If you have ever desired to feel invisible — to pass through the world without drawing attention from anyone — then take it from me: The best job you can get is working as a server for a high-end catering company.
This summer job is the closest I have ever come to rubbing elbows with the cultural, ultra-moneyed elite of San Diego — the kind of people with their own drivers and opinions about shirt collar sizes. Given this reality, I am thankful that, even with my trays of champagne flutes and chive blinis with caviar, nobody notices me, or my really awful uniform. (I actually think I cut quite a figure in my men’s tuxedo pants and polyester vest, even though the hem of the pants is held together with bobby pins and the vest is missing a few buttons.) None of the guests care as long as they can hand me their wine glass when they don’t want it anymore.
These guests do have one thing going for them: they’re fun to watch. Working as a server has been the best people-watching experience I have ever had. Whether it is packs of Nike-clad groomsmenshotgunning Bud Lights in the parking lot and storming the back of the house seeking liquor before the service or a waif-like 20-something and her much older date getting handsy behind a pillar, guests at the events I work at never fail to disappoint. My personal favorite was a middle-aged man with a long mullet, a Tom Selleck mustache and a neon turquoise shirt who tried to drunkenly confiscate my tray of empty drinks to dance with me. I politely told him I needed my tray, took his empty glass and carried on like nothing happened. Less than 30 minutes later he was whipping off his shirt and tossing it away like he was a backup dancer in Magic Mike the Musical, my rejection long forgotten. This and many stories like it are the predictable side effects of an open bar and small food servings. The juxtaposition of drunken freaks dancing and grandmas quietly sipping decaf coffee is a truly beautiful thing to behold.
Early on, though, I had some major problems with strength and coordination. I can count the number of times I went to Yates my entire sophomore year on one hand, which I am not proud of, and even though I’ve been working out this summer, I’m still pretty weak. Since I’m right handed, that arm has a relatively normal level of strength for a workout-phobic college student. My left arm, though? In May, it most closely resembled Harry Potter’s arm after Professor Lockhart removed all the bones from it — floppy, limp and pretty much useless. So when thrust into situations where I have to lift, balance and carry hot plates of food for a wedding party, I have a serious problem. After my first shift, my arms were sore for four days. I’ve thankfully improved since then and now have acceptably strong wrists and lower arms, and I haven’t dropped anything yet, so I think I’ll make it.
I have developed more than just really specific arm muscles thanks to this job. The instant I walk into a venue for a wedding, I can tell if the bride is an avid Pinterest user. I call it my Super-Pin-Vision. Custom cocktails in 5 lb. mason jars? Pinterest. Sparkler tunnels and photo booths with tweemustaches on sticks? Pinterest. Milk and cookie shooters for dessert? Pinterest. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this since a lot of the ideas are actually really cute on their own, but when you combine them all, it’s a lot to take in. And mason jars are really friggin’ heavy. Remember how weak my arms are? One wedding even had a custom Instagram hashtag for guests to document their nuptials. I don’t even want to know how many of those photos I’m in the background of.
So if you happen to find yourself at a fancy event in San Diego and think one of the catering servers looks vaguely familiar, it’s probably me. Please do not say hello. Just cut loose, enjoy yourself and don’t eat the corn cakes. I get to eat all the leftovers, and they’re my favorite.