Waiting…

I’m at work on a Saturday night. This girl comes up to me and starts to ask me something, when we both recognize each other and have the whole, “Oh my God, hi!” moment. She’s just a girl I have waited on a bunch of times. I wouldn’t call her a regular because it’s been a while since I’ve seen her, but one night last year when it was really dead (and I still had a boyfriend), we talked for a really long time about relationships and marriage and all that stuff. I can’t remember, I just remember we bonded and ever since then always say hi when we see each other.

So I follow her (she has to remind me of her name – Ryan) back to her table to wait on her and a girlfriend of hers who I have not ever met before. Immediately start chatting it up with the both of them and get along quickly with her friend. Then I take their drink orders, come back with their drinks. I tell her I haven’t seen her in a while. “I know, I just went up to the bar and I barely recognized any of the bartenders.” Wow has it been that long? “Yea, I don’t know, I remember another girl who worked here I really liked, really pretty blonde.” Oh yea, Lindsay. “Yea she moved to New York?” Yea. “Yea and then I saw you and was like, oh good, she’s going to wait on us.”

…and so on. I take their food order and leave them to chat with each other.

I check on them again, they’re doing fine with their drinks, still waiting for their food. I guess I get a little busy – it is Saturday night, after all – and I have a few orders in my head when Ryan stops me. “Wait, you’re the one who was in that long relationship right?” Yea. I smile, because that is EXACTLY what I wanted to talk to her about. But at this very moment, I don’t have time, because I have to put in a few orders. So I just smile and say yea. Then, “Is our food ready yet?” I’ll go check for you.

I immediately walk back to the kitchen to ask about their food. I’m told one more minute. Perfect. I start to walk back and Ryan is right there at the server station, at the bar. She must be wanting to talk to one of the few bartenders she DOES know. Ryan, it’ll be one more minute.

I get the no-teeth smile. Which, let me just say, I do this smile all the time, and it’s genuine, but when I refer to it as the no-teeth smile, I mean it in exactly the way you think.

But I think nothing of it, and go on my way, back to the computer to put in orders. Then I walk around the restaurant, waiting on customers, and I look over to see Ryan talking to Frankie (my boss) by the server station. Oh, she must know Frankie. That’s cool.

I continue about, doing my job, and notice that Ryan is still talking to Frankie, and neither of them are smiling. Like this is serious conversation. But there is no way it’s about me. It’s can’t be. Because we’re totally cool.

Ryan finally walks back to her table and I’m right there at Frankie’s side. Hey… “What happened with you two??” Huh? “Did you fuck her boyfriend or something?” What??? “She just said she’s been coming here for a long time and the service was bad and the food was taking too long and she felt uncomfortable with you serving her because of something that happened in the past that had to do with a guy.” Wait, what?? “Do you know her?” I mean, yea, we’re friends though (as much as servers and customers who don’t remember each other’s name can be). Like, I was just talking to her and everything was fine. “Well she didn’t act like it was fine. She thought you were going to spit in her food. She doesn’t want it now.”

I’m sorry, WHAT?!?!?!

When he says this last thing, I actually laugh, because, there is no way this is real. So I tell Frankie, OK, I’m going to talk to her right now.

I walk over, SURE that as soon as I talk to her, this will all be cleared up.

Wrong-o.

I walk up and touch her shoulder. Oh my God, Ryan, I am so sorry! I don’t know what just happened but this is just a miscommunication. I thought everything was fine. I really like you!

At my touch, she leans away, then barely makes eye contact with me. She gives me that fake fucking smile and nods. “It’s OK.” She just keeps looking at her her friend. Wait, no, your food was just about to come out. I put your order in as soon as you gave it to me. Fake smile and nod.

No, I don’t understand, can you please tell me what happened. What did I do to make this just happen. Fake smile, nod, and “It’s OK.” It’s not OK! I finally look to her friend. I thought we were having a good exchange! Her friend looks back me. “I’m fine.”

And the way she says it, she could be going either way. Like, I don’t know if she is on the same page as her friend or me or what. I can’t tell. My head is reeling now, retracing everything that happened. And it goes to maybe, she asked about my relationship and I just said yes and nothing else, so I start in on that.

I mean, you mentioned me being in a long relationship- and now she cuts me off. “OK, OK, it’s fine.” And I’m not having it. No, I was going to tell you, I’m single now, and I’ve never been happier. I was just busy so I had to walk away. Fake smile, nod, and “It’s OK.” I DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. I feel terrible and I don’t even know why! “Don’t feel terrible. It’s fine.” You told my boss you thought I was going to spit in your food. Like, I would NEVER do that, not even to a person I don’t like, and I like you!

I’m getting nothing from her.

Can you please tell me what I can do right now to make this better? “I just want our check so we can go eat.” I finally walk away. Go back to Frankie. Tell him briefly what happened and that she wants her check. “She doesn’t have a check.” OK. I walk back to them. You guys, you don’t have a bill, it’s been taken care of.

No response.

I really wish you would just tell me what I can do right now. “I just want to talk to my friend.” I literally throw my hands up in frustration. OK. And I walk away.

This happens fairly early on in my night, and I’m completely wrecked by it. I have no idea what just happened. I go up to a table of three and take their drink order, then their dinner order. Then I ask, did you guys want drinks? The one guy, very nice, who I have fortunately waited on before, looks at me like I’m crazy… because right now, I DO feel crazy. “I gave you our drink order.” I look down at my book. Yup, you did, I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s happening right now. And I walk away.

The more the night goes on, the more pissed off I get. Because fuck her for making me feel like this. This is the kind of shit that makes me question how I can still work in the service industry.

Then I’m carrying a tray of drinks to a table and this fuckin frat dude knocks into me and I almost spill them. I spill a little, but I catch them. The guy doesn’t even notice. Naturally. It’s cool, guy, you almost knocked over my drinks, but it’s fine. And he doesn’t hear me. It looks like he’s arm wrestling a guy except there’s no table so it’s like a weird, aggressive handshake.

I walk up to my table. Almost just lost your drinks. I nod to the guys still arm wrestling. The guy at my table turns around to look. “They’re just bro’in it out.” I laugh. They so are. Are they wrestling or what’s happening right now? “They’re just bro’in out. Yo man, you got on a white T-shirt? I got on a white T-shirt, too!” I really start laughing now, because these dudes are totally wearing white T-shirts… and I love when people watch other people and pretend to say what they’re saying to each other (Kelly does this every day of her life, I think).

And this reminds of why I like serving. I do generally like people. But I can’t deal with Crazytown.

The next morning I wake up. Totally had nightmares about this shit. I can’t seem to let it go, even though I know I need to. But it’s eating at me.

I go into work around 3:30. Definitely feeling better than yesterday. Trying to move past it. I notice this blonde girl sitting at a table. I feel like I know her and she is my friend. Like as soon as I see her I want to walk up and say hi, but I can’t place how I know her. I try to figure it out for a while and can’t, but I just know we like each other for some reason. Like I’ve waited on her and we got along really well or something.

But after last night, I’m very hesitant about familiar customers and who I “think” I might know. But finally I’m like no, I like her, I’m going to say hi. I walk up, ready to say, Hey, how do I know you? But as soon as I say hi she grabs my arm. “Oh my God, you’re the girl from last night, I am SO sorry for my friend.” I grab her arm right back. Oh my God, thank you, I didn’t even realize that was you!

Isn’t it weird how I really thought I knew this girl and we were friends or something? Because we DID have a good exchange the night before and I guess I knew subconsciously that this was a good person and she was on my side. I can’t believe I didn’t realize that it was her.

She immediately leans over to a girl next to her. “This was the girl I was telling you about.” Now her friend looks at me, as if SHE’S sorry, and feels bad about what happened. They are so overly apologetic for their crazy friend, and I am so so relieved in this moment (even though I shouldn’t have needed it, but I’ll take it).

The blonde girl’s name is Steph and she’s awesome. So do you know what that was about? “I had no idea what was happening. All of a sudden she got up and I didn’t know where she went. Then you came over and I was just shocked.” Uh, yea, me too! Oh my God, I am so glad you came in. “Well I wanted to come in to talk to your manager or do something and tell them how awesome you are because that was just crazy.” CRAZY. “After you walked away I was like, that girl was just so nice to you and you were so mean to her. I had to leave after that, I was so embarrassed.”

And still, I’m trying to figure out why Ryan was mad at me, and Steph is just like, “This had nothing to do with you. Let it go. And don’t ever let a person make you feel bad about yourself when it has nothing to do with you.” Thank you so much. “You’re welcome.”

This was literally the craziest encounter I’ve ever experienced. I’ve only had one experience that gave me similar feelings and I’ve never written about it because I’m still afraid of this lady and that she will find out or something and do what? Who knows. Nothing.

I know the lesson to be learned is to let shit go that has nothing to do with you. I knew it even when it was happening, but it’s still hard. Deep breaths.

At least my bosses and co-workers are on my side. Super supportive. Every day I’ve walked in since, they ask the same thing. “Who’s food did you spit in today?”

You guys are hilarious.

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