It is one of the jobs that keep the world running smoothly. Waitresses are often criticized, usually mistake-prone, and sometimes stellar. They are divine harbingers of good cuisine, but they can wreck a dining experience with slow feet or bad memory. The job description is simple in principle, but in practice it may combine the tasks of a barista, babysitter, entertainer, salesperson, and counselor into one.
I’ll spare you my philosophy about what makes a good waitress, my waitressing history, and the story of how I once dropped a tray of seven glasses of water on a customer. Instead, I’d like to share a sonnet I wrote after I left work last night. Enjoy.
Refined savagery, Saturday night, 6 p.m.
Dinnertime is here. Through the glass door come
concave bellies. They line cracked green booths and
stack sticky menus: “Hey, waitress!” Demand
of me sausage, meatballs, beer; leave me crumbs
and greasy napkins. Pleased chorus of “mmm”
but I can’t stop to watch the show: eight hands
destroy a House Special (rip it to shreds,
leave only pan. Waddle out.) I become
a zookeeper as I feed my pizza-
loving species their thin crust (well done, please).
Except I’m the caged one, branded by grey
polo, straws in pocket. Animals eat,
I refill. Repeat. Achy feet my fee
for this high class chore, folded ones my pay.