Where I write

Where I write

January 4, 2012

My Server Hopes for 2012

Some people hope for world peace in 2012. Some hope the world won't end. Others are ready for a new president while some want to stay with the same. Some hope to finally win the lottery or lose 25 pounds. My hopes are much smaller (though that 25 pounds sounds pretty good). These are my server hopes for 2012.

1. Parents will not let the children toss their food on the floor, create art work on the menu, pout, cry, and be rude.  Most of all I dream of a day when parents will not use servers to teach restaurant etiquette, at least not when the server is busy. The server needs to be busy because that's how the server makes money. That's the lesson parents should teach their kids. Anyway,  I can be super busy and the parent will say, "Now Lisa tell the server what you want." After five minutes of coaxing, Lisa will answer in a teeny, tiny voice, "hamburger." Fine. Oh but wait. Lesson isn't over. Next the parent will say, "tell the server thank you." I don't really need the thank you especially when the parents get sometimes very nasty to their own children about the thank you.

This is an actual conversation which occurred at a table recently. "Mark look at the server when you are saying thank you," said the father. "I am," said Mark. "No you aren't," said the father. "Yes I am," said little Mark. And on and on and on. I probably would still be standing there if I hadn't finally said, "It's okay."  Some kids are adorable and polite and so sweet I want to pinch their cheeks but far too often the parents let their kids treat the dining room restaurant like a McDonald's play land which can be mighty dangerous with servers running around carrying glasses and heavy trays. Do they want their child to get run over? Ya gotta wonder.
This is what I think is "good" to eat. It's a soy burger with zucchini slices. Many times people will ask me "what's good here to eat? what do you like? is this good or is that good??" When have you ever gone to a resturant and a server told you anything on the menu was bad. Think hard.

My hope is instead of asking me what I think is "good" people will allow me to describe the ingredients and how items on the menu are prepared.  Simple. The diner can make an informed decision.  Alas, sometimes this doesn't even work. The diner will narrow his eyes and say, "hmmmm you don't act very excited about that trout or prime rib." What do they want cartwheels? I do my best to talk with enthusiasm about everything. Actually, there have been times when I suggested to a diner he or she should avoid something on the menu. Often, people ignored my advice, seemed to purposely order that food item, and tell me after it was wonderful.  Food is so subjective. Sorta like clothes. I bought the cutest pair of black and white boots at Ross for my birthday last month but my friend wasn't too keen on them. She said they made my feet look like Sasquatch. We all have different tastes.

3.  My final hope is that I one day might work for this happy group of chefs. Don't they look jolly! So what if they are drinking on the job.
The chefs are smiling and not yelling at server because a diner had food allergies and wanted a special order or because the diner sent food back cause it sucked or because the server dared to ask a question about something on the menu. No. These chefs are happy chefs. Actually, I haven't seen a truly happy chef since 1977. I've never actually met a chef who likes a server.  Chefs tolerate servers, barely. In general every chef or cook I've worked with from Chicago to Denver to Phoenix believe servers have the lowest IQ of anything on the planet, including zebra and houseplants.  Well I can dream of working with a happy chef who likes me. Better than hoping for the world to end.

After working as a server more than half my life I have come to the conclusion that most people who eat out are hoping this woman, or someone similar, is cooking for them in the kitchen and not young men right out of culinary school. They want to think that  mom, or auntie, or grandma, maybe even grandpa, is behind the stove preparing with love and attention and devotion what they will soon be eating. Along with that illusion, they want peace and quiet, not some kid splaying food around the room, a kind and smart server, not one upset and close to crying because the kitchen staff is busy and freaking out at her. Not as if that has ever happened to me. Sigh.

My hope is I can remain calm in the middle of any restaurant storm so that when diners leave they feel as if they were nurtured both physically and emotionally. Then my hope is that they will have tipped accordingly so that I feel financially nurtured. Okay, so if none of my hopes come true than I hope we are all still here in 2013.


SunsetCindi said...

I hope that all of your server visions come true. It's too bad that all servers aren't as good-natured as you are. Even though it can be a nerve shackling job, I can't see you ever being mean to a customer, even if they have tried your patience to the limits. You're a real pro.

We had the best server yesterday at this little diner in Yarnell. Her name was Brandi and she treated us as if we were in her home. I told Joshua that I actually missed my days when I worked at Zander's Cafe on Van Buren. I had the best customers and it was a real family.
Keep up the great work you do in creating a relaxing experience for diners and making them feel at home.

Brandy Lee said...

hey, my name is brandy! ;) i hope that my guest feel that way! And I hope we are all still alive in 2013 too susanne! I love your blog and read it all the time now from my computer at home. I love your writing style it always makes me laugh!

Rita A. said...

I love reading your blog because I can hear your voice coming right through. It isn't stiffled or exact it is full of personality, your personality.We often ask to be moved if there are "those kids" around. It is so unpleasant to have unruly kids in my dining space. Besides the safety issue. The world is lulcky to have a server like you (and to still be here.)

J.C. Nierad said...

Susanne, I love this post. Sound like reasonable (and deserved) "server hopes" for 2012. By writing them down and including photos, you made yourself a virtual vision board. They are sure to come true! Cheers to a writing/serving year full of good surprises!