It’s Friday night. The dinner rush is starting and the Bistro’s half full. I’m up front training Holly, our new hostess. She’s a pretty twenty year old redhead.
“You were born in 1986, right?” I ask.
“Yes,” Holly replies, “Why do you ask?”
I take a deep breath. They’re getting younger, I’m getting older – what can I do about it? I’ve got to stop thinking about age. I’m only driving myself insane. Worse, I’m getting repetitive and boring. I hope it’s just a phase I’m going through.
“Forget it,” I say.
“So what happened to the last hostess?” Holly asks.
“That,” I reply, “Is a very good question.”
“Well,” Holly says, “What’s the answer?”
“How long did she work here?” Holly asks.
“One week,” I reply.
“What happened?” Holly asks.
“I don’t know,” I say. “She showed up for work, had lunch, text messaged Fluvio that this job wasn’t for her, and then walked out the door.” (
“She text messaged her resignation letter?” Holly asks incredulously.
“Well, I wouldn’t exactly call it a resignation letter.”
“I’ve never heard of anyone quitting by text message,” Holly says.
“Neither have I.”
The door chimes. A middle aged couple walks inside. They look grim.
“Hello and welcome to The Bistro,” Holly chirps.
“Two,” the woman says, holding up two fingers. “We have a reservation.”
“Your name?” Holly asks.
Holly looks at the seating chart. All the seating’s been prearranged. The couple’s table is on the aisle.
“Follow me please,” Holly says, “I’ll show you to your table.”
Holly walks down the aisle holding two menus. The couple doesn’t follow her. Instead the woman stays rooted in place and points to the empty four top by the window.
“Is that table free?” the woman asks. In her self centered cosmology she probably thinks the “reserved” table sign means the table should be reserved for her.
“I’m sorry madam,” I reply, “It’s reserved.”
“Why can’t we sit there?” she asks coldly.
“I’m sorry Madam,” I reply. “We need that table for four people.”
“So you’re going to give me the worst table in the house?” the woman asks. “Is that what you’re telling me?” A look of consternation struggles to emerge on her taut Botoxed face.
“I have no other tables open madam,” I say, “Perhaps if you’d like to come back in an hour?”
“I’m not sitting there,” the woman says turning to her husband. “I’m just not.”
The husband and wife argue. It’s no good. The man leaves. I feel bad for him. He just wants to eat. His wife turns her glare on me.
“This is HIDEOUS” the woman screeches, “Absolutely hideous!”
What’s really hideous is the plastic surgeon didn’t botox this bitch’s tongue.
“Sorry Madam,” I say, smiling my fake waiter smile, “But I can’t change your seat.”
“Hideous!” the woman hisses, storming out the door, “Hideous!”
After the door shuts Holly gasps, “Oh my God! I can’t believe that woman!”
“Believe it,” I chuckle, “People like her are why the last hostess quit.”
“Does stuff like this happen a lot?” Holly asks.
“All the time.”
Holly turns red. She’s looks angry.
“My sister just got back from Iraq,” Holly says. “She could tell that woman a thing or two about what’s hideous.”
“Your sister’s in the service?” I ask.
“She’s a Marine,” Holly answers. “She’s stationed in California now. She spent almost a year there.”
“Oh my God,” I say, “How old is she?”
“Your parents must’ve been worried sick.”
“My Mom was glued to the TV the whole year,” Holly says. “She freaked every time she heard a soldier was killed.”
“I can’t imagine,” I reply, wondering how it feels to have a child fighting in a war.
“My sister told me she was under fire a few times,” Holly says. “She said it was intense.”
“Jesus,” I mutter.
“So if that woman wants to get that upset over a table,” Holly says, “She can blow it out her ass.”
There’s nothing further to say so I don’t say anything.
Soldiers are getting younger and I’m getting older. What’s it like for a twenty-two year old woman to experience war? How would I deal with it at thirty-eight? Who knows? But after experiencing the war I think one thing is certain.
Sitting anywhere in a restaurant would be an unbelievable luxury.