Why Servers Explode and Other Truths of Eating Out


     The degradation of the service industry has fairly ruined eating out. (And lest you think I’m being judgmental, I once blamed Fatty Patty in 10th grade English for an odor I was responsible for, so I am not without faults.)


      Tell me this doesn’t ring true… You walk into a restaurant and are greeted by a bored young lady chewing gum.  She sees the two of you and asks how many are in your party (two), and then seats you at the booth nearest the kitchen, though the entire place is empty.


     As you sit down, an extremely peppy girl greets you and hands you both a menu.  (Or a dreadfully mopey girl shows up- there’s never a middle ground here.  And more and more it might be a young man who is even peppier than the rest, if you can wrap your head around that.)  She is quite anxious to “get you started” on something just as you settle into the booth.  You say, “We’ll need just a few minutes”.


     But before she leaves, she must tell you all about the “specials”.  (Don’t ever deny a server this exciting moment lest they explode- a difficult mess to deal with all dressed up.)  Say you are at a Mexican restaurant- the special might include a bucket of chicken, (extra-crispy or regular) with a side of coleslaw and mashed potatoes (a tad extra for gravy).  Or maybe a “Super Slam” breakfast platter with all-you-can-eat pancakes and a side of turtle.  It’s usually predictable.     


     “Doesn’t that sound delicious!” you lie.  But really you want to say, “Shut up”.  You still “need a few minutes” to untangle your arms from your coat.  So the server smiles politely (not without a smirk) and disappears.  


     That’s when she jumps into a taxi and heads off to a disco in Bora Bora for the rest of her life.


     You talk and laugh, having long since folded the menu, when suddenly you realize you have created an entire Ethiopian village using napkin origami and your deodorant has soured!  Your water glasses have been purged, the ice chewed up, and the lemon wedge you just scored back-to-back goals with in tabletop football has now been lost forever behind the seat.  People around you come and go, full with the pleasure of eating out and being served.  But you, tucked back in the corner by the kitchen (which frankly, you wish you hadn’t seen), are forgotten.


     You search the restaurant to “speak with the manager” and finally bump into the dishwasher who says he’ll “take care of everything.”


     “Now we’ll get some service!” you announce proudly, clearing your throat for emphasis. 


     Within minutes the cleaning crew is sweeping the floor and soon the lights go out.


     That’s it.


     You feel your way to the hostess stand and return with a bowl of mints and thirty comment cards.


     And that, in a nutshell, is how you get free breakfast.