My name is Amanda H. Miller. And I am a waitress.
I have created this blog as a tribute to the work that has brought me so much freedom and happiness. It only recently occurred to me that I’ve slighted this profession all of my adult life, leaving it off resumes, out of casual conversations and neglecting to post it on my Facebook page.
While I’ve waitressed and cooked and hosted at restaurants from New York to Alaska since I was a teenager, I’ve also been a newspaper reporter all these years. That’s the profession I list on loan applications and the one I would have put on dating Web sites if I’d ever lived in a city with more than 5,000 men.
Some friends and family members may not have even known I am a closet service worker.
But this work has brought me such solace and balance. I always look forward to leaving the newspaper for my waitressing shifts where it’s almost always so busy there’s no room in my head for anything but elk chops and tenderloins, sweet potatoes, French fries, Bud Lights and margaritas.
If there is a moment, it’s nice to talk to people about where they’re from and if they’re enjoying their vacations instead of how many DUI arrests the police made or how the school kids did on their standardized tests.
And it’s so fulfilling to open that little black book left on the table to find $12, $20, $110 just for me (and the bussers, bartenders and stewards). I like the suspense leading up to it and I like guessing at what people will leave. I like being right and sometimes I love being wrong.
This work has filled my pockets with green bills and my bank account with enough digits to allow me a freedom few have these days.
The freedom to quit.
I’ve given notice at both my jobs in the midst of the worst economy since the Great Depression.
“Congratulations,” the guy who works at Blue Cross said to me today when I told him I was quitting my job, the one with health insurance benefits. “ You don’t hear that much these days. A lot of people are getting laid off. But I don’t know of anyone quitting.”
The plan was to spend the holidays with my family and then four months bumming around South America – purposely unemployed. Then, tentatively, to wait tables and try to write something other than newspaper articles.
The plan has gotten mixed reactions. Jackson Hole is a pretty amazing place, full of more natural beauty than any other place in the continental United States. A lot of people wonder why I would leave, especially when my job (the newspaper gig) is so good. I can drink beer at lunch some days, ski in the backcountry before work and hike in the Tetons on my lunch break.
Most people, though, think my plan is brilliant. They smile and call me brave.
I am grateful to live in a time when the line between brave and crazy is so fuzzy.
To add an extra dash of “brave” to this plan, I’ve decided to attempt to be a waitress in every country I visit in South America.
This extra “brave” addition to my travel plans is perfect for a few reasons.
- I’m wildly interested in immigration and illegal workers. What better way to dig deep into the issue than to BE an illegal worker?
- Working in a fast-paced restaurant environment will force me to amp up my Spanish. Even if no one ever hires me, the interviews will be good practice.
- It will help me pay for some of this “brave” adventure.
- I will have something relevant to blog about on this site I insisted on naming “Excuse me, waitress.”