Monday, April 11, 2011
I was once a waiter before. I worked at Mikayla’s in Millwood Golf and Racquet Club. It was my first job waiting tables and my ticket out of living in Michelle’s parents’ basement. It was also what propelled me into the status of a “guy who knows how to tie a tie.” I was surprised to get the job since I didn’t have any experience and this place was kind of fancy.
Everything went pretty well, I got acclimated pretty quickly. I learned about how to make a table side Caesar salad, how to serve wine, and that the chef would get angry at you if you called him by his name and not “Chef.” It reminded me of the “Maestro” episode of Seinfeld. What if other professions did this? “My name’s not Todd, it’s Sandwich Artist.”
One time, I was waiting on a proper well to do couple and I was sauntering back to their table to give them their check, confident in a job well done. A few steps away, I realized I did not have their credit card in the black leather folder. I went to the back, nothing. I looked around the cash register, nothing. I whispered to some of the other servers to look around, nothing. I frantically told the cooks to start looking, nothing. Panicked, I got our hostess involved, nothing. The frickin’ credit card had disappeared off the face of the earth. My face started feeling flush and I was sweating. I knew they had more money on that credit card than my life was worth.
There was a couple out there stewing in the ineptitude of their server, and I was their server. I looked through the glass and I could see them looking around. It had been awhile now. Before this I had often wondered why we put so much faith in servers. They take our credit cards back to a secret room and have 5-10 minutes alone with them, which is plenty of time to write down the numbers, expiration date, and secret code on the back. Now, I was that server, on accident.
Eventually, the hostess went out and explained the situation. They opted to stay for a bit while we looked. In the end, they got up, screamed at the hostess and left.
Less than 5 minutes later I found the God forsaken card.
“Hello folks, my name is Jeff and I’ll be taking care of you tonight” never sounded like more of a lie.
Fast forward to today. I’m at a table in the living room looking up YouTube videos on proper serving etiquette because it’s been eight years since I’ve done it, and I’m not sure I ever really did it right. I’m cramming for a job that most anyone could do. Tomorrow, I take the “Skills Assessment” test at this catering company that may have hired me.
I’m still not sure if they did. The sheet of paper they gave me after my interview is extremely vague. I guess I’ll find out today.
The truth is, I was actually a fine server before, but I really remember the ways that I screwed up. Doubt has a strange way of always hanging around just in case it’s needed.
Tonight, I took part in an Improv Jam at UCB, where I’m taking classes. A Jam is where anyone taking classes can get up and perform. Well, you have to be randomly picked from a bucket. They were selecting the names for the last round and I was one of the last picked. I couldn’t decide if I was happy I had put my name in the bucket or not. The show was all right. I got a couple of lines in. There were 13 people doing my segment of the show, so not a lot of space to get up there.
It was interesting that I’ve done hundreds of improv shows, but doing one on a different stage, with different people, in a little different form, made me question if I knew what I was doing. Once you get in your head in improv you can’t really do it well. It made me miss doing it with my friends at the Skinny, who are probably chuckling to themselves right now that I just said “doing it.”
Doubt does just kind of hang around. You walk around a corner and he just appears trying to hand you a flier about your inadequacies. The key is to treat him like you would normally treat a person handing out fliers, ignore him, or pretend you’re on the phone, or take the flier but throw it away immediately, or punch him in the ear and run away.