I used to be a waiter at a fancy steakhouse in town. It was about a thousand years ago (of course, I exaggerate!). It was probably two or three hundred years ago.
A waiter is the last thing I should have been or contemplated being. I really don’t like waiting on anything: not birthdays; not Christmas; not even a bus. I don’t like waiting for taxes to decrease or for politicians to take a cut in their wages or pensions.
I hate waiting in lines at the checkout counter in the supermarket…at the post office…at the bank (especially the bank!). It’s not only frustrating, it’s downright embarrassing (some call it “senior moments”) .
I was standing in a line at the bank some time ago. The line was long and I must have stood there for 15 minutes. I was finally nearing my goal when I suddenly realized I didn’t have any money in the bank. All of my money – all $17.42 – was safely tucked in a sock in my sock and underwear drawer at home. I not only don’t know why I was standing there in line, I don’t know how I ended up in the bank, in the first place, especially since I’d never dealt with that particular branch in my life!
When I was a waiter in those days of yore, I was paid $1.25 an hour. But the tips were sometimes astronomical; so good that a literal kick in the pants by the man in charge was tolerated. He was a gentleman, though. He’d wait until I was just entering the kitchen with an order – well out of sight of the ritzy diners – when he would hiss “faster, faster, move faster!” Often, I wanted to stop and see if I could pound him into mush, but then I’d remember the very large tips and move “faster.”
I was married with a child, at the time, but to get the job as a waiter, I had to work as a busboy for a month. I had to wait to be a waiter.
We waiters wore tuxedos so we would look “classy” but I doubt I ever did. I got my tux at the Salvation Army Thrift Store and it had, I’m sure, seen better days. But the restaurant I waited in had subdued lighting and hid most of my tux’s flaws, as well as my own – including speed. But I was determined to grin and bear it as greed often insists on being one’s companion. And we, greed and I, at the time, were very close.
I think I was a pretty good waiter, no matter what the manager may have thought. Although, when I had to do flaming dishes at the customers’ table, I was kind of nervous – as were the people I was serving and anyone within a 15-foot radius. I noticed that the hostess always her hand on the phone when I was performing this doubtful service. More waiting – waiting to see if all concerned would survive.
That was the one and only time I was a waiter but not the only time I have waited. I’ve waited for Santa Claus, as a child, and waited while I worked and saved money to buy my first bicycle. I waited to see if I would pass from one grade to the next during school, and I waited for my dad to get home to punish me for one of my many misadventures (“Just wait until your father gets home!”).
I, like you, have waited in line at the movie theatre, sporting events, and any other thing that waiting in line demands. It seems to me waiting is one of the first things we learn just after birth – waiting to be changed, waiting to be fed, and so on.
Some people are good at waiting. Some even spectacular – like Nelson Mandela waiting to be released from prison or Dagwood and Blondie waiting for their kids to become adults and give them grandchildren.
Some accept the inevitable and stand in line. As for me, I hate waiting, but am resolved that no matter how much I complain, I’m still going to have to wait for most things that make the world go ‘round.
But I think the true awareness came when I was a waiter at that fancy dining establishment and a fellow human actually kicked me in the pants and told me to go faster. That was the first time I ever went fast to “wait.”
Oh well, just wait! Tomorrow may be different. That’s what some people say; easy for them when we’ve got no choice. Today’s waiting on tomorrow and tomorrow’s waiting on the day after that and so on. But with man’s ingenuity, he will figure out a way to abolish waiting. I know he will. You just wait and see!
AUGUST 2012 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE