“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.