Things servers say to drive me crazy

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One of the lesser known events of 2016 was the growth of a secret cult that trains all restaurant servers. I have noticed that no matter the restaurant, plain or fancy, urban or rural, they all utter the same two phrases:

Upon greeting, “Hello, I’m (insert name), and I’ll be taking care of you.”

When checking the table, “How’s everything tasting?” or even worse, “Is everything tasting fantastic?”

These phrases drive me crazy. Let’s start with the first one.

“No, Ashley/Emily/Nick (disturbingly, my first name has become prolific among millennials), you will not be taking care of me. You will be bringing me food, as well as a tasty alcoholic beverage, but that’s about it.

“If you really wanted ‘to take care of me,’ you could give me a haircut, arrange for a massage, pay for my daughter’s college, persuade Brett Hobbs to give me back the boxful of baseball cards I sold him for $1 when I was 15, write my appellate brief, and find the missing button from my stuffed Curious George’s overalls.”

(Ashley stands there, mouth agape)

“Furthermore, there is a certain opposing counsel I want you to send a message to. Dis message is — dat if he does not change his obnoxious ways, he will be sleeping wit da fishes. Got that?

(Emily nods, silently)

“And take this damned straw out of my water. I’m not three years old.”

(Nick dutifully yanks the straw from my glass.)

Now let’s move on to the next phrase, shall we?

(Ashley looks at me, warily)

“First of all, how is it that you invariably manage to ask ‘How’s everything tasting?’ at the very moment I have shoveled a mouthful of kale/brussel sprout surprise into my hungry mouth?

“Second it’s the wrong question. The food might be tasting perfectly fine. But perhaps it’s the wrong order. Or I need some Frank’s (special Greek recipe) hot sauce. Or a refill on my buttermilk.”

(Emily asks, “WTF is buttermilk?”)

“Furthermore a server should never curse, Emily, even if everything is going wrong and your customers push you to the brink of insanity. But your customers will do that if you ask them ‘How’s everything tasting?’ when they’re in the middle of an important discussion with their friend about whether it’s worse to be a Lions’ fan or to undergo dental surgery without anesthetic. So maybe the food is tasting fine, but EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE WORLD IS GOING WRONG.”

(Young Nick speaks up. “Lighten up you cranky old fart, I’m just trying to be nice! I work hard. I’m putting myself through college. I call my mom every day. Stop picking on me and find something more important to get excited about.”)

I ponder this for a moment, then Nick reaches for my dish, his fingers impatiently wiggling. “You still working on that?”

“THAT’S IT!” I shout, rolling up my sleeves. “Outside! I’ll kick your butt, you young whippersnapper!”

— And a happy 2017 to you too, my readers. May it take care of your every need, and taste utterly fantastic.   

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Nick Roumel is a principal with Nacht & Roumel, PC, a firm in Ann Arbor specializing in employment and civil right litigation. He also has many years of varied restaurant and catering experience, has taught Greek cooking classes, and wrote a food/restaurant column for “Current” magazine in Ann Arbor. Follow him at @nickroumel.

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