Tag Archives: restaurant

Just get lost

I was waiting tables the other night and I went up to these two ladies finishing up their glasses of wine, I said, “So, is there anything else that I can offer you tonight?” and this one lady just looked up at me and said, “Will you just get lost? Can you please just get lost?” And I was like, “OK.”


And I walked away. And I’m still thinking about it, because I have no idea what prompted her to tell me to get lost. Everything about the service was as polite and as pleasant as any customers could have wanted their restaurant experience to be. I mean, sure, I had an inkling at the beginning of the interaction that perhaps these two particular ladies weren’t in the mood for many pleasantries. I could tell by the way they purposefully left their menus untouched to the side when they sat down, how, after I told them the specials, they didn’t even look at me when they said, “Thanks,” before returning to their conversation, still not making a move for those menus.

After they finally ordered, when they were in the middle of their chicken salads, I noticed the guest sitting at position one, how her glass of rosé was empty. “May I offer you another glass?” I asked her, to which she replied, “No.” OK, so I went in to take the empty glass off of the table, but she stopped me, she said, “I’m not done yet.”

OK. And then after everything was bused off of the table, after I had offered them dessert, after they declined dessert, I thought, well, I guess that’ll be it then, right? I guess maybe you two will leave and I’ll get to make another ten bucks or so from the next two-top to sit down and order chicken salads and glasses of wine.

But as I went in for that, “Anything else?” the lady at position one gave me a really crooked smile and sad, “You know what? I think I will take that second glass of wine.” “Of course,” I told her, and got her another glass of wine. I’m not sure if she drank the wine, or if the alcohol in the glass eventually evaporated, but about an hour or so later, it was pretty clear that the glass was empty again. And so I went over once more.

“Is there anything else I can offer you tonight?” and that’s when she told me to get lost. And I just said, “OK.” I’m still thinking about what went wrong, at what point this lady decided that I needed some sort of a verbal dressing-down. Every customer has this weapon at their disposal, the ability to be rude and mean for no reason at all, knowing full well that they’re never going to be held accountable, that we’ll just have to smile it off or, worse, argue back and risk getting into a whole confrontation probably involving at least one manager.

I dropped off the check and watched them sit there at their empty table for another half hour or so. I’m sure I could have kept going over, “Anything else?” all of the passive-aggressive tricks I have at my disposal, I could have wiped down the table, or refilled their water glasses every time I saw them take a sip, all the way to the brim, almost overflowing, maybe even overflowing just a few drops.

But whatever, I didn’t care, I don’t care, part of me hates this lady for telling me to get lost. I’m talking real hate here, like the kind of emotion that, left unchecked, eventually amplifies into something twisted. But I don’t want that, not for me. Let this lady keep all of it. I know for a fact that I was polite and pleasant and I smiled the whole time. No, much better to go home, get on the Internet, and write about what a fucking loser that lady was.

Well, maybe I can hang on to just a little bit. I don’t know what I want here, not revenge, I don’t want her life to be worse than it already is. But maybe she could get a taste of something great and lose it immediately. That would be OK, right? So I hope she buys a scratch-off ticket that wins a two-million dollar jackpot, and then I hope she loses it. I hope that her boss promotes her to head a new division of the company that she works at, but right as she shows up for her first day, she gets a call, they tell her corporate didn’t think the new division was such a great idea, that she’ll be returning to her old job immediately. I hope the next time she goes to McDonald’s, she tells them, “No pickles,” and after she goes home and takes her food out, I hope she finds extra pickles, like a whole cucumber’s worth piled up high under that bun. I hope she find the perfect dress on sale the next time she goes shopping at the department store, the one that she’d been eyeing for months, and just as she takes it out of the bag when she gets home, her cat comes over and pukes all over it, and she tries to get the puke-stain out, but it’s still there, she can see it, it smells terrible. And she’ll try to return it, but the clerk at the department store will clearly see the cat puke-stain that won’t come out, she’ll insist, they’ll both insist, finally the clerk will tell her to take her dress and get lost. “Just get lost, all right? Just get lost.”

Throw caution to the wind

Do it. Just go for it. Do you have a dream? Live it. Don’t think about it. Don’t give yourself any time to come up with all of those excuses and reasons for why you shouldn’t do it, or why it might not be responsible, how much money it would cost, who might get hurt along the way. Just get out there and go.


Live a little. Live as recklessly as you want. I used to have this dream where I’d climb to the top of the Queensboro Bridge. But you know what happened? I didn’t do it. Why? I think that I thought about it too much. And now it’s already cemented in my brain, all of those thought processes, the whole scenario playing out in my head to the point where, even if I decided to go ahead with the climb, I’d immediately have a dozen or so very real visions of how it would go down, what I’d have to do to avoid all of those potential problems.

No, it’s all too premeditated by this point. I’d just wind up psyching myself out. You know what I should have done? I should have just started climbing the very second that I had the idea to climb it in the first place. Obviously it would have been convenient if I happened to be right underneath the bridge when the idea first popped into my head.

But it didn’t. I think I thought about it first when I was watching the third Batman movie, that scene where he climbs to the top to look out over the city. I was like, wow, that’s awesome, I want to do that. But then I got lost in the rest of the movie, and by the time the whole bridge idea finally resurfaced in my conscious thoughts, I was already too busy thinking stuff like, what are the police going to do when they arrest me? Am I going to get fired for missing work? If I apply for a new job, how am I going to explain this when I have to answer “yes” to that question that asks, “Have you ever been arrested?”

Just go for it. Throw caution to the wind. Has anybody ever said that to you in real life? To throw caution to the wind? I think I’ve only read it, it’s one of those cliché pieces of advice that everyone has floating around in their heads. But here it applies. Like at a restaurant. Don’t look at the menu. Just order. Just look at the waiter and say, “I’ll have the steak.” If he comes up to the table and says something like, “Would you like to hear about the specials?” just say, “I’ll have the special.”

If he continues, if he says, “We actually have several specials tonight,” don’t listen to him, your whole game is going to be shaken. If he tells you about specials one, two, and three, it won’t matter which one you’re ordering, because you’ll be thinking about how good the other two dishes would have been. And how do you know you made the right choice?

Just tell the waiter, “I’ll have the steak special.” No, better yet, go into the restaurant with really heavy duty earplugs, hand the waiter a piece of paper that says, “I’m not going to listen to you, nor will I look at the menu. Just bring me something awesome.”

Just live a little. Just go for it. Just throw all caution to the wind. Did I say that already? Well I’m saying it again. And if you’ve never heard that expression before, here it is, read it again. Now you’ve heard it twice.

Hopefully they left a decent tip

The other day I was at work waiting tables. Even though none of the servers pool tips, we still have a system in place where we rely heavily on each other’s support. One aspect of this codependency involves greeting the customers that have just sat down. Officially, it’s supposed to be within thirty seconds, the party gets sat, and the nearest available waiter or waitress has to do the whole, “Hi! How’s it going? Can I get you something to drink?”


It’s a good system, because you can’t be everywhere at once, and it’s nice to know that if you get stuck in the back wrapping up a bunch of doggy bags, for example, that the rest of your customers aren’t going to be left out to hang, waiting for someone to show up, slowly steaming, thinking all the while of how somebody is going to pay for this, it’s going to be the server, it’s going to be reflected in the tip.

But it goes both ways. Every once in a while you ask if they’d like to start out with a drink and you get ambushed by a, “We’re actually in a rush, we’ll give you everything right now, we’re ready, we’re really hungry.” And then you’re committed, you can’t be like, “Well, you see, I’m only here for the drink order …” people hate that nonsense, going to a restaurant, trying to figure out who does what. It makes sense that I just take over, do what I can, try to help out wherever possible.

Like I said, I found myself in this situation the other day, an older couple, they were definitely from out of town, they were hungry, and in a rush, so they gave me everything. Fine. I took their order, I went to put everything in the computer, and then I proceeded to get the drinks ready. The man wanted a Coke, and the lady wanted and iced tea, “With lots of ice, and extra lemon.”

Our restaurant has these sixteen ounce glasses, and our ice machine spits out ice in giant chunks. The glasses can only really hold five ice cubes, but this lady said extra, and I wanted her to see that I was paying attention, and so I kind of put a sixth one on top and then softly hammered the whole thing in with the back of the ice scoop.

I approached the table with the plate of extra lemons balanced on my forearm, and just as I set down that glass of iced tea in front of that lady, she says to me, “Didn’t I tell you that I wanted a lot of ice?”

And my job is not to give people attitude or anything like that. Even if it was, this wasn’t my table, we don’t share gratuity, and so this wasn’t even my money on the line. Really, all I had to do was drop these drinks off and that would have been the end of my interaction with this man and woman. But I couldn’t process this lady’s question to me, even though it wasn’t a question, it was just a little dart of sentence flung into my neck with a decorative question mark dangling at the end.

I didn’t have time to smile and be professional. I shot back, “More ice? There are six giant ice cubes in that cup. That’s the most ice that can fit in that glass.” And she looked a little shocked, I was a little shocked, I mean, she was definitely pushing buttons, but rarely in the service industry does button pushing actually result in a server pushing back. That’s not allowed.

I realized my mistake. Even though the ice was just as she asked, again, it’s not my job to push back, it’s my job to take all of that bullshit and smile. And like I said before, this wasn’t even my tip on the line, so now I not only started to worry about a rudeness complaint possibly heading my way, but I began to feel bad that I was negatively impacting the amount of money that wasn’t even going into my pocket.

Maybe half a second passed before I abruptly changed my entire demeanor. I put on the most sincere smile I could manage, I said to her, “But I’m happy to get you some more ice. I’ll be right back.” And I raced back to the kitchen, hoping that I could get this lady some more ice before she even had a minute to think about what I’d said and how the whole situation could have been handled differently.

Thirty seconds later, I had two more cups filled with ice, another twelve oversized ice cubes, in front of her. I finished our interaction with another ridiculously sincere smile, and then I disappeared, hoping that all would have been forgiven, that maybe they wouldn’t have even noticed my micro-outburst, those two or three seconds where I forgot my place, where I was, who I was talking to. Hopefully they left a decent tip.

It was all a dream

I went skydiving a few weeks ago, but it turned out to have only been a dream. I wrote about it. It was really scary. A couple of days later I got into a really bad car accident. It wasn’t even my car, it was my sister’s, and I was really drunk, and the cops were making me take this field sobriety test, because in my belligerent state, I took the breathalyzer out of my mouth and threw it into the woods. And so everyone was really pissed off, they were cuffing me, someone was trying to get my sister on the phone, but then one of the cops started blinking red and saying, “Beep! Beep! Beep!” and then I woke up in my bed to the alarm clock, it turned out that it was all a dream.


So that was kind of a relief, until a day or two after that I came home from work and my house wasn’t there, it had been burned to the ground. And my wife was standing outside, she was crying, obviously, and she turned to me and said, “Didn’t I tell you to make sure my hair dryer was unplugged? Didn’t I? The fire marshal said it was an electrical fire. It’s all your fault Rob. It’s all …”

Dream. That was a dream too. It was also a dream that same night, after I finally managed to get back to sleep, I had a dream that I was in the emergency room, some doctor was like, “Well, you shouldn’t have taken so many Tylenol. Why did you think ten pills was a good idea?” and I couldn’t give a good answer, because of course I know you’re not supposed to overdo it on Tylenol. Advil’s OK once in a while, you can take three or four, but Tylenol will mess you up. But like I said, it was a dream, even though I didn’t know it at the time, even though it felt so real, the priest being called in to deliver my last rites as my liver and kidneys started to fail at the same time.

The next day I got home from work, the next thing I knew I was right back at the restaurant, I felt like no time had passed at all, and the place was crazy. “Rob!” my boss screamed, “I need this side of mayonnaise out to table thirteen right! This! Second!” and I was trying, I really was, but I couldn’t remember when they’d installed the moving sidewalk in the middle of the dining room. If it was supposed to be a convenience, it wasn’t, and all of the customers kept fighting it, walking upstream, and I was trying to get to table thirteen but all the table numbers had changed, and my boss was just standing right next to me, I don’t even know how was managing the crowd when I could barely stand up straight, “Rob! What’s wrong with you! Table! Thirteen! Now!”

And I turned around and I slipped and I was lying down face first in a really shallow puddle. It was so shallow, only an inch deep really, just barely enough water to cover my mouth and my nose, but I couldn’t move my body, I could only barely rock it back and forth, but only if I used every ounce of strength I could muster, and still it wasn’t enough to break free from that puddle, and I couldn’t breathe and I felt the life slipping away, all while my boss kept yelling at me about the mayonnaise.

Finally I managed to get to my feet, but I had been struggling so hard, every muscle in my body was clenched, including my jaw, which was unnecessary, and unfortunate, because I’d chomped down to the point where my teeth crumbled, it was just tooth-sand in my mouth, tiny pebbles falling past my lips while I futilely tried to keep everything in, like maybe I’d be able to fix this, all while more pebbles got in my throat, I was choking, I couldn’t breath again.

And then I woke up in my bed, it was all a dream. But I couldn’t move yet, because I’d woken up too suddenly. All I could do was open my eyes and wait for the movement to return to my limbs, all while the sleep-paralysis demon sat grinning on my chest, in the middle of the night, staring down at me, whispering incomprehensible threats in his sleep-demon language. And everybody in the classroom was pointing and laughing. Because I was naked. And it was all a dream.

You know what sucks? The lunch rush

I hate waiting tables during lunch. It brings out the worst in me, in the guests, in my coworkers. It brings out the worst in all of us, really, as a species. And I’m not just talking about my restaurant, I’m talking about the lunch hour, as a practice. If you’re lucky enough to be able to take a lunch break at all, it’s generally never more than an hour. Come spend eight hours a day working for us, and by the way, that doesn’t include a lunch break, that’s on you. And don’t take more than an hour.


As a waiter, dinner’s pretty easy. People start rolling in around five or six, and the dining room stays pretty full until closing. That’s plenty of time to make money, to let people eat, finish chewing their food, the whole restaurant experience. But lunchtime, nobody’s cutting anybody any slack. We’ve got to do the whole restaurant thing, but it’s got to be over in an hour. Everybody got it? Hostesses, you ready to seat all of these people? Cooks? You guys all set?

Because it’s noon and there’s already a line out the door. And parties of business people get sat and they want their Diet Cokes and unsweetened ice teas immediately. And you know what? We’ll just give you everything right now, we’re ready, burger, boom, salad, got it, let’s go, get it in, if we get our food quick enough, maybe we’ll have ten minutes or so to spend outside before filing back into the offices, another five or six or seven hours of sitting down, pouring whatever reserves of energy we have left out to our jobs, so even though, yeah, I guess we could technically go out for a walk at nine, or ten, we’ve got to eat, and we’re so tired, it’s been such a long day.

So yeah, that lunch hour, that’s a lot of pressure, sixty minutes to try and feel like a normal person sandwiched by two stretches of productivity. Why can’t we figure something else out? Wouldn’t two hours be cool? Or three? Sure, that might eat up into a company’s bottom line, and yeah, what would the shareholders say? But then again, might not a shorter workday lead to less stressed out employees? Shouldn’t that be a goal?

But that’s not the way we do business, and so we’re stuck with the lunch hour, way too little time for everybody, especially if you want to sit down at a restaurant and enjoy an actual meal. “Hi, we’re actually in a little bit of a hurry …” Of course you’re in a hurry. Everybody’s in a hurry. I’m actually in a hurry too. I only have about two hours or so to make money today, so I’d like to get you fed and out of here in as little time as possible. And look at that, everyone else is saying the same thing to their server, that they’re in a hurry. And the whole restaurant staff, we’re all racing to the computers, trying to get your lunch in before everyone else gets their lunch in, before the window gets immediately overrun by orders. The first few plates are out in eight to minutes, but after that, well, even if nobody on the line makes any mistakes, we’re talking sheer volume, OK, you can only cook a hamburger so fast, and you can only fit so many burgers on the grill.

Even worse though, every now and then I’ll approach a table just as the lunch rush really gets rocking, and the businessmen and women at my table dismiss me with a wave of the hand, “Actually, we haven’t even looked at the menu. Why don’t you come back in ten minutes?” And that’s when I have to get a little aggressive, which I don’t like, but I mean, I need to eat, OK, I need money in my pocket. I’m not going to waste my entire lunch shift waiting for you guys to get your act together.

It’s like seriously, OK, order, eat, pay, and leave. Do you see the line out the door? And I get it, OK, it’s not cool to feel rushed. But that’s because there’s nothing cool about the lunch hour. Everybody’s feeling rushed. Do you see that swarm of bodies jockeying for position around the hostess’s podium? Yeah, they’re all waiting for your table. And so when I come over and start bussing everything off, your empty coffee cups, your empty water glasses, yes, I can see you rolling your eyes at me as I wipe down the table for the third time, like I get it, that I know that you know that I’m trying to get you to leave, and it’s not just me, OK, my manager’s like, “Hey Rob, how’s table eleven? Did they leave yet?” and I’m like, “No, I just wiped down the table again and they still didn’t leave,” and she’s like, “OK well, go wipe it down again,” and I’m like, “For real? Again? I just did it.”

And so I have to go over, again, and I have to wipe the table down, again, and they’re all visibly annoyed by my presence, and maybe one of them starts to take out some business documents, like a bunch of printed out spreadsheets. And I just want to be like, come on everybody, I don’t barge into your office and start asking people if they want more Diet Coke, OK, wouldn’t that get in your way? Wouldn’t that disrupt the flow of you trying to do your job, to make money? Yeah, so don’t sit here and bring your business to my table. I need customers to sit here and buy food and tip me so I can go home and go out to eat and buy food and tip people.

What really gets me is that a lot of the most guilty offenders, the parties that just don’t care at all, it’s these businessmen working at banks and hedge funds, paying for their lunches on identical corporate credit cards, all of them with ridiculous names like, “Hyperion Capital,” or “Acceleron Associates.” You guys understand business, right? Don’t you get the whole supply and demand aspect of this restaurant? Your table is in demand. I’m trying to get you to leave so I can supply it to a new round of customers.

And now I’m in full rant mode, but this is the invisible hand of the market at work. OK, this is what you want in your job, right, you want the government to leave you alone so you can make your money and do whatever you want, right? And then you go out to lunch and you get annoyed that there’s a whole restaurant full of people trying to get by on gratuity. That’s how it works. More customers, more gratuity, more money. You need to leave. Just eat, pay, leave, and make room for somebody else. Because this is big city, OK, there are like seven billion people on this planet, all right? You’ve got to make room for everyone. There’s a whole lot of people trying to eat lunch.

Originally published at Thought Catalog