Tuesday, November 07, 2006
NBA players call it being in the zone. It is where the basket looks so wide that they can't miss a shot. That's where I was tonight, I was in the zone, only my zone pays with a lot fewer zeros in front of the decimal point.
It was a slow night, and I seemed to get all the exact right tables. Big table, little table, it didn't matter, they all were loving me. A birthday here, an anniversary there, it all worked. What wine would you suggest - a home run. How's this fish? It's now our favorite. It is rare when a night goes this smoothly and the tips come so graciously. You take it when you can get it, that is for sure.
A while back I had a new server I was training ask me what effect so many years in food service has had on me (I'm well into my second decade, and hopefully I won't make it to my third!). After thinking about it for a while, my response was that there is almost two correct answers to that. You reach a point where there is basically nothing new. You've seen or done it all, and you are able to deal with pretty much anything. And when you haven't, you still have the experience and credibility to sound convincing. The second part, and the darker part, is that serving in restaurants has really eroded parts of me. I don't compromise my values, but nonetheless, each night is like I am selling little pieces of myself to make my next dollar. And that takes a toll. Especially when the tank is low or empty, and your patience were all expended on the idiot on table 4. There are times when it feels like tables are parasites, feeding on you, sucking the life out of you. Really. Hang out late at night in a restaurant sometime, and watch the servers as they leave. Some will be tired just because it was a long shift, but some will have that hollow look, like they have been drained, have less of themselves now than they did when the shift began.
This I think is something that bonds servers so well together. A few weeks together and you've become one of us. We know what it is like, we can have entire conversations in just a few words, often code words, and fully know where each other is. Those who have been in the biz know exactly what I mean.
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