I am your waitress.
I am not your wife. Or your child. Or your punching bag after a bad day.
I am here to serve you. Make you comfortable and explain the menu in detail. Get you a drink, some warm bread.
I can not read your mind. I do not know what you want to eat. When you ask “what should I get” I can only offer suggestions of what I like and what others have told me. When you start making up your own meals that aren’t listed I can’t tell you that is a great idea. Usually it is not.
I am the liaison between you and the kitchen. I can only relay your wishes. I can not guarantee you will like it. But I can make sure you get exactly what you asked for.
You shouldn’t notice me too much. It is my job to keep your water and coffee filled so you may continue an uninterrupted conversation with those at the table. It is my job to make sure you never have to look for me. But if you do, I will make sure I make eye-contact and let you know that I will be with you in a minute.
Not ten minutes.
Unless you think you are the only customer I have and need me by your side constantly. For extra bread, a clean knife, a new napkin, a side of anchovies, sea salt, more lemon, purified water, a tissue to blow your nose, an extra plate for your imaginary friend,etc.
Then you will wait 15 minutes.
I will stand and chat only when I feel I am needed. If you are alone and not involved in a book, text session or Soduko puzzle I will engage you in a conversation. Or if you are with an elderly relative that doesn’t talk much and you need some ice-breaking conversation; I am at your service.
If you are with a best friend, lover, or husband, leaning forward in deep conversation I will only drop quips and quickly leave. I will not over-share.
I am your waitress.
I will smile and be cheery even when I haven’t slept in a week and I can’t pay my rent. I will inquire how you are and discuss the weather, politics, current events with you–whatever you want.
I will not be your therapist.
I will talk to children and coo at babies. I will direct 70% of my attention to the woman at the table so as not to appear too flirty with her man, because even though he may pay the bill sometimes, most likely she is in charge of the tip. She must think I am pretty.
But not too pretty.
I will read your mood and joke with you if it is appropriate. If you give me a little grief I will return it. That makes you happy.
When you are finished I will swiftly remove the dirty dishes and I will offer you coffee and the best made desserts on the planet (made by me). As you leave, I will ask you to come back and visit.
And usually I will mean it.
I have been a waitress on and off for 34 years. That freaks me out a little. I swore to myself years ago that I wouldn’t become one of those old lady, husky voiced, waitresses like Flo from Mel’s diner; that I would quit that job long before I became a cliche. And yet, every time over the years of working a day job and during the course of raising my kids, every time that I needed money, or an escape, or both, I went right back to the restaurant scene. It allowed me to be a stay at home mom and still work and make some cash at night.
Over the course of the years I have been asked many times, when I was going to get a ‘real’ job. Panic would set in as I listened to those around me who felt that their own jobs were more important and of a higher caliber than mine. Certainly many are working at amazing jobs . But a waitress — just like all the other positions out there that are taken for granted –retail clerk, gas station attendant, has the ability to make your day better and your life easier without you even knowing it.
Because at the end of the day after you leave your very important positions at your companies that deal in stocks and commodities, your financial institutions, your government agencies, when you are dog-tired from sitting at your desk and changing the world….where do you go? You go to your favorite restaurant and get waited on by me. If you didn’t have me, and all the other ‘lowly’ waitresses and bartenders, you would have to go home, pour your own drink, cook your own meal and clean up your own dishes.
And that’s no fun.
Your job is extremely important to me and I have never taken your skillset for granted. I will be sure to tell you more often. Well written Fran, well written!
My favorite so far! Especially since you have my dream job and were kind enough to let me fill in for you last week. You’re the best, apron or no apron. Love ya.
I love your writing style and storytelling…so perceptive!