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Behind The Apron

Story of the Month

Fired or Fire Table 32?

Need a good laugh to get through the work day? I think I can help with that because it has been a long time since I’ve told this story, but it deserves to be told. Thankfully, I can laugh about it years later, although, in hindsight, things could have been a lot worse.

This happened to me about eight or nine years ago, which is crazy to think about. I was in college, around 21 or 22 years old, working at an incredibly popular fine dining steakhouse downtown. This restaurant had about 500 or 600 covers a night, and probably 300 or so for brunch. I hadn’t been there for more than six months, I guess. I had recently started working brunch shifts on Sundays, and after work, the morning crew would go out for drinks at the restaurant across the street. Sounds like a good time, right? It usually was.

I can’t tell you exactly how I became so intoxicated so quickly. From what I can remember, I had only consumed two glasses of sparkling rosé and a shot or two of Tuaca (my manager’s shot of choice, who was also present). There were at least twelve of us sitting at the bar at this specific time. One of my coworkers noticed how intoxicated I had become all of a sudden.

I was young and hadn't eaten all day who knows how it happened, I don't know, but I was FUCKED UP

This coworker took me outside to the restaurant’s patio area and sat me on a bench. They wanted to get me an Uber, but I refused, so they decided to drive me home. They had to use the restroom before we left and told me to stay put on my little timeout bench. Obviously, that’s not what happened.

Fast forward about fifteen or twenty minutes. My intoxicated self walked back across the street into the back kitchen door of our steakhouse, which was now in the middle of a busy Sunday dinner shift. Mind you, I was still in my uniform from that morning. At first, no one realized where I had come from or that I wasn’t even supposed to be there. That changed pretty quickly.

I made my way up the back staircase and into the upstairs hallway, leading myself into the main dining room. I greeted tables, chatted nonsensical banter with guests, and was probably being insanely loud. At this point, it was obvious I was intoxicated. The staff knew something was off, but again, since I was in uniform, no one knew exactly what was going on just yet.

I returned to the kitchen and stumbled back to the expo line, where I began telling the kitchen to fire entrées for tables. Specifically, I tried to fire table 32’s main course—a table that wasn’t mine in any way, shape, or form, because I was not currently working and was not supposed to be there. But there I was, in the thick of it.

Table 32 2

Table 32 | Image by Jerbear

At this point, the kitchen and servers realized something was very off. Someone remembered that I had worked brunch that morning and must have gotten drunk afterward, which is exactly what had happened. Management found out not long after.

Suddenly, I was being questioned about why I was there, what was wrong with me, what had happened after brunch, and so on. I couldn’t correctly answer any of these questions because I was not in any state to do so.

One manager, a director who was later fired for embezzling money from the company with a secret double salary, was with me by then, trying to find a way to get me home. Again, I didn’t want to take an Uber and was probably struggling to tell someone how to navigate to my apartment. The manager found a female server to pull from the floor during service and convinced me to let her drive me home.

The drive home was challenging because I was so intoxicated. Somehow, we made it back to my place, where she had to wake me from a mid-slumber, carry me up the stairs, find my keys, and get me inside and into bed. I’m still very grateful for her help that night, not only for dealing with me in that state but also because she lost out on money having to do so.

The next shift I worked, either the next day or the day after, I was doing my side work, getting my section ready, polishing glasses and silverware, and so on. People were clearly talking about me, and I was already very embarrassed. That’s exactly when the owner’s son pulled me aside for a little chat.

This talk went surprisingly well, all things considered. He was just worried about me, wanted to know if I knew what had happened, asked if I was on drugs (I wasn’t), and wanted to know if I needed any help. He also wanted me to promise that nothing like that would ever happen again.

I kept that job for years and loved almost every second of it, although I lost a lot of sanity during my time there. Things could have been much worse if my managers and coworkers hadn’t been looking out for me. I could have lost my job, which would have been the least of my problems; been arrested for public intoxication, driven home drunk, been arrested for a DUI, or worse—killed myself or someone else.

All that being said, I’m still very grateful that things turned out as well as they did, considering the circumstances. I was embarrassed for a while, but this story has become something I can laugh at now. Old coworkers and managers remind me of it every few years. I know for a fact that this story is still used as an example of what not to do after your brunch shift at this steakhouse. It’s also a story they still tell at their pre-shift meetings from time to time, and I haven’t worked there since 2018. Being reminded of this story yet again gave me an opportunity to finally write it all down so that others can understand the chaos that ensued that evening.

Trust me, there’s more where that came from

. But that’s a story for another day.