Sorry, We’re Not Mind Readers. You’ll Have to Talk to Us

johnny-carson-carnac-largeOnce upon a time, there was a food critic in Dallas, Texas named Nancy Nichols. About a year ago, she gave up being a food critic, but she still writes articles for D Magazine and the one that came out yesterday was called “My Five Cents: Servers Who Interrupt Table Conversation.” (Go read the article and leave a comment! It’s fun!) In a nutshell, Nancy was upset that she and a friend were trying to have a serious conversation while the server was trying to do her job. Since the waitress has not yet completed her Extrasensory Perception/Mind Reading class down at the Learning Annex, she had to, you know, actually talk to Nancy. Nancy did not approve.

Nancy tells us that the server came to the table four times, each time trying to give them the specials of the day. I can only imagine that the waitress wanted to give them the specials since it’s her job to do so and she can’t perform the next step of service until that one is complete. Nancy asked the waitress to come back in a few minutes and when she did exactly that, Nancy went into “war mode” and kept talking as the server spewed out the specials. Presumably, the server was also in “war mode” so there they were, talking over each other, both people determined to be the victor. The main difference being that the server was doing her job and Nancy was just being rude.

You see, Nancy has already explained to us in the article that when she used to review restaurants, she “always weighed service twice more than the food” and when the service was particularly bad, she found that to be “good copy” meaning it gave her something to write about. In other words, it seems to me, that Nancy is always a little bit hopeful that the service will be poor so she will have something to write about. She also used the word “attacked” when describing this particular server. I dunno, but does it seem that Nancy herself is awfully defensive? “War” and “attack” are not usually words that I would use to describe my dining experience.

After all was said and done, the bill was over $200 and she tipped $45 which is great. I will not debate that. She was also displeased that as soon as they stood up from the table, the bussers “hit the table” (again, so violent, Nancy.) to reset it. That’s what bussers do, Nancy, they reset tables. At the end of her story, she asks her readers how they deal with these “monsters.” Yes, she called servers monsters because we are such scary individuals who want to turn our tables over so we can make enough money to pay our rent and electric bill.

Maybe the waitress was a bit aggressive in trying to announce the specials and perhaps she was too eager to turn ‘em and burn ‘em. On the other hand, no one who is working in a restaurant is there for any other reason than to make money. I can’t tell you how many times I have had customers tell me they want to “catch up” before they order and ten or fifteen minutes will pass by before I go back to the table to see if they are ready only to have them say, “Oh my God, we haven’t even looked at the menu yet.” If I am not there to remind them to order, it’s possible they will stay there all day jib jabbing and forget they are even in a restaurant.

In my world, when the menus are placed down on the table and the customer is no longer looking at them, that is my signal that they are ready to order. If Nancy and her friend had pushed their menus to the side, my bet is that the waitress thought they were ready to order. By the fifth time of going to the table assuming she was about to finally hear what they wanted to eat, maybe the waitress was just as irritated with Nancy as Nancy was with the waitress.

Bottom line: it is our job to serve food and take orders but it is also our job to drive the ship. We are the ones who navigate this meal and keep it moving in a timely manner. If customers need a place to have a very sensitive conversation that is going to take all night to have, maybe a public restaurant isn’t the place to do it. Might I suggest a living room?

In the end, Nancy will live happily ever after as long as waitresses can read her mind and know exactly what is needed without having to bother with something so rude as communication.


  1. Michael K.
  2. That manager guy
  3. kron
  4. Anonymous
  5. Cincy Drunk
  6. jenna
  7. Mike hayes
  8. shelby
  9. lostribe
    • Reginald van der Slythe

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