Tag Archives: businessmen

The Dysfunctional Diners

18 May

Sometimes at work, I like to wait on dysfunctional families. And when I say “I like to wait on dysfunctional families” what I mean is “I really hate waiting on dysfunctional families in most circumstances, but when it is literally SO SLOW that I’m lucky to make 35 dollars, I like waiting on dysfunctional families because it gives me a source of entertainment.” Yesterday was one such day.

Outside of the bar area of the steakhouse, there is this little antique phone hanging on the wall above two chairs and a small cocktail table. Most people walk by the phone and don’t even acknowledge its existence. Sometimes people will say “Oh what a cute little phone!” and that’s the end of it. And then sometimes, but ONLY sometimes, will a family of four walk into the bar, only to have the younger of the two sons break away and say, “LOOK AT THAT PHONE MOM! ITS ANCIENT!” and the mom will screech and get out her iPad to take a photo of the kid climbing onto the chairs and putting his shoes on the table just to reach the phone, yank it off of the wall, and take a picture.

Already I knew… this was it. This family was going to be my source of entertainment for the night.

Now in order to fully let you understand what I was dealing with, I need to describe these people.

Over-Worked Father: Dressed in an Ohio State T-shirt with a receding hairline and a forehead that looked like it was made of turtle skin. (Tight, yet very wrinkly and malleable.) He looked like he had been forced to listen to the My Little Pony theme song (the 80’s version, not today’s version) on repeat for six years prior to entering this upscale steakhouse. He looked angry. He looked aggressive. He looked defeated.
Enabling Mother: Wearing a t-shirt covered by what I could only imagine was a jacket made from llama shavings. She had puffy blonde hair, but her inch-and-a-half roots were black and growing out. She was not excited to be in the steakhouse. She reminded me of the mom on American Beauty…. smiling, trying desperately to keep everyone together when everyone would much rather be three states apart in each direction. Seeing her smile actually made me sad.
Satan: Satan is the older of the two brothers. Wearing swim trunks and a gray t shirt, Satan literally did not smile ONCE in the two hours he was seated at this steakhouse. Literally, Not. Once.
Sid: I have named the younger of the brothers Sid because he literally was Sid from Toy Story.

Sid-toy-story

Literally. This face. That voice.

So after Sid climbs onto the cocktail table to violently claim the antique phone, and after Enabling Mother takes the picture, the four of them sit down at a table. Already I can hear the muffled anger coming from their direction. Satan throwing his arms into the air and violently sighing, pushing so much air out of his lungs that Enabling Mother’s fluffy hair actually billows a bit from sitting across from him.

My coworker Lucas looks at the table, then looks at me.

Lucas: Have fun.
Me: Jesus take the wheel.

I grab four beverage napkins, and approach the table. I start to give myself a pep talk… I am smiling! I am happy! Maybe I can help this family stop fighting and make their meal really awesome, so they’ll leave happier than when they came in! I am an amazing employee and I can do this! There is a reason our company calls their employees “Stars!” AND I AM THAT REASON!!!

I inhale to greet them, and-
Enabling Mother: Will you two just SIT DOWN?
Satan: (Speak-yelling at Over-Worked Father in such a disrespectful tone I was surprised that no one physically assaulted him) YOU TOLD ME I COULDN’T BRING MY HEADPHONES TO DINNER AND NOW HE HAS HIS! (motions to Sid)
Sid: (Headphones in, playing a game on his smartphone that is larger and more high tech than my own phone. He is 8. He is not only completely unaware of this conversation, but also of me standing there beside him, beaming.)
Over-Worked Father: What were you going to use them for, anyway? Hm?
Satan: I ALREADY TOLD YOU. I was gonna watch YOUTUBE VIDEOS.
Over-Worked Father: And you? (looks at Sid) Hey!
Sid:
Over-Worked Father: HEY!
Sid:
Over-Worked Father: (gestures) SID!
Sid: (Looks up only because Over-Worked Father waved his arms)
Over-Worked Father: SID WHAT ARE YOU USING THE HEADPHONES FOR!?
Sid: (Takes out one, ONE, of the ear buds. He sighs.) I’m playing a game. DOY!
(Heightened silence while Over-Worked Father seems to be deciding which sound he hates more. Game VS YouTube. Finally he looks at Sid with eyebrows raised.)
Over-Worked Father: Sid? (As if to say… C’mon, Give your brother the headphones.)
Sid: (Already has the earbud back in and is playing his game. He is unaware of everything.)

Keep in mind I am STILL standing at the table, smiling, just watching all of this. Beaming. Smiling like this is the sweetest conversation I have ever heard in my entire life, as if this earbud saga is the most heartwarming tale of selfless love to ever touch my little cocktail waitress heart.

Enabling Mother: (Looks up at me with a huge smile.) Well… We aren’t spoiled, ARE WE? Ha ha ha HAHA! …Ha… um.

Silence. I am still standing there smiling, waiting to see if there will be ay other protests or interruptions before I speak. There are none.

Me: SO! How IS everyone today? Just wonderful? Fantastic! My name is Carolyn and I’ll be serving you today!
Family: Blank stares from everyone except for Sid, who is playing his game and not looking at anyone. Satan is giving me a look of pure evil and hatred.
Satan: FINE! Well I’M JUST GOING TO WATCH YOUTUBE AND YOU ARE JUST GOING TO HAVE TO LISTEN TO IT!!!!!!!
Enabling mother puts her hands over her eyes. Over-Worked Father stares at a crumb on the floor.
Me: GREAT! May I start you all off with something to drink? Maybe some beer? (I shoot this at Over-Worked Father. He looks at me like I am his only key to salvation.)
Over-Worked Father: I’ll take a Sam Adams.
Enabling Mother: I need wine. A nice, dry red wine.
Me: But of course. And for you sir? (Talking to Satan)
Satan still has his arms crossed and is giving me the look of poison.
Me: MAYBE A KIDDIE COCKTAIL!!!
Satan: (Jaw drops to reveal uneven bottom teeth.)
Enabling Mother: Just a round of waters for them.
Me: Of course! I’ll be right back!

I can’t handle this. I can’t do it. I have never wanted to punch a child so much in my entire life. If I go back over to that table and Satan is still giving me that look, I will be FORCED to asked if there is ANYTHING I can do to make his dining experience more to his liking… I will ask him why he is so angry, and I WILL do it with a smile, and I WILL do everything in my power to make him stop looking like such a miserable little garbage can.

I deliver the waters, making sure to smile at Satan the entire time.
Me: So, does anyone have any questions about the menu?
Silence. Dead, still, silence. For a moment I wonder if I’m invisible. I wonder if I actually asked the question out loud, or if I just thought I did… Maybe I’M the awkward one here, just showing up to their table not saying anything at all…
Over-Worked Father: (To Satan) NO, actually I am POSITIVE that a potato is a vegetable.
Satan: NO IT ISN’T. A POTATO IS NOT A VEGETABLE.
Over-Worked Father: Yes. It is.
Satan: NO. It ISN’T.
Enabling Mother: It’s a starch.
Satan: SEE DAD? SEE DAD I TOLD YOU A POTATO IS NOT A VEGETABLE.
(Over-Worked Father looks at his wife as if she is literally the dumbest person in the world. In just one look, I can tell that he is so disgusted at how his life has played out- that he has actually CHOSEN this woman to be his life partner, that he CHOSE to procreate with her above literally EVERYONE ELSE in the whole world, that his next words erupt from his mouth with such resentment and hatred I’m afraid the next topic of conversation will be custody rights. Custody Rights where both parents fight about who HAS to keep them.)
Over-Worked Father: Just because it is a starch doesn’t mean it isn’t a vegetable.
Me: (Beaming!)
Enabling Mother: Whatever. Either way, you need to eat healthier.
Over-Worked Father: I am on vacation, I will eat however I please.
Enabling Mother: (Finishing a gulp of wine) Oh, you’re on vacation? You’re at a work function. Please.

I actually witness Over-Worked Father picking and choosing his battles. He looks at the menu. And I am still standing there, waiting for someone to answer my question.

Over-Worked Father: Satan? What do you want to eat?
Satan: I already TOLD YOU, I want WINGS.
Over-Worked Father: (Death stare. I suddenly realize where Satan has learned his facial expressions.) They don’t have those here. Get the kids fillet. It’ll be the best thing you ever eat.
Satan: I don’t WANT IT.
Enabling Mother: Okay, you know what? They don’t have wings! Okay, fine, nothing. He will have nothing. I am going to have the french onion soup and the wedge salad.
Me: Very good!
Enabling Mother: Sid?
Sid: (Playing his game)
Me: (Beaming at Sid)
Enabling Mother: (Punches him on the arm.) HEY! Mac n’ cheese?
Sid: (Barely responds. I think I may have heard him say “Mm.”)
Enabling Mother: Mac N’ Cheese for him.
Over-Worked Father: I am going to have the Salmon. GOD I’m at a steakhouse and I’m getting SALMON.
Me: Actually our salmon is phenomenal. You won’t be disappointed.
Enabling Mother: (Ignoring me) Make sure you ask for the lentils on the side. I won’t eat those.
Over-Worked Father: Whatever, they’re big. I’ll move them away, it’s not a big deal.
Me: (Thinking “Our lentils are actually tiny, but I’m not going to say that for fear of getting stabbed.”)
Enabling Mother: (suddenly sweeter than ever) Satan? Honey, are you’re sure you don’t want anything?
Satan: (Stares at her. Pouting. Mutters-) …Ids Illay.
Enabling Mother: What was that!?
Satan: (Yelling) KIDS FILLET.
Me: (Looking directly at Satan himself) And how would you like that prepared, young sir?!?!
Satan: (Pure evil. Poison is leaking from his eyes.)
Enabling Mother: Medium well.
Me: Fantastic! I’ll get that right in for you, and I’ll also bring some fresh bread and butter for the table.
SID: YUUUUUUMMMMMMM!!!!!
Me: (Wanting desperately to say “Wait- you can hear me! You can SEE me!?” I walk away.)

When I bring the bread to the table, Sid hulks out. He RIPS the earbuds out of his head and lunges for the bread, as if he hasn’t eaten in six weeks. With every inhale it sounds like he’s slurping something- which is quite a miraculous feat because he is ingesting BREAD, and with every exhale there is an audible vocalization of “Mmmm.” It’s a rather disturbing cycle, but no one addresses it. Meanwhile, Satan is sitting in his chair like a frog. The bottoms of his shoes are actually on the seat of the chair, and any time he wants to drink his water, he literally springs up, puts his hands on the table, and bends over to put his mouth on the straw… instead of just picking up the glass and bringing it to his mouth like any other normal person on the planet. No one addresses this either.

When their food finally does come, I watch intently to see what happens. I watch to see if Satan does, indeed, like his KIDS FILLET. He does. Obviously, you’re gonna like the kids fillet, you ungrateful, unwanted, rat-faced collection of disappointments and broken dreams. You’re at one of the best steakhouses in Orlando and you’re eating a 5 oz fillet! And even if it IS prepared medium well, thanks to your insane to the membrane mother, it’s going to be the best thing you eat all week.

So, that’s basically the end of the story. Once the food came everyone kind of shut up and ate, and the only thing that was semi-amusing about them at this point was when Sid grabbed the black dish that held their side item, and screamed, in the EXACT voice of Sid from Toy Story, “IS THIS MADE OUT OF IRON????” Over-Worked Father tipped 20 percent and they all decided to GTFO. I think he was appreciative that I didn’t announce that we had dessert options… instead, I discreetly handed him the dessert menu out of view of his spawn and said, quietly, “In case you’re interested…”

It’s sad, but I’ve come to realize the importance of alcohol mixed with some good food when it comes to dysfunctional families. Usually by the end of the meal I can have people laughing and actually interacting with each other without arguing anymore. And yet, with this family, I was just happy that no one got slapped… by me. I hope the rest of their business trip/vacation(???) fared better than that atrocious meal, but I won’t hold my breath. I bet Sid is still sitting somewhere right now playing his game and slurp-breathing, and Satan is watching YouTube with that disgusted look on his face, Enabling Mother is looking through a magazine at the body and life she’ll never have, and Over-Worked Father is answering emails and wondering where his life went wrong. It’s really sad to think about these families like this once they’re gone, so I try not to. I just bring them their check, and hope for the best. I have to pay my bills, you know.

An Easy Choice. Kind Of.

23 Sep

Day 13 of the 90 in 90 blog challenge.

(Close up of WOMAN’s anguished face.)
WOMAN: Are you feeling… tired? Worthless? Do you feel like there is no reason to live? No reason to breathe? No reason to… do your laundry?
(Shot of a housewife picking up a pair of pants out of the washer. Suddenly, she drops them mid-transfer to the dryer. She covers her face in shame.)
WOMAN: Studies show that 23 out of 36.4 Americans have trouble figuring out what to do with their lives at some point in time during their lives. Life is confusing and hard, and everyone is suffering.
(Shots of various people dropping laundry, cleaning supplies, and briefcases. They all cover their faces in shame.)
WOMAN: But now! You don’t have to suffer anymore. Now? There is Lunatylemidonolozoft.
(The various people uncover their faces and look up towards a growing, warm
light.)

WOMAN: Lunatylemidonolozoft is a drug. It has been clinically proven to treat some problems of some people, some of the time.
(A business man bends down and picks up his briefcase.)
WOMAN: It has been clinically approved by a group of men who wear perfectly ironed shirts and have name plates on their desks in their offices. They also sometimes floss after brushing.
(A father helps his daughter ride a 2 wheeled bike for the first time.)
WOMAN: Lunatylemidonolozoft is not for everyone. (A college student places a notebook in their backpack at the conclusion of a lecture.) People who fall asleep easily or enjoy eating at Subway should not take Lunatylemidonolozoft. (An Australian Shepperd catches a frisbee.) Side effects include, but are not limited to, headaches, dizziness, nausea, substantial weight gain, arm pit irritation, explosive acne, arthritis, unfortunately timed flatulence, constipation, complete nervous system failure, and a sudden unexplained fear of elevators. These side effects have only affected people who have taken Lunatylemidonolozoft for three consecutive days or more. (A mother watches proudly while her daughter brings a casserole dish to the table.) In rare cases, people have reported vomiting blood, losing their voice, and growing skin tags under their tongues in the shapes of European countries. These claims have yet to be proven. (A man opens a jar of mayonnaise for his wife.)  Do not take Lunatylemidonolozoft if you are pregnant, nursing, hoping to become pregnant, have been kind of pregnant once or maybe twice, planning on becoming pregnant next Wednesday, or are currently holding a baby. (Close up of a hand signing “Happy 1st Birthday! Love, Grandpa.”) Sexual problems including a lowered sex drive, erectile dysfunction, left breast loss, or just the complete inability to have an orgasm, ever, are common but reversible, maybe. (A construction worker stops his jack hammer, wipes his brow, and smiles at the sun.)
WOMAN: Just listen to these testimonies!

REBEL TEENAGER: (Blank stare.) I used to feel like nothing mattered and I felt worthless. Now, with Lunatylemidonolozoft, I don’t feel anything…. (Beat.)  It’s awesome.

DENTIST: I was having trouble getting out of bed. I was letting my patients down, my wife down, but worst of all, I was letting myself down. Now, with Lunatylemidonolozoft, I feel like a computer. And I still let my wife down.

HOUSEWIFE: (Tongue swollen with skin tags) Thewfs uh gud chanths I won geh bettah.

PREGNANT WOMAN: (Popping a pill while absentmindedly rubbing her belly. Then, she notices the camera. Wide, guilty pupils.) … Oops.

WOMAN: (strolling through a field of wildflowers, letting a chiffon scarf billow behind her.) So talk to your doctor to see if Lunatylemidonolozoft is right for you. You don’t have to be sad and confused about your life! You don’t have to feel worthless! You can start to get your normal life back. It starts… with Lunatylemidonolozoft.
(Close up of the Lunatylemidonolozoft bottle)
WOMAN: (Voice Over) Lunatylemidonolozoft;
An easy choice. Kind of.

“Who We Wanted to Be”- A short, fictional scribble.

18 Aug

“Do you want to get a room tonight?”
My breath exhales and my mouth, tongue, and teeth form a word before I have the chance to.
“Okay.”

Three drinks, one cab, and ten minutes later. I’m in some hotel lobby, looking at some candy dispenser, as he talks to the woman behind the counter.
Her voice is low. “So, you just want to stay one night?”
“Yes,” I think, heart beating faster, “Yes! Only one night.”
I put my left hand to the candy dispenser, wishing I had a quarter. My ring finger has a thin tan line that is barely noticeable to someone who isn’t looking for proof of all of my life’s broken promises.

I only have my purse, no luggage. I’m in a short black dress, hair slowly getting limp. He’s in a loosened tie and black shoes that make me feel like I’m with someone important. Maybe that’s why my mouth said yes. Maybe I just felt guilty- he did buy me a ton of drinks. Maybe I was just thirsty. Maybe he’s really hot. Maybe I’m lucky. Maybe he’ll fall in love with me. Maybe I’m just lonely. Maybe I’m pathetic.

I pull the front of my dress down another half inch, and shove the under wiring of my bra further beneath my breasts, hoping that the small trick will do something.

It doesn’t.

“Ready?”
Room 3908, a room with one bed. None of those numbers have any significance to me. A good night or a bad night, I can’t tell from his body language or face, and now these meaningless numbers aren’t helping either.

I put my purse on the bed and look around. He closes the door. It’s quiet. There’s a sad excuse of painted “art” posted above the bed in a cheap gold frame. I look down at my breasts. Thanks for nothing, “miracle bra.” He comes around to face me.

“Are you tired?”
“No.”
“I got a room with a balcony.” He points.
He wants to do it on the balcony? I mean… yeah, sure, okay… But couldn’t we just do this thing in the bed like normal adults who stay in cheap hotels with business men they just met?

He leads the way. It’s warmer than I thought it would be, and I put my elbows on the railing and look down. We’re pretty far up, and the city lights look like distant camera flashes in super bowl stadium seats. He stands beside me, arm not touching mine. “Are you cold?”
“No.”
“Hungry?”
“I’m fine.”
“Can I get you anything?”
He sounds almost desperate for me to give him something to do.
“My feet hurt.”
It comes out before I have a chance to filter it. Great. “My feet hurt?” Sex-Y. But it’s true, they hurt, all from these stupid shoes that Natalie SWORE would get me laid. So far, the shoes have done nothing but make me pay 45 dollars for blisters.

He laughs and tells me to take off my shoes and I shrink three inches. I didn’t realize he was so tall. I also didn’t realize that the 45 dollar shoes came with free confidence until they were kicked off to the side.
“Stay here,” he tells me, and rushes inside. I swear, if this guy comes back with a foot bath I’ll either A. propose or B. question his sexuality and leave. I mean, seriously, what does it take for a single, hard-working, semi-attractive woman to have a one-night-stand? Is this how it all works?

He comes through the glass doorway looking like Frosty the Cheap-hotel-bedding man. He’s a puffed up sphere of blankets, pillows, and general fluff. All I can see are his muscular arms, clasped in front, his turned-sideways face covered behind the mountain of our used-to-be bed. He throws the fluff on the balcony floor.

“What’re you doing?”
“Making you a fort.”

I stand and watch while he turns the balcony chairs back-to-back, five feet apart. He then puts the pillows and sheets under the chairs, and takes the nasty comforter and slides it over the chairs and onto the railing, making a tent. He lifts up the side flap and says, “After you.” He’s beaming like a five year old. I don’t know whether to think it’s cute, or to laugh, or to ask him if I can get HIM anything… like medication. I decide on a combination of the first two.

Under the fort we peer through the black vertical railing of the balcony out into the deep sky. “I feel like I’m a prisoner,” I say, hands firm on the railing. He still doesn’t touch me.
“Isn’t this great?”
I giggle, despite myself. “Sure.”
A voice in the back of my mind keeps whispering, “WHEN are we going to do it? Let’s just get this over with. Enough with the fort.”

“So…I have a confession to make.” He says this while unlacing his important black shoes. He kicks them off to the side, resting next to my red heels.
Okay, I coach myself. What’s the worst thing he could possibly say right now, in this moment? That he’s married? I don’t give a shit. He’s gay? …Not again. Then, something I heard from one of those health commercials comes to mind: “I have genital herpes!” My hands begin to sweat.
“…Yes?”
“I…” he laughs at himself. “It’s just that I…”
“You…”
“I don’t really, you know, usually do this.”
“You don’t usually make forts for women who you take to cheap hotels?”
“No,” he laughs again, and I see him wringing his fingers together. “I don’t usually take women to cheap hotels, period.”
For a second I almost hope he says that he usually spends more money than this, but I know what he really means.

I just stare at him.

The ONE time I let my inhibitions go and decide to DO something about my stagnant, pathetic love life, the guy I let take me home is a one night stand VIRGIN. I can’t handle this. One one night stand virgin is enough for one experience, thank you very much. I need someone who has DONE this before, who knows how to act, what to do, where to go, how long between closing the door and having sex is appropriate…

I don’t know what to say, so I don’t say anything. I just sit there, staring out at the city.
“I’m sorry,” he says, growing serious. “I don’t know what you are expecting….Okay, actually, that’s a lie, and I know what you’re expecting, it’s just… I don’t usually do this, so you may have to talk me through some of it.”
“Me? Talk you through this?”
He nods.
I can’t help it- I burst out laughing. He looks at me, not sure what to do, and that only makes me laugh harder. I can’t wait to tell Natalie that the shoes have nothing to do with how unlucky I am. No matter WHAT I do… I can’t get laid.

“What’s so funny?”
“What’s so funny? I’ll tell you what’s funny. What’s funny is my life. Period. I haven’t had sex since my last relationship, which ended in the spring of… a long time ago. And I’m not the type of girl who just, you know, goes home with a man she meets in the same night. What’s funny is that my girlfriend Natalie made me buy those 45 dollar shoes over there, swearing that they would get me laid. They hurt my feet and here I am, sitting under a fricken’ FORT with a man who has never done this before, either! What’s funny is that… no matter what I do, nothing I want to happen ever happens. What’s funny is that my life is pathetic. …I’m pathetic.”

The wind blows and the sides of the fort sway in, like we’re in the belly of an exhaling whale. My bitterness is gone. What’s left is red, chipped fingernail polish, dry lips, and my head on my knees. I see myself from outside myself- a lonely, pathetic, aging girl who doesn’t know how to handle heartache, or herself. A sad excuse of a woman in a push up bra, hoping that a quick dip into something new will jump start her life again, when in reality, the quick dip would have turned into a black pool of tar that sucks her down into it and won’t let her out.

“You’re not pathetic.”
His voice reminds me that he’s beside me. “What?”
“You’re not pathetic.”
I sigh. “Thanks, but no offense, I don’t think you know me.”
“Everybody wants to get laid with no strings attached at one point or another,” he says calmly. “Everybody except for me. Now who’s pathetic? You know, I thought I could try this, I thought every single business man has nights like these, you know? They do. Even some of the one’s who aren’t single do! So why can’t I? And I saw you at the bar, and you looked friendly and beautiful and understanding, and I thought, ‘Well, if I’m ever going to do this, she’d be the one I’d want to do it with.’ So I bought you drinks and talked to you and got you to come back here with me. But I don’t think I can just have sex with you.”
I wince. “Are you a virgin?”
He laughs, hard. “No! Of course not, do I seem like it? It’s just, I tend to fall in love with women pretty easily, and I don’t feel like going through all of that again, you know?”
I say nothing.
“GOD!” He erupts. “WHY can’t I just be an asshole, like every other guy in the world!? Why do I have to be the type of guy who wants to LEARN something about the woman I’m about to screw?”

We’re silent for literally three minutes, each of us drowning in our own self pity.

“Well… ” I mutter. “Now what?”
The sexy atmosphere is completely gone, now that we know just how lame we both are. I can feel the disappointment spread from my heart to my thighs. Then again, that could be the feeling of relief.
“Hey,” He says, voice a bit smoother. He puts his hand to my bare shoulder, then to my neck. “Let’s just sit here and talk, okay? No pressure.” His thumb rubs my jawline. “And if one thing leads to another, then so be it… Obviously I won’t object. I mean, look at you. I just don’t want to do anything that either of us will regret in the morning.”

We sit in silence like that for a while, his hand on my neck, rubbing my chin. I slowly lean into his touch.

We talk about our families. We talk about prom nights from lives past, hobbies, jobs, friends, lovers, enemies, dreams, goals, and disappointments. We talk about favorite foods, politics, and sibling rivalries. I grab my ipod from my purse and show him my favorite artists. He tells me about the recent death of his dog. I confess that a man with money turns me on. He confesses that a woman with small breasts does it for him. (I don’t know whether to be insulted or flattered.) He tells me how he tripped and fell in front of his boss, spilling coffee all over the office. I tell him that my diet plans never seem to work out. He says he hasn’t been to the circus, not once. I tell him that I’ve always wanted to go to India, and how my job as a women’s magazine writer sometimes makes me want to either A. kill myself, or B. get a sex change. He jokes that he’ll never be successful, but I hear the fear in his voice. And I like him all the more for it.

In fact, the more we talk, the more my thighs calm down and my coma heart starts to wake up. And when the sun peeks over the distant horizon, I realize that I’ve just spend all night talking to a man who isn’t all that different from myself.

I yawn, despite my efforts not to.
“Are you sleepy?” he asks.
I yawn again.
“Me too, ” he chuckles. “Come on.”
He gets out of the fort and drags the blankets and pillows back inside. I grab our shoes and shut the door. The sun is growing brighter through the open window, so I pull the long, hanging blinds shut. They shake and sway against each other, making a somewhat comforting sound, paired with flashing slices of morning sun.

When I turn around, he’s sitting on the bed, blankets inviting, without his shirt on. His muscles are way better than his dress shirt gave him credit for. I feel my thighs twitch awake again while my heart stands lock-kneed still, staring, unsure of what this means. “Come to bed,” he murmurs.

I unzip my dress and step out of it, revealing my small breasts and less than defined stomach. I tell the part of my brain that controls insecurity to shut up and I move to his side. He takes my hand. I slide in next to him as he pulls the cold sheet over us. He wraps his body against mine, and I realize that to anyone else, we must look like lovers. We must look like the sexy, free spirited grown-ups who we wanted to be. And I realize, as he breathes, “Good morning…” into my ear, that this is probably the best one night stand I’ll ever have.

Reflections of a Waitress

17 Aug

I thought working at a theme park was difficult. I thought getting up at the same time every day and doing the same thing every day with the same people every day was torture. Sure, I was doing what I loved, but was it worth it?

Pros of working a theme park:

1. You get IN SHAPE. Skinny arm central.

2. You don’t actually have to interact with anyone outside of your cast.

3. Sparkly gold dresses.

Pros of being a waitress:

1. Tips.

2. Schedules that are subject to change.

3. Working with different people every day.

Cons of theme park work:

1. Summer. Heat.

2. You don’t actually interact with anyone outside of your cast.

3. Sequins catch sweaty hair.

Cons of being a waitress:

1. Tips. Low, less than 10% tips.

2. Less hours, less shifts, less money.

3. Having to learn the names of cooks, fellow waitresses/waiters, bar tenders, bus boys, hosts, managers, regular customers, etc…

Being a waitress has made me realize how many different people there are in the world. Waiting on people is fascinating. How many dysfunctional couples did I get to actually speak to during my summer as a performer? None. Now, I have the privilege of talking to these fine people every day! I’ve started to give titles to memorable types of people, mostly to help me identify which type they are more quickly, and act accordingly. Here are a few types just off the top of my head:

Tired Mothers

  • Appearance: Baggy eyes, over-the-shoulder diagonally hanging beige bag, usually accompanied by 3 loud, dirty, and needy children under the age of ten. Almost never accompanied by a helpful adult male companion.
  • Disposition: Short tempered, exhausted, speaks quietly, as if every word is painful to mutter. Usually becomes offended if told we have Pepsi products instead of Coke products.
  • Tip average: Less than ten percent, which is usually taken from the already discounted total due to her “smart” child’s “A+ is for Applebees!” free kids meal coupon.

Business Men

  • Appearance: Suit and tie, button up shirt (usually light blue). Manly man bag which includes a lap top and/or a huge official looking black leather spiral notebook. Usually accompanied by two or more of his same kind, but must wait patiently for their arrival. While waiting, he will order an Arnold Palmer.
  • Disposition: Before 3:00- relatively happy, eager to make the waitress laugh by cracking uncomfortable sexist jokes. Secretly enjoys making the waitress do everything twice, because it makes him feel powerful. Drinks his drink quickly, and shakes the ice at the waitress while she walks by. He seals the deal by giving a creepy wink, framed by a bushy pepper-colored eyebrow. Also frequently says things like, “Good job, honey” and “Now THERE we go!” when a refill is delivered to the table.After 3:00- relatively tired, eager to get his food and read his official looking notebook. Usually accompanied by fellow Business Men who are also relatively tired, and don’t want to be eating and doing business at the same time. Painfully polite dialogue is common, and sexist jokes diminish at an abnormally fast pace.
  • Tip average: 15% if each man pays separately, 25% or higher if one man confidently grabs the check and pays for everyone before anyone can say anything about it. He will make a big show of filling out the tip line of his check, and will say, “There you go, sweetie, buy something pretty” as he hands you the slip. Tipping more than 20% means you are secure, dominant, and manly, and shows the other men at the table that you are, in fact, a “boss.”

High School Students:

  • Appearance: Young “hip” looking teens. Usually wearing a Hollister shirt or ripped jeans.
  • Disposition: Happy, disrespectful, and thirsty. Mountain Dew sales sky rocket. Straw paper conffetti is common on these tables. Students try to act older by memorizing the waitress’ name and using it as if they’ve been BFF’s 4Eva.
  • Tip average: What tip average?

The Dysfunctional Nuclear family:

  • Appearance: Father, mother, boy, and girl. Average-looking human beings who could pass as a happy family, if the conversation wasn’t so forced and hostile.
  • Disposition: Father- Absentmindedly stares at the nearest TV, and says nothing, except for “I’ll take the 7 oz house sirloin.” Mother- Nervously looks from family member to family member to make sure that everyone is having a good time. Questions everything everyone orders, and usually pressures people into getting their steaks cooked Well Done instead of Medium Rare. Daughter- Makes sad eye contact with the waitress that usually portrays the message, “I’m sorry I was born into this family, and I’m sorry you have to wait on us now.”  Son- Says nothing, and let’s his mother order for him. Plays angry birds on his smart phone until his chicken fingers basket with ranch arrives.
  • Tip average: Mother fills out slip- 10%. Father fills out slip- 15% or more, depending on how many times he “secretly” checked out the waitress during commercials.

Sometimes though, no matter how many types of people I interact with, I find myself getting a little bored. Times like these, I have to find something to entertain myself. Since I can’t whip out my phone and play Angry Birds myself, I find different games to make the time go faster. I personally like to play the “ranch” or “blue cheese” game in my head. It goes something like this:

Man: Honey BBQ boneless wings, please.

Me: Would you like ranch, or blue cheese to dip those wings in?

Me: (thinking) This man obviously wants ranch.

Man: I’ll take ranch please.

Me: Sure thing!

Me: Ten points. I am so good.

I also enjoy playing the Absolutely game. This is a game where I see how many times I can say “Absolutely” while speaking to a table. It goes something like this:

Woman: Could I please have a water?

Me: Absolutely. (1) Would you like lemon with that?

Woman: Yes, please.

Man: And I’ll take a coke.

Me: We actually only have Pepsi products. Is that okay?

Man: Sure.

Me: Absolutely (2), I’ll get those right away.

ONE MINUTE PASSES.

Me: (returning to the table with drinks) Do you guys need a few more minutes to decide?

Woman: Yes, if it’s not too much trouble.

Me: Absolutely (3) not.

FIVE MINUTES PASS.

Me: Are you guys ready now? I don’t want to rush you.

Man: No, we’re ready. I’ll take the Boneless wings with Honey BBQ sauce.

Me (This man obviously wants blue cheese) Absolutely (4.) Ranch or blue cheese to dip those in?

Man: Blue cheese, please.

Me: (Ten points. I am SO good.) Absolutely (5.) And for you ma’am?

Woman: Could I just have the half portion oriental chicken salad?

Me: Absolutely (6.) Any extra dressing with that?

Woman: Sure.

Me: Great guys, I will absolutely (7) get that right in for you!

Sometimes, when I lose count of my Absolutely’s or misdiagnose a ranch person as a blue cheese person, I’ll play the Baby Game. This game is hard to explain through the written word. But basically, the goal of the game is to find the loudest, most obnoxiously messy and disruptive child in the restaurant. After locating the child, make sure the parents aren’t looking, and make eye contact with the child. As soon as eye contact is made, make the most ghoulish and horrifying facial expression you can while putting your hands up to your face like claws. If the baby stops making loud noises and looks at you, dumbfounded, you win. If the baby screams louder, you win, and get an extra 10 points.

Sometimes, though, people are so amazingly rude, selfish, or just plain dumb, that I actually have no need for the Ranch/Blue Cheese Game, The Absolutely Game, or the Baby Game. The people are entertaining enough as it is! (Please NOTE: All of these situations have literally happened to me, in real life.)

Situation One:

Father: I’ll take a steak-

Me: 7 oz or 9 oz?

Father: (completely confused, but says in a rude and confident tone to cover his confusion..) 9 ounce! And I want fries and a salad with that, you got that? Fries, and a salad, I want the salad out first with no egg, no cucumber, extra tomatoes and ranch on the side. My son will take-

Me: Oh, how did you want your steak cooked?

Man:

Me: … Medium? Well done?

Man. Rare, rare! And my son wants a rib basket with onion rings, can I substitute rings for the fries?

Me: Sure, it will just be 1.29 more.

Man: Now THAT is horse crap right there, as if we’re not going to spend enough money already, you people have to charge us extra for onion rings!

Me:.. I’m sorry, would you rather substitute mashed potatoes or cole slaw? Those don’t cost extra.

Man: WHY NOT!? WHY DO JUST ONION RINGS COST MORE?

Me: I… I actually don’t know, sir.

Man: Typical. Whatever, he’ll just take onion rings, I guess. Can never get nothing for free…. My son wants a salad too, out first, extra egg and chicken.

Me: Well… our house salad doesn’t come with egg, or chicken on it. It would be smarter to get a 1/2 portion Fried Chicken Salad, which comes with both egg and chicken.

Man: And how much is that going to cost me?

Me: Well, it is a larger salad than the house salad, and comes with chicken, it’s about 8 dollars for that salad.

Man: NICE TRY, MISSY! Oh, you are good! YOU ARE GOOD!

Me: (awkward smile) So… just a house salad then without chicken or egg?

Man: What, we can’t even get chicken on a house salad?!

Me: You can, but it will cost extra…

Man: WHAT DOESN’T COST EXTRA IN THIS PLACE, HUH? TELL ME! PLEASE JUST TELL ME!

Me: … refills?

Situation Two:

Mother: Candice! Candice, sit down, stop climbing on the window- I’m sorry- Candice, do you want chocolate milk, or fruit punch?

Candice: SPRITE! SPRITE!

Mother: (suddenly morphing into Satan) NO! CANDICE NO! NO SODA, YOU KNOW THIS! (to me) She’s been with her damn father all weekend, I KNOW he’s been giving her whatever the hell she wants… CANDICE. LOOK AT MOMMY. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DRINK!?!?

Candice: (Climbing the window) Choco mill.

Mother: Chocolate milk for her. (Sweetly) Ben, what do you want?

Ben: Mac N Cheese.

Mother: NO! WE’RE ORDERING DRINKS RIGHT NOW BEN! PAY ATTENTION!

Ben: Pepsi.

Mother: No, he’ll have a lemonade. They KNOW they are NOT ALLOWED to drink pop. CANDICE get DOWN. Vodka diet for me.

Me: Um… sure.

Mother: And we’ll take some spinach and artichoke dip to start off, please, as fast as you can-

Ben: Aw ma, I hate that spinach stuff you like…

Mother: BEN! Color the alien and be quiet. CANDICE! NO THROWING KNIVES AT YOUR BROTHER!

Situation Three:

Me: What can I get you to eat?

Old Man: You know you remind me of my daughter. Right now she’s living in Oregon, with that skamp of a boyfriend of hers, but she’s going to be a doctor now, Gonna make a ton of money on an annual salary and she’ll be able to take me fishing any time I want, can you believe that? Yep, any time now, I think she may be pregnant but she doesn’t want to tell me, but yes sir! YOU just remind me of her!

Me: …. Well… thank you… something to eat?

Old Man: Weeelllllll I haven’t really given that much thought! Can I just have some broccoli?

Me: Just… a side of broccoli?

Old Man: And you know, I often sometimes think if she just went to college somewhere else, she would have never met that man and she’d be so much better off, but what can you do? You can’t stop love and you can’t stop a woman IN love, so what can a father do? Hope and pray that she’ll someday be a doctor and take me fishing, huh!?!?!? PPPAAAAA HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!

Me: Heh…heh heh… so… just broccoli then?

Old Man: Broccoli?!

Me: Yes, you said you wanted…

Old Man: No no, I want the chicken breast with mashed potatoes and tomatoes.

Me: …. Tomatoes on top?

Old Man: Slices of tomatoes on the side, of course.

Me: Well, they won’t count as a side, I can get you another side, free of charge! What about that broccoli?

Old Man: Girl! What IS it with you and broccoli!? I don’t want your stinkin’ broccoli. Just tomatoes and chicken and rice.

Me: … rice?

Old Man: YES. RICE. Do you understand?

Me:… Yes. I do.

Is it really worth it to put up with these people, for a less than 10% tip? I have to ask myself. I’ve just started to tell myself that people don’t know HOW to figure out ten, fifteen, and twenty percent. If you don’t know, here’s a really easy way:

The bill is 20.00.

Move the decimal point one space over to the left.

2.00. There. THAT is ten percent.

Want to find fifteen? Divide ten percent by two: 2.00 / 2 = 1.00. That is five percent! Now add that five percent onto the ten percent to get FIFTEEN PERCENT! 1.00 + 2.00 = 3.00. A 3.00 tip on a 20 dollar bill is very much acceptable. Fifty seven cents left on the table and a dime left under the booth is not.

Please, world. I’m begging you. Please. Tip your waitresses. You never know what they’re dealing with, what they have going on in their lives… Most of the girls I work with have kids themselves, and are trying to pay car repair bills, along with day care, health care, and utility bills with the fifty seven cents that you so generously leave under the booth. So step up. Pay it forward. Waitresses, see, we’re really just like you. Only sweatier and with a bigger smile. So please. Tip your waitress on the way out.