Kubrick, Stanley, photographer. Family dining in the Pump Room at the Ambassador East Hotel in Chicago, showing the maitre d'hôtel arranging display of food on a rolling tray and a chef carving meat next to the table. Illinois Chicago, 1949.

Table 10 Tipped 10%

A poem about restaurant service.

Saturday night service is a procession
of gluttonous tongues and hands, 

neverending, impatient eyes, mouths
welcomed in with smiles. 

Suits and their scotch watch me walk, watch me try not to slip in their oily approval. 

One of their wives writes a 3 star review about my spaghetti straps: Revealing. I wonder if she knows it’s August. 

The hostess in training is too eager,
a fly in the kitchen. 

The boss corners a waitress in the back.
She slips out with the runners, 

delivers the crudités to table 10 with unwavering enthusiasm, pinches me as she passes. Her eyes are alarms. 

When she finishes her shift, I lean against the dumpster in my little black dress. We share a silent cigarette, 

languid in the liquid tar of midnight.
Her skin is whiskey under a streetlamp. 

The trainee buzzes by. I need a ride, she announces, her arthropod eyes pointed at me. 

The waitress flicks the stub, grinds the gasping ember into the asphalt. I have to get home anyway, I lie. 

I drive her home with the windows down.