Tag Archives: Restaurants

I like it ice cold

I want my ice cream cold, so cold that my tongue shouldn’t even be able to touch it, not safely. I want you to have to take it out of the deep-freeze freezer, you’ll actually have to put it in the microwave just to take it down a bit, just a couple of degrees, to where it’s still way too cold to touch, I still can’t lick it, I’d still get a major ice-burn on my tongue if I attempted premature contact.

And then I want the spoon to be warmed up, not in a microwave, obviously, you can’t put metal in the microwave. Maybe I could find some sort of a composite spoon? All right, give me a spoon made out of the same material they make hockey sticks and golf clubs. I want it to be light, like ultra lightweight, so now OK, you can go ahead and throw it in the microwave for a minute or two.

If you haven’t already, you should go ahead and buy two microwaves, because I don’t want to wait around while you’re messing with different power level settings for the ice cream and for the spoon. I want them both to be warming up at the same exact time.

All of my soda has to be ice cold too. Also, the carbonation has to be really powerful. But more importantly, really, really cold. But only slightly less important, the carbonation. Don’t talk to me about freezing points, I want a colder-than-ice Coca-Cola that somehow hasn’t turned into a block of ice. I’ve seen it done before, it was science class in high school, or a science TV show that the science teacher showed us on one of those days where she didn’t feel like teaching, it was something about not disturbing the liquid, or putting something inside of it, and it’ll stay liquid.

You know that sensation you get when you first take a sip of a really ice cold drink? Like you can feel it working its way down your esophagus? I want that with every sip, not just the first. And I don’t want to feel it just in my esophagus, I want to feel it all the way down, snaking its way through my intestines, that refreshing feeling chilling a path throughout my whole digestive system.

My soup also has to be really cold. I don’t care what time of year you’re supposed to traditionally eat gazpacho, I’d like it in January, February, if there’s an unseasonably cold stretch through March or April, I’m going to order gazpacho then also, along with other summertime soups, watermelon bisque … I can’t think of any other cold soups, but I know they’re out there, and again, ice cold, I want you to serve me a whole tube of Sensodyne as an appetizer, something to really numb up my gums, I want to hold a big mouthful and really let my whole head cool off.

Iced coffee, iced tea, ice, ice cold. And don’t bother with the regular ice cubes. I want ice cubes made out of iced coffee and iced tea. It has to be cold brewed, by the way. I don’t want anything that’s ever been heated up. I mean, yes, to some extent, I’m always going to have to acknowledge the fact that the earth was formed out of a ball of cooling molten rock, but that’s just it, it’s cooling, it’s getting there.

My favorite planet is Pluto. My favorite sport is ice hockey. If I got to choose a superpower, it would definitely be ice powers. Then I wouldn’t have to worry about talking about any of this nonsense. Give me a hot soup, go ahead, I’ll ice you dead in your tracks, that hot soup’s never going to make it over to my table. And then next idiot server who even thinks about sending over another bowl, he’s going to think again. He’s going to bring me the coldest one they’ve got. And then – zap! – ice powers to make it even colder, and I’ll be able to take it, no frost-burn, no Sensodyne, just straight up cold, colder than all of the Coors Light in the Rockies.

Because seriously, I can’t emphasize enough, I really like my stuff cold. Make sure you tell the chef, because I’ve got a thermometer right here. I’m going to use it, and I’m going to send it back. It’s all just a matter of how many times I’m going to send it back. Got it?

You can’t fire me; I quit

Whenever I’m having a really bad day at work, waiting tables, a server, a servant, I always have this fantasy of what I’d do if I were to snap, totally lose it, right in the middle of dinner service. For some disgruntled employees, I’m sure nothing would be more satisfying than to tell off the boss and storm out, a big, “I quit!” leaving everybody to try and piece together whatever it was they were in the middle of doing.

But that’s all too pedestrian for me. If I were to ever leave right in the middle of a shift, I’d make such a scene, cause so much chaos and mayhem, that the restaurant wouldn’t have any choice but to close for the rest of the night.

First I’d go right up to the kitchen window. I’d push the expediter out of the way. For those not in the biz, the expediter is the person who makes sure that all of the food is coming out on time, that all orders are leaving the kitchen complete. I’d start picking up food with my hands, whole steaks, fistfuls of potatoes and vegetables, and I’d start taking huge bites, like an animal, some here, a bite over there, making sure to take at least a small piece out of everything, throwing the rest on the ground.

And that would only be the opening act. I’d have to act quickly, because once I get started, it would immediately set off some alarms. At least one or two managers would rush over to see what all the commotion was about. The rest of my plan would have to be executed in such a way as to exact maximum destruction in the limited time before somebody calls the police. I’d rip the phone off the wall, not that it would really do me any good, because everybody has a cell phone, but still, it would be a nice added touch.

Next I’d reach my arms as far as they can extend out to my sides, balling my hands into fists. I’d spin around in a cyclone, picture the Tasmanian Devil, and I’d chart a course through the kitchen. Everything’s in such close quarters that I’m guaranteed to knock over the majority of the kitchenware, all of the dry goods, all of the jars and cans. There’s barely any space when people are just going about their normal routines. Nothing’s going to stand a chance once I turn into the human tornado.

I figure I’ll only have about one and a half minutes left. I’d save the best for last. The liquor room. If I could just make it before anybody with any power to stop me arrives, my final act would be glorious. One by one I’d take each bottle of booze off of the shelves and drop them to the floor. Crash. Shatter. Everywhere. Maybe the head manager would have finally caught up to me, and he’d be standing in the entryway, mouth agape, hands on his cheeks, the definitive expression of shock. And I’d be untouchable. I’d be going so fast, moving with such fury, that nobody would dare risk coming too close, not with all of the annihilation I’ve already unleashed.

And I figure that’s where I’d stay until the cops finally show up to drag me out of there. And it would have to be a full dragging, like one police officer for every limb, me thrashing the whole time, kicking and screaming on my way out to the paddy wagon.

So whenever I’m really in the weeds at work, whenever I feel like I’m just doing a terrible job, like my customers hate me, like my managers hate me, I just kind of stop and run through that little daydream, and it makes things a little better, makes me feel like I maintain at least some control over my present situation. Because while, yes, it’s totally unthinkable that I’d ever actually commit, it’s not impossible. Everything that I’ve spelled out is totally within my abilities to make happen. Just knowing that provides me the tiniest morsel of comfort.

Can you imagine, after I lost that job, what my next interview would be like? “So, tell us why you left your last job?”

If you could come in tomorrow, that’d be great

I was at work the other day, my last day of the week, looking forward to two consecutive days off, just as soon as I finished this one shift. And then I heard one of my managers going around to all of my coworkers asking them if they could work tomorrow.

Shit. It’s not that I feel too much pressure to work when I don’t want to. I don’t have to say yes. But it’s like sometimes I’ll say no, and then the manager will go around and ask everybody else, and everybody else will also say no, and then the manager will come back to me, he or she will be like, “Can you please work tomorrow?” and they’ll have that begging look in their eye, and in that one moment of desperation all barriers are broken down, the invisible and, I would say, artificial authority that separates me as a human being from them as another human being.

And even though I don’t want to, I’ll sometimes start to feel bad. I’ll look the manager in the eye and curse my empathy as I agree, albeit begrudgingly, very obviously begrudgingly, like a way over-exaggerated, “Ughh … fine. I guess. Fine.”

But not this day. I had just finished a long week. I had been looking forward to these days off. “Hey Rob, could you work tomorrow?” “Sorry boss, I can’t help you out.” And he walked away, started making the rounds to the rest of the staff.

A lot of the time when the managers get really desperate to cover a hole in the schedule they’ll start cutting these deals. If I have my own scheduling problem sometimes I can use their desperation to my advantage, like depending on how badly he needed tomorrow covered, I could be like, “Well, let me off two days from now and you’ve got a deal.”

But again, I really, really didn’t want to go to work, so I didn’t even try it. I overheard him asking a coworker, “Come on, work tomorrow. I’ll buy you a free lunch.” Free lunch. That used to be tempting for me. Normally all restaurant employees get fifty percent off anything on the menu, and I feel bad going to work and then giving them some of their money back. So the offer for a free meal is cool in theory, but I’ve never really feel comfortable taking advantage of this particular perk.

First of all, I have to sit in the restaurant, like at a table, like some other waiter or waitress is going to have to serve me my food. This is always slightly weird, for me anyway, to be on the receiving end of what are my normal day-to-day tasks. I know it’s probably all in my head, but I can feel everybody in the restaurant watching me, judging my order, looking at me strangely if I’m sitting by myself.

And what am I going to order anyway? If the manager gives me a free lunch and I order something expensive, something really good, isn’t that going to be seen as me taking too much advantage of what should have been a simple gesture of gratitude? I’d feel kind of bad being like, “Fuck it. Give me the fifty-dollar New York strip. Ha!”

So yeah, the free lunch trick doesn’t really work on me anymore. Honestly, I’d rather spend my lunch break going to Chipotle anyway. Jesus Christ I’m so addicted to Chipotle. Sometimes if it’s really slow I’ll sneak out even when it’s not my lunch break and have a quick burrito.

But all of that’s entirely beside the point. My boss must have received a bunch of flat rejections from everybody else, because I saw him coming my way. Come on Rob, I told myself, stay resolute, don’t make eye contact.

“Rob,” he started. I already had my mouth halfway open, I was about to say something like, “Listen, there’s no way I’m working tomorrow. I’m really sorry, but absolutely no way.” I was about to say that. But he continued, “work tomorrow and I’ll give you a bottle of wine.”

And before I even had time to make sense of the offer, I blurted out, “All right. Deal.”

What the hell? I felt like Kramer in that episode of Seinfeld where he forgoes his lawsuit against the coffee shop because they offer him free coffee for life. Deal? I don’t know what got into me. I was just blindsided by the uniqueness of the offer. I’d never heard of anybody getting a free bottle of wine.

So yeah, I had to work the next day. It wasn’t that bad. I haven’t tried the wine yet. I think I’m scared to open it up and taste it. The whole thing seems so illicit, like what’s wrong with me that I can be instantly convinced to turn on my own convictions for a bottle of wine? It better be a good wine. I know that it’s going to be a mind game, like that first sip, regardless of what my tongue experiences, my brain’s going to override, saying, “Yes. This is good. Yup. This is great. This was totally worth it.” Although, I also know that, after it’s done, that same brain is going to second-guess itself, “I guess. Was it good? I don’t know. It was OK. It was, you know, it was winey,” and I’ll be left confused, unfulfilled. So yeah, I’m just staring at it, maybe I’ll never drink it. Maybe next time I’ll hold out until they offer me a bottle of bourbon.

Kyle Smith, you are a huge asshole: a response to an op-ed in the New York Post about waiters and waitresses in New York City

The other day this asshole Kyle Smith wrote a douchey little op-ed in the New York Post about how much he hates waiters and waitresses. It was one of those pieces that, with each sentence that I read, I’d grow increasingly enraged, to the point where if he were standing right here, I’d probably assault him. All I was thinking was that I wanted to write something back to this guy immediately, to let him have it. But my emotions were running too high, and I needed some time to calm down, distance myself from the hate this guy was spewing.

Now that I’ve cooled off a little bit, I feel like I don’t know where to start. So I’m going to go through his piece, line by line, spell everything out as to why this guy is such a tool.

The hostage drama of dining out in New York City

By Kyle Smith

March 2, 2013


Well, hi there! I’m doing great this evening, thank you! It is quite rainy out there, you’re absolutely right! I guess we’re both really super-stoked to be here in this restaurant that’s more crowded than my junior-high-school cafeteria! Imagine the excitement, eating food in public! And your name is Jason?

Jason! I don’t care! Just bring me some food and go away!

So here’s where we start. Kyle Smith is an asshole. He doesn’t like talking to strangers. He doesn’t like talking about the weather. He doesn’t like the fact that the restaurant he’s at is too crowded. Kyle, I’ve only read about a paragraph of your writing and I can already tell that you’re not a nice person.

To you I say, why venture outside the house at all? Why eat in public? You clearly don’t like other people, why be subject to their presence in large numbers? In fact, why live in New York City? There are way too many millions of people that might actually force you into having some sort of a human interaction.

I’m sorry that technology has not yet brought us to the point where each restaurant table comes embedded with a touch screen. Maybe you could just order your own food, type in your own special requests to the kitchen, then the chef could come screaming at you that he’s too busy for all of your nonsense. To you I would say, Kyle! You’re an asshole! Stop making my job more difficult! Say hello, eat your food, pay the check, and you go away!

Waiters and waitresses at New York’s self-consciously hot restaurants need to cool it a bit. I don’t care how charming you are on your auditions. I’m not here to make friends. Frankly, garcon, I don’t even need to know your name. By the time you tell me about the specials, I’ve already forgotten it. You’re a servant. So serve.

Hey buddy, I’m not a servant. I’m a waiter. There’s a difference. And you don’t like my friendly disposition? Guess what? Neither do I. It’s fake. My bosses make me do it. They tell me to go out there and smile. If I’m not smiling, and some secret shoppers come in and sit at my table, and they tell my bosses that I wasn’t smiling, that I wasn’t friendly, then I get in trouble, maybe fired.

I’m not here to make friends either. And besides, even if I were, you don’t sound like the type of guy I’d imagine myself going out for a beer with. I’m here to make money. I’m here to do a job and have you give me money. Because the house isn’t paying me. You are. It’s at your discretion. Sorry you don’t like my smile or my attempt at being upbeat. You should go to one of those restaurants where the staff looks down on its customers, visibly annoyed by their presence.

And you don’t want to hear about the specials? Again, why are you at a restaurant? If it’s not for the food, I seriously suggest doing something else with your friends. Go bowling. Go out to a bar. Don’t go to a business where it’s everybody’s job to cook up something better than every other restaurant in this town. I apologize profusely for letting you know what’s for dinner tonight, asshole.

Strangely, New York waitrons (my generic term for both sexes of waitstaff) don’t even serve anything anymore. They seem to view themselves as party planners or masters of ceremonies. After taking my order, they disappear and give way to a series of surly busboys who do the food delivery, the clearing, the refilling of the water glasses.

I don’t know, that’s not how we do it at my current restaurant, but even at my old job, where we had busboys, I ask, so what? I’m trying to manage a whole section of tables. As in, you’re not the only people I’m trying to attend to. As in, you’re not the only person in this city, dick.

And these surly busboys that you’re putting down? The shitty tip that you feel insulted at having to pay? They’re getting part of that money. Yeah, why rely on teamwork? It speaks much more of a person that he runs around trying to do everything rather than delegating smaller tasks to coworkers.

After the order goes in, the next time I see Jason is when, after first ensuring that my mouth is full, he sneaks up behind me and hits me with a cheerful, “HOW IS EVERYTHING?”

Yeah, again, you’re not the center of the universe buddy. I have multiple tables to juggle, trying to make sure everybody is having a good time. Let’s say you’re out to eat – that is, after all, what you came here to do, right? Eat? – with three other people. After your food hits the table, I’m supposed to wait for you all to dig in, but then also lurk in the shadows, hoping to catch all four of you at a moment when you’re simultaneously in between bites of food? That’s a logistic impossibility.

Hey Kyle. Just give me a thumbs up. Is your food OK? Great. Is it not OK? Tell me. I’ll fix it. Again, sorry for being cheerful. Jerk.

In France, where I try to spend a week or two every year, waiters don’t even work for tips (the customer is expected to leave a mere euro or two) and yet they’re so much less annoying.

It’s the difference between a country where the children act like grown-ups and one where the grown-ups act like children.

Wow! You spend a week or two in France every year? That’s so cool! Please tell me more about it! France! Oh-la-la!

In Europe they pay waiters and waitresses a livable hourly wage. If I were paid decent money by employer, I wouldn’t be trying to make you personally happy with me. Because, and this is unfortunate, you pay my bills, at your discretion. My grandmother always used to say, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. And so yes, I’m smiling at you. I’m trying to be friendly. I’m not trying to be friends with you, I’m trying to get you to pay me for the job I’m currently doing.

Man, France! That is so awesome! You get to travel to France! The country where children act like grown ups. The country where everybody still smokes cigarettes. You make it sound so much better than America. You should go live over there! I mean, you’re already vacationing there one or two weeks every year. You’re practically a foreign national!

The French waiter sees himself as a party in a simple business transaction. When he’s ready for your order, he says, “I am listening.” Not talking. Not smiling like a politician. Not preening like the most adorable scamp in “Newsies.”

When a French waiter brings you the food (himself, instead of subcontracting the job), he, like P.G. Wodehouse’s Jeeves, simply trickles off, instead of vanishing. If you want him, you can simply wave him down. He’s standing right over there.

For a guy who makes no secret of his disdain for American servants, you have quite the knack for putting yourself in the shoes of our French counterparts. (I notice how French waiters don’t warrant your little “waitron” joke.) Here’s somebody you can relate to. Somebody who doesn’t smile, who doesn’t really feel anything at all. He’s barely concealing the same contempt that you make no effort to disguise toward anybody. And that’s the way it should be. A whole city full of pissed off snobs with scowls permanently etched onto their faces.

If you want him, he’s standing right over there. And he’s also not subcontracting his job out like us lazy Americans. He’s doing everything, while he’s standing right over there. Just wave him over. Or even better, just snap. He’s a servant also. But dignified. Because he’s pissed. Or not happy. Right?

The worst part of dealing with American waitrons is we’re forced to be nice to these creepy ex-darlings of their high-school theater departments because of the unspoken hostage drama that’s taking place behind the scenes with our food.

It’s as exhausting as pretending your friend’s baby is cute. Your mouth actually starts to hurt from smiling. 

“Of course you spit in the food if you don’t like the customer,” I once said to a girl I knew who had been a waitress for years.

“Nah,” she said. “If we didn’t like someone, we’d just throw his steak on the floor.”

Which is why I’m being so nice to you, Jason! In reality, I can’t stand you, you twerp! As you’ll find out when you see my tip!

Back to America, back to that waitron joke. And here’s where you show your true colors Kyle. “Of course you spit in the food if you don’t like the customer.” No. Of course you would spit in the food if you were a waiter and you didn’t like the customer. In your attempt to empathize with your servants, all you’re doing is seeing yourself from their point of view. Disgusted with your reflection as a human being, the first thing that comes to your mind in this scenario is spitting in your own food. Because seriously, how can somebody stand to take shit from a little prick such as yourself without holding back the urge to hock a huge loogie in your food?

I don’t know. But even though you’re a huge asshole, I’m still not going to spit in your food, or drop your steak on the floor. You’re an asshole, but I’m not. I’ll get through this most unpleasant of interactions.

And what’s with the squatting while you’re telling me about the specials? I know the waiter’s handbook says you get more tips that way because you remind us of cute, subservient creatures we actually like, such as golden retrievers. But it’s juvenile. Stand up and be a man. As much of a man as it’s possible to be while enthusing over whipped-feta crostini.

Now you’re just nitpicking. You don’t like it when I hover, you don’t like it if I crouch. Now you want me to be a man. Now I’m not a waitron. What about waitresses? Are they allowed to crouch? Or would you prefer them acting like men also.

You’re telling me to stand up, to not act subservient, but at the beginning of your piece you tell me that I am a servant. So serve. You said that. Do you have like an editor that goes through your writing and points shit like this out to you? Or do you verbally berate everybody like you talk down to waitrons? “Don’t tell me how to write a piece! I’m Kyle fucking Smith! You’re a bullshit editor! You’re a servant!”

Jason, if you were at all useful, you would at least keep anyone from clearing away my plates while I’m still eating off them.

I realize you want to hustle me out of here so you can replace with a new customer. I’m a capitalist. (And in France, I’ve been baffled to get turned away from an entirely empty establishment at 6 p.m. because all tables are already reserved — for diners who intend to show up at 7:30 or 8 or 8:15. Don’t they want my money in the meantime?)

Nor am I sentimental about lingering for hours in a restaurant. After a while, the way everyone seems as though they’re determined to act out the concept of “Having a wonderful time!” starts to creep me out.

Now it’s my turn to be petty. Maybe the Post’s web site has since corrected your grammar, but “so you can replace with a new customer,” I think you’re missing a word there. Maybe you should be a little nicer to that editor. You’re a professional writer, right? OK, I was just checking.

Which is to say, get over yourself. Sorry, I didn’t know you wanted to save that last bite of food. You put your fork down. You looked like you were done. Do you mind that I asked? You said you weren’t done. I didn’t take your plate away. Again, this is life, this is human beings interacting with other human beings. I’m not a telepath. I can’t divine when you’re done with your plate.

But try to big a big boy there Kyle, finish your dinner and put your silverware down. What do you need a break? Yes? Then host a dinner party at home. What bugs me is that you continually want it both ways. You don’t want to linger, but you don’t want to be rushed. I guess in France the waiters know precisely the moment to clear everything away. Ah … France.

But, Jason and Co., it’s been only eight minutes since you set my plate down. There’s still food on it. There’s still a fork in my hand. Do I need to actually hunch over my meal and make snarling sounds to keep your busboy buzzards at bay. 


New York restaurants’ tables should be set with a little two-sided sign that can be flipped around as appropriate. STILL HARD AT WORK on one side. MY WORK IS COMPLETE on the other.

I’m spending $150 tonight, Skippy, and yet you were in the Federal Witness Protection Program when I needed a second drink. Now you want to hustle me into dessert and coffee. Uh-uh. Negative. This $28 sliver of trout still has about $9 to go, and I’m not leaving any of it behind. Enjoy my 11% tip.

Dude, I’m sorry you’ve had such bad restaurant experiences. But really I’m just sorry for everything. You don’t seem like a cool guy. I’m feeling that you’re generally unhappy. As to the plate clearing thing, you know, see above. Sorry for trying to clear your plate. Sorry for making you scream IN ALL CAPS! (Is that a professional writing trick? I always thought that was limited to the comment sections on Internet forums.)

Trust me, I want you to order a second drink. I’m going to make sure that I offer you a second drink. You seem like the kind of guy that’ll go even more ballistic if he DOESN’T GET HIS SECOND DRINK! Besides, you’re telling me you’ll be underpaying me for my work. I want to make sure that your eleven percent is as inflated as possible.

He goes to France. He spends a hundred and fifty dollars at dinner. He writes in all caps on his New York Post blog. His name is Kyle Smith and he’s a pretty big fucking deal. He doesn’t like you. He wants everything to be just so but he’d rather you make it just so without being seen. Because you are beneath him. You are a servant. You are nothing.

Part of me hopes this response makes an impact, that people read it, that maybe the author will someday see it. He’ll read it and think, wow, I’m such a dick. But of course he won’t change his mind. Even though he probably has a Google alert set to notify him whenever somebody somewhere mentions his name on the Internet, he’s probably already received hundreds of hateful responses. It’s probably why he wrote his piece in the first place, to get a reaction. To rile up a bunch of servants and make everybody a little less happy.

But what I really don’t like is the idea that likeminded idiots will read his piece, will see their own negativity validated in print. They’ll think to themselves, “Yeah! I hate servers also! Fuck them!” and so I just want to put it out there that, no it’s not OK to be a jerk, and it’s not OK to leave an eleven percent tip. Just stay home. While I hate the idea of just adding my name to this chorus of discontent, whatever, Kyle Smith, you’re an asshole, you know it, everybody knows it, and I can’t say it enough. Fuck you.

Intermediate to Intermediate-Advanced Wines: An Introductory Course to Bottle Service

I’ve been working at the same restaurant for maybe six months or so. I’ve written about wine before, how I didn’t know anything about wine, and then about how I had to pretend like I knew a lot about wine to get my current gig. But I’m experienced now. Everything’s different. I’ve soaked up so much wine knowledge.

Well, that’s not really true. I’ve soaked up some knowledge. A little bit. And it hasn’t really been a soaking, like a sponge. It’s more like if you imagine me to be a piece of wood, and if you kept that piece of wood submerged in a barrel of wine for six months, you’d take it out, and it definitely wouldn’t be soaked with wine, but there’d be a stain, at least the wine made some impact on the wood.

And that’s what I’m like. I’m stained with wine knowledge. But only slightly. I’ve said this before, but most people who want a glass of wine don’t really care about what wine they’re drinking. “Give me a glass of red,” or “I’ll have some Pinot,” whatever that means. But every once in a while I’ll have some customers that sit down and really start mulling over our wine list. When this happens it’s my cue to stand up a little straighter and do my best to pretend like I know what I’m talking about.

At this point, you should know that if you’re sitting at one of my tables and looking past the wines that we sell by the glass, you already know more about wine than I do. In fact, asking me a question is only going to prompt me to make something up, to sound convincing, and so I’ll be doing you a disservice, doing the wine a disservice, because I’ll say whatever garbage I concoct with the utmost confidence.

Worst-case scenario, I’ll get called out on my mistake, which is easy enough to correct. I just start using my really contrite voice, contrite but equally confident, “I’m so sorry sir/ma’am. I don’t know why I said that. I apologize for my mistake.” Best-case scenario, look, I like wine and everything, but seriously, who is going to go to a restaurant, order a bottle of wine, and then call out the waiter for not knowing what he’s talking about?

One time I had this couple ordering by the bottle. I always get nervous because somebody might order the wine based on the location, like “We’ll take a bottle of the Russian River Valley,” and I’ll try to lean down and squint to where the customer is looking, without appearing too obvious, and I’ll say, “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear what you said. Can you repeat that?” and then after they repeat it I’ll say, “Excellent choice,” before running to the kitchen with my own menu, hoping that I can piece together what they were trying to get at.

Anyway, at this table ordering the bottles, the guy kept asking me way too many questions. “What vintage is this Cabernet?” and I seriously had no clue. But I didn’t want to be like, “Let me check that out for you sir,” because then he would have lost all confidence in my knowledge of wines. Which, to be fair, if he had any confidence in my wine knowledge, it was totally unwarranted, and as a paying customer, he should have access to whatever information he wants to know.

“2008,” I told him, totally pulling a random number out of my ass. Come on. The guy’s sitting there with a menu of our wines. Don’t you have an iPhone? Just do a quick two-minute Google search and you can probably find volumes written about whatever bottles we have. It’s like when a tourist asks me for directions to some landmark in the city, I just want to be like, “Don’t you have a phone? Just look it up. What do you think I’m out visiting the Statue of Liberty every weekend?”

I have a firm policy against writing the phrase, “But I digress,” but that’s exactly how I would have started this paragraph if that firm policy weren’t in place. The guy wound up ordering that 2008 bottle of wine. Shit. I hoped he didn’t order that bottle specifically because of the year. I went to the wine closet, found the bottle he was looking for. 2009. Huh. That’s pretty close actually, not bad for just making up a random number. I brought the bottle to the table, showed it off. Should I have said something? About that whole 2008/2009 thing? Maybe. But I didn’t. Not right away anyway. I opened it for him, he didn’t object. About halfway through the meal I went over to see how everything was going and I said, “Huh, I thought that was a 2008. We must have received a new vintage.” The guy nodded. He probably knew I was full of shit.

I’ll conclude with another random wine anecdote. If I’m doing bottle service, I always pour only the first glass, and then I leave my customers alone. A lot of the other waiters and waitresses will be constantly refilling their guests’ glasses, almost after every sip. If I’m ever called out on this I just say, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t want you to feel rushed.” But really I just hate pouring the wine, because there’s always that little drip down the side of the bottle, and a lot of the time I forget to carry around an extra linen, and so, what, I’m going to just let it get on the table? Maybe stain their clothes? No, just have at it, because I’m not coming back. Cheers.