“Table seven’s pissed!”
Clatter of dishes, and a hiss of steam from a soup pot on the stove in the back of the kitchen.
“You were flirting with their daughter! They want to talk to the manager!”
Dinner rush, and there could not be time for errors. It was only uncontrolled movements without thought to keep the customers moving.
“Well, dammit, I am the manager now!”
Sam glared down at Dean who, since their father had left for an unnamed “foodie” convention a few months ago, was in charge of the entire restaurant. Technically, Sam had as much power as Dean did, but as Sam had left to go to college to pursue a real job, Dean considered himself to be the expertise in the matter. Sam, still hurt from his girlfriend’s death from either an unknown food poisoning, simply allowed Dean to take charge when he returned from college. Regardless of his time away from the restaurant, Sam fell back into the motions swiftly.
It was like riding a bike. He could still tell which customers were going to complain that their food wasn’t hot enough, and then when it was reheated, the food was too hot. Which customers would only order a small appetizer and ice water then remain seated into their cushioned booth for longer than a five top table. But, he couldn’t tell which customers would have a daughter that Dean would flirt with and end up screaming at Sam that they wanted to “talk to his manager right away” to fix this “sexual harassment deal right now.”
“Dude!” Dean said, retying his wrinkled black apron around his waist, “I so wasn’t flirting with her!”
“Y’know, I think that whole ‘customer is always right’ rule is the biggest bunch of b.s. I’ve ever heard, but this time? It’s the truth.” Sam crossed his arms, being careful to avoid elbowing one of the bus kids who ran by with loaded tray of dirty dishes.
The kid turned around after he had passed Sam, calling in his awkward adolescent crackle of a voice, “Hey Sam!”
Sam didn’t turn away from glaring at Dean to answer. “Yeah?”
“I found fifteen bucks under this old lady’s cup,” the pimple-faced kid said. Sam cringed at the way his words hissed through his “only two more months” of braces. “Whaddya want me to do with it?”
Technically, Sam was supposed to take the money and put it in the safe in case the said old lady returned. But, as Sam remembered, when customers left their stuff, they only returned for it if Hell froze over. He sighed heavily, biting at the corner of his lip. There was too much to deal with right now. “Just keep it.”
“Question me again, and it’ll be mine.”
“Dude, you rock!” the kid exclaimed and shoved the money in his ill-fitting black pants before scurrying back out to the bustling dining room. Just as the kid exited through the swinging door, one of the teenage waitresses came in the back room, looking confused and stressed. Her makeup was a bit smudged, and her skin shiny with the low gleam of perspiration.
She glanced from Sam to Dean, not sure which brother to address. Although they both noticed her, Sam responded first. “What’s up, Mandy?” he asked.
“Table seven. They’re wondering where the manager’s at. I don’t have time to keep talking to them. My other tables are getting backed up. Want me to get somebody to cover seven?”
“No, no,” Sam said, waving his hand in her direction, “I’ll take care of it. Let them know I’m on my way.”
Mandy nodded and then turned with a flip of her blonde ponytail, heading back into the danger zone of the main floor. Sam gave a disgusted look at Dean, and he began to follow the waitress.
“Sam—” Dean began.
“What?” Sam could feel a headache forming. The cooks cursed to one another, laughing too loudly and talking too dirty. Something might have been burning, but Sam wasn’t sure. Everything smelled of grease and burnt food in his life lately. He couldn’t seem to wash it out of his clothes no matter how hard he tried.
“Never mind,” Dean grumbled and walked into the manager’s office, closing the door partially behind him.
With a heavy sigh, Sam moved out into the main part of the restaurant. The waitresses scuttled about with the busboys moving rapid fire around them. While the area was surprisingly clean, there was already a line forming in the lobby of the store, and the hostesses were doing their best to maintain their patience with customers. Apparently, some people failed to understand the idea that they would need a reservation to get in immediately on a busy Saturday night. Sam shook his head. Idiots.
But, he had bigger issues to worry about right then. The issue being table seven. Sam straightened his tie, made sure the lapels on his collar were down, and brushed off his hands on his apron. God, he hated working with the public like this.
Table seven consisted of the angry parents and their daughter who sure as hell wasn’t any innocent teenager herself. If Dean had hit on her—which was far more likely than not—Sam couldn’t blame him. The girl was gorgeous, and as Sam moved towards the table, avoiding a trip over a napkin on the floor, the daughter leaned just enough over the table so that an adequate amount of cleavage showed to qualify for its own zip code. Clearing his throat, Sam moved in for the kill.
“I apologize for your wait,” he smiled forcefully. He could have given them the excuse that he had a thousand other things to take care of and a hundred other much happier customers to work with before them, but it would only give them ammunition for the accusations that he couldn’t handle his job. Best to keep things as short and sweet as possible. “I understand that you have addressed a complaint towards the manager.”
“Yes!” the mother hissed, jabbing her over manicured finger towards the table. Well, Sam thought, it wasn’t difficult to see where the daughter got her breasts from. As the mother continued to talk, Sam decided that the father had married her for the ample bust line more than her brains. “Are you the manager? You look too young to be the manager. If this is some kind of joke…”
Yes, well, you look too old to be wearing Spandex, he thought, but held his tongue. “I am the manager for tonight, ma’am.”
“Well, then!” she huffed. “One of your employees harassed my daughter!” She carefully annunciated her words, making sure to put extra emphasis as if Sam were a five year old who had not yet learned to fluently speak.
“Yes!” This time it was a near screech. “He looked at her, looked down her shirt—”
The father began to move his hand towards his wife to calm her, perhaps, but she swatted him away. “Not now, Richard. This man owes us an apology.”
Great. A demanding customer. As if he should have expected anything other. But it was best not to argue. The pain would pass the quickest that way. “Ma’am, I will look and see who was scheduled for your table, and I will make sure to take the proper action regarding this.”
“You better! My daughter does not need to be leered at in a restaurant of all places!”
“Of course, ma’am. You both have my sincerest apologies.” Not that they were sincere. His job was the only aspect of his life that Sam continually lied. He desperately wanted to tell the mother that if her daughter actually wore clothes than maybe his over-sexual brother wouldn’t be peering down the nearly non-existent shirt. “Is there anything I can help you with tonight?”
“Just the bill, now,” she snapped.
“Right away.” There wasn’t any point in wishing them a pleasant evening, even if it was only out of common courtesy. Sam turned, exhaling a large sigh of relief. He moved to the computer, printed out the bill, and handed it to a passing bus boy to drop on the table. He decided that venturing back over to table seven would be putting himself in the danger zone, as they had probably accumulated more threats against him and the restaurant.
Hours later, after the customers had left and the last crew member had gone home for the night, Sam was in the shared office, counting out the drawers. Business had gone well that night, better than usual for a Saturday night, which pleased him. Would definitely help to buy him a new set of eardrums that had been blasted by the screaming bitch at table seven. While he was at it, he probably would buy a large order of extra large coats to drape around too attractive teenagers flaunting too much skin. The last thing he needed was a lawsuit because of his hormonal brother.
As Sam deposited the bulging envelopes of money and credit card receipts into the safe, he heard a voice behind him: “Good business tonight.”
Sam didn’t need to turn around to know who was talking to him. “We did all right,” he admitted. “Forty percent increase from last Saturday.”
“That’s good,” Dean muttered, walking into the office and sitting down on the desk where Sam was working. He was chewing at a toothpick in the corner of his mouth, and Sam noticed that the top button of his shirt was undone. There were stains resembling the restaurant’s specialty fudge on his pants.
“Where the hell have you been?” Sam asked.
“Back in the kitchen.”
“What do you think? It’s a friggin’ kitchen, Sammy. What do you normally do in a kitchen?”
“You weren’t trying to get a blowjob then from one of the waitresses?”
“God, no, I know better than to mix business with pleasure. Geesh.” Dean snorted and rolled his eyes in disgust. “What kind of an idiot do you take me for?”
A slow grin began to stretch across Sam’s face, as he began to carefully choose his words to answer that question. Of course, Dean quickly interrupted him. “Don’t even answer that, asshole. You know what I meant.”
Sam smiled and shook his head, throwing his feet on top of the desk. Even after all the shit Dean had pulled that night, he found it much easier just to laugh at his older brother than stay angry at him.
“You ever wonder what it’d be like to have a cool job?” Dean asked, breaking the silence. In the background, one of the water heaters groaned softly.
“Cool job? Define ‘cool.’ If you say male escort, I’ll punch you.”
Dean laughed, scratching his short hair. “Not that that wouldn’t have some damn good perks—”
“Considering you’d be doing all the perking.”
“Right,” Dean grinned. “But, that’s not what I was talking about. Like something where we get to hunt and kill things. You know, like those adrenaline jobs!”
“Uh-huh,” Sam replied dubiously. “And where exactly do you propose we get one of those, Einstein? I went to college. You don’t get ‘adrenaline jobs’ in the normal world.”
“Then let’s not be normal!”
“Dean! Listen to yourself!”
“I am, Sammy, I am! I’m listening to how damn bored I am in this job! I mean, seriously, Dad may never come back, and we may be running this restaurant hoping that he will come back. Just spinning our damn wheels. Let’s leave it.”
“I’m serious. C’mon, you went to college, pretty boy, you know that serving fat ass bitches their spaghetti every night isn’t exactly where you want to end up forever.”
Sam shook his head. There was just no arguing with Dean some days. It was a lost cause no matter which way a person chose. “Dean, when you find this wonderful job where we get to wear what we want, do what we want, and live on the edge, let me know, okay?”
Dean grinned as Sam turned off the lights to the store. “Just wait.”