5 Things Restaurants Need to Stop Doing Right Now

Do not mess with a woman who collects salt.EXPAND
Do not mess with a woman who collects salt.
Laurie Notaro

Who am I to criticize? I'm paying for my meal, that's who I am.

I'm the one who watched my best friend say, "I have—" just as a server's arm blocked her face to pour us more ice tea, after which it took my friend several seconds to compose herself before saying the word, "cancer."

And so on.  Train your staff, restaurants, that's all I'm saying. Start with this list.

Don't reservation shame me.

Stop pretending that if I come in without a reservation that I have broken a holy sacrament or offended the hostess in some way, and then make me wait for 20 minutes while they go and check that yes, the dining room is 75 percent empty, but it will take the next 18 minutes for the hostess to hang around in the kitchen, pretending to figure out how to fit me and my hungry, cranky grandma in.

If I tell her to, my grandma will unleash her Brooklyn Italian self, and this may include physical contact with her handbag and a curse involving chicken bones that she keeps in her pocket.

Don't judge a salt lover.

Stop giving me a frigging dirty look when I ask for salt. JUST STOP IT. Your taste buds are not my taste buds. The first rule of my life is that "salt makes everything better." For my birthday, I ask for salt. The most spoken phrase in my family is not, "I love you," or "You're an idiot," (close second), but "Pass the salt."

So when you argue with me about bringing salt to the table, I will retaliate by reaching into my purse and pulling out one of the 50 packets of salt I pocketed the last time I went to Arby's.

AND I WILL SPRINKLE ARBY'S SALT ON YOUR JERK PORK. WATCH ME. WATCH ME. I AM DOING IT.

And, when you finally do bring over a teeny little bowl of salt and say to me, (true story), "I hope you're feeling confident," I will reply, looking you dead in the eye, "I have never felt anything but confident." And then I will laugh.

Quit interrupting.

I want the wait staff to stop interrupting me right before I get to the punchline of my story.

In public, I would knock you down for that. Right to the floor, like we were in Wal-Mart. A punchline is holy, you asshole. If you want to hear the punchline, that's fine, stand next to me or behind me. But do not, under any circumstances, ask if I want more goddamned water when I am a second away from a big laugh and my glass is completely full.

For that matter, do not interrupt my conversation at any point. If you stand there with a pitcher of water at my side, let me finish my joke and then let me tell you I don't need water. Once, while eating lunch with two dear friends, our meal was ruined by an overachieving server who insisted on constantly interrupting my friend's story, and he was about to tell me about someone who pooped their bed. It was a good story.

I put my fork down, turned to the server and said, "Why are you here? What crisis have you observed developing at this table within the 120 seconds since you were here last? If you want to pull up a chair and join us, that's fine, but know we are splitting the bill equally. And now that includes you."

Don't be so pretentious.

Stop referring to your restaurant by name, a la "Have you ever been to Breadfruit, the exotic and specialized rum bar and restaurant before?" Just use the word HERE. As in, "Have you been here?"

Is this restaurant speak for the royal "we?" If your restaurant needs to attain a level of pretension that is so high that you are only allowed to refer to the restaurant with its DBA name, do me a favor and give me cotton napkins instead. Because I know yours are polyester. Impress me with a detail I can feel with my mouth, not by a declarative sentence that will make you the punchline you interrupt seven times through dinner. Save the self-elevating reference, Your Majesty. You sound like the uncle at Thanksgiving who boasts that he's in finance but really works at the call center for Bank of America.

Don't ever ask me how something tastes.

Stop thinking of clever ways to ask me how my meal was: "How are your flavors tasting this morning?" "Did you enjoy the profile of your dish?" "Was I right in talking you out of the swordfish and toward the salmon? I was, wasn't it? I was, right?" Because I will be forced, absolutely forced, to summon you over and whisper in your ear, "Your boss must be a real asshole to make you say something like that," only to have you respond, "I made it up myself. I thought it was creative."

To which I will respond with a very, very sad face.


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