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Thursday, April 22, 2021

It’s hard to be the hostess when there’s a full house

Lisa DeMarco

Why do I not like my hosting shifts at the restaurant? It’s not because I mind bussing tables or seating customers because I do that everyday. The negative part about being in charge of the masses is when we go to a “Full House.”

This means every table in the restaurant is occupied. All new guests must sign in on a waiting list, and wait to be seated. We have SIGN-IN sheets, neatly drawn, clearly saying, “Please Sign In and Remember Your Number!” 

We want to get you seated as quickly as possible, but, because we can barely read our own handwriting, it helps when our customers sign themselves in. Again, we have these signs clearly posted everywhere. Remember the number right next to where you wrote your name. Some people even like to write whether they want a table or a booth, and how many are in the party. As the hostess, we do pay attention to and accommodate everything we possibly could. 

OK, so why is this when my job becomes so much less appealing, aka it starts to suck?! Because people lie, cut in line, and play the demented card when it comes to getting fed. It’s amazing. We will be at full house. There will be a few couples waiting outside by the front door. There will be a few more parties of people waiting to be seated by the entrance, the cashier area, and the far side entrance. Every table is either filled with people about to order, waiting for their food, finished with their food and preparing to leave, or it’s DIRTY! 

It takes four to five servers, along with two cooks, the owner, our bossman and head chief, Mr. Mike, and one of the few brave and brilliant co-workers that work beside him to maintain the 80-plus customers at a time, that occupy our work space, in a revolving door-style. We have a system. Generally, it works. Especially when our regular FULL TIME HOSTESS, who have it down to a science, are in charge. They help me get through my shift peacefully in between each group of guests that come through my section each day. Honestly, I have been in the restaurant business for over 40-years, and I actually started as a “Hostess/Busser” in a pizzeria in Rockaway, New Jersey, when I was 13-years old. I know how to perform the task. I actually enjoy meeting and greeting all the guests. It gives me the opportunity to chit chat with customers I otherwise might have missed if we were busy and they did not sit in my section. That being said, keeping it all straight is a lot harder than just maintaining my own station.

However, as I have spoke of before, I have a big, Jersey mouth sometimes, when individuals get me started, and once in a while I actually believe I could mess up my waitressing job if I don’t hold back on how I really feel, while I am hostessing, and customers are just outright rude!! Or even believe they are entitled.

Now, we are back to a full house. Everyone is visibly waiting around wherever they can squish in. This gentleman walks in through the door, scopes the room, walks himself to a dirty table, and sits down. For a minute, I thought he was meeting someone, and he was going to sit down with someone who had already been seated. Before I could even ask him if I could help him, several regular customers in line waiting to be sat, informed him on the protocol of getting a seat. Priceless, actually. Needless to say he did not stay, but that’s okay. Obviously we had enough people waiting to get into the restaurant to eat, or we wouldn’t be complaining about people cutting in the wait line, right?

True story: 

A gentleman and his wife come into the restaurant after church on a Sunday morning. The restaurant is already on a wait. The gentleman signed in the name Dick on line number four. There were two parties ahead of him. So, several minutes later, another couple came in and signed in on line number nine, also as the name Dick. 

I get to line number four, and I call out, “Number four. Party of two. Dick.”

An elderly couple approached. They were dressed in their Sunday best, and the gentleman’s name tag clearly reads: DICK, so I seated them. Tables continued to leave, and I continued slowly down my list, seating customers in the order in which they signed in. Suddenly, an elderly woman pleasantly approached me and asked, “Why did you cross us off the list? We haven’t been seated yet?”

To which I asked, “What number were you?”

“Right here, we were number four, Dick,” she said as she pointed to my list. 

“No, it must be a different Dick,” I answered. 

To which she replied, “No that is my Dick!”

While every customer in the restaurant is listening to us, I tried to break the dialogue by promising to seat her as soon as the next table became available. Between her not having her hearing aids set properly and me trying to not sound rude screaming over my mask, I could not get her to understand that I did not intentionally skip her and her husband.

Just then, this sweet, church-going lady adjusted her mask to tell me, “I do not care how many Dicks are on your list. We were number four!” 

Trying to stay composed, I motioned her to follow me.  I walked her over to the table where I just sat the wrong Dick, so I could finally explain to her that it was not my fault that I sat out of turn. Pointing at the man seated, I explained one more time that when I called, “Number four, party of two, Dick,” this Dick, number nine, party of two, came and sat down. 

“Look,” I added, “He even has on a name tag. What more I.D could I have asked him for?” I giggled.

And so it was. Another table finished eating. I quickly cleaned it off, and then both my Dicks were happy and full. Neither couple will I ever forget!

I don’t have to make up my tales, because reality is so much funnier than fiction!

Laugh on. Peace out.

Lisa DeMarco is a waitress at Billy’s Cafe and a Villages-News.com columnist.

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