Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Waiter's Dreams In New Orleans

Po Boy Views
Phil LaMancusa
Turpentine and Dandelion Wine
I had another restaurant dream last night, I usually get one when pulling double shifts or training new recruits, which I did last week. For those out there that have never had a waiter’s job, it goes like this: it’s a super un-naturally busy restaurant night, the place is packed, the kitchen is three miles away, your station is full and everybody wants something. You’re racing full tilt to get things done and nothing is what it should be, food is coming out wrong, customers are asking for strange things, have strange questions and identical faces. You can’t tell where you are except that you’re balls to the wall busy and running your ass off and nothing is getting done.
It’s really loud, by the time you make the distance to the kitchen, other waiters are rushing everywhere, you’ve forgotten what you came for and the cooks are screaming in a language unintelligible to you.
I imagine if someone was to look at me in the midst of this nightmare, I would appear like my dog Ginger does when she has her dreams: whimpering and jerking like she’s hooked up to an electrode. Perhaps dogs are reincarnated waiters. Things that make you go hmmmm.
I did not waken refreshed. Pensive and not refreshed. I went on a wonder and this I wondered:
What is this thing about waiter’s nametags or introductions? The “Hello, my name is Jeremy and I’ll be your waiter tonight” type of action. Personally, I go with the guy who doesn’t want to know a waiter’s name unless the waiter is going out with his daughter and maybe not even then. Specifically, I don’t go out to eat to make friends; that’s what I go to bars for. I go out to eat to be with good company, have someone cook me something yummy to eat and then have somebody else do the dishes. That’s what I’m in a restaurant to do, and unless the waiter (male or female) treats me like either one of us has the intelligence of a box of rocks, that’s what I’m here to tip well for. Customers should be like me.
Let’s start with this, what’s with these parties of eight, ten or more that think they can get a table with no reservation on a busy night and who are the boneheads that move heaven and earth, and the chair that my date has her purse on, to seat them? Those people are gonna get loud, they’re gonna throw the kitchen out of synch, with my food, and, they’ll never get the good service smaller parties do. AND, a word to parents; your two, four, six, eight, ten or twelve-year-old does NOT want to come fine dining on a Saturday night. They want to go to Burger King, Don’t get me started on split checks, cell phones or hot tea.
How about those people that drink bottled water? Don’t they know that every food they eat and every cocktail they drink is made with our local sludge? I want to say: “would you like local water, bottled water or a margarita? because you’re gonna pay as much for foreign water, with or without carbonation, as for some first rate tequila: get a clue .
And while we’re at it, what is it with the lemon with water? to me, it’s like kissing your sister, and what waiter has not spied a customer slipping some Sweet and Lo into it (or into their pocket, I might add).
Allergies? I don’t understand them. I once avoided going out with a stunning woman after she volunteered the fact that she was allergic to garlic! What kind of future could you have with someone like that? Diets? Listen, if you want to lose weight, eat less and exercise or be comfortable with who you are. Period. Especially when you go out to eat: Going out is either a sensual experience or a forage, and hopefully you know the difference. In either case, and above all, you should know why you’re there. Attention shoppers: it’s only dinner! Rule number one: the Chef knows what they’re doing. Chef know that smoked pork chops go with greens and mashed potatoes, and that Adkins was a culinary misanthropic sexually repressed pervert and the Pastry Chef considers Sugar Busters an abomination to nature. Deal with it, like I said: it’s only dinner!
You’ll be hard pressed to find a waiter that will sing the praises of most of their client’s cognizant reality concepts in and of real time. Mostly, it’s like they’ve been dropped from outer space into an eating establishment with no clue as to how they got there. Example: “Hello, (with a flourish of napkin) welcome to Chez Nez, I’m your waiter Anthony and I’ll be serving you tonight (and kissing your ass for money); can I get you a wine list or a cocktail before dinner?” Blank stare. You’re who? I’m what? We’re what? And do I want a huh? How do I work this?… You get this very very very often.
I’m of the school of “I don’t care who you are, I’m here with someone and I want strong drink right now!”
And here’s the big one: tipping. They (whoever they are) should pass out this information at our borders: waiters are paid less than half our minimum living wage by owners who insinuate that gratuities will make up for that inequity and are taxed by a government on that assumption. Simply put, I, as a server, depend on you, as a customer, to supplement my meager wage with money based on my knowledge and expertise of service. Tips (To Insure Promptness) is how I make my living. It’s a sick concept; but, it’s in place and a reality to me and the people that I am financially responsible to. To stay afloat, unless I’m a complete bonehead, you need to consider, as a client, that my service is worth a reasonable compensation, at least fifteen to twenty percent above your tab. That’s the reality of it. If you think that this is easy you’re welcome to try it. Me? I’m gonna go soak my feet and wonder why, if that overweight turkey with the cigar minded me looking down his trophy wife’s cleavage, he didn’t think to dress her better.

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