There comes a time in the life of a Flying Star counter server when the taste of near victory lingers betraying the reality of defeat. Sure we’ve all been trained the same way: take the order next to the pastry case, ask if they want drinks and desserts, work on those as you work your way down the line -thereby shaving seconds, if not minutes, off of your time and providing the satisfied customer with drinks, desserts and bread rolls to nibble off of while waiting patiently for their dinner order to arrive.
The reality however, is that counter servers are humans –not immaculate creatures mastering the art of multi-tasking. I too have been guilty of the half-art of serving the drinks, and dinner rolls, then promising that the desserts will arrive to the table shortly after -only to be embarrassingly caught in the tangles of another customer while attempting to make an espresso soaked tiramisu appear neatly extracted and plopped smudge free on the center of an orange square plate. Shortly thereafter, I hear the runner walk up to me and tell me that that customer was expecting dessert with their order while my tiramisu has been kidnapped and wanders off with the customer carrying number 46.
Today, however, was different. I was confident as I marched to the end of the pastry case hearing “chariots of fire” as I took on a family of four who wanted desserts, sodas, frozen drinks, dinner rolls and customizations of their order (a BLT with an egg, extra crispy fries etcetera...) I was on fire as I had successfully retrieved the cake slices from backstock, grabbed the plate of dinner rolls on my way to register 3, placed the items on the tray, even started milk shakes on the blenders and served the sodas before I rung up the order. No errors in the customizations! The only waiting my customers would have to do would involve topping off a milk shake with whipped cream and a cherry.
I had the customer sign the receipt as I returned to the ice cream station, to fish out a maraschino cherry ...when to my horror all I saw was a pool of red syrup where the cherries had once been! I dipped in the long handled teaspoon swirling around desperately for a cherry only to find an occasional stem. I stood there pondering the mysterious extinction of maraschino cherries, knowing that the little black container had been fully stocked the day before.
I then noticed the enigmatic cowering of a small light cylindrical item... I jabbed at it with the spoon only to watch it duck away as the spoon approached. Its appearance was so faint and fleeting I wondered whether this was the lock ness monster of maraschino cherries. Determined still, I then stuck two forks in the other hand to swirl the cherry right into my trap…
Success! I triumphantly plopped the stem-less cherry on to my milk shake only to watch it fall right off the whipped topping, roll of the counter and on to the floor.
Defeated I turned around with my milk shake now containing only a single red stain where the cherry used to be, only to see my customers walking to their table carrying the number 46.
I sighed and hung my head as I walked off the line to deliver the dessert.