I’m at the hotel bar, filling in as a server, it’s insane busy, wrestling tournament in town. I’ve got about seven tables, I’m running around one table to the next, taking orders, delivering drinks, making sure everyone is happy. A table of eight sit down, I take care of them. They all order food, drinks, I pray for one check. Nothing worse than being busy, then having a table of eight who all want separate checks. But I somehow survive.
I get a long text from the wife. Actually four in a row. Sounds like things have hit the fan at the homestead. I go in the server’s station, take a second to read what’s going on. Earlier in the day, my 10 year-old son Liam lost a tooth. It actually came out as I was driving back to school for a parent-teacher conference right before my evening shift. He was pretty nonchalant about it. Hey, I lost a tooth. I’m like, DON’T GET ANY BLOOD IN MY CAR!!!!
Well, the text from the wife has to do with the tooth. Apparently, right before bed, when my wife is tucking him in, Liam asks the big question. Are you really the tooth fairy? In a moment of weakness, the wife admits that yes, we are actually the ones that put the money under the pillow. That DOES NOT go over well, according to the text. Liam FREAKS OUT, and gets really upset about it. No tooth fairy? What about Santa? Or the Easter Bunny? Is that you too? My wife, after a long day of work and family, doesn’t have the strength for THE TALK and says, no, no, of course Santa and the Easter Bunny exist. The last text I receive from her states simply, please bring home a 10 dollar bill for “the tooth fairy.” Yes. She quoted the tooth fairy.
Unfortunately a reality at hotel serving/bartending is you don’t get much cash tips. It’s mainly credit card tips, which is fine, whatever. So i have to figure out a way to get a 10 dollar bill. I’ve only got a fiver and a couple one’s so far. But it’s still early.
I make my way to the big table. Is there anything else I can get for you? Everybody shakes their head no. Ok, will this be separate checks, or on one? I do a silent, quick prayer. The person closest to me says, ok, I’m with him, and her. Oh Jesus, here we go. But then in a moment of pure God Send, Grandma at the end of the table raises her hand, and says, I’ll take it. Then starts a commotion, oh, no, you don’t have to do it. I silence them all, and say, great! And make a quick exit. I get the check, print it out, put it in a folder, and set it next to dear old Grandma.
I go help some of my other customers for about five minutes, then go back to the table to clear dishes, and pick up the check. At the table, an attractive, middle-aged woman gets my attention. She says, I’d like to order a round of drinks. Is that ok? I say, sure. But you’ll have to start another tab if that’s ok. She said, that’ll be fine. I’ll pay for the round. I take her order, couple glasses of Merlot, an Ultra, a Bud Light, go get it.
After about half hour, things seem to be winding down at the big table. A few people have made their exit. I go up to the woman that started the tab, and say, can I get you anything else? She says, no. I think we’re good. Excellent. I go over, run her tab, bring her the check. She gets out her card, gives it to me, I go run it, bring it back to the table, set it down. I say, thanks for being here tonight. Really appreciate it. Then she says, you know what? Can I get one more drink?
Oh Lord have mercy.
I just start laughing. It’s been such a long day. I’ve worked two other jobs before this, and I’m done. All I can do is laugh. She says, would it be easier if I just paid you cash? I say, you want another glass of wine? She says, no, just top this one off. Oh this woman. I can’t just “top her off.” I’m not bartending tonight, I can’t just go grab a bottle, and pour some more in. I say, do you just want another glass of wine? It’s like 12 dollars. She throws down a ten and a five, says, I don’t want another glass of wine. I just want you to top this off. My husband will look at me funny if I get another glass. Whatever. I grab her 1/3 full glass of wine, and the money, and make my exit.
As I’m walking to the bar, I take a deep breath. I gotta keep my cool. This table has spent over $250, I got to give them good service to the bitter end. I get to the bar, call the bartender over, say, hey, man. Can you just top this off for me? It’s the Merlot. He looks at me, says, why? I start to try to explain it, but I just give him a look that says, just please do it. He obliges, and tops off the wine. I go back to the table, set the glass down in front of the woman, set the money down in front of her, and say, don’t worry about it. That’s on me. She smiles, and says a sincere thanks.
I make my leave, go help my other customers.
After another 10 minutes, I make my way back to the big table, clear off some empty glasses, and pick up the check presenter. I drop the glasses off at the bar to be cleaned, then make my way to the server’s station, and close the door.
I open the check presenter, and the lovely woman has given me an $8 tip on the credit card receipt, and…wait for it…
A 10 dollar bill.
Oh perfect! Here’s my 10 dollar bill I was waiting for. Just in the nick of time. I start daydreaming. I should go up to the woman, and tell her briefly the story. How she’s going to be the tooth fairy tonight. You know what? I think I will. She’ll get a kick out of it, I bet. She looks like a mom. I bet she can relate.
I go back to the big table, and approach the woman. I lean down, and say, I have a funny story for you. She says, great! Let’s hear it. I tell her briefly how my son lost a tooth today, and I needed 10 dollars for the “tooth fairy.” So I really extra-appreciated the 10 dollar tip.
But she gets this strange look on her face, a reaction I wasn’t quite expecting, and then says something more magical than I could’ve ever imagined.
She says, you know I’m a dentist, right?
As if I somehow had known.