A friend of mine was in town for a wedding this weekend. She’s been a good friend for a very long time as well as a partner in ministry, my assistant at work, and… did a stint at my dad’s restaurant as a waitress.
Whenever Cheryl and I get together, we spend a lot of time laughing, especially about memories. And we spent alot of time talking about the restaurant. Have you ever worked for a parent? It’s a salad bowl combination of fun, aggravation, special favors and greater expectations. We got to eat for free but we also had to work holidays. If someone messed up at work, you’d hear about it at home. And if someone does something that bugs you at home, it bugs you even more at work.
There are all kinds of stories that are still remembered. I was the accountant… and at least once a week, I’d walk into the kitchen and loudly ask “Who wrote up this ticket?” only to watch all the servers (my sister, brothers, and our friends) scatter. One time, my youngest brother got called into work because the regular server was sick. Of course, Dad didn’t tell him he’d be serving because Steve wouldn’t come in. So when he came in, unshowered and unshaved, wearing shorts, a tshirt and a visor, he was sent out with a ticket pad and pat on the back. Every time I saw him that afternoon, he’d be shaking his head and saying “gawsh” to himself.
This one time (at band camp), my dad called my youngest brother, my sister and me in to help with a realtor’s breakfast. For some reason, the idea of staffing always caught my dad by surprise and we got our weekly emergency calls at 6 am. (At some point, when you’re laying in bed, you have to begin to think… don’t pick up, don’t pick up.) So we’re there. We serve them their breakfast and clean up after, grumbling the whole time. My sister is standing in front of the dishwashing station putting dishes in the sink, plate by plate. My brother and I are clear on the far side of the kitchen, a good fifty feet away or so. He smiles mischeivously and says “watch this”. He takes a now hardened biscuit and hucks it across he kitchen and hist my sister square in the small of her back. Without dropping a glass, she just continues standing there but just yells out at the top of her lungs “Craaaaaaaaaaaap!” (or a similar word). At this point, my brother and I are almost falling on the floor laughing and my dad walks in hurriedly and says “what’s going on?” in a “shut the heck up” kind of way, which just makes us laugh even harder.
Almost as funny as the time when Steve locks the bottom of the double door out into the dining room as a joke on my sister. Instead, my dad, carrying a tray filled with water glasses, pushes the top door, which opens, and runs into the bottom door, which does not. The glasses and water go flying and the whole restaurant turns to look at the commotion. He calmly closes the top door and says “someone clean that up” and walks back to his office. The whole kitchen is silent and trying really hard not to break out into laughing.
I hated waiting tables or working the bar. You knew we were really short staffed if I was working those positions. But we had a fun time working together and getting to know my dad in an environment where he really shone. Until then, dad was always just the provider and the silent authority figure and it wasn’t until the restaurant that I got to know him as a person… to see him interact with his friends, to see what things they liked to talk about and to see him do things he’s really good at. As for my brothers and sister, we have fun together no matter what we do so the old restaurant days were just more of that. I don’t miss being in the restaurant at 7 am or closing up at 2 in morning, but those times were a part of my life I will always look back at fondly.