Publication: The Stranger
Date published:
Language: English
PMID: 59135
Journal code: STRR

I waited tables in Detroit during college. Lied and said I had experience to get the job. I had none. Made my family answer the phone "Torsch's Family Steakhouse" until the restaurant called. My mom, I mean "the manager," gave me a glowing reference when they did.

A white gay guy with solid gold teeth-top and bottom- trained me. He knew I'd lied, and he blackmailed me for tips for a while-made me do all the messy side work like candle-cleaning and "ketchupmarrying." I also worked with a junkie dishwasher artist, a stripper with big fake tits who always got in trouble for her visible poledancing bruises, and the funniest black comedian cook in the world.

The restaurant had three-star prices and one-and-a-half-star food, so none of us made much money. To make matters worse, if you tried to cash your hourly paycheck anywhere except the bartender's till at the end of a "good night"-well, let's just say that check would bounce, and so would your name, right to the crappy shifts on the next schedule. On "bad nights," we literally went hungry, so we'd have secret feasts. We'd lock the place down at 2:00 a.m., and cook up steaks and fancy pasta-whatever we could get away with pillaging. We'd pour ourselves a couple top-shelf drinks, and once our stripper even danced for us all while we ate.

I quit after college. I never did get to cash my last paycheck, and I still have it tucked away somewhere. Kept it for laughs. I also still smile when I look at the salt-and-pepper shakers in my kitchen. I had to "keep" those too, on my last day of work.

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