Favorite Server Story from Seven Years of Waiting

I hefted this giant tray loaded with mostly burgers and fries but there must have been some soups because that tray was inordinately heavy. I had it balanced on my right hand but I was using my other hand to ease the weight. The restaurant was packed but I figured I’d find a spot to rest the tray on as I passed out the food. Miracles like this usually happened. (We had portable fold out mini-tables for this purpose but I never used those.) I think it was a seventeen-top, maybe only twelve, tables 11, 12, and 13 combined (for former co-workers), but all my usual rest spots were occupied. A woman from table 14 had her bag on a ledge I usually would use.

This wasn’t my table. Getting the food out was a high priority, so whoever was available would run food, often not the server for that table. Since you didn’t know who got what you would usually call out the first item and let the guests look back and forth at each other before someone finally had the courage to claim that the bacon cheeseburger no tomatoes extra mayo was the one they ordered and not the one someone else ordered with those same specifications. I didn’t have time for that. My arm was past hurting, it was simply on the verge of no longer being able to keep the tray up. So I went to the first guy and said, “I have to start handing this out.”

And boom. I was frisbee-ing this guy baskets of burgers and fries, racing to ease the strain in my arm. By the time I got that tray cleared, simply the weight of it was enough to make my arm collapse from strain. I let a side of it rest on the floor. Before I asked the table if they needed anything else, I thanked the guy who’d helped me. That’s when I noticed he only had one arm.

I bolted back to the line to return the tray, and I told Ryan, one of the expos and an all around good guy, and after I told the story, my embarrassment probably flush on my face, Ryan said, “Well? He did it. He probably appreciated having someone assume he was capable.”

I really needed that remark to transform the way I saw that situation, but now I love that story. I wonder if people were comfortable enough with him to point out that it was a little surprising that one time when a server relied on him for help instead of any of the other people at the table with two arms, and maybe it’s an amusing story they tell, but even as he sees the humor in it, he also is thinking, Well? I did it.

I’m sure that guy has had a great many major victories over that potential limitation but maybe that moment stands out to him as a minor one.


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