Might as well make it three in a row about food. Let’s get one thing clear at the start: those people who take your order at restaurants, the ones who deliver the food to your table? They’re waiters.
They are not waiters and waitresses. They are certainly not servers. What a horrible word. Server. It’s so… servile.
Time was, waiting tables was a respected and respectable profession. The waiter had to know the food, how to describe it, make recommendations, suggest wine, have a reasonable conversation.
Regulars at a restaurant would get to know their waiter or waiters. There was a relationship. There was comradery, even if restricted to the transactions.
Things have changed. Today, with some exceptions, waiters are on their way to or from other jobs. They’re college kids scraping together small tips to help pay off student loans. They are parolees who need work or they’ll be violated and sent back to jail. They are single parents who are working to support their kids. They are middle agers trying to support their old and ailing parents.
And somewhere, there’s a school for those who remain in the trade. The National Servers’ Academy.” The main thing taught? Lingo.
“Hi, I’m Stacy. I’ll be helping you out this evening.”
Great, Stacy. I need all the help I can get. I brought along my geometry homework. Maybe you can help me figure out some theorems.
“Good evening, I’m Willie. Can I start you off with something to drink?”
Sure, Willie. I’d like a house vodka double on the rocks in a tall glass with plenty of ice and a glass of water.
Surely, there’s a “Famous Servers School.” And all of these newcomers seem to attend. Some graduate with honors.
Here’s how the first encounter works. You come in, a host or hostess seats you and says “Bethesda will be here shortly to take your order.”
You sit. And wait. And wait. And wait some more.
Finally, you go back to the welcome stand and ask the person behind it a telling question: “Can you see me?” The host(ess) says “sure.”
You answer “Oh, good. I’ve been waiting for Bethesda’s debut appearance for so long I thought I might have become invisible.”
Bethesda shows up. We order drinks. The cocktail comes back only after the non-alcoholic beverages are served. How long does it take an idle bartender to pop a few ice cubes into a glass and splash a shot of vodka into it?
If you’ve ordered a beer, you can bet by the time it gets to your table, it’s lost its head. And it’s getting warm.
“I’d like a cheeseburger, medium rare with no onions, and a steak knife.” (Plastic teeth.) “We can only make burgers that have pink centers or no pink centers.”
“Okay, pink, please.”
The Executive Chef (or chef-ette) is colorblind. Pink and brown are the same to him.”
Bethesda puts the food down. Thirty seconds, she’s back. “Everything taste alright?” How would we know at this point?
You ask for a magnifying glass.
“A magnifying glass?”
“Yes, so I can find the mashed potatoes.”
Bethesda then goes … um … somewhere to practice her vanishing act.
Eventually, she rematerializes and asks (and this is why she was a Dean’s List student at Famous Servers”) “may I take these plates out of your way?”
-Yes, thank you.
-No thank you.
-Please do, we can’t put up the ping pong net if the table is full of dishes. (If you want to play intellectual, substitute chess board.)
-They’re not in my way. This is table art.
Or if you want to go back to an earlier class from Famous Servers:
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
Comments here: firstname.lastname@example.org
© WJR 2019