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Unreasonable passion, irrational exuberance

Misty-eyed, and not (just) from mesquite smoke

Daniel Yudkin

It was my last day today at the restaurant.  Mark the manager sent me off with all the bells and whistles appropriate for a grand send-off: a $40 paycheck and  his Dakota-logo business card.   I will miss many things: the cooks barking orders across the sound of the grill, the marble-eyed elk heads adorning the bare-wood dining room walls, the constant Lady Gaga and Kanye West blasting from the dishwashers' hits radio station.   I've learned the best way to sweep one-handed an entire T-bone into a small dustbin, how to decorate a Manhattan, and how to smile and nod when someone gets up from their table, accosts you in the middle of the restaurant, tells you that since it's been 25 minutes since they ordered and it's obviously your fault, YOU should decide which they should miss: their dinner or their show, "Hamlet: an Interpretive Dance."But I will miss the people most of all, the coworkers.

I'll miss the food runners, who taught me how to handle 4 plates on one arm and how to eyeball out 1 3/4-pound lobsters, to be lifted dripping and clawing from the tank for the steamer. The hostesses, who taught me how to be engaged in even the most seemingly inane of conversations (ones beginning with such attention-grabbers as "Tom texted me again last Sunday", "did you hear about Chanel's new lip gloss pink color model #443?" and "I cheated on my fiancé last night...and twice again this morning").   The managers, who taught me that being a "boss" doesn't necessarily also mean being a dick. The milfs, who singlehandedly rocketed me to adulthood by making me realize that having a kid or two doesn't automatically disqualify someone from being crush-worthy. And the grandmas, who taught me that after 25 years of taking orders it's still possible to love your job.

I want to name names, to talk about the cat-people and the dropouts, the baseball fans and the ex-marines, the widows and the fiancés, the ex-cons, the pot-heads, the jabberers and the silent ones, the gruff, the friendly, the lazy ones and the charmers, the semi-slow and the ones sharp as tacks, the worried, the carefree, the college-bound, the summer returnees, the lifers, and the ones facing life.  

I won't though, won't name names.  Really, I'm the nameless guy, the guy who sees the whole thing from a safely ironic distance of a summer between jaunts to Paris. I can write about it cause I'm not IN it, I don't live it.  I float on some other world outside the reality of life in the restaurant. Come inside and you'll see: I'm the guy without a nametag.