The other day I was bartending, and joked with a guest that a degree in English should come with mixology certification.
One of the generally useless skills I gained in my years studying literary criticism was my ability to categorize all people, movies, characters, and situations into Jungian archetypes! This has provided hours of entertainment for Husband and I, because I taught him the system and we now spend hours debating whether or not Alec in A Clockwork Orange is a true hero, and if his heroic status is altered between the book and the movie. And what is the precise moment he accepts his mission? Or what is the moment of baptism for Henry Hill in Goodfellas? are there two? is one implied because of the reality that he ends up ratting on his friends? Who is the true hero in the Sopranos?
Now that I'm an old woman - a lifer - in the restaurant industry, I've been through a thousand and one coworkers and over the past few years, I have turned my critical eye upon my coworkers: for they, too, can be packaged into archetypes. These archetypes are not mutually exclusive - it is possible for some to overlap slightly.
The (Actual) Queen Bee - Usually a server who has worked in the same restaurant forever. This is the server who gets all of the request tables, makes the most money, and is the meanest to new people.
The (Wannabee) Queen Bee - the server who thinks they should have everything handed to them immediately upon hire, because they were the (A)QB at the previous job. To which they should probably return. There is usually conflict between the (W)QB and the (A)QB.
The Scathingly Mean but Hilarious Gay Man - Crumpet, you know I love you. The SMbHGM is the one you want on your side when having a ridiculous and immature argument with another coworker (say, between the two Queen Bees), but he is not the first one you want to run into when you are having a fat day, because no matter how much you love each other, he will still say to you: "Lisa, you look 7 months pregnant in that outfit." or "good heavens, you are so hideously ugly without mascara on that it puts me in actual physical pain to look at you. Do me a favor and buy some mascara and carry it with you wherever you go, so that you are never caught without it again. Seriously. You look like a baby rat. It's so gross! Go! go now! Put your mascara on now you ugly, ugly troll!" For some reason, the SMbHGM always knows famous people, so you might find yourself having a cocktail after work, talking on his cell phone to an intoxicated Clay Aiken at the opening night after-party for his newest Broadway role. Not that it's ever happened.
The Troublemaker - this person thrives on conflict and gossip, as some thrive on vicodin and caffeine, as some thrive on food and water. They always latch onto the new employees, so they can have as many people on their side before they sabotage that relationship, too. The Troublemaker works very hard to manipulate situations to come out their way, in a way they think is exceedingly clever but usually isn't. The Troublemaker can always be found at the host stand, either gossiping about their fellow servers to the 17-year-old hostess, or complaining about how X server has 2.4 more covers than they have.
The Prankster - The first one to wrap their bosses car in plastic wrap, get the busboy to do shots of LA Freeway (unbeknownst to the busboy, naturally). The Prankster might be found decanting a bottle of red wine - gueridon and all - to a group of homeless people outside the front door (in view of the manager, who will be frantically searching for both the Prankster and the gueridon after about 15 minutes; it takes commitment to be a prankster). The Prankster usually inspires a sense of camaraderie and levity to the staff. Frequently they are one of the best employees in the restaurant, but they are usually fired in some sort of "down in flames" moment.
The Underminer - this actually happened to me, although I won't say when. The scene is a busy Saturday night. It's hot and I'm busy. I notice a table in a nearby section looking at me. I smile and glance over to see if they need anything. They don't appear to be in a particular need, but they still have menus. I start to wonder if it's my table and I've just stupidly forgotten. I double check - no, it's my fellow server's table. They continue to give me the impatient eyebrow. I am slightly weeded, though, and I don't really have time to check on others' tables (this is admittedly bad form on my part: a good server looks out for the needs of all the guests in the restaurant, not just the needs of their own tables.) I can tell the table is growing more exasperated and impatient. It is apparent that, even though they have been watered (that's restaurant speak for having been at least greeted, and water poured), no one has take their drink order. I resolve to attend to the tables' needs. Just as I make my way near the table, my negligent coworker finally approaches the table and I overhear them say "well, I guess Lisa is never going to come wait on you, so I will. I am so sorry about that." That's right. My coworker ignored their table forever and then told them I was supposed to be waiting on them but never came over. My coworker gets to look like a hero while I look like an idiot for doing nothing.
The Wreck - typically a very young woman, either still in or fresh out of college. Usually at least moderately hot, this girl is hungover nearly every day when she shows up to work (late, in wrinkled clothing, her hair a mess, occasionally still vomiting). She still manages to bring her party clothes with her, though. The Wreck has countless flings with line cooks, flirts shamelessly with the Chef, and frequently turns into the Lifer.
The (Bartending) Lifer - an ancient server (over 30), still in the business. Jaded and no-nonsense, the Lifer has seen it all, and has lived to tell about it. Until they turn about 55, the Lifer will look practically ageless (or around 32), because all the booze and cigarettes that carry the Lifer through their career have acted as preserving agents. The Lifer is frequently the bartender in a well-established restaurant, where they make more money than the Troublemaker and the Wreck combined. Most people don't know this, however, because the Lifer gets more under-the-table cash than anyone else. The Lifer has a group of die hard followers due to their sardonic wit, vast encyclopedic knowledge of all sorts of obscura, and ability to shake a martini that will make you weak in the knees. For whatever reason, this is usually a man.
The (Serving) Lifer - many of the traits of the aforementioned archetype, the Serving Lifer is usually a woman. While this server might, in some circumstances, have Queen Bee status, this server is more likely to have a relaxed, laissez faire attitude after having seen it all; the Queen Bees are busybodies; the Lifer rises above. This is the server who frequently bakes cookies for the staff, and always has everything imaginable in her handbag. The Serving Lifer buys Christmas gifts for her regulars and babysits the Chef's kids.
This is by no means a comprehensive list. In fact, part of the joy of a list such as this it is lying awake later tonight, thinking of all the archetypes I've missed. And don't worry. I'm doing the guests next (oh, you thought you were all unique individuals? how silly of you.)
So, which one am I? None, of course! I am far too complicated to be put into such a simple box.