Saturday, April 28, 2012

thoughts on st. paddys 2012

I wrote this at the end of a long day dealing with all things St. Paddys...

"I am enjoying yet another St. Patrick's Day working at a well-known Irish place in Chicago.  Well, enjoying is perhaps too strong a word for it. Enduring is probably a more accurate one.

I am not Irish and make no pretence of ever having been, either now or in my past genetic history.  However, as a transplant to this grand nation of small nations, I have come to recognize the importance, at least to some, of having some sort of cultural shorthand, a way of saying "this is where I'm from and this is the heritage I value most because I identify heavily with it".

St. Patrick's Day seems be an opportunity for anyone, and I mean absolutely anyone, to claim to be Irish for a day.  And not only that, to aspire to the lowest possible cultural stereotype, namely: drunken public behavior dressed in clothing of a color can best be described as 1980's green, genteely referred to by some as "kelly" and drinking fluids of the same color.

So today I have had to pick up reams of toilet paper spread about the ladies bathroom. Twice. I have had to go into one of our men's bathroom to stop three young men from playing football with a soap dispenser, and have fielded dozens of phone calls from a variety of sources which range from the sublime to the ridiculous and everything in between.

I have endured beer on my clothes, heat, sticky floors, a lack of any kind of break except to nip to the bathroom and one fairly disruptive computer emergency. I have printed and folded 250 menus, wrapped silverware and rustled up extra tables, seemingly from thin air. I have tried to soothe disappointed potential customers who are surprised when I tell them at 6.50pm that there will be no table for their party of 6 people at 7.30pm (while inwardly raising my eyebrows yet again at the lack of foresight that allows for utter surprise that there is no such magic table for them no mattter whom they claim best buddyship with).

As I try to field yet another call over the disasterous cacophony that are the pipers (does anyone understand that piper are traditionally Scots not Irish?) and as my head begins to thump I tell myself grimly: this will be the last one. THE VERY LAST ONE. Because I'm damned sure this ain't part of my heritage or, for that matter, anyone who truly believes in the wonderful cuisine, culture and heritage that is truly an Irish inheritance.