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Friday, July 15, 2011

Give My Regards to (the) Broadway (McDonald's)

The buzz of Times Square is all around me. The annoyance of waiting tables has gotten to be so great that I poked myself in the leg with my Actor's Equity pin to jolt me back into pursuing what I love. I am at an audition today and sitting in Duffy Square waiting for my appointment. I hear a machine that is spewing water and noise all for the sake of cleaning the street, I hear buses and cabs whizzing past a giant McDonald's sign that is all tricked out in neon, glitz and tacky and two feet away from me I just heard a tourist exclaim that her cell phone is a piece of shit. Two short blocks north of me is the location of the Houlihan's that I spent so much time in; it's Tropicana Tanning Zone now or something and I think it too is closed. There are a lot of us who can say "I used to work in that dump." New York City is strewn with places that I have either worked at or tried to get a job at. These places are like ghosts, always just around the corner ready to jump out and scare me.

A few days ago, I was in the Union Square area trying to find a place to eat. I walked past Chat n Chew, a down home country cookin' kind of place that always satisfies my craving for mac and cheese or chicken fried something. Over the years, I have applied for a job there many times. Something about its familiar food and the fact that the servers wear whatever they want appeals to me. A few months ago, I was there and had an interview with a manager who was very enthusiastic about my possible employment. The last words he told me were, "I will call you next week to set something up." He never did. I can only assume that he was snatched away by death because what other reason could there possibly be that he never followed through on his plan to let me serve mashed potatoes and a turkey and dressing sandwich? Surely, his dying breath was filled with regret as he tried to tell his loved ones, "Make sure you call The Bitchy Waiter to work at Chat n Chew. His phone number is on his resume (cough, cough) and I left his resume... (cough) on (cough, cough, wheeze) my (cough, wheeze, gasp)..." As he expired, his family probably cried out in grief, "But wait! Where did you leave his resume? We must call The Bitchy Waiter." So I didn't eat at Chat n Chew.

I walked over to Union Square Cafe because Giada De Laurentiis from The Food Network once told me that the bar has really wonderful complimentary spiced nuts. Okay, she didn't just tell me, she said it on television, but still, they sounded good. I peered into the window and saw all the servers in long white bistro aprons setting their tables. They weren't open yet. I flashed back to a time I was applying for a job there. I recalled looking at the starched white linens that covered the tables and thinking that I was under dressed for the interview. Tablecloths spell out fancy eatin' and my jeans and t-shirt were not a good match for that particular job search. On that day I moved on just as I did a few days ago. Next?

Standing in front of The Blue Water Grill, I knew that it was too expensive for me. Unless they had some kind of buy one app get an entree, cocktail and dessert for free, it was not going to happen. Besides, I didn't like their attitude based on when I applied for a job there about four years ago. I was sent downstairs to fill out my application and wait in line with the dozens of other eager-faced servers. Their application was one of those that you have to put way more effort into than you should for a waiting job. Seriously, I spent less time writing college research papers than I did their application. "What does good service mean to you?" and "Please describe your favorite dining experience" and all that other bullshit is too much. Really, the application should say, "Can you carry a tray, do you have a pen and when can you start?" After patiently waiting my turn to speak with a manager who was younger than some of my aprons, it was finally my turn. The lady took one look at my resume and said, "based on your experience, I think you might be better suited at a diner." A diner? How rude. This coming from someone who seemed better suited to be a cheap three dollar prostitute like the one I just watched stumble out of the Roxy Delicatessen.

I finally ended up at Rosa Mexicano who was having a happy hour. Half price margaritas and appetizers? Where have you been all my life? I walked in and thought about the three days I worked there many years ago. On my third day of training, I was told how much I would be tipping out. I like keeping more than 40% of my tips so I Speedy Rodriguez'ed my ass out of there. I only remember two things about working there. One is that you gave way too much money to the guacamole guy and coffee girl. The other thing I recall is that a fellow server told me I seemed familiar. After a whole morning of him trying to figure out how he knew me, he finally realized he had seen me do a production of The Full Monty. "Oh, you saw that?" I said. "That was such a fun show. Getting naked on stage was so fulfilling." His face went a little pale as it dawned on him that he was now talking to a guy he had seen naked. His heterosexual world was spinning faster than the waiter turnover at Rosa Mexicano. After that moment, he just seemed awkward around me. No matter, I quit later that day. Those bitches never paid me for my training either. The least they could have done was comp my margarita last week.

And so it goes. The restaurants we all work in are so often places that pay the bills but do little else. They come and go from our lives as we try to find something to take its place. Today I am trying to get an acting job to take the place of slinging hash. If it happens, great. If not, I will look to William Shakespeare for inspiration. "All the world is a stage, and all the men and women merely players." It's just that sometimes my stage has a ten table station and my leading lady thinks her coffee is not hot enough. Off to my audition.

(Shout out to Doug, one of the best Equity monitors ever!)

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Lolamouse said...

Break a leg! I want to see you on stage (again)! SOON!!! Also, seriously consider writing a "tell all" book about your experiences as a waiter. Your writing is fantastic and funny and you'd be great in interviews.

Krissy said...

Now this is your writing at it's best. The story came from the heart and I felt it!

fmcgmccllc said...

$3.00 prostitutes. The economy is really bad back in the states.

Good writing and I hope you someday can be the guy giving out the big tips.

Ester Jean said...

Favorite: "His face went a little pale as it dawned on him that he was now talking to a guy he had seen naked." Bitchy Waiter, you are awesome. This was a great post. I agree with Krissy.

Adam said...

Good luck on your auditiion!

I'm so glad to hear that you're doing so much lately; querying lit agents and now some more acting.

I hope you were auditioning for Glee, it's the only show that I have time for lately that isn't AGT or ANTM. Or Sunday night cartoons. Of course, every time I watch the Simpsons I can't look at Sideshow Bob (just because you said people cite him as one of your hair's celebrity dopplegangers) without thinking of you for second... it's kind of like you're on a show I watch.

SharleneT said...

Has it gone up to $3.00? No wonder I can't pay my rent... Why don't people tell me these things??!?!?!?! Break a leg!

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