The Letter of MAIJAX to the Pontchartraini

The Common Places of Siliconía
3 min readDec 22, 2022

The Weeds are not caused by busy. The weeds are caused by some other asshole not doing his own running side work. Or they’re caused by some idiot putting gold rims on the soup cups. But then that goes back to running side work.

My very first server job was at the Café Pontchartrain on St. Charles Ave in New Orleans, August 2000. It was a famed establishment where the New Orleans power elite came to breakfast and lunch. Dinner service on the other hand was a laughable shit show run by a dude who looked like a fat Commander Riker. But he was a likeable enough guy that I spent my senior year at Loyola putting up with the bursty bullshit of mediocre fine dining. We served classic Creole cuisine with some kind of unique touch. I forgot what that unique touch was. I think it was Mile High Pie. We also had turtle soup. There was no turtle soup for breakfast and lunch, only dinner. However, none of the PM-shift cooks would ever remember to put the soup in the bain-marie to heat it up. I worked with some old dude who once killed a guy with a French onion soup and a hot blonde womyns studies major at Tulane. We the FOH had realized that the cooks were violent and felonious dipshits, so none of us took charge of the situation. Besides, I was 22 and convinced I was the next James Bond. (I had enrolled in Chinese classes that year.) I didn’t give a fuck about hot soup. That was some other dipshit’s job.

On the first turn, invariably, some land-whale Texas tourist who was fascinated by the idea of eating cute baby turtles to extinction would order turtle soup. I would ring it in and then go back to the line and ladle it up. Only to discover that it was cold. Fine, we’ve got a microwave (How else are you going to quickly prepare Ahi Tuna? But that is another disaster story.) I’d put the soup cup in the microwave. Small problem. Every soup cup, every coffee cup, every bowl, plate, saucer, every fucking piece of dining ware in the restaurant had a gold leaf rim. When you stuck these in the microwave, they would spark and char off a little piece of gold, leaving a small dark bruise on the soup cup. In the Southern Parlance, it was unsightly. You had to transfer the soup to the cups used by room service. These were the pedestrian, grade-above-healthcare-ware, neutral-colored pottery that is ubiquitous across fine establishments like Denny’s, Waffle House or Ol’ South Pancake House. Then you would microwave the soup in that, then transfer the now-hot liquid to the fancy gold leaf stuff. You would invariably slop it on something and have to clean that up. But there were no napkins at hand by the microwave station, so you’d walk around the kitchen, steady-handed, trying to find a goddamned napkin to wipe up this smidgen stain that resulted from the fucking lazy felons of Café Pontchartrain BOH not caring enough to write a fucking checklist and checking off “HEAT UP TURTLE SOUP”.

So, 37 minutes later, I’d walk out of the kitchen into the dining room with the Texan Land Whale’s Turtle Fucking Soup. And of course, I’d been double sat in the interim.

The Weeds isn’t caused by being busy. It’s not caused by running sidework. It’s caused by some other motherfucker not doing his running fucking side work.

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