Reading the article about restaurant service (found at left) that has long passages from my boss about what it means to be a good server has me thinking. It has me thinking about my weaknesses and my strengths as a member of a somewhat elite wait staff. So, I made a list of them and posted them below.
-I greet tables with water in hand. It makes guests think I'm on top of my game and, in my opinion, gives diners a chance to order something I can ring up: wine, cappuccino, iced tea. This usually saves me time in the long run, because most people want water anyway.
-I will not crowd you. I take great efforts to consolidate my movements so that I am at your table less. I am not an intrusive server. (Unless you are entirely ignoring me, in which case I'll sweetly insist that you order or say something, anything.)
-My wine presentation rules. I can open a slippery, cold bottle of chardonnay, never letting the label not face the guests, without once setting the bottle down until every glass has been poured. It's harder than it sounds.
-I am an obsessive prebusser. I won't hover over you to take away a single empty sugar packet, but damn close. I like a clean, clutterless table when I dine, so that's what you get. If I can't pick it up and move out quickly I won't go in. I have mastered the delicate balance between cleanly and in the way.
-I take special care with your dessert. I'll heat your chocolate cake and add thin ribbons of lemon peel to your sorbet. I like to decorate.
-I know a lot about the menu. You have a question about the food, I likely have an answer. Though I may not remember every seasoning, I do know all I need to know to answer most questions. I feel more comfortable and confident that way.
-The chances of my forgetting your soup or salad befroe a meal are very, very slightly higher than average. I don't forget much else because I write down everything. People DO NOT PLAY when it comes to a) food and b) money. I take no chances. But dammit, if occasionally I don't forget someone's butternut squash bisque.
-I sometimes cannot hide my emotions. It is said I have a rubber face--an expressive mug that tells no lies. My tables are so not fooled.
-When telling the specials I talk with my hands. I hate that I do it. Half the time I see my hands going crazy in front of me, and I can't believe I am doing it. "The bottom of the plate has spinach and bechamel," my hands make this swooping gesture to simulate the bottom of the plate is lined. When I say "finished with" I do this little sprinkly finger motion that is foul and offensive in every way. But I cannot stop it.
-I do not know enough about our extensive wine offerings. In fact, I'm downright ignorant about them.
-If I get busy I tend to freak out. Some people remain calm, somehow, when they are balls to the walls busy. I, however, sometimes cannot. I tend to start to sweat and get uptight and am unable to even communicate what I need to those willing to help.
-I'm short and have a hard time reaching things. Especially at long tables. I just might have to lean into the table a bit to get your coffee mug. Least there is one on this list I can do nothing about.