Meanwhile, At The Restaurant: No, It’s To-Go

The other night, George and I were out at a local restaurant. A family of four came in; Mom, Dad, two little boys who, if I had to guess, were like 4 and 6. It was kind of late-ish for kids to be out eating (it had to be at least 8:00) so the boys were hungry and cranky. Dad was an impatient manly-man, so when the lone waiter working the entire front of the restaurant and seating new diners during this busy night didn’t attend to them in the first minute of them standing there, Dad took matters into his own hands. And sat his family down at the table next to us. Yay.

So they order, and the kids’ food comes out, and then Dad’s food comes out, but Mom’s is delayed because the kitchen was backed up. Ah, well, such is life, right? So the couple will talk and take care of the kids while they wait for Mom’s food, right? And if Dad were so hungry he had to eschew manners and eat immediately, then maybe he’d offer Mom a little bit from his plate so she could nibble too while waiting, right?  Yeah.  Only no.  Instead, Dad proceeded to pull out his goddamned phone and Facebook (or whatever) while he ate. Ignoring his entire family. Ignoring the wife who wasn’t eating yet. Leaving her to contend with two tired, squirrelly kids on her own. While he was sitting right there next to them all. And when her meal came…well, words fail. It looked a little something like this.

The only thing I've exaggerated here is the size of his brow.

The only thing I’ve exaggerated here is the size of his brow.

(Remember, WordPress screwed f*ed us with their photo editing changes, so there is no “open in new window” option.)

That’s right. HE FACEBOOKED THROUGH HIS OWN MEAL, AND THEN WOULDN’T LET HIS WIFE EAT HER DINNER.

And for the record, when the one little boy knocked his water glass over and spilled most of it into his mother, guess who got up to help her clean up, get fresh napkins for the table, and alerted the waiter there was a spill?  Most people would think, oh, it was the other adult at the table, because that’s what responsible, thinking, caring adults in a relationship do for one another, right?

BZZT. Wrong. It was me. I helped her. I helped get her table cleaned. ME.

Sigh. I don’t even know what else to say about this except: If you’re this guy and you’re reading this, then understand that I only have the best of intentions when I tell you, you are a douchebag. Only because I hope you recognize it to be true, and want to change your douchebaggy ways. Your kids deserve a father who’s present and engaged, not some…douchebag, really, it’s the word that fits…who trawls his phone during dinner, exhibits no sign of joy or interest in his own family, who shows such…you know, it’s not even disrespect, it’s total douchey disregard, for his wife. I don’t know if getting your wife’s food to go shows you’re the control freak type of douchebag, or if you’re the sort of douchebag who is douchebaggy thanks to a wretched cavern in your soul filled with cluelessness but dude, when a stranger at the next table and the waiter have more concern for your wife’s well being than you do?

You’re doing it wrong.

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Soapbox Sunday: You Do Know You’re Speaking Out Loud, Right?

I just need to vent a little spleen about a weird scene that happened when we were out to dinner last night.  George and I went to a local restaurant, and it’s a fairly small one, so bear in mind that all diners are in a roughly 25×20 foot space.  As happens in restaurants, after splitting a bottle of wine and supplementing that with a few glasses of water…ummm…nature called.  It’s not uncommon, I think it’s safe to say we’ve all been there.  So.  George got up to make use of the men’s room.  He was gone no more than five seconds when he earned the ire of a popped-collar douche at a neighboring table, who stood up at about the same time George did, but was busy being all aggro-bro at his table and so did not move in any direction–towards the men’s room, towards the exit, whatever–because he had to get in a couple of manly fist-bumps.

Popped collars. Don’t let this happen to you. Image from intothisworldgame.blogspot.com

Suffice to say he did NOT call firsties and make his way to the men’s room (who knew it was a footrace?) and, once he realized George the Usurper had gone in before him, started to complain about his audacity to use the men’s room.  And he started to do so, quite loudly.

“Oh, man.  I can’t believe it.  Someone else is in the men’s room.  Hahahaha…that means I get to use the ladies’ room, right?  Isn’t that right?  I get to use the ladies’ room, since I can’t believe some other guy went into the men’s room before I got there.”

Hahaha.  OMG CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE THAT THE REST OF THE WORLD DIDN’T FALL TO ONE SIDE AND LET YOU IN YOUR INFINITE GLORY PASS BY?  Clearly, by standing, he telegraphed his intentions to the universe.  WTF, George?  How could you?

Seriously, though.  These are the things I want to know:

1) Are you an infant?  Do you lack the capacity to control your bladder and need immediate access to lavatories at all times?  Have you consulted your doctor about this?  Because it should be well under your control by the time you enter school, or learn how to drive, or go out drinking with bros in public.

2) Did you eat lead paint chips as a child?

3) Do you realize that the whole world does not, in fact, revolve around you?

4) Do you realize that the term “Manifest Destiny” does not, in fact, in any way relate to your access to a public rest room?

5) You do realize it’s possible to have an internal dialogue without vocalizing the thoughts in your head, right?

6) You do realize that sometimes–oftentimes–it’s preferable for you to NOT make your internal dialogue known, right?

7) Should you choose to vocalize your inner thoughts, you do realize you are under no obligation to make sure everyone in the bar, restaurant, clothing store, or whatever establishment you are patronizing at that moment knows what thoughts have lumbered through your brain, right?

8) You’re not funny enough for comedy. Leave it to the professionals, who are way more insightful, bitter, and relevant than you.

Sad. True. All of it.

Sad. True. All of it.

9) One last thing: do you realize that every time you opened your mouth, the entire restaurant (including your friends) hoped you choked on a bag of dicks?  Next time, bro, STFU.

That is all.

Meanwhile, At the Restaurant: How to Get the Bartender’s Attention

Having spent an unreasonable amount of time in food service, in several different states in the US, I generally think that I’ve seen most of what can be seen (though I do realize that claiming I’ve seen it all does a grave disservice to “it all”.  But really, people.  I don’t need to know).  Despite the quasi-iconic public concept of the surly bartender who hides in the corner and has to be coaxed out like they’re a mouse and you’ve got a pocket full of cheese, most bartenders do want to offer their customers timely and friendly service in a welcoming atmosphere.  In a tips-based economy, it’s the smartest way to make money.  And in my time in restaurants and bars, I’ve encountered a vast and often confusing array of ways customers deem acceptable to get a bartender’s attention.  In the interest of public service and to help out my bar brethren across this great land, I give you the do’s and don’ts of:

Ta da!

Ta da!

THE DON’TS

The Tapper

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The Tapper thinks the most effective way to get his drink refilled is to tap his empty glass repeatedly on the bar as though he’s tapping out distress signals in Morse code.  Unless you’re warning me about icebergs dead ahead, this is an inappropriate way to communicate.  I can let you tap all day.  Plus, if you’re that anxious that you need to bang your glass on the bar until you get another drink, then you don’t need another drink, and I would recommend trying some yoga, or perhaps taking up meditation.

The Barker

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The Barker thinks that raising his voice above the din of a bar is a surefire way to entice a bartender over.  The Barker doesn’t seem to realize that he is the human equivalent of WRITING IN ALL CAPS and as quickly as I will delete the email written in that manner, so will I dismiss the person who behaves in this manner.  He may express himself in a way that seems callous (Hey, you!) or try to sound charming and/or endearing (Hey, honey, sugarplum, dollface!).  But no matter how you phrase it, he’s still the obnoxious drunk yelling at you from across the bar.  Avoid whenever possible.

The Whistler

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Very closely related to The Barker, The Whistler shares the sentiment that making loud noises to attract the bartender is effective.  The problem is, The Whistler chooses the same manner in which he calls his dog in for dinner.  The Whistler doesn’t always necessarily whistle, per se, but he will clear his throat repeatedly or make “Pssst!” sounds.  One memorable time, the owner of the bar I worked in was on duty when a customer tried to attract his attention by making that repeated “psst psst psst” sound you make while trying to convince a cat to come near you.  The owner turned around and, without missing a beat said, “You’d better have some Friskies in your pocket if you’re calling to me that way.”  At least that once, the errant customer grew momentarily embarrassed enough to stammer out an apology before asking for a refill.

The Grabber

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If I’m ever back behind the bar, do not–and I mean DO NOT–ever reach all the way across the bar and touch me.  I will wreck you.

And so we come to the end of my general guidelines for DON’T bar behavior.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a good place to start.  Do note that the “DON’T” behaviors are generally demeaning and/or hostile and/or aggressive.  Use that as your measuring stick for what not to do, and you should be off to a good start.

THE DO’S

The Cash Presenter

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Most bartenders, you see, are fairly bright, and understand that being attentive to the people standing or sitting at the bar impacts their tips.  If someone stands at the bar with money in their hands, bartenders will generally investigate such an event because people don’t randomly walk around holding money.  In a bar, it’s a specific signal that means, “I want something and I’m ready to pay.”  Yes, it’s true.  Money talks.

The Discreet Signaler

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You can gesture to your bartender, so long as you’re chill about it.  If your bartender looks like he’s in the middle of a conversation and isn’t likely to end it any time soon, you can gesture.  If you want to get drinks ASAP for yourself and that fine individual you’re successfully chatting up, you can gesture.  Or if you realize you need to leave, you can do the universal “I’m pretending to sign my name” gesture.  Gesturing does, for the most part, imply necessity so don’t go overboard pointing and waving at will!  Then you become the barfly who cried wolf, and your gesturing just becomes a silent extension of The Tapper and nobody needs to cross into hybrid signals because then everyone is unhappy.

The Empty Glass Bearer

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The Empty Glass Bearer is the mellowest of all patrons and has an inherent understanding that a bartender intends to do his job to the best of his abilities.  A bartender who’s even half-paying attention knows that an empty glass requires some sort of attention.  Empty Glass Bearers tend to be easy customers for bartenders to deal with–they’re not overly demanding, they don’t need babysitting, and their lack of aggressive behavior towards the bartender generally means the bartender will like them.  Bars are a great place to have a high-fivin’, belly-bumpin’ good time, but not necessarily with the bartender, who has five or fifteen or sixty other people to manage simultaneously.  Have faith that the bartender will get to you.  While people may think the squeaky wheel gets the grease, when you’re in a bar it’s the quiet glass bearer who gets the best consistent service.

It’s true.

I’d love to hear about other bartender-approach behaviors that I might have forgotten or have blocked from my memory.  Feel free to comment!

Meanwhile, at the Restaurant: Easter Edition

About a thousand years ago, I worked in a very small coffee shop in a very small town.  Every week, at least once a week, a quartet of ladies would come in after spending the morning together at the gym.  All but one had those stylie (she said facetiously) nylon track suits and all would be suspiciously un-gnarly after what they claimed was a “killer” workout.

When I’m done with a killer workout?  I’m not pretty enough to go anywhere, particularly not in the gym clothes I’ve just released five gallons of sweat into.  Funktastic?  Nope.  Just funk.

Anyway.  These ladies would come in and absolutely swoon over the dessert case, and then *tee hee* behind their hands about whether or not they should get cake (and they always did) and how “bad” that made them.  For these ladies, I always felt like they did think it was a breach of moral conscience to have some goddamned cake if they wanted it.  But who was I to judge?

Oh, right.  I was the surly employee.  That’s what we do.  Plus, I could go on about how deciding to have a piece of cake or not does not in any way indicate an assault on your own morality or standing as a member of the community, but that’s a different rant for a different day.

I don’t think the following incident took place on Good Friday but I know it happened during Easter week.  And quite frankly, it taught me the meaning of self-sacrifice and self-reflection in ways I’d never contemplated before.  Just bear in mind…I’m not saying they’re good ways.

Meanwhile, at the Restaurant: Easter Edition

I feel the presence of the divine already.

I feel the presence of the divine already.

I just report what I see, people.

Peace out, y’all!

Meanwhile, at the Restaurant: The Allergy

I worked at a restaurant in Texas that is verrrrrry popular with out-of-town visitors, and when it was rodeo season we had a constant stream of riders and performers coming through our dining room.  Sometimes, the rodeo folks would generate a pervasive odor of hay and sundry rodeo dirt.  It wasn’t like they were doing anything malicious; they were just around hay and dirt and livestock all the time.  And it wasn’t a particularly bad smell, but had plenty of potential to impact its surroundings.  Kind of like when this happened…

As verbatim as I remember it.

As verbatim as I remember it.

…and move she did, to New York City.  Because I will never in my life say anything more honest than this: if you’re allergic to cowboys, darlin’, Texas ain’t the place for you.

How to Stay Motivated During a Workout

This pretty faithfully retraces my thought process during a particularly difficult workout.  Or maybe I was just kind of whupped and didn’t want to do it, I don’t know.  Works particularly well for Zumba.  And don’t think I didn’t put this to use this very morning in BodyPump.

Thanks, three-year-old!

Clearly, the mentality of a three-year-old appeals to me.

Funny, where inspiration comes from sometimes.

Have a great workout!  No tired.

Meanwhile, at the Restaurant: MIA

The following is a mostly true story about a phone call I got when I was working at a place that shall remain nameless.

I remember it well.

I remember it well.

With the exception of the zombie dust bit…and the fact that I don’t want to use all the paper necessary to convey just how long she yelled at me over the phone…this is pretty much entirely accurate.  Putting the drunk guy in the cab and sending him home–and paying for it–is generally considered the right thing to do.  Sigh.  Imagine my surprise.

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