It warms my doughnut-clogged heart that you people like reading my column. Dishing up advice has been much cheaper than therapy or wine, so really, thanks for all your questions and comments—oh, except for you fleabrains that write in with such nonsense problems I have to pop another Tums. You need a reality check.
Not trying to be rude, but some of the questions you write me are just so nuts I don’t know where to begin. It seems a shame not to share them, though, so here ya go: The best of the worst questions of Ask The Salty Waitress... so far. God help us all. Who has a cigarette I can bum?
I’ve recently gotten really into Earthing. My friends seem to think it’s unreasonable for me to expect to be able to go into a restaurant without shoes on, but I feel that it’s a completely fine expectation since no restaurants around here have signs regarding shirts/shoes (those seem to be in beach areas only). Who’s right? I’d rather not have to put shoes on, since my health has greatly increased since I stopped wearing them.
I can’t believe you still have friends.
Dear Ms. Salty Waitress:
I was a regular at a café for more than 4 years. It was the custom for the waitresses to prepare and serve me the usual: a large black coffee with whipped cream on top. Thereafter, I would usually order another coffee or something to eat. The waitresses, who are in charge of taking orders and cashier duties, never charged me for the whipped cream.
Recently, one of the waitresses informed me that they would begin charging me $0.50 extra for the whipped cream. What happened is that one day the manager prepared my coffee and noticed that they weren’t adding an extra charge on the ticket. Unbeknown to me, the ladies had been ignoring a prior order to charge me for it. So, he convened a meeting with all of them and ended the long established practice. It should be noted that other coffee shops in the area (Starbucks, etc.) do not charge me extra for it, and I have never had a run-in with the manager.
I drank my last cup of coffee there without whipped cream and haven’t returned because I no longer feel comfortable or appreciated. In my opinion, a well-run café does not end customs with regulars. Am I overreacting? Or did the café breach an unwritten code of etiquette toward a regular?
With Whipped Cream
Dear Whipped Cream,
Your server is just following orders. Sorry that 50 cents ruined your life.
When a server asks me how everything is shortly after dropping off food, they very often use a present-progressive construction (“How is everything tasting?” or “Is everything tasting okay?”) instead of the more conventional “How is everything?” It’s not every time, but it seems way more common to this specific interaction than other situations. I can’t imagine asking a friend over for dinner at my place how the salad dressing is tasting, rather than how it tastes.
Is there something inherent to this setting that elicits this particular phrasing? Some trick of the trade for building rapport and increasing tips? Am I just noticing it disproportionately because I’m hung up on it now? My friends in food service either don’t notice, or don’t find it peculiar.
Word Nerd in ABQ
Dear Word Nerd,
May I suggest a hobby? Needlepoint? Crosswords? Zoloft?
Why do servers have the habit of either interrupting what might be a break-up, or other serious, intense conversation to chirpily ask “How is everything?”
Please note, I’ve worked in a restaurant. Not as a server, but as a dishwasher, busing tables, and as a cook. I know how hard people work in food service, but I can say that if I was a manager and I saw one of my servers do this more than once, I’d fire that server.
Peeved By Pestering
Why? Because it’s their jobs and they’re not eavesdropping on your many break-ups.
I have a friend who is “obsessed” with spicy food. When we go out, regardless of the type of establishment, he will ask the server how much additional pepper (“what kind do you have?”) can be added to his order. The hotter the pepper the more of it he wants. He has become “that guy ” at places we frequent and now I am “that guy” by proxy. The servers who recognize our group will sometimes roll their eyes when we come in.
I like dining out with friends including Dr. Inferno but sometimes I want to be that normal guest like everyone else. How do I combat this? He is also the king of substitutions, trying to combine two or three dishes into one to get what he wants.
I seriously want to cram his head in the soup until the bubbles stop.
Friend Of “That Guy”
You have my permission to drown him in his soup.
Got a non-stupid question about dining out etiquette? Or are you a server/bartender with a horror story the world needs to hear? Email us: email@example.com.