In the Weeds: Cast of Characters–Part 1
In my first column, I said that the most interesting people I meet in the restaurant biz are not sitting at the tables but are working on the floor with me, and occasionally flashing their balls in the pantry. So I’m going to introduce you to this cast of characters over the next few weeks. That way, we can talk about them when they’re not here. Oh wait, they are my largest group of readers. Well, here goes suicide by blog. Stay tuned for the fallout.
Cast of Characters – Part 1
The Diplomat – Even by server standards, this slick salt and pepper haired import is the biggest character on the staff. He has a loyal following of customers and makes more money in one night than most of us do in a week by selling his regulars ridiculously priced wines. But selling in the traditional sense usually involves suggesting a product and a customer saying yes or no. The Diplomat‚s gig is not so much selling as it is opening a $400 bottle at the table and using his accent to say something like, “It would be my honor to pleasure you with this Bordeaux. A man of your success with such a beautiful woman deserves to drink a wine like this.” It’s a little ambiguous to the customer as to whether he’s being charged for the wine or if it’s on the house. But make no mistake. The wine, the lobster, the vintage port . . . it will all be on the bill. And the guest will feel too important and successful than to do something like demand a refund. In fact, he’ll become another loyal guest of The Diplomat. Being known as one of The Diplomat’s “regulars” is almost like a dining status symbol. He’s the American Express black card of servers. If you request The Diplomat when you make your reservation, you are saying that you have serious money to blow.
The Vagabond – Always up for an outdoor music festival, this girl will peel herself away from her third night at a Phish concert to work a shift all sunburned and trashed before immediately driving back to the camp grounds after her last table leaves. She makes good money like the rest of us but is always in financial crisis during the summer months due to Ticketmaster service charges.
The Side Work Nazi – In addition to serving tables, all servers have extra work to complete at the beginning and end of each shift like cutting lemons, brewing coffee, or cleaning the soup station. Management has craftily shirked their responsibilities of managing by setting up a system that requires servers to police other servers. Awkward. You work alongside Joe Server and are on good terms but one night you are assigned to be the “side work checker” and so it’s your ass if Joe Server doesn’t do his side work. You want the work done so you aren’t stuck doing it at the end of the night, but you don’t want to come down too hard on Joe for little details because you know it could be Joe checking your side work next week. But none of these nuances of peer behavior register with The Side Work Nazi. She will send you back to polish your water glasses six times, holding it up to the brightest light to find the slightest evidence of a fingerprint. She rides you harder than a fat girl on a moped. But it never seems to register with her that she’s just put you through the paces for 45 minutes and you’re kinda pissed. Because she never fails to casually ask where everybody is meeting for drinks later.
The Cocktail Waitress For Hire – No, not like that exactly. The girl appreciates a good Louis bag. She’s known to need new jewelry at regular intervals. Some guests are happy to buy them for her. I’m just saying.
To be continued . . .