My parents leased a Mexican restaurant when I was around six years old. It had three large rooms. A restaurant in the front, a bar in the middle, and a dance hall with another long bar in the rear of the building. I wasn’t put to work right away, but it happened soon enough.
It was a family affair for the most part. On Saturdays we would have extra help as we had large crowds for the dances we held with live bands from Mexico. The giant dancehall in the rear of the building would seat two hundred people easily.
We sold around fifty cases of beer on those Saturdays nights years ago. At the end of the night, many people would come into our restaurant from the dance hall, to eat.
They weren’t always sober or polite. However, most were. That is why this story stands out so clearly.
My oldest brother was the chief along with my mother. The kitchen had a window that allowed the cook to see into the dining room.
It’s 2:00 A.M. in the morning on a Saturday night. I am ten years old and still up and waiting tables. Yes, that’s correct.
This fellow and two women come and sit in a corner booth and I offer them menus and leave. I have many things going on.
There are other tables to serve and people to seat and so on. I get back to the table and take their orders and relay them to my brother.
Time passes and I eventually serve them their meals. Remember this is a Mexican place and the plates are hot, and right out of the oven. Everything goes as planned. No issues or problems.
When I see that they are finished, I clear the table and leave the bill there, and walk away. I am still working other tables mind you. All you servers know the drill, of course.
Time passes and I go to the table for the money. The bill is torn to pieces on the table and the man said something to me. I don’t remember what, but it was the wrong thing to say to me.
My brother looked exactly like Clark Kent, but bigger and heavier. He saw my cussing and moving towards the table in anger through that window from the kitchen. He moved quickly.
As I charged the table and continued swearing at the man, my brother came up behind me, picked me up by my belt and held me, hanging in the air.
I’m cussing and yelling as I was dangling there in mid air from my brothers large hand. He said a few things to the guest at the table. I cannot remember what he said, but the bill was paid and the man and his women made a hasty exit.
Perhaps he threatened to let me go.
After the people exited, I’m was left to clear the table with my heart pounding out of my chest.
A woman who was at the next table asked me where I had learned to swear so well. Remember, I am ten or so years old.
“I have two older brothers and live in this place,” was my honest answer.
“Well, you did a good job on that fellow as he needed a good dressing down. You did a fine job of it.”
“Thanks,” was all I could say.
She reached into her purse and handed me a five dollar bill and got up and left. This was in 1962, when five dollars was probably real money. I couldn’t believe it.
I probably have been that mad again at some point in my life, but I never received another tip for cussing someone out.
I did receive tips as a contractor working in peoples homes, by the way.
On the wedding day of my first marriage, I was working in Newport Beach, Ca. and told the house maker, my customer, that I was getting married that day.
She left me to my work and I spent half a day closing up a doorway between her kitchen and entry. The house was on the beach. I still remember her name, these 50 years later.
When I finished my job and had cleaned up, she brought me a large box along with my check. It was a Farber Ware rotisserie.
What a sweet lady. I will not tell you her personal story as you might figure out who she was. I suppose she is long gone, but that gift did leave an impression on me.
All of this is a way of reminding you and myself, that people are basically good, most of the time. I worked with the public my entire working life and have few complaints about humans.
People can be trying at times, but there is usually a good reason someone is out of sorts and being rude.
I have a few more of those stories as well. Please try to remember that the next time someone goes off the deep end. Perhaps their mate is ill or there is another problem in their life.
Thanks for coming here and stay safe in these crazy times, R.C. Hand.