A broken waiter ruminates on the least appealing thing on offer in any given restaurant – the customers.
On any regular day the stinking, sweaty chef who hasn’t washed his hands since he showered the night before might roll a joint for a walk downstairs to the dank and moldy dry-store, step over the sleeping manager and find a line of coke waiting for him on the shelf behind the beef stock granules. So what? The manager was still here, drunk as fuck, sitting on table five in a fog of smoke and shot glasses at nine this morning with two skinny waiters and five randomers when chef came in to open up. No biggie. I won’t bore you with the seedy details of what the over-qualified and under-fed have to do or imbibe to cope with our nation’s most vile and untempered foe, Joe and Jenny Public.
I’ll start with you Joe, you prick! I was on my coffee break in the pub across the road when you sauntered in to meet your fellow diners before the meal. You just had to slam an extra drink in before leaving. Just to be late, just to kill your tastebuds and loosen that nervous tongue-slash-wallet of yours. You’re probably an ok guy most of the time but you’re eating out tonight so you morph into this befuddled Dickensian autobot who hold doors open unnecessarily, smiles too much and gesticulates unnecessarily with your eyebrows. You’re going to order dark meat and concern yourself with the wine, the bill and the chance of a brandy on the house after the meal. If it was a coma you were after Joe a little ketamine sorbet could have been arranged. You should have said.
Joe’s antithesis – the over-enthusiastic gourmet, wine-loving, chatter-cock. Well, in over a decade of working in fine, and not-so-fine, dining not one of these fellows has said anything more remarkable than what they sight-read in lifestyle magazines and television programs. I once had to subtly suggest to one customer that I had also read the article in that week’s edition of the Sunday Times magazine on how to ‘pow-wow’ and ‘get on side’ with your waiter. Scarlet Jarlath. Muppetry aside, the same chap will tear the house down and refuse to pay his bill if his tardy table is not served in three quarters of the time it takes to cook the food.
Jenny, is on her best behaviour tonight. She’s scoping out the place for a possible table of three next Tuesday with her bestest friends. She’s memorising the menu, the table layout and putting the phone number in her mobile so the three of them can dream up the most impossible list of demands and keep me up to date all week. So, at rush hour on Saturday night, they conference call me to tell me it’s half portions of asparagus risotto all round with a special request for crab cakes, anything-but-Chardonnay and an out-of-seasonal salad in the middle of the table so they can, y’no, pick at it. I know, fabulous.
Murphy’s law of catering dictates that we will suddenly change the entire menu and repaint the place on Monday night, Asparagus will be embargoed, I’ll forget the clocks go forward the night before and the only two half bottles of Chablis in stock will be corked. Their night will be ruined, the rest of the restaurant will be having too much fun and they had to put their good handbags on the floor because there was no, y’no, hooky thing on the edge of the table for them.
They’ll be outraged, the service will be reported as atrocious and after complaining for eight weeks to everyone they meet, they’ll come to the conclusion that it was the best mileage they ever got out of €27.35 each and book in again for next month. Yeah, C U Next Tuesday, Jennie.