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Diet or Regular This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Iwas halfway through my shift and the line was out the door. My feet hurt and myshirt was soaked from a drink that had slid off my tray. I approached my tablewith a smile, hoping the couple would return the gesture.

It was a rough,but typical, night for a waitress. The two women sitting in the booth complainedabout the noise from the kitchen, thinking I was the hostess, then laughed as Idropped a whole tray of appetizers. I gave the women their bill, trying to fake asmile. I accepted their rudeness, low tip, and moved on to my nexttable.

There sat a party of ten who were only a few years older than me. Itried to ignore their smart comments and silverware clanging to the floor. Theircigarette smoke made my eyes water. Waiting patiently for them to order, I triednot to worry about the six other tables that needed my attention. The girls, ondiets of course, ordered salads which were all different: no onions, no peppers,no tomatoes. The salad dressing had to be on the side. I got a bit irritated withthe girls' giggling remarks about my stained shirt as I cleaned up the pop theyhad spilled.

The older, impatient couple at my next table immediatelycomplained about the dirty silverware, thinking I was the dishwasher. They werein a hurry and requested I rush their order. Of course the other busy waitresseswouldn't mind if I put my order in before theirs! I set their drinks down, hopingI wouldn't confuse the regular one with the diet, but they declared, "Thepop is too sweet, we want coffee instead." When they left, I guess I wasn'tsupposed to mind their 30-cent tip, as if we lived in the 1920s.

Myfavorite customers of the night were three guys who didn't look much older thanme and wanted a pitcher of beer. Not old enough to handle their order, I had toget another waitress (which I'm sure irritated her). When she turned them downfor being too young, I took over the table again. They made a few choice commentsthat made me laugh, and I relaxed a little.

My next table was an olderItalian gentleman sitting alone. He was one of our regulars, and assumed I hadtime to listen to his problems. He must have mistaken me for his marriagecounselor or psychiatrist. I really didn't mind listening to his stories, but myother tables eyed me angrily.

The crowd finally slowed and I begancleaning up. The salt and pepper shakers were emptied and run through thedishwasher, the booths wiped down, the waitress station stocked, and the floorsswept.

Ten minutes before closing time I thought I heard the frontdoors open and hoped I was dreaming. A couple entered and seated themselves at myclean booth. I wasn't in the mood for smart comments or ridiculous complaints. Tomy surprise, the couple was polite, patient and understanding, and I was able tosmile sincerely at my one and only nice table of the evening.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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