My brief career as a waiter

English: Spring pea soup, with creme fraiche g...

English: Spring pea soup, with creme fraiche galaxy. The recipe was pretty good, but not exceptional. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Governments all over the world are facing up to the economic realities of balancing the books. After a brief bout of teenage profligacy, I found myself in much the same fiscal boat. The obvious solution in my case was to get a part-time job. This was effective on two levels; firstly, whilst I was working, I was kept out of mischief and unable to spend money and secondly, I was also earning money at the same time.

I worked in a large pub restaurant just outside my home town as a barman. I thoroughly enjoyed it. I liked the social contact with the regular customers and revelled in the camaraderie of my fellow bar staff. To my surprise, I seemed to be good at it as well. For a while everyone was happy. My bank manager was happy that the overdraft was inching down, the one-legged owner of the bar was happy with my performance and I was happy doing the job.

One Summer’s evening, the one-legged man walked over to the bar and told us that several of the waitresses had phoned in sick. Not only that, but we were fully booked that evening. There was only one thing for it. One of the bar staff would have to take a shift on the waiting team. We drew straws.

I might be good at working behind a bar, but I’m useless at drawing straws, so a short while later, the Maitre D’ lectured me on what to do and what not to do. I tried to explain to him that I had the manual dexterity of an elephant wearing boxing gloves but he would have none of it.

My first table seemed to go OK, but it was only two covers. Lulled into a false sense of security about my skills as a waiter, the Maitre D’ assigned me to a larger table – four covers this time. I took their orders and when the very attractive lady in the pretty white dress ordered the pea soup, my heart sank. I’d already tried a dummy run in the kitchen with a tray full of bowls filled with water – it didn’t end well.

As the chef called service, I took my place at the serving hatch. Ever so carefully, I balanced the four starters on the tray. Making sure the tray was rock steady, I set off towards the table. I moved slowly, planning my route carefully so that I avoided any chance of a collision. Arriving at the table, I lifted the first starter and placed it on the table.

The tray lurched in an alarming fashion and the soup came very close to the rim of the bowl. I adjusted the tray, but unfortunately over compensated. Almost in slow motion, the bowl slid down the tray and over the small lip at the edge. Like a heat seeking missile, the bowl and its contents tumbled end over end before landing squarely in the attractive lady’s lap. Her pretty white dress was covered in bright, green soup.

With surprising swiftness, the one-legged man appeared and ushered me away from the table whilst the Maitre D’ appeared from nowhere and apologised profusely to the customers. Before too long, I was safely ensconced behind the bar once more. The one-legged man admonished me and told me that was the last time I would be a waiter. Silently – I agreed with him.

I caught sight of the woman leaving the restaurant later that night with her soup-stained dress. As she walked out, she smiled and blew me a kiss.