Going out to eat with friends or family who’ve never worked in food service can be humiliating. As they talk among each other and idly look over the menu like a bunch of corporate stooges, you should be devising a plan to let your server know you also used to work in the industry. Letting the staff in on this easter egg of information builds camaraderie and lets them know they can rely on you in the case of a restaurant emergency. As someone with years of experience telling people I used to wait tables, I’ve compiled a list to help you use your brief stint in the food industry as an excuse to bond with your server.
- BODY LANGUAGE
The moment a member of your dinner party does something embarrassing, like tells the waitress they’re allergic to peanuts or asks about the specials, interject with an eye roll or exasperated sigh that let’s her know you also once worked at your uncle’s restaurant for a summer in 2012.
When the members of your dinner party nearly done, or even partially finished, collect the plates and place the teetering stack on an adjacent table to signify you’re finished, or as they say in the restaurant industry, finito. In the restaurant biz, time is money, and if she’s half the waitress you were she’ll want to maintain a fast turnover rate.
- WHERE DID SHE GO?
It’s been about five minutes and she hasn’t come by for the plates. Also, your water is low and you’ve resorted to chewing on the ice for hydration. She’s probably got her hands full with the dinner rush, but you’d never leave a stack of plates sitting that long, and come to think of it she never brought out the extra side of ranch dressing you asked for.
- SERIOUSLY WHERE THE HELL IS SHE?!
The stack of plates is starting to smell and you’ve already shredded your napkin into a thousand tiny pieces anxiously awaiting the waitress’ return. It’s not that you mind the mess, but it must be in violation of some kind of health code, right? You’re just looking out for the restaurant.
- Well This is just Unprofessional.
Still no sign of her. Maybe she stepped out for a smoke break? As a former nicotine-addicted waitress, you totally get it. Those were the days, but you like to think you maintained a higher degree of professionalism. Maybe a good old 5% tip will tell her to straighten out and fly right. Probably best to grab the plates yourself and bring them back to the kitchen. While you’re there you might as well start delivering any food orders she’s left in the window and start taking drink orders.