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The Christmas Spirit Only Extends So Far

, , , | Right | December 23, 2021

It’s Christmas Eve and I’m working at a small, family-owned Italian restaurant in a small city. We close at 4:30 to allow everyone time to be home with their families because most of us have kids and the boss man is good about stuff like that.

Cue the lonely, odd regular. She’s not a mean lady, but she’s certainly different. I’ve had to ask her to put her shoes back on several times and she regularly tells me about her bowel movements — that kind of regular. She comes in around three. I know she always stays for a while, but I don’t think anything of it as we don’t close for another hour and a half. At four, I drop off her check and start my cleanup as she and one other table are left and I am not seating any more.

At 4:15, the second table leaves, wishes me a Merry Christmas, and leaves me a banging tip so I am in great spirits.

At 4:30, I’m already pretty much done with my cleaning. The regular is done with her food and I have all her dishes but her tea cup. I tell the back it’s no biggie if they bounce; there’s only one dish. Now it’s only me, the closing manager, and my husband, who happens to be the general manager. I check on the regular and drop a subtle comment.

Me: “Man, I can’t wait to get home! It’s been crazy busy; I’m dead on my feet!”

She laughs and excuses herself to the bathroom.

At 4:45, she’s still in there. I’m getting a little stir crazy but it’s not bad yet. The guys and I are just chatting in the back.

At 4:50, the regular emerges. Instead of getting ready to leave, she settles in and starts sipping her tea and reading her book. Now I’m getting mad. I go to her table and check the bill — nothing. I gently remind her that we closed twenty minutes ago and she scoffs at me as if I’m rushing her.

By 5:00, my husband is pissed and shuts off the music and dims the lights. I go to the regular’s table again and she’s visibly angry.

Regular: “Excuse me, I wasn’t ready to leave yet. I don’t understand why you guys are closing up.”

Me: “I’m sorry, ma’am, but you’ve been here for two hours, you finished eating over an hour ago, and we’ve been closed for half an hour. Most of our staff is gone and the rest would like to get home to our families. I apologize, but we are officially closed and would appreciate it if you settled your tab.”

Regular: “This is your job! You’re required to stay open until I am ready to leave! I don’t care about your stupid family and your plans. What about people like me who don’t have anywhere to go?!”

Me: “I am sorry about that. There are other places open, though, if you’d like.”

Regular: “I WANT TO STAY HERE!”

She’s irate now. My husband hears the screaming and rounds the corner, placing himself in between me and the woman who’s now screaming and stomping her foot like a petulant child.

Husband: “Pay your bill and leave, now.”

Regular: “Who the h*** do you think you are?! I’m the d*** customer and I can stay as long as I like!”

Husband: “I’m management, and I’m telling you to leave. Go, now.”

Regular: “THIS IS F****** BULLS***! I’M IN HERE SEVERAL TIMES A WEEK AND I’VE NEVER BEEN KICKED OUT! I’LL NEVER COME BACK AGAIN!”

She slams her money down on the table then and gets right in my husband’s face.

Regular: “I’ll have your job for this, a**hole, and that stupid b**** behind you, too.”

I’m floored. She’s never behaved like this before; she has always been off, though, so I’m not totally shocked. I get that the holidays can be rough for some, but don’t try to ruin mine, as well.

Husband: *In a shockingly calm voice* “After your behavior today, we don’t want you back. Gather your things and exit the restaurant before I call the cops. You’re no longer welcome in this establishment.”

She stands there, her mouth hanging open, for a solid thirty seconds before she finally understands.

Regular: “YOU CAN’T DO THAT! I KNOW THE OWNER PERSONALLY!”

She doesn’t.

Regular: “I AM GONNA HAVE BOTH YOU A**HOLES FIRED! THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE!”

As she rants, I go to my area and grab my phone. I make sure I am close enough for her to hear.

Me: “This is the non-emergency police line, yes? I need a patron removed from our restaurant. No, there’s no physical threat, but she’s being verbally abusive and refusing to leave.”

Regular: “Screw this. I’m leaving! Just you wait; I’ll have your jobs!”

She proceeded to storm out, “accidentally” knocking her teacup over with her purse as she did so.

We didn’t get home until 6:00 pm, but we managed to have a lovely evening. I felt somewhat bad for her because she was alone, but I was happy I’d never have to see her or her nasty black toes — that’s a whole different story — again!

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