Just Work

Being a waiter is like being self-employed in several aspects, notably that merely working or not is often at your own discretion. You may be scheduled for your shifts, and expected to work them, but there are usually plenty of opportunities to weasel out. You can appeal to the manager for the night off if it’s going to be slow. You can try to be cut early with few or no tables on a slow night. You can accept if management calls and offers you the day off because there are too many servers scheduled. You can call your fellow servers to get them to cover your shift. You can accept when another server offers to work your shift.

This last is what happened today. Mandy called before I woke up, offering to take my lunch shift at Michael’s. I kept sleeping, retrieved the message after I showered and dressed. Even though I desperately need money and shouldn’t have even considered it, I let the idea play around a bit in my mind: it’s only Tuesday, and it’ll probably be slow; I have a lot of errands around here that I could accomplish; it’s just be great not to have to go in.

I called work, found out the reservations were indeed light. I called Mandy to take her up on it. But she had already stolen someone else’s shift.

So I worked. And it wasn’t that busy. But at the end of it all, I walked with $105. Pretty solid, and much-needed.

The moral is: Just Work.

You only get up to that figure of your needed monthly income by working each little shift – in my case 28 of ’em – and letting them add up.

So I’m home now, looking forward to the Lakers game and a feast of homemade chili-cheese dogs, $104 richer, and none the worse for wear.

Had a table with the dreaded Mr. V today. He’s dreaded because he tips poorly. The percentage is usually 15-18%, which actually isn’t that bad in a vacuum. But Mr. V is a young, handsome, successful lawyer. He’s super nice – the kind of guy who thanks you every time you fill his iced tea or do anything else at the table. He sometimes orders big, with the larger dinner-sized steaks and occasionally a bottle of nice wine. When everything is done, summing all the elements, you really do expect 20% or more, and he always disappoints. Well not so much anymore, as we all know what to expect.

But today I was lucky. Mr. V didn’t pick up the check. Instead his friend did (and by the way, it’s usually death for the waiter when someone other than the solid regular picks up the check). And he tipped 20%!

Lots of talk at that table about the stock market. One guy had the theory that oil prices go down when the stock market goes down, and vice versa.

Well, sure, this time. But isn’t it more likely that oil prices generally go down when consumption falls? And isn’t that more likely caused by tough economic times? The stock market is equally affected by the economy. I don’t get the direct connection that guy was pounding away at.

Dave and Stephanie were on another table, not mine. They’re pretty interesting because, 95% sure, they are having a long-term affair but married to other people. Michael’s is one of their sanctuaries. They’ve been coming in for lunch several times a month for more than three years, and almost certainly they’ve been together a lot longer than that.

They are exceptionally nice people, very considerate of the humanity of us waiters. So we’re all gotten pretty chummy with them. They are inquisitive and interested about our lives. Virtually everyone has spent time camping at their table, talking about themselves for minutes on end.

This familiarity led to an awkward moment one time with another server. She asked if they were married – this was probably not overstepping the boundaries – it’s an innocent assumption. They looked at each other a certain way, and both said, ‘Yes.’ The server immediately started laughing, saying, several times, ‘You’re having an affair! You’re having an affair!’

Ouch. What an idiot.


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