So back on Labor Day I began examining all of the different jobs I have had since I started working back at the tender age of 15. First one was stuffing together the Sunday Editions of the Chicago Tribune.
Tonight let's look at Job #2: Enzo's Pizza
Enzo's was a fabulous pizza joint in Brookfield, Illinois. No longer there, it was tiny, cramped (yet cozy) and very, very clean (proud to say the place always received a 100% on our Health Inspection each year). I began there shortly after walking out of the factory where I stuffed the newspapers and I proceeded to spend the next three years working there. My food service career began in the back of the kitchen washing dishes. Sounds like that sucked, right? Here is the funny thing - I really enjoyed watching dishes. The guys in the kitchen were awesome, we usually had some good music playing in the background, and when we were working we ate like kings.
After about nine months or so I was given a shot to move up to pizza maker. In order to be a good pizza maker you have to be able to do two things: 1) Put on just the right amount of everything and 2) Do it fast. I was wildly successful at step number one but unfortunately I was slow as hell at it. In the time it took me to make a pizza our cook Danny could whip out three or four. So long pizza making days.
But instead of heading straight back to the wash tub my boss asked if I would want to try waiting tables.
Finally, we had found my true restaurant calling. It was the best of everything. I still ate like a king, the music in the kitchen was still enjoyable as I came in and out to place and pick-up orders, my hands no longer looked all wrinkled and withered, and of course most importantly I got tips. Sure some nights were slow, but other nights were great. And the great nights were also busy, which means the time just flew by.
So for about 18 months I waited on tables. I got to know the regulars. Some people even asked for my section. I made my fair share of mistakes, but overall it was really a blast with way too many stories to share...but let me leave you with just one.
It was December 23 and no one, I mean no one, had come into the place. I was the only waiter working since they figured it was going to be slow. We were all set to close up early around 9:30pm when a single gentleman came in and sat at the bar. He ordered a beer and small pizza. We chatted about school, his job and the upcoming holidays. His pizza came and he had another beer or two. By the end of it he was into us for $23. I brought him his tab and he took out a $100 bill and asked if I had been busy that night. I told him he was our first and last customer. I grabbed the tab and his c-note and told him I'd be right back with his change. He told me we were even. "Merry Christmas," he said as he grabbed his coat and headed for the door...leaving be standing behind the bar looking at a $77 dollar tip and thinking this wasn't such a bad night after all.
Job #3: Brookfield Zoo is up next...sometime...when I get around to it. It's worth the wait...trust me.
Chris Thomas is a full-time teacher, part-time freelance writing, father of three, and most importantly, a very, very tired man.
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