Troy McClure says: Get confident, stupid!

Fact: The Simpsons is the best show EVER. It’s clever, hilarious, and often doles out useful advice and poignant insights.

I recently watched one of my favorite episodes, “Bart’s Inner Child.” A classic character named Troy McClure makes a quick cameo and totally caught my attention with his witty banter.

“Hi, I’m Troy McClure. You might remember me from such self help videos as ‘Smoke Yourself Thin’ and ‘Get Confident, Stupid!”

Wait….that’s genius…

Get confident, stupid!

As a neurotic Virgo, I’m  blessed cursed with an intense case of self-loathing, only soothed by whiskey shopping avoiding mirrors. Living in Hollywood probably doesn’t help. I’m surrounded by women who are cuter, smarter, skinnier, wealthier and funnier. There’s overwhelming competition for any type of job. And things look even more bleak when you’ve decided to jump feet first into a new career that you know almost nothing about.

It’s kinda scary putting your thoughts out there into the world, subjecting them to judgement by people who may not understand. Sometimes I have a vision of people reading my blog and furrowing their brow, wondering why on earth I refer to myself as a “writer.” And when I submit blogs/ press releases I’ve written and I don’t receive a response within 2 minutes telling me that I’m a creative prodigy, I immediately interpret that as “gosh, you REALLY suck. This is rotten prose garbage.”

But Troy McClure is a smart man. I need to get confident, stupid! The only way to guarantee that I’ll fail is if I never try.

So to the doubtful little rude voices inside my head, I have one thing to say:

Top 10 Reasons Why Buzzfeed Should Hire Me

1. I enjoy making Top 10 lists.

2. Buzzfeed likes Halloween costumes. I like Halloween costumes.

3. I have 3 cats who enjoy being photographed & captioned.

4. I have a short attention span, just like all Buzzfeed readers. Wait, what was I saying?

5. I often travel to exotic cities.

6. I’m hip to current fashion trends.

7. Buzzfeed likes Dunkies. I like Dunkies.

8. Buzzfeed is obsessed with Sriracha. I am obsessed with Sriracha.

9. I am a responsible employee and upstanding citizen.

10. My last name is Tronic, which is perfect for the digital interwebs. Even the patriarch of the Tronic clan likes gossip and pop culture.

My Great Epiphany While Waiting Tables

It’s been a couple weeks since I re-entered the wonderful world of waiting tables after a 7 year hiatus. I love my pretty black apron and ugly black shoes. Somehow I still run out of pens even after buying 26 extra packs of Bics. And I had an interesting epiphany.

The clientele that I serve are older and very wealthy. They’re impeccably dressed (perfectly tailored suits and sleek blouses), well groomed (coifed hair and manicures), and high maintenance. They are quite self-entitled and have tons of annoying requests. But one woman in particular had a giant impact on me.

She and her husband were eating dinner then heading to an opera. Her blonde hair was perfect. I was jealous of her necklace. And much like my cats can sense danger, I could sense trouble brewing between her and I. She ordered a glass of sparkling wine, which I dropped off then checked on my other tables. As I passed by, she flagged me down.

Lady: Scuse me, I’m sorry to be a pain but this champagne isn’t good.

Me: Oh, I’m so sorry about that! Does it taste funny?

Lady (holding up her glass): No, but there aren’t a lot of bubbles in it. Look at it. Doesn’t it look flat to you?

Me (inspecting the glass): Hmm…Maybe a little. Would you like me to bring you another one, or a glass of something else instead?

Lady: Well, if you get another glass of the same thing, it will probably also be flat since you’ll be using the same bottle. Can you please ask the bartender when he opened this bottle?

Me: Sure.

<Scurry to the bar>

Me: Hey, hun, sorry to bother, but table 34 wants to know when you opened that bottle of the Nicolas Brut. She says it’s flat.

Bartender (rolling his eyes): I don’t f*cking know. Tell her I opened it today.

<Scurry back to table 34>

Me: He said he opened it today.

Lady: Well, it’s not very good. Sorry to be a pain, but can you ask the bartender to open a new bottle?

Me: Sure.

<Scurry back to the bar>

Me: Hey, hun, sorry again, but table 34 wants you to open a fresh bottle of the Nicolas.

<I got busy with other tables so the bartender brought her the fresh glass. I checked on her a few minutes later>

Me: I see that he brought you the new glass. Is this one better?

Lady (holding up the new glass): MUCH better. See?

Me: Oh, yes! Great!  Much more bubbly this time. Glad we could work it out!

Lady: Yes, thank you!  But <she leans in>….I have to tell you…the bartender was very rude when he came over and he definitely had an attitude. Then I pointed out that my other glass was not only flat, but it had a chip on it. Then his whole demeanor suddenly became more friendly. I just thought you should know.

Me: Well, I hope he wasn’t being rude. If he was, I do apologize. I assure you that we’re here to make you happy, so please let me know if there’s anything at all that you need.

Lady: Thank you.

So I went back to the server station to ponder this exchange. It’s easy to get irritated and frustrated and roll your eyes.

Then it hit me: what if those 2 people were my parents?

What if the demanding lady was my mom? What if my mom went out to eat and was being a little high maintenance? I would still want her server to be nice to her. To take care of her. Maybe my mom was having a bad day and just wanted to relax over a nice meal. I hate to think of anyone rolling their eyes or being mean to my mom. And what if the lady at table 34 had a daughter like me who just wanted a server to be nice to HER mom?

So that’s exactly what I did.  I went back to table 34 and killed them with kindness. I smiled. I cracked a few lighthearted jokes. I made damn sure that she was happy and had a great meal. By the time they left, I  was genuinely fond of this lady and I could tell they had a terrific time.

Last night, she and her husband stopped in for a quick drink during the opera intermission. I nearly squealed with excitement when I saw her and had to refrain from giving her a hug.  Her husband wanted extra cookies, but only the chocolate kind. I eagerly brought the chocolate cookies out and we had a great conversation. I hope to see her again soon.

So now I have a whole new outlook. My patience has not worn thin. It’s grown thicker. And if I ever hear that a server has rolled her eyes or was mean to my mom, I will hunt that server down and stab her with my wine key and 26 packs of Bic pens.

Hand Me My Apron: Why I Left The “Office World” After 7 Years To Once Again Serve Steak & Cheeseburgers

“Scuse me, miss, are you sure this is decaf?”

“Can we split the check 5 ways?”

“Do you have free refills?”

“This fork looks a little dirty.”

“This doesn’t taste like Ginger Ale. Did you just mix Coke and  7up together?”

These are phrases that I rejoiced in NEVER hearing again when I quit my job waiting tables in 2006.

I started waiting tables in the summer of 2000. I’d just finished my freshman year in college (love you, Emerson!) and rather than move back to my parent’s house in North Andover, I chose to move in with a couple strangers about 10 minutes outside of Boston. Though I had no prior experience, I scored a job at Pizzeria Uno’s. Yay, deep dish pepperoni cellulite!

A few months, several shattered dishes, and countless fattening pizzas later, I got hired at a family-style Italian restaurant (love you, Vinny Testa’s!). I worked there for the next 3 years as a server, bartender, and hostess. I really developed my “I-hate-you-and-I-hope-you-choke-on-a-mushroom-but-I’m-going-to-charm-your-socks-off” demeanor at Vinny T’s.

In 2003, I packed up my belongings (along with my dignity) and moved to LA. Soon thereafter I began working at an outdoor restaurant at the LA Music Center and waited on hungry theater-goers for the next few years. I laughed, I cried, I accidentally dropped 2 of my cell phones in the toilet, and made some amazing friends during that time. But when an opportunity arose in 2006 to work at a CG postproduction house, I had to take it. I hung up my apron, threw my disgustingly stinky “serving” clothes in the trash, and vowed to never again cry about a bad gratuity.

And now, 7 years later, I’m returning to the wonderful world of waiting tables.

After a lot of deliberation, soul searching, and encouragement from a few awesome people, I decided to pursue a career as a writer. It was time to bid farewell to office life and step into a new world. Saying goodbye to my awesome cute bosses, gorgeous desk and beautiful iMac  meant that I needed new employment…and quickly. I struggled with the decision to once again wait tables. I’d been so ecstatic knowing I would never again have to ask how you want your burger cooked. And now here I am, with my tail between my legs and pen in hand, ready to take your order. Would you like a baked potato or veggies on the side?

But being a server grants me the freedom and flexibility to nurture my creative side. I can type away at my laptop at 3am (because we all know that’s when the epic inspiration hits you) and not feel bad about it. I can use all the undertipping, rude, pompous, self-entitled customers as material in my next blog post.  I can polish off a bottle of whisky with somewhat minimal guilt because hey, all the great writers were booze hounds, right? (cue a sloppy fist bump to Bukowski)

So if you’re wondering what I’m doing on Saturday night, no, I can’t hang out. I’ll be grabbing a third serving of bread for the table who ordered the medium-rare-but-kinda-sorta-well-done filet mignon whose kid is allergic to gluten and wanted their parking validated while complaining about the taste of LA tap water.

And I couldn’t be happier.