06 May 2010

wait for it

To compliment my reading list revolving around food, I picked up a book on service. Because it is not ALL about the food. Especially if your food adventures are sustained by visiting restaurants as opposed to farming, hunting or gathering. Waiter Rant by Steve Dublanica started out as a blog and ended up as a book. His blog was very specific, centering on the restaurant industry and specifically the fine(r) dining restaurant where he worked in New York. Obviously, he had to operate his blog in anonymity so he signed off simply as "The Waiter".

Not everything he writes about fits with my experience in the service industry (although, now that I have a new position at a more upscale joint, it may) but the book is engaging and so bang-on at times that you want to smack a table with an open fist and audibly exclaim "yeah!".

Things I wanted to share:

Experience has shown me that customers who heap verbal tribute upon their servers often do so at the expense of financial tribute. Operating under the gravely mistaken assumption that my landlord will accept utterances of "Good job" or "You're the best" in lieu of government-backed currencies, these customers assign a monetary value to their laudations and deduct it from my financial compensation... Verbal tippers are the fucking bane of my existence.

"Might I suggest the salmon madam?" I offer, finally breaking the silence. "It's quite good here."
"I don't know," the woman says, furrowing her brow as she peers at the menu. "I'm a fussy eater."
No kidding, I think to myself.
It's Saturday night. I have other tables to attend to. This lady's consumed one cocktail, twenty minutes, and most of my patience while contemplating her menu. Her husband's getting antsy. I can feel my other customers' eyes running up and down my body, their telepathic cries for attention rattling off the back of my skull like hail on a tin roof. The part of my brain that runs on autopilot, my waiter's sixth sense, which lets me know drinks are running low or appetizers need to be cleared, starts tugging at my conscious mind.
"Let me give you a few more minutes," I say, turning to leave. "I'll be right -
"Don't go anywhere," the husband groans, "or she'll take even longer."

It's a miracle more waiters don't go postal. They're surrounded every day by whiny, spoiled customers and supervised by power-mad control freaks. Toss in the workforce's penchant for substance abuse and poor impulse control and you've got a recipe for disaster.

In order to achieve their goals, some people have internalized knocking people around psychologically, economically and sometimes even physically to get what they think they deserve.They're like people with a faulty adrenal system or an overabundance of testosterone - it's always game time, it's always time to be aggressive, it's always time to battle for any little thing they think they deserve. When I tell these people they can't have the primo they want, they act like I'm threatening their very survival.

Fluvio's offered my job to other waiters when he's been angry with me before, but Louis? The guy who faked a heart attack so he could go home early? That's like finding out someone paid a hitman $39.95 to bump you off. It's insulting.

Well, I got to go to work. Live it, love it.

Photo from Google Images.

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