Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Waitress Days

I have kids, so I'm still technically a waitress, but back in the day I did it for the dollars. I was very lucky to land my ideal waitressing job when I was 17. My eccentric, extended family owned a little Italian restaurant that had a cult following of eccentric" regulars". It was a small place with very few rules. The customer wasn't always right, I was and I loved it. This is what was so wonderful about it. It wasn't a machine like all the dumb chain restaurants. There was no "class" that the employees had to take to be qualified to work there. We used common sense and wouldn't you know it, we all figured it out!

My boss was a fantastical character named Kirk. He came from the planet Xanex and he was awesome. We worked together seamlessly. He is one of those individuals that not everyone understands, but I totally "got him". A lot of the regulars came in every week not just for the food, but for the entertainment value that Kirk provided. The rest of my co-workers were equally odd and it was just a fun place to work.

We were never told to wear anything stupid and contrived. I wore shorts, a T-shirt and a tiny apron. And guess what, I wasn't wearing those idiotic black, non-skid, restaurant shoes and I never once fell down because of it. This ensemble worked just fine. I don't see why servers in so many restaraunts are forced to wear costumes (except at Hotdog on a Stick, I love their costume). I never understand why so many female servers are forced to wear black pants, a white collared shirt, a tie (?????) and a floor length white apron? Does this ensemble improve their performance in any way? Is it easier to carry a tray or hear an order when you're dressed like fifteen year old boy at church? I don't think so and I hate this contrived idea that someone needs to look a certain way to carry out the task of food delivery. It ain't rocket science, you know.
We used a pen and a ticket book to take orders. I never stopped at a computer to type in all the codes for all the entrees on my ticket. I put the paper order on a spindle and, Zak the cook read it. Simple, smart, no nonsense involved. The scribbled word "spag" meant spaghetti , as it should. It was easy. If someone needed extra cheese on their pizza, I simply told the teenaged pizza cook. There was no stupid over-ride code on the computer. The whole operation was very casual and comfortable.

I had tons of regulars and I had all their orders memorized. I worked there for many years and as corny as it sounds I got to see certain families come in each week and I got watch their kids grow up at the same time. To this day I still see these people all over town, who knew me as their weekly waitress, and we still stop and talk to one another. I loved being a part of this cozy little routine at the tiny family owned Italian place.
I worked at other restaurants just long enough to appreciate how great my first waitressing job was. There is such a difference between working at a corporate chain restaurant and an independent place. The tiny places are so much more personal and unique. People get to be real people instead of food delivery robots. It's a magic feeling that I feel so in touch with because of my experience at the Italian restaurant. I'm so glad I have all these treasured memories of my time working there. It really was a job tailor made for my individual personality. Thanks Zebs!

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