Thursday, May 12, 2011

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, It's Off to Work I Go

Yesterday was my first day back at work. It went alright, though I was a bit jittery at first and it definitely showed. I also realized my Mommybrain is not as charming as it was when I was pregnant. Because at least when I was 100 lbs heavier with what was clearly a child in my belly, people could tell that I was forgetful for a reason. Now I just look dumb. Yesterday made me realize just how disillusioned I’d become about what my line of work is actually like for normal, non-pregnant people. You’re probably wondering what kind of job I am talking about. Let me give you a hint: I have to take orders from people; some are regulars and others I’ve never met before. I have to smile and be nice even if people are not smiling at or being nice to me. I tend to get a lot of exercise, though that’s not something typically associated with this occupation.

No, I’m not a hooker. Get your mind out of the gutter! I’m a waitress. Oh. Wait. Now I see the similarities. Anyway. I’ve been working on and off at the same restaurant as a server and bartender for the last five years. Despite some of the negative connotations that come with being a server, I actually love it. This is mostly because I love my bosses, I love my co-workers and I even love some of our regulars. Yeah, some of them are weird, but for the most part, they are sweet, well-meaning people who just want to go where everybody knows their name. One even gave me a crib when I was pregnant with Thumper. Another man gave me a $20 bill to start Thumper’s college fund. These examples, both of which left me speechless and teary-eyed, are only a few of the reasons why it pays to be a pregnant waitress. The following is a list of all the other reasons of why it was so awesome and why I might start parading around with one of those fake pregnancy pillows under my shirt.

Everyone loves a preggo: There is an unspoken rule that servers generally always start on the guest’s bad side. You must work to prove that you are both nice and competent. You can do several things to achieve this, like smile, make recommendations, be knowledgeable, remember their order, be friendly and seem like you care. If you do these things, most guests will not hold it against you if something goes wrong with their meal. However, if you are pregnant, guests automatically love you. This may be because they think anyone who is creating life in their stomach cannot possibly be a bad person or perhaps they are just scared of your hormonal, pregnant temper. Either way, you get a free pass to pretty much do whatever you want. You could screw up their entire dining experience and they won’t yell at you or demand you be fired. I once messed up an order for a man’s burger three times in one sitting and he still tipped me. Even I knew I didn’t deserve his money. I firmly believe that even if I had poisoned someone, all anyone would have done was shrug their shoulders and avert eye contact until everyone else forgot about it.

People bring you food: My co-workers figured out pretty quickly how to alter my mood for the better – by giving me treats. One Friday, a friend brought in a box of Timbits for everyone to share. I was feeling especially hungry and totally chipmunk-ed the box by eating half of them and storing the rest in my cheeks. Every Friday after that, there was always a box of Timbits sitting in the kitchen. On days when the store was really busy, another bartender and I would share a section while both pouring drinks for the entire store. These extra busy days always made me extra stressed, forgetful and prone to stabbing people, so the other bartender always made sure to bring me a chocolate doughnut and an Iced Cap to curb the homicidal tendencies, or at least make sure she wasn’t on the receiving end of them. The moral of the story is that you can buy both everlasting love and mercy from a pregnant chick by giving her yummy food.

People give you stuff to make you leave: My bosses sometimes forced me to take a day off. And not in the, you-are-suspended-because-you-keep-losing-all-of-your-credit-card-slips-kind of way. It was more like, ‘Here is a gift certificate for a pregnancy massage, please go away and don’t come back until there’s no longer smoke coming out of your head.’

Male bosses: Five out of my seven bosses were male. Shortly after I got pregnant, four out of those five managers’ wives also found out they were expecting. So basically, they were all terrified of pregnant women and desperate to not have their heads ripped off. This meant that they were all eager to help with the day-to-day tasks I could no longer do, like filling the ice bin, re-stocking beer or taking down chairs in the morning. This also meant they were eager to do things that I was still perfectly capable of, like running food for my tables, taking out the recycling, ripping up empty boxes, pouring beer, counting inventory and so on. Basically, they would have been happy if all I had done for nine months was show up, try not to cry and take peoples’ orders.

Now I don’t want you to think I was lazy and just sat around reaping all the benefits of having nice co-workers and guests. Well, I did totally reap the benefits but I didn’t sit around and do nothing. I worked as hard as I could without getting yelled at by managers or guests for carrying one too many glasses. And I really did try to not screw up peoples’ orders. I may have had trouble remembering if a random person ordered a Pepsi or iced tea and generally always forgot to ask if people wanted multi-grain or original pizza dough, but I have always remembered, pregnant or not, the names of all my regulars and what they like to drink and eat. I guess it doesn’t negate the fact that I had to call the restaurant after every shift to see if I punched out or not. But it does prove that even if you’re kind of scatterbrained it pays to be nice to people, but it pays even better to be pregnant, scatterbrained and nice. And if that doesn’t work, you can scare them into submission or knock them out of your way with one fell swoop of the belly. Either way, it works in your favour. You might get a good tip or pretty, white crib out of the deal. Or a phone number and a few months later, a pregnancy test, and then a few months after that, a baby.

I’ll repeat it for emphasis: Waitress. Not a hooker.


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