Monday, June 21, 2010

Free of Charge

"Sometimes I don't believe in things..." I keep thinking that: Sometimes I don't believe in things.

Last night, I was sitting with the rest of Sunday night's servers in booth 11. We were trading stories of tables we'd waited on and the hell they'd put us through, most often without reward. We started sentences with "I hate it when" and found, much to our comfort, we have all been through it, and we all hated it "when..." I'll tell you, people are a different breed of beast in a restaurant; and maybe they're the same entitled jerks from parking lots and lines and baseball games who make going out in public a bit like entering a war zone. Or maybe their pain-in-the-assness is limited to food venues. Whatever the case, something must happen to them on the walk back to their table that makes them entirely unpleasant to serve.

If you've waited tables, I expect you know all about it. You've had the people who become mute when they need things, only able to gesture or hold their half-empty glasses up in the air. "Yes, I see you..." There are the people who talk at you while you're with another table. Like obnoxious children, they interrupt until you acknowledge them. And then, there are the most fun, the people who have discovered that whatever they tell you to do, you will do. These people are gruff and short and demanding, conveniently without the ability to say please or thank you or "when you get a second". Oh, they make us dance. Beyond these, there are more people, all of varying degrees of difficulty. Of course, not everyone who walks through the doors of a restaurant is looking to take a chunk out of a servers heart, chew on it and spit it out because it wasn't good enough. (Do I sound bitter?) There are the rare and beautiful ones who laugh with you and wait patiently and without irritation. And yes, tip well. We need those people, when the dinner shift is long. And it is long.

But throughout last night's talk, I heard my co workers say again and again that waiting tables has made them lose... "something" with people as a whole. And I'd have to agree, I used to think I was good at reading people, good at interacting with them. But the truth of it is, sometimes the people who ran me ragged left the most decent tips and sometimes the people who were the nicest left me nothing. I can say the absolute identical thing to one table that I say to another and have two polar opposite reactions. Awesome. Statistically, waiting tables takes years off of some people's life.

Anyway- all of this to say that sometimes I don't believe in decent tips or gracious people or even on occasion, decent people.

1 comment:

  1. Hey you. Been browsing your blog after Steven showed it to me.
    Have you read the book "Waiting"? I can't remember the author but it's all about the woes of food service and waiting tables. It's a good read. My friend Beth (hurray for friends named Beth!) suggested it to me the summer I was a food runner at PF Changs. I wasn't even a server, I was below a server and yet had all the same expectations of a server. It was awful. Ranks up in the top three worst jobs I've ever had, I'd have to say.
    Check out the book if you get a chance. Love ya dear friend.