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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Me and the Old Lady Waitress

I am certainly not the oldest waiter in the United States, but I am the oldest one at my restaurant. My appearance may fool some into thinking that I have only worn my apron for a few years, but a closer inspection of my pores and wrinkles reveals that honey mustard runs through my veins and waiting tables has been a part of me for far too long. Recently, I saw the look of shock on the face of a co-worker when I mentioned what year I graduated from high school. It was that realization that I was older than his dad and now he felt inclined to call me "sir" and he no longer wanted to talk to me. It hurt me real bad and had my feelings not been numbed by Chardonnay,  I may have produced an actual tear. Imagine my joy when I heard that we had hired a new server who the bartender had described as a "nice older lady." Finally, someone older than me!

I envision a little old lady with grey hair in a bun coming in through the front door using her walker. She has her spectacles hanging on a chain around her neck and she has to ask me every three minutes how to ring in a burger using the fancy computer machine. Her Life Alert bracelet is her only jewelry other than a brooch that she uses to hold her shawl around her shoulders. She has ten cats and feeds them caramel squares that she unwraps during movies. She doesn't have a cell phone because they seem like a fad and she still remembers what it was like to wait tables during the Great Depression. She has had two hip replacements and one artificial knee surgery. She steals sugar packets from the caddy before filling them up and she always microwaves the coffee for her guests because she knows what it's like to have coffee in a restaurant that's not hot enough. Her hosiery goes only as high as her knees and they support her calves in order to keep her varicose veins in check. The hearing aid she wears must be turned up as high as it can go while at the restaurant so that she can hear the orders and she constantly tries to turn the lights brighter to make it easier to see past her cataracts. She has an AARP card.

She is scheduled to come in at 7:00 to finish the shift with me. At 6:55 I look up to see a woman coming in to the restaurant. I immediately dismiss her as my new co-worker because she has neither a cane nor a hunch back from a lack of calcium. She is attractive with a pretty smile and her dark blond hair pulled back in a loose pony-tail.

"Hello, table for one?" I ask.

"Oh, no I work here. My name's Dawn and I'm supposed to start at 7:00 tonight. I'm a little early."

She smiles revealing pretty straight teeth and not the dentures that I expect.

"Oh, you're Dawn? I heard about you. Welcome." I force a smile.

I have been misled. This woman is clearly a decade younger than me. Why was she described as a "nice older lady" if she is younger than me? How the hell does the bartender describe me to people?

"Oh, him? Yeah, he's this old man who has been waiting tables since dinosaurs were on the menu. He seems young but only because he wears clothes from American Eagle Outfitter and has big hair. If you look closer, you can kinda see that the whites of his eyes are not that white and if you stand near enough you can smell the senior citizen on him. You can tell that he shaves the hair that grows out of his ears because there's stubble on them and he's always referring to TV shows that I have never even heard of like Good Times. He thinks he's young, but he's not. It's sad, really. Really sad."

The rest of the night goes by with me making small talk to the new girl. Inside, I am crushed because I know I am still the oldest person at the restaurant. I am even older than the owner. I console myself with a glass of wine but consider switching over to a sherry because it seems like something old people would drink. I punch out and shuffle out the door, head low and mood lower. I am still the oldest.

I get home and smother my face in wrinkle cream and dye my roots. I curl up on the sofa with a good Agatha Christie book and watch a rerun of Murder, She Wrote. The afghan I knitted in my sewing circle keeps my feet warm (for my circulation is poor) and I try to stay awake to watch the news at 11:00. I have a snack of buttermilk and cornbread and finally go to bed at 11:15 and dream about The Golden Girls.



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21 comments:

JoeinVegas said...

What kind of restaurant do you work at if you're home by 11?

Practical Parsimony said...

Okay, I used this hilarious post as a checklist so I will know if I am old or even considered old. Except for the needing more light for the new cataracts, none of this describes me...whew. At 66 I am continually denied services as a senior. Yes, I know that is not much of a complaint. A young friend complained about "an old man, about 40 years old." Grrrr...

I really like an "older" server who does not have to look to me to explain restaurant terms or business, one who takes the job seriously.

omcdurham said...

I am 44, and perhaps more lively than some of my mopey coworkers. But I am not the oldest. Our "Queen Bee" is 50,and a lifer such as myself.

Mark W said...

I feel you, my friend. I'm the oldest in all of my classes, the oldest in my student government, and the oldest of all my friends.

Roni said...

Aww, I know what you mean...we have a hold herd of "old girls" working here, so I am in the middle of the young and the old, with the oldest waitress 51...who does need a hearing aid and glasses, next is 50, who attracts every single male with in 25 miles...me in the middle at 45 with everyone else below 35 (but she's a gramma, ha, ha!! I am not!)

The Bitchy Waiter said...

I don't close on Thursday nights. I get to leave at 10:00 and the person who comes in at 7:00 closes.

KB said...

Hysterical. You made my day and said did you commenters, you!

KB said...

*SO did you, commenters. (Proofread before posting, Kathy.)Wow...I just typed to myself. Senility really setting in.

Anonymous said...

I work in an amazing restaurant. I am the oldest person by at least 20 years....It is a small staff, and we all bring something unique to the table...at 51, I am pretty fit, and told I do not look even close to 51..(I hope this means I look younger) try to stay up on current music etc...I love my co-workers...they include me in everything, seem to enjoy my company, and come to me for advice and guidance. I love their youthful ether....I think surrounding myself with younger people keeps me on top of my game..From a technical service standpoint, I can still run circles around them!

anne marie in philly said...

let's see: at my job, my boss is the oldest (65), I am the second oldest (58); my other co-irkers are 54, 52, 50, 32, 29, 22.

bitchy, darling, it doesn't matter how old you are; you can do the job AND I think you are in your 30s, right? smooches!

Deanna said...

I am a lifer. At a perfectly imperfect 50, I run circles around my co"workers". I find their laziness contemptible, and their lack of integrity pathetic.
That said, I also do all that I can to show them my tricks of the trade (large bottles of Potassium and B-12 reside in my purse at all times for our persistent Server and Bartender hangovers) and I want them to love the job as much as I do.
Do I Bitch? Of course! Patrons are sometimes idiots! But do I really love what I do? Fuck. Yes.
So, hey, don't ignore us "oldies". Listen to us. Fuckin LEARN shit! how knows, we may become your friends. And we know LOTS of bartenders.

jasgem said...

Haha. I realised I'm the oldest when one of my young Co-workers told me they were born the year after I left school and then another told me I was only 2 years younger than her mum. I love it though because they are always surprised when they find out my age which makes me feel like I must be doing ok.

Anonymous said...

Soo um, how old are you? lol

Caveman said...

...since dinosaurs were on the menu. Hilarious! You never fail to provide a good laugh. I feel your pain. I have been doing this shit way too long as well.

Anonymous said...

I am almost 55 and I can still keep up with my younger counterparts. The only time it comes into play is when they want to go out and I don't think they get that the things they do now I gave up years ago. Old maybe, but not put up wet yet, I still have a lot of time left in me.

maxi said...

I've gone back to uni and I'm 29, there are kids in my course who are 17! I do not look 29 (most people guess 23) but as soon as they found out they kinda got quiet and backed off - and my feelings were a bit hurt! But now they see what a cool dude I am it's all cool. AND I get to say things like, "back before everyone had mobile phones" and "back before the internet was used by normal people" and "I remember cassette tapes" to really freak them out :D

California Girl said...

I would be reading this post to my husband right now but he's so old hr fell asleep.

I'll come work with you. I've had both hips & 1 knee replaced. That should make you feel younger and better about your sorry ass old self.

Anonymous said...

As a manager in a horrible restaurant a few years back, I realized one of my employees was a someone I used to babysit when she was young enough to need her diaper changed. Still feel as old? Lol

Noelle said...

Careful what you wish for hot flashes are also bitch. For EVERYONE!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for writing this! I just found out I'm the oldest at work too. I'm the oldest by six years. But who cares hey? I love the job because it keeps me fit, time goes fast and my co workers are all really nice.

vallan said...

I have all of you beat ..ha ha. I'm 59 and am going on my 40th year in this industry...28yrs. in Vegas and back in NY. I am the only full time server, the only one to have never been late or call off,the only one that all the customers favor, look 15yrs. younger, work out at the gym daily and run circles around the deadbeat lazy young ones. My boss adores me and the other girls are jeoulous...LOL. Oh...and I make the most money :) And I agree...Springs 1 can go fuck herself.