The Top Five Things That Scare the Bejesus out of me (at work)
I can approach almost any table with confidence. I will happily drop myself into any situation, weather it be rowing customers, rowing chefs, over exuberant hen and stag parties, whatever the situation is I will wade in mouth first. No fear. The confidence gives me the ability to bullshit, which is a very handy skill for a waiter. Bullshit has saved my ass on more than a few occasions, actually I don't think I could go a whole shift without having to tell a lie to someone. Forget to order the customers mussels?, "I'm sorry for the delay madam. The mussels that the kitchen sent weren't good enough so I have sent them back." The customer thinks I am just wonderful for looking after their interest. Order a steak rare when it should have been medium? "Fuck sake lads, the bastard wants it medium now, he told me rare! Any chance you can rush it? He's a real ball buster." The kitchen thinks the customer is dick and I get out of jail free again.
But sometimes even my massive work kahuna's disappear back up inside given the right situation. There are some situations/types of people I just cant handle. Here are the top 5 things that scare the Bejesus out of me (at work) in a nifty section I call,
Old French Women. Well not all of them but one in particular. She is a fucking nightmare. A wide awake nightmare. She had been coming in for months but I always managed to miss her visits. I would here horror stories from the rest about how she had this person in tears and how the chefs would refuse to cook for her. The wine was never the right temperature, or from the right country. She would say things like, "girl, come here" or when finished a course she would demand that you "take it away" no matter if her companion was finished or not. She never said any of her food was anything more that just okay, yet she came back week after week after week. Then it was my turn. She arrived in one Friday night, prompt and looking immaculate. She appeared to be nothing more than a small frail old woman. She wasn't in my section but I offered to deal with her. "Ha", I thought she looks easy. I'll have her eating garlic from my hand in minutes. "Watch how it's done ladies." I confidentially shouted as I approached her table. And watch they did... They watched me get to explain each of the wines one by one, including description, price, and year. They watched as I explained why we didn't have any vintage French Beaujolais. They watched and giggled as I became more and more frustrated with her as I put up with her snide remarks about Irish beef and how we cant make cheese. There was sweat trickling down my brow as I tried to keep my cool. Her questions were ridiculous and asked in a snooty French way that only snooty French people can ask. I was broken, she had broken me. She owned me for the next two hours. The rest laughed, whilst I cried. I never served her again.
I am scared witless about dropping & spilling. I spilt wine on a customer a few years ago and she tore strips of me in front of the whole restaurant. It still hurts. She was right to be annoyed. But she went over the top. And it was only a little bit of red wine on her black dress. But she got the fucking arm in. All the usual demands of wanting to speak to the manager and insisting that we put her child through university as recompense. She demanded that we replace the bottle of wine, a given, but then went on to ask for a reduction of the bill and wine to be added to the rest of the table, of 25. Never once did she ask is to get her dress dry cleaned which we would do in such a situation. She just saw and opportunity to get stuff for free and went for it. She was a teacher after all. But since then I have a morbid fear of dropping and spilling. I was left shaking like a fat boy outside a closed sweet shop. Spilling drink or gravy on a customer is one thing but dropping a steak knife or a hot plate on them could scar them, and more importantly me for life. I get freaked out by that thought alone. I have had a few very near misses over the years. Some customers will never know how close thy came to getting their ears loped off or their head caved in by a tray of glasses. That's why I don't/cant work with a hangover. I need all the hand to eye coordination I can muster just to ensure I don't gouge a customer's eye out.
Very attractive women scare me rigid. No pun intended. I cant cope with very attractive women. I tend to go red very easily and start dropping stuff. It's called table 27 syndrome. That's were the very attractive ladies usually end up. If I was serving their mothers I would Mr Smooth and ever so charming. But faced with their daughters I tend to get all tongue tied and forget my lines. I went to wink at a girl one night, not in a sexy way, just a cheeky wink and ended up blinking at her instead, Smooooooth I am not. I also start dropping stuff around them too. What is that all about? A very attractive woman is like kryptonite to me. All my usual powers of speech, hand to eye coordination and ability to wink just seem to vanish. Things are different when I get home though. LMM is very attractive and I have no problems winking at her.*
Sudden Nakedness. Very highly unlikely. But I do have a recurring nightmare were I am standing naked in the restaurant on a Saturday night in the middle of a full sitting. But then again that is probably the dining publics greatest fear rather than mine..........
* Sentence added in order to keep the peace you understand.