Rizzo, Sandy, And Managing

“I am so Rizzo to your Sandy!” – Mixologist Man

I float through the dining hall in my white chef’s jacket, the stares of guests, a finger point, gesturing, as I carry plates behind a number one server. it’s not often you see a chef carrying food to a table. “Brownie points for running food,” says Jersey Boy.

Photo by Lefteris kallergis on Unsplash

Owners watch, take notice. I just give a smile and nod my head as I pass.  Another round, and I’m out the door with appetizer and plates, then back with entree, that I made. Sure, it might be a pizza, but my pizzas have been claimed as art. Aparently I am art to watch as well. I guess my five foot three, or four depending on which doctor’s office I’m in, frame, and a large, burning pizza oven make for living artwork. “I’m not in a hurry,” says a guest, holding up his beer, “in fact, take your time on my order.” Later. “I wasn’t in a hurry, I was just enjoying watching you.” I nod my head again in acknowledgement to the compliment.

I’m on display. “I need you to keep your head up and keep smiling.” Teddy Bear of an owner says to me. I am out front and center, one of the first things you see when you enter the restaurant. I am the first thing related to food you see. As I can toss pillow-y soft dough into a round without even looking at it, catching it on a spin. I may not be able to toss it above my head, I’d rather not get flour everywhere, but I can practically do it in my sleep. I can flip wooden boards down, and in five minutes, have five rounds of dough ready to be filled, and slung into a 700 degree oven. All five at once. Six or more if I have it just right.

Photo by Daniel Bradley on Unsplash

I spin, I dance, I slide, I arabesque. I duck, and bend and move in ways I never thought I could, reaching for this, stretching for that. I spin on a heel after a pizza goes into the oven.  In out, in out, this dance that is fast or slow depending on the strip of ticket orders that grace my board.

Grace under pressure. That is my mental motto. I am on the fast track to being a manager without even trying. That’s not bravado talking. I direct traffic, I answer questions, I grab a server and hustle them to their next table. I roll silverware, mix up sauces on the fly when we are out, hand off things to Jersey Boy and William Turner. I know where things are hiding in the walk-in. I solve problems, and shift people to where a job needs doing. I’m not even trying to do these things. They just come to me. I taste things, adjust salt, answer flavoring questions.

“It needs salt,” I say, much to the annoyance of everyone, but all around agreeing with the statement. I know flavors and pick out things most can’t. “I smell gas,” I say. Never believed, but usually I’m right.  I like to know things. I like to know how to solve things and fix things. If I could be in the distillery with the owners, learning how our gin, vodka, and bourbon are made, I would be. I just don’t have time. I’m too busy with a mental prep list that never ends, even on the weekends. I am told to shut it down mentally, give myself a break on the two days I’m off, but I can’t. This is still Coffeeman talking in my brain. I’m still thinking about things for the week to come. The many items I know that need to be done.

My body has adjusted to the life. “You’re changing your image,” comes the reply from someone I’ve known for several years in this town, but haven’t seen since almost the start of this job. I am. I’m becoming the me I never knew I was. I am bold in my earrings, and sassy with a bit of spice coming out of my mouth; Rosie the Riviter and I are old souls… as I channel her on a daily basis, even just with the, “keep your head up, keep working, stay strong” mentality that has come from Coffeeman.  My body has a strength to it I never knew it could have. Our baby dishwasher, McConaughey, who is smaller than I am, watches as I carry 50 lbs. of flour through the kitchen and I don’t ask for help. “I got this.” I say.  “You got this, gurrrrrrl,” Hostess Extraordinaire always tells me.

I am definitely the Sandy in our little group. And Mixologist Man is definitely Rizzo. I am the uber sweet girl, the girl that still needs Rizzo to motion for her to toss her cigarette and crush it out under the toe of her high heeled shoe. “I’m not a complete idiot,” I say to Mixologist Man, as he comments on “I knew I needed to figure out a way to get you to sit down next to him. So the only solution was for me to get up and dance,” when we are discussing a flirtation with a cute guy.

Okay, so maybe I don’t have it all down, and I may not be an idiot, but a little help never hurt Sandy. She might not have gotten Danny without the help of the Pink Ladies. So, Mixologist, keep being my lead Pink Lady. You totally could pull off the jacket.

Kate