As we zoom by our tables in the height of a lunch or dinner rush, a good server always has his ears open in case there is a guest who needs something. It’s easy to impress a customer if you can bring them something that they haven’t even asked for yet. Say you hear out of your peripheral audio (that’s not even a real phrase, but you know what I mean…) someone say, “I could kinda use some more ketchup” and then one minute later you show up with some.
“Oh, my God, I was just about to ask you for that, how did you know?” they will exclaim.
“I’m good. I’m real good,” you can say back.
Keeping your ears open also means that it is impossible to not catch little snippets of conversations that our customers are having. It’s not that we want to hear every little thing that’s being discussed, we just can’t help it. Believe me, if I could turn off my hearing whenever I wanted to, I would turn it off the second I set foot onto the 7 train every morning so I don’t have to listen to that goddamn mariachi band and that old lady who plays La Cucaracha on her fucking recorder and asks for donations. But I can’t turn off my hearing so I hear every single things that slides out of the mouths of my customers.
I decided to start taking notes of the most random things that customers say. Most people don’t seem to be aware or simply do not care that I can pretty much hear everything that they are talking about. Over the course of two weeks, these are my favorite random snippets that I overheard at the restaurant:
- A lady can be a bartender? I thought they could only be nurses. Okay, this was a kid and it was kinda cute, but what kind of life is he living that he thinks that women have only one occupational option?
- I want a ship with a bowling alley and a microwave. I have no idea what they were talking about. Maybe a cruise ship they are considering taking a trip on or perhaps it’s someone really rich who is shopping around for a new yacht and they just happened to be slumming in my dump of a restaurant.
- He wants me to pierce his balls. Who ever said romance is dead?
- Or that you went for an STD test and they found something. I think they were trying to come up with an excuse to get out of work the next day, but it again makes me question who thinks that romance is not alive and well and living at Table 8.
- One time he put his hands down my pants at karaoke. Actually, all of this sound romantic.
- You know what I love? Smelling things. This too sounds romantic, if it’s in the right context, like say, while holding a single red rose surrounded by baby’s breath or right after you do the swab test to make sure someone is clean enough to go down on. (That’s for you, Scott.)
- With the cow, it’s actually the casing I’m allergic to. Okay, the romance is officially dead.
- I kinda miss the radio. You never got what you wanted but you never knew what you were gonna get. This is so deep, like it should be printed on a t-shirt and worn by a hipster in Williamsburg.
- Is he like Asperger-sy? Three women sitting at the booth talking about the dates they have had from OK-Cupid. “Hi, I’m a Gemini. I like puppies, 80’s music and long walks on the beach. I’m kinda Asperger-sy though so there’s that.”
- Do you guys play Bingo? I should have stuck around to hear the answer because if the answer was “yes” I need to know if they need a new best friend because I fucking love Bingo!
- I have never heard another human being say they don’t like art. That makes me so sad. This, as opposed to all the animals of the world she has heard say they don’t like art.
I guess customers tend to forget that their servers have ears that we can’t turn off even though we wish we could. After I heard the woman talk about being allergic to cow casing, I wanted to stick a butter knife down my ear canal to keep myself from hearing anymore about it but I knew it would make a big fucking mess and it would just be more crap for me to clean up so I didn’t.
What about you guys? What are some of the most random snippets of conversation you have ever heard while at one of your tables?
edit: Ah, it’s it’s casein, not casing. That makes sense now. Could not understand why she would be allergic to the casing of a cow. I had in my head she was allergic to some kind of stomach lining… That’s what I get for eavesdropping. Than you, Julie and Snoop Beaver. -BW