Imagine, me– a wee hostess at an up and coming hip and expensive restaurant. Let’s call it, “The Llama,” with one Michelin Star and a bunch of really intimidating (but nice) food and wine geniuses. Never having any experience at a restaurant, I came in all dreamy-eyed, scratching this romantic itch of working in the service industry, wearing my hair up in a bun in cute and swept up, carefree kind of way, laughing about something with a coworker, and recommending the tomato soup to an old man. It’s not that this did not happen, I shared many laughs with coworkers, wore my hair up in a bun, and talked to many old men, but this was no casual affair. This place was legitimate. No La-Di-Da attitudes welcome. No, “oopsies! Silly me!” The stakes were high.
Imagine wealthy business men and women dining on the company credit card. Imagine a 14 year old girl dressed like Lady Gaga with her parents. Imagine: Natalie Portman and her dog; Jeff Bezos casually sipping a cocktail at the bar; and the majority of the Queer Eye cast walking in during Pride Week. Imagine: people dressed to the nines, or even more impressive, spending thousands of dollars on wine while wearing casual clothes. It makes every decision matter (and every mistake). You can’t make a beer glass explode into a million tiny glass shards on a guest more than once without it being a serious issue.
Now imagine me being asked to stand in front of the barista door (the small room where coffee is made) as a mysterious brown liquid begins to spill out and into the front of the restaurant.
That’s right. It’s a Wednesday night in the summer, the restaurant is filling up, I am 5’9” and a third the width of the wall and am asked to be a wizard. Now, my job, on top of welcoming guests to The Llama, (using the correct verbiage, the correct hand gestures and warm smile), guiding them to their table, handing off pieces of information to coworkers, carrying chairs up and down stairs, resetting tables, bringing guests to and from the bar, and gathering transfers, was to try and distract guests from the reality that a brown liquid, which smelled awfully reminiscent of the sewer, was seeping up through the grate on the floor of barista and into the restaurant, trapping poor Jeremy, the barista employee, up on the counter, and sending everyone frantically running around trying to find the most absorbant rags.
It gets worse. Moments before any of us noticed the poo liquid, I had personally seated a solo-diner at a table that, without the distraction of a guest, essentially faces barista flat on. And according to our sources, this anonymous solo diner was a Food and Water Inspector. Oh god! So, we have a trapped barista employee completely surrounded in poo liquid, the liquid is seeping into the restaurant, we are out of absorbant rags, we are all starting to laugh because this is so ridiculous, meanwhile our solo Food and Water Inspector might get us all fired… Will he notice?!?
Perhaps not… if we hadn’t called down to maintenance, who brought up a giant mop and a large, unrecognizable machine, that began what sounded like full-fledged construction on barista. So at this point, we were drawing attention to barista, which from a distance looked quite ridiculous. An army of hosts lined up facing the inside of the restaurant serving as a distraction, a line of maintenance men in tan colored clothing wheeling around machines and mops, and all the while the maître d and hosts smiling like nothing was happening.
But my friends, this story has a happy ending. Somehow, likely by the hand of Jesus himself, we were finally able to stop the poo liquid from spreading, the Food and Water Inspector left the restaurant smiling, and Jeremy came down from the counter unharmed. The maintenance men wheeled their machines away, and we put the rags in the wash. It looked, completely and utterly, poo-liquid-free. But if you looked closely, beneath our sweaty smiles, you might find hysterical eyes and sweet relief. Crisis averted.