New York City, my current restaurant gig at the time in the Meat Packing District. If we thought the one in Tribeca was high pressure, girl did we have a thing coming. Of course, we want to take care of all of our guests, BUT, when you have a leader whose life is defined by her VIP list you better be damn sure you are ready to have that star-effer up your ass. Night after night after night, hour after hour after hour, minute after minute after, you get the point. It was always the same few servers that were given the honor to serve them. And got the same amount of tips as everyone else I might add. These selected few were not necessarily the most skilled or knowledgable at their job but were exploited for their looks or nationality. After all, we served SE Asian cuisine and this was NEW YORK CITY baby.
This particular evening the place was loaded and the pressure was on. You see, it was Tom Cruises first time in any of our restaurants and boy was she in heat. First his guests arrived, Mr. and Mrs. Will and Jada Smith. Then, after about 30 minutes comes a handsome, smiling Tom Cruise strolling towards the table, followed by three linebackers. He spoke like a bro and was extremely charming and upbeat. I didn’t want to like him, but I did. He’s a good-looking fellow of average height and was a regular kinda guy; with three linebackers, who kept getting in our way. The space was crowded enough. And it didn’t seem like his server was getting enough air this evening or something. Yes, she was up her ass but she should have been use to that by now. Or was this the breaking point??!!
YES IT WAS! Did you ever have a server who just stared at you, blank in the eyes? And walked away without saying anything leaving you to wonder if she got your order correctly. She did just that, to Tom Cruise. And that was just the beginning. Tom asked another server, me, to check that the order was taken correctly. When I checked on it, the server started slurring, “I don’t give a shit if it’s Tom Cruise or Will Smith. “F” them.” And repeated it louder. To a response, “Is everything ok Ma’am?”, from one of the linebackers who happened to position himself right in front of our side station. She looked at him and said, “Do not call me Ma’am.” Oh boy, this is when I really knew we had to do something. Like get her off the floor and away from her to save her job. We did. But not without any repercussions. She pleaded prescription meds and I don’t believe the Movie-stars had any clue what was happening, even though, we never did see them again.
Well, I did actually. Fast-forward six years. I am now in Los Angeles, trying to bribe a homeless man to get out of our garbage in the back alley. Tom Cruise was expected any moment and with so much paparazzi always at the front, he would be entering through the back. As I held a bottle of soda, it was all I could grab under the pressure, and begged him kindly to move on he said, “Oh my god, you’re Tom Cruise! Hello sir.” And sure enough as I turned around there he was, smiley and handsome Tom Cruise strolling towards the back door “Hello gentleman”, he said, and entered.