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
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
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
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
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,
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!