Friday, January 4, 2008
The chair secretly wished it had been named something simple, like Bob. Or Frank.
When you are the owner of a business establishment (and for whatever reason restaurants seem to get the bulk of this stuff) certain "occasions" present themselves where you find it necessary to call in people who handle these "occasions" in a way in which you are completely unqualified.
You need to call in the "authorities", if you will.
The bulk of my frantic what the hell do I do about this fresh fuckery situations centered around drunks stinking up the joint- in both the literal and figurative sense.
Nothing screams "Classy Joint" more than having a prospective diner come in and ask what you are going to do about the man passed out in his own vomit on the bus bench smack in front of the main door to said establishment.
"Well ma'am, you have just witnessed our first foray into dinner theater. The man on the bench is well-known method actor Patrick Lushywine and he has just completed the first act of his ground-breaking one-man play called The liver monologues. He'll be here all week. No, no need to thank us. The look on your face is thanks enough."
However, on two separate occasions, authorities of the life-saving variety were required as the patrons in question decided to try and die in my joint during the busy weekend rush.
The first incident happened on a particularly busy weekend night maybe (I'm totally guessing here as time has no meaning to me) 6-7 months after we opened. We were pretty packed, so there were several groups that were eating dinner in the bar area of the restaurant. There was a long bench against the wall, with tables and chairs opposite. The man in question was sitting with a group of four closest to the bar.
I was in the kitchen, probably trying to do 47 things at once while nursing another cup of "happy coffee"- who can remember- when one of the servers comes in, frantic.
"There's a guy choking by the bar! What do we do?"
I barely had time to mutter "Um..." before one of the cooks jumped off the line and ran to the front dining room.
The choking man had somehow gotten up and made his way to the impossibly tiny rest room in the front. By the time I made it up there, the offending object had been violently extricated via the Heimlich maneuver administered by both one of the bartenders and the cook. I guess an ambulance had been called right as this whole thing started, because within a couple of minutes my dining room was filled with flashing lights and EMTs.
Turns out the choking man had a condition that made it difficult to swallow certain foods, and his wife had warned him about whatever it was that he defiantly ordered.
Yeah- you sure showed her, dude.
The second incident involves a group of semi-regulars that we called the Ghostbusters, mostly because that's what they did, these people. They were real-life "Ghostbusters" that rustled up spirits and ghostly apparitions and the like in their spare time, for a fee. While not being a believer in this sort of stuff myself, the staff loved when they came in as they liked to talk about their adventures and claimed that the restaurant itself had "issues" with these visitors from the great beyond. (Later on I would find myself half-heartedly agreeing with them on the whole "this restaurant possessed" thing. Surely that was the reason for all of the bullshit that was going on. It was nice to have someone else to blame all of the nastiness on.)
It was another busy night, and the Ghostbusters were seated at a table in the bar, enjoying a fine, fine meal. I was, as usual, in the kitchen doing stuff/putting out fires.
A server comes into the kitchen (I learned from all of these experiences that when a server came in the kitchen with "that look" on their face, it meant my night was officially screwed) and says, "One of the Ghostbusters had a stroke or something! We called an ambulance."
I went into the front dining room and there he was, slumped in his chair.
(Let me state that at this point I was very, very concerned for this gentleman's well-being. I was. Let me also state that the businesswoman in me was panicking that she did not want to be the owner of the restaurant where some guy just up and died during dinner. That's one of the few kinds of publicity that restaurants don't want, the others being: sexual-harassment lawsuits, liquor license violations, money-laundering charges, getting charged with running a prostitution/drug ring out of the kitchen, and food-bourne illness outbreaks such as e.coli.)
The EMTs showed up with their flashing red lights, tubes and such were attached, and then our gentlemanly Ghostbuster was carted off to the hospital. Turns out it was a small stroke. Poor guy. But I did hear later that he was doing just fine.
(And I can't remember which of the two groups it was, but in one of the two incidents the remaining diners proceeded to finish their meal, pay the bill and be on their merry way. Odd.)
The reason these two incidents were so notable, well- at least notable in the way that us gossipy, conspiracy theory-loving, entertainment starved restaurant folk like to call things "notable"- was because in both incidents, the victims of the unfortunate series of events were...
sitting in the same exact chair.
We started calling that particular seat by the bar the "chair of death" or "chair of doom" and, when reminded of the chair's evil tendencies, we would quickly find another place to sit. Sometimes we would tell customers sitting in the "chair of doom" that they should be careful to not let the chair's obvious curse claim them as the next victim- just to make them uncomfortable. This tactic was usually reserved for the customers who had shown their inner douchebag at one point or another.
So, my little artery-clogging fritters of deep-fried, batter-coated velveeta and spam nuggets, go forth this weekend with gusto and passion. Eat! Drink! Be merry!
Just don't sit in the Chair of doom!