Restaurants can be dangerous places. They're home to hot things, sharp things, caustic things, slippery things and often clumsy things--as in, the staff. Sure, most of us can ferry a precariously full martini from service bar to table without spilling a drop, but that doesn't mean we're particularly graceful.
About a week into my brief and ill-advised stint as a restaurant manager, a member of my staff was polishing wine glasses when, out of nowhere, a goblet shattered in his hand. The stem snapped and drove right into his palm. In the middle of dinner service. So while one of us quickly reassigned his tables to other servers, the rest of us formed a semicircle in the kitchen, helping him hold his hand over his head and applying pressure until we got the bleeding to slow down enough for him to take a cab to the hospital. Being young and almost totally inexperienced, I was mortified.
"Do you need anything?" I asked. "A glass of water? Anything?"
"Maybe some mouth to mouth," he replied, a wicked grin creeping onto his face.
Still, when it comes to graceless, I think I take the cake. I've slipped on greasy kitchen floors and twisted my ankle and bruised my bum. I've poured boiling hot coffee all over my hand, burning the incredibly tender skin between my fingers until it swelled up like a water balloon. I've even had to get stitches for one of my charming work-related injuries.
I was bartending at a Center City pizza joint a few years ago. The night was coming to a close, and as part of my closing sidework I had to empty my bar garbage cans and bring the bags out to the dumpster. Being 5-foot-1, I usually ended up slinging them one at a time over my shoulder like a demented Santa Claus. On this particular night, however, someone had put broken glass into my garbage without telling me. And when the swollen, stinky, awkward bag swung into my leg, I didn't even feel the glass cut my thigh.
Fifteen minutes later, when I noticed my pants felt damp, I reached down and touched them to see what I'd spilled on myself. My hand was covered in blood.
Before I could go to the hospital, my middle-aged male manager had to see the injury and fill out an incident report. So I found myself wearing nothing below the waist but my undies in the restaurant office while he documented the gash on my upper thigh. Adding insult to injury, the damn thing needed four stitches, which were administered by the very helpful staff at the hospital--after every male working in the ER that night came to take a peek.