Working in a restaurant for so many years, you know that eventually you are going to have to deal with the prospect of someone choking on a piece of food. It ain’t pretty and I never want to have to deal with it. I myself choked once and had to have the fucking Heimlich performed on me and that is the last time I try to eat a frozen fucking Snickers bar. For real. Scary shit. Amazingly, with my 83 years of food service experience, I have only seen it happen one time. Black Eyed Pea, Houston, Texas, West Gray Street. Some man who was not in my station started to choke on something. It was probably a grizzly ass piece of chicken fried steak that got all stuck in his wind wipe and shit, but he started doing that waving of the arms and freaking out thing. Since I didn’t know the Heimlich and I had never bothered to look closely at the poster that showed how to do it, I took myself out of the equation. Plus, it wasn’t my station, so whatever. Well, the man stood up at his table and everyone in the place started to freak the fuck out. People are running around and screaming and yelling. “Call 911!” “Somebody do something!” “Can I please get some more gravy??” He’s gagging and gasping for air and the people at his table don’t know what to do. Finally, someone at the next table comes to his senses and wraps his arms around the old guy’s chest and starts heaving and ho’ing and eventually saves his life. The restaurant applauded the hero who shrugged it off and went back to his meal, no doubt chewing each bite twenty-three times before swallowing. Meanwhile, the old man, excused himself to the men’s room to freshen up and wipe off the sweat and gravy from his face. I was surprised that no one from his table went in with him. They all just started eating again like it was no big deal. Maybe they were disappointed that he was okay because they thought they were about to cash in on their inheritance. A while later, Choking Charlie came back out and went to the man who had saved him and shook his hand. It was all very touching and shit. He ended up picking up the tab for the hero and his table and I thought that was pretty cool.
After all was said and done I thought that it was time I take a class on first aid or at the very least look at the poster for choking victims. If this ever happened again, I wanted to be able to take charge of the situation and be the hero and get all the fame and glory. Oh, and save a life too. It occurred to me that as someone who serves food, I should be able to be there for my guest who needs me to reach into his mouth, swipe the airway clean and breathe life back into his body. It was the least I could do and maybe I would get better tips if I informed my tables I was a certified life saver. But I never did it. Shit was too complicated. So if you are ever in my station and piece of hot dog gets lodged in your throat, you are on your own. I ain’t got time to be saving no life. I got ketchup bottles to fill.