In May of 2012, I was hired to work as a server for a high-end restaurant downtown Cleveland. Like any new job I was thrilled and nervous—albeit slightly. On my first day, I was warned by the head server, “Listen. We’ve got this VIP who comes in every day. He even has a reserved seat,” pointing to a name plate sitting on the bar, adding, “Don’t talk to him unless he talks to you. He’s gotten a lot of people fired from here—if he doesn’t like them.”
So, I didn’t talk to this VIP for weeks. Well, other than just a “Hello.” And the stories of him, as told to me by my new colleagues, during our back-of-the-house side-work, weren’t exactly raving reviews. They were downright nasty, to tell you the truth. You’d think this VIP was pompous.
As the weeks rolled on, I actually had gotten to know this VIP outside of “the stories.” Truthfully, he is arrogant and rude when he’s had more than his tolerance-level for his juice—Grey Goose. Often, he refers to a female bartender, whom he adores, “Girl, I need another one,” or “Girl, get over here,” and sometimes he’s incredibly inconsiderate sitting upon his throne—on the superior side of the bar. That’s just the way he is. I can accept that, because there’s so much more to him than that. It’s just one side of him. To say that this VIP was colorful would be an understatement. Yes, he’s a larger man with a flashy style, including a few brilliant babbles, matching his haughty personality, but he has a larger-than-life heart, too.
Overtime I had noticed that he would introduce patrons to other patrons. If someone said they needed help with something, he’d reply, “You know, I am going to introduce you to…He’s an expert with things like that.” He’s a master networker, to say the least.
He’s the publisher of a local magazine and I’d asked him questions about it. If there’s one thing that turns me on, more than making money, it’s business. I like reading about corporate structure, companies and particularly successful people—their journey, failures, and rise to overcome the obstacles. That’s the meat and potatoes of this VIP’s diversity-driven periodical. Nice.
Anyway, one day, he brought me the latest issue of his magazine. I devoured it. He continued to bring me the newest issue for months. And I was no one really—one who would add to his sphere of influence. Just a waitress. But he’d do little things like that. Thoughtful things. Slowly, we had gotten to know one another. I wouldn’t say we’re friends, but we’re good acquaintances. For some reason he’s always interested in my dating life. “Oh, nothing exciting on that front, Mr. VIP.” So, he’d think of people he could set me up with. And I would often hear about his travels to LA, NYC or Miami, and he’d show me pictures of his “friends” there, asking me my opinion about certain men.
But, he knew my G-spot was business, not necessarily “dating.” So, he started introducing me to major decision makers and powerful business people in this city. Not that they really wanted to meet a waitress or thought I was anything near their professional intelligence, but it meant a lot, to me, that Mr. VIP made the introduction, most genuinely and on my behalf.
I heard some sad news last night. Mr. VIP had a stroke and is in a coma, and most probably will never recover, completely. So I have been thinking about him, a lot.
Thinking about why I like him so much, even when he’s goosed. And I’ve realized I’d rather know a “Character,” with many colors, like Mr. VIP, than know a one-dimensional, always proper person. That would make life so, so boring.
Mr. VIP is a kaleidoscope.
And I pray that those colors keep on glowing…