Cheese-Point Landing 

Where waiters and diners tell tales.

Many years ago I was a waitress working in a hip coffeeshop and cafe in Chicago. It was a small, dark place with high-backed booths and a limited menu. The waitresses, all young, had to dress in black, post-beatnik style.

One busy night, my customers included two women who ordered the house special, Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. Their pizza was taking forever to emerge. They were not taking this kindly and were quite outspoken in letting me know about it. In fact, they were downright rude. The pizza was always served straight from the oven in its heavy pan, which we carried with tongs. Due to the pan's weight, it took two hands to grip the tongs.

When the pizza was finally ready, I was frazzled and tried to make one trip out of what should have been two: in one hand I carried the plates, in the other the tongs clamped onto the hefty pizza pan. Predictably, just as I reached their table the tongs slipped, the pan dropped -- and the long-delayed pizza fell cheese-down on the floor. I burst out laughing. What else could I do?

A few weeks later I was fired, supposedly for letting the ice melt in a glass of water before serving it. Evidently I was not meant to be a waitress.

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