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The restaurant saga


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So as the days went by, my confidence in my abilities rose and the

pizzas starting coming out faster and faster.

Initially, I found memorising the ingredients to be tricky and

constantly had to refer to the menu to see what toppings were on each

pizza, but this soon became second nature.

As my confidence and speed on the pizzas improved, I managed to take

over more and more of my share of the rest of the work – the main

grill, chip fryers and so on. A and I get on well anyway and make a

very good team when working, so things went smoothly with no dramas

at all. In fact we started to have a really good time again.

There had been several times when the whole enterprise became a

serious chore, and the fun we had got from the first season had been

somewhat lacking this year, but as things settled down to a smooth

routine in the kitchen, the jokes and laughter returned.

Music is important to both A and myself, and we both like it LOUD, so

a little tweaking of the stereo system meant we could have the

kitchen at whatever volume we wanted without drowning out people

sitting down to eat.

We were also attempting live music nights again. Last year, we had

groups in once a week, with a fixed menu for the night and these

nights had been a flop. Barely breaking even, numbers were low and

people didnt stay to listen, they just ate and left. This year, we

scrubbed the idea of a fixed dish and just ran the normal full menu.

Whether it was this or some other factor I dont know, but numbers

increased dramatically on music nights. We had some pretty good luck

with the groups too. Mostly blues/jazz/swing and some popular French

stuff, with the occasional rock covers group...A and I liked it, the

customers seemed to like it (we actually had people up dancing

several times this year!) and the nights gained a good reputation.

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Its a shame people don't take responsibility for their own actions

these days!

Whilst not quite at UK “compensation culture” levels here in

France, I was left surprised by one particular event.

Half way through an evening some older guy came in and started having

a go at me for selling his son a pizza with pork in it. He was a

Muslim and he was not a happy Muslim this evening.

It took me a while to remember the chap, but I made my feelings to

the father well known when I did. The way he was going on, you would

think I had sold a pizza to some 11 year old kid who knew no better,

but the son was actually a lad of 17 or 18 who came in with his

girlfriend and ordered an “oriental” pizza.

Whilst the menu does not specifically state whether anything is

suitable for Muslims, vegetarians etc, (I had been advised to avoid

doing this) I had assumed people would have the common sense to ask

if any of the ingredients listed needed clarification. As it happens,

the chorizo sausage used on this one is pork based. The guy never

asked anything so I made it up as normal. I told his father this much

– Surely if his son's beliefs require avoidance of certain meat

products, ordering a pizza that contains several different types of

meat should be done with careful consideration. Its not my

responsibility to list every ingredient used in everything we cook.

If an adult walks in and asks for a pizza, I will serve them what

they want and not stop to say “hang on mate, you look a bit Arabic

to me and this contains some pork, are you sure you want it?

Anyway, he wandered off and that was the last I heard of it.

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And then there are the people who want something for nothing....

on one of the busiest nights, When a guy came in to pay the bill and

the waiter asked if it had been ok, the chap launched into a moan

about the slow service. Now, whilst busy nights mean longer waits for

everyone, the waiting times between courses were never excessive.

Anyway, this guy kept saying “I will pay the bill, but I am just

not at all happy”. Damn right you will pay the bill chief!

After repeatedly telling me how unhappy and disappointed he and his

family were, then hanging around for a few seconds to see if anything

was forthcoming, he would start again with how unhappy he was.

“We do our best, its a busy night, I have said sorry, nobody else

is complaining – what more do you want me to say?”

He left eventually.

Turned out he was staying in the campsite and within minutes of his

arrival into one of the chalets, he was back to the office

complaining about everything in great detail.

Over a morning coffee with the campsite manager, I mentioned this

chap. “Ignore him”, I was told. Seemingly he comes quite

regularly over the years and just moans non-stop about any perceived

fault or injustice in the hope of a discount or freebie. The site

manager told me to never give the guy anything as once he gets a

sniff of something, he will not stop trying again and again for more.

So, during the course of the guys week long stay, he moaned to anyone

who would listen about how rubbish everything was at the restaurant

and the campsite alike, yet he comes back regularly and even ate at

the restaurant 3 more times during his week!

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  • 1 month later...

I apologise for not updating this more often, but a recent conversation with a friend brought up this subject and I thought I better get it down in text to see if it makes more sense that way.......

So what do you believe in?

Im a man of basic principals. Gears and levers appeal to me....I

believe in science, physics and chemistry – provable theories that

I can see with my own eyes. As far as I am concerned, religion is a

load of arse, although I would certainly never put down anyone elses

beliefs. I dont give much credit to supernatural stuff as despite

having a few “wierd” experiences over the years, I believe there

would have been rational explanations, perhaps beyond my knowledge,

but rational none the less.

Something that happened this summer gave me pause for thought though.

S is a funny chap. He spent his 20`s addicted to pretty much every

substance you can think of at one time or another but has come good,

straightened himself out and is a very nice guy. I remember in his

first days at the resto, he told me about his powers. He can “coupe

le feu” as he described it – basically he claims to be able to

heal burns.

“yeah ok” thought I, as he told me about this, imploring me to

seek him out if myself or any of the other staff burned themselves. I

never gave it serious thought, but have since found out its not that

rare here an I know one other person who has this same “gift”.

Anyway, life in the resto went on and as the summer hotted up, we got

busier and busier. Anyone who has worked in a busy kitchen will know

that minor burns are commonplace.....hot plates, hot ingredients,

splattering oil etc all add their little stings. I also had the pizza

ovens to deal with – two large ovens stacked one on top of the

other meant that the top one was a little too high and the bottom a

little too low for comfort so I was often touching my fore-arm on the

doors as I worked, accumulating a nice collection of scars which seem

to be permanent.

S and his super powers had slipped my mind, and A and I used the

usual methods to deal with these burns....ignoring the small ones and

cold water on the larger ones. We also had a burns kit containing a

gel for applying to the affected flesh for the more serious

incidents, which were thankfully rare.

Then on a busy night I burned my hand badly. Very badly. I had metal

tray in the oven at 350degrees. I took it out with the pizza shovel

and put it on the counter next to a cold one, turned round to stow

the shovel, turned back and picked up the wrong tray. It took a few

seconds to register and the damage was done by the time I shrieked

like kicked cat and dropped the tray. I was burned on all five

fingertips with a wide burn across the palm too.

I smeared the burn gel on it and tried to carry on, but it was too

painful. We very very busy indeed at this point, and I was trying to

continue but finding it hard. Whenever my hand was free, I was

holding a bag full of ice cubes to cool my hand, but this was having

little effect. My hand was a very angry red and swelling with

blisters starting to form. I was seriously considering seeking

medical attention. - I hate doctors and general medical stuff and

will endure a hell of a lot rather than see one, but this was bad.

Anyway, S heard about this and come to the kitchen. I remembered what

he had told me and he insisted he could help. Well – why not give

it a try? We went out the back where it was quiet and he had me hold

my hand out flat, palm upwards. He held his right hand above it about

4 inches away and closed his eyes. I was feeling rather self

conscious about this.

“Its bad – there is a lot of heat here” he said.

“no shit, Sherlock” I thought, but didnt say it out loud.

He then started muttering something very quietly that I couldnt catch

and made a grabbing motion as if snatching a sweetie off my palm, but

without touching me, and flung whatever it was on the floor behind

him. He repeated this three times in quick succession, opened his

eyes, smiled and said it was done.

“right” said , not feeling convinced.

“Seriously, give it ten minutes and you will be fine”

And he was right.

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I went back to work and not even ten minutes had passed when I

realised that the pain was completely gone. That hand remained

slightly more sensitive to minor heat like the hot water tap for the

rest of the night, but the swelling was gone and not a single blister

appeared. Given the severity of the burn, I had been expecting a

serious set of blistered fingers giving me trouble for several days

to come, but absolutely nothing......

I dunno....

He didnt “cure” me – he had no physical effect on me, he never

even touched me, but something happened. Placebo effect? I know that

homoeopathic medicine is water and that its physical benefit is nill,

but I also know that many people find it helps them and I would put

that down to a placebo effect – but an effect so strong and so

fast? Im not sure.

A was not perturbed at all. Infact, it was small-change to her.

Seemingly, years back she had been working as a waitress in a place

similar to mine in the Herault when one of the cooks tipped over the

chip fryer and spilled the oil all over himself. He had been on the

ground screaming, an ambulance had been called and everyone was in a

flap, then some chap spent 10 minutes or so doing this trick, and

they guy had seemingly recovered so much that by the time the

ambulance arrived he was up and about, looking for a clean shirt to

put on.

Later on in the season, I asked S about this and how he discovered he

could do it. He told me that it was a gift given to him. The ability

is a secret that can be passed on to others. In his drink and drugs

period, he had met a girl at a party and retired to his house for

nookie. He admits to being too wasted to perform anything and fell

asleep. Before he slept, the girl told him this secret, telling him

that if he remembered it in the morning he would have the gift. The

next day when he woke, the girl had left, but the secret was the

first thing he remembered. Seemingly those who have this gift

recognise others who are likely to benefit and choose to pass it on

to them, but sharing the secret widely is likely to destroy their own


I think that humanity knows a lot less about the finer workings of

body and mind than it likes to admit.

Then I think, why is S washing dishes for me and not earning a

fortune in a hospital burns unit?

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Maybe that is why the secret will never be passed on to you or I Dave?

Very interesting all trhe same, I share your views on the placebo effect of faith healing etc, given that you were at best trying to be open minded and humouring him during the treatment the results are even more astounding.

Perhaps you are underestimating your own powers or positive mental attitude, that is to say your determination to carry on working despite your injuries, I discovered long ago that I heal like a horse in the wild when I have no choice but to continue, I now know that if I am determined enough my pain can quickly reduce by a magnitude of 10, years ago in the middle of a very important job (I was self employed) I was steadying myself on a ladder with my right hand inside the throat of a shop roller shutter when someone pressed the button, it shredded my forefinger and my fingertip was hanging on by a tatter of skin.

Looking at it it made more sense to just snip it off but I was too much of a wimp but I had to carry on regardless so I just wrapped it in a dressing and tried to continue working, the pain dimished as the day went on, that evening I removed the dressing and the flesh was dead, it was mutilated and had no colour, the wound was bleeding only slightly, I still was too much of a coward to cut it off so I wrapped it in a new dressing and went to bed, it was very late and I had to be on the job first thing the morning, there was no question that I could go to the hospital.

The next morning the fingertip was re-attached and was a healthy colour, you could barely see the join, sure it was still a little painfull, enough to stop me from working it prematurely but within a couple of days I was working normally with bare hands and would defy anyone to even see that I had been cut, there is still no trace of a scar or loss of sensation.

More restaurant sagas please!

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