Steve and Lenny, the collective Stenny, came up with a brilliant plan to thank their staff during this holiday season.
At least the email they sent to the staff had the subject line “Our Brilliant Thank You Plan.” Tara and Melissa are not so sure.
“This is not good,” Melissa says to Tara as they sit at the bar. Tonight they—as well as Stephen and all the servers—are customers, being served by “Stennyelves”; in other words, guest bartenders and servers.
“Agreed. They should have asked one of us. We could have told them this sort of thing never works,” Tara says.
They are both quiet for a minute or two, reflecting on the havoc wreaked, in their past experience, by the guest bartender gimmick.
“Do you know who they’re bringing in?” Melissa asks.
“I think ex-employees,” Tara says.
“From when this was Pogo’s?” Melissa asks.
“No, from Stenny’s old business.”
“The accounting firm? What the fuck! Did anyone even train them?” Melissa asks.
“I don’t think so. I heard Lenny say they’re smart, they’ll figure it out.”
“Different kind of smart.”
As if on cue, Lenny turns the corner from the dining room; he is trailed by a person both Tara and Melissa assume to be one of the Stennyelves. He’s dressed the part, wearing a green tunic, red and white striped tights, and a pointy hat. Lenny, who is short, squat, and dour, resembles Snow White’s friend Grumpy.
“Melissa, Tara, meet Elvis,” Lenny says.
“Hello, Elvis,” Melissa says. “Is that your real name or your elf name?”
“I don’t understand the question,” Elvis says.
Melissa, who we have established is very bright, makes the snap decision that this line of questioning is fruitless.
“Never mind,” she says. “Welcome. I’ll have a Singapore Sling.”
Tara laughs. She has never known Melissa to drink anything with more than two ingredients, and knows she’s testing Elvis, and—by extension—Lenny.
“I don’t know what that is,” Elvis says.
“Melissa, don’t be a jerk-off,” Lenny says.
Tara and Melissa exchange startled looks, and Melissa carefully files this moment in her long-term memory.
“Ah, just messing with you, Elvis,” she says with what Tara knows is completely false jocularity. “I don’t need nothing right now.” The grammatical mistake is intentional; she wants Lenny to underestimate her.
Tara feels she has an unfulfilled role to play in this exchange, and now fills it. She says, “Lenny, have you provided Elvis and the other elves with any training?” knowing full well he has not.
“Not just elves. Stennyelves,” he says. “They are all CPAs, Tara, and very smart. They’ll figure it out.”
The use of her name in this context is condescending and pisses Tara off. “I’m smart too, Lenny, but I couldn’t file your corporate taxes without some training.”
Lenny shrugs, and says, “Elvis is the lead Stennyelf. He’s the smartest of the lot. Really knows his way around a profit and loss statement.”
Tara gives up. “Well, it’s a nice idea, you giving us the night off with pay,” she says.
“With pay?” Lenny says.
“Of course. That’s how these things work. We get our hourly rate and the tips the elves get.” She deliberately doesn’t use the approved elf verbiage. “What would be the point otherwise? And of course we don’t tip the elves.”
Lenny is consternated. “But I’m paying the Stennyelves an hourly rate, in line with them being CPAs. They were going to give me their tips as an offset. Your way, I lose a ton of money.”
Fuck me, Melissa thinks and says “Oh, surely not a ton.”
“Mary Ann will not be happy,” Lenny says.
“You’re worried about what your partner’s wife thinks?” Tara, who is a fan of strong women, still finds this incredulous.
“Of course not. Just making a statement. Proceed, Elvis,” he says as he heads toward the kitchen.
Elvis clearly does not have the first clue as to what “Proceed,” in these circumstances, means. He looks at Tara and Melissa, who simultaneously take pity, and spend the next 45 minutes training him, and the other available Stennyelves, on enough of the basics to stave off disaster.
If you like this story, please check out my completed book, “Butts in the Seat”; one reviewer said it was “amusing, entertaining, and provides therapeutic value.”