As in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, I see water, water every where, but not a drop to drink. Unlike our seafaring sailor who was surrounded by salt water and unable to satiate his thirst with his surroundings, I see glass after glass of tap water that people ask for but they never let pass their lips.
We don’t live in a country where there is very often a water shortage so people feel free to waste water in the same way they waste their breath by telling me how they want their burger cooked or what they’re allergic to.
I go to a six-top to see what they would like for their two-drink minimum while watching the show. We are not a restaurant, so we don’t have pitchers of water at side stands that we fill glasses with every two minutes.
“Hello, folks, how are you tonight? Can I get you anything to drink yet or would you like a few minutes to look over the cocktail menu?”
“I can come back in a few minutes if you need some more time. I do realize our cocktail menu is quite extensive and it can take some time to decide which one of our delicious libations you would like to enjoy this evening.”
More silence. And then those dreaded words from one woman:
“I don’t know what I want, so can you just bring me a glass of water while I decide? Just bring everyone a glass of water.”
What if everyone doesn’t want a glass of water, lady? Did you ever think of that? Are the other five people going to drink that water or am I just using up valuable time to bring glasses of water that will never be touched? Her five friends don’t even acknowledge that she has just asked for water on their behalf which tells me that I am going to be doing this for nothing. We have a total of 75 people seeing this show. If I bring a glass of water to every single person, that is three extra racks of glasses that have to be cleared, carried down the stairs and sent through the dishwasher. That is 75 glasses that we will go through and maybe make us run out of them for important things like vodka tonics and my wine.
I return to the bar to ask the bartender for six glasses of water. He is up to his ass-less chaps in chits trying to keep up with the demand for real drinks like martinis and Manhattans but now has to put the brakes on productivity to get water for six people, five of which didn’t even ask for it.
“It’s so fucking irritating when someone orders water for the whole table. Ain’t nobody got time for that,” I bitch.
“I’m sure you’ve blogged about it before, right?” asks Tom.
I realize I have not.
“But then again,” he continues, “it’s not like it would be a whole blog. Probably just a paragraph.”
“Oh, I can make it a whole blog post,” I counter. “Just wait.”
I return to the table with the six glasses of water and, surprise, surprise, they still aren’t ready to order. I place the six glasses on the table and notice that four of the customers don’t even notice that it happened. Meanwhile, the lady at the table next to them sees the waters and decides that she too is parched.
“That looks good. Can I have a glass of water?”
“Me too,” says another man.
It’s as contagious as yawning. Everyone who sees a glass of water now thinks they need one too. It’s maddening. I feel myself falling into the weeds as I fetch additional glasses of water for people who moments before did not even know they wanted one.
After the show, I go to clear the room and head back to the table that started The Great Water Demand of 2013. Of the original six glasses of water I had brought to the table, five of them still have the paper on the straw meaning they were never touched. As I suspected, it was all for naught.
Look, I don’t mind getting water, I really don’t. I understand that water is a basic need and can be quite delicious when mixed with a cup of sugar and a packet of Kool-Aid. What I ask is that people think about it first before requesting “water for everyone.” Let people make theor own decisions about their water intake. Don’t assume they want it and certainly don’t assume that I will be happy to do it. Rest assured, if you ever find yourself saying ‘just bring water for everyone,” your server is muttering under his breath how irritated he is.
Let me end this post by quoting the last paragraph of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and showing you how it relates to the above water situation:
He went like one who hath been stunn’d,
And is of sense forlorn:
A sadder and a wiser man
He rose the morrow morn.
What that means in present day speak is this:
The customer was like, “oh my God,”
I feel so bad for asking for water for everyone when I didn’t even know if they wanted it:
I know now it can be annoying and wasteful
And starting tomorrow I won’t do that anymore.
(See Tom? I told you I could write a whole blog post about it.)