Sunday, November 30, 2008

Pennsylvania State Holiday Eve

Back in the days when I waitressed at the truckstop down the line from here -put in seven long, hard years there, people -this day marked the start of a special holiday season, revered by Pennsylvanians from all across the state.

That season - Deer Season!

I dreaded this day and absolutely loathed, abhorred and despised the first day of Buck Season. With. A. Passion!

Not that I don't like the fruits of the hunters labors, because I do. Venison, contrary to what my older daughter will say about it, is some good meat! My son-in-law here is a hunter and we frequently dine on venison throughout the year from deer he has shot or from deer some hunter friends of his shot, who DON'T hunt for the meat but rather for the "sport" or "trophy."

Quite frankly, I don't think too highly of those hunters who head out into the woods aiming to do away with Bambi's parents just for the heck of it. Hunting, to my mind, should be done for the meat and if you manage to down a buck with a nice big, snazzy rack, well that is just icing on the proverbial cake then, ya know. But, the fact that these friends of the SIL's who go for the sport, the rack, but then do turn over the kill to my SIL, for him to clean, butcher, bag and freeze -well, at least it's getting used properly then, not going to waste.

Call us a "Redneck Family" if you wish to but the SIL has even been known to bring home fresh roadkill from time to time -a deer he's seen on the side of the road that had just had a run-in with a car or truck and lost the automotive vs animal battle. Keeps the freezer a little stocked up that way.

But back to the old "First Day" syndrome that I hated so much. For three years that I worked at that truckstop, I was on the midnight shift and so, starting at about 3:30 to 4 a.m. on the Monday morning right after Thanksgiving, the hunters would begin to filter in. Many just handing thermos after thermos over to my co-workers and me to fill for their early morning wake-up juice while plenty of others would show up, usually starting around 5 a.m., to load up on a big, hearty breakfast.

Trust me, deer hunters gearing themselves up to hit the woods, in search of breakfast, lots of coffee and such, are NOT the epitome of patience. Not. At. All! The only people in the truckstop happy to see these patrons were the owners of the place -who did NOT have to wait on these obnoxious, rude, bossy -very bossy -people in a massive rush to get out to the wilderness and play the "Great White Hunter" role.

All sense of timing, logic, understanding totally flies out the door when these fools arrive, in droves, no less. Each one bearing the largest thermos they could find and not seeming able to comprehend that a Bunn coffee maker, even with five burners holding pots of steaming coffee, still takes time to replenish each pot that it can often take to fill one of the gigantic thermos bottles being shoved at the waitress or cashier's faces!

Ordering ahot breakfast -bacon or sausage, eggs, perhaps pancakes or french toast -in a dining room that holds about 96 people, all of whom arrived within about a 10 minute span to the room being completed filled -leaving hunters standing in line, waiting to get in and be fed -provides for another dilemma.

Why do these clowns seem to think the management went out and purchased upteen more grills, just for the sole purpose of frying up their eggs or whatever, so they can order, get their thermos filled, eat and be out the door in record time -like perhaps 10 minutes? There is just no way possible that even in a restaurant as large as this one, with a pretty good-sized kitchen, with 3-4 grill cooks manning the fort there, that all these food orders can be processed simultaneously.

But you try explaining that to a testy, anxious, excited hunter! I dare you to do it and succeed in getting that logic across to them. The logic factor flew out the window as soon as that hunter's feet hit the floor that morning!

And, the last four years I worked at that place, I was on second shift -from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. -and then, I had the dubious pleasure to wait on many of these same hunters as they come back from the woods, ready for a big supper, and almost always not complete either unless they order dessert too. Said desserts often being the dreaded ice cream sundae or heaven forbid, a banana split -both hated orders by any sane waitress as they are often very time-consuming to prepare and folks ALWAYS order them, want them delivered to them five minutes before they told you their choice too.

Patience definitely becomes a lost entity in this mix -from the hunters as well as from the wait staff.

One item the cooks hated to see handed in to them though was a request for a club sandwich - you know -that three layers of toast, filled with sliced ham, sliced roast beef and/or turkey, cheese, lettuce and tomato -skewered together with four large toothpicks and then, sliced into pretty quarters and arranged nicely on the plate. One grill cook in particular hated orders for club sandwiches at any time -even if it was the ONLY order he had hanging to prepare but bringing requests to him for these sandwiches when the restaurant is filled to the gills with impatient hunters, was really a sticky situation. So, one night during deer season, I had a table of nine hunters sitting together and the first order I took was for a Club sandwich. Hmmm, I thought -Ronnie is not going to be happy with this order. But to my chagrin, the next seven orders I took from that table were for, you guessed it, Club sandwiches! These guys couldn't form an original thought for their meal apparently and had decided to simplify things by playing "Monkey see, Monkey do."

And when I took that order to the kitchen, and put it under the magnet holder for incoming orders, you can bet your bottom dollar I did NOT call out loudly to the kitchen help -"ORDER." No sirree Bob! I laid those puppies down there, barely whispered to the cooks that I had just given them 9 orders to process and believe you me, I turned tail and ran from the kitchen.

The customers could hear Ronnie bellowing about ten seconds later when he picked those tickets up and I steered clear of the kitchen to go back and check on the progress of those orders too as much as possible as I didn't really want to risk the loss of a limb or perhaps, even life, as Ronnie had sort of suggested he was going to do if he saw my face back there again!

Oh the memories! Oh, how glad I am that I don't have to put up with waiting on deer hunters, not ever again -except to serve my son-in-law his supper here, that is.

Speaking of serving meals here, I'm in the process now of getting our second Thanksgiving Dinner in the past three days, cooked. Turkey is in the oven now. I am not making more stuffing though as there is a big container of stuffing still in the fridge from the first Thanksgiving Dinner, cooked here this past Thursday. Potates, white and sweet, both have to be prepped, some veggies decided on to be cooked too, coleslaw mixed as well and since older daughter and her fiance are supposed to be coming for dinner at two p.m. (weather permitting, that is) I better mix up a container of her fiance's absolute favorite food item - Watergate salad! Thankfully, it is probably the easiest item on my menu for today to prepare though so I'll have no problem fixing that one. I'll have a hell of a lot m ore problems later today though trying to figure out what containers to put the additional leftovers in and where to stash them in an already filled-to-the-gills refrigerator.

Nows when I kind of miss working in a restaurant though -plenty of space in big walk-in coolers to place leftover food items!

We're already off to a wonderful start this early in the morning too with Maya and her antics as her dad caught her a short time ago kissing the end wall in the living room. Why would a five year old want to kiss the wall you ask? Simple. To blot the lipstick she managed to find in the medicine cabinet -a nice, bright cherry red shade no less -and which she smeared on her lips.

Ah yes, those lip marks in that bright shade do wonders for the decor here! And, her mother is going to be really impressed when she gets up, comes down for her wake-up cup of java and sees that new trim work too!

You might hear Mandy's screaming many, many miles away from here as I'm quite sure she's going to really let out a hell of a bellow!

There go my eardrums today -for sure! One more thing for me to be thankful when this day is over is how much hearing I may still have left, ya know!

Oh well, as the older daughter likes to say about things like this -"It's all good, it's all good!"

And she's right too there. It is "all good!"

Just a great opportunity for my family and me to come together, enjoy a big meal, lots of pie and some great family times. We have too few of these moments anymore so take advantage while we can to be able to come back together over food and give thanks for it all.


Hootin' Anni said...

I am meeting you for the first time, well, at least this is the first time visit to your blog for me.

My brothers and father were hunters. I know what you mean about hunting for the 'sport' of it instead of making good use of the meat that you shoot! I used to eat a lot of venison, bear, rabbit, goose, duck and pheasant. Once buffalo...but that wasn't hunted down. LOL

Anyway, back to your 'waitressing' stresses...I think the consumer just doesn't realize the work involved nor the OTHER patrons that came before them. No matter what field of 'retail' you're in. And they've heard the motto, the customer is always right, and took it to heart...the selfishness comes out in the worst of times too, it seems.

Hope your weekend is good. I'm glad I stopped by.

Sweetie said...

Hi - This is my first visit to your blog. I'm from Pennsylvania, love PennState, JoePa, and Hubby is getting ready for "The Day." By this afternoon our kitchen will be filled with hunter friends. They have to develop their strategy for the first day of deer season. Hubby knows every inch of the moutain where he and his friends hunt. On the first day only a privileged few hunt with him. No one in hubby's group kills a doe. They respect the deer population. Some of the people who come from urban areas to hunt in our rural area really don't have the perspective to understand what it means to be a "real hunter." I enjoyed your post.

The Shack said...

Funny how many workers grow to dislike the very business that pays their wages. Not that I blame you or any of them. I wonder how many retail workers actually like working on "black Friday" for example. The problem is that the customers don't realize you are just a human being and aren't perfect. You can only do so much. When we go to a restaurant or retail store we must realize that and treat the workers as we would like to be treated if we were in their shoes.

Mary said...


When I was young, I hunted with Dad, Grandpa and my uncles and brother. We were taught to respect life and never take more than you could use. Native Americans set a good example, as throughout history they used the entire animal after killing it. Horns and bones were used for tools and weapons, sinew for bone strings and thread and of course the meat for food.

I was a waitress for many years. One day I just became fed up, gave my notice and vowed I would never waitress again. Waitressing in that truck stop with all of those hunters would have been a job from hell. I'm glad you no longer have to work at that job.

Take care, my friend. I enjoyed my visit, as always.


fermicat said...

I live in the city, so I am not impacted by hunting season. Except the beer I bought in the camouflage cans - I needed a particular brand to make beer cheese soup, and the only ones I could find were in camo-edition tall boy cans. Very redneck! But the soup was good.

terri said...

I've never done any waitressing, but have always thought that they don't get paid nearly enough to put up with some of the customers' antics. I spent a few years working behind the counter at a bakery and Christmas Eve was our crazy day where customers filled the place from wall to wall, picking up orders and trying to grab some of the holiday treats we sold. Those days were absolutely and totally exhausting.

Maggie May said...

Can't bear hunting! As I don't eat red meat....... I wouldn't touch venison. However the fact that I eat chicken & turkey makes me a bit of a hypocrite!

Had to laugh at your waitressing memories!

Enjoy your second Thanksgiving meal!

mlh said...

The waitressing story was incredible. I never knew work like this is so stressful, even when just placing an order with the cook.

As for hunting, I share those sentiments. Pennsylvania being a state to let kids have the day off from school to go hunting, at least back during my school days. I heard the pops LATE last night, around 10:00. And those guys do get testy. Once, a hunter told my mother to put on an orange vest whenever she planned to be outside, on her own property. Yes, he was trespassing but thought that having a hunting license gave him permission to go wherever he wanted.

Morgan Mandel said...

I've never been a waitress. I'm sure I would have gotten the orders all mixed up, if I had been one. I admire you for sticking with that job for so long. It had to be rough like in deer season, probably fishing season, so many other special occasions, when people didn't feel like cooking and expected their food right away.

As for deer - They're a nuisance, but I wish there were some other way than to hunt and kill them. They are really cute.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

Morgan Mandel said...

Mmmmm! Venison. I'll take some of that!!!

Josh is a hunter but he's not obsessed like some of the people I've know over the years. Thank goodness!


Anonymous said...

I LOVE your sense of humour "those clowns and fools" hee hee! I never knew making sundaes and banana splits were a waitresses nightmare. I'll remember that the next time I order one.

Debo Blue

SnoopMurph said...

Banana splits a nightmare? Who would have guessed?! :)

I had venison years and years ago as a kid and really enjoyed it. A family friend would hunt deer in upstate NY every winter.