The “Time-Out” Corner Over at The Annoying Bar & Grill


Time Out CornerIt is no wonder that the world is in its current state. It is a result, I fear, of the people who populate it. I bump up against certain “types” quite often in my very glamorous career as a restaurant worker. Most days I wonder why I don’t just go ahead and work in a nursery school. Your average preschooler would, no doubt, be far easier to reason with. It’s a good bet that they also have fewer sulking fits, temper tantrums, or public meltdowns, too.

Let’s take a moment to review the following examples and then you tell me, do these people need to be placed in a “time-out” corner over at The Annoying Bar & Grill?

“ME FIRST” FRED
Fred is the guy who, as a child, always wanted to be the “line leader” — even when it wasn’t his turn. His foot is barely in the door, his ass has not even grazed a barstool or a chair and, yet, he’s looking for someone — anyone — to fulfill his every need. (He must be delightful at home!)

Every time he comes in I want to say, “Sit your ass down, Fred. I’ll be with you in a minute!” It’s no matter that my hands are full or that I am currently at another table dragging an order out of some cretin who either can’t read, doesn’t speak English, or is unable to grasp the difference between a baked potato and a mashed potato, Fred wants to give me his order “on the run”.

Fred fears that we may run out salmon ten minutes after we open or that he won’t get the adequate number of mushrooms on his sandwich if he doesn’t get his food before everyone else in the building. Fred is a pain in the ass with deep-seated psychological problems that likely are a result of “middle-child syndrome”. Fred needs to chill the hell out.

Fred — and people like him — are probably the reason people hate Americans.


“COUPON” CAL
Cal is the sort of man who carries with him a pencil case full of coupons. How he found a woman is beyond me.

This bright yellow zippered affair that Cal uses to organize his cheapness may, very likely, be a remnant of his preschool days. Cal’s mommy, I’m certain, saved it for him. Like a cherished Teddy Bear or security blanket, this thing has been with him since childhood — so, too, has his penchant for pouting.

When I arrive to take his order, Cal has helpfully spread out all of the coupons that he has gathered for our establishment — some of them date back to the turn of the Twenty-first Century. Unlike my coworkers, Cal knows that I will take and combine any and all coupons, regardless of their expiration dates. Hell, I’ll even accept a competitor’s coupon.

That I engage in this chicanery is not, as Cal thinks, because I am a “nice lady”. Cal actually refers to me in this way, though. I have heard him ask the host, “Can we sit with the ‘nice lady’ today?” What Cal does not know is that the real reason I allow him this folly has nothing to do with the fact that I am a “nice lady”, rather I indulge this foolishness because I cannot stand to see a grown man become crestfallen over something as ridiculous as a free appetizer. Cheap people make me uncomfortable; cheap men creep me the hell out.

Undoubtedly, Cal still has the first dollar he ever made. It is probably framed and displayed prominently in his home, alongside the picture of his dear, departed, pencil case-saving mother.


“POOR PLANNING” PETE
Much like Lewis Carroll’s “White Rabbit”, Pete is always late for some “very important date”. Still, Pete wants to enjoy a well-done Porterhouse steak for lunch. Because, you know, the world revolves around Pete.

That Pete’s expectations clash with reality will, unfortunately, become my problem. Like a preschooler who insists that every day is his birthday, Pete has never fully come to grips with how time works — or with how long it actually takes to cook a well-done Porterhouse steak.

Pete could use a lesson in time management or, barring that, might benefit from resolving himself to eating rare meat. Pete, as I’m sure you can imagine, is always disappointed in the inability of our kitchen to push out his giant slab of beef in the ten minutes that he has allotted himself for lunch.

Pete is a bonehead of the highest order who, if there is a God, will be the first guy in line when time machines become available. He won’t be, though. If I know anything about Pete, he’ll be late to that party, too.


“ANXIOUS” ANNIE
Annie isn’t necessarily in a hurry — she just wants you to think that she is, so, you know, you’ll move faster. She wants everyone to live in her frenetic universe.

She comes in to pick up her take-out order with her credit card at the ready. She feels the need to wave it over her head to indicate her presence. No matter that you are in the middle of waiting on a guest who has manners and a full understanding of what waiting his turn means, Annie wants your attention and she wants it yesterday.

Annie enjoys sighing and eye-rolling when she feels that she and her $8 order (an order that NEVER warrants a gratuity!) have not been assigned the proper level importance in the scheme of my day.

If only, I often think, I could manipulate a romantic match between Annie and Pete. They could marry and raise a whole slew of demanding children to be released into an unsuspecting world. For the good of all mankind, it is probably best that I do not take up matchmaking. On the other hand, their progeny might make an excellent secret weapon. Our enemies would run for the hills at the first sight of them. That’s exactly what I want to do when I’m confronted with their parents.


Sadly for me and for the rest of us who work in the restaurant business, these people are not going to disappear from the landscape of our lives. Still, I fantasize about creating a “time-out” corner at The Annoying Bar and Grill. I would install these people there on an itty-bitty chair and make them wear a dunce cap — headwear that I would happily fashion from the leather of all of the shoes that I’ve worn out running hither and yon in an effort to fulfill their need for extra parsley, copious amounts of water, bleu cheese for their olives, or honey for their stupid hot (“now it’s lukewarm”!) tea.

I don’t know, maybe it’s me who needs the “time-out”?


8 thoughts on “The “Time-Out” Corner Over at The Annoying Bar & Grill

  1. I’d like to think I’m every servers ideal customer. However, I do see some of myself in Annie. I don’t always have patience. Don’t hate me.

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  2. Vanessa D. says:

    This is why I’ve never been good in the food service industry. I lose patience with people – fast.

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  3. I am sure I have seen all these people and more, though I have served a grand whopping total of 4 days, 39 in the food service biz. Too freaky hard!

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  4. Great character sketches! I’d know them if I walked into the restaurant. You write wonderful descriptions.

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