Thursday, June 19, 2008

First Course

For some time now, I've been threatening to start a blog about my career in restauranting, but I've put it off and put it off and now something's happened and I can't put it off any longer.

I had a restaurant dream.

Those of us in the business have restaurant dreams all the time, but this was no ordinary restaurant dream. There was no panic because I didn't recognize anything on the menu, nor anxiety because I didn't understand the new configuration of the restaurant, nor freaking out because I had fourteen tables sat at the same time, nor embarrassment because I'd forgotten to put on pants before I got to work.

I was walking down a dark hallway and stumbled upon a little family restaurant, just a humble hole-in-the-wall with a kitchen table for dining at, and there was my arch academic rival from high school in a gingham apron holding a steaming pot of food in her oven-mitted hands. She was smiling, and I was surprised to see her in food service when she was so super duper smart and destined to study law or molecular biology or just be handed a Nobel Prize in chemistry one day.

Ha! I thought. She's just a waitress!

But then I thought Wait! So am I!

When I relayed this dream to a few co-workers at the restaurant the next day, the host, Julia, piped up with words of assurance. "You're not just a waitress," she said as I popped a straw into an icy gin and tonic. "You're also a bartender!"

This would indeed be true.

(That arch academic rival (who I still think of fondly), by the way, is actually a medical doctor. But can she clear a six top in one pass by herself? I would intuitively answer No.)

It was a weird dream for me to have because a) I rarely use the word "waitress" (my goal in life is to bring back "waiter" as a gender-neutral term) and b) I actually love waiting tables, and I would never belittle someone for doing it.

I'm fortunate enough to wait tables by choice and not just by circumstance. In about eighteen years, the restaurant thing has really grown on me. It started growing on me years ago, and despite the fact that about 99% of waiters claim to hate their jobs, I feel like I've lucked into a pretty fantastic career.

Not that it doesn't come without its challenges. Read any other waiter or restaurant blog and you'll know that there's plenty of madness to write about in the hospitality game, and in my time, I've amassed a few choice tidbits of my own. Once in a while, in the craziness, I forget why I love my job, so as much as anything, this blog is to help me remember that good things come from waiting tables, even when it makes me feel a little nutty, even if I'm not likely to get a Nobel Prize for it.

So who's up for a second course?


Vipaj Vichit-Vadakan said...

I am up for a second course and many more after that!


Cupcake said...

Hi Vanessa,

Cheers to you! We should ALL be so lucky to do work we love to do.

I was a server for a couple years in college, and while I never made any money (lunch shift), I had more fun than I have ever had at any other job in my life.

Go you!

:) shea

James said...

If you're taking suggestions for posts, I'd like to request a glossary of restaurant-related slang so the rest of us can feel in the know.

Anonymous said...

AAH God! I always feel inspired when reading your blog, and this one about restaurants is so great. I have been in the business for what?, eight years? and I already feel like a veteran. My hate-love relationship with waiting tables seem like a perpetual condition to stay alive and avoid combusting during the noon hours of a summer day. Hope everything is good with you.

Love from the big O, Luis.