Thanksgiving is a dreaded restaurant day, for example. It is The Day That Will Never End. Service goes on all day....and it is all brown food cooked the day before.
Our first Thanksgiving at Silver Jones we had just mastered our sound system and converted to the magic of CD's (as opposed to Musak). Unfortunately, my partner had absconded with all our CD's on a hot date with Shiksa #5....and we were left with Tracy Chapman. Only Tracy Chapman. Something about a fast car. And some screaming in the night or something.
Waterboarding is nothing. Spend fourteen hours listening only to Tracy Chapman....while standing around surving old, brown food. All of us on staff succeeded in making it through the day without killing each other.....just. Still, when we accidentally pass on the street...we quickly look away. We have seen the dark side of each other's souls.
New Year's is another one. Rookie Night. Only douche bags go out and party on Rookie Night....the kind of people who belong to Men's Groups, or have accounts with eHarmony. In Cachagua we are always open for dinner.....just to try to keep our fellow citizens in Cachagua and safe from arrest at the hands of the Sheriff. We put a brave face on things.....but we are just a Tracy Chapman CD away from either suicide or murder.
I could go on.
Mother's Day is a lower level holiday....but fraught with guilt. Mother's Day was actually started by Harriet Beecher Stowe....of Uncle Tom's Cabin fame.....and the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Gotta hand it to Harriet......she must have been a firebrand.
Mom's Day didn't really catch on until Hallmark and FTD got in on the act, though. Nowadays, Mother's Day is right behind Valentine's Day and Rookie Night in the restaurant hierarchy of meaningless holidays that bring out the dumbass white trash folk who are not normally to be found in restaurants.
It can be lucrative. Bernardus charged around eighty bucks for their buffet this morning. Some sleazeball places on Cannery Row were down in the low forties: Sliced Baron of Beef, Sliced Tom Turkey, Waffle Station, Tortellini Salad.....complimentary glass of bulk process sparkling wine mixed with frozen concentrated OJ. Mmmm. Let me show you my love, mama!
Luckily, my mom has given up on me.
She does gracefully consent to come out to the Store for Brunch with Amanda's folks, though. And Callie comes with Jerry and Sally. And Jean-Louis with his wife.
Mostly though, Cachagua Store brunches are more MotherFucker's Day than Mother's Day.
We try to maintain a positive attitude....for the Mom's.
Meanwhile, people fail to understand about chefs....and waiters....and boundaries.
We love our jobs....in general. In specifics.....we do not love our jobs. If I have contracted to be ready to serve brunch at 9:30 am, I need to be walking in the door of the kitchen by 8:15....or 8:30. This means I need to leave my house at 7:50 or 8:10. This means I have to wake up at 6:50....or 7:10. Or even 7:12.
I work often times for movies and other film shoots....gnarly, high-strung, high-pressure jobs full of prima donnas where the rules change every five or ten minutes. Still, work rules require that meals be ready at certain specific times.....Breakfast call time at 7:15 means 7:15, not 7:16. This means lunch must be ready by 12:15, and not 12:16. Meal penalties can result in the entire crew being paid time and a half for an entire day if the caterer is late.
So....we deal not in hours but in minutes and parts of minutes. On a gorgeous Sunday morning.....the difference between sleeping until 7:12 as opposed to 7:10 can be huge.
When I arrive for Sunday brunch....I know I have one hour to: cut and roast 100 potatoes; lay out and roast three pans of bacon; melt two pounds of butter; separate eight eggs; carry out 25 plates for the oven rack; sautee mushrooms; cut kale, chard, parseley, basil and chervil from the garden and wash the leaves; find the three cheeses; get the egg poaching water set, make pancake mix and cut berries for it; find the ham, English muffins, maple syrup, OJ; find the meats and fishes we can use and get the ready; assemble my mis-en-place of pans, knives, spatulas, grills, spoons, ladles, salts, peppers, herbs, etc.; peel, chop and fry two big white onions; cut the now roasted potatoes in halves and get them in the pans with the onions.
Oh....and find the left-over roast chicken from last Monday and pull meat and skin for Xabi's breakfast.
I do this at a dead run.....because I have slept in those extra two minutes.
I am not even mentioning the waitress...who is also working at a dead run on her deal......
So....if you are a stoned-out hippy Trustifarian scumbag....and you take advantage of our not having actually locked the door that says: "Closed"......
And you walk through said door at 9:10 and ask for coffee and cigarettes from the Store that does not open until 10:00 am.....
You are fucking up our whole scene, our whole morning....and all of Mother's Day.
You are a douche bag....and you don't know it.
I would rather put cold steel to these people's throats and back them out the door into traffic....
Amanda goes for concilliation...and downs tools and gets the fucking hippy his cigarettes....the coffee is still dripping.
"Dude...you can't do this. We are trying to get set up. The Store opens in an hour."
"Let me help you, Man....."
"No....this job takes skills...we don't have time to even talk to you. Get the fuck out of here before I stab you."
"Wow, Man. Life would be so much better for you if you would just smile more........Why are you such an asshole?"
Yoga breathing.....back to The Center. It is Mother's Day......calm, calm, peace, love, tie-dye.....
Brunch starts.....People come in, sit down, give orders. We have one waitress, and one guy in the kitchen. The Garden Lady arrives, and walks directly into the kitchen....blowing past the waitress who is trying to save her life: "You can't go back there.....You really shouldn't go back there...."
"It's OK.....I know him......"
Apparently better than my wife.....the waitress.
"Oh, Michael.....Hi! I brought some blah blah blah....."
At this moment I have eight eggs in the poaching water....all put in at different times. I have three egg pans going in front of me....all the room I have. I am trying to keep my omelettes in their signature pale zone with no crust. I am sauteeing kale and chard I just picked from the garden....trying to keep the potatoes hot without burning them. I have six English muffins on the mini-grill, and eight pancakes on the big grill. I am slicing Corrallitos ham and trying to anticipate how many slices I will need: if they stay in the oven a minute too long I need twice as many slices. I have just noticed two new tables of people walk in whose orders I already know on sight....and I am trying to calculate how much hollandaise I have left and how many eggs in the poacher, and how much pancake mix is still left........and maybe if I can get to the first eggs in the eight o' clock position in the poacher before they overcook I can drop some new ones in at that position......and oh shit I am running out of hot plates.......
"Take another step and I will cut your throat where you stand, you stupid bitch!".....which comes out as "I am busy."
"Huh.....He is such an asshole......So angry. Maybe he should smile more....."
Yeah. Happy Mother's Day.
And....I can't wait to walk into your office unannounced in themiddle of your work day in the middle of your most stressful moment....
Oh. That's right. That will never happen.
Because, just like the fucking hippy.......YOU DON"T HAVE A JOB!
Ok. I feel better now.
Meanwhile......my Mom is calmly sitting at her table, patiently waiting for her order that came in first....and has been pushed to the back because she is family and will understand.....and watching her son barely not stab the Garden Lady.....and ignoring the mad bashing of spoons on stainless and mad cursing when Garden Lady's interruption causes the eight o'clock eggs to overcook.....and the thirty second interruption spiraling into ten minutes for everyone, and a half-hour for Mom......
"You know.....Brunch at The Cachagua Store is sometimes slow......"
Happy Mother's Day.
Mom....I love your calm in the face of chaos. And I love that you know every bad thing about me....and more that I refuse to acknowledge.....and you still smile when you see me.
Happy Mother's Day.