Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Apron strings

I attempted to work in a restaurant when I was in my 20's. OK, my late 20's. I had reached the point of a sort of crossroad in my life. One too many nights eating Captain Crunch in my bed alone for dinner, in my NYC apartment made me fearful of a future alone. The city is a hard place to live some days, and I was getting to the age of not being able to recover as quickly from late night partying, and carrying on. I actually went to bed at decent times, in anticipation of my work day. I was in a rut, and decided to cast it all aside, and head out to the beach for the summer, and sublet my apartment. I felt that if things were going to change in my life, I had to shake it up a bit.

My friend was managing a restaurant in Southampton, and gave me a job. I had no experience. Just a tremendous amount of retail management, which I assumed would translate seamlessly into being a great waitress. One of my first brunches, as I took a tables order, the man at the table behind me pulled on my apron string, and said, "Doll...get us the maple syrup". When I didn't respond quick enough for him, he did it again...this time..harder, and dropped the "Doll".

 I knew at that moment, I wasn't cut out for waiting tables, and so did my friend, the manager. I was quickly put upstairs, into an office, where I sat over piles of bills from liquor distributors, and stared at Excel spreadsheets, until my eyes blurred.

My stint in the restaurant world was short lived, as I was quickly recruited to manage another high end store, and did so for a few more years to come, until I married, and had my first baby. I literally worked up until my first labor pains, and looking back, I could really kick myself in the shin. Why the heck didn't I take a week or two off before delivering?  Did I not know I would never have a peaceful moment to myself EVER again??

So, fast forward a decade. My late twenties are a distant memory. Here I am at 41 (gulp) three kids later, and struggling, like lots of us are. My husband and I both work hard, and yet have nothing to show for it. When my friend suggested waiting tables, the man tugging on my apron string quickly flashed in my mind. Could I? Would I be able to? Would people laugh at me? I was never insecure in my twenties. But here I am, a whole lot smarter, yet feeling not so adequate.

I read something a few years back. It was an essay and I wish I could recall the author, but it was suggestions for a good life. One of them was to learn how to waitress. You will always work, it said, wherever you go. So I put my fears aside, and have given it a try.

 And you know, I learned something about myself. You can teach an old dog new tricks. Here I am, working with all these perky twenty somethings, and trying not to screw up too badly, which, trust me, I have...that computer system...ugh!...but I actually look forward to the nights I work at the Glen Brook Golf Club.

 I like talking to people, other than my kids. I like when it is busy, and I leave tired, and so very ready for bed, but knowing I have money in my pocket. I like not panicking when Charlotte lost a tooth last week, and I actually had singles for the tooth fairy. I liked saying yes to signing up my girl for softball, because the fee was a little more in reach this year, than it was last year. I like bills being paid, and not being afraid we will go without, because I have a couple of extra bucks to cover gas, and groceries.

Sometimes, life takes some funny turns. It doesn't always go as you had planned, but that can be a good thing, and really keeps things interesting. Sometimes, you have to shake it up a bit.

 Just don't tug on my apron strings.

1 comment:

  1. I first went back to waitressing when Edie was a toddler and I hated my daycare options. I wanted to be a stay at home mom, but we couldn't quite afford it. Working at night meant I could leave her with her dad and not have that worry, or that expense. He would come home from work and ask what had I done all day - the house would be a wreck, there'd be no dinner plan and he'd be cranky that all I had done all day was 'play'.
    The first night I worked, I made dinner for them - all he had to do was dish it up and get her to bed. All he had to do. I came home that night exhausted. And he said to me, "How do you do it all day?" Him doing for 3 hours what I did day in & day out was eye-opening for him.
    Ever since then, I am firmly convinced every stay at home mom should waitress one night a week - it's basically what we do at home all day long, only most customers are far more grateful, no one throws food at you and bonus, it makes your husbands appreciate what you do day in and day out. I still pick up shifts with a friend's restaurant and catering business. It's far more fun than working in an office, the food is good and it's paid the heating bills this winter. I picked up a shift last Saturday night - it was me and a staff of guys in their 20's. Every last one of them thought I was 35. I wanted to kiss them.