During a fifth round of wiping tables, I felt a pair of eyes burning
into my back, and sure enough, a young couple had been sitting in my
section for God knows how long.
“What can I get you folks today?”
“Well, you see, I’m on a diet,” said the stout girl, her tone
suggesting she was about to make my life miserable because she was
insecure about her body.
“We have a few salad options if you look here on the menu…”
“No, no. I was thinking about going with pasta.”
I wondered what the hell kind of diet allowed one to eat restaurant
pasta, which tends to immediately cling to your belly and remain there
for the rest of your life, but dieters are an irrational bunch, so I
kept quiet while she ordered.
“I would like spaghetti and meatballs, but I’m not eating
“So, you just want spaghetti.”
“No,” she said, glancing from the menu to her meek boyfriend, her
look saying, why is this waitress such an idiot? “I want something
I waited with feigned patience while she studied the menu for another
five minutes. I noticed a few other new tables watching me
impatiently, eager to put their own orders through. “Ma’am, would
you like a few more minutes? I can come back.”
“No, I know what I want,” she replied, studying the menu yet
another five minutes. “What kind of oil do you use here?”
“Uh, probably vegetable oil,” I answered with the first oil that
popped into my head.
“Can you go find out for sure.”
I cursed myself for not sounding more confident about our oil
selection. I went to the kitchen and repeated the woman’s question
and was met with irritation, as if I personally wanted to bother the
chefs about oil. “I’m just the messenger,” I said, noticing the
exchange of sour looks.
“I don’t know, olive oil?”
“Yeah, olive oil.”
I went back and reported my findings to the girl.
“Hm, can you ask them if they have a light oil option?”
“Can you go find out?”
Defeated, I went back to the kitchen and asked flatly, “We don’t
have light oil…right?”
Joey, one of the younger chefs, crossed his arms and rolled his eyes.
The kitchen wasn’t busy, but Joey is one of those with a
cooler-than-thou, tough-guy persona to uphold. Therefore, he treats
most people, namely women, with disdain.
I translated his glare into, “No, we don’t have any f*cking light
oil,” and again, reported this to the girl.
Finally, she ordered a bowl of gnocchi, with cheese, but not a lot of
cheese, and tomato sauce, but there absolutely could be no meat in the
tomato sauce, and not a lot of tomato sauce either. Oh, and
vegetables, but only green vegetables. Her boyfriend, God bless his
soul, ordered a cheese pizza, no modifications needed.
I studied her boyfriend’s face, trying to detect any sign of
embarrassment or agitation. There was nothing there, just mutual
indifference. It didn’t matter to him that she was being demanding
and unreasonable, nor that I was starting to show signs of hostility
toward his partner. I started to wonder how certain people end up
together, then realized it’s impossible to understand the dynamics
of relationships. I put through the order with the full awareness that
it was going to get sent straight back to the kitchen once it hit the
table, no matter how good or bad it tasted.
Sure enough, the pasta was undercooked. She got mad at me and went
into detail about how pasta should be cooked, as if I were the person
responsible. Her vegetables had come out on the side, and she ate all
of them, then was really confused as to why there were no vegetables
in the pasta.
“I asked for vegetables. Did you hear me?”
“Yes, and that was them,” I said, pointing to the empty plate.
“I wanted them in my pasta.”
Did she think we gave complimentary side plates of vegetables with
every meal? “You could have just put them…okay, I’ll take it
The kitchen remade her entire meal and despite it being accurately
cooked with vegetables, she didn’t touch it and spent the rest of
the time casting me dirty looks, which said, “You, yes you, you
ruined my day, and I won’t let you forget it until I leave.” I
looked back at her, my glance saying, “No, you ruined my day, and
you did it on purpose.”
Under these circumstances, we’re supposed to give a compulsory
“I’m sorry…the kitchen is sorry…the restaurant is
sorry…we’re all sorry,” speech, even if it’s evident the
customer is out of their mind, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it.
I was tired of apologizing to people for things I wasn’t sorry
Instead, I avoided that side of the restaurant and complained to
another waitress about the dieting-devil I had to wait on.
“If anyone else says they’re on a diet, I’m telling them to go
home and eat lettuce.”
“Some advice,” Verena told me. “Whenever a table asks for
something like that, say no. Always say no. ‘No, we can’t do
I thought about this, and my mood improved.
“Can I have my latte extra hot?”
“Can I have some tomato sauce?”
“Can I please have more water?”
I could get used to this.