Do Not Ask Your Server This Question



The number one most hated question I ever have to try to find an answer to was asked not once, but twice last night. When I approach a table and say, “Hello, may I take your order?” the correct response is not:

What do you have?

Oh, Lordy give me the strength to not take this tray and pop this bitch up against the side of her head for asking that stupid ass question. What do we have? We have menus, lady, that’s what we have. Menus. I work at a cocktail lounge so we have a full bar with the usual suspects; vodka, gin, wine, beer, martinis, etc. My response is always the same to this question: “Well, we have a full bar so whatever you like. What can I get for you?” It is always said with a smile. Last night we happened to be out of Tanqueray, but other than that, we had pretty much anything she wanted. She was confused by that answer. Perhaps she was waiting for me to pull out the Mr. Boston Bartender Guide and rattle off every possible drink known to mankind and then she could make an educated decision. I didn’t do that though. I just told her that we have a full bar as well as juices, sodas, coffee, hot tea and bottled water. Her forehead wrinkled so much as she pondered that I thought her head was about to cave in. “If this bitch’s head caves in and makes a mess all over my station I am going to be so pissed off,” I thought. After wringing every last ounce of power out of her moldy sponge of a brain, she ordered red wine. I chose for her to have Cabernet because I honestly felt that if I gave her the option of that, pinot noir or merlot, she would have had a meltdown.

Five minutes later, a man asked me the same question. He had some vague Eastern European or Russian accent. “Whut dyou you haf?” he asked. I gave him the same answer I had given Little Miss Easily Confused who now had her glass of red wine but didn’t seem to understand how to drink it, poor thing. “Dyou you haf someting to read weeth the du-rinks?”

“Yes, sir. You’re holding it in your hands, sir.”

He looked down in surprise to see that he was in fact holding a menu. He eventually ordered a cranberry juice as did his wife who I had a horrible time understanding because of her accent and/or her oddly shaped teeth that didn’t seem to want to allow her to form vowels.

When it came time to give out checks, I first went to the Cranberry Russian. He handed me twenty-five dollars and told me to “kip the chunge.” His bill was $23.95 so that dollar was going to be great once it was split three ways with the rest of the staff. And the extra nickel was the icing on the piece of crap cake. Little Miss Easily Confused had a bill that was $63.00. She left three dollars which at least is easy to divide by three.

Let us review. If you go into a restaurant, bar or club and are not sure what you want, don’t ask such an open-ended question like, “what do you have?” We don’t have time to read the menu to you. I might not  mind if someone asks me which entree I like better or if I have a preference for this martini or that martini. (I don’t have a preference, martini=good.) But don’t plop down and say, “what do you have?” It’s annoying and it makes you look stupid.

Brad, the host at work, told me a story of a woman who used to come into a restaurant he once worked in. She came in at least twice a week and always asked the same thing. “Do you have banana daiquiri?” Every fucking time, she asked this and every fucking time they told her no. Lady, nobody has banana daiquiri, but if you are really that desperate for one I can give the busboy five extra dollars to stick his banana up your daiquiri and you can call it a day.

I can’t be the only one who finds the “what do you have?” question irritating, can I?

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