We dined at a chain restaurant last night and I was impressed with the waitress who served us. Not only was she friendly, personable and attentive, she had the ability to balance a full tray of plates and glasses on one hand above her shoulder. It is a skill I never mastered.
After college, in between acting jobs, I did what every starving actor in New York does… I got jobs waiting tables. I have no problem admitting that I was without doubt the worst waiter in all of Manhattan. The one time I tried to do the one hand balancing trick, I dumped an entire glass of orange juice on the head of a small boy. Unfortunately, he was the son of the owner. I didn’t finish out the shift.
The only waiter job I actually excelled at was in Times Square. I got a job serving tables at the once famous delicatessen Leo Lindy’s. Lindy’s was, in its heyday, known for its caustic waiters and excellent cheesecake. By the time I arrived on the scene, it had devolved into just another mediocre restaurant without much of the flair of the original.
Knowing I had no actual talent for waitering, I figured I had nothing to lose by trying to capture the essence of the original Leo Lindy’s. And so I began insulting my tables. If they were slow in ordering, asked stupid questions, or simply couldn’t make up their minds, I had a repertoire of snappy one-liners that Don Rickles would be proud of.
Surprisingly, they loved it. I became one of the more popular waiters in the place. The meaner I acted to them, the bigger the tip I received. It only lasted for a few months – until the next acting job came along. The only regret I have is that I never got the complaint, “Waiter, there’s a fly in my soup.” Because I had the perfect response for it.
Michael Ondrasik and Home Video Studio specialize in the preservation of family memories through digitization of films, video, audio, slides, and photos. For more information, call 352-735-8550 or visit www.homevideostudio.com/mtd