Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Best of First Class to Hell: Waiting Tables on X......not recommended

In college I had the thrill of working at a restaurant we'll call Hennigan's in Lafayette, Louisiana. Sounds harmless enough and like your typical, 'I'm a kid in college job.' Waiting tables at Hennigan's in the Bayou, however was like being thrown into the firery pits of hell.

First, the bloody restaurant (no, I'm not English I just like to imitate Madonna sometimes) was open until 2 am and all of the toothless Freaks and Geeks came out to eat their Brownie Bottom Pie at ten till two.

Perhaps the worst part was that at the time (very early 90's) there were only Cajun restaurants in Lafayette, including one across the street called "Possums" where people actually dined on possum and nutria (swamp rat). So if you had your fill of swamp rat and just wanted some Bottomless Nachos, you came to Hennigan's and boy did those Cajuns ever come. Don't get me wrong, I love my Cajuns but Hennigan's attracted the "my sister is a real good kisser" Cajuns.

On Friday and Saturday nights they lined up around the restaurant and would wait an hour for fried cheese with "that red sauce" (marinara), Beef Fa-Ji-Tas (fajitas), Kiss-Ka-Dillas (quesadillas), and I almost peed myself when one bright lady ordered the "Seafood Quikie" (quiche - and I'll bring that right out ma'am.) 

I waited on all types (chew and screw), a couple of a**holes that wrote "Don't Eat Yellow Snow" on a napkin next to the word "Tip", and I  became particularly fond of a couple who came in every Friday night and once heard me mutter something when I left their tables (I believe it was "Douches") and took the time to write a 2-page letter to management about what a horrible person I was. Yes, waiting tables was the pefect training for my lifelong career in outside sales.

The pinnacle of my waiting tables career happened one annoyningly sunny Sunday morning during the church rush. Like all good kids my age I had been taking Ecstasy five hours before my shift and dancing the night away in my Daisy Dukes and Zodiac boots at "King Fish" an X bar in the depths of the bayou. One time I got lost leaving the place and thought I would be found the next day slashed by the fisherman in "I Know What You Did Last Summer." Literally green in the gills, I thought I  might faint as I served people their breakfast feeling much like Tommy Lee after a Crue concert. Hennigan's had just come up with the genius idea to give each table a little green stop watch and if you didn't get your food in 15 minutes it was free. Hence the flop sweat dripping from my caterpillar eyebrows.

I knew with three minutes to spare if I could just get one table of 8 their food, I would survive the day (the a-holes had all ordered steaks as they happily clicked their stop watches). As I headed out with every plate hoisted on a tray above my head (ears still ringing from Frankie Goes To Hollywood), the tip of my tennis shoe got caught on the top step which led to my section. My knees hit the floor, elbows hit the ground, ass in the air, suspenders fallen and a sea of steaks, fried cheese and that damn red sauce lay before me. Manager not happy and the guests got their free meal (click!)

It was at that point that I had decided 'lesson learned' (no more X before Sunday Brunch service.) A few weeks later the manager posted an article in the kitchen about X, including that one of its ingredients included rat poison (who knew?). I ditched X for good that day however I did go out and party the same night as the ill-fated Sunday X Brunch. It was college afterall.


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