Makes Me Wanna Holla

Jose Vilson

Marvin Gaye HollaBefore I continue, a big shout out to Right Wing Nation, for linking me on the Carnival of Education. And a special shout-out to Dan, who not only made me this great poster, but also linked me to a dope discussion on using rap in English (ELA) class. His comments on the post in particular gives him major props. Tell him Mr. V sent you.

I’m not big on shouting people or establishments out. Psych. On a glorious Veterans’ Day in which I don’t have to work, I got my Across the Universe Soundtrack Double Disc (really good) and Jay-Z’s American Gangster (great) playing on full rotation, I shouldn’t let incidents like the one on Sunday affect me in the least. But frankly, it’s my blog and it’d be a disservice to you all to not give some insight into what happens to me all too frequently.

I just got back from rewatching American Gangster (a great and well-directed movie, might I add) with my girl when we figured we’d eat at some fine establishment around the Madison Square Garden area. We chose the Brother Jimmy’s on 31st and 8th. I had my eye on a Shrimp Po-Boy with some sweet tea (the North will never do it better than the South, but fuck it).

And usually, when I go to the Brother Jimmy’s on Amsterdam Ave. between 80th and 81st, I never have any problems. My friends and I (an assortment of different backgrounds) sit down and get great food and good customer service. Even on a really crowded night, when all you’ll have in the restaurant are Whites from the area getting drunk after work, we never get anything less than their best effort. I’m personally a very patient person to begin with, so it’s not hard to please me. Just treat me and my friends with respect, and make sure the food’s good and we’re set. I also tip well, just as an aside. However, that Sunday night po-boy was not to be.

We walk in there, and at first the hostess isn’t there, so we start watching a little of the Cowboys-Giants game and talking a little about the movie. Again, same demographic, different street. My girl and I are both Latinos and everyone around us wasn’t, but the Upper West Side Brother Jimmy’s gave us a good impression, so we thought nothing of it, and I was hungry as hell.

3 minutes pass by and a busboy, a tall, young Black man, comes up to us and tells us, “She’s sitting people and taking calls from customers. She’ll be right with you.” 5 minutes pass after that, and I said, “One more minute, and we’re gone.” By then, I started getting a headache. My girl was ready to leave, but I said, “They might be understaffed, so I understand.” A minute passes by, and the busboy notices what’s up, and he says, “I just told a waitress upstairs and she said she’d sit you right now.”

He waves us over, and we go upstairs. We notice a young blonde typing something at the cashier, so I’m thinking she was probably in the middle of doing that when the busboy asked her to serve us, so I understand. As soon as she sees us, she acts like she’s still working the register (I know what a blank screen looks like), she stutters a bit and looks around for something to do, and then says, “Oh, here’s the hostess. She’ll sit you” and not in a very nice way.

Wow. She could have just sat us down and get us a menu like most other restaurants do. We then notice the brunette hostess sitting another couple, and they move from one table for some reason to another. Weird but OK. The hostess then looks at us, looks around, and then gives us the same table the first couple rejected.

Brother Jimmy’s MSG NYCI didn’t understand why they rejected it until my girl went to the restroom. Why did I look around and see barbecue stains all over the table?! No waitress, no attention, and no water while we picked our appetizers? By then, my headache might as well have become a full-blown migraine. We waited a total of 10-15 minutes on a not-so-busy night, got a nasty look from the waitress and the hostess, AND got a dirty table that someone else rejected because of the same reason?

I was so heated that I actually came up to the busboy and told him, “How do you work here?”

“What do you mean?” he said.

“I mean, not to say anything, but look at me and look at her. I ain’t that mad that we had to wait that long, but then to get the looks we did upstairs? And then a dirty table? And not even a glass of water or any hellos? I mean, I don’t want to see the manager myself, but pass the word along ’cause that’s fucked up.”

He nodded and gave me a handshake. I hopped across the street to the Thai place across the street, and we got served immediately. Even in New Orleans, where people talk about how overt the racism is, we never got anything but great service from every restaurant we went to. We got a couple of funny looks in the restaurant, but we always got seated right away by hosts of all backgrounds and all times of day.

I was so visibly livid when I left the restaurant, it made me want to holla. I’d love to give the establishment excuses for their crass and unprofessional behavior, but there is none. I haven’t had anything happen to me in a while, but I recognize the incident for what it is.

jose, who won’t say it’s racism, but …

p.s. – Don’t hate on the one on the West Side (81st and Amsterdam Ave.). Unless I hear otherwise, it’s much better than the Midtown one (31st and 8th Ave.).