Tim and Jeremy are both waiters at a restaurant in downtown New York City. During slow times at work, to stave off boredom when it is slow, the two young men draw pictures. These pictures are made using ink and what is called the "Triple Dupe Pad," a book of paper used to place orders in the kitchen. The drawings usually take about a week to make, all the while also being used by fellow employees to take orders; this sometimes leads to other collaborators or in a couple cases, to the loss of the work. The drawings are then scanned and colored in Photoshop where they come to life in stunning technicolor! The subject matter varies from piece to piece, as they are made over a long course of time and under various moods and states of mind. They all retain a playfulness that serves as a coping mechanism after spending a night catering to the endless needs of hungry patrons.

Friday, April 10, 2015

#71 In Color!!! September 10, 2013

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"Water World"

In any good restaurant, there should never be a dull moment. Actually, the only dull moment should be closing up for the evening without a hitch; locking the door, and peacefully walking away, leaving the space to breathe overnight to get ready to do it all again the next day. The rest of the time should be a non-stop hive of activity. Ordering, delivering and preparing the food, cleaning the place, making it look good for the guests, and eventually serving as many meals as humanly possible. All of this usually goes on without incident day in and day out. There are some days, however, that try their hardest to mess up the natural flow of the normal day in the restaurant. One of those days happened just this week, and I was there to witness it.
There have been a handful of times that the restaurant has closed because of natural disasters. The Cafe Loup was open on 9/11, and from I heard, they were packed. The place doesn't have a television set, and my guess is that people needed to get out of their apartments and be with other people on that day, and so they congregated at the bar and in the dining room trying to make sense of the events of the day. I started working there a couple months later and business went on uninterrupted until August 14, 2003. I was taking a shower, getting ready to go to work when the stereo went out. I didn't think much of it until I got outside and saw that the traffic lights were out. It was the Great Blackout of 2003. The entire Northeast was blacked out, the biggest power outage in American history with over 50 million people without power. On that day, though, we all thought the power would be back on in time for service, so I went to the Loup to see what I could do. I found Lloyd there that day sitting outside on the sidewalk with his little battery operated television set that we would watch the World Series on a couple months later. Sure enough, the entire city was without power. I went into the darkened restaurant that was being lit by the emergency floodlights, but the kitchen was pitch black. There would be no service that evening. A couple regulars came in and we gave them some drinks, and drank a couple beers, since they would all be warm in a couple hours and then sat outside on the sidewalk to watch the endless streams of people walking home. That little forced night off wasn't such a big deal, the power returned the next day and the restaurant went on with the usual business that evening.
The next time wasn't so easy. Flash forward nine years to October 2012. A storm people were calling "Frankenstorm" was making it's way up the East Coast. The closeness to Halloween was the reason for the name, but once it hit New York City, the humor of the name was quickly forgotten to the actual name of the storm, Hurricane Sandy. This hurricane, when all was said and done, ended up being the second costliest hurricane in American history, runner-up only to Katrina which essentially leveled New Orleans. To this day, there are still people in New York City living in hand-made shelters that they built after their homes were destroyed, and this is going on 3 years since the storm. I was lucky enough to be out of town when the storm hit, and although the storm water didn't affect the Cafe Loup, the aftermath certainly did. The water flooded the streets on the south and east side of Manhattan, causing one of the power stations to explode and shut off the power to lower Manhattan for a week. Just our luck, the power outage affected everything from 14th street on down to the southern tip of Manhattan. As you know, the restaurant is on 13th Street. Lloyd estimated that he ended up throwing out over $7,000 worth of food that started to go bad a couple days after the power went out. Then he had to buy all that food again and start over. And we were the lucky ones! Minimal to no water damage, and everyone survived.  Pretty good for a city where 100,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, and 71 people died.
Finally, and this is why I even thought about this subject in the first place, are the events that took place this past Wednesday evening. The previous two events cost the restaurant a lot of money and stress, and so this little thing that happened on Wednesday is essentially a non-event, but it was pretty eventful anyway, and it made me think about how sometimes it's the unexpected events that make you enjoy the quieter moments. What happened is that at about 7 o'clock on Wednesday night, a water main broke on 13th St. and 7th Ave, flooding the subway and draining the neighborhood of its water. Our building still had hot water, but there was no cold water and no water in the toilets. I was working the door, so I would tell people this as they came in, showing them videos from Twitter, and letting them know that the toilets were essentially not working. Not one person was disuaded from coming in and enjoying some drinks and dinner. Every once and a while, Tim and I would go into the bathrooms and manually fill up the tanks, and rinse out the urinal, thus trying to create a sort of normalcy throughout the night. The kitchen guys filled up as many receptacles as they could with the water that was remaining since they knew it would eventually run out as it had in the smaller buildings on the block. For the most part, I was impressed by everyone who helped out to make a possibly disastrous situation completely reasonable and incident free. Some of the guests didn't even know anything was amiss until they were leaving. Writing about this night coupled with the previous stories seems like they aren't related in the slightest, as the other two were disasters on a national level, while this water main break only affected an extremely small amount of people and was essentially a nuisance rather than an all out life altering event. But it was exciting. To be put in a pressure situation and come out on the other end not only successful but also making such a small impact that many people didn't know there was a problem was pretty cool. It certainly makes you appreciate those nights that nothing out of the ordinary happens. Oh, to be boring!

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