It’s been a couple weeks since I re-entered the wonderful world of waiting tables after a 7 year hiatus. I love my pretty black apron and ugly black shoes. Somehow I still run out of pens even after buying 26 extra packs of Bics. And I had an interesting epiphany.
The clientele that I serve are older and very wealthy. They’re impeccably dressed (perfectly tailored suits and sleek blouses), well groomed (coifed hair and manicures), and high maintenance. They are quite self-entitled and have tons of annoying requests. But one woman in particular had a giant impact on me.
She and her husband were eating dinner then heading to an opera. Her blonde hair was perfect. I was jealous of her necklace. And much like my cats can sense danger, I could sense trouble brewing between her and I. She ordered a glass of sparkling wine, which I dropped off then checked on my other tables. As I passed by, she flagged me down.
Lady: Scuse me, I’m sorry to be a pain but this champagne isn’t good.
Me: Oh, I’m so sorry about that! Does it taste funny?
Lady (holding up her glass): No, but there aren’t a lot of bubbles in it. Look at it. Doesn’t it look flat to you?
Me (inspecting the glass): Hmm…Maybe a little. Would you like me to bring you another one, or a glass of something else instead?
Lady: Well, if you get another glass of the same thing, it will probably also be flat since you’ll be using the same bottle. Can you please ask the bartender when he opened this bottle?
<Scurry to the bar>
Me: Hey, hun, sorry to bother, but table 34 wants to know when you opened that bottle of the Nicolas Brut. She says it’s flat.
Bartender (rolling his eyes): I don’t f*cking know. Tell her I opened it today.
<Scurry back to table 34>
Me: He said he opened it today.
Lady: Well, it’s not very good. Sorry to be a pain, but can you ask the bartender to open a new bottle?
<Scurry back to the bar>
Me: Hey, hun, sorry again, but table 34 wants you to open a fresh bottle of the Nicolas.
<I got busy with other tables so the bartender brought her the fresh glass. I checked on her a few minutes later>
Me: I see that he brought you the new glass. Is this one better?
Lady (holding up the new glass): MUCH better. See?
Me: Oh, yes! Great! Much more bubbly this time. Glad we could work it out!
Lady: Yes, thank you! But <she leans in>….I have to tell you…the bartender was very rude when he came over and he definitely had an attitude. Then I pointed out that my other glass was not only flat, but it had a chip on it. Then his whole demeanor suddenly became more friendly. I just thought you should know.
Me: Well, I hope he wasn’t being rude. If he was, I do apologize. I assure you that we’re here to make you happy, so please let me know if there’s anything at all that you need.
Lady: Thank you.
So I went back to the server station to ponder this exchange. It’s easy to get irritated and frustrated and roll your eyes.
Then it hit me: what if those 2 people were my parents?
What if the demanding lady was my mom? What if my mom went out to eat and was being a little high maintenance? I would still want her server to be nice to her. To take care of her. Maybe my mom was having a bad day and just wanted to relax over a nice meal. I hate to think of anyone rolling their eyes or being mean to my mom. And what if the lady at table 34 had a daughter like me who just wanted a server to be nice to HER mom?
So that’s exactly what I did. I went back to table 34 and killed them with kindness. I smiled. I cracked a few lighthearted jokes. I made damn sure that she was happy and had a great meal. By the time they left, I was genuinely fond of this lady and I could tell they had a terrific time.
Last night, she and her husband stopped in for a quick drink during the opera intermission. I nearly squealed with excitement when I saw her and had to refrain from giving her a hug. Her husband wanted extra cookies, but only the chocolate kind. I eagerly brought the chocolate cookies out and we had a great conversation. I hope to see her again soon.
So now I have a whole new outlook. My patience has not worn thin. It’s grown thicker. And if I ever hear that a server has rolled her eyes or was mean to my mom, I will hunt that server down and stab her with my wine key and 26 packs of Bic pens.