Food For Thought

The fryer sizzles, the plastic checkered tablecloths stick to your forearms and food smells and chatter fill the air. Your waitress arrives with that Reuben you’ve been craving all week — craving like a winning lottery ticket or a free trip to the Bahamas. That juicy wad of corned beef, sauerkraut and 1000 Island dressing is going straight between your hungry gums, like a train into a tunnel during rush hour; there ain’t no stopping it.

Thing is, there were at least two people recently in complete control of that sandwich sliding down your gullet: the chef and your waitress. Depending on how much of gentleman or jerk you were to the latter, your sandwich could very well contain non-Reuben elements. I believe in karma, so I haven’t given into the temptation to mess with anyone’s food. However, I can’t  argue that occasionally, the urge has proved harder to resist than a free gelato bar.

The Beatles once said there is a “time for every purpose under heaven.” Some people act as though their only purpose in life is to be a douchebag. Somehow, I don’t think that was what the Beatles were aiming for. To these fruits who chose the rotten path, I offer a few alternatives to your typical spoiled behavior. For your own good, take my advice, I’m begging you.

NO: Frantic waving, gesturing or snapping: not cool. Frantic waving, gesturing or snapping while I am in the midst of taking an order from a table that you are not sitting at: really not cool.

YES: Instead, please refrain from frantically trying to get my attention and use your words. I have ears, you have a voice — let’s collaborate.

NO: Your meal is over — so over, in fact, that you have been inducted into the Clean Plate Club Hall of Fame. At this juncture, you choose to let me in on a little secret: your burger was overcooked, your fries cold, your gravy off, your salad lacking in crucial vegetables. Now that your disappointing meal is marinating in your large intestine, what can I do? If you had told me earlier, I may have been able to fix the problem that has now disappeared with the Dodo bird.

YES: Instead, please just let me know in a timely manner, when I can improve — gladly — upon your dining experience.

NO:  I walk up to your table and introduce myself, perhaps ask if I can get you a beverage. You continue to file your nails, peer intently into your Smartphone or argue with your boyfriend. Really, people, I am simply dumbfounded that I have to include this in my list. No, actually I’m inflamed — like a ball of kerosene-doused pine sap inside a gasoline can in a pool of oil.

YES: Just say hi back.

NO: The hostess seats you and your buddy/significant other at a table for two. The table by the window (the one with the “view of the lake,” which in actuality is a view of some trees and a parking lot with something blue beyond) holds such charm you must sit there instead. So you move, like a thirsty yak lurching towards a watering hole. It’s a table for four, and we’re filling up fast, but no matter; that table’s the one for you — like the guy with the dreamy eyes you couldn’t resist back in high school biology. Isn’t a table a table? Don’t they all have glasses of water? A surface to hold plates of food you stuff down so quickly we servers often wonder if the food came out at all?

YES: If you have to move or you’ll instantly get a deathly rash and keel over right at that windowless table — just talk to us. Politely. Please.

NO: You waltz into the doorway in your spandex, turn back to the patio, point and proclaim, “I want that table, in the shade.” The table in question — like the other 11 — has an umbrella. This particular table has an umbrella which has been put up. There’s just one tiny hole in your statement: every one of the other umbrellas, being that they are umbrellas, contains the ability to create shade. It’s like pointing to a chair and saying you want that one, because it has legs.

YES: Take a breath, tell us how many people are in your party and that you’d love the umbrella up. One, two, three: shade.

NO: “We thought you’d never get to us,” you say, fanning yourself lightly with your menu. Although I know for a fact you’ve only sat down a minute or two ago (the host is walking away from filling your water glasses as we speak), you act as though you’ve been waiting for me since Moses parted the Red Sea. Look around: the patio is full, so are all the tables inside. People are milling around in the parking lot and front door area like lost sheep without a shepherd.

YES: Try reach deep inside yourself, pull out a infinitesimal twig of patience and marinate on it while I work my way over to you. Like Dave Matthews said, you will eat, you will drink, you will be merry — I promise.

Thankfully, not everyone that we wait on behaves as if they are the only people on earth with money and an empty stomach. Many — and sometimes most — of you are those big chunks of Oreo that make an Oreo shake so dang good. And let’s not forget, eating  is one of life’s greatest pleasures. You aren’t out on the patio performing brain surgery on the only man who knows the cure for cancer. You’re on the patio, surrounded by flowers, Bloody Mary in hand, waiting for your order of granola pancakes with bacon to arrive at your table. I’m sort of afraid to ask, but what else could a person want?

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