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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Uno, Dos, Trays

All waiters occasionally drop a tray, but after years and years of practice it happens less and less often. Throughout my near upon two decades of experience (I started waiting tables at the age of two) I have gotten to where having a tray at the end of my arm is as natural as having a margarita at the end of it. I can maneuver my way through a crowd with a tray of glasses held over my head with grace and elegance. A few weeks ago I dropped my pen onto the floor and just bent down to pick it up while holding a tray of martinis. I didn't think anything about it but the lady at the table acted like I should go join Cirque du Soleil or something. When I worked at the Marriott, I entered this thing called "Marriott Olympics" and had to run through an obstacle course while holding a tray with glasses of water. Didn't spill a drop. I didn't win though because this lady named Nancy had been waiting tables since the invention of food and she had more experience than me. That bitch won a free night at a hotel and some luggage for that shit. I'm not bitter though. Much.

Some servers can do that really cool spinning trick with their trays and I have never been able to master it. I was never able to spin a basketball on my finger either so I'm pretty sure I have some kind of finger tip deficiency problem. I work with a guy now who's really good at it and every time he does it I get all jealous and have to leave the room. Some people aspire to write the next great American novel or find a cure for cancer. I just wanna fucking learn how to spin a goddamn tray on my finger. Damn this finger tip deficiency of mine!

I don't remember the last time I dropped a tray but of course since I just typed that, the next time will be tonight. About a hundred years ago I was a food runner at a Mexican restaurant in Denver called Juanita's. I worked there for about nine months and never once dropped a tray. And those trays were huge-like five and six platters worth of food. On my last night of employment there, I mentioned to someone that I had never dropped a tray. I jinxed myself. At the end of the shift, after I had punched out I went to say goodbye to the kitchen because I was moving the next week. The food runner who was still on was all of a sudden weeded so I said I would take the last tray out as I left. My swan song, you might say. Of course I dropped it. Fajitas, enchiladas, rice and beans all over the place. Seriously? My last tray is the one I dropped as I am doing them a favor? I cleaned that shit up and got the hell out of Juanita's.

When I worked at Houlians's, we played a game sometimes that involved dropping a tray on purpose. The point of the game was to drop a tray on purpose. All you would do was pick up a tray and then drop the tray on purpose. It's fun to break stuff. Ah, Houlihan's...good times.

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27 comments:

Chrissy said...

OMG, ftc...lol
I am amazed as to how u guys balance that tray or how about balancing plates lined up the inside of one arm!. hth do u do it??? I've seen the Mariott races, yep, somethin else...
Maybe there should be a race for getting the rudest customers out the door?

Brenda Susan said...

Whenever i hear a tray crash in a restaurant I instantly feel so bad for whoever did it. I just imagine the humiliation and the mess added to some poor waitpersons day of serving people.
You guys are amazing to me. I have overheard people say the stupidest things and then hear the waitress be totally kind back to them......but now I know what is really being said in the mind! That helps me feel better somehow.

Mannix said...

I've heard of that game where you intentionally drop the tray. That's why every time I hear a crash I start clapping. Sometimes I even get my table to give a standing O.

Then again, I should stop doing that. The last time I did that, I found out it was the waitress' first day and I did nothing to help her already low self-esteem.

Rox said...

The real alcoholics also know how to do an obstacle course without spilling a drink from their precious glasses. Should have a drunk-a-thon just to see :)

Corina 1.0 said...

Bitchy, you need to knock wood that you jinxed yourself!

Neil said...

So, we are really going to need a follow-up after your next shift did the jinx happen, and if so, how bad?

I could never do the basketball spin either - nor make a hula hoop work. I always admired (was jealous of) those that could.

I have balanced trays of drinks through a crowd - but not nearly as well as some who have done it for-ever though. I'm thinking its a separate skill from the spinning.

CDS said...

I would drop trays left and right like abad habit if I were in food services...kudos to you! Thanks for making me laugh yet again.

Levonne said...

As much as I love your story about balancing trays, I am loving the fact that you can balance a keyboard just fine at the end of your fingers. Love your stories and your writing.

Miggy's Biz said...

We did those races when I was in College. I never joined though since I thought that was kinda lame.

Mugdha said...

I am always amazed when people can do the spinning trick! Jealousy completely understood. Also, your posts pretty consistently make my day. Thank you =]

Dustin said...

I remember when my dad and I were out of town, eating at an Applebees in a town that obviously had one. (We don't have one here.) The lady that was serving us dropped our tray of food three times...all because of the door that swung both ways going in and out of the kitchen. Poor gal.

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Vallete Isane said...

Like I said I admire your writing alot. Its so creative and yet such hmm, a finger right in the eyes type of thing. I really enjoy it. Gives me a smile to my face. But keep up the good work on those trays. sounds fascinating of what you can do with those.

Vallete Isane said...

Like I said I admire your writing alot. Its so creative and yet such hmm, a finger right in the eyes type of thing. I really enjoy it. Gives me a smile to my face. But keep up the good work on those trays. sounds fascinating of what you can do with those.

West Coast Beach Wife said...

If you work in a Greek restaurant sometimes people yell a celebratory, "OPA!!"

I've only hostessed, so I wouldn't know what is common- are you an ambi-balancer, or is it side-specific? -Westie

Elise-Lucie said...

Very impressed by your two decades of hard-working ;)

Donda said...

If you are ever in KY you may like (or at least win) this event http://kdf.org/events-Run-for-the-Rose.html

Dave said...

It happened to me for the first time in 2.5 year on Monday. I have 15 years under my belt and take pride in my skills. A rookie walked right into me. (If you don't have a rearview mirror or a backup beeper, turn and walk forward) It was like the old game "mousetrap" as one by one in slow motion they toppled each other. I kept thinking I had it stopped and then the next one fell. I stood there and stared at the pile on the ground. It was a mix of rage and disbelief. I think the rookie thought I might have snapped. He is still apologizing 3 days later. So while my faith in my tray carrying ability is a little shaken, I at least still know my ability to put the fear of god in a rookie is still strong.

Freddy said...

A friend of mine and I were drink-watering, he,Geoff, had played Australian footfall at school so his sense of balance and ball handling was excellent.
He was a bit wayward and and was tippling as he went along that evening.
The band stand had a step up on a continuous flower patterned carpet, so was not highly noticeable.
Geoff had a few drinks on his tray when miscalculating the step and went for a tumble, strangely though he kept his tray and its contents fully intact - just got back on his feet and carried on.
A brilliant display of tray control - Suffice to say that was his last tray delivery at that job.

Lady Penelope said...

This is the first time I've read one of your blogs..(I know, I know... where have I been?) but Loved it... just loved it...Love your wit and sarcasm shining through the flow of words..'tis very refreshing...Have a fanastic Tray Twirling day...LadyPx

Zara Mohammed said...

If I was still a waitress I would probably aspire to be you! I realised I wasn't cut out for waitressing when I was working in this bar and somehow I managed to crash a whole tray full of glasses from the glass washer machine - into the ice bucket. I was convinced that some customer would choke and die that day because I might not have cleaned out the ice bucket thoroughly enough - although with customers being the penny-pinching tip-haters that they are, that might not have been the end of the world!

http://zaramohammed.blogspot.com

Zara Mohammed said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
OO said...

Lol i just dropped a tray last night. Had to bus my own table cuz the busser was too busy doing something else apparently. Anyway, brought the tray back to the kitchen and as soon as I take off 3 glasses and a saucer at one end of the tray, the whole damn thing just tips over. Next thing you know, there are 10 plates and 3 glasses smashed into a million bits on the floor. As if that wasn't bad enough, the damn cook who was on a bit of a break just stands next to me and watches, then goes, "This is why we don't get pay raises." Asshole...

Jarrad Saffren said...

this is a great blog, your stories are so entertaining. there real life feel is sort of like an episode of curb your enthusiasm. anyway, if anyone's a baseball fan, be sure to check my blog out to: http://chinmusicopinions.blogspot.com/

BROKEN FASHIONISTA said...

"nancy had been waiting tables since the invention of food" haha fucking hilarious! ily bitchy waiter follow me!!

TURTLE said...

I remember back when I was waitressing I spilt not one, but two, Midori splices over this guy wearing (what was, before I got to it) an expensive looking suit. I still shudder 10 years on, it was awful! My boss was very sweet not to take the dry-cleaning bill out of my pay.. Come to think of it, not so much sweet, think he was actually hoping to get some 'waitress action'. Either way I was outta there!

Anonymous said...

at the place I work you pay for dropped food or broken stemware, a slip up can cost $100, thanks for the applause