The life and times of a waitress in Cool Cape May… by Molly Stone
When my boss asked me to hostess, I jumped on the opportunity. I was sick of my mannish serving uniform and sick of my ponytail smelling like almond-encrusted halibut. I looked forward to wearing a pretty dress, breaking out the lipstick, and trading in my clunky shoes for a pair of stilettos.
The experience was far less glamorous than I’d imagined. Mostly, I spent the night calming down all the angry patrons who’d been waiting over an hour because the guests at tables three, four, and seven were getting too sloshed to finish their desserts and pay their bills.
Things didn’t get any better when tables did eventually become available. A few couples celebrating special anniversaries had requested private, romantic spaces. I’d reserved the highly-coveted corner tables for these folks but when I escorted one such pair I got an appalled look, a nobody-puts-baby-in-the-corner kind of look. One woman told me that, not only could she not stomach a corner, she wouldn’t sit by the door, by the kitchen, against a wall, in a booth, near a heating vent, or in a heavily–trafficked area. “You’re welcome to hang from the chandelier,” I felt like saying.
One large and in charge fellow demanded in his Italian accent that I seat him so his back would not be facing any of the other diners. Since he looked like he’d just come from filming an episode of The Sopranos, and I didn’t want to offend this Cape May godfather my first night on the job, I obliged him. He nodded, an unlit cigar dangling between his lips.
It seems that most people want whatever table they can’t have, simply because they can’t have it. Exhausted by this elaborate game of musical chairs, I learned to start seating guests where I didn’t actually want them to sit. “We’re going to need to move,” one lady told me, pointing to where she’d rather be. I nodded, and she thought she’d gotten one over on me, that she was moving to a far superior spot. But I knew the truth; she was actually moving to the table everyone else had rejected, the table that she, too, would have rejected had I brought her their first.
I’ve heard it referred to as GIGS, or the Grass Is Greener Syndrome. I think we all suffer from it, and I am no exception. I’m happy with my piña colada at the Rusty Nail until I spot the delicious-looking margarita the girl next to me is sipping. I think I want to be single, until I see all the couples canoodling on the sofas in the Brown Room. I order banana pancakes at Uncle Bill’s, only to trade for the pumpkin ones on the next plate over. Most recently, I decided to trade in my shapeless shirt and coffee-stained apron for a pretty dress, until I actually had to walk a mile in another woman’s stilettos.