The restaurant was chaotic! A line of people out the door, food being tossed from the grill to the trons and the distress was growing in magnitude. Can you help me? Do you have a free hand? Are you doing anything at this moment? Questions from the other flustered trons and me flew through the kitchen with agitation and anxiety. Clean dishes were scarce, seating even more so, and order had completely disappeared. The trons were not the only ones under high pressure. Everyone working was, including our host, Josh, who could frequently be heard asking; Can anyone take a table? Could you give me just one second Sir? Can anyone answer the phone? Not one minute was calm.
Walking back into the kitchen I heard Josh asking Blair, the manager, if he should give Andi another table.
“She can’t keep up with the three tables she has, just skip her.”
Seeing an opportunity, I decided to chime in “She shouldn’t even work here! She is too slow and cannot do anything right. Earlier I helped her carry out her food; I had three plates and she only had one. And…”
Blair, who frequently stopped me in the middle of my rants, calmly said “Okay Georgina, please get back to work. There is no time for gossiping.”
“Andi, you’re up!” The cook yelled from behind the grill. But she was nowhere to be found. So when two minutes had passed, Josh took her food to the table.
Not even a minute later he came back into the kitchen infuriated, still holding what appeared to be a modified Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad. “You would not believe what just happened! I took out Andi’s food and it was completely wrong. The man ordered a Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad with no onions, and loot at this- that’s all it has on it! The man flipped out and started yelling at me. It’s all her fault, she put the order in all wrong. Now we don’t even have the grilled chicken yet.” His frustration was growing with each passing sentence. “Where is she anyway?”
Blair took the salad, quickly fixed it up and took it back to the table. “It’s alright, go see if anyone else needs help.”
I was heading out of the kitchen when Andi finally appeared. She wore the same uniform as the rest of us; jeans, a blue polo shirt, black non-slip shoes and a visor; yet on her it looked so sloppy. Her jeans were too long and worn out at the bottom, her shirt was wrinkled with one collar sticking up, and her hair stuck out of her visor in all different ways. Andi is older than myself, in her third year of college but she looks twelve. It was not just her outfit that made her look like a complete mess. She was oblivious to everything around her, and could not handle stress very well.
“Where have you been?” I asked. “Your food was taken to table forty-one, forty-three’s check is ready and Blair wants to see you.”
Without saying a word, Andi went looking for Blair.
“Are you doing okay out there? We haven’t seen you in a while,” Blair asked Andi moments after I left the kitchen.
“Oh yeah, I was with my one table.”
“But you were gone for ten minutes, what could they possibly need?”
Later, while being told the conversation that exchanged between Andi and Blair, I was told Andi went on and on about the problems she was having. “Well to start there’s six of them, that is a lot for me. The one lady had so many questions about what each sandwich has on it and I don’t know the menu well so I had to get one myself and look. Then I brought them the wrong drinks and kid’s sides, so I had to figure out which table they went to, and get them the right items. And I forgot to tell them the soups in the beginning so after they decided which ones they wanted I had to take them out.”
Coming back into the kitchen, I saw Allison’s confused look, as if she was thinking how could one person have such trouble with only three tables? She looked at Andi and politely said with a smile, “Okay, just finish up these three tables and then I’ll check in on you. Now get back out there!”
While I was putting in an order, Andi come up to me and asked, “Georgina, could you help me put in this order? They want a Shrike but on a pretzel roll instead of a Kaiser roll.”
My anger had accumulated all night, but that was all I could take. I turned my head to look at Andi and yelled “I do not have time to help you! Can’t you see that we are all very busy while you walk around and make mistakes that we have to clean up? We have been doing your job for you all night! Taking out the table’s food, clearing off the tables so we can seat new customers and remaking orders because you can’t put it in right! No one wants you here Andi. You create more work than you were given. We can’t do it anymore! I can’t do it anymore!”
The whole kitchen got really silent, everyone’s eyes were on us. I had broken down. I had gotten so mad that I yelled at Andi, just like my mother use to yell at me before she left my dad and me. As I looked at Andi’s face, I realized she had not known that she was doing anything wrong. No one tried to help her, no one told her what things to fix. At that moment I knew how she felt: unwanted. And I had made her feel that way.
I knew trying to take it all back would not help what I had just done. Disappointed with myself, I left the terminal and continued on with my work. I avoided Andi the rest of the night, hoping she would not come up to me.
It has been a week since the incident and Andi has not shown back up to work. She left Isaac’s because of me. My mom left our family because of me. Will anyone ever stay?
Isabelle Yost is a sophomore with a dual major in marketing and management. She plans to be an event coordinator for a non-profit. This is her first published piece.