She's high on something and it isn't life
The restaurant industry takes all comers -- ex-convicts, the occasional perv or three and many, many drug addicts and alcoholics -- you name the vice, and you can rest assured your favorite restaurant, be it a casual theme joint like TGI Fridays or a Michelin-starred establishment like Bouchon, has someone, or likely many someones, with those vices in its employ.
Why, you may ask, would any business that strives to remain solvent staff said business with what mainstream culture might deem the drug-addled detritus of society? The answer is simple: Because they get the job done. In the biz, drug use or no drug use, if you don't meet the standards of the chef or maître d'hôtel, you're out on your unemployed ass faster than you can say "bouillabaisse."
That said, nearly every restaurant employee, from the lowest dish bitch to the most executive of chefs, has a few strung-out skeletons in their proverbial closets -- how better to manage the six-to-eight hour adrenal overload that goes along with the perpetual hell that is the professional kitchen? Chamomile tea and a cookie?
Think more along the lines of a psychoactive hierarchy, one consisting of opiates, benzodiazepines, central nervous stimulants of the alpha‑methylphenethylamine class, such as amphetamine, biphetamine and dimethoxy-4-methylamphetamine, and the classics, like cocaine, the now-practically-legal weed and good ole' alcohol.
To quote a famous chef-turned-bestselling author and television personality:
"The body is not a temple, it's an amusement park. Enjoy the ride."
The Calm Before the Shit Storm
Where: The Restaurant
Time: 11 p.m.
Countdown: 8 hours to brunch rush
You walk out the employee exit of the restaurant smelling of layer upon layer of everything that went through expo during your shift -- roasted chicken, a little, or a lot, of seafood, frying oil, olive oil, finishing oils, grilled beef, stocks and broths made from assorted proteins and veg, the mother sauces and their myriad variations and a lot of dried perspiration and maybe a little crotch rot thrown in to tie it all together. Yum.
You might have closed out your shift and enjoyed a few drinks at the bar, the drinks having been comped or at least doubled at no extra cost if you're friendly with the bartender and you tip well. Your frayed nerves are slowly reforming.
Dinner service went well overall, and you walked away with a cool $200 to $2,000 in your pocket after tipping out the bar staff, bus boys and, if you're a generous server, the kitchen staff. And, oh, hell yeah, it's Saturday night, bitches! It's time to get down! Brunch service doesn't start until 7 a.m., which means you have to be in the shop by no later than 6:30 a.m., come hell or hellish high water.
You have almost eight hours to chill with the homies (well, don't kid yourself, you have no friends outside of the industry so you'll be hanging with your fellow service staff ), catch a few hours of sleep and wake up ready to wash, rinse and repeat. You'll be fine in the morning, you tell yourself. Yeah, right, your voice of reason says. You decide to put your voice of reason on mute for a while.
Riding the Hedonistic Wave
Where: At your dive bar of choice or a colleague's house
Time: around 2 a.m.
Day: You don't know or don't care
Countdown: See above
After a shower (or, more likely, a quick rinse) to wash away the odorous remnants of your previous shift, you might have had a couple drinks, smoked a little ganja or did a line or two of speed or coke before meeting up with your friends, usually at your favorite hole-in-the-wall or a coworker's house -- there's always that one dive bar or friend's house that draws restaurant workers with the gravitational pull of a neutron star. And it's always for the original American ménage à trios of sex, drugs and rock n' roll, but almost never in that order.
You're having a hell of a time, but nothing really out of the ordinary. This is what you do every Saturday night, and probably four to five other nights out of the week, depending on how hardcore you are. The night is still just a baby, you tell yourself. You voice of reason un-mutes itself and says, "Dude, pack it up. If you haven't gotten laid by now, you aren't going to, and you have to get up in a couple hours. Say your goodbyes and call it a night."
You tell your voice of reason to fuck off and carry on.
Winter is Coming
Where: Hopefully your apartment or a friend's house, but quite possibly a ditch, gutter or back alley
Time: 6 a.m.
Countdown: Jesus Christ, one fucking hour to brunch service
Just as you drift off into Neverland, but still nowhere the REM phase your body needs to restore itself, your mobile phone has a cacophonic fit of monstrous proportions, essentially telling you in the harshest of repetitive beeps, boops or dings, to Wake up, motherfucker! It's time to get your sorry ass to work!
The chemtrails from the previous evening, an evening which didn't really end but just kind of rolled into your current position in time and space, smack you in the dome like a sledgehammer.
Your roommate looks at you askance and slantendicular, and asks, "Did you get the license plate number?"
You reply, in grumble-speak, "Huh?"
"Of the truck that hit you last night. You look like shit."
At this time your perpetually sober roomie decides to blend, at high speed, a vile kale-avocado-watercress-pine nut-carrot-whey protein-soy milk-zucchini concoction, because he's a healthy little shit and you, at this time, are basically a meat sack filled with broken things. But you push through, make it into the shower and dress. You give yourself a metaphorical pat on the back for having a back-up uniform, clean and pressed, for such occasions. Now you get ready to tackle the beast.
"Prepping" for Your Shift
The drugs you do to prepare for your shift largely depend on what you're into or what you did the night before -- comedowns can be brutal when you have nothing to cushion the blow, sort of like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute, but without all the broken bones and gore, usually.
You certainly don't want to take 80mg of Oxy to the head for the first time in your life at 6:30 a.m. before your shift, nor do you want to trudge through the brunch rush with a hangover that makes you look like a cross-eyed sloth with Tourette's syndrome and a gimpy leg. So where does the answer lie? In balance. You must balance your narcotics like aZen master balances chaos.
Opiate use among restaurant staff is so prevalent, legislation should be drafted to mandate rehabilitation therapy and methadone distribution after six months of employment. But successful restaurant employees manage their addictions until they can't.
- To all the veteran hopheads, smack masters, painer pirates or whatever you're calling yourselves this week: You guys know what you have to do to get through the day. And, if you've been in the restaurant business long enough without getting canned over it, you obviously know how to manage it. So dose as needed and go about your business.
- To the opiate neophytes and first-timers: You might want to think twice before popping your opiate cherry at 6:30 a.m. whilst battling a beastly hangover and sleep deprivation. Opiates are not an effective hangover cure for the noob; you'll fly so high your first time you might just not want to come down, but that's on you. They do work wonders on hangover-related headaches, though.
Pro Tip: If you do choose to engage in an opiate-fueled brunch service, do not, under any circumstances, nod off, especially when interfacing with guests or in front of your boss. If you have an otherwise clean record at the restaurant you might have a miniscule chance of blaming the nod-offs on sleep deprivation. If you can pull that off, not only will you earn respect from the maître d'hôtel for pushing through when you're "exhausted," but props from your colleagues for slithering your way out of a write up or on-the-spot termination.
Stimulants make things happen, such as euphoria, increased mental clarity and improved focus. You'll often project an image of Peppy John Happy Camper who absolutely loves his job and will do anything to satisfy his guests, his maître d', his coworkers, the line cooks, hell, you might even take it upon yourself to help out the dish guy after closing down your station, but you can usually chalk that up to a teamwork philosophy if you play your cards right.
But that feeling generally only occurs during the first few weeks of use. Then, the law of diminishing returns apply, and it's a rough ride down that mountain. But occasional use in times of need is defensible for most restaurant staff.
- Methamphetamine might make you a bit "overzealous," but that isn't necessarily a bad thing as a server. Sure, you might take it upon yourself, when a guest asks a simple question about omelets, to proffer then vocalize in detail the finer points of the locally sourced eggs gestated and oviposited by free-range heritage-bred Black Australorp chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus nigrum austrolorpus) who've been fed a diet consisting only of faro, pecans, soy milk and wheatgrass for the duration of their six- to 10-year lifespan used for said omelets, but hey, you don't care because you're informed and want the best for your guests.
Good-humored guests might think, "Now that's a person who loves their job and knows their business," or, hangry guests, which comprise approximately 99.9 percent of brunch patrons,might think, "What a freak, I don't give a crap about where your eggs come from I just wanted to know how many are in a damn omelet."\
- Adderall, or "meth light":
Adderall does a little of everything meth does -- only one methyl group differentiates their chemical compositions -- but without all the horsepower. You can find Adderall XR (extended release, the best choice for a six-hour shift) in 5, 10, 15, 25 and 30mg capsules. If you choose Adderall, start with 5 or 10mg and increase your dosage as needed.
- Coke: Cocaine creates a euphoria unlike any other stimulant. Unfortunately, you have to do a bump every 15 to 30 minutes to maintain your high, prompting you to leave your station at inopportune times, or stay in your station with a feeling as if your skin is crawling. Coke is more of a party drug than a work drug, so save it for after work or use it at your own discretion.
Pro Tips: If you snort stimulants, always check the mirror for "bats in the belfry." You can't effectively explain away clumps of white powder in your nostrils under any circumstances, unless you're doing drywall without a mask.
When snorting, stealth is key to success. Recruit a busboy to act as lookout. Give him a fiver or something. Stepping out of the stall high as balls only to find your maître d' standing before you with his arms crossed results in not only a buzzkill level 1,000 but constitutes a terminable offense, especially if you suck at your job. If you're lucky you might just get a write-up; if you're a rock-star server, you'll walk away with merely a mild to stern warning.
Lastly, but above all, do not accidentally leave your driver license on the back of the toilet when you finish a line. It's happened before and there is no reasonable explanation for it except, "Yeah, I was doing a line." This tip applies to servers who crush and snort pills, too.
- Xanax (alprazolam), whether in "bars" (2mg), "purple footballs" (1mg), "peaches" (0.5mg) or "dots" (.25mg), is the King Kong of benzodiazepines, and proves its value during stressful events such as divorce, death of a loved one and the brunch rush; also particularly useful during MOAH (Mother Of All Hangovers).
- Klonopin (clonazepam), similar to Xanax but with a shorter half life and a milder effect on the CNS; also useful during MOAH.
- Valium (diazepam), the mildest of the three benzos listed, is better than nothing. With a shorter half life than Klonopin and not nearly the CNS-depressant effectiveness of Xanax, you could consider Valium a last resort, or plan D, kind of like when the garde manger chef gets too high to function and you have to ask the dishwasher to make salads all night.
To the alcoholics: Like pill heads, you guys know what you need to make it through the day and the amounts needed to walk that fine line between keeping withdrawal at bay and getting shitfaced.
To the weaklings, I mean social drinkers: If you're a social drinker, you can cure your hangover with time, an OTC painkiller and sports drinks for hydration and to correct electrolyte imbalances.
Pro Tips: You cannot mask the odor of alcohol on your breath, but you can keep your head down, stay busy and avoid getting within three feet of your manager's face. And if he does detect alcohol on your breath, just say something like, "Rough night, boss," and quickly move on. Do not hold a conversation. Keep your head down and push.
If you decide to bring alcohol to work, choose a light-colored alcohol, mix it with juice for color and keep it in a juice bottle in your locker or always close by. Sip as needed to get through, not to get drunk. Do not get sloppy. Do not steal from the bar or the beer cooler. If you're tight with the bar staff, they'll likely hook you up with a Jack and coke, Stoli and cran or your drink of choice, if they can and if they have time.
Weed is like the duct tape of drugs -- it helps fix, or at least ameliorate, the symptoms of several medical conditions,
including but not limited to glaucoma, Dravet's Syndrome, generalized anxiety disorder and, of course, hangovers and drug-induced comedowns. Unlike alcohol and hard drugs, no one has ever overdosed on marijuana,
laws regarding its possession and use are turning in the recreational user's favor and you
can find it just about anywhere.
If you need a drug of choice, whether for brunch service, dinner service or post-shift relaxation, marijuana might be for you.
Hallucinogens and Psychedelics
- LSD (acid), 'shrooms (psilocybin), mescaline, peyote: Just don't. Don't even consider it. You're not Doc Ellis. You have as good of a chance making it through the brunch rush on acid as you do getting into the NASA space program, writing that book you've been telling yourself you're going to write and winning Powerball, all in one day.
Alright treehuggers and pseudoscience lovers, we'll throw you a vegan bone. You likely didn't get too messed up last night, at least not by restaurant standards, but if you did, maybe the placebo effect will work for you. The following are a few remedies purported to have therapeutic
effects when you've had one too many:
- Aloe juice purportedly coats the stomach lining and helps balance acid levels in the gut
- Milk thistle supposedly prevents and cures hangovers by "cleansing" the liver and increasing circulating amounts of glutathione, glutathione reductase and glutathione peroxidase (but in reality, the only thing that prevents hangovers is abstaining from drinking)
- Turmeric teas allegedly help alleviate nausea and "get acetaldehyde levels under control" by speeding up alcohol metabolization
Pro Tip: Good luck with that.
Managing Your High During Brunch
It's not what you do, it's how you act, or, more precisely, how you're perceived by your maître d' and, of course, your guests. If things get rough, keep pushing harder and tell yourself, "This, too, shall pass." It might pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass nonetheless.
- Act as you normally. Nothing says, "Hey, look at me, I'm high," faster than having diarrhea of the mouth (unless you normally have diarrhea of the mouth; in that case, carry on).
- Do not pretend you're hiding anything, even though you might be. Assume everybody knows what you're doing and they don't care. In fact, no one does care -- everyone is too busy dealing with their own issues -- they just want you to get your job done.
- Do not pussy out and ask to go home just because you're hungover or strung out. That's known as playing yourself, and you will be heavily scrutinized for the duration of your (likely short) tenure. It's your mess, you fix it.
- If you've ran dry on your drug of choice, chances are if you stay and finish out your shift, providence will smile upon you and someone will come through for you. At the very least, you'll have enough cash after your shift to cop what you need.
Smoke a couple bowls or a blunt of the green to smooth the comedown before leaving the house
Take your benzodiazepine of choice to depress any hangover-related hand tremors and perspiration
Take opiates using your method of choice, but only if your body demands it
Drink alcohol, to keep the shaking and profuse perspiration at bay, if your body demands it
Do a little speed to keep yourself on your toes, but not enough to induce paranoia
Drink a couple sports drinks to help achieve homeostasis and correct electrolyte imbalances
Disclaimer: This satirical post was not written by a medical doctor, physician's assistant, RN, orderly, hospital janitor or a person even remotely associated with professional medicine. In fact, the writer is a madman with various neuroses who has no business putting a Band-Aid on another human being, much less dispensing pharmacological advice. The information contained herein is intended for entertainment purposes only and should in no way be misconstrued as sound advisement. Drugs are bad.