If you missed last week’s episode, you missed a great one. You can watch the replay here.
Jamie put her heart into today’s prompt, which is: That’s it…I Quit!. Enjoy, and make sure you reach out to her to let her know you want her to finish this story!
“That’s it…I quit”
“No, Sheree! You can’t! We’re in the middle of ribfest and there’s no way we can handle this volume with only two servers on the floor. Please, have mercy!”
As i pleaded with my star server to hang in there for just a few more hours I slung dishes of macaroni and cheese and green beans into the service window.
“Boss, I need garlic bread to sell this plate,” Kyle said, spinning a dish in the window to further scrutinize it. Without blinking I turned and picked a piece of sizzling texas toast up off the grill wit a gloved hand and tossed it onto the dish, knowing Kyle would use a service pick to position it nicely before running it out to the dining room. Good old Kyle and his propensity for pleasant presentation, I thought, and though the smile didn’t reach my lips, I enjoyed the little brain buzz the alliteration had given me.
I turned my thoughts back to Sheree. She was standing in the middle of the service alley with one hand pressed to her forehead and the other holding her open server pad. She was staring at the paper as though it were an ancient document written in an unknown tongue instead of the order for the fifteen top she had just written down.
“I’m going to help Sheree,” I said to Smitty, who was busy putting plates together next to me. “You guys have this under control.”
I did my best not to make the statement sound like a question; Smitty was terrific but he was paired up with a new guy today, and I wasn’t sure Jim was going to be able to keep up the pace. I whispered my forty-fifth prayer of the day that things would slow down as I rounded the corner and put a hand out toward my distraught server.
“How can I help you? Do you need me to make some salads?”
“I don’t even have all the drinks out yet. And of course they want separate checks and I can’t remember what kid goes with which set of parents.”
“It’s okay,” I said, wondering if it was a lie. “Just tell me how many glasses of water you need, to start.”
As i filled glass after glass with scoops of ice and water, Sheree disappeared back into the dining room.
There was a loud crash.
“Oh no,” I muttered, and hustled out to see what the damage was. There, on the ground, was Sheree, and with her was the contents of a tray our new busboy, Brandon had been carrying. Plastic cups had rolled under nearby booths and I wondered how many of our customers had been in the splash zone. I couldn’t think about that, yet, though, I had to focus on my people.
“Brandon! I’m so sorry this happened!”
“Sherre! Are you alright?!” Brandon was already scrambling to recover the plastic cups and fragments of dishware.
I moved to help Sheree up, but she leapt to her feet. I held my breath, waiting for her response. She had already been on the precipice of walking out. Surely, this would be the end of her days working for me.
To my surprise, she started laughing—huge guffaws that seemed to well up from deep inside of her.
“I’m fine,” she said, taking in a huge breath before bursting into another fit of laughter. “Oh my gosh, I sure need to watch where I am going.”
I grinned uneasily. I’d been through a lot with Sherree and this response was a bit unexpected.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” I asked.
She shook her head. “Listen, boss, I needed a bit of a reality check. I’d allowed myself to get a bit overwhelmed. Now I realize my guests are more than willing to wait for me if I just calm down and keep communicating. After all, if I had gone down for the count just then, they wouldn’t be getting any service at all.”
“You’re right,” I said, smiling, “I’m sure they actually appreciate your concern that they get excellent service.”
“Good grief, I’ve made a mess,” she said, and began picking up some of the unbroken plates.
“I’ve got this,” I said. “Your waters are waiting on the counter. Go on and gather them up.”
Time is not up but I think I am done with this.
Jamie Hershberger enjoys writing shorts (short fiction) under the pen name, J. R. Nichols. She is the creator and curator of www.writingshorts.net and the editor of The Writing Shorts Newsletter. Her flash fiction has won several contests and has been featured in two anthologies.