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Sunday, May 06, 2012

Shift From Hell

During all the years I have been catering, one thing is a constant: Anything can happen.

I've worked some crazy parties in crazy places and heard some crazy things.

But recently I experienced what could be best described as the perfect storm of catering madness.

I arrived to the site in downtown Raleigh to discover we were short-staffed. Twenty minutes later a co-worker suspected her wallet (with car keys and cell phone inside) was stolen.

Nobody was sure how so, we decided to ask around and see if one of the groundskeepers or wedding planners picked it up.

Just to be safe, another co-worker suggested, she should file a police report.

"Because you never know," she said and then offered up her cell phone. Suddenly we were down another person but this staff was an experienced one and we rallied for the cause.

Shortly before the shift started - with said co-worker still going back and forth with the cops on the phone - the dude who led the party turned to me as he was getting dressed and said, "I think they stole my shoes?"

With that the theft was confirmed.

Two times over confirmed for that matter as the girl-with-the-stolen-wallet returned to informed us that her credit cards had already been used around town.

And then the wedding service started. And then they had the wise idea to shoot wedding photos after the service. And then guests drank for two straight hours waiting for the wedding party. And then this put the food service behind. And then this put the band behind (you see where this is going...)

As the wedding party was about to make their entrance an improperly set up round table collapsed sending glassware and a tall vaseful of flowers crashing to the ground. I cut my finger cleaning up said glass.

The band sucked and played way too loud. The crowd of about 60 consisted of fiftysomethings who were all Sigma Chi frat brothers. Songs ensued. I stepped in to give the bartender a piss break only to find that ants had invaded the open sodas and fruit garnishes. The wedding planner changed the time for the champagne toast and cake cutting but forgot to inform us. There was a scramble to get the flutes out in time for the toast. They ate all the cake.

A group of about eight were very drunk by the end of the party. They were oblivious that they missed the shuttle back to the hotel. Despite having the appearance of being CEOs, CFOs and your run-of-the-mill top level executives, they still complained about having to call a cab. They refused to leave. They broke out some felt playing board and dice game.

I had crossed over into the catering zone.

This is the place where guests no longer care how they act or what they say in front of you. The zone where you might see forbidden Freemason rituals or hear racist banter belted out.

This all happened on a Sunday night no less. A shift I figured would be over early in the evening. It wouldn't end until the leftover booze was placed in the father of the groom's car; until all the tables and chairs were broken down; until all the china was properly racked and placed in its proper place for the night; it wouldn't end until close to 12:30am.

And then morning came and it was off to the day job.