which he ordered because he had planned to come in and have a visit with me that day. However, even though I thought I might be able to sit and chat with him when I saw him pull in, the two Margarita guys came in right after him- so that was it. What are the chances?