Waiters, waitresses, idiots and injustice.Posted: March 2, 2011
I have never waited tables.
Let me qualify that. I served as a celebrity (their term, not mine) waiter at a Special Olympics fundraiser three or four times. That gave me enough experience to realize how physically demanding it is to do that kind of work. It didn’t expose me to the kind of crap they have to put up with.
Last night, I had the privilege to see justice come to someone who was abusive to wait people. It was beautiful.
I had dinner at one of those Japanese hibachi grill places. Cooking in front of you, chopped up bits of food, knives, fire – you know the drill. The kind of place you never actually see a Japanese person in.
So There Was This Baby. His Parents Were Jerks, But He Was Cool
We ended up sharing a table with a family with an infant son. As it turns out, the baby was the only one who treated the waiter and cook in a halfway decent manner. In fact, the baby was really likable, as babies are.
The man made sure the waiter knew that he would be basing his tip on the size of his portion of food. When the gentleman who did the cooking came to our table, the point was reinforced. Here is the thing. A chicken breast is what it is. If that’s what you order, you pretty much know what is going to be on your plate. Chickens don’t have augmentation. This guy took money out of these people’s pockets for something they really had no control over.
At one point, the waiter dropped off a beer to the man, but did not hear the man’s wife indicate she had a need. As he walked away, she said four times, progressively louder – “I need something.” The last time was a full on shriek. The waiter heard and started to turn back after the second “I need something”, but he was not fast enough. When he got to her, she berated him for not hearing, then demanded a fork. I’m not sure what the rush was, there wasn’t even food on her plate yet.
At the end of the meal, the waiter dropped off our checks and a couple foil wrapped after dinner mints. The man called the waiter back to him. “These” he said, holding up a mint, “I’m going to need more of these, a lot more. The better you do, the more your tip is going to be. I want a lot.”
The Part Where My Telepathic Powers Nearly Killed A Man
What gives people the idea that waitresses and waiters are there to absorb abuse, unfailingly predict every possible need and have their income slashed at any perceived slight? Would the people who act in this way tolerate losing a portion of a day’s pay because someone thought they were a step slower than the next person?
I’ve seen this kind of behavior in colleagues and friends. It is wrong, and it is embarrassing to witness. When I am with someone who acts that way, I do what I can to make it clear to the wait person I don’t condone it, and I make a note never to dine with the offender again. Still, that seems inadequate as a response. It remains illegal to torture people for this sort of transgression, so I’m open to whatever suggestions you may have as to the proper response.
As to last night, if you are reading this and you recognize yourself as the jerk I got seated with, I need you to know something. When you choked on that after dinner mint, the waiter wasn’t the only one who had wished that on you. I can honestly say I was surprised it happened – that was the first time I had ever made such a wish and had it come true. Still, I’m glad you’re OK. I’m glad I only thought “I hope you choke on that mint” instead of “I hope you choke on that mint and die.”
If you were wondering what the waiter and I were laughing about, please be assured it was you.