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Hostess Confidential: Antisemitism at Four O’Clock

If you caught the first installment of Hostess Confidential, you'll remember that I work at a well-known restaurant in Manhattan's Union Square. It's a fast-paced environment with demanding customers who have no use for wait-lists, which means I witness a … Read More

By / January 3, 2008

If you caught the first installment of Hostess Confidential, you'll remember that I work at a well-known restaurant in Manhattan's Union Square. It's a fast-paced environment with demanding customers who have no use for wait-lists, which means I witness a lot of scandalous behavior. Bon Appetit.

It's 4:30. I’m standing at the host stand and I've been there for six hours. I'm on for another six and working "a dirty double," our industry's name for a double-shift. I haven't eaten a thing and I feel dizzy and nauseated. It's slow, and two bartenders from the restaurant next-door have been sitting at the bar for over an hour, and I swear, if I have to hear how "full" or "round" another wine is, I'm going to start dry-heaving. Their names are Frank and Eddie. Frank is a tall, waifish, blonde who is trapped in the eighties: he wears skinny pants, a skinny tie, and thick framed glasses. Eddie is scruffy and bearded and wears his suit with a smile. Frank, on his fifth glass of wine says "So I met my girl's family during Hanukkah." "Your girl is Jewish?" Eddie asks. "Oh yeah, she comes from this big Jewish family. And it's Hanukkah so they've got this huge spread of food: roast beef, smoked salmon, matzo ball soup, roasted potatoes, two different desserts, I mean, there was so much food—Jews, they're such big eaters, it's disgusting. So, her grandma starts serving me, you know, big Jewish portions, and I've got to eat it, because grandmas are the matriarchs of Jewish families. So I’m buttering up grandma, you know, lots of nods and uh-huhs while she's talking because, old Jewish ladies don't know when to shut-up—" "Right, bitches don't stop." Eddie says, rolling his eyes. "So, now, Grandma loves me. It's smooth sailing from now on. I'm proposing to my girl next week." Frank says. "Congratulations. Does that make you half-Jewish?" Eddie asks. "Dude, I will NEVER be Jewish." Frank says.
Finally Frank had said something that I agreed with. He will never be Jewish. His antisemitism and chauvinism were grating on me and what I found even more grating was knowing that I would have to deal with Frank, and others like him, again. Frank, like many, think that anything goes at the bar. They believe they that have the right to say or do anything because they are paying for their drinks. What they don't understand is, they don't pay people like me, people who work there, enough to listen to their racism and bigotry. In fact no amount of money could pay for this. Furthermore, when we tell our managers that a customer is being obnoxious, we have to continue working and serving them. And, at the end of the day, we are the ones that have to leave the restaurant with a foul taste in our mouths. I wanted to say something to Frank, but Jose, my manager, came over to me and said, "It's time for you to go on your break. I'll watch the door." Relieved that I was finally going to get something to eat and leave Frank behind, I gathered my coat and purse and braved the New York winter. Walking outside, I was left with one thought: Think about what you say at the bar. Others are listening.

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