Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Secret Societies

Evil Twin

I am covered in hieroglyphs, a strictly localized dialect. I have your name tattooed on my body in a language no one can read. What do you think of that? You know what I think? I almost got Jason's name tattooed on me and I would never have had the power to change the meaning of those symbols. My astounding lack of foresight does not always get the better of me. This language is still being written.

I don't care much to talk about my job...for two reasons. One, I make a point to leave work at work so that if I want to air grievances then I vent with my co-workers at the end of a shift. They are the only ones who relate anyway. Two, I don't care much for negativity and drama and have spent the better part of the last two years of my life weeding my garden, so to speak.

But sometimes there are notable exceptions. Yesterday was a marathon work day. It wasn't supposed to be. I wasn't supposed to work two shifts, under staffed and turning over tables all night without pause, but whatever. You do what you can in those situations. You sweat, smile, run, do whatever you can to make them love you cause otherwise everyone goes away mad.

But we make it through without incident till almost closing time, 9:20. Ten more minutes and this woman comes in with her boyfriend. They get seated on the patio, take their time with the menu, then...after we are already closed they order four (4) entrees for the two of them. They don't look at me when they order and talk low like its a power trip that I have to bend down to hear them. I bring them their food twenty minutes after closing. They eat, I check up on them, they just exchange looks when I ask them if they are doing all right, need anything...don't answer.

Forty five minutes later I bring them their check and some boxes but, in my twelfth-hour-of-work exhaustion I added up their bill wrong and left off an $8 item. The other server was getting ready to run their credit card and notices the discrepancy. I went back to the table to let them know what the actual charge would be. Again they wouldn't look at me but they exchanged looks of total contempt and resentment for me, didn't respond at all. They left a full hour after we had closed with a zero in the tip line and...and... she had the nerve to write SMILE next to her zero.

I WAS INFURIATED. Enough so that I actually went outside, civil authority be damned they were going to have to pry my thumbs from her eye sockets, but she was gone.

All of it I could blow off pretty easily if she hadn't written SMILE on top of everything. Ask anyone, ask any woman you know who works as a server or bartender how they feel about being told to smile. And yes, it is almost always women. And why do we find that so offensive? Well, what are smiles for? They are for approval. They are for validation and they are for disarmament. In a situation where you are serving another person and they tell you to smile it is usually because they have a need to feel that the power imbalance is well defined. Your smile approves of them, makes you unthreatening.

Not always, many people who say 'smile' are genuinely trying to be friendly to someone who seems somber, stressed and withdrawn. I don't resent their good intentions a whole lot, even if they are trite and annoying... its the other ones.

Anyway, I took all my money and went and got another tattoo.

And may our paths not cross again cause my mojo is stronger then yours.

I will always thank my (ex)stepfather for taking me onto his knee and asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. It was a rare stab at fatherly affection, a break from thinking about himself, so he could go back to thinking about himself, plus what a good father figure he cut. Another feather in his cap. I think I said horse trainer. He gently led me to the conclusion that waitress or seamstress was a wonderful occupation for a woman. Together, with his guidance, we decided that waitress was What I Would Be When I Grew Up. Thanks a lot asshole.


From Grits to Gringa said...

Wow! This is powerful. My partner and I always leave good tips even if the person waiting on us seems flustered. I commend you for your tact... it's a hard job. My brother used to be a server and he said that it was the hardest job he's ever had because of the people. He worked at O'Charleys and often he would walk into the grilling area, close the door, and throw the menus at the wall as hard as he could so that he could retain his smile. I agree with you about the women issue and about power. And, people are disrespectful as hell about coming in at the last minute and then picking their asses for an hour while you wait. I'm really glad I stopped by... kewl blog. I'm at


Anonymous said...

Incredible. What a bitch! I'm furious just reading about her. Yes, I always leave a good tip too. Waiting tables is a damn, hard job. As for the jerk (ex)stepfather? Forget about him. Years ago, he proved himself not only an asshole but an idiot. He doesn't deserve a second of your time. You rock!

asia said...

Thank you both... sometimes I think that waiting tables is a great job. People respond so well to a little kindness, they really open up and become receptive but you have to initiate the connection. When I run into people like that I have a hard time dealing with any modest request for the next couple days.
But what the hell... at the very most I have a couple more years of this then a whole life time to just be a generous tipper.


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