Until the mid-1990s, I spent almost every New Year's Eve -- starting as a teenager -- busing tables, waiting tables or bartending (or doing all three).
It can be a grueling night for a restaurant staffer, what with a dangerous holiday combination of booze, unrealistically high expectations ("You're having fun, aren't you? Why not?") and pricey packages. For the people working, all that can add up to a lucrative night. But not always.
I've yet to meet a restaurant employee who doesn't have a classic New
Year's Eve story to tell. It might be hard to top the tale of the
bartender who was cleaning up a saloon after a raucous night of New
Year's Eve revelries and found a dead body in the bathroom. But then
again, who knows?
One of my most memorable New Year's Eve fiascoes was at an infamous disco restaurant in Indianapolis -- this would have been about 1980 -- where the incompetent owners figured out, only after the last drunken customer had stumbled out the door, that they had miscalculated the cost of the "package" dinners.
As the servers were picking up the wrecked dining room, we were called together by the mustachioed, intoxicated manager with the sad news. Because of this miscalculation, the servers -- who had been working for over 11 hours -- would receive just $35 each in tips for the long night's work. If we weren't all so tired, there might have been a deadly revolt. In revenge, some of us stuffed our coat pockets with frozen steaks from the walk-in freezer and pushed rolls of toilet paper into coat arms until it looked like we were carrying out corpses. The managers were too drunk to notice. The restaurant closed a few months later, the victim of mismanagement and really bad karma.
Now it's your turn. The best story told in our comment section from now until noon Thursday, December 30, will receive the grand prize: a bottle of perfectly delicious, nonalcoholic sparkling cider, which can be used to soberly welcome the year 2011. All contributing commenters -- and one comment per person, please -- should write their posts with attention to clarity and brevity. Please don't name
particular restaurants or stingy customers. We'll all know who the
culprits are anyway.
The winning comment will be chosen by a panel of Fat City judges, and no substitute prizes will be awarded.
(Image via Flickr: rochelle, et.al.)