Etiquette… this is what they call those life lessons mom tried to teach me, with my elbows planted firmly on the table while jamming an uncut mound of salad into my face while reaching across my brothers plate to grab a dinner roll. I remember when I was young her telling me, “if you do that out on a date someday, the girl is going to be very embarrassed and never want to go out with you again…” In my mid to late teens, I interpreted these lessons as “you keep that crap up and you’re never getting to second base!” More on me later…If I wanted to bore you people that badly, I’d have The Cat doing a podcast of Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave.”
This isn’t about how you should or shouldn’t act in a restaurant. I’m sure you all got the “make sure you pull out your date’s chair when you get to the table, that’s a sign of good manners” speech already, or would have if you were paying attention and not loosening the top on the salt shaker. Rather, this is an observation on wait staff, hostesses, bartenders and customers you might find in restaurants… besides every guy knows the most important rule of etiquette, is to open the car door for the lady….so that you may freely pass gas while walking around to the other side of the car, making sure not to get into the car too quickly….well, this applies until you know she really likes you, then you can go back to being the animal you used to be.
What can I say about host/hostesses, they don’t have to be rocket scientists, yet they always manage to seat you next to the only other table with people in an otherwise empty restaurant. Also, I’m not sure why it is they feel the need to seat you next to the bathroom or at a table where so many people walk by, you’d think there was a mass migration going on. The difference being Wildebeest wouldn’t stare quite as much as they were passing. Oh, and a little tip to you kind hosts and hostesses… were not doing the 200 high hurdles here, let’s keep it down to a meandering pace.
Wait staff (fine dining): In culinary school you are taught the first thing out of your mouth to the paying customer should be, “can I get you something to drink?” Not “Hi”, not “my name is Cassidee, that’s with two ee’s but most people try to add a y, isn’t that crazy, any who, welcome to Chez Andy” You don’t sit down with the customer, you don’t lean on the table, don’t get down on your haunches…You ask them if they’d like a drink. period. After you get them a drink, if you have bread or a snack of some sort to offer, bring it, then you can explain the specials. The customer is there to relax, enjoy themselves, each other, and the food. It’s not their job to know your name. If this is trivia night, let them know so they can win something for knowing it. The customer shouldn’t notice anything other than they were well taken care of, for that….you will be rewarded.
Wait staff (Everything else): Feel free to tell me your name and something funny, but then get to asking if I’d like a drink. When a customer sends something back, or tells you something is incorrect… just say “yes”. This is not the time to try and prove you’re right, in fact, sometimes you are….but by trying to win an argument with the customer, you just pissing them off, and telling them they are stupid… which sometimes they are. So let that make you feel warm inside, and just say yes.
Now, this next bit is super important. When it comes to taking the customers order, do me and more importantly, do yourself a favor…WRITE IT DOWN! I’m not impressed with your memorization abilities while taking an order for a table of five, while winking at someone walking by and ignoring what the hell I’m asking for. Because when you come back and my food isn’t exactly what I asked for, I am going to hammer you into dust my little blank expression friend. There is a reason you have a dupe pad and a pencil…use them. Otherwise I’m going to walk you back and forth to that kitchen like a show pony with things I asked for, and things I didn’t….but you won’t know because you were too smart to write them down. If you’re using a dupe pad and pencil, and you make a mistake…mistakes happen, and I know you’re trying your best…I appreciate that and will cut you some slack.
Bartenders: The only thing I have a problem with is when they have no personality, or when they would prefer to spend more than eighty percent of their time with “a regular”. Here’s a thought, include some folks into a conversation at least make the offer to open it up to others with a simple “what do you think about the Bruins this year?” or the like…. If you’re at a bar eating dinner chances are you’re there by yourself, from out of town, or are in the mood for a bit of conversation to kill the time along with some brain cells while having a bite to eat. Keep in mind, someone whose had a good time, a few laughs and felt like “part of the gang”…is likely to tip a few extra bucks, and if in the area again…a repeat customer, all because you were a swell person.
The customer: Ah, the customer….ok
Keep your kids in their seat…and please, I know you can’t control their screaming, but you can control where they scream, it’s just rude to not take action for the folks around you, unless you’re at MickyD’s…then all bets are off. Letting your kids scream and run around like it was your own private Romper Room is not cool… Hello, Magic Mirror called and said for you to sit your crazy assed kids down! In the old days, A.K.A. my youth, this would have equaled a one way trip to spank their ass town. “But Pav, I don’t want to stifle their creativity.” Ok, so have some fun with it, make a poem out of sit down quiet time in the restaurant….Here’s an example:
U are so royal with your own little crown,
when you see a waiter please sit your ass down.
U are as cute as a kitten or pup,
while we’re in the restaurant please shut the F#$k up.
You can use that one people, don’t worry…I’ll make up some more.
Talking on cell phones does not bother me unless I’m eating in a fine dining restaurant. I think people get pissed at it because they either A) can’t hear the other end of the conversation. B) can’t eavesdrop on the conversation being held by the twenty somethings at the table across the room who have been doing more than play footsies under the table all night. I don’t talk on the phone any louder than I do in a person to person conversation…which is what they are doing at their table, having conversations, or should be, if she wasn’t so busy trying to hear everybody else’s. If you do, or know someone who does talk loudly on the phone…stop it, you sound like an idiot.
Do not stare at other people, or their food. Didn’t your mother ever tell you this is rude?! Well, don’t mind me if I use the ole three stooges Moe with two fingers to the eyeballs routine to reinforce that lost lesson.
Do not tell your waiter you can’t have “something” because you’re allergic to it, if you are not allergic to it. Be truthful with what you do and don’t like. If the chef can accommodate he/she will, if they can’t too bad for you. If you are truly allergic to something be specific about it.
Stop sending food back to the kitchen because you’re a dumb ass, and don’t know what medium rare is. Or sending back fried food because it seems greasy….you know what, it is greasy, it just came out of 375 degree oil… it’s probably gonna have some of that grease on, or in it. Look, kitchens make mistakes, they are back there sweating their asses off to make good and tasty food for you… your peas touching your potato is not a good reason to send food back. Sending a well done steak back because you asked for medium rare is a good time to send it back. After all, you can’t stuff the shit back in the mule. Oh, and when you do send it back…. be nice about it… they really do try hard.
Do tip well! The waitstaff, bartenders, bus people all work very hard to make you happy and ensure that you have a good night. Help ensure that they can get groceries and pay rent. I promise they won’t become millionaires just because you tip an extra four or five percent.
Just relax and be human, if you wouldn’t do it with company over at your house, don’t do it in a restaurant. If you are with someone who is acting the fool. Here’s a fun game you can play that writer P.J. O’Rourke used to play with his buddies at Rolling Stone Magazine. Take the little stainless steel creamer (yep, the one with a lid on it that looks like a mini trash can). Let’s call him Carl the Creamer, use your thumb to lift the lid up and down as if Carl is talking…(high pitched voice)”Carl’s Hungry….Feed ME!” says Carl…. pass him in front of the others at your table and have them feed Carl bits of food, sugar packets, tea bags etc… until Carl is full. When the meal is over pick Carl up and make Carl start to talk again…Carl: “uh…gosh, I don’t feel so well….I probably shouldn’t have eaten so much…I think….I’m gonna be…..” Then open the lid all the way up and toss at the offending ass at the table…I guarantee you will get a laugh from everybody else at the table.
Have a super weekend…