Serving the good, bad and crazy

By Stephanie Gibson

My typical day at the restaurant where I work involves meeting and serving people who I know must act differently with me than they would at home. Some demand things, some are rude and some are just plain crazy. And when I say crazy, I mean these people should probably be locked up somewhere.

I have had the occasional “I want it now!” and “HEY YOU!” I was even grabbed on the shoulder the other day as I was heading back into the kitchen. It had come down to being physically finagled by a customer.

I know their type. I see the hostess walking toward my section of the restaurant, eyes downcast to avoid my horrified expressions. Her hands are full of coloring books and multi-colored Crayons to distract the 15 children and their parents, following suit with high chairs, baby bags, sippy cups and whatever else those children need for one hour out of the house.

It takes about three hours to get them all situated, bibs ready, fists ready to pound the crackers down to dust into the table top.

I get the drink order — 15 kid milks and two adult waters, one without lemon. I figure great, now I have to milk five cows out back to provide all the milk for those dirty fingered and thirsty (oh, so thirsty) children.

And then there are the crazy old people. I’m not talking people in their 50s. Oh no, I’m talking about the geriatric 90 to 100-year-olds who arrive right when the doors open at 4 p.m. They too take forever to sit down, tightly clutching their canes, wheelchairs or walkers. “It’s too dark in here missy. I didn’t realize it was nighttime already,” they croak with a dry smile at me. I want to tell them that they’re probably blind at this point or that their cataracts give them that impression and it’s probably best that they head back to the old folk’s home for their bedtime.
Come on, it is a steak house. It’s supposed to be dark so you have to squint to read the menu.
But the old people are typically very sweet. They never need a refill and they are polite. It does take them forever to eat, though. My grandma once said she chews her food at least 32 times before she swallows it. For every bite? No wonder they come in at 4 p.m. and don’t leave ’til 7 p.m.

And what do these people think they’re doing, strolling in for dinner during the last five minutes we’re open? This is when everyone camps by the front door, crossing their fingers and legs that no one will come in. The cooks are sometimes up front too, standing with their arms crossed over their stained aprons, looking extra menacing with their energy drink-crazed eyes.
They always come in, though, no matter how menacing our looks are.

It’s not that bad. I enjoy each experience and get to know more about these interesting and hungry characters. My only hope is for a decent tip.

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