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In the Weeds: Lost in Translation

July 7, 2009


photo by CJ

Today, I offer some simple but important advice. Try your darndest not to do any of these things. No seriously, try really really hard not to do these things.

1) Be a low talker – You are aware that you are in a restaurant, right? This usually means background music, clanging plates and silverware, and possibly 100 or so people talking in the background. When I ask you what you want to drink, please raise your face away from the table top and speak the F up. You’ll more than likely actually get what you want, and you’ll avoid me leaning uncomfortably into your space to say, “I’m sorry, what?”

2) Be so involved in your conversation, you’ve been rendered blind – Oh my Gawwwwd! You finally get to hear all about your friend’s totally bitchy boss and the latest bulls&*t she inflicted. Save it for after the drink order please. It’s just totally awkward for me to stand there smiling and saying hi and what can I bring you to drink while also becoming invisible. I know you can see me. If I actually had the power to become invisible, I would not use it to serve tables. I would use it for something much more useful, like walking into Brad and Angie’s house to see if they are filling out paperwork for another lucky child or are indeed completing divorce papers. According to InTouch Magazine, it could be either scenario and someone needs to get to the bottom of it.

3) Be an iPhone addict who can’t be bothered, but is in a big hurry – If I see you on your phone as I approach the table, I make a sharp left and don’t even try. You have business to attend to, that’s cool. I’ll keep an eye on you and come over when I see your head disconnected from the device. Aside: If you’re one of those guys that wears your Bluetooth headset everywhere you go and never take it off, then it’s anybody’s guess as to if you’re talking to me, a caller, or yourself. Never have so many people masqueraded as mentally ill patients since the Bluetooth. You’ve seen them while you’re shopping. You’re squeezing a tomato at the grocery when the guy next to you yells out, “Are you kidding me? Unbelievable!” You startle. And then it’s you, not him, who is embarrassed when you realize he’s not talking to you. End Aside. Anyways, after you complete your 17-minute phone conversation, you’ll usually be in a huge hurry and imply that it’s my fault that you’re running late for a meeting.

4) Be an American who requires a translator – Every table has a leader. Most of the time, the role is appreciated. The leader keeps the low talker and the overly-involved-in-conversation blind person communicating with the server and moving the dinner along. But once in awhile, the leader becomes a strict translator who is shocked that I, a simple server, has the ability to comprehend the American language. It mostly involves women with translating men or a group who finds it impossible to communicate directly with a lowly server. It goes like this:

“Hi, welcome, can I start you with a drink, maybe a dirty martini or a glass of wine?”
“She’s asking about drinks, do you want a drink?”
“I want a vodka martini.”
“Waitress, she wants a vodka martini.”
Yeah, I can hear her. Because I, too, speak English, and I am standing RIGHT HERE!
Unsure who to address, “Do you….or um, does she…want it up or on the rocks?”
“Do you want it up?”
“Yes, up.”
“She wants it up.”
“Okay, well, will you ask her if she likes a twist or olives?”
“Twist or olives?”
“Olives. Do they have blue cheese olives?”
“Yes, we have them.”
They both look at me blankly as if shocked that I understood the last words that were clearly uttered in plain American and not dumbed-down server speak.
“Ok, she’ll have blue cheese olives.”
I walk away shuddering and thinking about the torture that will be the dinner order.

Go forth my cheetahs, and dine with confidence! You are well-prepared to be well served!


4 Responses to “ In the Weeds: Lost in Translation ”

  1. carrie on July 10, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    LOL I totally feel you! I especially hate it when ppl get mad at you when “their leader” oredered it wrong?! And I definately will walk away from your table if you ignore my presense, whether you be on the phone or just “blind.” It’s like let me know when you want to order! Oh what about the ppl that ask the busboy for what they need, when not 30 seconds ago you just came by and asked “can i get you anything, or is everything ok”….it’s like they are just trying to make you look like a crappy waitress!! (sorry that you have to pay for the service you have requested)!!!!

  2. taum21 on July 25, 2009 at 8:36 am

    I very much enjoy reading this blog. You have great style and sense of timing. I have never worked in the food industry, but my daughter has. Restaruants on the Plaza, Lake of the Ozarks, etc. She tells similar stories. Yours and hers are a hoot!! Keep on a rockin’!!

  3. John Williams on July 29, 2009 at 1:02 pm

    Love the phone bit
    A while back I had this Family 4 top…
    Daughter was on the phone…Dad was texting…and the son was playing some video game…poor Mom was sitting there like …do I have a family lmao
    I approached the table thinking wow this will be fun, you see Im the old man seasoned waiter who wont be scared off by anything, and people sense it.
    I said ” Ok Does anybody wish to have a drink, you know wine, beer or whiskey”
    as the 3 techers ignored me, mom said no we will just have water !!
    What scares me the most is I share the road with people like this


  4. banquet manager on September 3, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    As a banquet manager, when the guest doesn’t pay attention to you reminds me of when I’m trying to line-up the bridal party and they’re to interested in goofing off because their already drunk.
    So You Want To Be a Banquet Manager