Way back when, at a restaurant called Gladstone's 4 Fish, in Malibu, I was but a young waiter trying to live the dream of being an actor. I had finished college and drove out West to pursue my divine calling. Gladstone's was an incredible restaurant to work for. It was on the beach. We stole lobsters and fillets. We had crazy parties. If you worked a morning shift, you could be in the mountains skiing by the afternoon. Zero responsibility. Unlimited possibility. Life was good.
One day, I began my shift like any other. I clocked in. Put my iconic white shorts on. Saw which section I would be working in. The usual. I was put in the back section. Blah. It was slow during lunch but was killer in the evening. Slow lunch. Ok. Whatever. I chatted with my bestie Christine, no biggie.
Out of nowhere my manager comes in, "Bryce, what the hell are you doing, you have a table. GO!" Shit. I run out, push through the doors and boom! There were 10 huge men in my section. HUGE. No one else. Just these guys. GIANT. They were smoking cigars. Illegal. They brought their own booze. Illegal. They took up 5 tables (not illegal but a dick move). My stomach sank.
Holy God, this is Suge Knight and his posse. The Suge Knight who has been tried multiple times for murder. Who beat up people for parking in his space. Who has sent death squads to his enemies. Who doesn't give a flying shit about anything. And what, I'm going to serve him Baked Halibut in my tiny white shorts along with his compatriots in a closed off section with no other people around? Are you kidding me?!
As I entered the den of lions, I realized just how tiny my shorts were. "Hi, what would you like to order? We have a blueberry margarita and our special is Baked Halibut with a parmesan crust, horseradish and dijon mustard. It's delicious and one of the guest favorites." I'm dead. Halibut will be my last words.
Never looking up, speaking through his cigar, "I want 10 seafood towers, 15 lobsters and 15 fillets. I need it all in 20 minutes. I want 4 bottles." Bottles of what? "Bottles!" He points to the Hennessy he brought. "Sir, I don't know if we serve bottles of Hennessy." He looks at me. "4 bottles it is."
I leave. My white shorts now stained with tears and a goodbye note to my mother.
Food comes out. They eat it. They smoke. Now we're onto weed. Illegal. I bring more "bottles." I drop the check and leave.
Slowly, one by one, they exit the restaurant. "Bye, thanks for coming to Gladstone's 4 Fish. Be sure to try calamari next time. Take care. Bye."
A sigh of relief. My face is intact. All is good. I go to see what kind of tip was left. Nothing.
No, no tip. NO DAMN BILL. He didn't pay the bill. A $2400 bill. Nothing. Walked out. Restaurant policy is you pay if they don't. I run to my manager and tell him that Suge Freaking Killer Knight left without paying. He reiterated the rules. "I know the rules but we're talking about my life here." He didn't care. I started calculating how to pay this. I couldn't. I had nothing. Meltdown.
There was one choice- confront the former LA Rams Defensive End who weighed double what I did purely in muscle. I run out to the parking lot, white shorts riding up my ass. Sweating. Dying inside. I approach him and immediately am blocked by his body guards who are even bigger than him. Imagine standing a tank end to end and giving those tanks legs, that was these men. "What do you want? What the fuck are you doing?" Suge turns around. Looks at me. Pissed. Comes towards me.
"What?" Ummm..."Mr. Suge, you forgot to pay the bill."
Silence. Body guards silent. Suge silent. The earth stopped rotating. The white shorts hid themselves high up in my butt cheeks. Deafening stillness.
Reaches into his pocket. Death whispered in my ear, "Welcome home."
It was his wallet. I have never, to this day, seen so many hundreds. He pulls out 24 crisp 100 dollar bills. And a $20. Hands it to me. He calls his group cheap ass bitches. They laughed. They had to or else...I was going to laugh. But I didn't. He walks away, gets in his car and drives off.
I exhale for what seems like the first time in my life. I got my damn money.
Is there any moral to this story? No. I just wanted to indulge in a very true tale that happened during my 23rd birthday. And now, 14 years later, on my 37th birthday, I am in California meditating for a week thinking how crazy this wild, wacky, world is.
Ain't it a ride...