This Sunday night I am walking up the aisle when I hear a commotion near the front tables. A lady is shouting unintelligibly. I soon discover why.
Perching on her table is Sciurus carolinensis – an American grey squirrel. He isn’t happy.
“Holy fucking shit!” seems the most professional response at the time.
The squirrel, frightened by the patron’s shrieks tries to jump through the plate glass window to freedom. Failing that, he bounds off her shoulder onto the floor and scurries under the hostess stand. A female customer, an obvious animal lover, runs over crying “It’s just a baby! Don’t hurt it!” and attempts a rescue.
The squirrel starts hissing malevolently. I am thinking – the lady gets bit, the lady gets rabies, the lady sues our asses off.
“Madam please let us handle this.”
“Oh I’ll get him.” she coos.
“MADAM, STEP AWAY FROM THE SQUIRREL!” I yell.
Looking hurt the woman abandons her efforts and reluctantly returns to her seat.
A busboy rushes up with a broom and we try and sweep him out the front door but the rodent dashes down the length of the bistro toward the back, horrifying all of the customers, diving underneath a four top.
I run up to the table and say, “I don’t mean to alarm you, but a squirrel has run under your table. Could you please get up?”
I will never forget the look on their faces.
“What is a squirrel doing in here?” one woman says, performing a rapid egress from the area.
“I assure you he is not on the menu.”
When we get under the table we discover that the glorified rat has crawled through a hole in the back bench and has taken up residence. We can hear him racing back and forth under the customers’ seats. He is not coming out.
With the exception of one very cool couple, the back of the bistro has to be reseated to other tables. The free shit parade is in full swing.
After dispensing drinks and desserts gratis I call the police and ask them to send an animal control officer.
“A squirrel doesn’t seem to fit the ambiance of a Tuscan bistro.” the desk sergeant says. I can hear half the department laughing in the back ground.
He gives me the number of “Critters R Us” and I call. The guy is over in twenty minutes with a trap and instructions on how to set it.
Later, when all the customers have left, I am on my hands and knees rigging the filthy device, asking the owner when animal trapping became part of my job description. Unfortunately the varmint does not come out in the dead of night and take the bait. The next morning we still have a rodent living under the back bench. We spend the whole shift waiting for him to make reappearance. I dread hearing the words, “Waiter, there is a squirrel in my soup!
That night we reset the trap and have better luck. The owner calls me at home after midnight. The squirrel set off the motion detector alarm springing the trap. When the owner entered the premises with the police our little buddy was freaking in his cage.
The next morning Critters R Us picked him up and released him in the woods. Problem solved.
Later that morning a curious customer from Sunday night popped his head in the door and asked, “Whatever became of the squirrel?
“We had him for lunch sir.”