After a few weeks of living high on the hog and not waiting tables, reality is about to bitch slap me in the face and throw a tray in my hands. I go back to serving this week. Thankfully, it is only a couple of shifts before my vacation kicks in and then after vacation I get to be full time actor for two more weeks. In the meantime, I shall serve. It has been well over a fortnight since having the privilege of bringing people food and drink and I fear that I have lost my touch. What if I don't remember how to carry a tray? Or what if I have forgotten how the computer works? Or what if it slips my mind that I am at work and that vodka gimlet is for a customer and not me? I fool myself. We all know that waiting tables is like riding a bicycle. A horribly evil bicycle without a seat on it that rams you in the ass with a rusty pole every time you try to get back on it. Waiting tables is like herpes. It never ever goes away. Sometimes it might not be so bad but then all of a sudden a flare up happens and you go, "Oh yeah...I'm a waiter." There is no cure for waiting tables. Even if you don't do it for a few years, all it takes is an apron around your waist to instantly recall your muscle memory and switch to automatic pilot. I went for two and half years once without working in a restaurant and by the end of my first day back I was doing it with one hand tied behind my back. The other hand was holding a steak knife and trying to stab out my eyes to avoid seeing that I was working in a restaurant again.
I can already see how my first day back at work will be.
Me: Hello there, sir. Do you know what you'd like to drink?
Customer: Hey! I haven't seen you in a while, where ya been?
Me: I was out of town doing a play. Do you know what you'd like to drink?
Customer: A play? Are you an actor? Wow! What play?
Me: Just a play. A musical, actually. Do you know what you'd like to drink?
Customer: I didn't know you were an actor. That's great. How did I not know that?
Me: I guess it just never came up in our many one on one conversations. Do you know what you'd like to drink?
Customer: Well, back to waiting tables I guess. Hardy har har. Can I get a glass of water? With lemon?
Me: I hate you.
At this point, I will look around the room and realize that I am not a working actor anymore. I will then go to the bathroom and cry a little, wash my face and plaster a smile on my lips. I will make my way to the bar and beg for a welcome home shot of tequila to get me through the rest of my shift. By the end of the night I will have resigned myself to the fact that I am again a server. The next shift will be back to normal, my soul a little bit dead inside. If you look closely into my eyes, you will see a little bit of hope. The hope will be floating on top of the vodka.
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