Me and Denny: My Teen Memories of Summer by Kimberly Sabatini

In case you're wondering--Denny was never my boyfriend. We had a completely different kind of relationship and it wasn't always pretty. I can even prove it. If you look closely you'll see the "very attractive" outfits I was wearing during my teenage summers and spring breaks. * shudders *

Every summer I read books and dreamt about sleep-away camps, new best friends and the perfect summer romance. I wanted the chance to reinvent myself. But instead I wore a hideous, green, polyester uniform and waited on ALOT of obnoxious families pit-stopping on their drive to their vacation destination. But I'm an optimist and I'm here to tell you that several really great things came out of my time serving Grand Slams...

*I went to college on the "Denny's Scholarship Fund." Due in part, to my amazing ability to charm more than one senior citizen and hustle like waitressing was an Olympic event, I got through four years of college with only one small school loan.

*I also learned not to take my college education for granted because I knew exactly what I had to do to earn it.

*With the help of a lovely, fellow waitress named Pat, I now know why you NEVER heat up hard boiled eggs in the microwave. That table of ladies, who hit the ground like a land mine was going off, probably still tells that story too.

*I learned that, no matter how hard you try to do everything right, you will find a dead fly in Al Roker's kid's chocolate milk after you've served it. (I'm just waiting for one of my books to hit it big time so I can go on TV and laugh about this story with him.)

*I also learned that Karma has your back. There were two rude ladies with several obnoxious kids who made the BIGGEST mess I've ever seen under a table. A mess so gigantic I needed a shovel to clean it up, but since I didn't have one, I was down on my hands and knees. It was when I was down on the floor underneath table three, fuming because they didn't leave a tip, that I realized they'd dropped a $20.  Any other time I would have run it out to the people as they were still getting into the car. This time I just smiled and waved.

*I learned a lot about the power of earworms (An earworm is a catchy piece of music that continually repeats through a person's mind after it is no longer playing.) I started off almost every Saturday morning by sneaking up on Bonnie and singing the Hanes Underwear commercial to see if she'd still be singing it at the end of our shift. * grin * She always was.

*I discovered that the best and most respected managers know how to do everything their staff is supposed to do. They pitch in when needed. They are respectful and fair. Anything less than this caused huge problems.

*I was pleased to learn, more often than not, happiness is contagious. If you proof a senior citizen for a 65+ meal they will find you charming. And if you ask someone to "walk this way" and proceed to the table waddling like a duck--there is always one cool person who will waddle after you.

*I'm not sure why this learning curve was so hard for some people---BE NICE TO THE COOKS!!!!! They will bury your checks, screw up your orders and do mean things to your own breakfast if you get on their bad side. And yes, they did have bets about who would be the first waitress to cry every day. Seriously--life lesson--do not bite the hand that feeds you.

*You do not want to deep clean a juice dispenser or a hot fudge pump. Avoid that job any chance you get.

*Murphy's Law--the less money you made that day, the more side work (cleaning) had to be done.

*I really love crispy hash browns.

*The more miserable a job, the better the stories and memories become. Life is cool like that.

Tell my your best Denny's story--I know you have one.


  1. Kim, this cracked me up. Your Denny's summers sound like my Ponderosa days. I will add that cleaning ketchup caps beats out cleaning juice dispensers. Or maybe that is a tie.

  2. No Denny's moments...They didn't extend into the Maine wilderness until long after I was out of college, but I loved this post because it was so true and the images were easy to 'see' as I was reading it. I had a slightly similar experience during college as I worked in the main campus dining hall and learned that NO group ever made bigger messes than the football players.

    1. I flipped burgers there too. I look very attractive in their uniform also. <3

  3. Love that last lesson. Life IS cool like that...

  4. A good sense of humor is never wasted. Love your Denny's memories!

  5. You are so lucky to have gotten such a wonderful scholarship. I would really love to hear more about the egg story. This is a wonderful post. Thank you for sharing this with us.

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