November 17th, 1990 - a day that will live in infamy. Unbelievable! I have never seen it happen before or since…I’m talking about ‘The Projectile Chili Incident’. Before I started catering, I worked at a few restaurants. There was one, in particular, that was really horrible. The Great American Health Bar on West 57th Street in New York. Now, at this place, I literally make NO money. I’m not kidding. I was living at my parent’s house in New Jersey and was commuting to The Great American everyday. Curiously, there were no actual Americans working there. I worked upstairs for the lunch shift - the absolute worst station. I would serve MAYBE three or four customers in the one hour that it was minorly busy - and then I would go back home! So, actually, I was just paying for my bus fare to go back and forth! (don’t judge me, my mind had snapped shortly before that). Anyway, there is this diminutive and ancient cashier/manager there named Joseph, who would make it his life’s work to torment me as much as humanly possible. This guy speaks NO English - and was probably herding yak on some distant mountain in Kazakhastan - just a few months ago. Before he struck oil, or something - like Jed Clampett from The Beverly Hillbillies. Now, he’s the manager/cashier at The Great American Health Bar in New York City. In any case, there’s this one Wednesday ( Wednesday was the big Broadway matinee day) and in an IMPROBABLE and highly unlikely chain of events, I think, like, three people call out sick, I, somehow inherit the busiest station - THE PLATFORM!
Everybody stampedes in at EXACTLY the same time, because they have to hurry to see The Phantom Of The Opera, or whatever is big on Broadway back then. They are all clamoring for their food, lest they be late for THE BIG SHOW, and I am scurrying like a rodent, trying to keep up with the orders. I burst out of the kitchen with, like five plates on my arms, in an effort to appease the savage beasts, and put down one of the plates - a plate of chili - on the railing of the platform. I turn around to serve out the other plates - when SUDDENLY -
I hear a chorus of tormented screams of agony!! Somehow, the chili - the scolding hot chili - had crashed to the floor and splatters EVERYBODY on the platform! EVERYBODY, incredibly enough! I mean, it could have qualified for a national disaster. One poor lady was standing up, shaking her hands and crying, in a state of shock. Bizarrely enough - it had hit her in every possible place! On top of her head - all over her white pantyhose - even inside her shoes! Another gentleman just stares - in a state of grief - as the chili has somehow permeated his very expensive London Fog trenchcoat! Others just sit in stunned silence - some crying - some suffering burns from the errant chili. A horrific scene - if there ever was one! One by one, they soon come back to life, and begin to roar for redemption - at least in the form of compensation for their dry cleaning!
The roars grow louder -the crowd becoming increasingly hostile - and Joseph, speaking NO English, fearing for his very life, and thoroughly befuddled - points at me and shouts:
What?! Me?! But I don’t even make any money here! How can I pay for all this -there must be at least $2,000 worth of dry cleaning bills here! I would have to work for years for free -I would be an indentured servant. The next morning, I call up the restaurant and claim that I have mysteriously broken my leg overnight. I never work for The Great American again.