“This isn’t what I ordered.” For servers, this statement is equivalent to dipping your French fries into a deep fryer full of poison. “Can you send this back to the kitchen?” is worse than getting a chicken bone wedged in between the walls of your esophagus. And “there’s no way I’m paying for that” is a death sentence. There’s also my personal favorites, which include: “The noodles in my stir fry are too close together” and “ excuse me Miss, but there’s coffee in my cappuccino.” Throw in some “what do you mean I don’t get a discount? I know the owner!” and you’ve heard my day. I’ve been in the serving industry for six years. It’s a noble-but stressful profession. Ask anyone who has done it for at least thirty-five minutes.
Customers, also known as “tables” in the serving industry can be sweet and kind. However if their bacon isn’t extra crispy, prepare yourself for a combination of both the Incredible Hulk and- a thirteen-year old girl experiencing her first zit.
The serving industry has taught me many things. Such as, how to balance a dozen plates on one arm, and pour a cup of coffee-without spilling it onto a customer’s pants. But more importantly, it has taught me to identify the difference between a good table and a bad table.
A good table is easy to spot. Their mouths are always jam-packed with food, resembling a patient who just got their wisdom teeth removed. They place their left over gum onto a napkin, as opposed to the table. They don’t ask for half a slice of cheese on their burger, and expect a reduction in cost. Their veins don’t pop out when you tell them the restaurant ran out of Blue Cheese dressing. They write their phone number on a left over debit slip. They tip you with a Visa card-or anything but change. Finally, a good table remembers that you’re human.
A bad table is hard to miss, as they radiate like the gates of Hell –to put it lightly. A bad table struts into the restaurant as though they’re on America’s Next Top Model. A bad table demands your attention as you run around like Kate Plus-Eight hundred. A bad table expects a VIP pass as opposed to a roll of cutlery and a placemat. A bad table specifically asks redundant questions to irritate their server: “Excuse me Miss, but exactly which body of water did you catch your lemon pepper cod?” A bad table thrives on complicated orders: “What do you mean I have to have cheese on my Poutine?” A bad table forgets how to pronunciate common words like “please” and “thank you”. A bad table is oblivious to the busyness of the restaurant-this is not a Rihanna song and we cannot always make you feel like the only customer in the world. A bad table complains about-everything. If you don’t like the texture of your string beans, than cook your own string beans at home. There, problem solved.
We’re servers, we have notepads not super powers. Next time you’re out for dinner remember, your servers are people too. We go home and creep our 578 friends on Facebook, just like you. We pay our cell phone bills, just like you. We wear regular clothes-not aprons, just like you. We enjoy being waited on, just like you. Finally, we have good days and bad days, just like you.
For future reference, the customer may always be right but the server always gets the last glance at the plate.