Poor Service, Please

What is there not to like about her?  She is tall with legs that can drop your jaw like you’re looking at the perfect sunset.  Her thick, wavy brunette hair is cinched in a pony tail that gorgeously drapes the back of her neck. Her lips are painted crimson red. I’m not sure what she has applied to her eyes, but I’ll call it “Hot Midnight Trouble”.  Regardless of her striking looks, my concern is whether or not she is complete with a personality to match.

Ah, here she is…approaching my table…

“Have you been here before?” she says, speaking coldly without any introduction.  “Cuz if so, I can take your order now.”

The toneless rush in her voice. The unfriendly, monotone delivery is all I need to know that I have just met Ms. Right.  She has the perfect personality!

“This is my first time here,” I say. “Anything you recommend?”

“Hamburgers. Fries. You want that?” Cold. Her voice is cold as an ice pick.

“No thank you, Jessica,” I reply, reading her name tag. “I’ll take a few more minutes with the menu, if you don’t mind.”

“Sure. Whatever.” she says sharply, then leaves—obviously so disgusted with my decision to prolong my order that, if given the option, she would drag my butt back to the kitchen and dump me in the deep fryer.

Dear God, she is everything I could ask for.

*               *               *

I’ll get back to Jessica in a bit, but perhaps a little clarification is needed to understand what my attraction is to this woman with a harsh personality.

She represents the exclusive group of waiters and waitresses who, I believe, were put on this planet for one purpose: to save me money. They are an elite group of individuals to whom I have no problem giving them little or no tip at all.  Order a hamburger, and they’ll bring you a hot dog. Ask for an iced tea refill and pray you get it before they deliver your check.  The lettuce in your salad is wilted? No problem, your waiter will gladly take it back to the kitchen with the scowl of a bladder-infected opossum.

There was a time when poor service simply ate up all my patience. I’d track our waiter as he served other tables, waiting for that moment when he’d turn and I could flag him down for some extra napkins.  Of course, he wouldn’t turn, and I’d be left an impatient mess, tapping my fingers on the table–caught in a state of high anxiety that didn’t end until I got my napkins. I became so focused on what the waiter or waitress wasn’t doing that I had little time to enjoy myself.

Then, one day, a manager came by my table and asked how my meal was.  “Honestly,” I said. “The steak is undercooked.”

“I’m sorry to hear that,” he said. “Let me get you a new one.”

I handed him my plate, then added, “For whatever it’s worth, our waiter didn’t deliver our drinks until after the appetizers.”

“Really?” he said, in a concerned tone.

You would think I had just alerted him that our waiter was a Russian recipe spy. Not only was I not charged for my meal, but all of our drinks were free as well (or comped as they say in restaurant language). Bright light bulb goes off in my head.  I start doing the math…

1 bad waiter + 1 concerned manager = FREEBIES!!

From that day forward, my perspective on quality restaurant service completely changed. What I quickly learned was that even if a concerned manager never got involved, I could at least justify tipping less because of poor service.  No longer was I anxiously trying to flag down a waitress for not getting enough ranch dressing, but I was now praying for as many mistakes as possible. Don’t just bring me cold soup, but take your time reheating it. Intentionally drop a couple of flies in my lemonade. I’m allergic to jalapenos.  When I eat them, I break out in severe hives and itch for days. I want that jalapeno juice smothered in my mashed potatoes. If I asked for ketchup, you can bring it, but slam it down on the table like you’re trying to kill a six-foot rattlesnake.  And please, oh pretty please, don’t smile.  I want that bladder-infected opossum scowl up front and personal all meal long.

*              *            *

Now that I’ve clarified myself, let’s get back to Jessica.  She should be returning to my table soon to take my order.  Little does she know, I’m going to need a couple more minutes before I decide what I want.  And just how do you plan to handle that, Jessica?  Maybe just cut to the chase and spill a tray of drinks into my lap.  Be my guest, sweet Jessica—I’m all for saving money by slashing your tip.

Here she comes—woman on a mission to take my order.  Hmmm….interesting…she’s smiling…

“Hello. I’m so sorry I forgot to introduce myself earlier.  I’m Jessica, and I’ll be serving you tonight.  Do you still need some more time with the menu?”

NOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!! This cannot be!!  Who deprogramed my waitress!!? This is not the Jessica I knew ten minutes ago!!  This Jessica is sweet, courteous, and professional. I demand an immediate explanation!!…I demand rudeness!!!

I’m searching for a reply. I don’t know what to say.  “I…umm….I’ll take the hamburger and fries.”  It’s the last thing I want to order, but I say it in hopes to trigger some kind of recall in Jessica’s mind.  In hopes she might become instantly unfriendly.

“Great choice,” she says, happily. “You’ll find that our burgers are quite delicious. Would you like sautéed mushrooms on yours?”

My evening is ruined. Not only will my food taste great, but I’ll have to reward her for such cordial and delightful service. How could things have possibly gotten this bad? I can’t take it. I’m desperate…

“No, I don’t want sautéed mushrooms. But I’ll take jalapenos. Lots and lots of jalapenos.”

 

Copyright Ros Hill 2016

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