Dear Jurassic Park Professor Guy:
Or at least, that’s who I thought you were. The other waitresses and I watched as you came in, an old man in your sixties or seventies, in a white button-up shirt and khaki pants, walking with a cane, wearing a wide safari hat. You had white hair and a beard. You, sir, were a spitting image, as I remembered it.
“Doesn’t that guy who just walked in look like the professor from Jurassic Park?” I asked Clara, another waitress. I hoped she would agree with me. I didn’t want to be the only one to see it.
“Yeah!” she said after a pause to consider it. “Wouldn’t it be cool if it was him?”
That confirmed it. You were, at the very least, a look-a-like, and that automatically set you apart from the rest of my customers who were ordinary, bland, impatient. I hoped that I would be the one to wait on you.
“Julia. A-1 is one,” Nadine called to me over the din of diners. Score one for me.
Admittedly, I was a little nervous. I was in the act of committing the waitress faux-pas: I was chewing gum. It’s true that this is a stereotypical image. A waitress: loudly, confidently chewing gum and asking “What can I getcha?” whilst staring out behind heavily made up eyes. I tried not to be one of them. I was just a part-timer. This wasn’t my career and I didn’t want to act like it was. The fact was, though, Clara was handing out spearmint gum like Halloween candy just a half hour before, and I couldn’t resist it at the time. I have also had enough experience with short lived gum flavours to know that you should chew a piece until the flavour is gone. Do you know that they teach you in school that chewing gum when you do public speaking is incredibly unprofessional? I wonder why waiting tables isn’t included in that list. But I digress.
I worried about spitting out my gum for a moment, then forgot. I grabbed the silverware, napkin, and placemat we were required to bring to every table. I wondered for the eight hundredth or so time why we don’t just set the tables from the start.
When I got to your table, I was hoping that I would say, “Hey, didn’t you play the professor on Jurassic Park?” and I was hoping you’d present with the same British accent as in the film and say, “Yes! I can’t believe you recognized me!” or “No, but I keep hearing I look like him!”
But I didn’t.
“Good afternoon.” I had smiled wide. “Would you like some coffee?”
“No thanks.” Too low. I couldn’t tell if you had an accent.
“Large Pepsi, please.”
I held out hope for the accent, and asked what you would like to eat.
You ordered a sandwich, a boring one. Tunafish or something.
“Does it come with fries?” you asked.
No, of course not. Just chips and a pickle. You would have known that if you had read the menu. I told you in fewer words, and sprinkled on a smile. Inside, I frowned. No accent.
I returned with your large Pepsi, hoping that you would magically have the accent when I placed it on the table, but of course I was disappointed. I was eighteen, and I should have known better than to believe in the crap they put on the SyFy channel.
I could barely control myself. I wanted to ask you about working with the idea of dinosaurs being alive in modern times, and what went behind making them look real and all sorts of things. The pin on my purse has an “I” and a heart, and a green brontosaurus. It conveys that I heart dinosaurs, and I do, and I did then, too.
The rest of our interactions were short, boring, normal. I handed you the check in the artful way waitresses are trained to do; only after glancing at you and seeing an empty plate, and asking if you would like dessert, are we allowed to delicately place the check on the table — face down, of course.
As I recall, you did not leave a tip, and this greatly disappointed me. It was not the first time I had been stiffed, even though I provided, at the very least, adequate and polite service. One time, these two old ladies told me I was a very nice girl, and they thought I was a good waitress. They told me that after they had been there for two hours and finally asked for blueberry pie for dessert. They stiffed me, too. Maybe the compliment was my tip, but it sure as hell didn’t pay for gas. They haven’t yet invented Hybrids that switch between running on gas and happy thoughts. Again, I digress.
A part of me still thought that you were that actor, and that part of me said, “The Jurassic Park guy wouldn’t be a jerk. He would tip a waitress.” I waited for Nadine to hand me money from you, the change from your bill, or charged to a credit card. She gave me that look that said, “Nothing left on the table, huh? What an ass.”
Sir, actor or not, you should tip your waitress.
Your Dinosaur-loving Waitress