Puke

I’m driving to work when a wave of nausea hits me.

I break into a cold clammy sweat. Every bump and swell in the road threatens to propel the contents of my stomach on to the dashboard. I have to throw up NOW.

I pull my car into a gas station.

“Where’s your bathroom?” I ask the attendant getting out of the car. I must look green.

The turbaned Sikh thinks I’m drunk at ten in the morning. Shaking his head disapprovingly he hands me a key chained to a hubcap.

I race into the bathroom. As soon as I see the toilet nature takes its course. I’ll spare you the details. Suffice to say I have to change my shirt.

I emerge from the bathroom still shaking from the effort. I hate throwing up. I walk into the small convenience shop attached to the station to buy some gum. Out of the corner of my eye I see the Sikh walk over to the men’s room to inspect the damage. Hey. I cleaned it up.

I get back in my car and head home. Once inside I call Fluvio and tell him I’m sick.

“What’s the matter with you? You pregnant?” Fluvio says. I can almost see him grinning on the other end.

“Must have been the sushi I had last night,” I say.

“Forget working lunch,” Fluvio says, “But can you come in at four? I have to go somewhere tonight.”

I’m sick and tired. I need another day off. The prospect of sitting home and watching old movies while dining on saltines and ginger ale is suddenly very appealing to me. But I can’t.

“I’ll be in at four,” I say hanging up. I go and take a long nap.

Feeling much better I walk into the Bistro at four on the dot. Louis is already there doing prep work. He looks terrible.

“What’s the matter with you?’ I ask

“I don’t feel good,” he replies.

“You too?

“My ulcer’s acting up again.” Louis moans.

“Have you been to the doc?” I ask.

“Yeah, she put me on all sorts of drugs. They’re kicking my ass.”

“Can you work tonight?”

Louis shakes his head, “Negatory,” he says.

Great. Just great.

I tell Louis to go home. I ask Beth, who worked lunch, to stay for dinner.

“What else can go wrong today?” I mutter to myself.

I learn later it’s not wise to tempt the Fates.

Fifteen minutes before closing a drunk guy walks in the door. I curse silently under my breath. A few more minutes and we’d have been home free. The man sits down and immediately wants a drink.

“I’m sorry sir, you’re visibly intoxicated. I’m not allowed to serve you.” I say.

“Whaddaya mean I can’t have a drink?” the man sputters. Telling a drunk he’s cut off can always be a tense moment.

“Sorry sir.”

“Just a small one.”

“No way.”

“Oh fur ch-ch-Chrissakes.”

“Try eating something. You’ll feel better,” I tell him.

Giving up on the drink the man orders some pasta. I deliver it to the table. He eats it slowly, his movements wooden. When he’s finished I go over to the table.

“How was your meal sir?” I ask politely.

The man replies by regurgitating his pasta all over the table.

“That good huh?”

The young couple sitting few tables away looks on in horror. I think the boy’s date is gonna hurl.

Moaning, the man slumps back in his chair, eyes glazed over, looking at no one in particular.

A busboy races over to the table with a garbage can. His cleanup method is simple. Pulling the four corners of the tablecloth together he wraps everything, cups, plates, and vomit, into a bundle which he dumps, dripping, into the trash can. Another busperson brings up the rear with a mop and bucket. In a minute it looks like nothing ever happened.

That is, except for the bile hanging from the guy’s chin.

“Ok, time to go buddy,” I say.

“Uhnnnnh” the man groans.

“You gotta go now.”

The man hands me his wallet. I extract his Amex card and run the bill. He makes his mark on the receipt and stumbles towards the door. I notice he’s fumbling with his car keys.

“Did you drive here buddy?” I ask.

“I drive a Lexus,” the man answers stupidly.

“Not tonight you don’t.” I say taking the keys away from him.

“Hey….” the man protests.

“Where do you live?” I ask. The man tells me.

“I’m calling you a cab.” I dial the number for the car service we use. They’re good for getting drunks, upset girlfriends, and coked out hookers off the premises in a pinch. We’ve used them before.

The cab pulls up and I dump the drunk into the backseat. I pull a few bills out of the man’s wallet and tell the cabbie the address.

“Have a good night pal,” I say tossing the keys and wallet in his lap.

No response – he’s out like a light. I bang on the hood. The cab takes off.

Back inside the bistro I comp the young couple’s dessert and apologize for “the unpleasantness.”

I started my day with puke. I ended my day with puke. Lovely.

I go and retrieve the drunk’s checkbook. Of course – there’s no tip.

Now I feel sick.

Goddamn it.


Comments

Puke — 6 Comments

  1. You are ENTIRELY too kind.
    Drunk guy comes into my restaurant? He’s out. I get a manager and we show him the door.

  2. You really handled that situation well!! I admire you for that.
    The shit we have to put up with can be ridiculous sometimes.

  3. you should have written in the tip yourself before handing it back to him to sign. i would have given myself at least 25%.

  4. Tomescu is, sadly, right. You can’t always expect a man that drunk to tip (although you DEFINATELY deserved 40%, as Max put in). One of those little cruelties.

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