My first table today was a doozy.
I was finishing my set-up when the host came into the kitchen to let me know that I had been sat. He lingered and I got the impression that he wanted to say something. So, I asked him what was up. He said, “Sorry, J. They’re weird.” I reminded him that around this joint that particular adjective applied to most of our customers ( I wish I were exaggerating). I laughed and told him that in the interest of saving time he might want to alert me when a table wasn’t weird.
There are always customers whose behavior is noteworthy for one reason or another. Servers often discuss these tables with each other. And people are creatures of habit, so even though we are on the highway, we are a free-standing restaurant in a predominantly residential area with access that does not require highway travel, which means that a very large percentage of our customers are returning guests. Basically, this means that your reputation may precede you; that while I may have never had the pleasure of actually waiting on you, if you are the “nose blower”, the “milk-and-pepsi lady”, or the “plastic utensils guy”, chances are I’ve heard of you.
Today I got to wait on the “toast lady”. I had never waited on her before. Weird does not even come close to describing this woman. She got her nickname because she cannot eat our complimentary bread so, of course, she needs us to supply her with complimentary dry white toast. Okay, this is bullshit, but I know they do it for her, so whatever. Now she launches into the instructions for her ridiculous substitution.
Her: I usually get the white bread, you know, the bread they use for the kid’s grill (she says “grill” not “grilled”) cheese.
Me (nodding my head up and down, you know, the universal sign for “I get it”): No problem.
Her: Nothing on it.
Me (AGAIN nodding my head up and down): Yes, Ma’am. Plain dry toast. I understand.
Her: I cannot stress to you enough how imperative it is that you get this right.
Me (actually shocked that she knows the word imperative, but grilled cheese has, somehow, eluded her): Okay.
Her: I cannot have the bread you bring out. I cannot have butter or oil. So, I really need this toast to be plain and dry. You understand, right?
Me: I think so. (As she is insisting on treating me like an idiot then I am sure as hell going to act like one.)
Her (now she is becoming anxious): Miss, I have SERIOUS dietary restrictions. I CANNOT have anything MULTI-GRAIN. I eat here ALL the time and they do it for me! The cook knows! (She is kind of bordering on hysterics now. Over toast. Dry white toast.)
Me: Okay. No problem. I’ll be right back with it. (I can tell she is not optimistic that I will get it right.)
I return with the bread. It meets her expectations. I know this because she makes me wait there while she inspects it, both visually and olfactorily. Yes. You read that right. She smelled the bread. I have NO idea what she thought she might determine by smelling it but, whatever.
She then proceeded to place her order in the same condescending manner in which she had “asked” for her special bread, making sure to tell me exactly how the cook prepares her plain medium-well burger. As I am walking away I ask her if she normally gets her burger on a bun. I know it was difficult for her, but she actually refrained from rolling her eyes as she exasperatedly sighed, “yes”.
It was more difficult for me, I can promise you, not to burst out laughing right in her face. Why? Because our burger rolls are MULTI- GRAIN! I wasn’t about to tell her that she’s been eating a multi-grain roll all this time. Whatever. Clearly it hasn’t hurt her.