It’s 8am and my alarm clock is going off. If it were anything else, I would hit the snooze. I have to work at 9am and I have to take a shower and try to eat some breakfast before going to the very place that serves breakfast. It’s only about 15 minutes away from my house so around 8:35, I start to put on my work attire. I wear a white collared shirt and black pants and a green stained apron that spells “Bob Evans” across the front. I put on my black shoes I bought from Walmart. I wear black socks too, because my pants are too short and you can see my ankles when I’m standing a certain way. Then I make sure I have my nametag on and my waitress writing pad in my apron pocket. By this time, it’s 8:47 so I rush off to my car to head to work. When I get there, I get out of my car and go in the front door. It’s a Sunday morning and the place is hopping. There are about ten servers going this way and that. Most of them take the time to tell me good morning. Some don’t talk to me for the entirety of their shift. I look at my section on the floor chart and notice that all of my tables are being occupied. My section was in the old section of a server named Faye. She is very sweet and is always courteous as to make sure her tables are cleaned as soon as her tables leave so that I can start getting tables and making money. I am her relief since she was the opener which means as soon as all of her tables leave, she can go home. In the mean time, I try to stand somewhere out of the way. There is no silverware to roll and really, nothing for me to do until I get a table. They start opening up and I get my first table of the morning at 9:32. It’s a man and a woman. They look to be in their middle 50’s. I grab two things of silverware and make my way to the table through the crowd.
“Good morning, my name is Mesa and I’ll be your server this morning. Can I start you out with some hot coffee or tea?”
“Black coffee and a water,” the man says.
“Large white milk with my meal,” follows the woman.
They look down the entire time, both staring at their phone. I wonder why they didn’t get separate tables because they aren’t cherishing their morning together. I grab the coffee and water for the man and get nothing for the woman. She wanted her milk with her meal. I take it to the table and the woman decides she also wants coffee in the 2 minutes I’m away.
“Yes ma’am, any cream for you?”
“No, just extra milk. And you might also want to bring a pot of coffee to leave at our table. We drink a lot.”
We aren’t supposed to bring a pot on Sunday mornings because the dining room is so full and we don’t have that many pots.
“I would if I could ma’am, but we can’t bring pots on Sunday mornings because we are so busy. I will make sure your cups are filled as well as I can! Plus, I’ll bring hot coffee each time,” I say with a smile, hoping they are okay with that.
“Okay,” the woman says, still looking down.
“Are you all ready to order, or do you still need more time to look through the menu? I can also answer any questions you have about our menu.”
“We are ready I guess. I want the Farmer’s Choice Breakfast.”
I paused for a few seconds hoping he would continue to tell me what he wanted so I didn’t have to ask him about everything.
“Hotcakes or french toast? Bacon or sausage? Hashbrowns or home fries? How would you like your eggs?”
He mumbles answers to all of my questions and the woman orders a sunshine skillet. I go to the computer and scan my card and punch in their order. Then I stand around waiting for something to do. I go to the fridge in the back and bring up more milk, butter, and salad base. One of the servers thanks me and says she had been meaning to do that. I smile back at her. There is now some silverware to roll so I stand in my corner and start rolling it. There are about 6 servers standing right in front of the grill line when the cook yells “ORDER OUT!” None of them bother to scan the ticket and take the food to the appropriate table. Apparently it wasn’t any of their orders. I scan the ticket and see the order belongs to a lade named Denise. She has worked there for probably more than 10 years and has gray hair. Scraggly grair hair. Not like the sweet old grandma gray hair. I look at the ticket and get the food all on a tray in order by seat number, like we are supposed to do. I look around for Denise and see her walking by. I tell her that her order is up and she quickly thanks me and takes the food out. I then see my order come up in the window. Everything is there except the sausage links that I see sitting on a plate near the grill. I take a second to double check if everything else is ready and then get the nerve to ask the cook if my links were done, because I see them sitting there. I realize that she hasn’t sold my ticket yet; however, I know she has a lot of tickets back there and perhaps she forgot to give me mine. I was not prepared for what happened next. She yells at me in a voice that could be heard through the whole dining room. She says that I had no reason to ask about my order because she hadn’t sold my ticket yet. I apologize as she throws my sausage links on the hot plate and hands me my ticket and screams “ORDER OUT!”. She knows I am standing right in front of her. She didn’t have to scream in my face. One of the sausage links falls off the plate because she slung it so far. There were supposed to be 3 links and now there are just 2. I don’t say anything. I just grab the milk for the woman and take my order out to my table as tears form in the back of my eyes. This always happens to me. I don’t want to seem like a cry baby because I rarely cry for reasons that you would think I would. And I don’t even cry now. I just have that feeling like I’m going to cry and it makes my head pound and my voice shaky. As I deliver my food to my table, I try to sound calm and collected when I ask, “Do you all need anything right now?”
“No that’s all,” says the man.
“Enjoy your breakfast!” I say.
I get seated again. It’s an old couple at a table by the window. I introduce myself and they order their drinks. I bring the drinks and then take their order. It’s a simple order and they say thank you after everything they say. They even tell me how sweet I am and how much they appreciate the good service. The old man tells me I look like their granddaughter. I smile and carry on conversation with them for a little bit. Then I go put in their food and check on my first table. They are doing okay and I bring them some more coffee. A little while passes and my first table leaves. They leave me $5 on the table. I put it in my pocket and clean the table. Then I take the food out to my second table. They say thank you as I knew they would and ask if they could bother me for some napkins. I grab the napkins and smile as I deliver them. Then I tell them to enjoy their meal. I get sat again. It’s nearing noon and the customers are starting to order lunch items. I grab two silverware and go to the table.
“Hello, my name is–”
“I want a water with no ice and a coffee with cream only if it’s fresh and a bowl of beef vegetable soup with lots of crackers and a cup of ranch and Linda over here wants banana nut bread and a water with lots of ice and two lemons. But who’s asking?”
“I guess Mesa is asking sir.” Even though I didn’t really ask anything.
“Mesa will you be back to our table with all of that stuff?”
“Yes I will try to remember all of that.”
“It’s not that hard Mesa, just remember….” as he goes on to repeat all of the stuff he just said.
I make my way back to the server line and start gathering the list of items he requested. I never heard what Linda’s voice sounded like. She just smiled and giggled at her jerk of a husband. I manage to make it back to the table with all the correct things for this round. Then round 2 begins.
“Now I want a cheeseburger, just the cheeseburger. No fries or anything. And I want that with pickles and onion and tomato and lettuce and ketchup and mustard. Please don’t forget the mustard.”
Well that please sounded weird coming out of his mouth. Even if it was sarcastic.
“Oh and don’t put that order in until I tell you. I want to finish my soup. And also, Linda wants a farmhouse garden salad with ranch dressing. But she wants her salad the same time I get my cheeseburger. So don’t make her salad until I say so either.”
I started out writing the order in my writing pad, but that ended very quickly as I started drawing arrows to what I did write and writing instead “jerk, jerk, jerk”.
“Do you want me to look in your pad and make sure you got everything right?” he asks..
“No, I got it.” I say in a very monotone voice.
As I start walking away I hear him call my name again.
“Mesa, I usually don’t eat my whole cheeseburger. Are you hungry? You can have half.”
I wanted to throw up in my mouth. This wasn’t an offer that makes you smile and remember how everyone has some good in them like you might think. This was a degrading offer. An offer that made me want to spit in his cheeseburger when it came out.
“I don’t like mustard. I’ll bring you a to-go box. Thanks though.”
The man ate all of his cheeseburger so the to-go box wasn’t necessary. He must have been unusually hungry today. It was time for my break so I ordered a kids cheeseburger. I get everything half off so the kids burger ended up being only $1.29. I got my cheeseburger and put mustard all over it and devoured it.
The rest of the day went on. I can’t remember much else about that day.
And all of this to say one thing. Everyone is human. Everyone likes hearing please and thank you. Whether you are a manager of a large corporation or a server at Bob Evans. It’s my job to serve food. And I would run around all day bringing things to that old couple who said I looked like their granddaughter and wouldn’t think twice about it. But Linda’s husband must have thought when he stepped foot in Bob Evans, he was the king. I know the rule is “customers first”. But I added an ending to that saying.
“Customers first, jerks last.”
Sorry for the negativity. I really do enjoy working at Bob Evans. The people are very pleasant for the most part and I enjoy serving the majority of the people who walk in. I appreciate sweet tables and I certainly have had enough of those tables to write a whole other story. But I felt like this story should be shared. If nothing else, next time you’re at a restaurant, just smile. You might just turn your waitresses day around.