Tag Archives: Diet Coke

Green olives, a lot of them

When I’m waiting tables, I try to tell myself to chill out, that whenever I find myself getting bent out of shape, it’s usually my attitude that’s the source of the problem. Like I don’t like getting bossed around, or I don’t like having to make an unnecessary trip into the kitchen. All of that stuff is my job, and if I can just suck it up and not take it as a personal insult every time someone asks me for a Diet Coke, I’ll get through the shift a lot happier, I’ll probably be genuinely more pleasant, all of that nonsense about well-being and inner-peace.


But every once in a while I can’t, and I feel justified in my anger. The other day I was in the dining room, and this party of four or five got sat at one of my coworker’s tables. I went over to get a drink order, which I’m happy to do, not only because it’s nice to help out, but because that’s a rule at our restaurant, that you have to go over and get a drink order even if it’s not your table.

For a while it’s a mostly painless interaction. Coke. Water. Coke. Diet Coke. But then I get to this lady at end, and she tells me, “I want a Diet Coke, and then I want lemons on the side, but a lot of them, OK, a lot of lemons, and also I want green olives, OK, and I want a lot of those too.” And then guy to her right was like, “Coke.”

But I couldn’t get past her order, because it didn’t make sense. “I’m sorry, you said you wanted lemons and … ?” and she replied, “Yeah, a lot of them. OK. A whole plate.” So I said to her, “Right, OK, but it was lemons and what else?” At this point I really wished I hadn’t had the misfortune of dealing with any of this. “Green olives,” she confirmed, “A lot.”

Like I said, I’m happy to help out, to an extent. But this was already getting a little crazy. And yeah, if it were my table, and I was maybe looking at a tip heading my way, sure, I’d probably be a little more inclined to accommodate crazy requests. But as it stood, this was just a difficult situation that I could tell wasn’t going end with me grabbing a few olives.

This was during the downtime in between lunch and dinner service, so even though the restaurant wasn’t particularly busy, the whole place was running on not much more than a skeleton crew of servers and managers. There was no bartender on duty, so I had to go behind the bar and fish around to find where they kept the olives. And then I had to skewer them on these little sticks. It was so annoying, all of this on top of their sodas, I had to cut up all of those lemons that she wanted along with her olives.

When I went to run everything out, again, it’s not like anybody was around to help me out, and so I had to make a few trips. On my first go, I had the drinks and the plate of lemons. I left the olives on the bar so I could come right back. When I went to set everything down at the table, the lady didn’t even give me a second, she was just like, “Excuse me? Can I get a plate of green olives? Like a lot of …”

And I just walked back to the bar, because I didn’t want to risk giving her a dirty look, something that communicated nonverbally, “Are you fucking kidding me lady? Do you see my hands totally full with all of these drinks? Can you give me more than maybe five seconds to satisfy your completely unreasonable demands?”

I came back and dropped off the plate of olives. There were three skewers with three olives speared to each. I didn’t even have a chance to set the plate down in front of her when she grabbed one of the skewers and started chowing down. Jesus Christ, I wanted absolutely nothing else to do with this table. What was wrong with this person? Why didn’t anybody else at her table tell her stop acting like a complete crazy person?

This took up way too much of my time, and I found myself immediately running errands for my actual tables. Maybe five minutes later, I had just bused like six plates and was heading back to the kitchen when the olive lady started waving at me from across a row of booths. She held up her empty plate and said in a voice that projected across half of the restaurant, “Can I get some more olives? A lot more, please.”And I just nodded, put my head down, dropped off the plates in the dishwasher, and I disappeared in one of the storage closets. I couldn’t deal with this. I was about to lose my mind over this lady asking for olives. And I didn’t want to do anything stupid, so I just hid. Hopefully her server would walk by the table soon enough and he or she could deal with these insane requests.

Because seriously, what the fuck? You want olives so badly? Is this because you’re crazy? Or are you just super cheap and you’re looking to get a free appetizer out of massive quantities of cocktail garnishes? I remember one time I had a similar experience where a customer kept asking for pickles, more pickles, a whole bowl full. Finally a manager told me,
“You know what? Tell her we’re charging her five dollars for pickles,” and of course the lady said no, but she was pissed, and she left me a shitty tip.

It’s not like you go out to a restaurant to eat olives. Just go to a grocery store and buy a bottle. Go to your house, make sure no one else is home to see what a lunatic you are, and have at it, eat the whole bottle. Drink the brine after you’re done. Everybody does crazy things, that’s fine, I’m not judging. OK, I guess I am judging a little. But leave the rest of us out of it, OK? I’ll get you a Diet Coke, I’ll run your food back and forth, I’m pretty malleable in terms of dealing with whatever you want me to do. But I’m going to stop what I’m doing to get you another plate of olives? Get lost, all right, you’re fucking nuts.

Workplace diplomacy

You have no idea what kind of lunatics I have to deal with at work. The other day Maggie, one of my coworkers, she comes busting into my office, she’s like, “Rob, you know, if you’re not going to make any ice cubes, it’d be nice if you didn’t use them all. OK? Because now there’s no ice. So thanks a lot.”


And yeah, I did take all of the ice cubes, but just the way she came at me, like no knocking, and no, I wasn’t on the phone or anything, but I was in the middle of reading something, I was on the Internet. And she’s all like yelling and pointing, she’s holding a can of Diet Coke in one hand and an empty glass in the other, like look Rob, Diet Coke, glass, no ice. Thanks a lot.

Sure, I could have been a little more diplomatic about everything, right, I told HR that I’d do my best to handle office situations like this a little bit more diplomatically, that’s what the letter that they made me sign said, I just remember that word, diplomatically, like I’m an office diplomat. But I lost it, I said, “Maggie, what the hell’s your problem?” and she kind of smiled, because yeah, I came out swinging, I said “hell” which isn’t very diplomatic, and so I could just tell she was already filling out the official complaint in her head, “And he was cursing,” and then I’d have to write out my own counter-complain, explaining how technically “hell” isn’t a curse, even though, yes, it is all about context, and no, I shouldn’t have said that.

But I was already knee deep in, and so I pushed ahead. “One, what are you, in charge of the ice?” And she was like, “Yeah, I filled up the ice tray this morning. Now there’s none left.” At this point she pointed to my desk. I had a huge glass of ice, which, whatever, yes, I used all of the ice. And this I admitted, albeit not very diplomatically.

“I’m sorry,” I told Maggie, “I didn’t know it was your ice. I thought it was the office’s ice. OK, and I filled up the tray with water after I was done. Why don’t you just come back in a couple of hours and you’ll have all the ice you want?” and she shot right back, “Well how about next time, you save some ice for the rest of us, especially considering you weren’t the one who filled it up this morning, I did, because I was planning on having an ice cold Diet Coke right about now. And now I can’t. Because you took all of the goddamn ice.”

Now I smiled back, I was already mentally adding on my future report to HR, that not only is “hell” not a curse, but if it is, then maybe you should talk to Maggie about cursing, because she told me “goddamn.” “Maggie, where’d you get that Diet Coke, from the office kitchen?”

“Yeah? So?” she said. “Well, it’s from the fridge right? It’s still cold. I don’t understand what you’re complaining about. Why don’t you just chill the f out …” shit, I shouldn’t have said f. Even though I didn’t say “fuck,” I only said f. There’s a lot of room for her to make it look like I said “fuck” and this was potentially a problem, because I could just see my response to HR, in my head, there was no way of phrasing a defense without writing out, “f,” or even, “fuck,” no, just “f.” Still. That was sloppy.

She smiled, “Well you know what? I filled up the ice. OK? And who are you to talk about ice cold soda? You’re telling me to drink it from the can, but you’ve got an ice cold Coke right next to a glass of ice. Don’t you think that’s maybe a little hypocritical?”

It’s true, I was using a full glass for my own refrigerated Coke. I like pouring just a sip, and then I drink it, and then another. Each drop perfectly chilled without being diluted. But I was on the ropes now, I didn’t have time for any concessions. “Look, it’s ice OK? It doesn’t matter who fills it up, and even though I’m grateful that you replenished the tray …”

“Bullshit you’re grateful.”

Bingo. I continued, “Even though I’m grateful, I didn’t think I had to ask everybody in the office if I could take some ice. Do you go around asking people who replaced the toilet paper in the bathroom? Huh? You want to get into that time I saw you not refill paper tray two on the annex printer with fresh paper? Remember that?”

And Maggie just looked at me, I was smiling, we were even for curses, and she said, “You know what Rob? Go fuck yourself, asshole.” And she stormed out.

I thought, ha, talk about a win. And I’d be the bigger person here. I had the cold drink. I didn’t see the need to involve HR.

But then ten minutes later I thought, you know what? Fuck Maggie. And I opened a new Word document and told HR all about how Maggie stormed into my office and told me to go fuck myself. I hope she gets fired.

Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite

I hate it when you go out to a restaurant and all they have to drink is Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite. That’s all we serve at my restaurant. The royal triumvirate of boring sodas. It’s like I can just picture whoever started the place, they’re considering all of the locally selected ingredients for each carefully plated dish. And then right after they finish planning the menu, one of them says, “Oh wait, we forgot to go over beverages.”


The other guy goes, “What do you mean, like soda? Just get Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite.” And that’s it. It’s like there’s no imagination at all, not even the possibility that you might branch out even a step into the wider world of soft drinks.

And this isn’t anything against Coke. It’s great. I hate Diet Coke, but whatever, that’s not a fight I’m willing to pick, because people love Diet Coke, and so yeah, not my cup of tea. I do love Coke Classic. But I love cheeseburgers also. It doesn’t mean I want every meal to be a cheeseburger. Nor do I want every drink I have to be a Coke.

I just don’t get it, because there are so many more interesting sodas besides Coke and Sprite. How did we wind up as these two being the standard? It’s like ice cream, you’ve got vanilla and chocolate. Hot drinks, it’s coffee and tea. And for soda, you’ve got whatever flavor Coke is supposed to be and then lemon-lime.

You ever go to a restaurant and ask if they orange soda? Or Mountain Dew? You won’t even get a response right away. The waiter or waitress is just going to stare at you for a little while, to communicate as passive-aggressively as they can, are you kidding me? Are you seriously asking me if we have orange soda or Mountain Dew? Of course we don’t. Of course we only have Coke or Sprite. What the hell is your problem?

I know this because I’m a waiter, and I can’t stand it when people waste my time, “What kind of soft drinks do you have?” And what do I do? I don’t want to be a dick. I don’t want to be like, you’re an idiot, we only have Coke, Diet Coke and Sprite. But that’s all we have. Sure, I can mention unsweetened ice tea, I can throw in seltzer, but that’s it, everybody’s left deflated by the interaction. I don’t know what you were expecting.

But why is artificial orange flavor that much different than artificial lemon and lime flavor? Why is it socially acceptable to have a brown or a clear carbonated beverage in front of you at a restaurant while a green or a neon yellow one would make it look like you snuck out to Pizza Hut to order a soda to bring back to the table?

Cream soda, root beer, grape soda, Dr. Pepper, there are so many alternative soda flavors we could add to the standard restaurant drink menu to make everything more interesting. But no, you’re lucky if you go to a restaurant that has ginger ale.

Every restaurant by me, they proudly serve at least forty-five craft beers on tap. The wine gets its own telephone book sized menu. Bourbons, scotches, spirits, hold on, let me get the liquor manager to come over and give you a history lesson on single malts vs. blends. But soda? We’ve got Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite. It’s not fair. I love soda. I would love to have some variety when I feel like enjoying a sugary carbonated beverage.

No more free refills on soda

At the restaurant where I wait tables, management recently got rid of the soda fountain. Whereas before five dollars would get you unlimited Coke and Diet Coke, now five dollars gets you one twelve ounce bottle of soda. Whatever, I was all bent out of shape about it initially. I hated having to explain a stupid change in soda policy to every single table that I wound up serving.

bottled soda

“What is this?”

“We recently switched to bottled …”

“So no more free refills?”

“No. I’m sorry.”

“It’s OK. But I hate you. And I’m not tipping you. And I’m going to follow you home and egg your house. Asshole.”

OK, nobody actually said that last one to me, not explicitly. But I’d stand there and smile and bullshit about how, “We really just want to make sure you’re enjoying an optimal soda drinking experience,” and I could tell these people wanted me dead. They don’t care about quality. If you’re a Diet Coke drinker, you’re not in some sort of a quest for quality. It’s super popular, yeah, everybody drinks it, but come on, does anyone truly enjoy Diet Coke? What is that taste? It’s like a battery that’s been left out to rot out in some old socks for a decade before accidentally being dropped into a vat of Coke Classic.

I’m getting carried away. I realize that now. A couple of months have passed and our customers have since gotten used to no longer receiving unlimited, intravenous Coca-Cola, and so I don’t have to talk about it all that much anymore. But at the time, man was I pissed. I was so angry. I came right home after that first shift and wrote a whole blog post about how much I hate bottled soda, how much I hate my managers, how the restaurant industry is this giant scam.

I sat on it for a couple of weeks, I always sit on my writing for a couple of weeks, and it’s a good thing too. Because I reread my diatribe against the soda policy and I scratched my head, like, huh, I was getting all bent out of shape over this? Over Diet Coke? Come on. That’s lame.

Although I am pissed off that I don’t get to drink free soda anymore. That used to be a really minor perk of working where I work. Every five minutes or so I’d fill up a huge glass of seltzer and I’d pound it down, enjoying that crazy sensation of those bubbles trying to go every which way, up my nose, down my throat. I’d close the back of my throat and squint my eyes really hard, because you know, just try chugging any carbonated beverage, that’s no joke. But it would pass and I’d feel instantly refreshed and recharged.

Now I can’t do that anymore. Before I had a perk. Now, there’s no perk. And I’m not being dramatic. I tried chugging a glass of plain water, and I almost quit right there. One, it’s boring. There’s absolutely nothing going on with a glass of plain water. Two, there is no two. It’s just one, water is boring. No bubbles, no fun.

I also tried switching to unsweetened iced tea, and that worked for about two hours. I’d fill up a glass, squeeze a lemon, and I’d get that refreshment, I liked the added caffeine kick. But you ever try downing more than two large glasses of unsweetened iced tea in a short time? Man, it’s like I boarded an express train to upset-stomach central. I had to sit down. I thought I caught some sort of a virus.

Finally, I’d like to end with a little anecdote. So we have bottles of soda, which means tons of empty bottles that we’re throwing straight in the trash. I can’t believe restaurants can get away without recycling that much plastic. I think that if I tried that in my house, the city would give me a fine. Anyway, this one waiter started collecting all of the soda caps.

I was like, hey man, what are you doing? And he was like, “Oh, well, you see these codes under the caps? If you type them into the Coca-Cola web site, they’ll donate .0001 cents to the charity of your choice.”

I was like, wow, thanks, I guess. But what I was really thinking was, Coke, you’re willing to donate all of this money to charity, but only if some random person gets on his or her computer and types out a long string of nonsense onto the Internet? Don’t be an asshole, Coca-Cola. Either donate to charity or don’t donate to charity. Don’t condition you’re philanthropy on whether or not you can get complete strangers to sit at their computers and do a bunch of mindless, unproductive busy-work.