My first customer was Jerry Seinfield. My first regular was Jennifer Aniston. My first Bordeaux was with Johhny Depp. Yes. With. Somewhere between learning about French wine and the Iranian princess life, I also learned the road map to life, while gaining one of the best friends I've ever had in my life. For this, I am crazy grateful.
The waitress life is a hustle. It was my first real job and by real, I mean: real work, real income. Don't underestimate the power of the waitress.
She may be your sister, may be your mother, may be your best friend. And she has stories. And stories are powerful.
One of my first jobs here in Nashville (post my former waitressing days), was tutoring the sons of John Prine. I was hired by his wife Fiona, whom I love and admire and I didn’t see John very often. If you don’t know, John Prine is quite possibly one of the greatest songwriters ever. He’s quite the story teller. Prolific. And one of the only times I saw John Prine in the Prine home, he offered some information that was priceless to the amateur songwriter that I was. He said, “When I was a mail man in Chicago, I saw many stories. So many I couldn’t count. You could see them in the eyes of the strangers you pass by.”
You see, a waitress sees strangers every day. And they tell you stories. And if you observe, you’re pretty much soaking up the stories of a 1000 people a week. This is knowledge. Knowledge is power. This is also where you learn compassion. And humanity. And if you observe, if you’re not completely caught in the undertow of the stressful Saturday night where you get sat 10 too many tables, if you pay close attention, you can digest life a little more compassionately. And clearly. And although I didn’t know this at the time, it comes to mind so vividly today when I'm home observing my current world so intently.
And this is what I know. And this is what I learned while being a waitress.
That not every thing you see, is as it seems. That money isn’t the end all be all of all of your wildest dreams. That the entertainment world is packed with wolves and one must learn to defend oneself amongst the wolves. That relationships amongst celebrities are not in fact easier or better than those who are not celebrities. That drugs can do bad things to people. That drinking too much can hurt you. That coca-cola is the #1 drink for people from Saudi Arabia. That if you work hard and you are consistent, you might make regulars. Those regulars might tip you $2500 one night. And you might pay off a student loan from said tip. That you might meet a great lawyer. And he might introduce you to a great manager while you’re serving him profiteroles for dessert. That a woman might walk up to you one day and say “I’m not a lesbian, but I’m in love with your freckles and I’d love to photograph you.” And that the “non-lesbian” would then go on to shoot you and help you nab your first legititmate agent and first job. And also while delivering parmesan crusted halibut, you may talk Jerry Seinfeld out of doing another episode of Seinfeld, even if he was offered $1,000,000. Because when you’re a waitress, you meet people. You talk to people and they confide in you and you maybe to them. And if you like talking to people and learning about life by talking to people, while schlepping drinks and food, you might just meet the right people. And you might make enough money to save up and buy a new car. And gain the confidence to audition for movies and stuff. And maybe end up making a living as a model or actor or maybe land a record deal.
A waitress is not to be undermined. Or looked down upon. Neither is a mailman. These jobs require patience and knowledge and compassion. These stories you may be fortunate enough to encounter might become your stories and your stories one day might get told. You might end up meeting your best friend too. Or your husband. Or Johnny Depp. And he may even offer you a seat at his table and pour you a glass of his Bordeaux. Yeah. So millenials if you're wandering and looking for a job but afraid of the term waitress or mail man, don't be afraid. Lean in. It may lead you to your next story. And each chapter might be cooler than the last.