A few days ago I sat at the barbecue joint's bar, lost in a very deep funk. You see, during the earlier portions of the day, from when we open to serve food until the dinner rush gets off to a proper start, there is a bit of down time, and during that time one's mind can turn on them with a vengeance they had never known (thanks for that one, Gary Numan). I stared into space while mulling over my current in-the-shitter mind-state, was unintentionally grouchy to my co-workers, and was just a general living buzzkill. It was also the day before St. Patrick's Day — which is, coincidentally and rather appropriately, our one year anniversary — and I, for one, was dreading it like an imminent prostate exam; we all know that St. Patrick's Day is "amateur night," namely the night when the general public goes nuts in what has become a sort of National Drunkenness Day while those of us who can handle our libations want to get off of the streets as soon as humanly possible.
Soon the dinner rush arrived and my somber reverie came to an end. I began dishing up our signature culinary delights, and eventually ended up serving a Southern-accented cutie who was a recent addition to the bar. The lady in question was from the south, and like many such expatriates went on for quite a while on how she was "from the south/knows good barbecue/will tell me how it stacks up to what she grew up with," a recital I hear all the time, so I politely brushed her off with "I hope you enjoy it!" The lady went back to her dinner, which she was sharing with a friend, and I returned to my work, eventually finding more down time and plopping myself down at an empty table to continue reading a book.
Suddenly there was a blur of motion to my left, and a pair of arms was thrown around my neck. As I turned to see just what the hell was going on, my cheek was sweetly kissed and I heard a purring "Mmmmm" next to my ear. It was the southern gal, totally overcome by barbecue lust, and her pal at the bar saluted from the bar with a frothing Carlsberg glass. She happily gushed about how much she and her friend enjoyed the meal, promising to return with more teachers in the future (she does Outward Bound training for the local schools). Then she returned to the bar where she and her pal wiled away the hours in harmlessly drunken revelry.
That small act of sweetness shook me out of my wretched mood for the rest of the evening.
Then came St. Patrick's Day, and I am somewhat surprised to say that while lucrative for the establishment, the night itself was rather sedate and very easy to handle; the previous year was like a zoo on LSD exploding out of Satan's asshole, replete with crazy drunks, deafening music, and an endless array of kitchen orders that nearly killed me. Now, one year later, the anticipated food rush came and went without the two-man kitchen staff going mad, in fact I have dealt with far worse on any given weekend. It just goes to show you how you can develop polished skills over a period of time and not even notice it.
So the staff of the barbecue joint has survived its first year, despite some staffing upheavals, the day-to-day crazy shit inherent to the restaurant biz, local urchins chucking stink bombs through our door for yucks, wasted and annoying patrons, asshole distributors, screaming children and their uncaring parents, and the dysfunctional family unit that is the staff itself. Business has picked up like a motherfucker, and finally the crew's efforts are amounting to more than just diligence and professionalism, so let's see where it all leads.