Growing up at O'Malley's

Another story edited out of "DTRH."

One day my pot-smoking boyfriend Cole got fired from Farrell's, so I did what any co-dependent - I mean supportive - girlfriend would do and quit too. It was too awkward to work there anymore, what with everyone talking about us behind our backs and all (or so I thought).

Shortly after, Cole got a job at O'Malley's diner as a dishwasher. O'Malley's was a Connecticut landmark, consistently featured in CT magazine as having the best breakfast in the state. It was an old caboose, cramped and run down, with thirteen tiny booths and a wrap around counter. Each booth had its own jukebox which played classic rock like "These Boots are Made for Walking" and "Moondance." Orders were hand written on old fashioned order pads, and an antique cash register held the money.

The diner was conveniently located a block away from Cole's crappy apartment, so one night after dropping acid and running out of cigarettes we walked to the diner to buy some from the cigarette machine. It was 4 AM and the owner, Conor O'Malley, had just arrived to bake bread. Exhausted and annoyed he opened the door and stuck his head out.

"Hi Conor, can we buy some cigarettes?" Cole asked politely, overcompensating for tripping balls.

Conor mumbled something, held the door open for us, then shuffled back to work. I grew extremely self conscious, being so out of it in front of a sober person, while Cole became extra giving.

"I wonder if Conor needs any help?" he whispered to me. My heart raced with anxiety and I tried to disappear into the floor. "I'm gonna ask him."

Don't leave me here alone! I thought, but my mouth wouldn't move. I inserted my coins into the machine and pulled the Newport lever to give my body something to do, as Cole rounded the corner to the back. Classic rock played on the radio, but over it I heard Cole ask, "Hey Conor, do you need any help?" There was a mumbled response that I prayed was a "no," and Cole reemerged.

"Let's go," I said. "I can't be in here right now."

Safely back at Cole's we dropped another half tab and I continued to smoke cigarettes, shit my brain out and clean like a madwoman, while Cole read an entire science fiction novel on the couch. When the sun rose we decided we should try venturing out into the world again so, even though we were not hungry, we went to the diner to drink orange juice because allegedly vitamin C re-ups your trip. Again, we walked the block to O'Malley's and sat at table five, which was facing a mirror. Oh my God did I look like I had been up all night cleaning my boyfriend's crack den of an apt. while tripping on acid! Shit!

Cookie, a sixty-something year old short, stout waitress with white hair and a signature cackle, came over to take our order. I looked at Cole and he gradually, self-consciously started to laugh. He tried to suppress his laugh, which made it worse, so it started coming out of his eyes and pores. He somehow ordered, while barely being able to breath, his eyes watering and his face turning beet red. Cookie, completely annoyed, impatiently turned to me. Of course, I immediately caught what Cole had and began hyperventilating my order as well. Cookie walked away and we sat there, laughing and crying as silently as we could, until our food arrived.

After a few weeks Cole was given the extra responsibility of being the after-hours cleaning person. Which meant he had keys to the diner - and twenty-four hour access.

One night after smoking weed at Cole's apartment we went to the diner to sweep, mop and clean the grill. I don't know if it was the danger of possibly getting caught, the thrill of having access to this empty restaurant, or the fact that we were young and stoned, but being alone in that diner made us very horny. We started kissing in the dish area. The diner had a lot of windows so, although we were in the back beyond the flimsy Western half doors, we weren't entirely shielded from the view of passing cars. It was dark outside and light inside, which illuminated us and made the outside invisible, so there was no way to see if anyone was peeping in. Our kissing intensified and I think we both knew what we were about to do.

Cole lifted me onto the steel prep table and pulled off my shirt. I spread my legs and wrapped them around his as I undid my bra and threw it on the floor. I laid back on the cold table and his mouth traveled down my body. He crouched down, forcefully pulling off my pants and panties and diving into my pussy. When he came up his hard dick was pushing through his jeans and he took it out quickly and put it in me. He fucked me hard, both of us moaning as if no one could hear us. I almost came, it was so hot. Afterward we picked up our clothes, sheepishly grinning.

"I'll never be able to look at that prep table the same way again," Cole joked.

After a few months of employment Cole told me that they were hiring weekend breakfast servers, so I went in to apply. Conor, a disheveled and overworked "chef" by his own claim ("a chef is someone who can cook an egg a hundred ways") finally took a five minute break from doing everything himself and hired me on the spot. I would soon learn that this disorganized method of management was the way he ran his whole business.

I began that weekend. Conor had bought the diner from his uncle and had been working there his entire life. He started as an eight year old, helping his uncle scramble eggs and sweep the floor, then gradually took on more and more responsibilities as he got older. It was his whole life. He literally didn't know anything else. His method of "training" was to throw new employees directly into the fire. I began as an extra person on the floor. This was my first waitressing job, so I was extremely nervous and naive. I didn't even know how to greet a table.

"Uh, ok. Do you guys know what you want?" I asked a table of four who had just sat down. Four awkward stares looked back at me, as if to say, ‘No retard. We just got here.’ Triggered, I responded to their judgmental thoughts with a dirty look and walked away.

Madison Butski, an uppity twenty-something waitress, whooshed by me with a pot of coffee.

"You've got to see if they want something to drink first," she instructed. Oh, I thought, that makes sense. But Rich had beaten me to it.

"Coffees, gentlemen?" he asked the menu readers.




"I'll have tea,” one thankfully replied.

Rich Norberg, a bald Swedish man in his forties, would turn out to be one of the coolest dudes I've ever met. He'd say things like, “I've got to sit down and have a talk with myself," and, "If I were me..." He'd order "a pile" of scrambled eggs for his pre-shift breakfast and jokingly answer, "miserable," when people asked him how he was. He'd make homemade cards for people with a drawing of a cool-looking smoking guy on the front, no matter what the occasion. He loved beer, but would go "on the wagon" a few times a year and take up bike riding. He played guitar with Raskal, the alcoholic dishwasher, in a cover band that occasionally played at the Eagles Club. He was unique and hilarious.

Despite not knowing what the hell I was doing I was really enjoying my new job. There was a ton of busy work to be done and, as an ex busser, I was right on top of that. Bussing tables, making to-go coffees, cutting bread.This is awesome, I thought. I can just do this stuff and not have to take orders since I don't know how. I could fill nine hours with this easy!

But on my third day Bitch Madison sat me down.

"You've got to learn the menu," she barked.

Although I had been sporadically taking orders I had been summoned to the kitchen by Conor numerous times.

"This ticket is incomplete," he'd say, leaving me to run over to a menu to find my mistake.

His impatience triggered me. You're the one who threw me right on the floor without properly training me, I thought. What right do you have to get mad if I make a mistake? Of course I'm making mistakes! I haven't been taught anything yet! But being the people pleaser I am I would scurry to fix my error, then smile and apologize, not letting him see my hurt.

"1941 - how do you want your eggs? Pigs in a blanket - how do you want your eggs? Hash and eggs - how do you want your eggs?”

Madison impatiently pointed to the menu items with her pen as she continued.

"Fisherman's special - bacon or sausage? How do you want your eggs? He man - bacon, sausage or ham? How do you want your eggs?"

My eyes began to water and my face got hot.

"Ok!" I exclaimed.

She cocked her head and looked at me.

"You've got to know this stuff!" she said forcefully.

"Conor didn't tell me to learn anything. He said just show up here and we'll throw you in the water. You'll learn as you go. I didn't know I had to learn anything first. I thought I was supposed to learn as I went."

Madison stared at me, as if she couldn't believe how stupid I was. I took the menu from her.

"I will take this home and study it."

I pushed myself off the stool. She didn't seem done with our lesson, but I was.

"Tonight," I assured her, snotily.

That night I defiantly made flash cards and, in a focused, stoned haze, studied the shit out of that menu!

The next day I dove right in, approaching tables with faux confidence, taking orders as if I knew what I was doing. I double checked every order before I put it on the line. I was determined to excel. I really wanted everyone to like me.

Halfway through the shift I went to fill a pot with coffee from the double-sided urn, but it was empty. I tried the other side, but it was empty too! Oh no! An empty coffee urn on a busy Sunday brunch!

"You've got to make the coffee first," Madison chimed condescendingly, as if she'd been waiting for the urn to run out so she could snippily chide me for not doing something I hadn't yet been taught to do.

I watched as she took out the large basket that held the coffee filter and flipped it upside down into the trash. Then she pulled out a new filter and a giant bag of grounds, filled the basket, set it in the urn, swung the hot water faucet over it, and pushed the button. Hot water began to rain out of the spout as she placed the cover on top. Why didn't she just show me how to do that four days ago? I thought. Oh, right. Because she's an angry bitch.

No matter. I just held my tongue and kept on working. I started to feel really good about my job performance. The diner was always slammed from