Back in the Saddle

I have returned to serving food at one of the region's best restaurants.

I left this restaurant two years ago to take a position at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. There, I assisted both the Marketing and Development departments in raising funds for, and promoting, the renovation of old Dinosaur Hall into arguably the world's finest dinosaur exhibit, Dinosaurs in Their Time. This was a $36 million capital campaign project.

I raised funds via approaching corporations and arguing for their commitment to our region's cultural health via "sponsaurship" of individual dinosaurs within the exhibit.

Then, two months before the exhibit opened, I acted as project manager for the public portion of the campaign, called Adopt-A-Bone. This program allowed people to log on to our dinosaur Web site, select a favorite dinosaur, and adopt individual dinosaur bones, ranging from $25 to $10,000, on behalf of themselves or others. All designated "adoptees" received an artful Certificate of Adoption and a permanent listing of their names within the exhibit.

My position ended with the opening of the exhibit. I enjoyed a couple of months off, which enabled me to test retirement early. (I'm going to need projects when I retire.) The restaurant's GM graciously agreed to welcome me back a week ago, and I am happy to be back. I retrained for two nights and began work officially last Sunday.

Serving is a tiring job and not for everyone. It can be lucrative, and the hours are more appealing to some than others. Some, I feel, get trapped in the position and this can lead to bitterness. I have always enjoyed it, but have also been grateful for my time off from it.

I have found that I have easily slipped back into being a waiter. I really don't think I've lost a step. I'm relatively organized-- serving at a busy restaurant requires much juggling, multi-tasking, and prioritizing-- and I certainly enjoy discussing food, drink and other topics with guests.

Of course, it requires some adjustment on the home front. I feel guilty that I'm less able to prepare tasty dinners for us. On Sunday I had to leave a wonderful brunch to go to work. But it just requires a little more planning, is all.

It is servile work, but I have to admit, I'm quite good at it. I genuinely enjoy helping people select a good meal, and perhaps entertaining them a bit in the bargain.

See you at the restaurant. Ask me for a wine recommendation. Get the scallops, followed by the lamb.