Diaries Magazine

Fun Tables

By Blairbarnes

The restaurant I work at is on the fancy end for this part of Central
Wisconsin. People here (as in most of middle class America, I’d
suggest) rate a restaurant as good if it has massive portions that are
cheap. Not a shock, I’m sure. Our restaurant bucks that mold with some
high quality ingredients and causal fine dining. Some people get
uncomfortable with the atmosphere, like we are so snooty and will look
down on them. And of course, some get kind of defensive, and some act
like idiots. Consider this case in point:
The restaurant was having one of our “Chef Dinners” – a monthly
special menu with special ingredients and all that. It’s a night that
is almost always balls to the wall busy. Crazy busy — no time for
bullshit, no time for one table of assholes to fuck around and get you
in the weeds.

I get the first table of the night. As the hostess is coming to tell
me I’ve been sat, I think I notice a certain look she’s giving me, or
trying to give me, but I can’t confirm it. No time – more customers
are coming in and she can’t sidle up discreetly and whisper what I am
sure is information I need. But really, I already can tell by her wide
eyes and tired sigh what her look is trying to tell me. Servers know
this look, in fact all restaurant staff know this look – it’s the look
that tells you the table you are about to approach is going to get you
seriously wondering if you wouldn’t mind trading your server job for
the momentary joy of shoving a dinner roll so far down some fuckers
throat that his prostate gets covered in bread flour.

I walk up to the table hoping I had misread the hostess’ body
language. There are three of them – one guy sitting across from a man
and woman.
“Hi,” I say. “I’m Tony. I’ll be your server.”
I continue, blah blah, tell them about the specials, blah blah, end by
asking if anyone would like a drink.
“I don’t know,” says the dude next to the woman (side note – in your
head, please do a deep southern white trash accent for this guy’s
dialogue. Why is it, no matter where in the U.S. you are, if someone
is a dumbass redneck, they talk with some pseudo-southern accent?
We’re in Wisconsin, but this guy talks like fucking Bubba from the
“I don’t know,” says the dude. “Depends how much a beer cost in this
place. What are they like $10 a bottle?”
In my head, I’ve already stuck my wine key into his eye.
I say, “Just typical prices – three dollars for a domestic, three
seventy five and up for imports.”
The two men order beer, and when the lady begins to order a wine,
Bubba from the block stops her.
“I’m already paying enough for the beer, I’m not paying another
five dollars for a glass of wine.”
Of course you’re not, I think. In my imagination I’m now turning
the corkscrew of my wine key into his eye.
I bring the beers, no wine of course, and do my best to seem good ole
boyish to the fine gentlemen. One of my strengths has always been my
chameleon-like ability. Without trying, I seem to know how to talk to
almost all social groups. I am able to fit in with whomever. So the
dude seems to get along with me. When he jokes about his wife (I’ve
been told by now they are married) having a big butt, I give him a
“nothing wrong with big butts as long as there nice ones”
response. Then a wink, wink, nudge, nudge. He guffaws and she actually
looks please by the compliment (compliment?).
It’s a tedious table to wait on. Every interaction becomes a
complicated middle-class struggle. He doesn’t know what to order
because all the descriptions are too damn fancy (“If it’s a
sweet-and-sour-like sauce why can’t it just say so?” for example). The
beer has a different label one time (same brand, different label, God
only knows why, but of course it had to happen with this douche bag),
so this now becomes a scam we are trying on him. Apparently there is a
cabal of label switching desperadoes bent on world domination. His
wife warms up to me in a big way, and he tells me she’ll be here
next Tuesday with her friend for lunch – her friend is a real horny
babe, so they will “treat me good!”
Finally they are reaching the end stage of dinner. I’ve bantered my
way through classless remark after classless remark. I’ve done my
best self-deprecating laugh with each “there goes your tip”
comment. I’ve feigned laughter when he asked about a waitress, and
after finding out she’s barely eighteen, said “it’s ok, at least
she won’t feel weird calling him daddy.” The crowning bon mot – he
was disappointed we had no bathroom attendant to hand him towels, or
at least shake off his dick. I’ve redirected the energy of each
stupid remark like a verbal judo master. I’ve gritted my teeth, ground
them to nubs really. I’ve created a permanent cramp in my jaw
But now the end is here. Check dropped, payment received.
Mercifully, the trio leaves. Assuring me they’ve taken good care of
me with the tip (turns out that means a giant 10%, which is probably
more than they’ve ever tipped and I’m grateful for it), the wife winks
and looks me up and down. Bubba laughs and grabs her around the
“See you Tuesday,” she says as they push through the door and are
finally gone.
I can breathe again.
I take a breath, then immediately find the floor manager I tell him I
will burn the place down to the fucking ground if I’m scheduled to
this Tuesday, or for that matter, any Tuesday ever. Can’t be too safe.

- Tony

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