Story Time with Uncle Steve

The following is as true as I can remember. Only the names have been changed. So around 20 years ago…

I feel my head thump against the window; someone’s banging on the other side. It tastes like someone took a shit in my mouth and then glued it shut. Fuck it’s cold.

I open my eyes to discover daylight. The steering wheel of my shit-box ’78 Chevy (mine only because I’m in the driver’s seat) flexes under my weight as I use it for leverage to stretch. Joe is yelling something at me.

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Looks like this one, but super rusty.

This is nothing new; Joe always yells at me. It’s likely he was telling me to get up for work, or maybe to throw a bucket of water on the ground next to the truck to wash away the vomit. I can’t understand what he’s yelling at me because he does it in Arabic (or maybe Farsi, he’s from Iran, and Iranian doesn’t sound like a language to me). I watch as he unlocks the back door of the bar, grab my keys and follow him in.

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He takes a hard right into the office. I head into the front of the house to the men’s room. Brush my teeth, take a shit, wash my face and hands, yada. It’s already 8, and I got shit to do. I grab the prep sheet (that I completed the night before), and start pulling freezer. Joe comes out, muttering to himself in a language I cannot comprehend, and starts a pot of the strongest coffee on the planet. Thank God, Allah and Folgers.

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Slowly but surely, the morning crawls along. At one point, I manage to sneak a few shots in. I also put together a few breakfast tacos, because a man can’t live on whiskey alone. One by one, the items on my checklist get checked off. Chili made for the next couple of days? Check. Burgers pulled for tomorrow? Check. Too much turkey pulled, and it’s gonna go bad tomorrow? Turkey club special! At 10 the bartender/manager shows up. Joe doesn’t yell at her. As soon as I see his truck leave the lot, I go retrieve the plastic cup she left at the end of the bar. Sweet nectar of the gods…

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Everything on the line is on and hot now; I’ve got 12 burgers browning on the grill. The plan is to sear them on the flat top, then hold them in a third pan on the back of the grill in “the Juice.” That way, when I start getting my ass handed to me during lunch rush, I can get a few out just a little quicker. The Juice, by the way, is water, beef broth, Worcestershire and a drop of liquid smoke. Just pull one of those patties and throw it on the flame grill, mark it up on both sides and you’re good to go. My cold table is stocked with burger sets; the fryer, full of hot oil. I am ready for the invasion.

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This is a third pan, so named because you can fit 3 of them into a steam table.

At 10:45 the music comes on like a rhythmic countdown. The front door is unlocked to welcome in 2 waitresses. They chat happily with each other about how wild their party was last night. Bitch, you don’t even know…

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Yeah, you’ll be cool forever.

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