Happy hump day everybody. Are you ready to help me spread the laughter? For those of you who do not know me my name is Lisa D, and I am the chatty waitress at Billy’s Cafe that sports the rainbow of Chuck Taylors each day.
So, it has come to my attention via the grapevine that the question of the moment around The Villages seems to be, “Why am I still waitressing?”
Well, this is something I have been asked tons of times over the past few decades, especially while autographing one of my books at one of my book signings. Not to mention, I ask myself almost every day. I guess I would have to say, “It suits me.”
Where else but in an American diner-style cafe could a simple writer/mom like myself earn an honest living by playing around with and picking on total strangers? I mean really. I earn my living by entertaining/harassing the general public. Sure, I’m supposed to serve y’all good food and beverages in a clean and professional atmosphere, which I do most of the time. But let’s be honest, if my personality wasn’t so large I would not have the following I have acquired. Like me or not, no one leaves the building without knowing who I am. And if by chance you’re one of “those guys” that likes to yank my chain or threaten my tip before I’ve even taken his order, let me explain it like I told the rest of the “wise guys” that I’ve already chewed up over the years, “I do appreciate tips, but I’m actually here for the community service hours. I’m just trying to get my Jersey visitor’s pass back!”
To which they usually look at me like, “What the …”
Oh yeah, it is too easy. By the time I’m done messing with this poor paying customer, he’s ready to hand me his entire wallet -before he’s even eaten- just to shut me up. Meanwhile his wife of over 50-years is usually rolling over in the booth from laughing so hard because according to her no one in all of their golden years has ever stumped him like I did. Even still, I serve it all up with my best Betty Boop smile and somehow before they leave I’ve managed to collect both of them as my new besties. It’s my gift. I do it all the time, and I get away with it so gracefully. I was taught by my father, (The King from Ft Apache) that, “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance then baffle them with bull crap.”
And although I have a Bachelor’s in Print Journalism, I have my PhD in bull crap! Which always helps make my work day loads of fun for me.
In my 40 years in the hospitality industry both in New Jersey and in Florida, I have worked in every type of establishment from pizzerias to oyster bars, restaurant chains to my own hot dog cart. I have had the pleasure of working hundreds of weddings from 1st time kids to 7th time black widows. I’ve served poolside affairs and white glove events.
I have even had the HONOR of jumping out of a “Made For Me” Birthday Cake, where I was looking like a Barbie-sized Marilyn Monroe – retro 1955 – (water bra included). The well-known white dress. Sexy high heels. I even had my 2 feet of dark brown hair shoved up into a beautiful, short blonde wig. Oh no, we spared no expense on designing my costume to ensure that when the GUEST OF HONOR (a customer who was then more like a Pop) took his place in the spotlight at his 100th Birthday Extravaganza. He would know how much he touched MY life!
Most of my dearest adult relationships – past and present – have grown from me regularly serving someone breakfast, lunch or dinner. Even now at Billy’s Cafe, where I have nearly finished my 1st consecutive 10-year, no parole, sentence. Just kidding. Some weeks I actually do see some of my regulars more often than I see my own family members. Most of my customers literally come in every day. They sit in the same booth every day. They order the same drink and the same food every day. We actually know most of them on a first name basis and usually just have to say, “Usual?” as they walk in the front door.
To which 9 out of 10 times the answer is, “YES!”
Yet I always wonder, do we really ever know who we are waiting on?
Just to drop titles, I’ve served Mayors, Grammy Award Winning singers, Heavyweight Boxing Champions, rocket scientists, notorious bikers, decorated Veterans, and let us not forget that I serve The Villagers. So it is not unusual for the parents and grandparents of present day famous and infamous characters also to be seen around the squares. No, I do not personally know every resident in The Villages, but I believe between my hubby and I, we have a pretty strong outreach from Spanish Springs to Brownwood and everything in between, making our combined brag list extensive and interesting.
So why would I ever think of retiring my aprons? I’m a people person. I love meeting new people. Work time is literally my adult socializing, especially considering my BFF is my full-time 5-year old grandson. Plus work supplies me with a daily live audience, a forum to regularly collect new material and a good pocket full of cash each day, which is really only icing on my already delicious CUPCAKE of a life. Really, what more could a girl ask for?
Well actually, to all of you “GRUMPYS” out there that desperately feel the need to be the buzzkill at the party, try to avoid me at all costs. Just a warning. I will force you to see the rainbows. I will treat you to that special cookie no one has ever taken the time to bake for you. I will touch your funny bone in a way no one else has ever tried and before long you too will be addicted to HAPPY THOUGHTS. It’s what I do. Once you allow the smiles in your soul you are no longer in control. And I am sorry to say the infection will spread quickly and before long you will long for laughter and warm fuzzies. But don’t worry. You won’t be alone. I’ll be here to coach you out of the garden of grumpy, and with plenty of good jokes and silly tales I will have you seeing unicorns and doing cartwheels in no time. (Figuratively speaking of course) I promise.
Trust me, HAPPINESS is just around the corner, and I have volunteered to be your FREE Uber.
Laugh on. Peace out
Lisa DeMarco is a waitress at Billy’s Cafe and a columnist for Villages-News.com.