The life and times of a waitress in Cool Cape May… by Molly Stone
I have trouble saying no. If a customer wants a happy anniversary message spelled out in blueberries, I do it. If he wants his olives stuffed by hand with blue cheese, I find the time. If he wants to replace his carrots with a side of clam chowder, I go to battle with the understandably irked line cooks.
One would think that being accommodating in the restaurant is the mark of a good waitress. It’s actually the mark of a pushover. But, in an industry where the customer is always right, a server sometimes has trouble putting her foot down.
“I want Pasta Bolognese,” one guest told me.
I explained to him that this isn’t a dish on the menu, but he was not deterred. “Check with the chef,” he told me.
“Just go,” he said. So I did. And the chef told me to buzz off.
“Sorry, sir,” I told the man, “no pasta.”
He looked at me without saying a word. I smiled, hoping to break his icy cold stare with kindness. “Maybe you’d like to try the chicken?” No response. “Or the cod?” Silence. I started to lose my composure. “Or maybe,” I said, “I could check again?” He nodded, and I scurried back into the kitchen. The chef eventually agreed to come up with the pasta dish, but not before lecturing me on the importance of staying in control of my tables.
By now, I am used to upsetting the cooks, and they are used to me; this isn’t the problem. The problem is that my serving-induced habit of saying yes to everything has carried over into my personal life.
Even though I’ve never been able to keep so much as a house plant alive, I recently agreed to pet sit for a family with two puppies and a hermit crab. For a week, I woke up terrified that I’d managed to kill the crustacean. I spent every morning holding Pincher’s shell to my ear, listening with bated breath for a little crab heartbeat.
And last year, never considering that a fat man in a red polyester suit could be a terrifying sight for a child, I agreed be a babysitter for four kids at the West Cape May Christmas Parade. I spent the night pushing a buggy full of hysterical toddlers away from a herd of dancing elves.
What’s worse, because I’ve forgotten how to say no, I often end up agreeing to join hygienically-challenged, semi-literate men for a date at Tisha’s or a beer at the C-View. If I end up marrying a dud one day, I’m blaming my job.
I’m a sucker, I know. But I don’t want to be a yes-woman any longer. So help me out. Don’t reinvent the menu or ask me to craft you a piece of abstract blueberry art, and I’ll do my best to make sure you have a nice dinner. And maybe, just maybe, this is an arrangement we can both say yes to.