“Restaurant Gal, you’re the maitre d’ here, right?” asked the mother of a family of three who I had just seated in a booth in the bar area. Dad was reading a map; Mom was marveling at how we still had a smoking section and taking full advantage of it; Daughter was looking over a pile of papers.
“Yes, I am.” I responded a tiny bit hesitantly. You never know where these open-ended questions are headed. Because the next question could be anything from, “If you’re the maitre d’, then how come this is the best you could do for us?” to, “If you’re the maitre d’, then what else are you going to do for us?”
“Maitre d’” is an old-fashioned term laden with demanding modern-day standards. I traverse that mine field very carefully everyday.
“So, as the maitre d’, you know everything,” Mom declared.
I smiled. If she assumed I did, then I did. “Sure!”
“So, you can tell us if the places we want to go to are in a bad part of town, right?”
Whew! Yes, yes I could.
“Where are you headed?” I asked
Mom rattled off one address. “Uh, no, don’t go there,” I advised.
“See!” she said, waving a cigarette at her husband. “I told you she’d know!”
“Well, what exactly are you looking to do?” I asked. We were busy, and 20 questions wasn’t part of my game plan today.
Daughter immediately spoke up: “The armoire for my dorm room was ruined by UPS. Crushed. We have to get a new one. The closet space in my room is a joke.”
Wow, a whole armoire? My kids each got three stackable plastic drawers that doubled as a side table to help store their excess stuff.
“So, you’re looking for furniture stores?”
“Yes, CHEAP,” stressed Mom.
And they were relying on Google and Mapquest to find this cheap armoire.
“How about this one?” asked Dad, pointing to an ad on a map, certain his selection would be in the right part of town.
Okay, twenty questions was officially underway. Time to nip it.
“I have a better idea. Take the main avenue outside the restaurant up two blocks. It veers right. Stay on it. Keep going and going some more to the bypass. Head west. Look for Route 11. Take that. Every Target, Walmart, and discount place in the world is there.”
“I TOLD you she would know!” repeated mom.
“So, you know everything, huh?” laughed Dad.
If only he knew.
How little I feel like I know right now.
Do I take the hotel concierge job and wrap myself up in the safety net of 401ks, paid holidays, and discounted rooms? Maybe.
Do I take a private party planning post with a casual dining spot and simply deal with the fact that they hired a formerly fired host who I just learned is working there? Likely not.
Do I take the challenging leap into management with an untried fine-dining spot and figure I will learn the job like I have all my others–by thinking on my feet? Probably, if it is offered.
Do I know everything?
Well, I know this much–I surprise myself at how much I already know in the crazy hospitality biz.
And I know the time is just right to spread my wings.