“You’re not working tomorrow, are you? We could use your help in the kitchen on dishes if you want some extra hours,” Ben says, directing the question to me. “If that’s alright with you, of course.” The last part is for Sinéad. We’re all sitting at the bar having a drink at the end of the night.
“Tom didn’t show up again?” I say.
“Nah, and I don’t reckon we’ll see him again. After the first time, I understand, give a man a second chance, eh? He asked if he should come in to work the next day, said he wasn’t that type of guy, and he genuinely didn’t seem like it. He was a nice bloke,” – “Yeah he was,” Ruairi adds in – “but we haven’t heard from him again now. So if you want some extra hours – and if it’s alright with you, Sinéad – we could use your help.”
I look over to Sinéad first, she nods her consent and says that would be alright. “Yeah sure, happy to help. What time do you want me to come in?”
“Half-five?” He says.
“Sure thing.” He means five-thirty. One of my favorite parts of living somewhere with so many foreigners is hearing the different speech patterns and vernacular we use, despite objectively speaking the same language. I say tomato, they say tomato. But half-‘hour’ is my favorite of the new terms. A bit confusing at first since you would think they mean half to five, instead of half past five, but it is a lot smoother to say. “I’ll see you tomorrow then.”
I say tomato, they say tomato.
“Alright, we’ve got a special apron for you,” Ben says, holding up a bright blue, rubbery-plastic apron that is significantly different than the cotton apron he and Ruairi are wearing. I look at it skeptically, more skeptically at his shit-eating grin.
“But you and Ruairi are wearing ones like this,” I say, another hanging apron in my hand. “Shouldn’t we wear matching aprons to show comradery?”
“Nah, this is the special dishy apron.”
“Tom never wore that.”
“Tom didn’t care about his clothes, eh? This one does much better for the dishy, protects your clothes from all that water and detergent and crap.” I am certain this is another one of Ben and Ruairi’s digs at me. Since I started they have been consistent jokesters. Well, sometimes it is more fun to play along. And I honestly enjoy their good-humored jests. I give Ben a grimacing look, sigh and put the apron on over my head. It is supremely dorky.
“Cute apron,” Jenna says, laughing when I pop out front for a second.
Sometimes it is more fun to play along.
Ben and Ruairi give me a rundown of the kitchen and let me tackle the pile of dishes that are accumulated during their prep. Washing dishes is a pretty basic job.
“Hey, this is the microwave filter,” Ruairi says, handing me a thin, see-through film thing. “We need to wash it every once in a while. Can you run it through, but be careful, it’s fragile.” He keeps his face straight, but I am ninety-nine percent sure microwaves do not have filters. I give him a skeptical look.
“A microwave filter?” I ask, arching an eyebrow.
“Yeah yeah. Cheers, mate.” I shake my head, place it in the dish rack and shove it through. When I pull the rack out of the dishwasher a few minutes later, there is no filter among the dishes. Well, to be fair, there was no filter in the first place, but whatever Ruairi gave me is gone. Disappeared into thin air. Certain it was nothing, but knowing that I have fucked up simple things before, I at least take the time to investigate the dishwasher to see if it fell anywhere inside.
“The filter is gone,” I say loudly to neither Ben nor Ruairi in particular, simply informing them.
“What do you mean, gone?” Ruairi asks. “Those filters are quite expensive, you better find.”
“I guess you can take it out of my pay.”
It ended up being a piece of gelatin, which dissolves in hot water.
I have fucked up simple things before
“Hey Tanner, we need some more cooking spray and sanitizer, can you go to the downstairs storage and get some?” Ben asks. “It’s outside downstairs near the bins, then go turn around to the right and go through the doors on the left. Cheers.” He is turned away preparing food to hand through the pass. I think he must be fucking with me again, but he kept his tone composed and I cannot see if he is smiling.
There is a light and noise coming from the door he directed me to. I look for another door for a minute, but there is no other door that could reasonably be what he meant. I head back up the stairs empty-handed, coming back to Ben and Ruairi laughing hysterically.
“What did they say?”
“C’mon. I didn’t go in the door,” I say, exaggerating the offense in my tone. “I’m only so gullible and you’ve got me on my guard now. It was obviously not storage.”
“Oh man, that’s too bad. I really wish you’d gone in the door. I suppose we’ve gone too far tonight, eh?”
“What was that door anyway?”
“It goes into the Thai Sim kitchen,” Ben says, still laughing.
“Would have been impressive if I did come back with that stuff then.” Ruairi and Ben laugh and agree.
I’m only so gullible
“Sooooo,” Ben says, dragging out the word playfully. “When are you are going to make a move on Jenna, eh?” My, uhm, romantic life, is one of the topics Ruairi and Ben tend to bring up often, but this one specifically is new.
“Yeaaaaa, I don’t think that’s likely,” I say, matching his playful tone.
“A lot of reasons, but mainly I work with her. I’m not going to try to date someone I work with.”
“Why not?” Ruairi asks.
“Let’s just say, that’s a mistake I’ll only make once,” I say, keeping my tone light. The restaurant has slowed down now towards the end of the night. We are finishing up the clean for the kitchen.
“Sounds like there’s a story there, eh. What happened?”
I shrug and make non-committal noises. “I mean, no real story. I made a bad decision, lost a friend, not much of a story. Nothing interesting like a sordid, office love-affair.”
“All the more reason to do it now then,” Ben says, the teasing tone continuing.
“Nah, I learned the first time. I’ve barely know Jenna anyway.”
“Yeah, you should get to know her better then, eh?” Ruairi says, nudging me with his elbow.
“Yeah, here’s both of your staff dinners, this will be your first date then, eh,” Ben says. I look down at the plates he hands me. The ravioli are arranged into heart shapes.
I sigh. “Gods damn it, Ben.” They laugh.