The nervous waiter and the credit card debacle

I recently wrote about how we would occasionally see celebrities in the restaurant where I worked in college. A few, who were often in town for movies they were filming, were quite the regulars. Well one such couple was Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger – back in 1993 to 1994-ish. I saw them in the restaurant numerous times (rumor had it they owned a beach home nearby) – usually together – and I was their waiter more than once. After the 2nd time, when they came in a 3rd time, Alec called me by name. Ha! We were boys! To this day, when my wife and I watch 30 Rock or see Alec on that Capital One commercial – she says – just as I am about to open my mouth…”I know, I know, you’ve told me – you guys are buddies”. Hee hee. Yeah right.

The 1st time I waited on them it was just the two of them – sitting on the water front. I was incredibly nervous walking out to their table to greet them and to tell them the specials…almost so nervous that I considered giving the table to another server. Picture yourself walking out there to speak to them like they are just normal people – which I did – but it was weird. I am sure I sounded like an idiot – I don’t recall – but they immediately put me at ease by just being normal, cool people. They were nice and their dining experience went off without a hitch.

So at the end of that meal, after Alec had given me his card, it came back declined. F&^%! What? The dude is a star – declined? Oh no I thought. It’s never pleasant to have to walk back out to a table and let the card owner know that their card was declined – especially when they are on a date – and especially when the date is Kim Basinger! Crap….what am I going to say – “Do you have another card we can try?”. “Kim? You?”.

So I grabbed the owner, Jim, and told him the deal. I was so nervous I asked him to go out here and tell him for me. His response was of course “Sorry, Wes….get on out there buddy”. Well long story short, they were cool and Alec followed me back to Jim’s office so he could use the telephone to call AMEX – he knew it was something unusual that just needed a call (I guess he left his 1993 motorola bag phone at the beach house). Funny too – while he got settled and began to look for the number on the back of the card I was just standing there looking at him….he looked up at me, smiled and I realized – oh – maybe I’ll see myself out. Good luck I thought…

Well of course all was just fine. He had been in LA the day before and it was a routine security precaution they take…they just blocked it in case it had been stolen.

I still smile when I think about how normal and every day that situation was – yet because of the people involved – it was certainly the most memorable and nerve-wracking experience as I can recall while being a waiter.