I’m in the kitchen munching on some fried polenta chips when the hostess interrupts me.
“You’ve got a new table on ten.”
I look at the clock. It’s almost closing.
“Does anyone else want this table?” I ask. It’s a stupid question. The other waiters mentally vacated the place hours ago.
“Hell no,” Louis says eating his dinner.
“Come on Arlene. Remember when I let you leave early last week?” I plead.
“So sorry,” Arlene laughs.
I walk out to the table. It’s a family of four.
The father’s a no nonsense military looking kind of guy. Seated across from him in the usual soccer mom getup is his wife. Next to her, facing me, a mass of black curls and inexpertly applied makeup, is her teenage daughter. She smiles at me toothily.
The other daughter sits facing away from me – face obscured by a hanging mane of heavy black hair. Her bejeweled fingers tap impatiently on the table top. Probably embarrassed to be seen eating out with her parents.
“Can I get anyone something to drink?” I ask cheerfully.
The man and his wife order some red wine.
“I’ll have a coke,” the first daughter says looking up and down. Yeah, she digs me.
“And what will you have miss?” I ask the other daughter.
The daughter looks up at me from under her hair. Suddenly and I notice “she” has a beard.
“I’m not a girl,” the newly revealed young man sniffs defensively.
Thank God, I think to myself, you’d be one UGLY girl.
“I’m very sorry sir. I need to get a new pair of glasses,” I say trying to cover my surprise.
“He said you were a girllll!” the sister taunts.
“Shut up idiot,” the brother shoots back.
“Enough” the father cuts in, “Tell the man what you want to drink.”
“I’ll have a Coke,” the young man mutters sullenly.
Tip in the toilet I go and fetch their drinks.
They order quickly and are soon tucking into their entrées. While they’re eating the son gets up to go to the bathroom. As he approaches me I can feel the hatred coming off of him like heat off a radiator.
“I’m not a girl,” he hisses looking me in the eye.
“No kidding,” I deadpan.
He’s stops in his tracks and starts to say something.
“Can I help you sir?” I say skewering him with my thousand yard waiter stare. I’m twice his age and outweigh him by fifty pounds.
Saying nothing he shuffles past me. I can’t help but notice he’s headed for the wrong bathroom.
“Sir, that’s the ladies room.”
“I knew that,” he says rapidly changing course.
“Just checking,” I chuckle.
The family finishes their meal. They take a pass on dessert. Dad asks for the check.
“Sorry for the mix up,” I say handing him the bill.
Saying nothing he hands me a credit card. Oh boy.
Check paid the family gets up and heads for the door. I warily look inside the checkbook.
Dad left me a $100 tip.
I run up to the front to thank the man for his generosity.
“That waiter’s a jerk,” I overhear the son saying as he heads out the door.
“It was an honest mistake. Get a haircut!” the father calls out after him.
Catching up to the father I extend my hand.
“Thank you sir!” I say.
With a firm grip he replies,
“No. Thank YOU.”
“Not a problem,” I grin.
“Goddamn hippie,” the father mutters walking out onto the street.
I stand in the doorway a hundred dollars richer.
That was the most profitable faux pas I ever committed.