She had not anticipated her shift to conclude in this manner at all. She experienced anxious chills down her spine as the three men spoke the terms "private" and "backroom." She experienced a flush of blood rush to her face when they requested her manager. She was only interested in getting out of there.
However, when one of the men signed his name, she felt herself getting dizzy. The whole world was spinning, and she knew she had to sit down.
A Busy Shift
It was during Ashley Latella’s night shift at Seagrape Café in Fairfield, Connecticut when a strange group of men walked into the establishment. It was one of their busier nights, but it was to be expected, given the fact that it was during the holiday season. She was having a hard time keeping up with everything.
She was running around trying to keep track of all of the orders. Customers were moving into the bar area as the main eating area had become full.
Ashley was no stranger to this time of year. Emotions are always at their peak during the holiday season. The Seagrape Café was jam-packed with boisterous year-end parties, customers who had earned Christmas bonuses, and of course, students seeking a good time. This was not uncommon.
The enthusiasm and vigor in the air were almost palpable. There was no telling what may occur on a night like this.
Feeding The Masses
More students started to gather at the bar. While ordering drinks and downing them, they were shouting and giggling. The DJ's tunes and powerful bass whipped the audience into a frenzy.
Ashley was working through the crowds with her platters loaded with food and beverages when her head started to spin. She observed three well-dressed men sitting down at a table located in the corner as they passed by. Carlos Carmo, the manager, couldn't help but notice them as well.
Keeping An Eye On Things
They were obviously older, in their forties, as he couldn't help but notice. They sat quietly among the chattering, obnoxious students. They undoubtedly appeared out of place. The faces of all their regulars were all known to Carlos, but he was not familiar with these men.
It was a hectic night, so despite his best efforts to keep an eye on them and Ashley, he became preoccupied with other issues.
Something Off About Them
Taking their orders and ensuring they had all they needed, Ashley went about her business. Although Ashley had served customers of many backgrounds and was accustomed to them, something about these men made her uneasy.
Even though they weren’t erratic like the other customers, they continued to worry her for some reason.
Every time she left their table, the odd males would keep placing drink orders and focusing their attention on her. It got worse since they all stopped chatting whenever she approached the table.
But when she handed them their bill, suddenly everything made sense.
No Other Choice
Ashley knew from experience that the quiet customers were frequently the ones who generated the most difficulty. One table would always have something planned. In a typical situation, Ashley would simply exchange tables with a male server.
That was not a choice on a night like this, though. Just too many people were crowded inside the bar. The men didn't reveal their genuine intentions until the very last moment.
Ashley, though, was most worried by the Seagrape Café's reputation as a student hangout. What made these much older men enter the bar, then? These men were undoubtedly the oldest people in the room.
Ashley was positive they would cause problems, whether it was just her experience or just her feminine intuition. She wasn't wrong, which is a shame.
She Had Seen It All
Ashley was a seasoned server who was accustomed to both satisfied and dissatisfied patrons. Naturally, some clients were just obnoxious.
Nevertheless, Ashley always tried her best to provide each client with kindness and excellent service. Ashley could not have been fully prepared for the men's refusal to pay their tab, though.
Tip Of The Iceberg
Finally, the men asked her to bring them their bills, and Ashley felt relieved. The end of her shift was drawing close, and she looked forward to getting some rest at home before the next day's work. However, the night wasn't over yet.
When she came back to collect their bill, however, she wasn't prepared for what they wanted from her.
What Did They Want?
When Ashley tried to pick up the bill folder, one of the men kept it pinned to the table with his elbows and wouldn't let her take it. As if taunting her, he picked up the bill and held it where she couldn't reach it. It was at that moment that all three men stood up.
The men refused to hand over the bill and instead made it clear that they wanted her to go into a back room with them.
What On Earth?
Ashley didn't understand what was going on. The man with the bill folder leaned in and whispered to her. At first, it was difficult to hear what he wanted over the noise. Then she finally heard his unsettling request -- to settle the bill in private -- and her blood ran cold.
Ashley looked around wildly, her only thought was to find her manager.
Ashley started to suspect the worst. What reason did these men have to want to settle their bill somewhere else? If there were any complaints, surely they could tell her right there in the bar?
Admittedly there could be a simple explanation, but that didn't matter to her. The only thing on her mind was that she was definitely not going into a back room with them.
Luckily, Carlos noticed as Ashley went past. He saw her expression, and he knew something was wrong. Ashley sighed in relief when he stopped them. Even though he had expected some trouble, he was just as surprised when Ashley explained the situation to him.
He immediately took control and insisted that all five of them would go to the back room together.