A cooked hot dog garnished with mustard.

A hot dog garnished with mustard. Looks fantastic, right? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a sluggish Sunday morning when a family of four came in to eat. They were friendly and polite, and asked to be seated outside on the patio. I greeted them and brought them their drinks in routine fashion.

When I began taking their order, the mother tried to get her son (of about six or seven years) to order for himself.

“Brian, tell the man what you’d like to eat.”

At this point, Brian was way too busy drawing something that resembled Superman posing like the figure in Edvard Munch’s “The Scream,” on his mat to care about what he was going to eat.

“Brian, look up at the man and tell him what you want to eat.”

Sensing his mother’s aggravated tone, Brian looked up at me. He thought for a few seconds, then responded.

“I want… a penis.”

Brian and I found this to be rather hilarious, and at his mother’s pleading, he only said it again louder, “I want a penis!” Dad was also doing a miserable job at hiding how funny he thought it was.

“Well sir, we’re fresh out of that today, but we do have hot dogs…”

Alright, I didn’t really say that, but I wish I had (I cracked some lame joke about not having that on the menu). But despite my poor timing, Brian hit it on the nose. I love kids. Sometimes.

I’m not giving Brian credit for this – this is my masterpiece. On that note, when you’re planning your magnum opus, here’s a helpful tip: don’t use crayons.

A few weeks ago, I decided to try something interesting with my chef during the slow period between shifts. Me and a co-worker were discussing unusual things we could make to eat (a pass-time that many servers enjoy, since they are surrounded by food and expensive cooking equipment) and somehow we landed on the idea of the century. I’m not exaggerating here; this could change lives… Ladies and gentlemen, I humbly present to you: The Fried Burger.

Le Fried Burger

The pinnacle of beef consumption technology.

Do people make fun of you for being skinny? Tired of wearing layers of clothing in cold weather? Looking for a way to fulfill your lifelong dream of sumo-wrestling? Do you just hate your arteries? Then look no further than this sizzling half-pound of crispy fried bovine goodness. We battered and deep-fried this monster before I drowned it in chipotle mayo. I also named it Hank. I don’t know why, but that seemed appropriate.

I actually consumed this beast, and I must say, it tasted pretty good. I felt a slight pain in my upper left chest while eating it, but it still tasted pretty good.

When a server is running around on a busy night, almost anything can become an obstacle. But there’s one obstacle that frustrates more consistently than any other: everyone else. Whether it’s a child running around or a few guests talking in the walkway, I can’t count the number of first-degree burns I’ve received from waiting for people to move. And the worst is when it’s a fellow server or a manager; guests are paying, so they can be as oblivious as they want, but co-workers should know better.

So in my rage, I’ve put together a few fun and effective ways to get them out of the way.

5. Shouting

Tried and true. Nothing says “Get out of my way” like saying, “Get out of my way!” And the louder the better. Sprinkle in a few obscenities for extra kick.

The classic is “Hot food, coming through,” but sometimes it’s good to spice it up with something like “Hot food, burning your face off!” It doesn’t really make sense, but the threat of personal injury is always a motivator. And who hasn’t had that dream where they trip and the hot soup melts their face off? You’ve all had that one, right? Or is that just me…

Deutsch: Fahrradklingel, GNU-FDL, selbst fotog...

An ingenious crowd navigation device (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4. A bike bell

Also works well in malls, grocery stores, house parties, churches and other crowded places where bikes generally shouldn’t be.

3. A cane

I took a cane from one of my guests to put it away for them and as I was walking, I noticed people drifting out of my way… I wasn’t even leaning on it, but all of a sudden, people were incredibly considerate to my walking limitations.

2. Body odor

The less you shower, the less likely people will want to stand in front of you. Or behind you. Or in the same room as you.

1. Gently breathing on their neck

Now this one requires that you have a little bit of time, and that you aren’t afraid of a lawsuit, but I promise it’s incredibly effective. After the first time they feel your hot breath on their neck and whip around to see that you were close enough to taste them, they’ll think twice before standing in your way ever again. And before talking to you ever again.

Combine severe B.O. with creepily invading personal space and you’ve got an unbeatable combination.

How on Earth does one tackle such an insurmountable task?

So there was a table of two people; one was an older man with grey hair and the other was a middle-aged woman (presumably his daughter). They had a few questions and were generally polite. When I was taking the gentleman’s order, I mentioned that we had corn on the cob, to which he replied, “Corn on the cob sounds great – and also bring some of those prongs so that I can hold it.”

I responded, “Oh I apologize sir; we don’t carry those.”

With a questioning look, he replied, “Then how am I supposed to eat it?”

Silence.

I stared for about six or seven seconds with a blank look on my face before I realized that this man was utterly serious. How could I expect him to eat corn on the cob without some sort of corn consumption apparatus. In all his years, he has probably never been so shocked and dumbfounded.

Now, I did regain my composure and offer to shave the corn before bringing out, but the question stayed with me: “Then how am I supposed to eat it?” Well I went back to the kitchen and asked the industry geniuses and professionals within, and came up with some ideas so that I don’t get caught with my pants down on this one again. Next time, I’ll have a few good suggestions.

“More adventurous guests tend to use their forks as makeshift prongs; I can bring you a few extra if needed.”

“Champagne flutes work well sir, but I do have to charge a rental fee.”

“Oh don’t worry sir, I’ll have a corn rotation expert come by and slowly swivel the corn in front of your face. Don’t worry, he’s a professional; do you prefer powdered or non-powdered gloves?”

A man sits down by himself, quickly glances at the menu, then waits quietly with his hands folded. I walk over and greet him, and he tells me what he wants. Seems simple enough, but then he asks me for seaweed salad as a side item.

“I apologize sir, but we’ve run out of seaweed salad this evening.”

“Excuse me? How do you guys not have seaweed salad?”

I go on to explain that the item was popular during the lunch, and that we must have just run out.

“I don’t understand though. How did you all run out of seaweed salad?”

We had the stuff, but everyone else ate it. Sorry? Here’s a helpful definition. I know it can be a letdown to be denied, especially when you went out for something specific, but running out of something is pretty easy to ‘understand.’ We had it. Now we don’t. Again, my apologies, but one cannot produce matter from nothingness (physics 101).

Alas, after five or six minutes of extremely productive conversation, he gets along with the meal. Later, when he’s finishing up, he waves me over… he says, “I could swear I just saw some seaweed salad come out on someone else’ plate.”

Silence.

After I explained that there are numerous very green items that come out of our kitchen (i.e. spinach, broccoli, other salads, a random plate of cucumbers, apple martinis, etc.), he even went as far as to ask my manager. After five or six minutes of extremely productive conversation, my manager walked away with a perturbed look on his face.

Seaweed Salad

Spinach

Cucumbers

Alright, I’ll admit that the seaweed and the spinach could look pretty similar at a glance. But honestly, what do I have to gain from lying to you sir.

Deutsch: Ein Apple Martini (Appletini). Svensk...

Apple Martini

New York City Skyline

Food, then shenanigans.

You sit down at a restaurant with a few friends. It’s a gorgeous evening and you’ve gone out to eat before the rest of the night’s activities. You’re talking and laughing together when your server comes over and takes your order. Later, the meal comes out, and everything tastes great.

The meal goes well, but with a little hitch: your drink tasted a little off, and you asked for it to be fixed – which your server did with no fuss. But all in all, the meal goes well. You leave happy and tip appropriately.

So where’s the problem? There is none. You were perfect.

I love you.

A lot of conscientious people seem to get the idea that any complaint is a bad thing. Not true. Your concerns are your server’s concerns. And if it came out wrong, it’s your server’s job to fix it. Do you feel like a bother when you ask a mechanic to fix your car?

If you tried something new and didn’t like it, we can tweak it or just get you something else. If you’re steak isn’t cooked well enough, tell us, and we’ll get it to your desired level of dead. If the guests next to you are loud and obnoxious, let me know and I’ll go tell them about our wonderful outdoor patio seating.

And even more importantly, it is too often that I bring food out and find out that there is an allergy that someone didn’t want to bother me with. The menu description never states everything that’s in a dish; don’t make any assumptions about what’s in the food – just ask. Allergies matter, and you feeling sick certainly isn’t helping either of us.

As a matter of fact, anything that makes you even slightly unhappy isn’t helping either of us. So while it may seem cheesy, the most important thing you can do when going to a restaurant is be happy. As long as you’ve got that down, your server won’t mind doing whatever you need.

Happy people. I love them.