“Where the fuck are your waiters?” Mike was furious. Greg had come downstairs for a strainer but stayed to grin and listen to Mike and John argue back and forth.
“I don’t KNOW, Mike! I can’t believe … just give me a plate; I’ll serve it god damn it.”
I was behind them quietly trying to drop plates onto the metal dish washer and get out before being noticed.
“What about Ant? He can pass, right? Yo, Ant …” Fuck. Shit fuck. I was two shots in and slightly buzzed. Usually I’d down a glass of coke before going back into the kitchen but I usually didn’t drink before salad was served; they’d smell it on me in an instant.
“Yeah, I’ll pass.” I said from the counter, unloading the dirty silverware practically fork by fork.
“You can’t! I need you to pick up. When you go back out there get whoever the fuck you can find and get their asses back here NOW.” John put on white cloth gloves, took the scallops, and shoved the swinging doors aside. Greg headed back upstairs.
“Shit, he’s pissed.” The doors swung back into place. I dumped the rest of the silverware, sprayed the tray, and walked towards Mike’s counter.
“He’s a fucking baby. Get your shit together and don’t come back here yelling at me, I just cook this shit!” Mike looked from the door and at me, “You been drinkin’ already?”
“Yeah, two shots.” He could know.
He smiled, “Fuckin’ guy. Next time you come back bring me one.”
“On it.” I walked to the doors, “Oh shit! Yo Mike, I need more wraps for duck.”
“Do me a favor and just grab them? They’re here on the left.” I took the wraps and passed through the doors and back into the party.
Tables were piling up with plates and glasses. One minute spent in the kitchen is 10 in a party. There are always spilt or shattered glasses, sauce on a suits, and plates that topple over the sidestands because the guests don’t understand the concept of balancing. I walked towards Nikko and AC who were dancing and eating duck wraps behind their station.
“Yo, more wraps.” I handed them to Nikko.
“Fuck this shhhiiiittttttttt!” Nikko sang into the crowd, who glanced at him for a second before going back to their conversations.
“Dude I want a cigarette so bad.”
“Yo, me too.”
“Let me do some shit then I can cover you guys.”
“Thanks man.” They started making more duck wraps for guests and themselves.
I cleared a few tables and tossed glances around for any of the new servers, I saw none. Mark was talking to Russell by the bar with a tray in his hand; it gives the illusion of working without doing anything. I walked over to them, Russell talking while pouring drinks.
“Yo man I’m gonna need a vodka straight.”
“No, man.” I cringed, “I can’t take vodka.”
“Just leave it to the side, I’m gonna go clear some tables. I’ll be right back.”
It looked like no server had been on this side yet. There were stacks of 10-12 plates everywhere. God damn it. Against the wall, Yasmin was showing Malachi how to hold two serving spoons in one hand. I started clearing the dirty plates from their station,
“How’s Melahchee doing?”
Yasmin laughed, “He’s getting it!”
“This shit blows.” He shook his head.
“You’ll get it. Man you guys are serving shit, ugh. What is that? Orange chicken? Come oonn! No fried calamari tonight? What?” The only redeeming thing about working on the chafing station was the fried calamari; the only thing worth eating.
“Yeah, it sucks dick. Anything good coming out?”
“Not really. I’ll send pigs in a blanket this way when I see them.”
“Yessss!” I took a full tray over to the bar, grabbed the wine glass quarter filled with vodka, and headed back into the kitchen.
“Yo.” I put the glass down on his table and put the tray down on the cleaning counter.
He looked to see if anybody was coming downstairs and gulped the glass. “Thanks, brotha.” I took it and put it with the other dishes, “No problem.”
The rest of cocktail hour didn’t go so bad. Sure, all of the passers had gone MIA for about half of it: some decided to leave, others were sent upstairs to finish the ballroom, and 2 ended up coming downstairs to pass. I didn’t care; I was buzzed and cleaning up dirty dishes. I didn’t worry about things I wasn’t a part of, that was John’s role, who himself had gone missing after his small feud with Mike. He’d come out of his car after everybody was seated, pretend like he hadn’t already lost his mind.
When the hour ended and guests were herded upstairs, all servers would take the food from stations to the kitchen and shove as much as possible into their mouths before we had to take dinner orders. Nikko and AC would quickly make 10-15 wraps for everybody, hands would go directly into chafing dishes, and nobody ever ate the pasta.
Mark came over with two shot glasses from the vodka luge while I balanced dishes on a tray. We clinked and downed blueberry vodka.
“Thanks dude, needed that!”
He took a tray from the opposite wall.
“This ain’t so bad I guess.” Malachi was walking with the orange chicken back to the kitchen while I munched on duck and carried a tray.
“Cocktail’s easy shit. When we go upstairs things are gonna get fucked up.”
“You’ll see. I’m drunk already in preparation.”
He swung the door open and held it for me as I passed with a full tray in one hand and duck in the other.
“Cigarette?” Mark motioned smoking with his hand, tray in the other as he swung the door open behind us.
“Of course.” Mark, AC, Leon, Nikko, and I walked upstairs and saw Gerald standing near the upstairs kitchen, looking at the paperwork for the party.
“Yo, G, we’re going outside.”
“Yes sir!” He said, catching up to us.
“Who’s your partner tonight?” Mark asked him. Nikko, Gerald, and AC are close friends; Nikko is Mark’s brother and we pretty much got each other jobs here. Tonight was Gerald’s first day as a server, one of the servers relocated to finishing up the dining area during cocktail hour. John was already pissed at him for not passing I was sure, wherever he was.
“Ant!” He pointed to me.
“Hahah! You’re soo fucked dude.” I took a pull from my cigarette.
“Na, it’s easy. Just get drunk. That’s all.” Mark smiled.
“You got some catchin’ up to do!” I taunted, “I’m 3 in!”
“Holy shhiitt! This job is amazing already!”
“I don’t drink here because it’s amazing, haha.” I meant every word of it.