You Got Served
This past weekend I watched the movie Waiting.... While the film itself was nothing to blog home about, an underlying concept in the storyline was definitely food for thought.
Waiting... is one of those cute, double entendre titles that works so well. I should know, I use them here all the time. The movie was about a bunch of people who work as a wait staff at a restaurant. But as anyone who has ever waited on tables knows, (not that I would) usually you're waitering as you "wait" for something bigger to come along. A college degree. A break in acting. To be the manager at Chili's. Whatever your cup of tea.
One of the things they focus on is how you should be careful who you piss off. Apparently waiters and chefs are the disgruntled link in the necessary restaurant and fast food chain. Although they often only get paid minimum wage, they hold the undeniable power to make or break your dining experience.
Sometimes you can do something to aggravate your waiter or the chef, but other times, their frustration might have nothing to do with you. That doesn't mean that just because you weren't the cause that the effect still can't be a "soggy" casear salad.
It is the unknown that, when I think about it, scares the hell out of me. I eat out all the time, and when you do, you are truly playing Russian dressing roulette. Sure, the minority of people in the restaurant business might be incompetent slobs, but the chances of you encountering at least one of them without knowing it is staggering.
I remember one year in high school I had a few of what I like to refer to as "near dining experiences". Within a few short months I found hair that eww, wasn't mine in my food. One time I even found a bug in my salad. Then there was the time when my soup tasted entirely too much like dishwashing liquid. Hey, at least I know they cleaned the dishes, right?
A few weeks ago my friend ordered a salad. She found a sell by date at the bottom of the bowl, but wasn't going to make a big deal out of it. She has, off and on, worked in the food industry her whole life. Besides, with the sell by date intact, she knew it was fresh. But a few bites later, she luckily caught herself before eating a piece of plastic. Talk about kicking things up a notch.
Most of the time when these meal mishaps happen, the managerial staff is extremely apologetic and tries to be accomodating. Sometimes their apology is just a shrug and a smile, but nothing really says I'm sorry like a free meal. Yet the big question remains. Do you chalk it up as an accident and risk dining there again or do you consider that the restaurant's last supper?
Although much of the time the quality of food is, literally, out of your hands, I believe there are things you can do in order to avoid getting screwed a la mode.
For one thing, do unto others as you'd have done unto you. If your food comes out under or overcooked, bring it to the wait staff's attention, but don't make a big scene out of it. Many times, the waiter or waitress gets the brunt of the frustration when all they did was carry the food from point A to point B. Don't shoot the meal messenger folks.
Just as food is all in the presentation, so is your attitude when the presentation isn't up to par. If you refuse the free meal or continue to complain and still accept the free meal, your risk of feeling the wrath of the cook increases. This is true of every profession, everywhere. Nasty complaints might get your furniture delivered on time, but the same doesn't work with fondue. It just doesn't.
Finally, and this is important so gather 'round, don't stiff with the tip. These people make next to nothing. So your shitty tip might have you out the door, but it also might be the next customer's misfortune. An extra dollar or two isn't going to kill you. If it does, you probably shouldn't be eating out to begin with. So there.
Of course these are just savory suggestionss. Nothing can fully prevent you against E. coli or attitude.