The time has come to officially reveal my new identity: Professional Server at the Dakota Fine Food and Steakhouse Restaurant Business, Open 12-10 Daily and Serving a Variety of Meats and Fresh Seafood Grilled to Your Taste and Boldly Seasoned, Incorporated.
I had to be a waiter this summer. Reasons: a) because it's pretty good money, b) because for the sake of education and life experience everyone should probably at some point familiarize themselves with the thrill of receiving a 20% tip (about as good as finding 5 dollars in your pocket), and c) because nothing beats the intense the intellectual challenge of discerning between the various dips, sauces, and spreads that accompany each platter in the heat of the moment when there's a six-top ready for a turn-over and the food-runner is busy on the foul-line and it's fourth down of the last period with 2 seconds left on the clock.
But the great thing about waiting tables is that honestly, it's hard rewarding work, plus you get some great stories about customers who by sheer statistical probability come from all ends of the weirdness spectrum. Like the wife who called in and asked to speak to the manager, saying that she and her husband had been in the restaurant four or five days earlier and had just today realized that a very important thing was missing and could we possibly look all around for it because it was very important. "Yes of course, ma'am," said the manager politely, "and what is it we're looking for?" "My husband's dentures."
Or the man who came in alone and told the hostess he was late for an important rendez-vous and had to find his party in the restaurant. The hostess asked him to describe the people he was looking for. "Well it's two women; two young, gorgeous blondes with lustrous hair past their shoulders, tastefully applied makeup, and expensive designer dresses and accessories" he said in all seriousness. Needless to say, the hostess had a difficult time finding the party the man was looking for, until she realized that the two 200-pounders at the bar were both sporting faux Chanel purses.
The final story: tonight, just as I had finished recording "garlic mashed" as the side for an older couple's order of well-done Ground Sirloin, the husband grabbed my wrist and whispered confidentially into my ear, "My wife is a published poet, you know." "Wow," I said turning to the woman, "that is quite impressive...what kind of poetry do you write?" "My poetry can't be categorized as a kind or type," she said, "It's like how people are...everywhere, you know?" I nodded. She went on to explain some of the basic philosophies that drive the principal allegories and parabolas in her poetry, as her husband nodded enthusiastically. I asked her where I might be able to find her work so I could read some of it. "Don't bother buying my books; just write down my masterpiece," she said. "Write it down? Now?" I said somewhat cluelessly, looking about myself to try to show that that would be impossible because I didn't have the appropriate materials, forgetting that I had a pen and the order paper still in my hands. "How about on your slip?" she suggested. I had no way out.
Here is the poetic masterpiece poem I copied verbatim on the back of my Double Ground Sirloin with Mashed slip:
If you think that God
Made everyone in the world
Think of how you treat them,
Even a man, woman, boy, and also girl.
Some day you'll have to tell him
Why you caused some people pain
He may not let you into Heaven
Now wouldn't that just be a big shame.
A modern Shakespeare.