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I’m Sorry, He Did WHAT With The Leftovers?!

, , , , , , , , | Working | December 26, 2022

When I was a teenager, I worked as a busboy and dishwasher at a family-style restaurant. It was hard, grimy work, but I was good enough at it that I “moved up” to prep cook. It was a much easier job as I could come in when I wanted to shred lettuce, make onion rings, and other similar tasks. As a result, I got to know many of the dishwashers that came through. A good percentage didn’t last because of the nature of the job — low pay and hard work.

But I’ll never forget one particular coworker who was working his first day when I was there doing prep work. He was older than me, gregarious, and friendly. He talked nonstop about his future plans, his girlfriend, etc. It was a bit annoying as I just wanted to get in and get out, but I tried to politely listen as I did my work. He also sang and danced a bit while working, which was definitely annoying but, again, didn’t impede the work I was doing.

But things got weird when he started eating off the plates of leftover food that came back, gleefully saying how great this job was. I don’t think I’ve ever been more disgusted than watching him joyfully finish a half-eaten waffle or snarf down leftover fries.

One of the waiters came back while he was doing this and looked at me as if to ask, “What is this guy doing?” I just shrugged.

Then, the restaurant got hit by the lunch rush and the new guy was quickly overwhelmed. Having been a dishwasher, I knew that one person could get through it; you have to just work fast and be focused. But fast and focused was not this guy. His perky demeanor got more and more somber as the reality of the job hit him and dishes started piling up.

He started hinting that I should help him. And then he began to outright whine that he needed help. I have helped busboys in the past if things get tough, but I had quite a few items to prep and some plans after work, so I said I couldn’t. I knew he wouldn’t get fired and that if things got really bad the manager (who was a good guy) would step in to help particularly given that it was his first day.

He stopped talking, and out of the corner of my eye, I could see him looking daggers at me. I was glad to finish my tasks and get out of there.

I heard later that he quit after the first day, and I never saw him again. I was not surprised.

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