Let's dispense with the cynicism for a week, shall we?
By now I've gotten used to ranting every week about everything that's awful in the restaurant industry. Babies cry, some of my co-workers are sleazy, and God! how I hate those ladies who lunch. But there's more to my day job than that, and I'm tired of my own whining.
The truth is, my job is really more like party hostess than indentured servant. Every shift I'm given all the tools I need to throw a kickass bash: a beautiful space, awesome food and a full bar. Sure, sometimes the guest list includes less-than-desirables, or some of the hired help would rather worry about their own lives than attend to the needs of the guests. And yes, sometimes the music is really awful, and occasionally someone gets a little too wasted. But what the hell--it's a party! Not all DJs are good, and not all attendees are fun. But that makes the ones who are that much more special.
There are plenty of things about my job that aren't fun, but there are also plenty of redeeming factors. Like the adorable couple who got engaged at my table, then returned a year later, requesting me as their server, to share the anniversary of their engagement. They sat at the same table, but this time they bought me a glass of champagne and we shared a toast. I was genuinely touched that I got to be a part of their night.
And sometimes the redemption comes in the form of monetary compensation, like the large group I served cocktails for hours who left me an additional tip that effectively doubled the included gratuity, along with a note that read, "Thanks for running your butt off for us--now go get yourself a cocktail!" Let's just say it was enough for two or three. Hundred.
Then there's the occasional brush with fame. On opening night at one of my first Philadelphia restaurant jobs, an Oscar-winning actor came to the restaurant and spent the night beaming his Cheshire cat grin at all the girls on the staff when he caught us staring. Incidentally, he was much better-looking in person. Show me the money, indeed.
Or how about this summer when my baseball-obsessed friend and I waited on some of the Phillies? We still talk about how a certain adorable outfielder kept making smears on the table so she and I would bend over the table and wipe them clean.
You see? My day job's really not all bad, and the truth is, I'm not a cynic. I'm just drawn that way.