BAR HARBOR, MAINE — Most waiters would be anxious if you asked them to serve the president of the United States, especially on 15 minutes’ notice.
For Mark Currier, it was worse. It was only his sixth day on the job.
Currier, 28, who serves at Stewman’s Lobster Pound, a quaint waterfront restaurant, was scheduled originally as a food runner.
The team, however, was short on staff for the night, so Currier’s manager enlisted him as a server.
Though confident he could handle his new responsibilities, Currier said Saturday he wasn’t prepared for his manager’s next, and highly unexpected, notification:
“You’re going to be serving President Obama.”
Currier, of Boca Raton, Fla., said he responded in shock: “You’ve got to be kidding me. You do realize it’s my sixth day here.”
His protests were to no avail. Currier’s manager already had told Secret Service agents the first family would be sitting in his section.
“Oh, no,” Currier said he mumbled when the first family’s boat docked.
His manager cheered him on: “You got ’em. Just act like you always do.”
Currier, who said he had never worked as a server before, said his heart was throbbing when he took the first family’s order.
“I was terrified. I was shaking and stuff. The first few words on my notepad were pretty hard to read, but I calmed down eventually.”
Currier said the first lady and the president both ordered lobster; the children had shrimp baskets and split a blueberry pie for dessert.
Currier declined to divulge the amount of a presidential tip, saying only: “He took good care of me.”
For his first night as a server, Jeff Buffington, Stewman’s general manager, was very pleased with Currier’s performance.
“He did a really good job,” Buffington said. “For someone as inexperienced as him, he acted like a pro.
“Michelle gave me two thumbs up when they left.”
Though accustomed to high-profile visits — former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell dined there last week — Buffington said the Obamas’ visit was particularly exhilarating.
“It was definitely exciting,” he said. “It was an honor to host the president’s family.”
Friday morning, the day of Obama’s unannounced visit, Currier said he had awoke feeling tired, thinking: “I really don’t want to go to work today.”
He said he had “no idea that I was going to serve anyone, much less the president of the United States.”
After the Obamas left, he said his co-workers were incredulous. One of them said, “I can’t believe that you got to serve him. That’s so cool. This is your sixth day on the job and I’ve been here six years. I can’t believe you got that.”
Currier, who graduated in May from the University of Central Florida with a degree in hospitality management, said the experience was a confidence boost.
“It’s a good thing for my résumé. It’ll be the first thing on my list,” he chuckled, “even before my name.”
After the Obamas departed, Currier said he told the hostess not to seat anyone in his section right away.
“I’m going to need a little break,” he said.
Source: The Portland Press Herald, July 20, 2010, Rookie waiter draws Obamas’ table, by Stephen Burklin