Tuesday, December 18, 2012

LOVE AND FAMINE (to my godson on his third birthday)

To my godson on his third birthday*

If my godson could read 
I would most surely not let him read this. 
But one day soon he will be reading 
and one day, not too soon, I will want him to read this. 

So in the interim, I ask you to read this. . .

I want to guide him, however misguided that may be. 
I want to help him, however helplessly I can. 
I want to teach him, however under qualified I am to do so.  

One thing I am qualified to do is wait tables and tend bar. 
No, not the only thing my sillies. 
Yet, for the last 17 years I have worked in an industry that has 
guided me, helped me, and taught me 
many, many things. 

To my godson on his third birthday, I wish to teach you what I know about life, love, and flatulence as it relates to my experience in this industry. 
I will likely learn more in the process, Thank you Ebin. Happy Birthday!  

Find a vacancy

Find an empty, CLEAN table or scratch of a bar to sit at. A booth near the window may be what you want but if it’s not available—pull up your big kid pants and sit somewhere that is. 
The key is understanding subtext. When you are told to sit anywhere you like—it is assumed you know to sit at a clean table. But you don’t. You always choose the dirty one, the unavailable one, or you pass up available real estate and opt to wait for someone to leave. I know. I’m watching you, and if I may be candid...you’re making my job hell. 

Boy oh boy. 
We truly do want what we can’t have—and this goes further than just restaurant seating. 
The easiest way for us to chose our lovers is to shop everyone else’s choices, right? 
If it is available it probably isn’t any good, right? <buzzer sound>
Playing musical chairs as children taught us how to fight for seats, and how to feel dejected when we couldn’t keep up, competitively.
Ebin, please don’t play musical chairs. Just keep playing the drums. You’ll always have a seat of your own. 

Know what you want

Don’t be arrogant enough to keep your server lingering at your table while you mull over the menu options. You don’t need an audience to decide your lunch. Your server is likely needed elsewhere and could be fulfilling other people’s needs. 
But selfishly you keep them. 
Undecided you sit, insisting your needs are more important than other’s. 

You don’t know what you want but your loneliness desires an audience. 
You need to keep people near you even at the expense of letting them move on. 
Don’t keep your lover standing at the table if you don’t see anything on the menu that you want. 

No Yelling!

Your needs are important. And your server is gainfully employed because he/she agrees—and they want to take care of your needs [in exchange for a few of your dollars]. But if you mistake your needs for being “an emergency” or <cringe> more important than someone else’s—please, let me be the one to disabuse you. 
Let your servers earn their gratuity by serving you, as they see fit.
This is to say, please don’t yell for their attention, get out of your seat to find them, or touch them physically as they move around HASTILY. 

Your needs are important. And someone is employed as your boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband/lover because they agree—and they want to take care of your needs in exchange for your love and affection (or whatever your arrangement may be). But if you mistake your needs for...forget this, just listen. Do not yell at people. It makes you an ass. Do not yell at your lover, it makes you the biggest ass of all. Respect is a fundamental, not only of romantic relationships but all relationships. 
If you want to scream go out for cheerleading, or something comparable. Otherwise keep your thoughts and feelings to a dull noise. 

No Yelping

Criticism, when constructive, can be great. Was there something about your experience that strongly bothered you...that can be fixed? Okay, may I suggest you mention it to someone you believe could benefit from your evaluation of the product or the experience. Perhaps it had never been brought to their attention properly.  Wow, you could really be helping them in the long term make others like yourself happy—or—you could write a snappy, poorly edited, run on paragraph about what your usual dining habits are and how this time you were sorely let down. 
Web 2.0 didn’t make us all reviewers. It is a job that still requires some merit. You sir aren’t offering constructive criticism, you are simply letting everyone know not to cross you—because you are a poor sport (and probably were not hugged enough).  <---snappy Yelp-like one-liner

Things didn’t work out. You had a bad experience. May I suggest you mention this to someone you believe could benefit from your evaluation of the experience. That is, your ex. Telling everyone else this person’s flaws and failings just isn’t quite as constructive as telling the old flame why things burned out. Maybe it has never properly been brought to their attention that they are clingy or flaky or pushy or a bad listener. Maybe it is too late for your relationship but it is never too late to help someone you care(d) about. Give it a shot, express yourself well. 
You could really be helping them in the long term make others like yourself happy—and—it may bring you some closure as well. 

Get off your phone

It is absolutely not imperative for you to be talking on your mobile phone while ordering a meal or paying a check. Nothing, nobody is that important. If it were—you would not be doing other things. You would (hopefully) be ministering to the important conversation, giving it your full attention. We are in an age of adjustment to technology (some could argue we always are), but cell phones have been around long enough for us to realize their value. Their value will always be superficial in comparison to an actual human encounter. If you don’t recognize this, I am sad for you.
Your “multi-tasking” abilities are, in truth, a disgusting display of your selfishness and disregard for genuine human dignity. You are being wildly rude to both the person you are having a conversation with and the person you are seeking satiation from. If you can’t plan your phone calls around mastication then politely ask your telephone partner to “hold for one moment please”. It is painfully difficult for your server/clerk to recognize that you are ready to be engaged, as most of us were raised well and don’t wish to interrupt your “important” conversation.
Apologizing for being on the phone makes you less of a dick but I appeal to you now and ask you to just avoid being on the phone altogether. 

Our phones have become so much more than devices for talking. Our communication and inquiry needs are being satisfied at just a subtle flick of the wrist, but we have personal needs too. 
And these needs are always much more fun to satisfy. <---am I making myself Verizon clear? 

Prove it

That was the best service you ever had, you loved it. Don’t just tell them, $how them. 

That was the best _____you ever had, you loved it. Don’t just tell them, show them. 
It’s a dating cliche but you know it as well as I do...Actions speak louder than words.

Be Patient

Good things take time.
And you may never fully understand all of the circumstances happening in the background.

Good things take time.
And you may never fully understand all of the circumstances happening in the background. 

I share this with you Ebin**  because I like the way I see the world and I like how the way I see the world is shaped by all of you in it. 
Seventeen years of both dating and catering to people’s idiosyncrasies (ie working in the restaurant industry) can leave indelible marks on you. Scraping off my layers of cynicism and still finding more is discouraging yes, but I am finding so much more than just that. 

*I started writing this on Ebin’s third birthday, August 15, 2012 but as per usual I became distracted and a few days later Fall Semester began. The academic year tragically marked the end of such personal writing pleasures as I pursued the 4.0.
Sorry this took me so long Ebin, but I get the feeling you understand. 
**anyone else reading this