My friend, and former coworker at the restaurant where I still work, Adrian, gave me the title to my blog. He said he was walking around the restaurant one busy night thinking silently to himself, "that's not my table. that's not my table. that's my table."
I do the same thing. So do all the other servers I work with. And I bet all the servers in the entire world think the same thing again and again whether a cafe in Paris, a picnic table in Brazil or a fast food diner in Omaha. It's a process of elimination. You look at each table and think which ones you need to focus upon that evening. Tables come and go all night long. Servers are assigned to tables and his or her primarily responsibility is to serve the dining needs of that table. Sorta like children. You don't always get exactly what you asked for but you have to deal with what you do get. Other times you are quite pleased.
Some tables are polite, some are very needy, others a lot of fun, or just plain rude. You really don't pay much attention to other people's tables. Of course if they are waving at you for more ice tea, you'll bring the pitcher. But, like someone else's child, you think to yourself -- why isn't that server taking care of his or her own table? I need to take care of my own tables, my own assigned section. The server better not be in the back smoking a cigarette or at the hostess stand flirting with the young and sexy (aren't they all) hostess while you are taking care of his or her table. By the way, if you think for one minute that server, knowing full well they aren't going to be getting a tip off that table, is going to do much more than the basics for another server's table, well it's obvious you've apparently never worked for tips. Would you babysit another person's child for free. Every night?
A fellow server may complain a table has them running back and forth but you think, oh well, that's not my table. Sometimes we wish our tables would act like other people's tables, kind, ordering expensive bottles of wine and tipping generously. But alas, that's not our table.
Each server who I told the title to my blog nods in recognition. Non servers give me a quizzically look, and I can tell they don't always get what That's Not My Table means. One suggested I put an exclamation mark behind the title. I knew she didn't understand. Servers don't walk around the restaurant clapping their hands in glee as they silently scan the dining room. It's more a mental process, a way of figuring out what to zero in on for the evening, an organizational method to decide responsbility.
Sometimes servers have tables in bad sections, near the kitchen door, and sometimes in excellent sections, by the bay window overlooking the waterfall. Each night sections change. Some tables overlook a swimming pool, others overlook a parking lot. Some babies are born beautiful, other babies not so much. Still, whatever table you are given it is yours to care for.
The good thing about tables is you don't have to give them money, or worry about them when they don't come home with the car and it's after midnight.
Adrian wanted me to make sure I gave him credit where credit is due. Thanks, Adrian, for the title. He may no longer be a server, but he still wants to get tips, if not in the form of money than fame. Well, if not fame, then Thank You!