An email from a friend reminded me of my brief career as a waitress. I started work at a small café downtown, but I moved after just a short time to the bowling alley across from the college. As I recall, the hours were better and both restaurants were owned by the same person.
I was a terrible waitress, but I looked cute in my uniform. (I’d gotten a divorce during the summer and lost forty-five pounds because I was too miserable to eat.) I was young and blond and my skirt was short, so most of my customers overlooked my less-than-perfect skills. If I mixed up their order they just smiled. The day I dropped six coffee cups wasn’t the greatest. Two of them were full! And I spilled soda on a young reserve. The Army reserve guys came for lunch in large groups that kept me rushing and fumbling. I never could remember who had Coca Cola and who had Dr. Pepper.
I got a few good tips. I remember one of the Highway Patrol guys used to eat there a couple of times a week, and he’d leave me a fifty-cent tip. That was pretty good in the sixties! I think he felt sorry for me because he knew I was trying to pay for college and raise a child.
I didn’t mind waiting on customers as much as I hated “looking busy” when we didn’t have customers. Our boss insisted that we clean and shine and polish anything and everything, then fill napkin holders and salt shakers. That took about twenty minutes and then we were back to cleaning and polishing the same spots. One of my co-workers wasn’t the most positive person in the world and she mumbled obscenities at me if I looked “too busy”. It was an impossible situation.
One of the worst memories of my job was the day my co-worker removed a fly from a piece of meringue pie and served it to a customer. Sure, I could have snitched on her, but she was bigger and meaner than I was. Needless to say, I never ate at work, and I lost a few more pounds. Thank goodness my stint as a waitress only lasted for about three months. If my career had been any longer I might have stopped eating altogether!
The owner’s dog had no problem eating at the restaurant. She brought the little poodle to work each afternoon and the cook served him a freshly grilled hamburger patty. At least he ate it out of a dish on the kitchen floor.
I actually learned a little about bowling during my brief time at the bowling alley. I watched a few customers after my shift and even bowled a little. It was a skill that proved useful a few years later, but that’s a story for another day.
My job and my life weren’t working out very well during those days, so I packed up and moved to California. I never worked as a waitress again, but I did end up in another uniform. And that really is another story for another day!