Kim | TALES | Issue 3
As the acid jazz playlist repeats on the stereo system for the fifth time today, I reach for my flip flops. I’m sweaty and ready for a quick nap before dinner service. It’s my last week before I head back to Canada and my patience is running out. Customers I once loved to take the time to chat with I now avoided. I was drained and ready to move on. Ready to trade in my days on the beach for days in the classroom. I moved here for a tan and some fun but ended up with so much more. I learned how far a small act of kindness can go when someone is in need and how important friendships are.
Just before I could print my cash out, my manager Mark stopped me. His keys were in his hand, I could tell he was about to leave. I sensed bad news coming my way.
“Hey Kim, I need you to take one more table. Brian needs to focus on setting up the dining room for tonight’s function.”
Before I can protest that I need to be back in a couple hours, and it’s mandatory that I take a shower after serving in my outdoor section, Mark relays their drink order.
“Two bottles of Sancerre and two hot chocolates.”
“Come on Mark, we decided as a group not to offer hot chocolate. It’s a pain in the ass and a waste of chocolate sauce.”
“Kim, it’s Simon.”
Oh god, my least favorite customer. The kind of customer who dines right before close and inconveniences everyone with his stupid requests. He is snobby but lacks class. And we treat him like royalty because he co-owns a handful of businesses on Seven Mile Beach. He knows he
can get away with treating us poorly. I am used to treating guest better depending on who they are. The VIP guests get VIP treatment and leave VIP tips. I have no issue with this. I treat them like they are extra special, and they tip me accordingly.
Simon is not so generous, perhaps it’s because he is English. I recall almost no one tipped me in London. I’m pretty sure that is normal. But Simon should know better; he owns a restaurant. I make the dreaded hot chocolates with our Italian espresso machine and take them out on a tray with four wine glasses and an ice bucket with two bottles of Sancerre in the other hand. I greet Simon and his guest with a big grin. I sweetly chat with the children as I dropped of the hot chocolates. As per usual, they don’t say thank you and even complained that there was no whipped cream on top. I suppose I am out of the habit of topping drinks with whipped cream since I rarely serve children. I ignore them and present the wine. I didn’t recognize the other guests who accompanied Simon and his latest girlfriend. Even though it’s such a small island it’s not unusual to see unfamiliar faces; perhaps they are new. Expats make up half of the workforce in Grand Cayman which makes it a very transient place. And it also makes it a very friendly place because everyone can relate to how lonely it can feel living in a new place without any friends or family.
Simon nods at the wine as the ice water drips onto the white table cloth. I pour a splash into his glass and wait for his approval. He swirls it around in his glass which he sniffs then brings to his lips; after a moment of swishing the liquid around in his mouth he announces that it is drinkable. I feel slightly relieved as I wipe of the wet wine bottle with a cloth napkin and empty the entire contents in to the four glasses. A couple months ago he sent back a bottle of Sassicaia that he claimed was corked; it tasted fine to me. After I informed them of the specials, they said they were ready to order. Excellent news for myself, because I want to get this over
with, and for the kitchen who needed to clean up lunch and prepare for tonight. After taking their order I politely informed them that this would be last call for the kitchen, to which Simon replied with some remark about the kitchen staff wanting to get head start on the weekend. I faked a chuckle and walked away. I felt bad ringing in the order knowing that last call was actually thirty minutes ago. I knew this would prevent my kitchen from taking a much needed break before dinner service. I heard them groan at the sound of the printer. I went back to apologize in person.
“Sorry guys, it’s the boss’ friends. I couldn’t say no.”
They nodded understandably. I am was lucky to have such easy going staff.
“Anything for you, Miss Kim.”
Malcom looked good in his white chef’s coat. His Jamaican accent always drew me in. I smiled to myself and thought about inviting him over tonight. We locked eyes for a moment before I ran my tables starters. The decadent sent of lobster bisque and fresh pesto filled my nose. I served the soups and salads and offered fresh cracked pepper. Before I could ask if there was anything else they needed at the moment, one of the freckled kids piped up, in a winey voice.
“Daddy, Daddy, can we have more hot chocolate?”
To my surprise Simon said yes and added that this time it should be made with whipped cream on top. I nodded with a smile.
“Daddy, can we have chocolate sprinkles too?”
I gladly interrupted and told them that we didn’t have chocolate sprinkles. These brats were getting on my nerves.
“Surely you have Belgium chocolate in the kitchen, just get the cook to shave off some
chocolate, it’s not that hard.”
I could not believe it. No wonder these children act so entitled. I steamed into the kitchen, climbed the step ladder, and grabbed a 10 pound brick of Belgium chocolate. The kitchen staff looked at me with a confused looks as I put the chocolate down on the counter. I responded in my best squeaky English accent.
“These brats want hot chocolates with a bunch of ridiculous shit on top!”
I attempted to shave the chocolate until Malcom took over, amused. I had no idea how he was always in a good mood working under so much pressure. I poured out the second bottle of Sancerre and cleared their entrée dishes. Simon asked about dessert, I suggested specialty coffees and explained the dessert menu wasn’t available because the kitchen was now closed. He scoffed about no dessert but order a cappuccino. His guests ordered a double decafe espresso, a latte, and a macchiato. I was glad to be getting closer to giving him the bill, it was likely the last time I would ever have to serve Simon since I was leaving the country soon. As I turned away Simon had yet another request.
“Hey Kim, could you put a design in my cappuccino, like a Christmas tree?”
It was March, why the hell did he want a Christmas tree? I kept the smile on my face.
“Simon I can’t do that sort of thing, I’m not a barista, this isn’t Starbucks.”
His friends laughed. He looked annoyed.
“Well I am sure you can figure it out.”
I was livid. I quickly cleared the dishes at the dish pit and handed them to my sweet but hard working dish washer, Mama. We called her Mama for obvious reasons.
“You ok Baby?”
She could tell I was upset, I couldn’t hide it. I felt belittled. Why does he think its ok to treat me like that?
“I’m good, Mama. Just tired.”
I started the coffees, and the machine hissed and steamed. My heart was beating fast. Just then I got an idea, I smiled a revengeful smile. I place the coffees on my tray as I was finishing up the cappuccino. I tapped the hot metal container with a spoon, condensing the foam. I slowly poured the hot milk on top of the espresso then some foam, and I thought to myself how I had never taken this much care in making a cappuccino before. I then cautiously placed three dollops of foam on top of the cappuccino and sculpted the most unmistakable cock and balls. They were perfect. I couldn’t help but smile when I picked up my tray. My coworker Jen’s eyes widened at the sight of my tray.
“Ah, what are you doing? Don’t do it.”
I didn’t stop. I passed more coworkers who watched in awe. It wasn’t just me who hated waiting on Simon; we all did. Over the years he had demeaned each and every single one of us. Here was my chance to get him back. I wasn’t doing it for myself. I was doing it for all of us. I approached the table, and cautiously placed each coffee one by one on the table, carefully holding them by the saucer.
“Here we have your latte, and the double decafe espresso, and the macchiato for you ma’am. Okay Simon, here is your cappuccino, and my attempt at a Christmas tree.”
I smiled sweetly and waited for his reaction. Simon’s mouth dropped. He stared at the white foamy genitals floating on top of his cappuccino.
“It looks, it looks, like a penis, it’s a penis!”
I giggled a little, and agreed how strange it was that it did kind of look like a penis. I walked away feeling lighter. I felt sensational. My smile grew wider as I turned the corner. My coworkers were waiting to congratulate me. Word must have spread. We shared some high fives
and I filled them in on Simon’s reaction. I glanced at Malcom who gave me a reassuring smile and a nod. A small but meaningful victory.
“Not today bobo!”
Everyone laughed at the familiar phrase. A Caymanian saying I am sure I will use for the rest of my life, even when I am many miles and years away from this little rock. My grin soon faded. I was sad to be leaving these wonderful people. We knew each other so well. They were the closest family I had ever had. I knew I would miss them in my new life.