I was working at an Alice in Wonderland themed tea house on the upper East Side. Started as host, promoted to server within a few months, then they realized I was a below-average server, so I was promoted again to manager. I oversaw a staff of about 20 twenty-somethings. Everyone who worked there was an actor or dancer tryin' to make it in New York City.
The staff bonded on several different occasions: Restaurant outings, Karaoke, Clubbing and, of course, Gay Bar Hopping. A tradition as old as Fleet Week in New York. Maybe not that old, but it'd been around.
We hit up Splash, followed by Therapy on the upper west side in Hells Kitchen and had quite the memorable night. Wish elements of the night had been more memorable to me. The staff and several patrons knew me as "Paulina" at Club Therapy. Paulina was my 20-something alter ego who acted like a 30-something trying to act like a 20-something. She'd figure out how to get free drinks, she'd dance on the stage upstairs while everyone changed "Paulina! Paulina!" and she'd bring two men, who were drinking alone at the downstairs bar, together and whisper "I'm Paulina, you can thank me later" before moving to another corner of the flashy, flamboyant, fun farm.
Paulina met a guy who the staff referred to as "Tony the Tiger" mostly because his name was Tony and his business card had a picture of a tiger on it. Many hours into the staff bonding night, Paulina and Tony were most definitely making out in the downstairs unisex bathroom which, I'm sure, was followed by a final "I'm Paulina. You can thank me later" before her exit for the night.
Months later we were hiring for a new barista. Several candidates came in to interview and we ended up hiring two people: Julia (definitely not her name, but I can't remember it) and a Brazilian guy named Antonio. After about 3 months of the two of them getting settled in, we all decided it was time for another staff bonding night! Antonio invited us all to a Brazilian club to spice things up a bit. I was off that day, but met everyone at the restaurant at closing time so we could all leave together. As I walked in, Charlie (one of our baristas) made a B-line for me holding a white, small index card in his hands.
"What's Up?" I asked.
"Do you still have that business card in your wallet from Tony the Tiger?" Charlie asked.
I laughed at the memory. "Probably. Why?"
"Show me," he insisted.
I furrowed my brow with curiosity and dipped into my purse. There it was. Tiger and all. I hold it up. "Looks like I still do." Charlie then held up the business card in his hand, which was identical to mine. It still hadn't clicked. "Where'd you get that?" I asked.
Then it clicked. "Fuuuuuuudge." Except I didn't say fudge.
Charlie exploded in a fit of laughter and tears as my face turned pale with panic.
Later that night, at the Brazilian restaurant, I confronted Tony the Tiger who was my newest employee. He was incredibly sweet about it and actually thought I knew the whole time. He definitely recognized me and was confused as to why I was telling people my name was Pamela. He, fortunately, found work elsewhere a couple months later... but the story never left Alice in Wonderland.