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In the Weeds: Inside the Server’s Studio

April 7, 2009

I’m up in the air about the title of my first contribution.  If you recognize the phrase “in the weeds,” then you’ve worked in a restaurant at some point.  This is the only place I’ve heard it, and most people I know have earned a few years worth of rent serving burgers or beer or both and so you know what I’m talking about.  In the off chance you coasted through high school, your twenties, and those weird months after your first career change or divorce without wearing an apron or flair of some kind, then I offer the following definition:

In The Weeds” or “weeded” or “totally effing weeded” (slang) – Busy.  Really busy.  So busy that you can’t slow your thoughts long enough to figure out what you came into the kitchen to get.  Example: You have two tables of four people each and you get seated with a six top.  The first table needs more cocktail sauce, extra napkins for a spill, and wants a steak re-fired to medium well. The six top host wants to talk to you about wine while his guests order martinis, change their minds, ask questions, order different martinis. You really need to go get the salads for the second four top so they don’t get them five seconds before their entrees arrive.  You’re in the weeds.

I can’t prove it, but I’ve always assumed that the expression comes from the experience of swimming in a murky lake and getting your legs caught in slimy weeds while you flail about and gasp for air trying to keep your head above water.

I work in a busy, high-end restaurant and came into my waiter job quite later in life than most. Most people work as servers while doing something else or striving to do something else.  I did something else for years and quit doing that to serve after I had my two kids.  And while most server blogs seem to specialize in acidic renditions of annoying guests and how the server punished said annoying guests with flippant remarks and well-timed eye rolls, I aim to show you something more.  While perusing the online server blog competition, I came across dozens of “Top Ten Ways to Piss Off Your Server.”  Ok, that’s easy.  You get it, I get it.  Everybody loves a sarcastic, behind-the-scenes look at how much your server hates you.

I hate only about one percent of my guests.  The rest are forgettable, quirky, or lovely – and I’ll share the best of each with you.   And the real stories don’t even happen on the floor.  The real characters are the other servers.  So we’ll look at them, too.  Most people are seemingly intrigued with what happens behind the scenes at a restaurant.  It must be that we all dine out and we all know it’s a show.  Like any show, we want to know what happens behind the curtain, in the subculture, and in the actor’s head.  As a jumping off point, let’s pretend that James Lipton cares not about last year’s “it” girl but rather about the award-winning performance that I pull out nightly.

  1. What is your favorite word? Magnanimous (Fun to say and a great definition: generous, high-minded, free from petty vindictiveness or resentfulness, noble in spirit)
  2. What is your least favorite word? Split checks (okay that’s two words)
  3. What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Eye contact
  4. What turns you off creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Canadians
  5. What sound or noise do you love? An American Express black card sliding through the machine
  6. What sound or noise do you hate? The sound of silence that your napkin makes while it sits on the table and not in your lap while I work around it
  7. What is your favorite curse word? Bee otch
  8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Captain of industry
  9. What profession would you not like to do? Dishwasher
  10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? We are cutting down to closers

Posted by CJ



2 Responses to “ In the Weeds: Inside the Server’s Studio ”

  1. old-timer on June 6, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    too funny.

  2. The Mad Waiter on December 18, 2009 at 12:26 am

    All Canadians or just French Canadians?