Tuesday, June 19, 2007

To Serve Man

Allison Owings has a great piece in the NY Times that is superficially about her reaction to the movie "Waitresss" (it seems she thinks it sucks). Ownings who wrote a book "Hey, Waitress! The USA From the Other Side of the Tray" has a lot to say about the job of waitressing and it's pleasures and indignities.

I can't speak to her observation that women servers have it tougher than men except to say that I'm sure it's true. But having been a waiter myself I could not agree more with the complaint by some of the women she interviewed that many customers behave as if they are "to the manor born" as soon as they find themselves in the presence of a server. And I've observed obnoxious condescending toward wait staff behavior from the back of the house too.

I used to be chef de cuisine at a restaurant that had three waiters who were cooling their heels in the US after having fled Poland following a crackdown on members of Solidarity (Solidarnosc). One was a medical doctor, another was a lawyer and the third was a cinematographer whose father had been a high ranking member of the the communist party and the director of the company that made Krakus Polish Ham -of all things. They were all exceptionally polite, articulate and professional guys but when Martha Stewart would come in (she was a frequent customer) they'd all come back into the kitchen in a panic because they could not bear her finger snapping and dismissive attitude. Even the manager hated to see her walk through the door.
Of course she's just one famous example of someone who treats waiters like chattel (And in all fairness she was always nice to me.) there were many other anonymous nobodies who were just as rude.

Here to Take Your Order (and Biting Their Tongues) - New York Times


Kevin said...

I've long maintained that there should be a law requiring that everyone spend at least six months waiting tables -- everyone.

imichie said...

One way I show my appreciation of servers, because I know what they go through, is the show-offy but sincere 25% tip.

The Foodist said...

Its so funny how the server is really the first and last line between having a really great meal, and a crappy one.

The food and atmosphere of a place can suck, but if the service is fantastic no one seems to notice all that much.

I used to go into this little mom and pop place in Woodbridge VA all the time, not because of the food (Which I could swear moved on my plate once or twice) but because the owner and his wife never forgot a face, nor a name.

Sadly with all the growth in the area they were pushed out, but I learned a thing or two about service from them. Hell, a thing or two about people...

but its a shame how under appreciated a good server really is.

CarolinaGirl said...

My personal favorite is the older couples who treat the waitress like crap, only to go home and wait for their college aged daughter to get home from work waiting tables.
I loved the FOH jobs I've had. Never would have fallen in love with the BOH and made that my career. People can be rude but the fish doesn't care if you cut his head off.
Kevin, let's get that law passed.

CarolinaGirl said...

Correction...sorry...Without FOH jobs, I never would have become BOH.
BTW Thanks Bob!

Bob del Grosso said...
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