Thursday, January 26, 2006 by Ospite.

This City lends itself to Windy, bitter nights that prompt passers by into our trattoria for a warm inviting atmosphere of Italian cuisine. The average patrons are middle-aged couples or families with an annual income of $40k - $80k. I'm working the door this evening, happy that I am inside rather than out and keeping my distance from the door itself. 7:30pm, a couple walks in, clearly several social circles above the rest of our clientele. I note the Porsche keys that he slips into his overcoat pocket.

They give me a look that says, 'We are above the witty small talk you are trained to use on customers." I've worked country clubs, elite ones, I know how to treat Money. So I simply greet, grab menus, and walk them to a rather secluded 2top booth. I ran through the specials, the wines, and the suggested appetizer as they ignore me. For the duration of my small routine speech, the lady was fumbling with her ridiculously large fur coat trying to find the best place to put it. I asked if she wanted me to hang it up within site or the host station, but she glared at me as if I asked to steal her firstborn. She refused to lay it down next to her and that was obviously my fault. I returned to my post.

Forty-five seconds later, the woman blew past me almost running for the door, with a poor attempt at donning her fur mid-stride. The husband walked up to me:

"Um...we can't...she won't...there are no... I'm sorry. Our plans have...changed. Goodnight."
"Is there anything I can do to help? Perhaps find another table?"

He looks over at his wife who is cycling through about 4 shades of red. She was unable to put on her coat she was so upset. Clutching Prada bag and fur, she stormed out the door his keys in hand.

"No. Have a good evening." he replied.

I walked over to the now-vacant booth. There was a ten-dollar bill lying in front of the gentleman's seat.

I flashed back briefly to the country club. Doctors, lawyers, brokers, business owners, CEOs, old money, family money. The two groups of people I enjoyed while working the locker room there were the specialist doctors and the guys who built businesses from the ground up. These were people who understood being the little guy, people who had to work for what they had. These were the guys who understood tipping the way it should be done, not the tight-fisted jerks with the trophy wives. Picking up the Ten Spot, I couldn't help but think that she was using him as a trophy husband and I felt sorry for him.

Passing Clara, I handed her the ten bucks. She looked quite confused.

"This is for the table you didn't get a chance to serve."

Returning to my post again, I was suddenly very grateful for the loving wife I had at home waiting for my return. The following came to mind: "Get married before you get rich. Don't let the riches buy you a wife."


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At your service, Ospite

I am not in the restaurant business, I am in the people business. I use every opportunity to people watch, because to me, even the most mundane is fascinating.

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