Holding Serve: I got a long, angry note from a waitress who's put in eight years on the job. According to her, "It's getting rugged out here." She wants to remind the public that the server-diner relationship is a two-way street.
"Everyone on this planet," she says, "upon adulthood, should be made to be a waiter for a week. Then you would see that it is not just an act of throwing food on the table and picking up 'free' money. The next time you're being overly hard on a waitperson, and you will be, think to yourself . . . do you think YOU could do it better? Probably not."
She sent me a dozen suggestions that could improve your dining-out experience:
1. Remember, we are your servers, not your servants. "Please" and "thank you" will get you very far. Ill-mannered behavior won't.
2. Refrain from whistling, making clicking noises with your teeth or snapping your fingers to get our attention.
3. You may find your 2-year-old absolutely adorable, but wait until he can speak in sentences before he orders for himself.
4. We are not all uneducated cretins who are too stupid to do anything else for a living. So think twice before saying insulting statements like, "Most of these people don't understand big words."
5. Watch your language. I realize it's the '90s and anything goes, but some of us are still extremely offended by what used to be considered profane.
6. Try to pay attention, please. If there are four people at the table, don't make me ask ALL of you how you would like your eggs. Volunteer some information.
7. Every time you ask for something to be eliminated from a dish, something on the side or something substituted, it slows things down for everyone. Naturally, the people who devise their own dishes instead of ordering from the menu are usually the first ones to say, "What's taking so long?"
8. A restaurant is for dining. An office is for business meetings. When you sit at a table for hours on end conducting your meetings and leave a miserly tip, you're taking money out of the server's pocket.
9. Stop finding fault with everything. Some people live in boxes. Some people are sick. Try to appreciate the fact that you have the health and money to eat out. In other words, quit whining.
10. If you are having a bad day, or life, it's not my fault. Treat me as you would like to be treated, and we'll both enjoy the experience.
11. If you are in an incredible hurry, tell me as soon as you're seated, and take your chances. Otherwise, two suggestions: a) Manage your time better; b) Drive-through.
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12. Blowing your nose and breast-feeding may be natural acts, but that doesn't mean they should be done in front of other diners.
Of course, there are plenty of things servers could do to improve the dining-out experience. I've got several ideas, and I'm sure you do, too. Send them along, and we'll let them know.
Suggestions? Write me at email@example.com or New Times, P.O. Box 2510, Phoenix,