Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Going Postal

Nothing’s worse than training a new waiter. When you’ve been waiting tables a long time most of what you do is unconscious, burned into muscle memory. To stop and actually think about what you’re doing, and then explain it, slows you down big time.

The resident alcoholic waiter Scott, hung-over, working a lunch shift, is training Travis, who’s working his first day. Sayeed, the manager, who knows Scott is hurting, gleefully lays this thankless task on him. Scott is pissed, griping about how much it sucks.

Little does he know his annoyance will turn into sheer terror.

A few hours into the shift Scott is standing behind Travis as he fumbles going through the specials to a new table. Bored, looking around, Scott’s eyes wander.

Then he sees it.

Sticking out of Travis’ waistband, partially obscured by his apron, is the handle of a small pistol. That’s right. A gat, a heater, a rod – a fucking GUN.

Scott’s sphincter instantly puckers as his pickled brain processes what’s happening. Excusing himself, he walks over to Sayeed who’s reading the paper, sipping espresso.

“Sayeed, Travis has a gun.” Scott whispers.

Sayeed lowers his paper and looks over at Travis. He sees it too.

A few years ago, a disgruntled mail handler shot and killed two people at the Post Office a block over. There’s a memorial out front honoring the victims. Most of us pass it every day. Sayeed is thinking about that memorial.

Although he is a consummate asshole, Sayeed is a very cool customer. He has to be. He’s from Beirut. He calmly flips open his cell phone, calls the police, and in very pleasant tones explains our little problem. He listens for a while, nods, says “OK.” and hangs up.

“Give me your cigarettes.” Sayeed tells Scott. He takes them and proceeds to do a very brave thing.

He crosses over the dining room, taps Travis on the shoulder, and invites him outside for a smoke. They go out the front door, light up, and start shooting the breeze. Now we have all fantasized about blowing Sayeed away, but Travis has a real opportunity here.

After a few minutes of pleasant conversation, two plainclothes cops, service pistols drawn, appear from opposite directions. They relieve Travis of his weapon, cuff him, and plop him down on the sidewalk. What happens next borders on the insane.

It turns out Travis is from Texas. In the Lone Star State carrying a concealed weapon is not only allowed – its encouraged. Travis has all the legal firearm permits in his wallet. The idiot thought he could carry heat in New Jersey. Wrong.

The police explain to Travis that he needs a concealed carry permit and no, waiters don’t qualify. He needs to register the gun with the Garden State and store it at home. Then, here’s the kicker, they uncuff him and give the gun back.

After the police leave, Sayeed tells Travis to take the gun home. When Travis is out of sight Sayeed returns to his table, picks up his paper, and orders a fresh espresso.

Scott, his hands trembling, is drinking a Scotch to calm his nerves. Sayeed lets it slide for today.

“Sayeed?” Scott asks.

“Yes Scott?” Sayeed answers from behind his paper.

“On his application, Travis’ last name wouldn’t be Bickle by any chance?”

Sayeed laughs. After a minute he picks up his cell and calls Travis’ house.

“Your fired.” he says simply. He hangs up and flips over to the sports section.

Scott drains his Scotch and gets another.

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So the next time you decide to be a dick to your waiter, remember this little story. You might end up staring into the barrel of a Smith & Wesson, the last words you hear being,

“You talkin' to me?”

Think about it. We might be packing.

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