Honestly, if it weren’t August, I don’t know how I’d be writing you this note. The saute cook we hired three weeks ago texted me last Tuesday to say that even though he’d been trying to get his shift covered for the evening, he’d be in. He wasn’t. We’d had two interviews that Monday, one of whom showed up, got a decent reference, and then didn’t appear for his first day. The other interviewee never arrived, but emailed three days later to apologize and see if he could meet us that day, but by then we’d hired two new people, one of whom left without a word thirty minutes into his second day. The other came into the office on day three to say he was sick, whereupon he went outside for forty-five minutes as we discussed the likelihood that he was smoking Fentanyl or meth, but it turned out he’d lay down to take a nap. Curiously, he returned, and while four years ago, that would have been a red flag for me, on Saturday it was a checkered flag and we were off. He did a good job, and appeared to be free of the influence of drugs but perhaps under the influence of nothing more than what we’ll call a quirky personality and considerable hardship.
A month ago, when I checked a reference and they told me he’d shown up so drunk that they took his keys from him and drove him home, my first thought was: “was it just the one time? I could live with it if it were just the one time.”
I was talking about it with a friend, who just wanted to know what was going on with these kids, these Millenials and Gen-Zers, and she literally stopped in her tracks when I informed her that the guy who’d disappeared without a word was, in fact, our age.
I’ve grown weary. Again. The restaurant industry is prone to weary its denizens and other adherents to begin with, but the past three-plus years have been what my grandmother would have called a doozy.
And it’s not just the hes, shes and theys that are barely working- there’s an entire contingent of its as well. This morning was kicked off with a text about the steam oven mysteriously blinking out of existence this morning, with a side note that the walk-in freezer was rapidly leaving the category of “freezer” to enter the realm of mere “refrigerator.” Then came a series of phone calls. There are two companies authorized to work on our steam oven- the first one I called can come out on either September 8th or 11th; the second one can come this Friday. Both are as short-handed as we are, and quite busy, as the heat tends to be the factor in pushing weak, tired equipment to the point at which it coughs up its last. Our refrigeration guy replied to a text about the freezer saying that he’d be looking at at in the middle of the night, as he’s as weak, tired and ready to cough up his last as the equipment is. As are we.
The linen company with whom I foolishly signed a contract we’re still grudgingly bound by lost its sole Tucson employee two weeks ago, when he called in with a fever to be told that there was no one who could help him, so his fever was interrupted throughout the day by angry customers who never received their linens, so our linen service has been arriving like an itinerant merchant whose camels are stacked with everything except the towels we need desperately, and with the dust mops we haven’t needed or asked for in months since we have a pile of them as high as an adolescent child.
The seafood rep who scheduled an appointment with us an hour ago has yet to arrive, but will likely arrive in place of the broiler cook who missed his interview a week ago and we were so desperate we rescheduled him anyway.
Truly, it could all be resolved if we had two to three more people in the kitchen whom we could count on, but that appears to be something of a pipe dream at this juncture. Meanwhile, we’ll continue to tapdance our way through it all- the wine tasting this Saturday will still take place barring unforeseen tribulations when the wines are meant to arrive tomorrow,
and next Tuesday, if the seafood samples we were promised weeks ago arrive in time to order it in to prep for the new menu, we’ll have the September menu in its entirety. I’ll believe it when I see it.
The working/not-working situation notwithstanding, however, we’ll be at it all week, eking out what we can and grateful for your patience and kindness.
Your weak and tired friends who are ready to cough up our last,
The people of Feast