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October 9, 2013

My Big Night in Revere

Written: 15 May 2005
Happened: c. 1984

Just north of Boston on Route 1 is an exit to Route 60 also known as Squire Road. If you live on the North Shore, this is the exit you will usually take to get to Logan Airport. About a mile to the east you hit the first of two rotaries. Just before you enter the maelstrom of traffic, you will see a Dunkin Donuts shop. It has only been there a short time. For several years the spot was abandoned. Before that it was the site of the Pewter Pot Family Restaurant one of a good-sized chain with colonial decor and a basic sandwich/steak/soup/muffin/breakfast menu.

They made good coffee, passable muffins and excellent clam chowder. The Revere site was tiny in comparison to most. It was a free-standing building with a dining room that could hold about 75. Cooking was done on a grill and prep area directly behind the cash register which faced the door. The side of the building facing Squire Road was mostly window.

Toward the back of the building were the dishwashing area, a walk-in reefer for produce, eggs, and prepped stuff and a walk-in freezer for meats. A door from this area led out to the side parking lot and the dumpsters.

I had a great crew, a good mix of young and veteran servers. The star waitress was a pretty Filipino, 'Cookie', who could have handled the entire floor by herself with one hand tied behind her back. The dishwasher was a young kid who had just started and was doing well. The cook whom I'll call Mark was huge. An immensely muscular 6'7 or more with shoulders as broad as some of the waitresses were tall.

I was in charge of the night shift. I came on duty at two to get people started on the post-lunch, pre-dinner clean-up and resupply. The dishwasher was catching up, the ladies were filling salts and wiping everything down, Mark was scraping the grill and I went down to the basement where we had dry storage, canned goods, the office and the safe. I reconciled the drawer Made sure that the money equaled the tape, put the surplus in the safe and took the drawer back up to the register.

As I walked past the door to the dumpsters I noticed it was propped open with an empty can. I took the drawer to the register and came back to investigate. I pushed the door open and there was Mark with a hand truck loading six cases of frozen steaks into the trunk of his car ... restaurant steak ... steak I would have to explain the disappearance of on the the next inventory ... and the bastard didn't even look embarrassed.

I said, "You realize that you're fired."

He said, "Why?"

I said, "We're cutting back, there's no need for a cook when there are more steaks in your trunk than there are in the freezer."

He looked confused then said, "You can't fire me."

"I just did."

"I'll get you, you asshole."

I walked back inside and pulled the door shut, then called the Revere police.

Okay, we have to talk about the Revere police for a minute. Stories floated around about how some of them would take advantage of situations, helping themselves to stuff when a store was broken into. These were common folklore around Revere. I have to say that the guys I knew were stand-up and trustworthy. That being said ... we always comped their meals, a practice I was grateful for later that day.

The cops went to Mark's apartment and retrieved the steaks. I checked with the company and they were not going to press charges as long as the food was returned. Since the meat was back in the freezer, all was well and that was the end of it. I called a cook I knew and offered him the job, and we arranged for him to start the next day.

That night we closed at 10, but business usually dropped off to just a trickle after 8. At 9 pm, the waitresses started to clean and reset. There were a few coffee and muffin customers so I cleaned half the grill and turned it off leaving the other half for any latecomers' meals. I told Cookie to call me if she needed anything cooked. She snorted at me sweetly as if I were an idiot child.

"If anyone needs anything I'll cook it myself," she said. I pulled the cash drawer and set it up for the following day, then took the money and tapes down to the office, where I was sitting trying to figure out a $1.75 discrepancy when the phone rang. I left it for someone upstairs to pick up.

Cookie called down, "David you'd better pick-up." I did. The voice was Mark's. "I'm gonna kill that sonnabitch, and any of you bitches get in my way, I'm gonna kill you too." He was talking to one of the waitresses.

"Mark," I interrupted, "we're not pressing charges. You lost your job is all. Calm down."

"You asshole, I just needed to know you were there. I'll see you in a couple of minutes." I heard him hang up.

Remember how big I said he was? I tossed the money into the safe and went upstairs. The waitresses and dishwasher were freaking.

"We're closing early," I said. "How many of you have cars?" I gave each of the drivers $5 to drive the others home. I herded them out quickly, locked the doors and watched them drive away as I called the cops. I told them the situation. They said we'll be there in a minute. I put on a fresh pot of coffee for them. While I waited I shut everything down, cleaned the grill and watched the parking lot.

About 10 minutes later a squad car pulled into the lot. I knew the cops and unlocked the door and let them in.

"He hasn't shown up," I said. "Maybe he smartened-up." One of them laughed.

"No such luck. We found him parked half a block away. He had a baseball bat and Bowie knife on the seat and a .357 under it."

"Oh shit!"

"Good thing you called buddy ... any chance of some coffee."

The next day, we were comping another cop for dinner. I sat down with him and asked what was happening with Mark.

"Didn't you hear?" he said. "We tossed his apartment. The dipshit had an arsenal in there; pistols, automatics, a shotgun, a boxful of big honking knives, and enough baseball bats for a season of Little League. We got him on so many 'carrying concealed',and unregistered weapons violations that he's not gonna see daylight for some time."

For some reason, that's when I started to shake.