It’s Scary Out There

Ring. Ring.

“Cacciatores Risotorante,” a perky female voice answers. “How may I help you?”

“Good afternoon,” I say. “I was wondering if you were looking for wait staff.”

“I’m so sorry,” the girl says automatically, without the faintest trace of sorrow in her voice. “Our latest class of waiters just graduated. We have no openings at this time.”

“Graduated?” I ask. “Like from Harvard?”

“That’s what we say when our applicants have finished the training process,” the girl says, undaunted in her perkiness.

“Oh.”

“It’s a very thorough training.”

Suddenly I have a vision of polyester clad trainees numbly watching a food safety and sexual harassment training film. Why I imagined the two trainings combined Ill leave up to you.

“I’ll bet its thorough,” I say.

“Would you like to make a reservation?” the hostess asks.

“Ah, no.”

“Thank you for calling Cacciatores Risotorante,” the girl says quickly, like a pull string doll running out of string. “Have a nice day.”

Click.

“Nail polish remover rots your brain,” I yell at the dead receiver. Nice day my ass.

Lately the life of a full time writers been getting on my nerves. There’s only so much reading, writing, sleeping, going to the gym and sleeping one person can take. I need to get out and be among people. This eremitical existence Ive been living is for the birds. I also need money. I’ve started gingerly looking around to see what waiter jobs are available. It’s scary out there.

I move to the next number on my legal pad. This ones off the internet. No name or address, just a phone number.

Ring. Ring.

“Wha?” a gruff voice answers.

“Good afternoon,” I say. “I’m calling about the wait staff position.”

“Who dis?”

“Have I called the right number?” I ask.

“Who are you?” the man asks. I notice his voice has a strong Brooklyn accent – a strong Italian American Brooklyn accent. “How’d you get dis numba?”

“It was on Craigslist.”

“Craigs wha?”

“Is this a restaurant?”

“Yeah.”

“Are you looking for waiters?”

“Maybe.”

Maybe? I can almost see Paulie Walnuts from The Sopranos murdering some hapless waiter in a restaurant parking lot.

“Do you serve veal parm?” I ask.

“Yeah.”

“I hate veal parm.”

“So?”

“I don’t think I want to work for you,” I say, hanging up. I wonder if the FBI was listening in on that conversation. I move to the next number on my list.

Ring. Ring.

“Hello?” a man shouts over the bedlam of a noisy kitchen.

“Hello?” I say. “I’m calling about the waiter position?”

In the background what sounds like a whole rack of dishes smashes onto the floor.

“Mira maricon!”

“Fuck you!”

“Pendejo!”

“Puta!”

Ah, nothing changes.

“Can you watch what you’re doing?” the man who answered the phone says, clearly exasperated.

“Have I called at a bad time?” I ask.

“Can’t you tell?”

“I’ll call tomorrow.”

“Thanks.”

I hang up the phone and look at the clock. Its after the lunch rush. Maybe Ill go around on foot and knock on a few doors. The personal touch is better than using the phone anyway. Or maybe Ill take a nap. Ive been writing all morning. I’m tired. Its a slow hire time for restaurants anyway.

I turn off the laptop sitting on my kitchen table. Over the past few months my laptop has become an ominous presence in my apartment – kind of like the black monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Any minute I fear I’m going to start hopping up and down like a crazed chimp and smash the computer to pieces with a femur.

The computer blinks and whirs. For some reason it refuses to go off. An error message pops up on the screen. I spy one of my dogs plastic bones on the floor and pick it up. As soon as I wave the dental chew in front of the screen the computer rectifies the problem and shuts off. Just in time too. I close the lid and head into my bedroom for a siesta.

I can be a hermit a little while longer.


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