Servers: the good, the bad, and the ugly

Remember when restaurants were so ‘old school’ and casual that you used to snap your fingers and whistle to get the attention of your waitress who you called “Honey” or your waiter who you called “Buddy”?

Remember when restaurants were so ‘old school’ and casual that you used to snap your fingers and whistle to get the attention of your waitress who you called “Honey” or your waiter who you called “Buddy”? Of course you don’t because if you did that you were hit on the head with one of those heavy restaurant trays by a deeply-offended waitress or waiter and you have partial amnesia and no real memory of your incredible faux pas (literally: “restaurant concussion”).

And if you have ever experienced the above mentioned pas de faux you probably don’t remember that waiters and waitresses are now generally referred to as “Servers”. This is in order to be ‘politically correct’, so that we can all be in a state of ‘constant confusion’.

Be that as it may, every time I go to a busy restaurant I always end up coming to the same conclusions:

1. Servers have a really tough job.

2. I would personally be the world’s worst Server.

3. I should have ordered the steak.

From the moment someone dressed in black comes up to your table, smiling as if they were actually happy to wait on you and says, “Hello, my name is Tiffany and I’ll be your Server tonight” to the moment you are slumped in your chair paralyzed by the numbers at the bottom of the bill, your Server is there for one purpose: to make enough money to support her career as an actress.

In order to do that Tiffany must be physically, mentally and emotionally fit and ready to take care of you and several dozens of other hungry patrons, many of whom are also impatient, grumpy and/or under the influence of many strong pre-meal beverages.

Your Server, if he or she is good, can perform seemingly superhuman feats of endurance, tolerance, dexterity, coordination, memory, and smiling when they don’t want to.

Not that all Servers are good – that would be a gross overstatement, not to mention wishful thinking. And if there is a particularly incompetent Server at the establishment, you will most certainly be seated at his or her table.

That’s when you begin to realize that, like so many things in life’s rich pageant, there is a Cosmic Balance. A good side and a bad side, an up and a down, a ‘ying and a ‘yang’.

That’s why I like to divide things into threes: “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”:

Servers: GOOD: How do you know when you have a Good Server?

1. Your Server brings you a frosty mug of your favorite beer before you even have your coat off.

2. He or she has a sixth sense that causes them to appear at your table a millisecond before you realize you need something.

3. They don’t recommend the fish.

4. When it comes time to pay, your Server tells you: “Oh don’t bother with the tip, after all, you don’t tip other service people!”

5. Your Server recently won an International Model Search and you haven’t noticed whether the service is good or bad.

Servers: BAD: How do you know when you have a BAD Server?

1. Instead of saying, “Hi, my name’s Brad and I’ll be your Server tonight!” he says, “Yo. Order something expensive and easy and I won’t spit in your food.”

2. She is wearing an “In-Training” badge and she’s been there for 4 years.

3. Your Server tells you not to order from that part of the menu because those dinners make the tray too heavy.

4. When they welcome you, they get the name of the restaurant wrong.

5. The metal piercings on his or her nose, ears, eyebrows and lips haven’t been polished recently.

Servers: UGLY: How do you know when the service is UGLY?

1. The Server is armed.

2. The Server smokes. While serving.

3. He demands cash up front to see the menu.

4. It’s clear that she considers “personal hygiene” rhetorical.

5. Your Server has locked the debit machine in at an automatic 35% tip.

Yes, there’s nothing quite so frustrating as a really incompetent waiter or waitress; likewise it is a joy to be served by someone who makes art out of labor. And in the process makes your world a little better for a while by not spilling hot soup on your new shirt.

That alone is worth a few extra percentage points on the tip calculator that you just discovered is one of the many functions you didn’t know was on your cell phone.

Besides, when your Server becomes a famous actor or actress, maybe they’ll remember you. It’s always nice to score free tickets.

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