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"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
I still think it’s hilarious that the reason nobody ever figures out Superman’s secret identity or where he lives or what he does when he’s not saving the planet, is because he already told them all the Kryptonian stuff that can’t be tied to any of his human friends or family. I guarantee you the in-universe wikipedia article on Superman lists his name as Kal-El and the “personal life” section says that he lives full-time at his private fortress of solitude at the north pole. Nobody in the world looks at Clark Kent and thinks “oh my god, maybe he’s superman!” for the same reason nobody ever starts to suspect that their coworker who looks KINDA like Barack Obama is actually secretly Barack Obama – They know who Barack Obama is and know what he does and they know their coworker Greg is Greg and not Barack Obama. They have no reason to assume Barack Obama secretly moonlights as Greg The IT Guy at their workplace even though they’ve never seen Greg and Obama in the same place. At best, “Greg is secretly Obama” would be a running joke at the office, and the same is true at the Daily Planet. “Kal-El of Krypton, who lives in a CRYSTAL PALACE at the NORTH POLE and whose dayjob is SUPERMAN, sometimes puts on a suit and pretends to be a clumsy reporter and lives in a one-bedroom walkup in Metropolis” is a ridiculous concept to anyone who doesn’t already know it’s true
[From Max Landis’ amazing “American Alien” series about Superman.]
oh, man, i saw this post, which has reminded me of A Story, which i will now share with you.
so: i used to work at a restaurant that did this. it was a hole in the wall ~italian~ place run by an absolute disaster of a man. he was called john, and john was, amongst other things, bad at planning and also a cheapskate.
and see, perhaps you’ve heard “cheapskate” and you’re thinking “responsible business owner who would like to not incur more costs than he has to”, but no, friends. the thing that i mean is “so cheap that he refused to pay the cooks to be there for a whole shift, because we could do fine without them.”
to reiterate: this was a restaurant, and he felt that cooks were an unreasonable expense.
“but misha!” you might say, “how on earth can a restaurant function without anyone working the fucking kitchen?”
and that, friends, is where the giant buckets of pasta come in.
john would pay his cooks to come in for a couple hours before the restaurant opened, and they’d do all the cooking them. trays of meatballs and chicken breasts, huge tubs of sauce, stockpots full of the day’s soup, and, yes, giant tubs of cooked pasta, separated by shape.
when the cooks left for the day, they’d leave a giant pot of boiling water on the stove and a hot flattop next to that. there was also a line of four microwaves under one of the counters. and there were servers. (like me!)
so people would come in and be seated, and we’d go out and take their order. then we’d go back to the kitchen and chuck a couple of store-bought rolls into the oven to create the illusion that they were ~house baked~. while the rolls heated, we’d get their salad. the salad which was accomplished by grabbing a fistful of greens out of the greens tub and tossing it on a plate, then topping it with the appropriate cheeses and other misc veg. (there was literally a tub of misc veg for the house salads–shreds of carrot and uneven half-moons of radish, plus whatever other veg john had ordered and needed to use up. wooly, watery tomato wedges lived in the next tub over.)
next up was assembling their supper. this was the 90s, so you could still get away with serving every single thing on your menu as part of a giant bowl of pasta. the whole menu was designed around this. chicken parm was spaghetti, red sauce, grilled chicken, and mozzarella cheese. pasta carbonara was spaghetti, gloppy alfredo sauce, and some pre-cooked bacon that you threw onto the flattop for a minute or two. chicken piccata was spaghetti, grilled chicken, lemon-garlic butter sauce, capers, and parmesan. you might be noticing a pattern. sometimes it was shrimp instead of chicken, or pork, but the rest of it was always the same.
so you get back to the kitchen, and you’d haul out the giant tub of the pasta they’d chosen, and drop a serving into the boiling water for about thirty seconds or so, just long enough to heat it. while it heated, we’d microwave their sauce, and, if needed, either microwave their protein or toss it onto the flattop for a minute. scrape it all into one of those weird bowl-plates that restaurants love, and tada, you’ve just cut your boss’s labor costs in half.
ok, but remember how i said that john was bad at planning? john was *bad at planning*, friends. he hired cooking staff, but as far as he was concerned, he was the chef, and the overseer of all kitchen functions. including how much of a thing to cook, and when to cook it. given that he was a cheap bastard, maybe you’re thinking that this is a hilarious story about the time that the pasta buckets ran empty, which would be a reasonable, if incorrect, thing to think.
john, you see, was very convinced that the restaurant was going to be A Success. (spoiler alert: it was not.) according to john, any day now, things were just gonna TAKE OFF. and so he had people cooking as if every night was going to be the night that things picked up.
this was a small restaurant, ok? maybe twenty tables, and i never saw more than half of them full. i don’t think that i ever worked with more than one other server, and often i’d be working by myself, even during the dinner “rush” when we might have as many as five or six tables full at a time.
but tonight! tonight was gonna be the night it all changed. every tonight. and so every day, the cooks would boil pound upon pound of dry pasta, and every day they’d oil the pasta and pack it into tubs, and every day they’d put the tubs in the cooler under the counter so we could assemble the meals that evening. five or six of those big plastic tubs, all of them at least half full of different types of pasta, tucked away under the counter. but, you know, whatever; that’s what passed for an italian restaurant in small town america circa the mid 90s.
and so we continued, the cooks boiling pasta before open and the servers awkwardly assembling meals in the kitchen and john glaring at us all from his office. until that day, that fateful day, when we rant out of misc veg for house salads, and john told me to go into the cooler and get more.
i’d never been in the cooler before. i walked in and looked around for the veg bucket, and then did a double take. there in the cooler, stacked along the wall, was tub upon tub of pasta. i don’t mean the standard five or six that lived under the counter, i mean like fifty or sixty, just piled atop each other, like a wall built out of lego, only the lego in this scenario were clear plastic tubs, each of them at least half full of what i can only assume was finely aged, lightly oiled pasta. fucking dozens of them.
i walked out of the cooler. i couldn’t find the vegetables, i said, and then ignored john while he cussed me out before going to get the tub himself. i couldn’t stop thinking about the wall of pasta.
after my shift, i walked two miles home in the dark, still thinking about the wall of pasta. thinking things like, what the fuck. why. WHY.
i didn’t go back to work after that. i didn’t call or anything, i just didn’t go. why the fuck would anyone need that much pasta? john called my house after i missed the shift and told me i was fired, which seemed, honestly, like an ok outcome.
the restaurant closed a month or two later. john declared bankruptcy, and the contents of the restaurant were sold off to pay his debts.
i wonder how much they got for the pasta wall.
"Tell the chef, the beer is on me."
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