Service Industry

Some Final Advice from Your Waitress

I’ve been meaning to post something new here for ages. I’ve been meaning for that thing I post to be an incisive and intelligent blah blah blah article about one of the many things in the world that is currently terrible, like this, and this, and this (just kidding, the last one was a puppy. Go ahead. click it.)

But I’m in a transitional phase right now, and will soon be relocating to a new state–Texas! I’m sure that my time in the Lone Star state will spur a whole new set of incisive/angry articles about a whole new set of terrible/upsetting things, but meanwhile, I’m just plain too exhausted to be articulate about these things. Moving is hard work. Also, moving comes with quitting my jobs.

That’s right, your waitress will no longer be a waitress–at least for a little while.

So in honor of that, I have decided to devote one more article to a little helpful hint for all you bar and restaurant goers out there. Here goes:

Your waitress is not interested in you.

Shock! The thing is, I think that most people know that when your server is being friendly, it is because it is their job to do so. However, there are still plenty of people who seem to have not gotten the memo about this, and this article is for them.

I recently had an interaction at work that went like this:

Dude: wow, are you the only server working tonight?

Me: yep!

Dude: so you must be really busy. I guess I shouldn’t hit on you right now?

Me: You should never hit on me.

Dude: *confused pause* I should never…?

Me: Can I get you another drink?!

Dude: Mumble mumble no thanks mumble.

Now I could have been nicer to that guy. But I don’t really think he deserved it. There was a time when that kind of interaction would have sent me into a tizzy of embarrassment and uncertainty: did I somehow provoke this? Did I offend him? Should I just have flirted to preserve a tip? (hint: no.) And then I would have avoided the table for the rest of the night.

But I’m a grown-up now, and I don’t get embarrassed anymore, because I understand that 1) it’s not my fault some people are inconsiderate, and 2) it’s not my responsibility to make sure that those inconsiderate people feel good about themselves. The kind of person who is going to try to be smooth with me while I am working is also the kind of person who doesn’t respect that I am working. He doesn’t understand or doesn’t care that regardless of the niceness of our interaction, it must intrinsically be disingenuous because I am working. He is not prepared to face rejection, and doesn’t care that I am almost certainly not interested. I feel bad for this kind of person, because he does not know what is going on. The world is, apparently, a vast mystery that he has yet to crack.

Lucky for him (I’m sure he’s thinking right now) I am here to help.

So honey, a message for you: your hat is stupid, your line is unoriginal, your presumptuousness is a turn-off. I don’t appreciate your lack of respect for me and I’m not going to pretend like I do. Next time you hit on a girl at a bar, make sure it’s a customer. You might do better with someone who’s drunk.

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Service Industry

Don’t Call Me Honey

We’re back to lists of rules. People love rules. I’m not sure if they love following them, or just knowing what they are so they can laugh in your face and then break them, but they love them.

During my time working in the service industry, I have had an incredible number and variety of experiences in which the people I am bringing food to manage to be ignorant and condescending at the same time. Now I truly don’t believe that you all are in a vast conspiracy to try and make your servers’ lives worse. What I think is, mostly you’re confused or uncomfortable with having someone serve you stuff–particularly when some of that stuff is stuff you don’t really recognize, like that fancy cocktail you dismally failed at pronouncing the name of. That’s ok. I will try not to be condescending back. Unless my blood-sugar is low, then no promises.

Anyway, here are a few easy things you can do that will make my (and therefore, unequivocally, your) experience a better one.

1. If You Don’t Understand Something, Ask

If I don’t know the answer to your question, I can get it in a matter of minutes. But you’re only going to make the whole situation worse if I say, “do you want the regular manhattan or the featured single barrel [read: high-end] manhattan?” and you say, “yeah.” and then I say, “sorry, which one?” and you say, “I’ll just have that regular barrel manhattan.”

I’m sorry, what? Your words did not form coherent ideas. After an interaction like that, I say, “sure, ok,” and walk away, and get you the cheap one because I don’t want to risk you yelling at me later for getting you something expensive. It’s clear to me that you’re embarrassed that you don’t know the difference between these two drinks in front of your (clearly first) date, but I promise that if you just ask the question, with confidence, I will answer, pleasantly, and we can all just go on with our lives.

2. If You Don’t Like Something, Tell Me

I know you don’t like it when it sits on your table for an hour and the level of the liquid in the glass doesn’t go down. If I ask you about it and you say it’s fine, I have to take you at your word–but if you had just told me the truth, chances are we could have replaced it with something you loved, instead. Now you’re miserable, and I feel bad for you. Just tell the damn truth!

3. Don’t Be Sarcastic. Don’t Try to Be Funny.

This place sucks, haha! I hate these drinks, haha!

You’re ugly. Ha. Ha.

Look, I understand that you’re a funny guy, and you have a better time out when you have a good rapport with your server. I have a better time when that happens, too! But the fact is, we’re not friends. I just met you seven and a half minutes ago. I don’t understand your sense of humor, and I’m currently at work–I’m trying to focus on doing a good job. If you say something is bad, or I’ve been rude, or you’re having a bad time, my first reaction is not ever going to be–“oh, that guy must be joking around with me!” It’s going to be, “Oh no, I’m so sorry you’re having a bad time, what can I do to help you have a better time?” And then you’re going to feel bad that you made me feel bad.

A better way to try to create a rapport with your server is to be friendly and conversational. Once we’ve talked for a few minutes, it will be much easier for me to gauge if you’re joking, and we’ll all have a nicer time.

4. Speak Clearly

Bars are loud! SO LOUD. And you don’t really want to talk to me. I get that. You want to talk to your cute date. But waving your hand in my face while staring at the table to get me to leave is not going to be effective. Whispering is also not–I will just lean in and ask you to repeat yourself until I get your order right. The other thing that doesn’t really work, is saying random, vague words.

For instance, “we’re all set.” This phrase can mean any number of things, but in general, servers take it to mean two things: 1) at the beginning of the night when you’ve just sat down and looked at your menus, it means that you are ready to order, and 2) at the end of the night when I’ve been back to your table three or four times to see if you want anything else, it means you are now done drinking and would like the bill. What it does NOT mean at the end of the night is that you’re fine for now but may order more things later. Nor does it mean that you are done with one of your food items but would like to keep the other. You are confusing me; just tell me what you want!

The other commonly used vague phrase is “for now.” I don’t understand this at all, but customers seem to like to attach the phrase, “for now” to the ends of sentences liberally, throughout the night, for no reason. What I generally interpret “we’re good for now” to mean is  that you would not like anything further at the moment, however you will be ordering more at some point today. However, the number of people who have been annoyed at me for not bringing the bill after this statement is about equal to the number of people who have been annoyed at me for bringing the bill after this statement. WHAT DO YOU WANT? If you want the bill, ask for it. If you are going to drink more, say “I am going to get more in a while.”

Basically, speak complete sentences in an audible tone to me while looking at me and I will be yours forever.

5. Don’t Call Me Honey

I’m not your sister, your daughter, or your girlfriend. I am not even your potential girlfriend. I am not even a girl who is going to become your friend. If we are not good friends, pet names are condescending. Period. I call you sir, ma’am, or miss, because that is respectful. I have a name–you can ask that, and call me by it, or you can return the favor of being polite and call me miss right back.

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Service Industry

First Date? I Totally Couldn’t Tell

Yes, I could.

This topic tickles my funny bone because I have only ever been on a first date with one person, and that person is still my partner (going on 4 years, shout out to my lost “wild and free” twenties!). Despite this, I feel like I know a few things about first dates, due to my charmed* and magical* and inspiring* time in the service industry, watching you all go on them over and over and over again. It’s cute, I promise.

The bar I work at is a very popular first-date and blind-date spot on weeknights. These seem to be prime date-nights for first-timers. We can tell right away that it’s a first date because of a few simple factors:

1) You shake hands or hug before sitting down and say “hi!” in the cheeriest voice you’ve used all week.

2) You have “already eaten.” If the date goes well I know you’ll probably end up getting snacks later.

3) You look SO UNCOMFORTABLE.

Plus, blind date bonus, 4) you may wander around the bar looking for someone before standing awkwardly in the corner texting, and when you find them, you have to say their name in a nervous high pitched voice to be sure that this is the person you’re actually meeting, and not some other guy who is also on a blind date.**

A first date on a Tuesday at my bar is designed to tell 3 things to the lucky date-ee:

1) Look how classy I am, we’re at a cocktail bar. Did you notice these seats are leather?

2) I am a generous person–can’t you tell? I brought you to a place where drinks cost more than your whole outfit!

and either:

3) I respect you, so I took you out for our first date on a weeknight so you can tell that I’m not trying to just get laid, because we both have work in the morning.

or

3) You’re not getting laid tonight, buddy, because I have work in the morning.

These unspoken signals seem to work pretty well, most of the time. Ladies get buttered up by the nice atmosphere, and guys feel manly when they can order an Old Fashioned and suggest something for their date, too. Of course, there are a few things that first-daters do that can easily spin the first day of the rest of your life into the last day of this budding relationship. Here are a few things I’ve noticed while watching y’all do the mating dance:

1) Dudes: Do not be overly friendly to your waitress.  Pleasant, sure. Polite, yes. But don’t make unnecessary small talk with me. When you’re polite but distant to your waitress your date thinks, “wow, he’s such a gentleman!” When you’re actually friendly, she thinks, “OMG is he flirting with the waitress? Am I boring him? Is he an asshole? How to interpret this smiling and chatting?!” and she’ll spend the rest of the night monitoring our interactions. I mean, look, hopefully she’s not nuts and she’ll understand that you’re just being nice, but you’re on a first date. You’re both feeling nervous and vulnerable. It’s better to play it safe and distant with the waitress so your date knows that your attention is on her.***

2) RELAX. I see it over and over again. You guys and gals walk in here, all nervous. You sit down and I can see from way over here that you’re having a terrible time: you’re stiff and uptight, and you’re throwing back vodka sodas like they’re actually the dirty water that they taste like. Then, Bam! Five drinks in, you’re so relaxed that you’ve wilted, and it might be embarrassing for you if you realized how drunk you are, but you kids are finally having a real conversation! It only took two hours and no dinner plus 10 ounces of vodka to get you there.

3) This may seem obvious to you, but don’t get wasted. You’ve finally gotten comfortable on this date, you’re having a good time, and now what? Whoops, you realized you had seven drinks in 3 hours and you’re making out right there in the booth at 8:30 on a Wednesday**** and you may or may not be able to call this guy tomorrow. It’s going to depend if you make it home alive. And if you can live down the embarrassment.

That’s all I got. I’m no dating expert, so I’m sticking with the things I can see happen on your date while your drinking in my bar.

Come back soon, now, you hear?

*These are creative terms

**This has actually happened. Once, a guy walked in and approached two different girls waiting at two different parts of the bar, both of whom were waiting for other dates. He sat down (far away from those girls) and his actual date arrived a few minutes later. It was hilarious.

***Plus I’m super hot, so who wouldn’t worry that her boyfriend is in love with me?

****This has also actually happened.

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