Today’s blog is going to be about Annie.
I must advise and warn readers that I am listening to Tyler the Creator while I write this, so we’re already starting from Tiny Tim on the Weird Scale on which 0 is Norman Rockwell and 10 is Klaus Nomie.
Annie was hired about a month ago in a spastic fit of “we depend too much on the loyal regular servers; we need some buffer in case one of them goes back to grad school/is impregnated/violates parole.” She is 37 years old and shaped like a Fig Newton. I believe she is of Polish and English descent, and her watery, confused, red eyes follow me like twin light-up keychains as I go about my daily. She was, incidentally, hired by the 24 year old baby manager. Annie’s salient feature, besides facial puffiness, is being an alcoholic. She has worked in the industry for 20 years and her husband bartends about a block up the street. I am fairly certain that, in addition to ringing in glasses of white wine that she brings to the serving closet and pours into water glasses, she runs up the block and does shots in times of desperate physiological straits.
Bear in mind that I am no prude, nor tattletale, nor abstemious myself in entirety. To work in a bar is to grapple with boredom, late hours, and that curious state of ether in which the individual can neither do anything especially productive while waiting for customers (not enough time to start any real project, will be called back to check on the appetizers or refill a glass), nor can he or she be in perpetual motion. One can “overserve.” Remember, Three’s A Crowd on some dates! And, if you get all your side work done early, there is only one reward for your bustling industry: doing your coworker’s. The latter is what I did the first year I worked in this field. Now my back hurts all the time, so I’ve chilled out a bit.
So, I empathize with the prevalence of substance abuse. It’s a cash business. It’s young people. Droves of them go across the street to the bars to abuse themselves as soon as tip out takes place. I’m an old married woman, so I demur, generally. The one or two times I have gone out, the abundance of free shots and “industry” checks, not to mention the Abondanza-elbow that marks the pours of said drinks, has gotten me pretty fucking silly in no time at all. It’s easy to be a drunk and work in a bar.
Annie, becoming Annie, is my nightmare. That one day I could be oblivious to the disdain, be so dependent on a steady infusion that I mix (i actually sniffed her glass) red wine and diet coke, pour it in a soda glass and stick a lime on it like a faltering flag. She’s forgetful, often resetting tables with a motley crew of too few glasses and oddly shaped bread plates. Her brain literally can’t hold a thought (please wash out the coffee pots) the distance it takes to walk the restaurant. Closing the floor with her is a solo job.
I have had a few personal run-ins with Annie which have led her paranoid kernel of a brain, the part that is self-aware, to fixate upon me as her greatest nemesis. Which I suppose is easier than making the nemesis her dependency, which is also her best friend. I’m an easier symbol.
She walks up to me when especially plastered at work and asks me, over and over, “Why don’t you like me?” I didn’t really care either way at first, but it was self-fulfilling.
Her first week at work, she stuck me with having to roll all the silver from her shift (she was finishing brunch and I was showing up to work dinner service), repeatedly ignoring my verbal reminders. She all but ran out of the restaurant, wilfully pretending that 5 people hadn’t yelled, “ANNIE! Come back and do your side work!” Then the next day she had no memory of this and tried to convince me—the other party, actually someone who WAS THERE—that she;d rolled her share and someone else was setting her up.
It would have been like arguing with a dog, or the Oregon Trail computer game, or a recording of the weather. I dropped it.
She never has.
I won’t ever talk to a manager about any of this. Because that’s just not how you roll in service. However, I deeply resent her presence and watch her sneak booze with a mixture of disgust and fear. She, in a way, makes me check myself for signs of becoming the inhabitant of a world so small that my next drink is pitted against All-that-is-Stopping-Drinking as the ultimate battle between good and evil. She’s an unfortunate tick mark in the stereotype of The Career Server.
She will never get fired, because she has whetted the skills necessary to look good to managers. This is accomplished by chugging around the floor at incredible speeds in circles (we joke that she walks around the floor so fast because otherwise she’d fall down, being so drunk), staying in motion all the time (to the detriment of doing any behind the scenes prep and cleanup). But it’s an impressive caloric expenditure. Her other personality trait is “anxiously apologetic.” Everything is oh, i’m so sorry, i just wanted to ask, is this okay, thank you so much, I’m so so sorry to bother you, but…
And the petty side of me, seriously not proud of this, gets irrationally angry when she pops up every single time I have a bit of wine with my shift, like a reproachful and pleading Ghost of the Grape.
- creativelyemployed posted this