In my more thoughtful moments, I have often wondered what my purpose in this life really is. Is my deeper mission, yet undiscovered, to become a helper to humanity? Am I meant to be humbly guiding the misguided or aiding those who are bereft of the life wisdom that I possess?
I am a fucking waitress.
And I don’t have a life’s purpose, other than working and living and paying bills and occasionally having some good times with my family and 4.5 friends. I am fine with this. This is a worthy life that I am living.
But – I DO have some advice for the other people toiling away in life who may happen to find themselves in a restaurant one day. This, if you are unaware, is an establishment where food is served to you. In public. In the view of other people. BY OTHER PEOPLE.
So here is my PSA for anyone who may be unsure of how to behave in these facilities where they are suddenly confronted with really tough social situations like HAVING MANNERS and NOT STEALING SALT SHAKERS.
If you want, you can even print out this handy little list, laminate it, and give it to that friend uncle sister shitty brother in law who you dread having to go out for brunch with every year at the local swanky golf course for your moms birthday. Just slip it in the pocket of their skidoo jacket as you all head out the door, teeth gritted and smiles nailed to your faces.
1. When your server says hello to you, say hello back. You don’t even have to mean it. It can be THE MOST INSINCERE HELLO you have ever said. But you’re going to have to talk to him or her AT LEAST three times during the course of the meal and this tiny (albeit very difficult and draining I know) task can set the tone for the rest of your brief relationship. Plus, people who are not assholes respond when spoken to.
2. Don’t walk into a restaurant on your phone and then wave impatiently at the hostess or server who makes eye contact with you because they are annoyingly DOING THEIR JOB. Unless you are diffusing a bomb threat at your home or are Madonna, you are not that important. And if you are going out for a late lunch while your home is potentially being bombed, guess what? You are an asshole and probably shouldn’t even read any further because you clearly don’t care very much about other people if you don’t even care about your own home and family. And if you are Madonna, carry on doing whatever you want, always. PS I love you.
3. Try out your reading skills before you ask inane questions. If you can’t read, subtly let your server know before the awkward ordering part of the encounter begins. Presumably the people you are dining with will know that you cannot read and will take the initiative and order for you. If they don’t, they are assholes, and I am sorry that you have to eat in a restaurant with them. You should probably find new friends.
4. Know that your server doesn’t want to be your friend. They probably already have some of those, or, like me, know at least 6 or 7 people who they are pretty sure don’t want them to die. So, be secure in the knowledge that you can leave the restaurant without having gained a new acquaintance. Knowing this will allow you to look at the person who is bringing you food and drink and not dismiss them or roll your eyes at them or interrupt them when they speak so that you can ask your three-year old YET AGAIN what he did at preschool that day (the answer is nothing they seriously don’t do anything stop asking them).
5. Give your kids an iPad or a tablet or a phone if they are awful little human beings. We won’t judge you, and your snotty neighbour Cindy isn’t here to make you feel like a shitty parent. Actually, you are now in the Land of Acceptance for Lax Parenting Skills. It is great here! You get to do WHATEVER YOU WANT in order to make your child behave. In return, you will be rewarded with the happy glow on the faces of other patrons who are also fondly watching their kids stare at the blue light of a device, as well as the slow nod of approval from servers who walk by your orderly table and think “these are some solid parents right here”.
6. This should go without saying, but it doesn’t. Another human being has to touch your gum when you put it on a plate. Did your server ask you to fondle their gum? If they did, they are the asshole and you may proceed with placing your gum on the dish-ware of your choosing.
7. I have nothing to say about tipping. There are already 784 blogs and angry posts about customers who don’t tip well. It is a tired topic. What I will say though, is that if you are nice and pleasant and seem happy in the knowledge that if you are healthy enough to be sitting in a restaurant enjoying a meal with some people that you presumably do not hate, then your day is going well in comparison to a lot of peoples’. So be nice, and your server will be nice, and if you don’t want to tip, that’s fine (it is not), but we can all at least amicably agree that we had a nice encounter and I will just swear quietly to myself while still smiling (learned skill) as I say goodbye to you.
8. Your server doesn’t know everything. They know lots of things, but not ALL THE THINGS. Don’t try to trip them up by asking them the origin country of the basil that is used on the plate as garnish and then look disappointed and/or disgusted when they aren’t sure and might have to go ask someone else who will also probably not know and then they will have to conduct a manhunt for the container of basil which turned out to be grown in the huge pot that you walked by on your way in that says BASIL in large painted letters. Being tricky is not impressing your boss or the girl you are hoping to sleep with. It is making you seem like a dork who cares about where his basil comes from and all the person across from you is thinking is “how can I get away from this weird guy who cares so much about basil god I hope someone texts me soon so I can pretend there’s been an emergency and I can leave”.
9. It is the same temperature on the patio as it was in the parking lot.
10. The person serving you is a person. They probably aren’t monetarily wealthy if they’re waiting tables unless they are masochists and get off on occasional mental and emotional abuse from strangers. They have bad days, their feet hurt and their back aches and they looked awesome at home but this fluorescent lighting makes them look washed out and somehow flabby in the face area (HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE) and they have served 3 people in the last two weeks that they went to high school with who uttered some variation of the phrase “oh you’re still a waitress?” while they waved the keys to their BMW in the air for literally no reason. 98% of people are very nice, and I am sure you are one of them (I am not EXCEPT when I eat in restaurants), so pat yourself on the back and go tell your friend Jenni to quit being an asshole and asking for lemon that she is not even going to put in her water.