Category Archives: shift meal

When You’re Starving at Work

emma-stone-gifs-eating-cutie-cupcake0406I am at work and I am starving. Seriously, I am about to gnaw my own hand off but I remember that we don’t have a busser tonight so I would be the one who would have to clean up the mess. There is enough crap to clean up as it is and I certainly don’t need to add to the list. Besides, I mopped the floors before we opened and I’m pretty sure if I eat my hand off, the mop would need to make a reappearance and that ain’t happening. My shift begins at 4:00 and ends at 11:00. That is a long time to go without eating any food. Sure, I can have lunch at 3:00 before work, but by 8:00, I am hungry enough to consider eating leftover french fries from the old man at Table 7. Of course I don’t do that because whenever that old man talks, he sprays saliva over everything. Standing near him must feel like when you’re in one of those little boats that take you right up to Niagara Falls; Maids of the Mist, I think they call them. When this old man comes in, he should supply everyone around him with umbrellas, galoshes, raincoats and visors because it’s a fucking spit monsoon when he talks. Therefore, his french fries are probably soggy and I will not be eating them.

I won’t even discuss what my shift meal was because it was a plate of slop that made for a good Instagram video but was not fit for human consumption. I chose to not eat it and now I am paying the price. My stomach is growling loud enough for customers to wonder if there’s a storm a brewin’ outside.

Shift Meal: the Movie

A video posted by thebitchywaiter (@thebitchywaiter) on

Table 16 orders the mac and cheese appetizer and as I am carrying it to their table, I feel my mouth watering and I cannot be sure that a drop or two of drool does not escape my lips. It may look like I am wearing Lip Smackers Lip Gloss, but that shine on my lips is pure slobber, 100%. The breadcrumbs and parmesan are a golden crispy brown on top and it’s practically begging me to bury my face in it.

“That looks so delicious,” says the woman who ordered it.

“Fuck you,” I think.

I head over to the kitchen to see if I can convince Juan to throw me a few fries. “Yo tengo mucho hambre,” I tell him.

As is the norm, he cares not about the shooting pains of hunger that are jolting through my malnourished body. He isn’t hungry because he ate the shift meal. He doesn’t mind dry chicken wings with two kinds of pasta that is swimming in a vat of oil and hatred. I do. My only option is a piece of bread. I slather it with butter and imagine that it has a protein on it, like pizza or a Big Mac. I wash it down with seltzer because I read somewhere once that carbonation makes you feel more full.

Table 9 has the mac and cheese. Then Table 4 has the mac and cheese and so does table 11. It’s like everyone in this whole goddamn restaurant wants me to carry bowls of something I cannot eat. Fuck all of them.

I have learned my lesson. I will forever carry a Cliff bar in my apron from now on or I will force down the shift meal no matter how awful it looks. I cannot work when I am hungry because it makes me bitchy and no one needs to see me be bitchier than I normally am. Very often, I figuratively will bite the head off of a customer but the next time I am this hungry it might be literal. I will literally bite the head off of the woman at Table 6 and then chase it down with some seltzer.

I am starving.

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The Most Vile Shift Meal Ever in the History of My World

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 7.49.04 AMOh shift meal, why have you forsaken me? Each day when I arrive at work, I look to the heavens and ask that today be the day I am given something I truly want to eat for a meal rather than the usual bucket of slop that is placed before me. I smile at the kitchen crew as I punch in and I offer them cold beverages in the hope that they will return my act of kindness with a bowl of macaroni and cheese instead of a bowl of macaroni and fuck it. As my sidework nears completion and I find my eyes glancing towards the window to see if they have bestowed upon us our daily meal, I try not to get my hopes up that there will be a hamburger waiting for me.

At last, I see Juan setting our plates in the window, his face beaming with pride over his creation. At least, it appears that his face is prideful, but after today’s meal, I think that may be a face of vengeance. I hesitantly approach the line to see what wonders await me and hopeful that today will be the day I am not disappointed, scared and angered by what appears on my plate, but today is like every other day.

Oh, dear God, what the fuck is that? I recognize chicken and pasta, swimming in a bowl of red. The very sight of the wing answers the age old question of why the chicken crossed the road. It was to get the fuck away from Juan. Was the wing broiled? Boiled? Microwaved? I have no idea. The sauce appears to be one of a cheesy marinara nature, but one taste proves otherwise. It tastes like it was made by squeezing the liquid from a dish rag that had just been used to clean up the menstrual accident of a pygmy rhinoceros in the throes of birthing triplets. The pasta only dreams of being al dente when, in fact, it is much closer to al dead-te. The amount of oil in the bowl is enough to moisturize a small colony of dry-skinned people who live in some arid climate far, far away. I have seen more life-like skin on leather bags at thrift stores than I am seeing on this chicken.

“Thank you, Juan,” I say.

“Fuck you, Juan, “ I think.

Sadly, I retreat to Table 16 to look at my bowl of food and give thanks that I have a Cliff bar in my locker. Yes, it’s a free meal and I should be thankful for it. I know there are children who are starving in other countries who would be grateful for this bowl of boiled chicken wing and pasta with sauce of disgust, but those kids aren’t here right now. If they were, I would gladly feed them this food, honestly, I would. But they aren’t here and I have only one choice and that is to take a few courtesy bites of this shift meal so as not to hurt Juan’s feelings, although he hurts mine almost every day when he feeds me gruel. After I have forced down a piece of pasta and I make sure that no one is around to see me, I pick up my plate and head to the dish-room where it is deposited into the garbage.

This is a regular occurrence, but today, I took a video to so you can fully understand my daily battle with my shift meal. Tomorrow is another day and maybe it will be the one that brings me a simple grilled cheese with french fries or a voucher for a slice of pizza from next door.

Shift Meal: the Movie

A video posted by thebitchywaiter (@thebitchywaiter) on

Pukey Turkey Tetrazzini with a Side of Gross

Ah, shift meal: how do I love thee? You never know what you’re going to get when you eat whatever the cooks feel like making. But we eat it. Not only because it’s free but because it will give us energy and sustenance to make it through our shift and give our customers the service they so rightly deserve. I work in a restaurant with an open kitchen so “grazing” is next to impossible since the kitchen is about two feet away from the customers. On the off chance that I can snag a piece of food, I have to run to the dish room and inhale it before the manager sees me “stealing” from him. I depend on the shift meal. The one that was produced for me last week was something I have never seen before and I hope to never see again. It looked like Turkey Tetrazzini but instead of turkey they used shredded dark meat chicken that was covered in a layer of melancholy and instead of tetrazzini they used vomit that came from my dog after he takes his monthly heart worm medication. Good God, just make me butter and pasta and I’ll be a happy bitch.

I get to work at 4:00 and stay until midnight. If I don’t eat that shift meal at 4:30, then by 9:00 my body will force itself to eat whatever I can scrounge from a bus tub. Since I generally frown upon eating leftover bites of tilapia and french fries, I eat the shift meal. I looked at the steaming bowl of confusion that the cook had made for me. I never want to sound unappreciative but I needed details. “Um, what is this?”

“Is good,” said the cook. “I make.” And that concludes the description of my shift meal.

I picked up the bowl and pulled out my reading glasses for a closer inspection. I was able to identify some pasta and what appeared to be a green bean. I asked for extra parmesan and got myself a huge glass of water to wash it down with. If all else fails, I could simply swallow it without chewing and hope for the best. My first bite was a noodle. It was fine. My second bite was indeed a green bean. It too was fine. My third bite was chicken and it clucked when I bit into it. I decided right then that my shift meal had come to an end. As it went into the trash can, I heard the meal ask, “Hey why did I cross the road?” I walked past the cook who had served it to me only forty-five seconds before and I assured him how delicious it was. “Mucho bueno pollo, señor. Gracias.” I then went right to the sidestand to locate my emergency rations for the evening: a piece of bread, another piece of bread, and yet another piece of bread. A long night of hunger at the restaurant was ahead of me.

Isn’t it ironic that so many times we are at work serving plate after plate of food, we never get to eat it? There have been countless times that my mouth watered as I served a bowl of mac and cheese. Or I wanted to bury my face in a mound of french fries right in front of a customer. However, I am pro. I push my hunger away and focus on the task at hand: serving food to my customers. Never mind that I am starving. Never mind that tomorrow’s shift meal will probably be a stew made up of whatever was leftover from last week’s special. I ignore the hunger. For I am a waiter. A bitchy, hungry, angry that I was served some nasty ass bowl of crap for my shift meal, waiter. And from now on, I am also a waiter who never leaves home without a granola bar in my pocket.

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Let Them Eat Steak

There is a hierarchy in the world of waiting tables. The longer you are at a place, the higher up the proverbial totem pole you go. As with all jobs, we aspire to move up the corporate ladder and finally reach the pinnacle of positions in a restaurant: head waiter. (This is not to be confused with head hostess which has a completely different job description which may or may not involve giving oral sex in parking lots and bathrooms.) It is an honor and a delight to hold such an important job at the restaurant. Other servers look up at you with awe and inspiration. They must suppress their jealousy and only hope that some day they too can have such a title bestowed upon them. And as head waiter, it is very important that one does not flaunt their power and let it feed their ego. “Head waiter” implies a lot of things (pot head, blow jobs, loser) but basically it is the person who oversees the dining room and ensures that things run smoothly. The title comes with some responsibility and some perks.

Maybe it’s called different things at different places. At Houlihan’s we called it shift leader. The main thing the shift leader had to do was check everyone’s sidework and make sure it was done. Did so and so restock the creamers and re-ice the dressings and roll their silverware and fill the salt and pepper shakers? These are all very important things don’t you know? But the only reason anyone wanted to be the crappy ass shift leader was because you got a free meal out of it. You could have whatever you wanted off the menu so you know the shift leader always ordered a fucking steak. Usually we were limited to chicken fingers and soup or a quesadilla. You know, crappy cheap food. But the steak was crappy expensive food. One time my friend Randie was shift leader and the bitch was ready for her steak. She went into the kitchen with steak knife in hand and went to the line to place her order. One of the managers was there, Kahlil. He asked Randie what she was doing. “I’m ordering my shift leader meal of steak, why?” It was never an issue to have the steak, but for some reason big fancy pants manager that day said no, because it was too expensive. Now the free meal was the only decent thing about being the shift leader. No one wanted to do it for the glory or the power. We did it for the goddamn free fucking steak. And he was going to deny Randie? That did not go over well. The steak knife that was in her hand suddenly developed a mind of its own and flew from her fingers, ricocheted off the stainless steel counter, bounced to the wall and fell to the floor. Bitch wanted her free steak. Kahlil seemed satisfied that he had squashed the tiny bit of enjoyment anyone got out of working in that hell hole and left the kitchen. Now I am not positive, but if I know Randie she had her steak anyway. She probably bribed the cook with a pitcher of Coke and then ate the steak in a matter of seconds before the manager made his way back out to the dining room. You don’t fuck with Randie. Once she slammed a coffee pot down and shattered it because she was sick of people using the last bit of coffee and then putting the empty pot back on the burner. Yeah, she’s not in the food service industry anymore. Lucky for her. And lucky for those of us who got in her way when she wanted a steak.
UrbanSpoon rocks.
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Hello, Deli

As I reminisce about the good ol’ days when I served in a restaurant rather than a bar/nightclub/theater/etc I begin to miss a certain thing that doesn’t happen when you work in a place without a kitchen. I miss shift meal. You know shift meal? It’s that cozy time before work starts when you share a plate of food with your co-workers and strategize on on how to make the day ahead even better than the day before. Or maybe you would just sit there and read the paper, whatever. When I worked the lunch shift at my previous restaurant (the evil and hated VYNL on the Upper East Side), each day the kitchen would prepare us a lovely meal to start our day off right. I mean it is the most important meal of the day. My favorite was when they would make something that was actually for breakfast, like a big plate of scrambled eggs and bacon or maybe they’d make you an omelette. Sometimes they would miss the mark though. Keep in mind, even though the servers wanted breakfast it was 11:00 and the cooks had been there since 8:00 and they ate their breakfast four hours ago or something. So sometimes, I would drag my sleepy ass out of bed, throw it on the 6 train and pray to God they would make me a biscuit when I got there. But no, every once in a while, they would throw me a curve ball and make us steak fajitas or beef stew. Once they made us a plate of fucking shrimp quesadillas. Love me some quesadilla, but not with shrimp and peppers when all I want is a goddamn scrambled egg. I’d bitch and moan about it and then shut the fuck up and eat my fried chicken sandwich for my breakfast.

When I worked at The Marriott, we had a cafeteria. I worked the late breakfast shift and would get there and have to look at oxtail fucking soup or curry goat as I daydreamed of a waffle. By 11:00AM it was already lunchtime for everyone else. And seriously. Ox and goat was a staple in that cafeteria. It was like a fucking barnyard breakfast freakin’ buffet up in there.

Houlihan’s on 49th and Seventh never made us a shift meal. You had to order off a certain menu and then you’d get it half price or some shit. And it was crap like chicken fingers and french onion soup. My favorite shift meal was from the deli downstairs. An egg and cheese on a roll for a $1.25. And then some stolen orange juice from the bar. Once at the deli, I ran into Carol Channing. I said hello to her and she said hello back and that day my egg and cheese on a roll tasted extra special. And now that I think about it, my shift meals have gone steadily downhill since then. Thanks, Carol Channing. You really made shift meals suck.
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