I’m sitting in my boss’s office. Charlie Mandolin doesn’t call his waiters into his office except for one reason. To fire their sorry asses. And not just a regular firing. He’d let one of the managers do that. No, he’s called me in fillet me.
I’m not sure how to describe Charlie Mandolin. If you could picture an adult sized baby with glasses, a chef’s uniform, and a South Jersey accent, you just might have an idea about his unreasonable but authoritative nature. That’s Charlie, the head chef, owner, and micro-manager of everything at The Magic Mandolin, a fine Italian restaurant in the lower east side of Manhattan. I’m alone in the office. It is very compact but perfectly organized. I can’t help but stare at the cartoon on the wall.
The comic’s prominence clearly demonstrates that Charlie and I don’t live in the same world. That getting him to understand my point of view was going to be pretty much impossible.
Charlie enters. He doesn’t say a word. Instead he swats his hand for me to get out of the chair. When I get up he plops down and folds his arms.
“Mack, Mack, Mackie-boy. You got yourself in some hot water this time.”
What he was referring to was a wine distributor that I had waited on last night. It was a 20 person banquet. And the head guy had a serious control issues. You see, most of the time, parties that size have prefixed menus and the food is prepared ahead of time. But when the food hit the table he was mad we didn’t have one thing or another. Even though the party had been paid for ahead of time, he kept ordering martini after martini and after the 6th one, I had to cut him off. Long story short, the guy screamed “Fuck you! You’re the shittiest waiter this side of Yonkers. I better not have a gratuity on that bill or Charlie’s going to hear about this,” and then he walked out on the party midway through dessert.
Normally, I’d have let it go and write it off as Manhattan Ass-hole Syndrome. But I’ve not been myself lately and between running around to get the guy more butter ever 20 seconds and trying to switch the menu around in the middle of the dinner rush (which got the cooks super pissed) I followed him out into the middle of 2nd Ave and punched him in the fucking face.
With Charlie in his swivel chair, yelling at the top of his lungs, threatening to not only fire me, but to call every restaurant manager in Manhattan to make sure they piss on me if I even look at a job application, I simply tuned him out. I couldn’t stop thinking about that cartoon on the wall. I had been doing the actor/waiter thing for 10 years now. 10 years of trying to get people to cover shifts and I race across town for an audition. 10 years of seeing my friends from high school and college get married, buy houses, and have children. 10 years of serving dip-shits like Charlie Mandolin who will never see me as anything but a monkey who wants to take his money so I can be a lazy screw up artist.
So in the middle of Charlie’s yelling, I opened the door to his cramped little office and walked out.
I’m sure he was surprised. He probably started yelling louder. But I didn’t care. My life had been going wrong for far too long. As I walked on to 2nd Ave in my waiter’s uniform, tie, vest, apron, pocket full of pens, I saw right where I had hit that bastard, and I knew it was time for something new. It’s time to leave New York.
—Mackified for your Entertainment