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“The next person to eat a french fry is fired!”
It’s 10:30 pm and we’re hungry. We are the waiters in a trendy Aspen, Colorado restaurant who have been feeding gourmet dishes to Gucci-and-Louis-clad tourists and their cashmere-clad children for the last six hours without pause. Or a morsel of food. Like most servants in the exclusive restaurant industry, we’ve been working since early afternoon and can expect to work until midnight or so--at which point there will be nothing open in this whole town but the Popcorn Wagon and New York Pizza.
Seriously, there’s only so much popcorn and pizza a person can stomach when she works six to seven nights a week. Child readers out there, are you listening? Pizza every night may seem like a good idea but it’s not. It makes you sick. Trust.
And it’s not like we’re going home after shift. Nobody in Aspen goes home. Anyway, we are hungry now. Desperately hungry.
Enter: truffle fries.
Most of the restaurants I’ve worked in over the years, at the very least, allow you bread during your shift. Sometimes you even have a soup of the day with which your sous chef lets you soak your pitiful bread. Or even better, when the kitchen makes a mistake, the more considerate managers allow us staff to feast on this “dead” food, in a manner highly comparable to a pack of ravenous vultures. Not much, but it gets you through the shift.
Not so at this particular high class venue. Eating bread in front of the GM or head chef is grounds for termination. Eating dead food, grounds for term. Ordering food and paying full price and then eating it quickly in the server station, grounds for immediate term. The phrase, “You’re fired!” is uttered more frequently around here than on The Apprentice.
But the truffle fries…oh, the truffle fries: hot, oily strips of potato lovingly soaked in warm white truffle oil and tossed with huge flakes of fresh parmesan cheese. Bowls of these suckers go out to almost every table. Large bowls. Large enough that in most cases only about half the bowl could possibly be consumed by the guests. This leaves us starving waiters with a moral dilemma.
To eat food off a customer’s plate or to not eat food off a customer’s plate?
The fries are an easy answer: to eat. They are too good. And, as a shared dish for the table, most likely not contaminated with what I like to call “customer germs”. So we eat as many truffle fries as possible. We are stealthy and ferocious in our pursuit of truffle fry satiation. We lie. We steal. We hide. I’ve found the stalls in the women’s restroom to be an excellent feasting zone. We guard corners and watch each other’s backs, not unlike a covert army mission within enemy territory. We sneak hot, fresh individual greasy guys straight out of the bowl before we serve it to a table. Sometimes we share with each other. Sometimes not.
But our feasting does not stop there. Oh no. Because once you begin eating off customers’ plates, it is very difficult to start drawing lines between one dish and another. I mean, if you just ate fries out of this trophy wife’s bowl then her lasagna comes back only half eaten, what’s really the difference between the two? Or that innocent little brat’s mac and cheese--barely touched? Or that burly man-with-a-black-amex’s rack of lamb where the whole second side of the bone remains virtually unscathed?
I even caught a co-worker sucking on a used veal chop bone. Wait, that was me.
You start making rules for yourself. One of the boys reasons that if he’d eat a woman’s pussy, he’d eat off her plate. Our manager walked by with a plate of half eaten food just as he was explaining this rule. She said, “Guys, don’t touch my chicken,” and set it down in front of us.
His answer? “I don’t think that will be a problem.”
My sister and I are of the same thought, especially when it comes to half eaten desserts—when there’s chocolate involved, we’ve been known to be lenient. Our general rule of thumb? If we’d make out with a guy, then we’ll eat off his plate.
My sister eats off a lot of plates.
It’s a nasty can of worms I tell you, a rusty, rotten, disease transmitting can existing here unlike any other restaurant I’ve ever worked. I swear, I have never, never even considered doing some of the things I do while working here. If we weren’t so damn clever at hiding the repulsive things we children do I think the whole restaurant would earn immediate term.
All I can think to justify our actions is the saying, “Desperate times, desperate measures.”
Kinda reminds me of a little trip into the Aspen mountains I took my siblings on many years ago. We were all learning to ski and I, being the eldest of us four, thought I’d take the kids on one last run of the day.
We ended up stranded at the bottom of an obscure trail as the sun went down, surrounded by nothing but trees and snow. Not one to panic at 12 years old I tried to think reasonably about our situation. We would wait.
Forty minutes later as it began to grow really dark and the dinner hour began to really escape us, my sister, two years my junior, turned to me. “Darcy,” she said, “if I have to, I’ll eat my own poo.”
It’s a good thing she didn’t eat her own poo. We, shortly thereafter rescued by ski patrol, returned to our grateful parents and awaiting dinner. That would have sucked if we’d lost her to unnecessary Ebola poisoning just because we spoiled luxury vacationers didn’t know how to survive a little hunger.
The irony escapes no ravenous waiter. The mockery that even in such a fabulous town where Gucci and Louis are as common as Gap and where simple french fries are bathed in luxurious truffle oils—there will always be starving children in Aspen.
So next time you’re out at a restaurant in our humble little town, do us servants a favor and don’t clean your plate. In fact, if you could put half your portion on a separate plate and set it aside for us, that’d be best. If you’re doing that, may I suggest a nice mixed green salad (light dressing) to start, the veal chop (medium rare) for our entrée, and the chocolate budino (two scoops vanilla) to finish? And don’t forget to tip 20%.
That’d be perfect. Don’t clean your plate. Don’t finish the truffle fries.
Don’t make us eat our own poo.
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