I love food. It shows in my waistline. I get excited about going out to eat so much that I can rarely decide on where to eat. I love the whole event of it: deciding where to go, picking something delicious from the menu, the anticipation, the conversation, etc.
So, when I was told that we’re doing a Metro’s Best F&B issue, I ditched my usual attempt at waxing philosophic in favor of writing about food.
Having been on the other side of the dining experience, however brief it was, I respect our F&B community. I think everyone should be required to work as a server at least once in their lives. You develop a bigger respect for the profession once you’ve had a packed, 10-table section with three families with screaming kids, sucking down Sprites like it’s a race; three tables who came in with a bad attitude, and there’s nothing you can do to please them; three tables who are asking for details about every item on the menu; and one super-awesome patient couple in the corner who are the ones you keep forgetting about … then, you get sat an eight-top.
Man, I couldn’t get out of that job fast enough! It’s why I always try to have a little patience when dining out. It also helps me appreciate great service a little bit more. And for the record: Great service deserves a great tip. The standard is 20 percent and should go up from there. If you can’t afford to tip, go to McDonald’s.
That’s not to say McDonald’s is sub-standard. Fast food restaurants have a special place in my heart. Anyone who knows me knows that I would eat at Taco Bell every day of the week if I could. I believe that working at a fast food joint also should be required work for everyone. Fast food diners are some of the most entitled, demanding and mean customers on the planet. Not you, though. You’re cool!
I’ve had my fair share of fast-food jobs: There was the drive-thru stint at Wendy’s on Washington Road, my last job before getting into media. Or, that time I wore the fry costume at Sonic on the Southside. I was later promoted to car hop. Yes, that job is for guys sometimes, too. I once had to deliver food to my ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend’s car — humiliation at its best. He and his buddy really got a kick out of that.
Then, there was my very first job ever: Taco Bell on Peach Orchard Road. To this day, one of my very favorite jobs. We had fun making tacos; what’s not to love? I also may or may not have snuck a taco for myself here or there.
One thing I noticed when working at any restaurant: It seems like people are excited to tell you that they have worked there before, too, like it’s a sense of pride for them. I used to think it was weird, but now I realize it was just them saying “hey, I understand.” Serving is one of the few jobs where random people can judge you with reckless abandon on how well you’re doing a job that they might or might not have ever done.
So, the next time you dine out, whether it’s at Frog Hollow or at Burger King, try to empathize with your server. You wouldn’t necessarily want them coming to your job to yell at you for taking too long to write that email, dig that ditch, etc.
However, if my beer takes too long to get here, we’re gonna have a problem!