I went out to eat a few days ago with 5 guys from my company. We didn’t go to 5 Guys, but now that I see the word play possibilities I wish we had, because the older I get the more I like dad humor (I can’t tell you how happy I was a few months ago when I needed some staples, and walked into Staples and asked the goth high school cashier if they carried staples. It was hilarious, trust me.)

We went to a barbecue joint we like. We sat down, the only patrons there aside from one other guy, and our server approached. Average-looking, friendly woman in her late twenties.

“Hi guys, what can I get you to drink”

“Um, I’ll have a water”

“Hold on, I don’t have a pen.”

Me: “I think I have a pen you can use. Yep, here you go.”

When she brought the drinks back she started by giving me a Cola instead of my water. Then she gave every other person the wrong drink. A little weird, but not the end of the world.

“Are you guys ready to order?”

“Well, we really need to look at some menus first, do you have any?”

“Oh, ya, no problem.”

The menus proved enormously helpful in understanding what dishes the restaurant was offering. 15 minutes after ordering, everyone received their food except me, for some unexplained reason. Mine was another 15-20 minutes, even though it was basically the same dish as the others.

The final test for our waitress was when Jack, and Jack alone, asked for a drink refill.

“Let’s see if she can get this one refill right.” we exaggerated, knowing she could obviously get that much right.

She took his glass to the soda dispenser 20 feet away, filled it, brought it back, and looked at me with a furrowed brow.

“Is this yours, er…?”

I love when people end a question in “er.” One of my favorite ways to end a sentence. Second only to “so.” It means “I’m basically already sure about this, but I want to be CRAZY sure, but I really don’t even need to ask, it’s mostly me just being polite and deferential.”

I pointed to Jack, then put my face in my arm and giggled uncontrollably (after she left). Poor girl.

Her only problem was that she lacked the specialized skill of remembering who ordered what. And the talent of having something to write down orders. As well as the gift of remembering to bring menus. And every other facility a server needs. Kind of like a doctor who is super friendly but vomits at the sight of blood and sickness and who went to crabfishing school instead of medical school.

But none of us were upset. She was just so nice and it was the funniest lunch I’ve had since last week (when I ate lunch while listening to my daily Wanda Sykes podcast). And I can relate. I’ve done things that I was just absolutely the worst at. I hope she finds her thing someday, be it landscaping or PR or bicycle design. But it’s not waitressing. And it’s probably not professional memorizing either.

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15 Responses to Waiting

  1. Ryan says:

    Lol. Good laughs. Dealing with a dingy waiter or waitress can honestly be a lot of fun. We had a middle-eastern waitress last weekend that made it very clear that there was a threshold for splitting the check. If we told her BEFORE we ordered that we want the check split, then it can be split. If we told her AFTER we ordered, then it was too late. We told her in that conversation that we wanted it split among the different couples. Later, when she came to get our order, we ordered first, and THEN reminded her that we wanted it split. And she said “oh no, no, no, too late. I can’t split it now.” She played us like a citar, that lady.

  2. Davis says:

    First of all, a big congrats to you for writing a post! Great job!

    I love people that are super bad at their jobs. It’s good times watching them.

  3. Gina says:

    I especially like the story about Staples. I know it;s not the point, but it was funny anyway.

    I went to happy hour/ dinner with coworkers and the poor little waitress had to remember all our stuff. She didn’t know what a Mai Tai was, and walked away from the table repeating it to herself over and over so she wouldn’t forget the name of it. She brought back a margarita.

  4. Andrea W. says:

    Wow, sorry, Christian, but Davis’ comment killed me! Hilarious. Loved your post too, I’ve missed them! I can’t count how many times I’ve felt like that waitress, where I know I’m missing the boat big time but cannot pull it together. Fortunately, most of the time that makes me pretty empathetic for people like her when i encounter them. Every now and then if I’m in a bad mood it’s just super annoying.

  5. Wade says:

    WARNING: Do NOT. I repeat, DO NOT let any current or former “servers” (not waiters/waitresses anymore) read your post. Otherwise be prepared for the biggest earful from them about “if you only knew” and “can’t people have a bad day at their job” until you are so beaten down that your only chance for redemption is to go back to that restaurant and slip the poor girl a 20 spot for giggling when she brought the refill back.

    That is all.

  6. Amy says:

    In 1990, my parents (not Mormon) took me (Mormon) back to BYU to college. They ordered coffee at 9am at the local Provo McDonalds. Dude, the cashier/order taker asked them seven times if they were sure they meant coffee. Then, they had to have the manager and no less than five other employees come out and each try to see if each other knew how to make the coffee maker work. They eventually got out the manual. 20 minutes later, my parents got the worst cup of coffee in the history of cups of coffee. I’m sure the Provo McDonalds serves more coffee today than twenty years ago given a more diverse community. But back then, it was like my parents ordered up a highly exposive bomb with a remote trigger and told them to super size it. We still laugh about how wierd Provo was back then to 2 ex hippies from California.

  7. Ryan says:

    What a great story Amy. So awesome.

    Wade, you are absolutely right. Former waiters and waitresses are the worst. The ONLY correct response to anything your waiter or waitress does, whether it’s great, awful, mediocre, or strange, is to willingly hand them more of your money. It’s a baffling institution. There are right now hundreds of waiters walking around in this town with the fervent belief that I should right now be paying them money.

    By the way, Kook, I wanted to add that people who end declarative sentences or firm questions with “. . . errr.” are a lot of fun- you nailed that observation. Very funny. The only way to improve on that is a church leader I had once that ended every announcement with ” . . . er whatever.”

  8. StefStar says:

    Former waitress here.
    I had my diatribe all written out, but something tells me to abstain…but that doesn’t mean I’m any different than the ones incriminated here. I don’t know what it is about waitressing, but it’s the worst job in the world and the only benefit from doing it is lifelong empathy. Though you can’t really call that a benefit if it means that you tip WAY too much forever after. Guilty as charged.

  9. Katie Sherman says:

    This story reminded me of another time in another restaurant when someone by the name of Mr. Johnson a.k.a. Fat Blue felt frustrated by the service. Take a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZdweCwVQlMk&feature=related. I mean look at the bright side…at least your eating establishment had food to eat!

  10. Landon says:

    Excellent point Wade!! I don’t make it a habit of admitting that I watch Oprah but i caught a show once and the entire hour was about how to not annoy the waiter (i think it was oprah)! Seriously!? they are the most uptight group of people ever. don’t ask for a new seat, tip this exact percentage, don’t complain about the food. I am sure that serving can’t be that hard. my favorite is “we make like $2.50 an hour” I am sure it all works out financially.

  11. DeNae says:

    Does it bother anyone else that servers take your glass – the glass you could have, if you were of a mind, licked or sneezed on or rubbed anthrax all over – and put it up against the soda dispenser where everyone else’s glasses will also go for refills?

    A server’s tip goes up when they bring me a fresh glass. It goes up again when the glass is filled with diet Coke and there is also a new straw.

    Oh, and I would be a terrible server. I’m not much of an attention-payer.

  12. Elisa says:

    Jefe and I went to dinner this weekend and I thought of this post . Jefe had to keep reminding the waitress that he needed a refill of WATER. When the refill came, it had Coke in it. Not once. Not twice. But FOUR TIMES.

    Baffles the mind.

    That restaurant’s hiring policy CLEARLY must be: “Hold up a mirror and breathe. If it fogs up, you got the job!”

    And DeNae? How did you know I always rub Anthrax on my glasses at restaurants? I guess I’m going to have to go back to my old stand-by: Ebola.

  13. Ben Pratt says:

    My $25 cell phone has a tip calculator. I use it shamelessly. The service can basically only round the tip up or down a bit unless something extra special happens.

    The experiences listed above definitely qualify as extra special.

  14. Christian F. says:

    Hey Christian. I think this is the first time someone renamed me “Jack”. I like it.

    To all of you disgruntled servers out there, we were really, really nice to our server and we even tipped generously. How could we not? She was hilarious and she was ridiculously bad at serving. Not just having a bad day bad, she was “I’ve never been in a restaurant to see how this whole server thing works” bad. Still very nice and entertaining.

  15. Christian F. says:

    Hey Christian. I think this is the first time someone renamed me “Jack”. I like it.

    To all of you disgruntled servers out there, we were really, really nice to our server and we even tipped generously. How could we not? She was hilarious and she was ridiculously bad at serving. Not just having a bad day bad, she was “I’ve never been in a restaurant to see how this whole server thing works” bad. Still very nice and entertaining.

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