Remember not so long ago I was writing that life was good ? Yeah. I remember that too. That sensation was fleeting.
Monday- I was stretching out a leisurely morning with the GM and son, almost rushing into work to start the bread but realizing it was Monday and W. was there doing the deep cleaning and putting away the orders and making the bread. Phone rings. It's one of the other cooks. "There was a message from W.'s girlfriend. He's in jail." Morning interruptus.
A few phone calls later I find out W. had an argument with the girlfriend, which involved him ripping the phone out of the wall as she was calling the police. Of course, true to the domestic violence scenario she doesn't want the cops to take him but they do, and she doesn't want to press charges but the DA does and he's in jail with no bail.
This isn't the first time W has been behind bars and missed work. A year or so ago he wound up doing a few days for some sort of drunken bullshit, I don't really remember what. I do remember he enjoyed the meatloaf. So, as INS seems to be getting a little tougher in this mid-term election year it's a possibility that W. is now facing deportation (if only that were true of another W). If he's not I'm faced with the dilemma of whether he has a job. I have written about trying to separate what people do when they are away from work from their behavior on the clock and I don't have a clear answer. I wasn't there, I don't know what happened and I also don't condone violence in any form. So, I start figuring out who will cover his shifts and asking the guys if they know anyone who wants to clean the kitchen and mop the dining room since that is the thing he does which no one else really knows how to do.
While they're hunting I start thinking about the winter. Basically my entire kitchen is leaving in December. Both dishwashers and my pantry guy, followed in May by C Jr, the absolute backbone of the kitchen. This leaves me, the Republican sous chef and the real sous chef. However, the real sous chef's wife is having a baby in about a week and he's going to need some time off and I know his priorities are going to change. The dishwashers I know I'll find. Someone is always looking for a job or extra hours. The pantry guy I might not need in the winter. The rest of us will just have to work a little harder. Someone to clean the kitchen and dining room I need and someone to fill C Jrs. shoes I need.
Wednesday- As I'm unloading the borrowed plates for a big Chamber of Commerce dinner we're doing Thursday, my landlord tells me that the guy he had lined up for the space below has backed out. He's been trying to convince a popular breakfast/lunch place to move in below and in order to get me to waive my non-compete agreement had extended the previously mentioned option to extend our lease. Of course, he now won't sign the option saying he doesn't want to get tied down to anything. While I am infuriated, I'm not surprised. I knew he was a slimy, bottom-dwelling, scurvy liar. I am so pissed off I just walk away and decide to hang onto the option and to wait until he's either on or off the medication, whichever produces the agreeable slimy, bottom-dwelling, scurvy liar and see if I can't get him to sign.
Thursday- Just before serving 140 people for the Chamber of Commerce, I hear, "Haddock, no agua caliente." What, no way. "Si, no agua caliente." And sure enough, no hot water. We've got a Paloma, on demand water heater. I go look at it. It's firing up, the water is going through it but isn't heating at all. And I'm about a half hour away from 140 local business owners coming in for dinner. I call Mr Buttcrack, the refrigerator repairman. Yep, just like in those old Saturday Night Live skits. He comes out and is just as perplexed as I. He calls another guy, someone familiar with these units who promises to come tomorrow. Ok. What can I do? The dish machine works by chemical sanitation, not hot water, so the plates will be sanitized, although it's a lot easier to get them clean with hot water. Oh yeah and there's that handwashing thing.
The dinner goes great. Food goes out fast and hot, lots of compliments, the guests are happy. Back in the dishroom. "Manana, my last day. No more work." What?! Why? "Muy cansado, I'm tired." OK, whatever. His son, C Jr calls. I say, your dad's quitting tomorrow. Know anyone who wants work? C JR says his dad is crazy and he'll find someone.
The GM was in for dinner, with my mom, who came to visit and was acting really weird. My mom is weird don't get me wrong. The nut doesn't fall far from the tree, but weird for her. The GM asked the dishwasher if he was angry. He said yes a little, but then changed his mind and said no.
I let a little time go by and asked him if he was mad because there was not hot water. I told him I was mad there was no hot water because I was going to have to pay someone to fix it. I told him that it wasn't really fair to give me one day to find someone, that I knew he was tired, that I knew he was going home to Mexico in December and I knew he would need more money than he thinks and if he wasn't leaving for a month and a half he was just going to spend money, not make any. "OK, I wait." How long, he didn't say.
Friday- no sign of the second repairman. I finally find his number and he tells me he might have to put it off till tomorrow, his knee is hurting. I impress upon him that restaurants depend on hot water and I'm sincerely sorry his knee hurts, but it would really be better if he came today. No sign of him for hours and my mom is still acting weird. He finally limps in and it is apparent he isn't going to fit in the space where the heater is. So, I follow his instructions and pull out the burners. He claims they're probably clogged and running at less than full capacity. He disappears with the burners, finally returns, I reinstall them and indeed, they are flaming a wee amount higher but still no agua caliente.
He then asks about the water pressure and thinks that there is less pressure than there should be. There's the same pressure there's always been I tell him and I had hot water before. When the heater was installed there was some sort of pressure related problem but it was to the unit, not a general pressure problem. He then says it must be the diaphragm. He's going to see if anyone has one, call Mr Buttcrack who is thinner and able to fit in the narrow space and they'll take care of it. So, Friday night, no hot water. The dishwasher is in a better humor and I ask if he'll be available Monday to train his replacement. He assures me he will.
In the meantime our new office manager (one of the waiters who is taking on the duties of our beloved and trusted person who is decamping for Colorado) managed to piss off all her co-workers at the Chamber of Commerce dinner by forcing her anal retentive ways on them and as she is a bit older than they, they went along but let the GM and I know they weren't too happy. So Friday night I have to
counsel reprimand her and ask her if she knows any reason why the dishwasher would be leaving. See, he had a crush on her and after she came in for dinner with her new boyfriend he got very grumpy with her. Hmmm... none of my business.
Saturday- no word from either repairman. I call Mr Buttcrack to see if he knows the plan. He said he talked to the water heater expert and he will come down, remove the valve and inspect the diaphragm. Which he does. Well, actually I do. He removed the valve and I inspected the diaphragm. I found a tiny, tiny pinhole in it. We call the water heater expert who says that's the culprit. Of course, it is Saturday of a 3 day weekend and no one in an hour and a half radius has the part we need. I call everywhere. Plus I need to return the plates I borrowed because my friend has a wedding to do Sunday.
In the midst of this W appears. He's been bailed out (which I knew) and C Jr told him to come talk to me (which I knew). I told him whatever happened was none of my business, he told me he didn't hit her. I told him it was none of my business, but I wanted to make sure he wouldn't be reacting in a violent way with anyone at work. He assured me he wouldn't dream of it. I said if he went to jail again he would definitely have no job. He looked a little worried so I said if he ended up having to do some time over this incident that wasn't what I talking about. If he cleared this up and then went to jail for something else he'd have no job. He seemed much relieved and we agreed he would come back Monday to do the cleaning as usual. I also told him he'd have some changes to his schedule.
I return the plates, not looking forward to a three day weekend with no hot water. However, my mother's love of McGyver (I told you she was weird) made me think of repairing the diaphragm with a bicycle repair kit, so I picked one up on my way south. At a quarter to five I was pulling off the valve and making with the rubber cement.
Five o'clock- AGUA CALIENTE. My patch worked. Unfortunately, it was another dishwasher who got to enjoy the victory. I feel like a champ. I suck at fixing things and that I was able to fix something that Mr Buttcrack could not is a major coup.
Hopefully the patch holds until we get the new part, probably Tuesday. We'll see how the dishwasher scene plays out. And when the sous' baby will arrive. And whether W stays out of stir. And whether the anal retentive will back off. And if my jackass landlord will 180 yet again.
One day I will write about food. I swear.