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My Brush with Greatness

I worked at the Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis from 1990 to 1992, about 18 months of what seemed a lot like
military duty. I was hired just a month after they opened that hotel. I was a Banquets waiter, but I wanted
to make the real money in one of their restaurants. Banquet waiters are stuck with whatever they can get
the hotel to pay them by the hour. Restaurant waiters make their money in tips, and working at the Ritz,
I thought I was there to get rich. But not at $9 an hour when I should have been making $30-50 per hour.

After a few months with a clean record in Banquets, I weaseled my way into working part of the time at
The Restaurant (great name--catchy!). But they'd only let me work breakfast and lunch. and never let me
near the gravy money at nights.

One fine Sunday morning I approached the crisp white-linen tablecloth two-top (industry term for a table
for two), and sitting there in his finest polyester pinstripes and American flag/Gold cross lapel pin was none
other than the Very Blessed and Reverend Doctor Jerry Falwell. I recognized him immediately, and the image
of the Hustler parody ad was all I could think about. I literally had to keep myself from snickering in this man's face.
I actually owned a copy of that magazine, what was it, late 70s or early 80s, and had seen it when it first appeared,
little knowing that a landmark Supreme Court case as well as a major motion picture would come from it.

He was with some other loser in a cheap suit--dining at the Ritz, with me, their smiling waiter, refusing to identify
the VIP, as per our very strict rules and guidelines. It was only natural that a famous schmuck like Falwell would
eat at the Ritz, in order to avoid any possible confrontations by any nervy but knowledgeable wage slaves such as
myself. That, and as anyone at Liberty 'University' could tell you, the Ritz is Where Jesus Would Eat, too, right?

He ordered bacon and eggs, sunny side up (I think), white toast, coffee and orange juice.
I brought him his meal. He ignored me, tipped me average, and left.

If there's a Hell, surely he now occupies the Presidential Suite in the Hypocrites' Hotel...right where he belongs.
I had the chance to spit in his food, but I'm glad I didn't--or, at least, that's not one of my life's regrets.
I'd rather piss on his grave, and maybe I'll get the chance some day.

I also waited on Cher and Luther Vandross at the Ritz, and plenty of other famous names at other restaurants
in my 20-year career of waiting tables. That's two out of three now-DEAD celebrities I waited upon at the Ritz.
Later, Bartser!


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