Among the temporary jobs I’ve had between “real” jobs were two years working as a doorman at a co-op building in the West Village and delivering newspapers (fine when you’re a teenager, not when you’re middle-aged). My life seems to be on a downward trajectory, since the publishing industry I’ve worked in for most of my adult life has completely collapsed.
I’m trying to “think outside the box” and consider other professions/industries I wouldn’t normally consider.
The most recent among these was cater waiter (which I will refer to hereon as “CW”). How was it that I had spent my entire adult life pursuing a career as a writer/performer and had never worked as a waiter or bartender? I thought it would be glamorous and exciting, and that I would bond with my fellow writer/performers, like on that Starz TV series, Party Down. If nothing else, I might get a good blog post out of it.
There was just one problem: I didn’t have any waiting/bartending experience.
No matter. Thanks to Craigslist and a CW agency in desperate need of people, I was booked for a major party at the Museum of Modern Art. The dress code was all black which, as a New Yorker, shouldn’t have been a problem. Nevertheless, I needed to borrow (and the agency was kind enough to lend me) a black dress shirt and tie. My only black dress pants were too tight and their lining was falling apart. They would have to do.
On my way there, I saw a veritable United Nations of people in black shirts, pants and ties heading north on Sixth Avenue towards the Museum of Modern Art. Could they be my fellow CWs?
When I got to the museum, I was given my assigned area and was asked to help set up. I started talking to some of my fellow CWs, most of whom were about half my age. (I did see one middle-aged woman, with whom I exchanged knowing glances.)
I asked if any of them had seen the Woody Allen movie, Manhattan, part of which was filmed in the sculpture garden in which we were standing. They all shook their heads, “No.” I didn’t dare ask them if they knew who Bella Abzug was.
My job was to circulate throughout the party, carrying a tray of hors d’oeuvres, which seemed easy enough. With my natural people skills, I took to it like a duck to water. But those hors d’oeuvres trays were heavier than I expected. I had to alternate arms to keep from developing tendonitis!
During a break before the event officially started, the head CW told everyone to stay by their station. I took this opportunity to check my email on my cell phone. Suddenly, I realized I was the only CW in the garden. When I went inside the museum, all the other CWs were eating and all the food was gone!
CW Rule Number One: Always find out when your dinner break is scheduled.
The party went well and the extremely attractive and well-dressed guests were very polite. But I couldn’t help but think, there’s nothing like serving extremely attractive and well-dressed people to rub your nose in your how unattractive and poorly dressed you are by comparison (my all-black outfit, notwithstanding).
The other CWs were nice, too, and I gathered that a lot of them knew each other from previous gigs, as they fist-bumped each other throughout the evening.
I guess there’s a certain kind of camaraderie among CWs after a while. I wasn’t there yet but, perhaps with enough experience, I too could enter this secret society!