Hi. I'm your waitress. Can we talk?
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This is a codependant relationship, and if it's going to work out, we need to get a few things straight. I really want this relationship to work because we both know we need each other. You want to eat in a place that makes you feel welcome, and I want to make a living and meet nice people. If we both move on to other restaurants, we'll encounter the same issues with other people, so there's no point in breaking up. But if you want to keep coming to my restaurant, I need to lay out my boundaries:
1) Yes, I am here to serve you. I even want to like you. Really, I do. So if we are having a bad day, let's not take it out on each other, OK? I won't snarl at you for ordering one of those skinny-decaf-soy lattes-with-not-a-speck-of-foam if you won't growl at me for forgetting you ordered water with no ice. Let's start out on the right foot and smile at each other.
2) I am a good waitress, but I am not super-human. If there are 100 other people in the restaurant clamoring for attention, I can't run errands endlessly just for you. Sweetener for your coffee? You got it. Skim milk instead of the half-and-half on the table? Ok. Another napkin? No problem. A to-go box? A slice of lemon? Fine. More hot water? Side of sour cream? Yup. Directions to the zoo? Crayons for your daughter? ALL RIGHT. Just try and ask for as many things at once as you can at once, rather than have me scamper back and forth from your table like a golden retriever who never tires of the ball. Please.
3) There are some folks out there who object to the tipping system, and actively protest by not tipping their servers. This is like starving your cat because you object to the cost of pet food.
Write your congressman, start a petition, or run for office on a "no tipping" platform that will revolutionize the industry. Be my guest - it's a weird system, and a change wouldn't hurt. But depriving us of our livelihood isn't going to do anything constructive.
4) Guys. Do you know how many of you come in and make eyes at me? Ever wondered why you have a "thing" for waitresses? I'll tell you why: I always smile at you, and I bring you everything you ask for. You're probably not getting THAT in your personal life. Who is, come to think of it?
You idealize me because I do everything to serve your needs and I never complain. Just bear in mind that in my personal life, the apron comes off, and I have needs and issues, just like everyone else.
And by the way, staring at my boobs while asking me out is not a good tactic for getting a date. Waitresses keep telling you this fact on CL forums and in magazine articles and whatnot, and yet you keep staring at our boobs and asking us on dates. It's the darndest thing.
5) Girls. It's not my fault your boyfriend is staring at my boobs while I serve the two of you. Please don't tip 5 percent to get back at me. I'm just as disgusted as you are, sister.
6) Parents. Listen. A restaurant is full of hot things, pointy things, and slippery things that might hurt little Jimmy. Pinchy things, and big things that fall from above.
Please keep an eye on the wee ones.
Some kids are absolutely delightful and well-behaved, so I know it's possible to keep them in line, but some parents just pump their kids full of sugar and let them loose like rabid little pygmies. It's rather alarming to find Jimmy in the kitchen trying to empty a soup pot over his sister's head. For a start, he should at least have a Food Handler's permit.
7) Yes, you can split the bill, but splitting it eight ways with eight cards is a bit much. Four is stretching it, even. If you're meeting seven friends for dinner, perhaps you could all bring cash and just throw it all into the pot. Just a suggestion. It works really well and saves you waiting extra time while your bills gets sorted.
Not only does splitting the bill and running all those cards take up a ton of time and concentration, I usually don't have eight pens on my person so you can all sign at once. I've usually given all my pens out to the kids by then, and getting them back can be tricky.
8) I realize this is Oregon, and we're all proud that we do our bit to make the planet a more sustainable place. We recycle, we buy local, and we pour leftover water on the plants outside. But it's awfully hard to run a restaurant without violating a few environmental precepts, so I'm sorry, but the Splenda is NOT biodynamic. The ten-minute lecture on sustainability (while I'm busy trying to split a bill with 8 credit cards) is not going to change that.
... and you are starting to get "rant spittle" at the corners of your mouth. Here's a napkin.
9) You know what time we close. Please stop coming in with two minutes to spare, then sit there for an hour, dawdling over your lunch and reading the paper from cover to cover. Sure, I enjoy talking with you after everyone's gone, but this is not your house, and I have to be somewhere. I've been here for ten hours and I'm tired. Please finish your meal and leave.
10) Oh, and a last one for the guys again: PLEASE do not take a magazine into the only bathroom in the place and stay there for ten minutes. That's just gross.
I love you, Portland. I know we can make this work.