Vinny’s

Now THIS is a great never have I ever story. The year was 2006, I had just graduated from college in May and moved to Charlottesville for a “dream job” that turned out to be literal hell on earth. Thank the Lord I was able to find a job in Lynchburg (my hometown) and move back home. I was short on money, so on top of my new full time job as a designer, I found a job at Vinny’s, a local Italian restaurant that my family frequented a lot. I had waitressed a lot through college, so this seemed like an easy way to make some extra money on nights and weekends.

I started my job on a Monday night. I had been up late the night before, doing who knows what. I had been at work all day, so when I got to Vinny’s around 5:30, I was already pretty tired. I hadn’t really eaten that day as I had taken to forgetting to eat a lot during those days….oh, how I wish I still had that problem. I rolled into Vinny’s, donning my new tomato red polo shirt with Vinny’s logo and khakis, ready to work.

The environment was a little…cold. It’s a family owned restaurant, so it’s basically similar to Real Housewives of NJ, but not as rich and dramatically awesome. The owners barely talked to me and pawned me off onto their youngest daughter who was tasked with training me. Over the next hour, she showed me how to take orders, make salads, ring up tickets. It was a learning extravaganza. All the while I was smelling pizza in the air and wishing I had eaten dinner. So, after an hour of training, I was released. Training complete. On my own to deal with the masses. After an hour of training, I was given 5 tables to manage. No big deal.

My first table showed up, a large family of 10 people. Grandmother in a wheelchair, grandfather, mom and dad, and 6 unruly kids. All hungry and ready for food. I took their drink orders successfully, brought drinks to their table, and took their food order. They wanted 5 large pizzas, all different kinds. As I was taking the order I was starting to feel a little sick.  Thoughts were racing through my mind, was it hot in here? Was I coming down with some fast spreading virus? Whatever it was, I was starting to feel woozy.

I gave the cooks the order and proceeded to run around taking other orders until their pizzas were ready. Then I heard the ding of the “food’s ready” bell. It was time to take the pizzas out to the table. Now, in the hour long full training, I didn’t get a real idea for how big these pizzas really were or how to transport them. They were BIG. I had to take two out at a time because, well, that’s the way Vinny’s does it. No more no less. So, I grab some towels to cover my hands and pick up the two huge pizzas on two silver trays and walk to the table. As I was walking, I was feeling more and more weak and sick. What was going on with me? I thought, as soon as I put these down I must get something to eat. I walked up to the table, ready to serve. Cups and silverware and paper and crayons were flying between the 4 kids. I nicely said, “ok, pizza’s here!” No response. This is when things got very fuzzy and slow….I reach out with the pizzas, and as if it were slow motion, they fall from my hands, off of the silver platters, into the grandfather’s lap.

All I remember is screaming. Plates flying. People jumping up and yelling at me. Me slowly inching backwards and trying to just run far away. Then, things went black. I remember waking up to the owner shaking me. I was on the ground, completely laid out. Gone. People were staring at me, and laughing. I quickly got up and brushed myself off, trying to act cool and collected, even though my hair looked like Carrot Top and there was pizza sauce and cheese all down my polo shirt.

The owner dragged me into the kitchen, had me sit down, and gave me some water. As I sat there and regained consciousness, I realized, this is not worth it. I’d rather be destitute than serve these pizzas at a Real Houseives of NJ-esque restaurant. The owner was out apologizing profusely to the family that had been scorched by my pizza mishap. So, naturally, I ran. I have never run that fast before in my life. I grabbed by keys, and my bag, and high tailed it out of there. I’m pretty certain my car left skid marks in the parking lot.

I was free. It was over. The weirdest, strangest 3 hours of my life. Was it really only 3 hours?

To this day I’ve never been back to Vinny’s. Too bad, because their food is actually pretty good. Every time I drive by, I say a prayer for that poor scorched grandfather.

-Maria

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