Tuesday, August 16, 2011

An Apology From A Woeful Server


An Apology From A Woeful Server
by Kade Boehme

I am known in my circles as a relatively light-hearted guy. I laugh most of my day away and tend to be generally indifferent to people’s backgrounds and lives. I’m a waiter so, as my manager says, the only color I see when I look at people who come into my restaurant is “green” (as is the money I can make taking care of their needs). In my personal life all I see when I look at people is “friend” or … not. Noone ever said waiting tables was glamorous and I certainly would mark myself in that group of people who admits to complaining that people in general “suck”, but I’d say my commendations from higher management speak for themselves when it comes to my customer service and my ability to put personal opinions aside and take care of a guest.

Let me get to my point. I was doing my best job: perfect 10 (corporate service standards), big smile, manners, and a few extra perks when something didn’t come out right from the kitchen. I was the epitome of the corporate spectacle that comes with being a top server in a chain restaurant. At the end of the meal I did the required “thank y’all! Come back and see me some time!” and went about my flawless pirouettes and jumping through hoops for the few other tables I had while occasionally comforting a friend/co-worker who was dealing with a death. He had come to sit in a table in my section to have a margarita, be around friends and relax, like any of our other guests.

 I was in an amazing mood for the shift and had been quite the life of the party so far. I went to retrieve my tip from my flawless, extremely corporate yet Cirque Du Kade performance and the spoils were that of a hobo. That zero with a line across it where a tip can be offered that so often occurs was very prominent. Clearly, I’m not perfect and have seen my fair share of those. Usually I can pin-point the attitude I may have given or the failure to remember a ranch, but this particular table had seemed quite smitten with me.

A phone call. They called to say why they had thought I was not worthy of their money. My manager was hesitant to speak with me. She made sure to tell me she wasn’t mad at me. Finally I had taken it as much as I could and insisted she tell me what egregious error I had made to warrant the lack of even a measly tip.

That friend. I’d given him a hug of comfort when I sat him, mostly to lend support after his terrible day.

That call. The gentleman from  the non-tipping table said I needed to be more professional and not show public displays of affection. He didn’t appreciate me “making out with” my “boyfriend” in front of everyone in a family restaurant. Yes my friend is an effeminate and proud gay man. I am also an openly gay man, albeit I’m more cisgendered. His assumption that we were lovers was certainly an error on his part and clearly a bigoted response to our hug which was witness by many members of our staff who also hugged the fellow coworker. Somehow only my hug was noted. Somehow our platonic show of affection was translated as PDA. I still find myself baffled at how this made this gentleman and his wife so emotionally responsive that, though I performed my job well, I did not deserve a tip.

“Did he do anything in particular wrong?” asked Ms. Manager.

“No. But he needs to be fired for making out with his boyfriend at the door,” responds Mr. Guest.  

In his humble opinion, even though I took admittedly excellent care of him and his wife and he never had cause for complain on service, food or atmosphere and providing the same care for three other tables, my few detours to that lonely friend in a secluded table were so offensive that I should lose my job. A job I’ve had for many years. Simply because I hugged an effeminate man? Simply because I was comforting a bereaved friend?
Did it truly matter when you received the good natured service I strive my best to provide and did not let a friend dining distract me or hinder being there for you and your needs?

The proper corporate response was put into action. Gift certificates were offered. Apologies were said. My quandary is: Is an apology necessary for your ignorance? If you were so unaffected by the fact that the friend was there and entertained by everyone else but my split second hug was so offensive is that truly something I should apologize for and lose my job over?

I may not understand this world but I understand my job, the rules and corporate regulations. Even the rules that say an employee may dine in the restaurant when there is no wait at the door do not tell me not to hug a friend who has come to pay like every other customer. Would you have called in if it were my mother? Or a girlfriend?

No.

You made yourself clear when you called for my dismissal. You made yourself clear when you were offended that my manager did not share your bigoted view of my erroneous ways.

I do apologize for the wait when I got the cooks to remake your sides because I thought they may be too cold. I do apologize for getting another guest a refill before I ran your credit card in the machine.

I apologize for not understanding how one jumps to such stereotypical conclusions of other people. It must be taxing worrying that everyone is not what you think they should be.

I do not, however, apologize for you being such a bigot that you saw two men hug in a display of friendship and assumed I was attempting to sodomize him in the lobby of a restaurant. I can only apologize that you are so terribly ignorant. 

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