In the Weeds: Spring Fever
“It’s spring fever. That is what the name of it is. And when you’ve got it, you want – oh, you don’t quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!” ~Mark Twain
Ah spring, fair spring. What’s not to love? Well, I can think of a few things. Spring in our restaurant starts with a small dip in business as people seek out al fresco dining. Our restaurant does best in snow, ice and driving rain. Dark mahogany walls, red leather booths and lights so dim that every server carries a flashlight does not bring out that giddy April afternoon hopefulness.
To add insult to spring injury, prom season begins. Few things can bring me to tears, but seeing white tuxedos and sparkly dresses clinging to spray-tanned skin seated in my section brings a lump to my throat like no Susan Boyle clip can. Seriously, I can’t afford to eat here. How can high school kids afford to eat here? Oh, that’s right. They can’t. When I asked one group if they wanted to hear about steaks or seafood, they said it was going to be salads and water with extra sugar packets and lemons. Servers call this the “poor man’s lemonade” and it’s even more shameful than asking your server to box up the free bread.
Another group of kids argued with me about the price of a soda ($3.50), and how it should be complimentary. I reminded them that we weren’t at 30,000 feet. I heard another server walked away from a party of 10 prom kids after serving everybody a Sprite, only to return to the table a few minutes later and finding all the Sprites had turned blue. So in addition to low sales and non existent tips, we are expected to baby sit kids too stupid to bring vodka in their flasks.
The spring punishment culminates in Mother’s Day. Iced tea, hot tea and decaf coffee are the orders of the day. “I’ll have a decaf coffee….it must be decaf…please make sure it’s decaf.” I deliver it. “Is this decaf?” Five minutes later, I refill it. “You’re using decaf, right?” Five minutes later, she asks for another refill. “More decaf please.” I tie a ridiculously large green ribbon around the handle of the silver decaf coffee pot. I refill. “Is this de…” — I put my finger gently to her lips, give a little no no nod and motion with my eyes to the ribbon. Okay not really, but that’s what I like to imagine.
We are usually overstaffed (i.e underpaid) on Mother’s Day because management panics that we’ll be overrun with walk-in business because dads and husbands failed to make reservations for this day. And why not pad the floor with extra servers? It only costs the restaurant $3.25 per hour per warm server body.
Finally, any holiday like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter or Mother’s Day brings together families that don’t really want to be together. It’s always a charm serving a six top that can’t stand each other. The daughter-in-law scoffs and snorts when her husband’s mother orders the white zinfandel. The grown deadbeat son orders a lavish-sized lobster because grandma is paying. The frumpy daughter sneers when her mother inquires about how long it’s been since her last date. But somehow most of the hostilities are taken out on the server and the server’s tip since it would be rude to mistreat your family in public. Yes, spring is a special season. It is called the season of hope, which is all I can do on a nightly basis.