The life and times of a waitress in Cool Cape May… by Molly Stone
My mother went to high school with the co-founder of Apple computers. He asked her out, and she turned him down because he was a geek with bad acne. Then he showed up to the 20–year reunion with a private jet and the homecoming queen. “You never know who somebody might turn out to be,” my mom reminds me.
I think about this often when I’m working. Maybe the guy on table four is the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Maybe the woman on table two will discover a cure for cancer. Perhaps the man at the bar is wearing women’s underpants. You just never know.
But in the restaurant, who you are is not as important as where you’re sitting. To ensure they get the right food, patrons are referred to by seat number. “Seat one gets the tuna!” the expeditor yells. When things get really busy, though, there’s no time for seat numbers. Orders become something more like: “Fish for the fat guy!” or “Soup for the woman dressed like a hooker!”
I’m often curious about the personal lives of these patrons. I used to play a game with a fellow waiter in which we’d guess the professions of the people we served. Then we’d try coaxing the info out of our guests. Over the course of one conversation, I learned I was serving the parents of a friend I’d made in Thailand three years prior. If anything will make a girl believe in six degrees of separation, it’s waitressing.
The only people I don’t care to know are the ones pretentious enough to assume I already do. Even if a guest is very important and his server knows very well who he is, it’s probably best not to feed an already inflated ego. A friend of mine once served a famous Philadelphia Eagle.
“What’s your name?” the football player asked, rubbing my friend’s backside.
“Melanie,” she said. “What’s yours?”
Other times, in a moment of irrational anger over a botched order, a guest will ask his server: “Don’t you know who I am?”
“Why?” I feel like saying, “Did you forget?”
Unfortunately, this happens quite a bit where I work. People who have to wait for a table or receive an undercooked steak want to know if I’m aware of their VIP status. In fact, it happened just yesterday. “I know who you are,” I wanted to say, “You’re the guy who flips out over a slab of beef.”
In the past, I’ve assumed that any guest who would ask me such a thing must be an utterly obnoxious person, but perhaps this is presumptuous. After all, if waiting tables has taught me anything, it’s that I never can be sure of who I’m dealing with. And the same goes for my angry guest. Don’t you know who I am, dear sir? When dinner is over, I’m the girl who’s writing about you.