For many moons, or ever since my latest diatribe against bad service in restaurants, I've owed a slab of equal time to waitresses. The accounts are squared as of today, thanks to Sharon Campbell, a 17-year-old waitress from Bethesda. Here's her version of restaurant life as seen from the other side:

"We smile at the elderly couple who complains to us that the prices for food are exorbitant--when God knows we cannot afford it ourselves.

"We smile as Mommies allow their children to spread ketchup from one end of the section to another.

"We smile when vegetarians demand that all animal fat be cleaned from the grill before our food touches their lips.

"We smile as the lecherous man on Table 72 licks his chops and says 'Use your imagination' when asked what he would like for dessert.

"We are courteous when people ask us to bring another plate of fries--this time unsalted.

"And we do it all for subminimum wage. . . .

"Please, restaurant patrons, be kind to your waitress. Chances are her job is a lot more demanding than yours."

Jessica Sams of Silver Spring was as excited as a 13-year-old ballet dancer could be. She was off to the Bahamas with her troupe to give a series of performances. But to save money, the gang had decided to go to Florida by bus, then to the Bahamas by plane. It was at a restaurant in Kenley, N.C., beside Interstate Rte. 95, that Jessica's trip nearly ended just as it was beginning.

Somehow, she left behind her wallet containing $50 in cash. Worried that she'd have to come home, afraid that her parents would be angry at her, Jessica sat in the bus and turned from thrilled to distraught in a big hurry.

But Norman Richardson came to the rescue. Norman manages the Hardee's restaurant in Kenley, and he was on the phone to Jessica's mother, Susan, within 30 minutes of the time Jessica had left her wallet on his counter. In very short order, Norman arranged to mail the wallet (and the money) back to Silver Spring.

But by now, Jessica was halfway to Fort Lauderdale, penniless. She could have borrowed from her fellow dancers or one of the chaperones, but her parents wanted her to have her own money. So they wired $50 to Jessica, and called James Roath, president of State Airlines, the charter service that the dancers planned to use to fly to the Bahamas, to tell him the money was on the way.

But by flight time, it hadn't gotten there. So Roath, taking the word of a strange voice on the telephone, handed Jessica $50 of his own money as she boarded the plane. He would rather have done that, he told Susan Sams, than risk having a little girl be disappointed.