working for a living: waiter at old-folks home
Being on the job hunt has got me thinking about my illustrious profesh career over the years. From Newsie to furniture maker, I've done it all. Share your fun/not-so-fun / interesting job stories in the comments.And if you need a writer / editor, or a 7 Layer Dip Maker, I'm your guy. Look me up on LinkedIn and let's talk.
My high school buddy, Bryan, helped me land a job at the old folks home as a waiter. Bryan was a white kid that liked Reggae music. A lot. So much so that Bryan had salon-made dreadlocks. His hair was short, the dreadlocks uncooperative. So Bryan wrapped his Tootsie Roll hair logs up into rubber bands. It looked funny. But bad hair was excusable because nobody was at the height of fashion in 1990.
For some reason or other the folks in charge of the kitchen at The Old Folks Home hired all the teenaged freaks, punks, skaters and stoners in the South King County area. The chef in charge was a very gay, sarcastic, mustachioed rolly-polly man (who was later replaced by "Carlos", also a mustachioed man. But Carlos was Mexican--and to my knowledge not gay--with looks and mannerisms similar to Seinfeld's "Soup Nazi" who we played practical jokes on constantly)
Not only was it the job of the wait staff to serve the tenants lunch and dinner but to also (unofficially) make the most of opportunities for self amusement. This included role playing while waiting on tables. We pretended bad, exaggerated fake European accents. We were entertainers, of course. Most the tenants, being that they were senile and all, did not know the difference between our regular speaking voices and our stage voices. On occasion, however, we were one upped by some of the sharper tenants who would shoot back to us their food orders in like manner.
Ordinarily there were two choices on the menu. Something like, say, creamy garlic chicken with a side of carrots or skirt steak and a baked potato. Instead, we'd offer the earthworm patte or the honey glazed curd of Spam. We made it up as we went along. You know, improvisation. I'm sure it was great fun for the old folks.
Other ways of entertaining ones self as a waiter at The Old Folks Home involved playing out elaborate (fake) dramas for tenants. As an example, there were usually a few folks that either
a.) preferred to have their meals delivered vs. eating in the dining room or
b.) were not well and needed room service or
c.) were crazy and urged by management to stay in their rooms and have their food delivered.
We did not make it a habit to "entertain" sick folks.
Steve was a manager of sorts in the kitchen well known and loved by the tenants. Steve was of Mexican decent. Steve and Bryan frequently paired up to improvise for Betsy, a crazy, old, jolly tenant on the 3rd floor. The scenario went like this: Mexican Steve delivered the food to Betsy's room. As Steve situated Betsy's food, Tootsie Bryan would pound at the door.
"Open up! It's the border patrol!" cried TB
"Oh, no!" Mexican Steve would say "help me find a place to hide Betsy, quick! I don't have my green card and they'll throw me in jail if they find me!"
"Oh goodness!" Betsy would say, flustered, as she proceeded to point out the way to the nearest closet.
TB would then burst into the room carrying on about the "wetback" that had gotten loose. TB would rummage through Betsy's apartment (careful not to make a mess, of course) and finally find MS hiding in the closet, yank him into the living room and pretend to smack him around a bit. Betsy seemingly loved watching the drama unfold. (To the best of my knowledge, Betsy believed these scenarios to be real. But I'll never know for sure.)
Mexican Steve and Tootsie Bryan would repeat this routine frequently for weeks on end. For Betsy, it was brand new excitement each time as she customarily did not remember the happenings from the day before.
When I was trained for the room service run, Bryan and I played out similar scenarios but instead of me playing the role of the illegal alien, I was an escaped prisoner.
I got paid for this. It was fun. And I'm sorry i this was ageist or just plain wrong.