I am not embarrassed to say I love to waitress. I don’t feel inferior to those who have careers rather than jobs. I have the ability to carry on an educated conversation without sounding like I am pretending to know something. Which I have to say is a pet peeve of mine- A person who knows a little bit about something but tries to incorporate their knowledge of that something into most conversations. All that shows me is, they don’t know much about anything else. I know a little bit about a lot of things. And I have learned from the people I have waited on. They have taught me things I would have never learned in school. Lessons they learned from living life. A sweet man in his eighties instructed me to cherish all moments with my children. He told a story about dates he took with his daughter when she was a little girl. First he would take her shopping for a pretty dress. She would come out of the dressing room smiling. She would twirl around and loved a dress that would fan out and spin. From there they moved on to dinner. I could see the adoration in his eyes as he told the story. What I didn’t foresee was what he would tell me next. At eighteen his daughter was hit from behind by a Mac truck on a highway and she was killed. Remembering those dates with his daughter is what kept him going. When I get mad at my children and find myself annoyed I think of the lesson he taught me. He also advised me that my son will treat his wife the way he sees his father treat me. He said the best thing a father can do for his children is love his wife. I love that, and you better believe I passed that lesson right to my husband. An older woman who comes in solo most of the time educated me on the love a child has for their parents. From her I learned you are never too old to love your Mommy and Daddy. She is well into her seventies and loves to tell me stories of her youth and the time she spent with her parents. Her father taught her to garden and every time she speaks about him she refers to him as– my daddy. At first I thought it was odd that a seventy some year old woman would refer to her father as daddy. But then I saw in her eyes a little girl. The little girl she once was told it. I have waited on well educated people and people with no or little education. I am not knocking education because lord knows it is important to have. But education does not make you a good person or a smart tipper for that matter. I have had doctors tip me less than the men who mow their lawn. I have had teenagers tip me more than two of their teachers. I learned a lot about people from being a waitress. I know when to walk away or approach a table cautiously. When I see a certain glare in a woman’s eye directed at the man across the table. Every once in a while I am still fooled. And it can go either way. The couple who is dressed impeccably and speak so kindly and compliment the service I give hand me the bill with an embarrassing tip. I was sure they would have tipped well. Why you ask, because I fell for the polished well spoken version of a customer. In the end they didn’t pay well. I am ashamed to say I have looked at the man with dark blue mechanics uniform, dirty fingernails and thought “This one won’t be good.” It happened to be the best tip of the night. Most restaurants don’t require a degree upon hiring but I can guarantee by the time you leave a waitressing job you will be well educated in life.I do have a degree but waitressing is what allowed me to be home with my children and that is what is important to me.A friend of mine directed me to the writing below a while back and I loved reading it. It is about a Genius Waitress written by Tom Robbins. I wish I wrote it
Of the genius waitress, I now sing.Of hidden knowledge, buried ambition, and secret
sonnets scribbled on cocktail napkins; of aching
arches, ranting cooks, condescending patrons, and eyes
diverted from ancient Greece to ancient grease; of
burns and pinches and savvy and spunk; of a uniquely
American woman living a uniquely American compromise,
I sing. I sing of the genius waitress.
Okay, okay, she’s probably not really a genius. But
she is well-educated. She has a degree in Sanskrit,
ethnoastronomy, Icelandic musicology, or something
equally valued in contemporary marketplace. Even if
she could find work in her chosen field, it wouldn’t
pay beans–so she slings them instead. (The genuis
waitress is not to be confused with the
aspiring-actress waitress, so prevalent in Manhattan
and Los Angeles and so different from her sister in
temperament and I.Q.)
As a type, the genius waitress is sweet and sassy,
funny and smart; young, underestimated, fatalistic,
weary, cheery (not happy, cheerful: there’s a
difference and she understands it), a tad bohemian,
often borderline alcoholic, frequently pretty (though
her hair reeks of kitchen and bar); as independent as
a cave bear (though ever hopeful of “true love”) and,
above all, geniune.
Covertly sentimental, she fusses over toddlers and old
folks, yet only fear of unemployment prevents her from
handing an obnoxious customer his testicles with his
She doesn’t mind a little good-natured flirting, and
if you flirt with verve and wit, she may flirt back.
Never, however, never try to impress her with your
resume. Her tolerance for pretentious Yuppies ends
with her shift, sometimes earlier. She reads men like
a menu and always knows when she’s being offered
leftovers or an artificially inflated souffle.
Should you ever be lucky enough to be taken home by
her to that studio apartment with the jerry-built
bookshelves and Frida Kahlo posters, you will discover
that whereas in the public dining room she is merely
as proficient as she needs to be, in the private
bedroom she is blue gourmet virtuoso. Five stars and
counting! Afterward, you can discuss chaos theory or
the triple aspects of the mother goddess in universal
art forms–while you massage her swollen feet.
Eventually, she leaves food service for graduate
school or marriage; but unless she wins a grant or a
fair divorce settlement, chances are she’ll be back, a
few years down the line, reciting the daily specials
with her own special mixture of warmth and ennui.
Erudite emissary of eggs over easy, polymath purveyor
of polenta and prawns, articulate angel of apple pie,
the genius waitress is on duty right now in hundreds
of U.S. restaurants, smile at the ready, sauce on the
side. So brush up on your Schopenhauer, place your
order–and tip, mister, tip. She deserves a break
Of her, I sing.