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i’ve been thinking recently that it’d be an awesome project to make a list of all the employees we’ve had at molly’s since i’ve been there.  it’s probably more of an exercise than anything else, but there have been so many people to come through our door for work–dozens and dozens in my time–that i thought it’d be an interesting trip to try and remember everyone.

i’ve sweated with some incredible people at molly’s.  from the true team players who’ve come through for everyone in a pinch to some heartless fucking divas who had no love for anyone and no talent for hiding their shallow ways.  restaurant work probably isn’t much different from other work. we sell shit to people who come to us.  but the interesting variable in restaurant work is the particular kind of pressure we suffer.  when you’re dealing with people and their appetites for food and booze, patience is in short supply and many of the niceties and pretensions people extend to each other in most social situations disappear.  add into that the dynamic of tipping and wanting to be tipped and it’s even more complicated and less kind.

the weenies of the restaurant world disappear quickly.  even though the stakes are low in our work, the pressure’s high in a busy environment.  and big pressure, regardless of the stakes, just crushes some people.  one of the first dudes i remembered when i did start this list of molly’s employees was someone who cooked for us, an ex-marine from nebraska.  we’ll call dude johnny hooder.  he was a vet who ran two tours in iraq, desert and iraqi freedom both.  ran air traffic control, stormed some hot war zones by foot, saw some shit there that turned my fucking stomach just to hear.  dunno if dude ever really felt comfortable as a citizen after his service.  he did coke with his wife and shot pool at trash bars in beaverton.  the thing he would always say, to describe to me just how easy it was to work in a restaurant after the military, was ‘man, it’s just food.’

‘it’s just food.’

it’s true, too, and that’s what i mean about low stakes.  people can get pretty fucking uppity and rude when their blood-sugar’s flying around, but it’s not like we’re doctors or cops where shit really matters and people can die.  but despite his worldly prepossessions and niceguy airs, johnny hooder was always the first dude to lose his shit when things got hairy.  he’d cuss you out for not telling him you had a six-top before you rang in their food and if you botched an order in crunch-time, which everyfuckingbody’s done, he’d scream you down and make you think he was gonna have a PTSD explosion on you.  dude was a corn-fed dinosaur of a man, too, so that made for some tense times.

just goes to show that despite the knowledge that none of it matters, when pressure bears down on you, you’re gonna feel it.  i think about jonny hooder sometimes now when shit’s all over the fan at molly’s.  he’s the measuring stick for the real freak-out, and when i think of him i remember to keep my cool.

johnny was fired by text message and i was probably the only one at molly’s at that time who wasn’t at least a little spooked he was gonna come around and smash heads.  johnny and i had got along pretty well.

he’s just one of dozens of memorable people . . .

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