All waiters occasionally drop a tray, but after years and years of practice it happens less and less often. Throughout my near upon two decades of experience (I started waiting tables at the age of two) I have gotten to where having a tray at the end of my arm is as natural as having a margarita at the end of it. I can maneuver my way through a crowd with a tray of glasses held over my head with grace and elegance. A few weeks ago I dropped my pen onto the floor and just bent down to pick it up while holding a tray of martinis. I didn’t think anything about it but the lady at the table acted like I should go join Cirque du Soleil or something. When I worked at the Marriott, I entered this thing called “Marriott Olympics” and had to run through an obstacle course while holding a tray with glasses of water. Didn’t spill a drop. I didn’t win though because this lady named Nancy had been waiting tables since the invention of food and she had more experience than me. That bitch won a free night at a hotel and some luggage for that shit. I’m not bitter though. Much.
Some servers can do that really cool spinning trick with their trays and I have never been able to master it. I was never able to spin a basketball on my finger either so I’m pretty sure I have some kind of finger tip deficiency problem. I work with a guy now who’s really good at it and every time he does it I get all jealous and have to leave the room. Some people aspire to write the next great American novel or find a cure for cancer. I just wanna fucking learn how to spin a goddamn tray on my finger. Damn this finger tip deficiency of mine!
I don’t remember the last time I dropped a tray but of course since I just typed that, the next time will be tonight. About a hundred years ago I was a food runner at a Mexican restaurant in Denver called Juanita’s. I worked there for about nine months and never once dropped a tray. And those trays were huge-like five and six platters worth of food. On my last night of employment there, I mentioned to someone that I had never dropped a tray. I jinxed myself. At the end of the shift, after I had punched out I went to say goodbye to the kitchen because I was moving the next week. The food runner who was still on was all of a sudden weeded so I said I would take the last tray out as I left. My swan song, you might say. Of course I dropped it. Fajitas, enchiladas, rice and beans all over the place. Seriously? My last tray is the one I dropped as I am doing them a favor? I cleaned that shit up and got the hell out of Juanita’s.
When I worked at Houlians’s, we played a game sometimes that involved dropping a tray on purpose. The point of the game was to drop a tray on purpose. All you would do was pick up a tray and then drop the tray on purpose. It’s fun to break stuff. Ah, Houlihan’s…good times.