The life and times of a waitress in Cool Cape May… by Molly Stone
I used to be a person with a lot of chutzpah. If something seemed unjust, I spoke up. When I became a server, I had to learn to let injustice roll off of my back like water off of a duck. When people bark orders or demand food, I’ve got no choice but to smile graciously or nod apologetically. In order to keep my job, I keep my mouth shut, no matter how out of line a customer may be.
There is only one instance in which it’s acceptable for a waitress to cop an attitude. Lay into a customer for leaving a shoddy tip, and you’re fired. Tell off a guest for calling you “sweetie,” and you can kiss your paycheck goodbye. But if a customer skips out on his bill; it’s go time – all aprons are off, no holds are barred. For this reason, all servers secretly look forward to the moment when a patron will be so brazen as to actually walk out on a check.
Recently, I experienced such an event for the first time. I was busy opening a bottle of wine when I happened to notice that the couple on table ten was missing. They’d been rude all night, snapping their fingers at the bus boy and making fun of other patrons. Adding insult to injury, they didn’t pay for dinner.
I figured the couple couldn’t have gotten very far; the woman had been wearing a spandex mini-skirt and five inch heels – not exactly the ideal getaway threads. I could feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins. I decided to chase them through the streets of Cape May.
But when I caught up with the couple, I choked. I did get their credit card, but I did not launch into any sort of lecture on basic human decency, and I called them no belittling names. Here was my opportunity to unleash years of pent-up serving frustrations, and I blew it. A girl bites her tongue enough, it seems, and she loses some of her chutzpah.
Back in the lobby of the restaurant, I ran the man’s credit card through the machine while he and his wife waited by my side. I was busy cursing myself for being such a wimp and missing my big chance at some retribution, when I noticed the little old lady who’d been dining next to table ten all night. As she walked out of the restaurant, she paused in front of the couple who’d run out on their bill. In her “World’s Greatest Grandma” sweatshirt, she turned to them and said, “I think you are very rude.” Then she turned to me, gave a thumbs-up, and left.
I think this is my favorite thing about waiting tables. For every cheapskate who doesn’t believe in gratuity, there’s a customer leaving an overly generous tip behind. For every bossy guest, there’s a gracious patron with a kind word. And for every nincompoop who robs you of your chutzpah, there’s another customer, ready and waiting to dish it out on your behalf.