I'm sorry to leave you hanging but it's a million o clock here and I need to get to bed. But have I got a wine tale for you. Whew. And I need to remember to tell it. Tomorrow.
And Snake IOU a PM. I haven't forgotten! Love you, bitch! (Everyone else you're missing nothing but a mutual jackoff session. "You're the best!" "No, man, you're the best!" Etc etc.
But as long as I have you here, tell me the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to you at work. Surely nothing worse than dropping glasses and a $150 bottle of wine in front of a party of 10, who you werent even serving?)
ETA: the story.
So last night I was just the "volume server".. basically there to assist and polish dishware/silverware and make sure things run smoothly. It's not a money making shift since you usually only get 3 or 4 tables.
I was about halfway through the shift when a couple came in and was seated in my section because the other two servers were seating and serving the 10-top reservation. The couple was very casually dressed, smiley and polite and I thought it was going to be just a normal table until they asked about our old wine list. I said we'd just updated it a few weeks ago, and what we had was listed.
They ordered a few glasses of Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc while they looked over the list. I brought them their glasses and they asked about the $150 bottle (our next highest priced bottle is only $70). I told them that we'd had a tasting but unfortunately weren't honored with a taste of that one, but I would ask my floor manager if she had any insight.
(My phone was dead or I would have looked it up and found this: http://www.antinori.it/en/26-generazioni/tignanello/tignanello-2010)
Floor manager grabbed the bottle from the locked rack upstairs and the label was all in Italian. I brought the bottle, apologized again and said we had no insight into the vintage or anything.
They said it was no problem; they'd have it with dinner, and the $75 half-bottle of Tattinger champagne with their appetizer.
But they asked that I perform service on both bottles at once so the wine would have time to be decanted and breathe.
I also would obviously need to pop the cork on the champagne, in our intimate dining room full of people with eyes and glasses and soft parts to be injured.
No big deal.
So I walked down with the bottle and my floor manager helped me set up a tray with two champagne flutes filled with ice water to chill, the half-bottle of Tattinger in a super-heavy stone wine chiller bucket, a large decanter for the Tignanello, a small decanter to empty the champagne flutes into, and the bottle of Tignanello itself.
The tray was SUPER heavy and I had to carry it up two half-flights of stairs, and every step I took I got more and more shaky. I'd only performed two wine services before, and both times I had been sloppy and uncoordinated but able to cover with some funny conversation because we'd established a rapport before they even ordered the bottles. But this time I was dealing with actual wine connoiseurs who were here to lay down some scrilla. I was nervous.
So at the last second, to make things easier, I decided to get the service stand and set up the tray next to the table as opposed to balancing the tray on my arm or something, because honestly I wasn't sure how I was going to manage it.
So I grabbed the stand, set it up, and was placing the tray on it, but it was a small tray, smaller than the stand could accomodate, so one of the straps buckled, the tray lurched, the champagne flutes knocked together and one fell over, spraying water and ice everywhere and making a loud and obvious "full glasses falling over" sound.
The dining room hushed and everyone turned toward the noise just in time to watch the bottle, the $150 bottle of fine italian wine, make a graceful pirouette right off the edge of the tray.
Our upstairs dining room is carpeted. But only thinly, decoratively, over a cement slab floor.
It was definitely going to break.
In the scheme of things, $150 isn't that much, really. I have saved every tip I've made in a box on my desk, so I had three or four times over enough to cover it. But to break a bottle.. to have to apologize.. to have a room of people feeling sorry for me.. to stain the entire upstairs with deep red wine, to pick up the countless shards of glass, to apologize for staining the hems and shoes of everyone within a 5-foot radius. It all flashed before me and my heart stopped.
I am not sure how it happened.
In fact, I am still in shock.
But by some sort of force of will, the bottle arced instead of falling straight down, and was caught by the thick drapery lining the side of the picture window under which table 24, my table, was sitting.
The bottle was cradled within the folds of fabric and slid down the drape, landed with a heavy thud, intact, on the floor.
The 10-top, a post-baby shower dinner party, cheered. CHEERED.
The gorgeous girl who had been sitting at the other table in my section, waiting for her siblings to arrive, hopped up and picked it up the bottle for me, helped me fit the tray to the service stand.
My table 24 acted all nonchalant, like nothing had happened, letting me brush it off, but I was of course shaking like a fucking leaf, bright red, pouring with sweat.
But the show must go on, right?
So I bring over the miraculously unbroken bottle, present it to them, and proceed to attempt to uncork it.
And I mean attempt.
Because I get the corkscrew in and start to pull it out, my hands shaking, the 10-top table behind me now suddenly uproariously loud, and only half the cork comes out before it breaks in half, showering table 24 with superfine brown cork dust.
The man says it's fine, it happens, just remove the cork, reinsert the corkscrew, and try again. So I do.
But now it's like I'm on fucking death row, my vision is blurry, I feel sweat pooling in my shirt, I see my new best friend watching me from table 23 while my guests at 24 are carefully averting their eyes, and somehow I don't put the screw all the way down.
So it happens again.
Leaving a tiny wafer of crumbling cork in the neck of the bottle.
Just waiting to poof to dust and contaminate the entire bottle.
"No problem," Table 24 guy says, smiling warmly, "you just didn't put the screw all the way down. Next time make sure you get the second half of the cork all in one pass. For now you need to just be calm and confident. Screw it in gently but firmly, at least three turns down, and pull it out."
And I did.
23 gives me the double thumbs up, and I'm ready to melt into the floor and slink away, but I still had the fucking champagne to pop and pour.
I'll be brief and say by some other act of God, I managed, with trembling hands and a heart on the verge of spontaneous combustion, to peel the foil, pop the cork, and remember to stop pouring before the glasses overflowed.
At that point I slink away and my other server came up behind me with 24's appetizers. I get downstairs and it's like I'm on coke.. I have SO MUCH ADRENALINE I'm ready to start doing laps.
But I recover, by now 23s siblings are here, so I go chat with them, take their orders, just splitting two sandwiches and desserts, no big deal. I polish some silverware and check on 24. They say they're doing fine. I take their appetizer plates and the champagne glasses away, and bring them their entrees and two red wine glasses.
They pronounce the wine delicious, everyone is happy, but my brain is still buzzing like a crackhead in a Free Crack store, I CAN'T CALM DOWN, everyone is asking if I need to sit down because my face is still burnished red. I joke that I need to run some laps outside and sit down in front of the fan in the kitchen for a minute.
Finally it's time to clear 24s plates and bring them their $302 bill. 24 Guy gives me his credit card and asks if I'll bring a red wine glass with the bill so they can pour me "a small taste" so I will know how to recommend it in the future. I run that by my floor manager just so she's aware and she says it's fine.
I bring the bill and the glass and he pours me an entire serving, right up to the top of the rounded part of the glass.
He tops their glasses off, toasts to "good wine and small miracles" and we drink.
With the 10-top still raging behind us and the sibling's table waiting to be cleared, I stood in the middle of my restaurant and shared a $30 glass of wine with my guests.
It was magnificent, by the way. Dry and fruity and lingering on the palate. It was truly spectacular.
I excused myself to finish the glass at the service station and let them enjoy theirs. Talk about a miracle elixir. Every sip I took unwound my nerves and slowed my heart. My coworker cleared 23 for me so I got to sit and just enjoy. I figured it would be my tip after the abysmal service they'd had, so I enjoyed every drop.
Just as I was finishing, they came downstairs. I jumped up and saw them off, thanked them profusely for their kindness and patience. Went upstairs and bussed the table, not even looking at the check until everything was cleaned up and I was back down in the kitchen.
They tipped me $70.
I don't even know how to finish this story, other than to say;
Cheers, to good wine and small miracles.