The day was too warm to be pounding the streets and dropping off resumes in restaurants. The Sushi Place was my last stop and I felt wilted walking in. The sign outside offered a happy hour with $1 off sushi and half-price Asahi and Sapporo beer until 7 p.m. It was close to 5 when I walked in. Near the entrance was a bar, where a tired looking bartender stood staring at a huge, soundless, wide-screen TV located over the sushi bar. An experimental art film seemed to be playing. The images were visceral and discordant, closeups of food being chopped and chewed, raw. A Lady Gaga song played innocuously in the background. There were a few occupied tables, but it wasn’t very busy.
“Hi,” I said to Weary Bartender. “Is the manager or owner available? I’d like to apply for a server position.”
A small smile cracked his stony expression, more out of amusement than friendliness. He gestured to a seat at the far end of the bar. “The owner is in the back. You can wait here if you’d like.”
“Sure. Thank you. It’s hot out. The air conditioning feels great.” As I sat down, I noticed a half-finished pint of beer and a laptop in front of an empty seat at the other end of the bar.
“Would you like a glass of water?”
“Oh, yes, please. Are you hiring servers now?”
“We’re always looking for someone,” he said, filling my glass and placing it before me.
“Oh. Great. How long have you been here?”
“A few months.”
“Are you pretty much settled in, then?”
I gratefully drank as I took in the place. It was decorated in a lean, vaguely Asian style with oak wood paneling throughout. The sushi bar sat in front of the kitchen and next to the bar. A sushi chef was unwrapping fish and placing them in the bar display. A couple of girls were nursing beers and staring at the sushi chef expectantly. In fact, there were a lot of expectant faces and I had yet to see a server.
The TV caught my eye again. What I thought was an art film turned out to be a Japanese horror movie with subtitles. A man had just thrown a naked woman across a table. Her face was made up Kabuki style. Another man, also naked, held tongs in one hand and poured a brown sauce on her with the other. I stifled a shocked laugh.
“Have you seen our waitress?” A man from one of the tables had just approached the bar. “We’ve been waiting 30 minutes for our sushi.” I looked over at the sushi bar and there were some plates with sushi on them at the service area waiting to be delivered. The girls at the sushi bar still sat waiting to eat. The sushi chef was slicing fish laggardly, like a DMV clerk processing forms.
“She’ll be right with you,” said Weary Bartender, not moving.
Just then, the kitchen door banged open and belched forth a man. His hair was greasily combed over half his forehead, barely covering a bald patch. A couple of facelifts had given his face a wide-eyed skeletal appearance. He shambled over to the half-empty pint at the other end of the bar and drew a draught between surgically fattened lips. His colorful collared shirt was unbuttoned almost to his navel, revealing sparse hair, strange scarring, and the top half of his beer-gut. He seemed to be hanging onto a style from his heyday.
“Are you the owner?” asked the customer at the bar.
“Yes,” said Weird Owner, not even looking up from his now finished beer.
“I’ve been waiting 30 minutes for my sushi.”
“Yes, well this isn’t fast food you know.” He then pirouetted away from the bar and toddled to the back to pour another beer. Frustrated Customer went back to his table to rejoin his friend. After setting the beer down next to his laptop, Weird Owner walked over to the sushi bar, sashaying to the music of Rage Against the Machine. I thought he might deliver the still-waiting sushi plates, but he stopped at the two women. A caterpillar roll finally sat in between them, upon which they were nibbling. They looked up at him as he inquired about their food in a voice that carried over the thin din of music and guest murmuring.
The girls smiled and said something I couldn’t hear. “Pretty girls and pretty sushi go together like a handroll with spicy tuna.” He snorted at his own joke.
They smiled politely. He went on, pointing to his chest. “See these scars? I got them in ‘Nam. I got this there too.” He rolled back his sleeve to show them a tattoo on his upper arm. It continued onto his shoulder, ending who-knew-where. I was afraid for a minute he would take off his shirt to show them the whole thing. “You ladies really are pretty, and for a kiss, dinner is on me! Hell, I’ll pick up your tab even without the kiss.” He chortled.
This time the ladies didn’t smile back and I heard a reply. “That’s not necessary,” said the bolder of the two.
“No, I insist,” said the owner.
The kitchen door banged open again and a young server, looking bored, walked out. The owner jerked around and marched toward her. “Where have you been, skank? I don’t pay your lazy ass to stand around.”
She looked unsurprised by his outburst. “I took a cigarette break,” she said and went to the server station to pick up the waiting sushi. When she arrived at her table, Frustrated Customer started complaining to her.
At this point, Weird Owner finally noticed me taking everything in. He approached, his bee-stung lips parting into a grin. “What can I do for you, young lady?”
“Um. Nothing. I was just leaving.” I fished for my wallet and pulled out a dollar for Weary Bartender. Then, as he continued to stare, I picked up my résumé and handbag and scurried back out into the stifling air.
I may be broke, but I have standards.
Marvelous! I didn’t even realize you needed a resume to be a server. Great story! — YUR
Yes indeedy, restaurant owners demand “professionalism” from their servers. In Los Angeles, it’s pretty competitive work. There are lot of actors and artists needing day-jobs, including me! Thanks for reading. Have a great day. 🙂
Your story had a distant connection to mine, so I linked yours to it. Best of luck to you! — YUR
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Wow, that really sounds awful! Good for you for walking out.
Thank you! And thank you for reading. 🙂
No Problem I think you are a natural story teller :). I have the most awful job but I wasn’t lucky enought to see it from the start. I just hope I won’t have to stick around too much longer.
Omg, sounds like running away was definitely the smart thing to do! What a horror show. Good luck finding something better!
Thank you! 🙂
Yes, often places do tell you exactly what it’d be like to work for them right off the bat. Wish I could share my horror stories, but I still work at the place I’d like to talk about (and have a gag order in my contract to boot!)
I’ve lived through work horror stories and I’ve listened to them. No one deserves to exchange misery for money. I hope one day you can find a better job. Best of luck to you! And thank you for reading. 🙂
Interestingly, I like the job, and the people, just not the company, and the horrid culture that it has created.
Best of luck to you too!
You definitely don’t want to work in a place like that. Good luck with your job search.
Great post! Congratulations on getting Freshly Pressed.
Thank you so much! 🙂
Oh. Wow. Talk about a horror story. You narrowly escaped, you realize…what if you had been there on a good day?!?!
Never mind. With that owner, a “good day” probably doesn’t happen.
Congrats on NOT getting (or even applying for) that job!
I’m guessing that WAS a good day, since he didn’t actually take his shirt off!
Ha! Good point… 😉
Ha! Good point is right! Thank you for reading. 😀
You made the right decision. The few dollars you have forgone by not working for a douche weren’t worth the aggravation and the years of therapy ahead.
No job, where we spend the bulk of our week, is work exchanging misery for money. Thank you so much for reading. 🙂
What I want to know is, how do places like that stay in business? If I had been waiting 30 minutes for my food, hadn’t seen hide nor hair of my server, and had been ignored by the owner when I asked about my food, I’d have gotten up and left. I’m glad you elected to leave. Sounds like the kind of place where you’d have to fight with the owner about your paycheck every week.
I agree, Courtney. I would have left that place too if the server did not arrive for 30 minutes and had a jerk like that talked to me.
I did not think of the fighting for your paycheck every week part.
Life is strange sometimes. I often wonder too. Thank you for reading and commenting! 🙂
Oh I have been there… served for years…thanks for sharing!
Glad my story resonates! 🙂
Yikes. My blog tells horror stories from the management side of the table, but this was pretty awful. At least you figured that out before you took the job. Surprised the owner hasn’t been sued by somebody for sexual harassment.
There are horror stories on every side of every fence. We all have our perspectives and our side of the story. Thank you for reading. 🙂
That was an entertaining story. Your writing is wonderful.
Thank you! So glad you enjoyed my writing. 🙂
I had to share this with my Mom, it sounds just like her first boss at a fast food restaurant! I can’t believe anyone works for this guy, or that people even eat there! The food must be really good…
Thank you for reading and for sharing! 🙂
Whoa, what a weird place! Sounds like you definitely made the right choice by walking out of there. Good luck with your job hunt!
That was a good read! Reminds me when customers would ask if where I worked was hiring and I’d mumble something how they don’t really want to work here….ah low wage retail!
Yes, I know what you mean. Thank you for reading. 🙂
STANDARDS exactly. You know what alot of people would have done the opposite and jumped in to serve the customers…in an attempt to get the job. Yikes. You did the right thing. And some amazing manager will recognize your ethics and values and offer you a great job!
There is no reason anyone should have to work at a job that would likely be problematic and more stressful than it’s worth. Thank you so much for your supportive comment. 🙂
Well done — both the writing and the way you handled your job application. Imagine working there every day, ugh. Congratulations on being FP!
Thank you so much for your support. 🙂
Brilliant! I couldn’t stop reading! Great story!!!
Gosh, thank you! 🙂
Congrats for being freshly pressed!
Goodness me! What horrid place to eat let alone work
A Lady Gaga song never plays innocuously. It’s always painful (to me, at least.)
But that was pretty entertaining. Good to know that we can still have standards, even when we’re desperate for work.
Ha! It’s always interesting to note how the most popular of artists can also have detractors. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. 🙂
Good luck with your blog. 😉
congrats on being freshly pressed. You may have missed out on FP had you elected to take the job and not tell the story.
Thank you so much. 🙂
Holy cow, talk about scary! XD
Loving your description, though! I could picture it perfectly. 🙂 Have you ever considered story-writing?
Agreed – it was written so well my first thought that it was a story, you know- made up! Cannot believe that this restaurant is still in business. YUCK! Weary Bartender should have asked you “how desperate are you?” when you asked for the owner/manager. 😉
Congrats on FP!
Well… it just so happens I am writing stories. My blog is my warm up! Thanks for reading and supporting!
Reblogged this on Skittering Forward and commented:
The above is posted due to being a perfect example of great description. (IMHO, obviously.)
It doesn’t have to be fiction for the description to be awesome! 😀
Thank you for the reblog and flattering comparison! 🙂
Stick to your standards, you are worth it.
We are all worth our standards! 🙂
Congrats on being freshly pressed, and on having the standards to stay away from a place like that. Hope you find a job in a decent place soon! 🙂
Thank you on both counts! 🙂
Just be thankful you saw that before taking the job.
I had a waitressing job when I was 20 & the sleazy bastard owner was always trying to get us young girls up to his “3rd floor apartment”. I only lasted a couple months. Money is nice, but so is dignity.
Ew. Money isn’t nice enough to sacrifice dignity. Or happiness. I hope you’ve found something better. Thank you for reading. 🙂
Great post, I loved the ending 🙂 Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!
Good for you! I know what it’s like to feel like you are begging for a job, but in this case you deserve better.
We all deserve better. Thank you. 🙂
Wow, what an experience. Good for you for walking out! The customers should have followed you.
It’s always interesting what people are willing to put up with. Thank you for reading and commenting. 🙂
How gross! Very well told, though! 🙂
Thanks for sharing your story, it’s beautifully written. Good for you, for walking out. I remember the interview from the last restaurant I worked at. I was asked to be there at 5, which I was. A waitress let the owner know I was there and he must have walked by me 100 times. She reminded him several times and about a hour later he walked up to me said I was good looking and “you’re hired”. That was what I waited an hour for. I ended up working at the restaurant for 2 1/2 years and it was the most stressful job I’ve ever had, so props to you for walking out, wish I had too.
Yours is a great story too! I hope you never have to put up with such misery again and that you are on to better things. Thanks for reading and commenting. 🙂
Good for you – walking out on Mr. Creepy Guy. How do restaurants stay in business with standards like that? I can only imagine what his application process involves……..ick.
It’s always interesting to me what survives in our world and what doesn’t. Thanks for reading and encouraging! 🙂
Awesome! I blogged about my last boss, just this morning! I even included his mug within. Thanks for writing and congrats on being pressed!
How serendipitous! Work is fun to blog about– so rich with story. Thank you for reading. 😉
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Good for you for deciding to leave! I know how depressing it can be to job search. I’ve worked in a couple of restaurants and the attitude of management makes a huge impact on my work mood and after quitting the first horrible place I felt a wonderful sense of relief and increased self worth. Happy job hunting!
Job searches are challenging to the emotions for sure. Worse is working in a place that makes you miserable. Thank you for reading! 🙂
I used to work in the BoH doing pastry, so I’ve had my share of ornery, creepy chefs and restaurant owners.
Wow. Pastry is fun! Ornery, creepy chefs and restaurant owners, not so much. Thanks for reading. 🙂
Great story, and eff that guy.
On my blog I write about restaurants in Minneapolis,MN. Most of the time I find when I do not get good service it has nothing to do with the server.
Usually, it has to do with management. Many times with under scheduling and not having enough servers.
Kudos to you for walking out.
You can read some of my reviews http://www.mplsgossipgirl.wordpress.com
You blog is great– lots of fabulous pics. I was especially interested cuz I lived in Minneapolis for 8 years. Started acting there. She’s got a great arts community. Thank you reading and commenting. Good luck writing and eating!
Such fond memories! I love it.
I’m glad. Thank you! 🙂
Ack! I hit send too quickly. I meant to also say that I loved your post and the way your write!
Thank so much! 🙂
I wish you had a picture of wierd owner. Lol i have a funny image of him now
I’d love to see your image. Thanks for reading. 🙂
Good for you for heeding the warning signs and getting out of there! That owner sounds like the last person on Earth I would want to work for.
Thank you, aschmid3! 🙂
I’m pretty sure I’ve been to the place you write about here.
You have a great way of telling a story though. Great post.
How funny! Thank you for reading! 😉
Very entertaining story! Good for you walking out, and best of luck with the rest of your job search!
Thank you on both counts, klye3! 🙂
Your last line says it all – well said. Good for you!
It amazes me how disrespectful and downright tacky lots of people can be – yet they get away with it (return customers, decent job reviews, mainly though – they get a paycheck!!). It’s not appropriate, cute, funny and is far from professional.
Good luck and thanks for an enjoyable post.
Nobody should have to put up with disrespect. Certainly not for money. Thank you for reading and best of luck to you! 🙂
“Skank” What a lovely way to talk to your employees in front of customers.
Ha. Thank you, notesfromrumbleycottage. 🙂
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Amen to that! Perfectly said!! I was a server for too many years to mention. I was lucky enough to stay at one place for most of them, Mystic Pizza (yes… the one from the movie with Julia Roberts… lol) While the tourists could be a little crazy, thankfully the owners were awesome. Keep looking… you’ll find a place that realizes and respects your skill-set and talent. Good luck.
P.S. Great blog! Looking forward to reading more 🙂
You were lucky to find a place with awesome owners! I’m finding that’s hard to find. But I maintain crossed fingers! Yes, please keep reading and thanks for commenting! 🙂
This was a delightful post, rich with resonant detail. It sounds like there wasn’t much of a choice for you though. This place sounded like a serious hell hole! You might as well been in Hell’s Kitchen with Satan strolling around hitting on customers and snorting like a pig. Good luck on your job hunt and may The Sushi Bar be the bottom of the pack.
I’m so happy you found my post entertaining. Thank you! Best of luck to you too. 🙂
i’ve been a waitress for 6 years now..and i can honestly say, it’s rare to find places that aren’t like this so hold on to them when you do!!!!!! good luck!
I think this is true, sadly, littlecitybot. I maintain hope though. Thank you for reading. 🙂
Wow! First off, wonderful storytelling. Second, two big cheers for you for walking out. Sometimes, the money is not worth the job (or the boss). I wish you luck in your job-searching! Hope you get a job soon, and good luck on your acting as well (I read somewhere in the comments above that you’re an actor needing a day-job).
Thank you, jademwong! Flattered on all accounts. And we agree on values. I wish you luck and hope your job makes you happy to get out of bed every day!
I also don’t understand how they stay in business. That is atrocious. Congrats on getting out while you could and on being Freshly Pressed 🙂
Our world is mysterious! 🙂 Thank you for reading and commenting.
Amazingly written, I felt like I was getting sucked into a novel of sorts. Very vivid details. Well done! Congrats of FP, you deserve it!
That’s very high praise– thank you, ccpruett. Very happy you enjoyed my story.
Wow. Good call. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed, this is a great post!
Thanks so much, Maria! 🙂
Love it. I work in an employment services environment and have shared this with the team. I can hear laughter coming from all the offices as it gets read – thanks
Oh, it brings me joy to know I’ve made you and your team laugh out loud. Thanks for sharing and reading! 🙂
It’s sad how poor customer service can be in the US – the restaurant in your story sounds particularly dispicable. Bravo for dashing out of there and for making FP:)
Thank you, mrcrish_cjr! 🙂
HAHA I love it! Thanks for the post, a great way to end the day. Keep up the good work, can’t wait to read more. Congrats on FP!
Thanks so much. Hope I continue to end your days well. 🙂
Great story (and story-telling). Definitely dodged a bullet there! Congrats on being freshly pressed!
Thanks, Leah! 🙂
You should be writing not serving! update your Resume with your Freshly Pressed!
I am writing. Hopefully one day I can let go of serving. 😉 Thanks so much for your support!
honestly obsessed with this ! you honestly should be writing and no where near serving at a restaurant, especially one like that! love all the detail, felt like i was reading it myself and good choice walking out that door !! 🙂
Do you mind taking a look at my blog, its new and id really appreciate your opinion !
Thanks so much 🙂
Thank you. I am writing seriously and hoping I can let go of day-jobs. And I will visit your blog, candelacouture. 🙂
Interested in what happens next in the horror film. Hah.
Ha, ha. Thank you for reading! 🙂
As an HR professional, THAT sounded like an HR nightmare!
Ha! I’m sure you’ve seen some fascinating nightmares. Thank you for reading. 😉
Good for you for walking out. This is a real problem with the current economic climate. I feel that employess have lost a ton of power and that power has shiffted to the employer. Employer’s fell that they can treat folks how ever they want and we are expected to take it. They assume they can walk over a person in many cases, glad you set the standard…not them:)
It’s true. People are understandably scared. Perhaps I’ve lived too long working too many jobs as an artsy bohemian type, but there is no reason for exchanging misery for money and I’d rather chase my dreams. I’ve watched people give away personal power and it makes me sad every time. We all have power. It’s not just for the chosen few. Thank you for reading and commenting.
You write real good stories! Glad I found you. When was this and did you find a job now?
Thank you! I’m still looking for a day-job, hopefully not for much longer. 😉
Hopefully everything works out for you. I still think that you made a good decision into not applying for that sushi restaurant.
I enjoyed every bit of that story….TY for sharing!
TY, Jeni! 🙂
Thanks for your story. I think it is important to keep your eyes open when approaching a new opportunity. Being objective is very important instead of letting the need/desperation to make money cloud your judgement and ultimately your happiness.
there are plenty of job opportunities out there, so good luck in finding the best one for you 🙂
It’s true. Money can never replace happiness. Thank you for reading and commenting. 🙂
Great story! What an awful man. Lucky you saw this before you too that job. Now that would have been unfortunate.
Thank you, joycfullantidotes! 🙂
Loved this post. It really made me feel like I was in the sushi bar from hell! Congrats on getting freshly pressed, it definitely deserved it! 🙂
Thank you, MikesFilmTalk! 🙂
You’re most welcome! 🙂
Thank you for sharing ,i like nice post
Thank you, andy. 🙂
I’m torn. On the one hand, you made an excellent decision because the job would have been miserable. On the other hand, think of the story fodder your boss could have given you…
Ha. Well, inspiration is everywhere. I just have to stay aware. 😉 Thank you, chaotican! 😉
Where was this when I had jerks for bosses..l ugh. Thanks for posting
You’re welcome. Thanks for reading. 🙂
This is wonderful: so perceptive, well written and a real pleasure to read. I loved it. Thanks for writing it.
I’m so glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading. 🙂
How bizarre! Great story-telling…with a happy ending, too!
Brilliant post, I hope you have found a server job which is of a much higher standard! Thanks!
Thank you! Still looking for work. It’s slow going this time. Keeping my fingers crossed. Encouragement like yours helps! 🙂
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