Like so many youth, after high school graduation I put feet to pavement and searched for employment. I was less than thrilled with the new adventure, but considering the only other alternative my mother gave me (a summer semester in college) this was the best choice.
A local restaurant hired me the same day I applied. I had all the attributes they were looking for: a willingness to work; bubbly personality; and a fanny that didn't touch my ankles (like it does now).
I remember how I felt when angry customers held me responsible if food wasn't cooked to their liking, and being treated like a servant by some. At the end of the day, my legs felt like chunks of wood, and I was too tired to compose a thought.
And so I remember all those things when I go to a restaurant, and try to treat the waiter/waitress as I wanted to be treated, so many years ago.
I know young ladies who work (and used to work) in restaurants, and possess the most sweetest, sincere personalities, especially when dealing with child customers. But it seems there's a disturbing trend in large restaurant chains.
My friends have regaled me with stories of being ignored by female servers, while the same waitress fawn over the males at the table, leaning over and almost shoving their breasts in the men's faces while pointing out choice menu selections.
Hunger usually occupies my mind when my family and I visit a restaurant, and it's a game of survival of the fittest if chips and salsa grace our table. In the past, so occupied am I in keeping my fingers from being mistaken as corn chips, I fail to notice the whereabouts of our waitress's boobs. Nope, didn't notice at all, until recently.
Just recently, my husband "J" and I went to a local popular steakhouse. We ventured alone, unaccompanied by whining, and teenaged mumblings of "Why we gotta eat here..." —I felt like a wild animal released from a cage.
My joy ebbed after our server arrived. Her gaze flickered over me, then she directed all her attention to my husband, never looking at me again. My cheeks felt hot as she turned her back more to me with each passing moment. I'd forgotten to use moisturizer the night before, but at the age of 40-something, I was still proud of my lack of wrinkles, and thought I didn't need it—until that moment. I sat, listening her flirt with my husband, as I (in my imagination) became more of a crone by the minute. My drink was never re-filled, I wasn't even asked if I wanted water, whereas my husband received the royal treatment.
No it's not because my plate was never taken, or the drink issue that upset me; it's the fact our server never again acknowledged my presence. It's common knowledge (often learned at a very young age) that when you don't look at a person you're dealing with, it's rude, not to mention unprofessional.
After the last crumb was devoured, "J" excused himself to the restroom, but not before leaving the payment (tip included). Our waitress came to the table, her face brightening when she saw the tip. It was only then she smiled, spoke to me, looked me in the eyes, and my blood boiled.
Yes, I remember what it was like to "hustle tips", who to target, and all the crap a server endures, but I never (that I know of) was rude to lady customers. For a moment, I played the part of a hypocrite, casting aside my philosophy of "always be kind to waitstaff".
"So, would you like a bigger tip?" I asked our beaming server.
My stomach churned as greed shone in her eyes, her smile becoming broader.
"Treat everyone with the same respect at the table. You never know who'll actually be paying the bill," I quipped before walking to the door to wait for my husband.
And so, dear friends, do you think I was out of line for my comment? What do YOU think, and what would YOU have done. Don't have to put your real name if you don't want to. :o)