Hello, Health Department

We knew the Health Department was coming to do an inspection yesterday, and while we run a very clean restaurant you're always gripped with panic and fear: what will they notice that I've never seen? Maybe there's something wrong that I just don't see because I've gotten used to it? Is there some obscure violation I have that'll cause me to lose points and get shut down? All of this was on my mind when I came in to the restaurant on Tuesday morning and I was so preoccupied that I almost didn't notice the fact that the drain in front of the restaurant had gotten clogged by a free-floating plastic wrapper someone had thrown on the street and I now had three inches of water backed up at the bottom of the steps to the restaurant door.

Owning a restaurant means you spend a lot of time unclogging things: sinks, toilets, grease traps. And so I unclogged the drain and went inside Dirt Candy. It was only after I had to go down into the basement a half hour later that I saw that the backed-up water had soaked through part of the basement ceiling and wall causing an 18 inch hole. The hole wasn't so bad, you can patch a hole. What really caused me to sit up and take notice was the water and mud that had poured through the hole during the storm right on top of the computer systems for the restaurant. Suddenly I realized that all the accounting, the internet access, Open Table and our credit card machine were soaked with water. I'm not a computer technician, but even I know that it's a bad sign when you pick up a piece of electronic equipment and a cup of muddy water runs out one end.

We got everything fixed and back up online by the afternoon, and thank god the Health Inspector showed up at 4:45 instead of before noon like they'd told me. She was very nice but it took all the self-control I had to stand in the basement with her while she pointed out a half-inch hole in the wall around one of our pipes that needed to be patched while just two feet above her head was an enormous, ragged hole punched through the wall by the storm the night before. I didn't know whether to laugh, cry, be relieved or be stressed. The hole is patched now and our computers are repaired, but this might have been one of the most stressful days I've had in a long time.