Sunday, November 27, 2011


I applied for a summer job as a waiter at a place called Avalock Inn in Lennox, Ma. It was directly across the road from Tanglewood, the seasonal home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Reservations had to be made at least two years in advance. Aside from its location, its forte was the dining room, a five star rated restaurant which boasted excellent cuisine and first-class service. The ad required professional experience which I enthusiastically but falsely claimed to have. Hey,man, it was to be an adventure. Two days of on-the-job training and I'd have the moves of a pro and be pocketing lucrative tips from the wealthy clientele. And if a beautiful, rich young woman would catch my eye, well, as Frank sang, "I'm gonna teach me to fly." Everything was set for a swingin' three months. What can I getcha, Baby?

When I arrived, I met the owner, a rather pompous ass who showed me the tables I'd be serving.
"We open for breakfast at 6am. Be in uniform and ready to go. Now, why don't you get your linens and set up for the morning?"
Linens? What the hell were linens? Was this a covert cathouse? A fellow waiter explained that the reference was to tablecloths and napkins and showed me where they were. The service trays were huge, round, silver and heavy. Everyone was carrying them on one faced-up palm, in perfect balance, as if they were on ice skates. I loaded my tray with silver, glasses, cups, saucers and bread boats and my first attempt to lift it assured me of a severe hernia. I used the kindergarten method of holding the tray with two hands and walked as if I were performing the nine step heel to toe field sobriety test. Even then, my cargo was dangerously shifting from one edge to the other, with the Vegas bookies laying even money on a fall-and-break as a sure thing. My lack of credentials were exposed for all to see, but, hey, this was rehearsal learning time. I'd be ready for the morning. I walked into the kitchen and was introduced to the Head Chef. A really hip dude who dug fine jazz and was apparently holding some fine sinsemilla. We hit it off, pronto, Tonto, and agreed to spend the night digging sounds, drinking and getting high. This is a lovely way to spend an evening. He took me by the hand and we hit three or four clubs where the cool music was complimented by vodka and the the most lethal pot ever smoked. They called it "two-toke-shit" but we paid no attention to that legendary limit. The scene lent itself to excess and so we indulged. If I had gotten any higher, I would have flirted with comasvile. The night was sweet and we were mellow. Until the chef reminded me that it was 5am. Time to get ready for work.

I made my way back to the waiters' quarters and was confronted with a decision. Should I shower, brush my teeth and put on my bow tie monkey suit, still shitfaced and stoned---or----should I grab a fifteen minute nap? I made a mistake rivalling buying a Titanic ticket. I went for the short shut-eye.

There was banging on the door of the waiters' cabin. It was the owner screaming my name. Sherlock Holmes was not needed to conclude that he was pissed-off big time.

"Where the hell are you, Alch? There are guests at your tables waiting to be served and it's 6:20. Get the hell down there, NOW!

I wasn't just sick, I was being tortured to death. My hair hurt. My eyes were bleeding on my shirt. My tongue was mired in sand. With my next breath I would surely heave my guts. And I absolutely REEKED from booze. Flies were dropping dead as they flew by my mouth

I ran to the sink and doused my head in cold water, took a bite of toothpaste and tried swishing it in my mouth but my tongue could not be reached for transmission. I threw on the waiters uniform as I tried to finger-comb my hair into some semblance of a human, ran out the door and up the hill to the dinning room. Three of my round tables were filled with eight guests at each. The chef looked at me as I walked through the kitchen and his eyes rolled up to the Deity for help. He looked in good shape. He had done this before, a veteran who knew not to sleep.

Someone pushed me toward my tables. I approached the first one to confront eight richee-poos aggravated by hunger. I looked at Mr. Constipation and barely whispered, "May I take your order, sir?"

He snarled under his breath and began: one large orange juice with one-half of the pulp in; two kippurs using sea salt for drying it in the open air; a bowl with one and a half sliced bananas in skim milk; three eggs over easy with one yoke gently broken; a rasher of bacon slowly cooked, crispy but not greasy to the touch; three apple pancakes with Maine maple syrup;a dish of vanilla yogurt with blueberries;------and on and on he went. God forbid the snob could have just ordered a bagel with coffee. As he was declaiming, all I could bring myself to do was nod like a puppet, up and down, as this idiot was obviously ordering for the New England Patriots. I didn't remember one thing he said. I just kept smiling and nodding as I went 'round the table, getting a similar 7 course breakfast order from each of them and announcing,"Thank you, sir" at each order's conclusion.

I didn't remember one freackin' thing that was said to me. I HADN'T EVEN BROUGHT A PAD AND PENCIL. I finished the charade at last, thanked them once again and mumbled something about getting the order working straightaway. I walked into the kitchen, thanked the chef for a groovy night, took off my white shirt and black bow tie, ran to my cabin, threw my stuff into my bag and ran through the woods until I hit a highway. I stuck out my thumb and, almost instantaneously, a yellow Cadillac convertible, with brown leather seats and the top down, screeched to a halt and the driver yelled,"I'm going to Boston. Interested?" Within 30 seconds I was riding shotgun, heading for the poolroom, looking up at blue skies and engulfed by a warm wind---and all was once again good in the world.

Word has it that to this day, those goofs are still sitting at their tables waiting for those Saddam Hussein breakfast specials.

The only other time I tried my hand as a waiter was at an insane asylum, serving soup to nuts.

1 comment:

  1. Judge, I could read 500 pages of these stories at one sitting. Even better if I had a line of Gibsons strung along the bar while I was at it.