Brian was a very special regular customer of mine at the diner, labeled “my knucklehead,” second only to my hubby. Everyone knew that we were fond of one another. Not in a romantic way, of course, because we were both happily married at the time. Still, there was chemistry we shared that made for a playful friendship.
He was the kind of gentleman that loved to play practical jokes. A man who could hold a straight poker face. If you didn’t know him, you would never expect that he was messing with you. I knew him. I knew him oh too well, so I was his favorite target.
Always clever and never harmful, Brian could regularly get me going to the point that when he was done screwing with my head, I would actually need to take a break before I could continue doing my job. Yet, I always gave him an A+ for effort. I admired his style. I just hated that he pulled all his best pranks on me instead of any of the knuckleheads that I work with.
One time, I remember, I was trying to get my section set up. It was late in the day, and my shift was almost over. I still had to roll silverware and sweep my station. My co-workers had already left, except for the cook and the dishwasher, and my only customer was Brian. We weren’t technically closed yet, but I hoped that if I got everything done early and no one new came in, maybe just maybe, we could actually close up on time for once. Brian had his food and was basically just taking in a quiet moment while finishing up his lunch.
While I am sweeping my section, the restaurant phone begins to ring. I put down my broom and ran over to answer it. As soon as I picked it up, the caller hung up. I put the phone back in the cradle and walked back to my section on the other side of the dining room. I reached to pick up the broom and no sooner than I did, the phone began to ring again. “Oh, I am not in the mood for this,” I muttered, as I walked over to the front podium. This time, before I could even pick up the phone, it stopped ringing.
“Oh, please. I’m not answering it if it rings again,” I said to Brian as I stomped back to my section again. “I don’t have time for this crap.”
I watched Brian’s eyes glance up at me as though he was going to ask me for something. “Is everything good?” I asked.
“Oh yeah, my burger’s great,” he said.
Great, so I continued on my way. I reached for the broom and oddly enough, just as my fingers wrapped around the handle, the phone started to ring. “You have got to be kidding me!” I screamed. “Sorry, Brian, but this is ridiculous!”
“We’re good,” he started to say, but laughter took over him.
He pulled his cell phone up from under the table and confessed that it was him. He had programmed the restaurant’s phone number into his phone, and every time I touched the broomstick, he would hit the CALL button. What an ASS! I can’t believe I was apologizing for being unprofessional and allowing him to see me get so worked up, and meanwhile, he was the knucklehead that was causing me my torment.
Cute, right? Not even his best work, I hate to admit. His finest – up to date – would have to be a little scam he pulled on me that he stooped so low as to bring his dear, sweet daughter in on it. Shelby was a beautiful, young lady, who I had been serving for years. I had watched her grow from a little cutie-pie coming in with daddy to an educated, young woman. This being said, I would never have imagined her taking part in her father’s despicable plan. Oh, but she did, and she played me good!
The phone at the restaurant rang. I answered it. A female voice on the other end spoke softly. At first, it sounded like a young child. The caller knew me by name and said that she had a little problem. She said that she had just left the restaurant not too long ago and was seated in the second booth in my section. She acted as if I knew her, she claimed to be one of my regulars.
Finally, trying to get to the point, assuming that the caller was old and feeble-minded, I asked, “What can I help you with?”
To which she replied, “I think I lost my gerbil in the restaurant.”
“Excuse me!” I said.
“Baby was in my purse having lunch with me, and I think she got out while I was there.”
It finally registered in my head what she was saying to me, and all I could think of was the health inspector showing up while we had a gerbil named Baby in the house. Lovely! Bossman would be so happy. “I’m sorry ma’am, you did say gerbil, right?” I asked.
“Yes, my pet gerbil, Baby,” she answered in a strong tone. “I don’t want her to get hurt or scared while she’s away from me. She’s never been out in the wild before.”
Almost feeling sorry for this poor woman, I glanced over at Brian seated at the booth across from me with his daughter. Shelby had her back to me, and I couldn’t help but notice that her father had an odd look on his face like the cat that just ate the canary. No way, I thought. There is no way he could have faked that voice. Plus I think I would have noticed him talking to me. But just then, I watched Shelby pull her pretty pink cell phone out from under her long blond hair, and I knew it. All of a sudden as Brian burst out into laughter, I realized, yet again, he PUNKED me!
He had me going this time. I would have never thought that this senile old woman on the phone, who brought her pet gerbil into the Diner to share a breakfast and accidentally let it escape, could be my dear, sweet Shelby, but it was. With her help, Brian got to create another “How Stupid Is My Waitress” moment for the entire restaurant to enjoy. Which everyone at the Diner did, and they all had fun coming up with new ways to prove how gullible I really am. Anything to try and drive me nuts!
Luckily, Brian’s a really good tipper, or after a decade of serving him, I would have had to just trade him in all together. But you know me, anything to spread the laughter.
Laugh on. Peace out.
Columnist Lisa DeMarco is a waitress at Billy’s Cafe.