I had a dream last night. Well, let me call it what is was: a server nightmare. We have all had them and from what I’ve been told, we will continue to have them even after we no longer wait tables. They are those dreams that take place in a restaurant and make us wake up in the middle of the night, drenched in sweat with our covers bunched up in a ball at our feet. This is my dream from last night:
I am just arriving to work and as soon as I set foot on the floor, I notice a four-top who has seated themselves at a dirty table. I can tell that I am working at a corporate chain restaurant like Applebee’s or Bennigan’s. That right there is how I know I am having a nightmare.
“Excuse us,” a woman at the table says to me, “but this table is dirty and we need drinks.”
“Can we each get a glass of milk?” a man at the table asks.
I tell them I will be right back with their milk, cursing that I have only been at work for thirty seconds and already, I am working. I go to the sidestand to pour four glasses of milk, all the while wondering who in the hell drinks milk when they go out to dinner? Of course there is no milk in the sidestand, because why would there be since that would mean someone did their sidework and this is a server nightmare where nothing goes right. I am forced to go to the kitchen to get milk.
The kitchen is in a different neighborhood, like all the way on the Upper West Side, like at 86th and Amsterdam. It’s a long walk to the kitchen and I know that my customers are going to be waiting a long time for me to get their milk. This problem would not have existed if someone would have done their sidework and stocked the sidestand with milk like they were supposed to. I finally get to the kitchen and head to the walk-in which has two doors. The first one is like one of those Alice in Wonderland doors and it’s only about two feet high meaning I have to crawl on the dirty, red-tiled floor in order to get through it. Once through that door, there is another which is the typical walk-in refrigerator door: big, heavy, silver and metal. At last, milk! I grab a quart and go back through the two doors and find myself in the middle of the kitchen. And now, suddenly, my dog Parker is there waiting for me. I pick up his leash and lead him out of the kitchen back to the four-top so many blocks away.
“Hey, BW, somebody brought in cupcakes, you want one?” a cook yells at me.
“Yeah, save me one. I gotta go.”
“You now, they’re gonna be gone any minute, take it with you.”
Unable to turn away a cupcake, I pick one up and balance it on the quart of milk that I have turned sideways and lead Parker out of the kitchen, back onto the street. As Parker is squeezing through the doggy door, which he didn’t even need to go through because I’m right fucking here opening the door for him and why does the kitchen have a doggy door anyway, his collar comes off and now he is free. I lay the milk on the sidewalk, careful to keep my cupcake from falling off, as I try to put his collar back on him. And then he runs away.
“Fuck!! These people have been waiting for their milk forever!” I scream.
“Hey,” she says. “How are you? How have you been? I haven’t seen you in a long time.”
I desperately want to sit and chat with Sutton since I have met her many times over the years and want to call her a friend because we have so many mutual friends, but I see Parker getting further and further away from me.
“Nice to see you too! Tell Julien I said hello. Let’s have lunch sometime’” I yell at her over my shoulder as I run for Parker, milk and cupcake still in hand.
Suddenly, I am back at the restaurant where Parker is giving me a look that says “what the fuck took you so long?” and I expect the same look will be on the faces of my four-top when I finally set down their glasses of milk. When I get to the table, they are gone. Apparently, the wait was too great and they left.
“Fuck! Somebody needs to do their fucking sidework around here,” I yell.
And then I woke up. I hate server nightmares.