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.
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