Monday, August 16, 2010

Get It Yourself

I tend to eat out a lot. As a single girl, it's much easier to go out then to make a meal for myself that I'll end up eating the rest of the week.  I have also been a server/bartender/catering/restaurant manager so I understand that the person that is bringing me my food is making a little more than 2 bucks an hour. I also know that any money they make has to be shared with the bartenders, food runners, and bussers. So, I *get* it. I tip well because I know I am paying someone to wait on me. To refill my diet coke. To get me ketchup. It is a pretty simple deal. You say hello to me, refill my drinks, get my food. Not a hard concept. But, it is hard to do well. Not everyone can be a server. Let's face it, people are jerks. There are people that come in to torment servers. Or there are those people that have lost all control over the rest of their life so there is the server to belittle.

Every server has had the Superman/Clark Kent experience. When Superman put on his glasses he became Clark Kent, and no one was the wiser. Glasses on, Clark Kent. Server apron on, server. Glasses off, Superman. Apron off, Cleveland Chick. I have seen coworkers, board members, major donors, people that know me well, all of a sudden not recognize me with my server apron on. There was a great documentary, American Waitress, that really struck a chord with me. The movie follows several waitresses in New Mexico. One of the women was an artist that was starting to see some success with her paintings. With emotion in her voice, she shared a story about a couple that belittled her in the restaurant that she worked in. The man was rude and condescending to her admonishing her for her wine pouring skills. Some time passes as the same couple walk into a showing for her paintings. Her heart started to race, feeling the paranoia rise that these people were now invading her private life. It turns out that this couple, the same ones that ridiculed her for pouring too much wine in a glass, were huge fans of her work. They didn't recognize her at all. In fact they came in and bought her art work.

Lately, I have run into a spat of bad service. And bad service is one of my greatest pet peeves. It is right up there with spiders. 

So, yes, people can be horrible and rude. But being a server isn't for everyone. It goes beyond just taking down an order. You need the skills of a master organizer, the humor of a comedian and the memory of my mom. You have to be a mind reader and a therapist. And of course, you need to be able to suck up.

If you can't take the heat, order take out.

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