Sunday, December 9, 2012

Manatee at Table Three

I recently came upon a news headline that caught my eye. Unfortunately, it had nothing to do with Hostess being rescued by a Fortune 500 company and Twinkies being saved for eternity. Nor did it have anything to do with a jack-knifed tractor trailer carrying Entenmann's coffee crumb cakes now scattered along 440 West (best traffic jam scenario- that truck hitting a Pillsbury frosting truck... there are no words). The headline was "Customer's Called 'Fat Girls' on Restaurant Bill." I knew I needed to click on the link and see what that was all about because obviously there was an explanation, right?


Apparently, waiters have the inability to tell customers apart using just the table numbers they are sitting at. They can't remember that the #2 with no onions goes to table 8. No. They have to associate each table with an image or description so they can easily remember where they are supposed to deliver the drinks, food and eventually, the check. I can understand putting "guy in Yankees hat" or "woman with screaming kid" even on the check. But "Fat Girls"... Really? First off, you have set yourself up for a huge problem there because a majority of people in this country are, well, fat. By labeling one table's patrons as "fat girls" you could easily mistake their orders for the obese woman at table 4 or the tubby twins at table 12. According to the CDC, more than 1/3 of Americans are obese. So Joe Waiter- where do you deliver the chili con queso nachos now, huh?

Moving past the fact that it is beyond rude to even refer to a group of women as "fat girls" whether it be their size or the combination of their size and their order, the sheer audacity of printing it on the receipt boggles my mind. If you're dumb enough to need shorthand to remember your tables then you obviously increase that level of stupidity by failing to delete the said shorthand and deliver an insult-free receipt. Apparently, the connection between service and tip, and the fact that they are NOT mutually exclusive, slipped this genius's mind.

The headline and story that followed it got me thinking though. What has been written on my receipts in the past? I'm sure "girl with annoying laugh" and "girl who drinks too much Diet Coke" are at the top of the list. Coming in close though would probably be "Girl with food on her shirt" since I rarely make it more than 1.5 minutes in a Mexican place before there's cheese dip in my hair and/or front of my shirt. And on those days when I decide to "be bad" and order off the "naughty" part of the menu (i.e.- anything not under the soups and salads section), do they put "Loud, fat ass brunette" at the top of my ticket?

Yesterday, I was eating at Cracker Barrel. Yes, the place where vegetables include macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and cinnamon apples. It's a beautiful land of happiness and annoying table peg games. Our waiter was pleasant and kept refilling my ever emptying glass of Diet Coke. He brought my breakfast which was ordered off the healthy side of the menu. The "healthy breakfast sampler." Did I want to order yogurt, dry eggs, turkey sausage and a bran muffin? No. I wanted french toast slathered in syrup, butter and sugary glaze. But my ass can't eat that because, well, it goes straight to it. So I swallowed my pride and ordered the healthy menu choice. And the person sitting across from me got the french toast so I just made sure my fork reached across to his plate just fine.

While we ate, there were empty plates all over the table. Portions of the meal were finished but not the plate directly in front of me. I had been reaching over and "tasting" the french toast but I still had some bran muffin on my plate to finish up and I was enjoying it (as much as one can enjoy a bran muffin). Then, out of nowhere, Mr. Waiter swoops in and takes my plate. He didn't ask if I was finished. He didn't stop to take any of the empty ones. He, without any questions, picked up my plate- with my fork in hand- and swiped it from the table saying, "I'll take this." Before I could even utter a word, he was gone. GONE! It was a drive-by muffin mugging. I was in shock. I didn't know what to say. And he was not even around to hear me utter a word. I wanted that muffin. I needed that muffin. I was pissed.

Did he make the decision himself that I had had enough to eat? Did he determine that my "taste testing" of the french toast meant it was time for me to stop noshing? I may never know. But I am pretty sure that if he could have put "fat ass" on the ticket he would have. And frankly, he could have amended it to "fat ass/bad tipper" when I walked away.

Fat girls will always be considered fat girls. We don't need it on a food receipt to remind us or to state the obvious. If you lack the mental capacity to remember where your table tops are and where food goes, then you're the one who should make some judgments in the mirror next time. My judgement stops with your tip. And a handwritten "I'm fat and fabulous. And your tip? It's in my wallet... I'm spending it on dessert" would be more than enough satisfaction for me.