I was never prone to nightmares as a kid. Very rarely would I wake dripping in sweat and tears begging for my parent’s comfort, I can recall having possibly maybe two major nightmares as a kid to be honest. Though I have always had vivid dreams to the point where they felt real, so thankfully I was not cursed with night terrors. Though when I turned sixteen I got my first job as cashier at a backwoods grocery store and that’s when I started having service nightmares.
They’d start off as if I was working a normal shift at the grocery store. Scanning items while playfully bantering between the baggers, and soft 90’s music playing in the background, and then it would shift. The conveyer belt would speed up throwing groceries at me faster than I could scan; old women would start screaming at me while making it rain coupons and checks. My world would start spinning into a cashier’s living hell…then I would wake up clutching my alarm clock praying that I had not over slept for work only to realize I had fifteen minutes to get work.
My nightmares would continually get worse until I started a new job and then my sick subconscious would find new ways to torture me. The worst of my nightmares came from working at Katz’s, which is almost to be expected seeing how just working there was a living nightmare. Sixty to eighty hour work weeks, long shifts without breaks, unnervingly busy with a client base that were ungodly fabulous and in turn that made you want to jam your fist down your throat. The shortest shift at Katz’s was maybe 8 hours long and the longest being a little over 19 hours, an average shift for me was probably around 13 hours; then you would be expected to be back within the next 4-6 hours for your next shift. This wasn’t all the time just a good 85% of the time. Sleep for me was a precious thing; I unlike the other servers did not partake in recreational pharmaceuticals to get me through the days, so when I came home I passed out. There were times where I didn’t even have the chance to fully undress before I was asleep. The nightmares for Katz’s were always the same, we would on a two hour plus wait, under staffed and I’m running on nothing. I would sneak away to storage to catch my breath and fall asleep, only to wake up to being tripled sat and the restaurant would just be burning to the ground because no one could possibly keep up any more. But in the midst of the nightmare I would spring forward awake clutching my phone thinking it was my check presenter. In the darkness of my room I would still think I was at Katz’s, and it wouldn’t be until I ran out my room ready to catch up my orders that I realized I was twenty minutes away and safe at home. I’d stand in the hall between my roommate’s room and mine and begin to cry from exhaustion and stress that I was suffering. The nightmares involving Katz’s would happen constantly and always ending with me waking in panic that I fell asleep in the storage room. What a fucking sad existence I lived.
My current job is at a steakhouse, so my nightmares now generally involve the steaks not being prepared right and me rushing the kitchen to fix the order. I tossed and turned all last night over an undercooked NY Strip only to have my table to leave to go to Case Ole. The worst thing about dreaming about work is waking up stressed out; I legitimately woke up scared and stressed that I was going to get in trouble over fucking up my table 47’s NY Strip.
I’ll end on with a quote from a fellow server on Service Nightmares: “Restaurant nightmares are the worst! Especially the ones where you’re running food naked and you drop all the food on your dick.”