Your recounting of How (Not) to Have A Conversation got me thinking about the conversations in my life lately, and how they've changed. It seems that after six years of on and off waitressing, I may have lost some of my patience.
Me: Hi folks, how are you doing? My name is Ella, I'll be your server.
Guest (we aren't supposed to call them customers): **No acknowledgment of my existence**
Old Me: **Stands awkwardly** Do you folks need a moment? I don't want to interrupt...
New Me: Okay, I'll be back in a couple minutes then. Amazingly, I don't have time to stand here while you ignore me. Have you been to a restaurant before? I can't serve you if you don't order.
Me: Can I get you guys something to drink?
Guest: Oh, no, no. Just a water.
Old Me: Absolutely.
New Me: Yeah, I'll be back with that in a minute. Because it's still a drink that I get for you. Unless you were planning on showering in it, but again, I still have to go get it for you.
Me: Are you folks all set to order?
Guest: Oh, we haven't even looked!
Old Me: No problem, take your time.
New Me: I'll be back in a few minutes. Again, have you been to a restaurant before? What have you been doing for the past five minutes? I was under the impression you were here to order food, my bad.
Me: Are you folks all set to order?
Guest: Yes, I think so. Are you?
Guest 2: Um, I can be. Are you?
Guest 3: Yeah, you go first though.
Guest 1: Oh, okay, um...where was it...well...
Old Me: **Stands patiently, smiling**
New Me: Why don't I give you another minute. **Walks away.**
Guest: Which is better, the Tuna or the burger?
Old Me: Well, the tuna is a little lighter, etc. The burger is heftier, but really good, etc, etc.
New Me: Well, do you like fish or burgers? The tuna is fishier, the burger is cow-y-er.
Guest: Is the Cape Codder good?
Old Me: It is, its sort of like Fish N Chips but a sandwich, it comes with fries, people really like it.
New Me: No, it's terrible, that's why its on our menu. People really like it, as long as you like fried fish.
Guest: What's your favorite thing?
Old Me: I always used to get the Cobb Sandwich, now I eat here all the time so I usually just get plain things.
New Me: Nothing, it's all gross, I've eaten it all 800 times. The Citrus Tuna is what a lot of servers get. I don't, because I don't trust our kitchen not to give me food poisoning.
I could go on, but I think you get the point. Clearly, the italics are things I think, don't say at the table, wander off and mutter to my friends. But, by far, the thing that annoys me the most is this interaction:
Me: Hey, guys, do you want to order/want another drink/are you all set?
Guests: **TOTAL BLANK STARES**
New Me: What, am I supposed to read your mind? Are you telepathically trying to tell me what you want?
And finally, I leave you with an actual conversation. Now, I can't say how I would have responded five years ago, but I think its safe to say I would have been slightly more reserved in my response than this:
Me: If you're sitting at my table, please just order your drinks from me.
Me: Why? WHY? BECAUSE THIS IS MY JOB, I'm not here for fun, I'm here so I can pay my student loans. Because this is my job, this is how I pay my bills.
Guest: Oh, is that like, the rule?
Me: Yup, in pretty much every restaurant.
Guest: Oh. Really?
Me: Yes, really. That's how it works. These are my tables, this is my section, if you order from the bar and sit here, I don't get paid and no one else can sit here and pay me.
And so, the moral of the story is, I need a new job. Spread the word. I'll do anything, honestly. Well, anything except take people's orders, bring them food, and rely on them for my income.
your so-excited-to-see-you sister