An a muse bouche is french and roughly translates as something to amuse the mouth; a small bite before the meal begins. Something to get you excited for all the yummy things to follow.
That is a perfect description of my night. It was a small taste of the busy nights that will soon follow as summer fades to fall and people come back to the city to play. I actually felt like a waitress for the first time in oh… 3 and a half months. I welcomed this change of pace with open arms.I knew there had to be a reason why I have worked at my restaurant for as long as I have. Its because of nights like tonight.I don’t actually hate waiting on tables. I hate not waiting on tables. A note to terrorist, if you ever want me to give up some top secret government information(though, I’m not sure why I would ever have any) make me wait on one table at a time for eight hours straight, and I’ll tell you everything you want to know.
There are certain feelings that come over you when you turn around and get a glimpse of six tables magically appearing in your once empty station. Panic.”Oh God!” Disbelief. “They didn’t just sit me 6 tables at once, did they?” Anger. “Are fucking kidding me?” Bargaining. “If I sneak out the back, will anyone notice?” And then, acceptance. ” Well if these fuckers want steak, I guess they gotta go through me first.” Deep breath. “Good evening, can I start you off with a martini?”
I’ll be honest, it took many years for me to find the calm in the chaos of a busy restaurant. Guests don’t care that you are busy. They want to spend a lot of money on a great dinner. And, as an added bonus, they all want to be out in time to catch the show and are somehow always oblivious to the fact that everyone else does as well. One must cultivate the peace that must ooze out of you when you are with the guest while you have ten to twenty things simultaneously running through your head that all must get done… three minutes ago.
While I’m listening to you go on and on about how very important it is that there is no salt or butter in any of your food and that you have an allergy to garlic and onions, and most importantly, don’t really care for food that starts with the letter S, I’m thinking about a drink order for table 62, remembering to get the lemons for the water on 41, wondering when the bussers are going to clear 42, cursing the manager for taking their sweat ass time with my Caymus for 52, hoping 61’s steaks came out rare enough, and making a note that its probably time to fire 41 cause you’ve been ordering for 10 minutes now. All the while somehow managing to never once scream, ” Could you make up your fucking mind, I’m KINDA busy.”
But when you can be right on top of your tables, meet their needs before they think they need them, crack them up with little anecdotes, handle their complaints with grace and ease, make them feel taken care of, you get a little rush. A servers high, if you will. In my head I become Super Waitress. A cape begins flapping in the wind behind me and shiny W appears on my chest as I rescue guests from unbearable thirst and hunger. I do battle with the villainous managers and save the world one table at a time.
Its a silly sort of satisfaction. But there is a sense of accomplishment in knowing that you were a part of some ones positive experience. And no one saw you sweat. Plus, when you are busy like that you don’t have time to think about how much this reality differs from the dreams of New York you had as a kid.
Ah well, Broadway can wait. I’ve got tables to serve.
Categories: Waiting is the Hardest Part