|Nowhere near this awesome.|
It’s 8:15pm on a Friday night.
The restaurant is full. You’re carrying an empty bread basket, a wine list under one arm, two used side plates and a tray of dirty glasses. The service bell rings. 20 entrée plates are sitting at the pass, waiting to be sent to a three-course function. Five people are standing at the entrance looking around questioningly. The gentleman on Table 11 is trying to get your attention and you realise that all their wine glasses are empty. Nobody’s answering the phone. Table 13 waves you down for hot English mustard. A round of beers is sitting at the bar, the luscious foamy heads slowly dissipating. The service bells rings again, angrily. Table 7 are getting up to leave and motion for the bill. Table 2 are starting to stack their own plates. Something in section 3 breaks. The service bell in the bar rings as a coffee order comes out. You head to the kitchen when the new guy intercepts and asks you to talk to Table 23 about a special order. You manage to put your armload aside, get the new guy to begin running entrées, pick up Table 7’s pre-printed bill, beg the kitchen-hand to grab you some hot English, signal to the incoming group of five that you have seen them and will be there soon, pick up two plates to drop off on Table 16, plus a new tray for a drinks pick-up on your way back… when suddenly a woman sashays into view.
“Excuse me,” she says in a commanding undertone as you stop screaming and smile, still juggling the two entrées and drinks tray as Table 7 line up behind her and New Guy returns looking confused and Table 11 starts waving like he’s in a parade.
“There is no more soap in the ladies.” And with that, she fixes you with a meaningful stare and waits for your response, as the background chaos expands exponentially.
For a moment you are struck dumb. You briefly curse the cleaning staff. Your life flashes before your eyes. You cannot believe that somebody has interrupted the beautiful pandemonium of this moment with something so incredibly fucking stupid. And yet here we are.
Ladies Bathroom Ninjas lurk in the shadows of every busy service time in bars and restaurants all over the world. They bide their time, watching your every move, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. There is not a peep from them during quiet moments; they melt into the periphery. Then, when the establishment is bursting at the seams during the hospitality equivalent of peak hour and the state of the bathroom is the last thing on your mind, they attack service staff without warning, and without mercy.
There is no more soap! There is no more toilet paper! The light bulb in the left cubicle has blown! The right cubicle is blocked! Someone has vomited sangria into the basin!
Being a fellow lady, I do sympathise. I know what it’s like to reach for the roll and panic as your fingers brush cardboard. I too have done the musical toilets waltz of entering a cubicle, leaving, entering the next cubicle, leaving, in an attempt to find something remotely sanitary. I also understand that you feel compelled to “let someone know” about these things, even if that someone is a random waitress on the other side of the building who likely does not have the caretaking of toilets as part of her job description.
But right now, in the middle of service that is spiralling out of control, with customers left and right demanding crap like so many screeching open-beaked baby birds, bells ringing, my arms slowly but surely breaking under the tonnes of crap I am carrying and the ever anxiety-inducing sound of glassware breaking, I can safely say this to Ladies Bathroom Ninjas everywhere:
You cannot even comprehend the level of fuck I do not give.
When I give you an equally concerned hushed response, while nodding reassuringly, it’s not to put your little restroom request at the top of the waiting list. It’s to get you the fuck away from me, because I quite literally don’t time have time for your shit. I know it’s wrong. And I don’t care about that either.
Because who am I going to turn to during this time of crisis? The kitchen-hand, who swears at me in Portuguese and is about to be killed in an avalanche of dishes, pots and pans? The bartenders, who are up to their ears in a college pub crawl? My supervisor, who is combating a screaming woman who wants to know why her party of eight haven’t been seated for fifteen minutes? Another waitress, who is equally busy and equally clueless as to where toilet paraphernalia is kept? The chefs, who have fricken’ knives? And do you really want to see the people handling your food and drinks attending to the toilets and returning to the floor?
So, I’m sorry, Ladies Bathroom Ninjas. As I slowly sink into the abyss of dinner service, you’re on your own. But in the event you live up to part of your name and actually carry ninja stars, do me a favour and kill me.