Sunday, October 25, 2009

The help

Yesterday, I went to my first bat mitzvah. Despite the numerous Jews I now count among my closest friends, I used to be a raging anti-Semite. Just kidding! The truth is that I switched schools in 7th grade and missed my window of opportunity. Also, St. Louis, MO is pretty WASP-dominated.

Yesterday was a milestone, in more ways than one. Sadly, I was not a relative or friend of the young lady celebrating her transition (in stylish black Minolos) into adulthood. I was the help.

It was my first gig with Event Temps, a company that provides food service staff for catered events (parties, weddings, mitzvahs et al). As many of you know, I returned to Boston in September hell-bent on getting a job at a certain Chicago-style pizza chain. In case I ever do get hired by this establishment, I'll refer to it here as "Dos."

It was my dream to work for "Dos": After getting groped by stuck-up Cantabs at the Hong Kong and slinging sushi at a place that never quite mastered its payroll procedures, I figured "Dos" would be a well-oiled machine. There's a location just 5 minutes from my house and it's always crowded. And yet, after applying online, following up in person and on the phone, nada. I even tried the Fenway location and interviewed, but was told they were fully staffed for the time being and to check back in a few months. So my dream to work at "Dos" is now, as Langston Hughes would say, a dream deferred.

So now I am an Event Temp. Saturday morning, I carpooled out to a synagogue in Wayland, MA to pass appetizers, fold napkins and man the soda table. In the car ride over, the other temps on my shift assured me that this sort of work was easier than waiting tables. But what I have concluded after working my first shift is that it's also less rewarding. Partly because you're supposed to be somewhat invisible -- no one is ordering off a menu and consulting you. You're just paid labor, keeping water glasses full and clearing plates. And hovering-- there was a great deal of hovering.

The event was a success; I didn't spill anything on anyone and the people seemed very nice. The kids were hyper, but partly because of my zealousness in refilling their sodas. But I did notice a few of the tweens watching us as we went about our work and I know what they were thinking. They were looking at their well-dressed parents sipping wine and looking at me, in my ill-fitting black polyester vest, pouring said wine and I'd bet they were thinking, That will never be me. Maybe not consciously, but let's face it, we were the life losers in the scenario. They were probably wondering what we had done, how we had screwed up to deserve the fate of refilling butter ramekins on a Saturday afternoon.

And I'm not gonna lie, this was a less-than-steller feeling. Waiting tables, I commanded more respect. I could talk and smile with people, do my best to make sure they had a good meal. Event Temps are supposed to be courteous but not engage much with the guests. Engaging with people is my favorite part of waitressing, so this was disappointing to discover.

I need a job, so for now, Event Temps will have to do. But "Dos," if you ever need me...I'm there. Call me!

1 comment:

J.A.G. said...

Ah yes. I just wrote a column for Seglin on Event Temps day one. Thankfully, it ended with free wedding food. And yeah, hovering is an icky feeling.