I’m in the back having a cup of coffee with Mitzi, our newest waitress. Mitzi’s been toiling in the restaurant/hospitality biz for almost thirty years. Pushing fifty, she’s what we waiters call “a lifer.”
“So Mitzi,” I ask. “What’s the toughest place you ever worked?”
“Boca,” she replies.
“Boca Raton?” I ask in disbelief. “Like in Florida?”
“Is there another Boca Raton?”
“I thought Boca would be a nice place to work.”
“Nothing but newlyweds and nearly deads,” Mitzi snorts. “Cheapskates.”
“That bad huh?”
“Oh my God,” Mitzi says, rolling her eyes. “I worked this hotel restaurant back in ’89 and the only time we were busy was between 4 & 6 o’clock.”
“The early bird special crowd,” I say. “Lovely.”
“I’d ask these geezers wearing $20,000 worth of jewelry if they’d like a cocktail and you know what they’d say?”
“We had our cocktail at home,” Mitzi says, approximating a wizened old crone’s voice. “Just bring us water with lemon.”
“Did they try and make lemonade at the table?”
“Oh they’d do that, sure,” Mitzi says. “And they’d steal too.”
“Do you remember when Equal came out?” Mitzi asks.
“Well, it was expensive back then,” Mitzi says. “The oldsters would steal it out of the sugar caddies every night.”
“They’d steal the Equal?”
“It got so bad that management made us carry Equal in our aprons. If a customer wanted Equal they had to ask for it.”
“Oh man,” I say laughing, “That’s bad.”
“Can you believe that shit?” Mitzi asks. “They’d steal Equal and then drive home in their Mercedes Benz’s.”
“Kinda like stealing the magazines outta God’s waiting room,” I say. “What’s the point?”
“That’s what they call Florida you know,” Mitzi says.
“God’s waiting room? That’s an old joke.”
“I’m from Florida,” Mitzi says, “It’s true.”
“I guess you’d know.”
“Brother,” Mitzi says, “When I hear the sound of walkers scraping on the floor I break out in a cold sweat.”
“So when the tour bus pulls up you have panic attacks?” I ask teasingly.
“You got it.”
“Maybe we should get you a job in Atlantic City.”
Mitzi looks at me. “I’d rather die,” she says.
The door chimes. Two old ladies walk in.
“Talk about karma Mitzi,” I chortle, “That’s your table.”
“Goddammit,” Mitzi says, getting up.
Don’t worry. Mitzi took care of her geriatric customers with polite efficient service. She’s a pro. But something tells me retirement is in Mitzi’s near future. You can’t be a waiter forever. Maybe she’ll go to the Old Waiter Home in Boca Raton and bitch about the creamed spinach to a new generation of servers. Man, the karmic wheel keeps turning.
I wonder what’s in store for me.
I live in Boca (and have lived in South Florida in general my whole life). She not wrong, 9 times out of 10 my hubby and I are either the youngest or oldest people in the room (we’re 31 & 34 respectively).
The difference is only an hour or two between the cemetary crowd and the smug rich teen crowd. Neither one is pleasant to deal with and the only real difference is the volume of noise they make. Neither group tips and neither group treats staff like people.
Personally my mom was a waitress until I was 13. I know how to act in a restaurant and so do my kids.
I’m a waitress in Atlantic City. It’s not as bad as you think 🙂
“Stealing magazines out of God’s waiting room”
I have a feeling this is an old saying too, but I thought it rocked.
“Mitzi”…I LOVE that name!!!
Oh, and the story was good, too.
Nearly all of the things you mention is astonishingly appropriate and it makes me ponder the reason why I had not looked at this in this light before. This particular piece truly did turn the light on for me as far as this particular topic goes. Nevertheless there is actually one particular position I am not necessarily too cozy with so whilst I make an effort to reconcile that with the actual core idea of your position, allow me observe exactly what the rest of your readers have to point ou