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In The Weeds: Encyclopedia of a Waitress

July 13, 2010
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In late 2005 or maybe early 2006, I read “Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal.  Still one of my favorite books of all times, it smacked me between the eyes with its simplicity and brilliance.  Considering that my hardest hitting news source is US Weekly magazine, that’s not too hard to do. (Sidenote: BREAKING NEWS…Lohan is freaking out about spending time alone in jail because she can’t stand to be alone. Ummmm, duh. That’s the point of jail, LoHo…to create an environment so uncomfortable that you don’t want to go there.)

Anyway, the book.  It’s a memoir organized like an encyclopedia, alphabetical, complete with sketches and cross referencing.  At the time, I had recently birthed my first son and was slowly coming to the realization that my life was shaping up like any other.  I would not become retardedly wealthy.  I would not become hugetasticly important.   So the subtitle – I have not survived against all odds. I have not lived to tell.  I have not witnessed the extraordinary.  This is my story. – resonated on many disappointing levels.  I’m sure many of you recall this moment in your own life.  Sorry to bring it up.

For today’s column, I thought I’d attempt the same format but on a much smaller scale.  Instead of listing an entire life’s important moments by letter, I will list random restaurant/serving thoughts alphabetically.  Translation = I’m gonna copy her.  Here we go.

A

Artichoke Hearts
An ingredient universally used to make mediocre food seem more fancy.

B

Busser
If yours looks like s/he could be in serious danger if pulled over for a broken tail light while driving in Arizona, then you are probably looking at the hardest working employee in the restaurant.  If your busser is a white teenager walking with a slow swagger and empty hands, don’t ever eat there again.

C

Carrot Cake
No, we don’t have it on our menu.  Yes, I’m very sorry.  No, we’ve never had it.  Yes, I know it’s a favorite.  No, I understand it’s very disappointing.  Can we get past this?  You’re a grown-ass man.

D

Douche Bag
A individual who has an over-zealous sense of self worth combined with below average intelligence.  a.k.a. A Darden restaurant manager.

E

Eighty-Six (86′d)
To be out of an item because it has been oversold.  Also can be used to refer to the termination of an employee by a douche bag.

F

Field Greens
Salad that tastes like dirt and bugs are still in it.

G

Gunt
A word used to describe women with excessive belly weight who are also rude to their servers.  A combination of “gut” and “…” well, you know.

H

Hostess
A beautiful girl who looks amazing in low cut blouses, yet often fails to grasp the elemental practices of a successful restaurant such as reservations, turn times, and rotational seating.

I

In The Weeds
Being near or beyond the capacity to handle a situation, cannot catch up, struggling, very busy.  Also, a weekly column written by someone slightly too average looking and slightly too intelligent to be a hostess.

J

Jicama
It’s pronounced Hhhh-icama.

K

Kabobs
Food on a stick that is served inside at a restaurant or outside at a middle-class person’s private BBQ.  When food on a stick  is served outside to just regular people, it’s called “Fair Food.”

L

Life-Threatening Emergency
What could happen if someone with a food allergy comes in contact with an ingredient that could kill them.  The allergy sufferer may risk death in order to enjoy a nice evening out with friends in a building filled with potentially lethal contaminants.  But if they do indeed die, it will be the server’s fault.

M

Merlot/Mignon
These are French words.  Don’t pronounce the “t” or the “g”.  Even at Applebee’s.

N

Napkin
A section of cloth or paper for which to wipe your hands and face.  It has no other appropriate uses, except perhaps to capture the occasional spill.  Under no circumstance should it be used as a hanky, gum receptacle, rejected food catch-all, sweat towel, or under-the-table-naughty-hider.

O

Outdoor Dining
A place outside of the restaurant where some people choose to eat their meals.  Because outdoor dining is outdoors, diners lose the right to complain about the following: noise, heat, cold, cigarette smoke, sunshine, glare, humidity, traffic, bugs, birds, and the view.

P

Pantry
Where food is kept.  Also where servers drink.

Q

Quiet
Something you give up the right to control when you decide to dine in a public place.  Something your children need to be when dining in a public place.

R

Rolled Silverware
An epidemic sweeping across America.  Can nobody set a table anymore?

S

Sidework
What your server is probably doing if you can’t find him at any surrounding tables.  Somebody has to keep the lemons sliced and the coffee brewed.  Either that or he’s in the pantry.  Or the walk-in.

T

TWENTY PERCENT
The gratuity percentage starts there and stays there unless some level of exceptional competence or incompetence can be attributed to your server.

U

Underage Drinkers
Customers under the age of 21 who often order frozen drinks, act obnoxious, ask for split checks and tip for shit.  Sometimes confused with suburban housewives and Canadians.

V

Vegetarian Plate
The same old, boring plate of grilled vegetables with balsamic and olive oil that vegetarians have been picking away at for years.  Even great restaurants often give vegetarians the finger.

W

Walk-In
Where food is kept.  Also where servers drink.

X

X-Ray
A medical test often required when a server or kitchen worker falls and injures themselves while carrying loads of hot food.  Rarely accompanied by health insurance.

Y

Yellow Tail Wine
Pretty packaging is for suckers.

Z

Zip/Zilch/Zero
How much I care when you tell me your meal, which you modified 27 times from Sunday, just doesn’t taste right.

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3 Responses to “ In The Weeds: Encyclopedia of a Waitress ”

  1. nativenapkin on July 13, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Yes, the roll-up! Why oh why do they do it? And don’t forget the service station as a place where waiters drink. Anyone for house cab in a coffee cup?

  2. Sara on July 14, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Question: Once I almost choked on a piece of sushi (I did turn blue and started having ‘flashbacks’ from my life) and spent about ten seconds contemplating expelling said sushi into my napkin because I thought it would be so rude to do so. After not being able to breath for another twenty to thirty seconds, and having no other means in which to expel the aforementioned sushi, I felt my only choice was to reject my food into my napkin. Yes, I shouldn’t have tried to ingest the entire piece, but doesn’t/shouldn’t this break the ‘under no circumstance’ rule? If not, what is your suggestion?

  3. waitress on July 15, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    I would say that after coughing up the sushi into the napkin, you then place the partially swallowed item on your plate. The offensive thing would be to leave it in your napkin so that whoever cleans your table unwittingly grabs it and gets a handful of slobbery sticky rice.

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