The Butter Knife Survey


nablo13daythreeI’m thinking of putting together a survey. It’s focus? Cutlery. More specifically, it’s focus will be on whether or not you think a grown person can get that way — grown, that is — without having had any training with the use of something as simple as a knife. I’m not talking about one of those fancy-schmancy cutting implements that have sharp edges or anything crazy like that. I am referring to just a plain, old, garden-variety butter knife. I already know what my answer will be.

While butter knives are dull enough not to inflict injury, they’re sharp enough to do certain things, outside of, as their name implies, buttering things. I would contend that they are sharp enough to cut through lettuce. And, yet, I come into contact on a daily basis with people who are unable to even attempt to cut their own lettuce with them. (Don’t even get me started on the ones who can’t seem to cut their own meat — they have far bigger problems, I fear.) The real head-scratcher is how they reached adulthood WITHOUT becoming proficient in the use of the butter knife.

The other day, no less than four people — and, Ladies, I’m sad to report that they were women (the lettuce-eaters usually are) — FOUR grown women, all at different tables, all at different times of the day, insisted that I bring them a “chopped” salad. Instead of pointing out that they were given a cutting implement that could easily perform the simple task of cutting lettuce, I informed them that we don’t have a “chopped” salad on our menu — to be fair, some places do. Did this little tidbit of what I thought was helpful information deter them from ordering one anyway? No. No, it did not.

Instead, each of them gave me their own helpful suggestion regarding how I might acquire their “chopped” salad. They told me that I should just ask the kitchen to chop the lettuce for them.

Oh, if it were only that simple. For those of you unfamiliar with line cooks and/or chefs, let me reveal a little insider information: they are NOT inclined to do anything “extra” for anybody. They are salaried, so they could give a rat’s patootie what crazy-ass thing your table wants — if it’s not on the menu, they’re not doing it. No way. No how.

This is how I found myself, not once, not twice, but FOUR times, CHOPPING the damn lettuce for someone’s damn salad. Do you think that I received anything by way of additional compensation for my trouble? I did not. I barely even got a “thank you” out of any of these women. Frankly, I would have taken an extra fifty cents in lieu of the mumbled or the implied “thank you”, but, I suppose, I was lucky to get what I got.

Sometimes, you just have to be satisfied with what you get in life. In the grand scheme of things, chopping salads for the pathologically ungrateful isn’t even the most annoying thing that I have to do in a day.

Possibly the most annoying part of my job is dealing with wacky, high-maintenance requests and/or handling ridiculous complaints that likely could have been avoided if people either asked questions or sought my advice prior to making their final dining decisions.

There’s something to be said for those requests that are made prior to the arrival of the food. Often that something is “what the f*&k?”, but, still, I’m always grateful when the requests are made in advance. There’s almost nothing worse than the person with the $8 check who sends you scurrying hither and yon for crazy things — things like extra parsley — AFTER you’ve delivered their food. That’s just annoying as all get out.

Here’s the thing, if you are the type of person for whom cholesterol is not an issue, if, for example, you KNOW that you will need an additional VAT of butter for your 6 broccoli florets, ask me in advance. Please. Don’t flag me down in the middle of a busy lunch once you’ve gotten to the vegetable portion of the festivities to demand the butter and then tell me, once I have brought you the butter, that your broccoli is now cold. This necessitates yet another trip into the kitchen where I will undoubtedly have to argue with the cook in order to procure another order of broccoli for you.

I really want to tell people how a little forward thinking on their part would have gone a long way in avoiding the all-around unhappy state that we all now find ourselves in — me, the cook, them. Are a few florets of broccoli really worth all that trouble?

I’ve also grown quite tired of the people who decide to cheap out, to order the worst cut of meat on the menu because, let’s be honest, it’s less expensive, and then proceed to complain about its tenderness. If you are paying eight bucks for a steak, chances are pretty good that you won’t be able to cut it with a butter knife. In this case, what I said previously regarding meat cutting notwithstanding, I’d rather cut it for you myself — with a hacksaw, if necessary — than to order you something different. Truthfully, I’d almost be willing to chew it for them, too if they’d agree to eat it and get out.

I also love the folks who have umpteen special AND very specific requests — no this, no that, extra whatever, blah, blah, blah — whose order will inevitably get screwed up — there’s only so much anyone can be expected to remember. When it comes out without the extra pickles sprinkled with grated cheese ON THE SIDE, they will behave as if they were forced to bear witness to the ritual sacrifice of their first-born. Certainly that would be outrageous. That they find their behavior normal? That’s outrageous to me.

While I must be satisfied with getting what I get, most of my customers never are. No matter how many hoops I am forced to jump through, for some people, nothing I do is ever enough. I’d like to commission a study as to whether these type of people weren’t given ENOUGH attention as children or if they were given TOO MUCH attention as children.

I’d be curious to see THOSE results. Perhaps I’ll embark upon this project after I complete my analysis of the butter knife survey.

photo credit: salad

35 thoughts on “The Butter Knife Survey

  1. Sabrina says:

    I’ve served and sat at the table with a few of the people that you’ve described. There was definite a bump in the road of their childhoods. Hilarious! Much love from NaBloPoMo and Yeah Write!

    Like

  2. Beth Ann says:

    That made me laugh. I bend over backwards to not be “that customer”. I hate to be at dinner with someone who sends things back just because it is not perfect. I usually will eat whatever it is and if it is not up to my liking and the waiter/waitress asks at the end of the meal if every thing was okay that is the time when I will give an honest assessment of the meal but without being whiney!!! If it needed to be served hotter I will say that but I will not dwell on it. I guess I have never been served such a bad meal that I felt that I had to send it back. Maybe I have been lucky???
    Coming over from YeahWrite—we are column mates!!!!

    Like

    • javaj240 says:

      Beth Ann,

      Thanks for hopping over!

      No server or restaurant expects anyone to eat something that they do not like. If you feel a meal is not up to par — or if you feel you have received poor service — by all means should you bring that to the attention of the owner/manager.

      This post was designed to be a humorous look at some of the high-maintenance guests (ones who are often NEVER happy, no matter what is done for them) that I come into contact with. You certainly sound like my idea of a low-maintenance guest!

      Like

  3. Erica M says:

    Okay, serious question on what I know is a humorous post, but you seem to be the one to ask: it’s fairly humiliating for my 18-year-old stroke victim to have me, her mom, cutting her steak for her in a restaurant (whether other patrons are noticing or not), so I usually ask the server if the kitchen would mind doing it. No one has ever complained, but now I’m wondering after reading your post if they are spitting in my daughter’s food while cutting it into bite-sized pieces for her. Do I really need to announce to the entire restaurant there’s a stroke victim in the house, so please adjust your judgement accordingly? Life is tough enough as it is without extra explanation. But I shall defer to your advice. #lolsob

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    • javaj240 says:

      Erica,

      First, let me just say that it makes me unbelievably sad to hear of an 18-year-old stroke victim. I cannot even imagine how tragic this must be for her.

      That being said, I was referring in this post to able-bodied people, I apologize for not making that clear. I have two customers for whom I gladly cut their meat (or assist them in any other way that I can) — one has a birth defect that affected her hands, the other is a woman afflicted with Parkinson’s Disease.

      As you pointed out, this was designed to be a humorous post about high-maintenance customers. Neither you, your daughter, or anyone else who truly needs help, falls into that category.

      Like

      • Erica M says:

        This made me feel much better. She was actually an infant stroke victim, so we’ve been dealing with this forever. I got the kitchen-cutting idea from a stranger at Saltgrass Steakhouse who was with her disabled husband and I overheard her asking her server about it. So I took the good idea for myself. I am the first to recognize even dark humor in a post, but I figured I should ask haha because who wants spit steak for dinner?

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        • javaj240 says:

          I feel better, too (not about your daughter, her circumstances still make me sad, but about my post)!

          For the record, I’ve been in the restaurant business for over thirty years and have NEVER even heard about anyone EVER spitting in someone’s food, let alone seen it happen. I’m sure there’s someone out there who has done it — plenty more who have thought about it, no doubt, and so I won’t can’t say it’s an “urban legend”, but I’m pretty certain that it is!

          My humor is can be pretty dark, I’ll cop to that. Stick around, though, you’ll get used to me, LOL!

          Like

  4. As someone who also waited tables, I am with you, girlfriend!

    Like

  5. Nichole says:

    That is ridiculous. I’m going to order chopped chicken tenders the next time I go out. Cutting is hard.

    Like

  6. I once went on a date with a guy who was so rude to the waiter: speaking extra slowly as though she was dumb when really it was just loud in there, flagging her down every time he took a sip from his water, sending back his food three times and giving her a 7% tip. I mean, really? What a douche.

    Like

    • javaj240 says:

      He must have been a delightful dinner companion! I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall just to see your reaction! 🙂

      Like

  7. peachyteachy says:

    Relieved to report that I have never ordered extra parsley. Nor have I asked to have someone chop stuff that isn’t billed as “chopped.” “Why yes,” you must be thinking, “I would be delighted to chop your lettuce, some suey, and a cord of firewood for the road.”

    Like

    • javaj240 says:

      Yeah, sometimes I think their next request will be for Q-Tips, Band-Aids, or if I can help them move house next weekend, LOL!

      Like

  8. My heart bleeds for anyone who deals with the public, but I especially feel for people who work in restaurants. Because restaurants seem to bring out the douche in people like nothing else. The sense of helplessness and entitlement is just mind-boggling. When karma hits and they get what’s coming to them, I hope it takes the form of sharpened butter knives impaled in very sensitive areas.

    Like

  9. Lynne Spreen says:

    Time for a career change?

    Like

  10. Ned's Blog says:

    I was a chef for 10 years, and as such can verify, with some authority, that yes: We could give a rat’s patootie about chopping someone’s salad for them unless it’s table side, especially since it messes with the presentation.

    But mostly it’s the rat’s patootie thing…

    Like

    • javaj240 says:

      LOL — I HATE “tableside” anything. We have “tableside steak sauce” — time-consuming, zero-return, bullshit.

      And, yeah, I know all about the “rat’s patootie” thing. Very, very familiar with the concept!

      Like

  11. I love chopped salads, but I wouldn’t expect anyone to prepare me one if it’s not on the menu already. Come on, people!

    Like

  12. Everyone, and I mean everyone, should have to wait tables if they plan to ever in their life go out for a meal. Agree with Tugboat Captain’s Wife about the texting too.

    Like

    • javaj240 says:

      Thanks for reading! Yes, it would be nice if everyone were forced to wait tables — I think, at the very least, they would realize that it isn’t as easy as I looks!

      Like

  13. Here’s what I think. For some people, it’s too hard to cut their own lettuce using two hands while one hand always needs to be texting or at least holding the phone. Both hands cannot be occupied. That’s why chopped salads are popular.

    Like

    • javaj240 says:

      You may, in fact, be onto something there, Seashells!

      Do I smell an invention in your future? Perhaps a “hands-free” doohickey with a special knife attachment? Perhaps something with the Chanel logo?

      Like

  14. This is awesome! Passing it along 🙂

    Like

  15. Can not even imagine how you refrain from telling some of these people off!

    Like

    • javaj240 says:

      I refrain because they are never worth losing my job over. Also, they probably wouldn’t “get” it anyway, LOL! We are not dealing with the mildly self-absorbed here, we are dealing with the pathologically self-absorbed. You have NO idea!

      Like

  16. Patricia says:

    Jacqueline you are funny.

    Like

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