You face a daunting week of several doubles and handling a couple of big-time events for the first time since you were hired. You are uneasy, uncertain. And totally on your own.
You kind of freak out as you share these fears with a couple of friends who are likely becoming bored to tears by the topic. “You’ll be fine,” they say. “You always are.”
Not really. But, you go with that. Because you want to keep your friends, after all.
You end up enjoying a complicated tasting with one couple, because they laugh at your jokes when you work to put them at ease. This, in turn, puts you at ease. Later, you end up bonding pretty well with another client who had the potential to be extremely high maintenance as she planned a dinner for 200. Walk-in potential clients parade through your door, the phones ring in harmony, the email never ceases. But you just deal with it.
The first in a succession of large events goes off with only minor hitches: a slammed open bar by of-age, college-aged guests who preferred to pound drinks rather than nibble roasted chicken, which led to a logjam of orders when the gin ran dry. Eventually, the chicken was eaten, the gin was replenished, and the organizers asked hopefully if they would be allowed back. “Of course,” I told them, because they had behaved as graciously or better than some groups of older guests I’ve seen in other places.
But the true test, the real deal, is the next day’s wedding reception. No messing that up; not even a maybe about that. It has to be perfect. You have to be perfect.
You are extremely thankful that your captain and the staff on hand know exactly what to do and how to do it and how to help you learn how to do it. You watch a finely tuned machine make it happen, even when the predictable, minor glitches that would derail some scenes in other places, are barely a blip here.
And you remember to place the photos just so on the guest book table, even as you fret about whether the friend will remember to bring the guest book. You arrange the cake table, remembering to ask someone to wrap and ice the champagne, and you somehow manage not to ding the icing when a vase of flowers threatens to crash down on it.
You remember to cue the band for the first dance and the toasts and the cake cutting. You remember to put out the mints and the tiny bells for guest favors. You remember, throughout the night, to keep your suit sleeve from getting too close to the votive candles when you reach to clear drink glasses and empty plates.
And suddenly one of the biggest days in this family’s life is over. The bride hugs you, mom and dad urge you to use them as a reference, and you have to admit to feeling a little teary as the bride and groom wave goodbye to their guests and depart for the rest of their new lives together.
And you hope you thanked the staff enough for making you look like a pro.
You exhale the breath you’ve been holding for six straight days.
It won’t always be perfect; I won’t always be perfect. It won’t always be easy, because it is a part of the business that can trip you up in a flash, and I have tripped often of late. Maybe I can look forward to tripping less frequently, having survived going solo into the wilds.
Cue tomorrow’s show.