I was a horrible waitress. An absolute klutz. Just ask Pete Marino, Pam Raymond, John Casey, Jimmy Hahn or almost any other local restaurant owner kind enough to give me a job when I was young and good enough to fire me. Why I continued to pursue this line of work is a question for a therapist; grouped with my insistence to take and fail Biology 101 seven times and put myself in the labor room four times. But I digress.
The July/August week is one of my favorite. It's birthday week (this year my youngest turned 9 and my boy turned 11) and they each get to choose their favorite restaurants for birthday dinner. I’ve noticed an unfortunate dynamic over the years, but this one literally “takes the cake”.
Working in so many restaurants allowed me to understand and appreciate the dining experience. So much time, effort and money goes into setting the table – and the stage – for patrons to enjoy their time together. The responsibility of the staff, as I had been told (repeatedly) is to allow that to happen. If diners have to interrupt their discussions to ask you for what they should already have then you are not doing your job well enough or fast enough. What a difference a generation makes.
This week we had dinner in two of our favorite places. This experience is not unique to these two and I will not reveal in public or in private which they are. The point is this – we have a cultural result – the “phase one” in the release of the entitled child into the workforce - that explains what happened.
I will spare the monotony of the details, but our family of six was served when it was convenient for the wait staff and had empty glasses and dishes sit in front of us the entire night. We had to constantly flag down the staff and ask for basics.
Our table was full of dirty plates but we still waited until the bus person cleaned every other empty table (we were the only ones left at this time) in his rush to finish his own job.
After dinner was served and it was time to bring out the cake and sing Happy Birthday, the staff did so. … regardless of the fact that the 9 year old was in the bathroom.
Seeing the empty chair, the waitress simply blew the candle out herself, put the cake down at my daughters setting and the group dispersed. We sat there with jaws dropped while the birthday girl came back to her seat realizing what she had missed. Too bad we were not better aligned with the staff’s schedule.
The question begs – what kind of people have we raised? Those who put themselves first and foremost? What kind of employees/coworkers/friends/spouses and parents are these people going to become? Now that the initial result of the entitlement attitude is demonstrated, what do we do now?
As for me and my family, we will continue our traditions… perhaps bringing our own trays!