I’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