Ocean City Today

The best kind of server

The Public Eye
By Stewart Dobson | Feb 01, 2018



printed 02/02/2018


When you return to the office after a few days in New York City, you expect to be greeted heartily by “Welcome back,” or “We missed you,” or “Everything went well and we got along just fine.”

But no, the first words I heard were the most dreaded of all, that single sentence that made me want to hitchhike back to the Bronx and spend the rest of my life on boxes in the back of Louie and Ernie’s Pizza.

Either that or pleading with Valerie, the High Priestess of Arthur’s Tavern in the West Village, to be allowed to live out my remaining years in the far corner next to the stage, provided I cover the two-drink minimum for the next decade (which, if I recall correctly, I took care of in advance, but more on that later).

I would even go so far as to say that I would prefer to be sentenced to life bobbing around in the tub of 200-degree water with the rest of the cheese that Orazio makes at his Casa Della Mozzarella down near Arthur Avenue.

But, again, no. I walked in the office door refreshed and ready only to be met with that chilling howl, “We can’t get on the server!”

Computer problems or a meat fork in the head — decisions, decisions.

At least with the latter, you know what the trouble is, whereas with the former it could be anything: mice in the wiring (unlikely), Russian meddling (possible), bad programming by me (likely), or alien space probes (best bet).

Consequently, rather than spending my first day back regaling the crew with why I felt it necessary to close down Arthur’s — more on that later — I had to fix the server network by employing all my computer knowledge.

This is fairly easy, since my technical skills are limited to putting in several hours of, “Hmmm, I wonder what will happen if I do this?” followed by calling someone to fix the problem, as well as the stuff I did to make it worse. I’m good at that.

Even though I have no idea what I’m doing, it’s my responsibility to boost office morale by looking like I know what I’m doing.

That gives them hope until I can get someone who actually does know what to do. In that respect, it’s like you’re on a ship that’s rapidly taking on water, but you feel better when a small boat comes alongside.

You’re still doomed, but you’re slightly comforted by the fact that someone who really can’t help will nevertheless figure out how to get 798 people on board his 17-foot center console. It’s an illogical hope thing.

And that’s why I did what I did at Arthur’s. I was the responsible small boat guarding the crew against the rogue wave of excess.

Being the oldest of the dozen or so guys on the trip, it fell to me to prevent the younger ones from succumbing to a lack of moderation.

That one noble purpose is why I sat on guard at Table Seven listening to Sweet Georgia Brown and the band at Arthur’s Tavern on Grove Street until 3 a.m.

I wanted to be sure my younger friends did not return in a foolhardy attempt to close the place. So, like the wounded cowboy who tells his companions during an attack by the bad guys, “Leave me behind and I’ll hold’em off as long as I can,” I stayed back to face the music so they could escape to safety.

Incidentally, I returned the next night, just to be sure those younger guys behaved.

Sometimes you have to make the sacrifice for your friends. Besides, the difference between Arthur’s and the office is that the server at Arthur’s will keep bringing you beer.

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