big night at the restaurant

Tonight at the restaurant we had two big parties: one of 12, another of 40.

            I enjoyed it.

            Carrying platters of flatbread pizza, of sliders, and bantering with guests about “oh, go ahead, indulge,” and laughing at their pat jokes about the sinfulness of each bite. One older man in a guayabera took egregious servings of literally everything that came his way, making jokes—at the expense of a young vegetarian woman in his circle—about, “Oh,” picking up some skewered steak, “is this plant-based? I’m a vegetarian.”

            Even the people around him, after five or six remarks, seemed tired of it.

            He ended up getting very drunk and when his last scotch took more than ten minutes to prepare, he shouted, and cancelled it, and assured us he’d never be returning, in response to which the GM said she was sorry he felt that way, and his wife led him away by the elbow.

            My friend’s ex-husband was sitting at a table near the door and I haven’t seen him since the divorce. I served his appetizer without realizing it was him at the table and, when I saw him, said “oh hey!”, cuz I was kinda enthused at suddenly recognizing him. He blinked at me and looked away, and made clear that he was pretending not to know me. He was here with his new girlfriend (the one, presumably, for which he left my friend). So I obliged his performance, and pretended not to know him either, which I guess in the end is a perfectly sensible route to take, sparing him the headache of having to introduce his lover and then explain to her how he knows me. I asked a colleague to deliver the rest of his meal.

            The 12-top: I helped set the table, at one point helped move the furniture and re-align all the settings when the party was dissatisfied with their placement, and I ran almost all of the food to the table.

            Their server, working the table alongside me over the course of two hours, earned about $300.

            I earned about $15.

            So it goes.

            He was effusive afterward with gratitude and he’s been in the business for twenty years. Guy’s a sweetheart, an intellectual. He’s got hospitality in his blood. The disparity in pay has nothing to do with him. He deserves every penny he got.

            I’ve got no grudge.

            But, if only for drama’s sake, I’m thinking about those two numbers.

            So it goes.

            I’m jotting this at a bar, North Italia, a half hour after my shift has ended. Tired and sore, on my second beer, feeling euphoric, tipsy. My Fitbit says I’ve taken 15,000 steps.

            I wanna go home.

            I like my job.

            I wanna go home.


  • Thanks for this window into a night at your job. How come there is such a disparity between what you earned and what the official server for the 12-top earned? And how sad that you and the hostess (and his wife) had to deal with the increasingly drunk and antagonistic man. I hope the rest of your holiday season goes well.


    • Thanks for the kind words, Will! The reason there was such a disparity in the pay is because I’m still in training, through which we’re only paid minimum wage. Once I’m done with training (which is hopefully tonight), I’ll be paid a lower hourly rate, but I’ll get a small (minuscule) percentage of the tip. Something like 3% of the server’s 18%, on top of $3 an hour.

      Such is the industry.

      Best wishes to you and yours this holiday season as well!


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