Having experience in hospitality – even just a single shift’s worth – is deeply rewarding. It means you can lord your “industry expertise” over friends, family and lovers every time you dine out, for the rest of your life. It’s been more than a year since I hung up the apron, but if someone so much as mentions the pub, I’m already clearing my throat and mustering some of my very best war stories. It’s a role I take very seriously.
My expert opinion on all things related to drinking and dining was recently called into question at a pub. A perfectly adept waiter took our order (mushroom burger, eggplant schnitzel and two beers) and shuffled off with a smile. Faultless! And yet, my friend asked: “Doesn’t it makes you nervous when waiters don’t write down the order? Why don’t they just use a notepad?”
Forever patient and wise, I explain that remembering two standard pub dishes doesn’t really require a written transcript. I doubled down and started to reminisce about the number of people who had asked me, in one way or another, “Aren’t you going to write that down?” For these types I’d pull out a notepad and scribble nonsense while nodding profusely, just to give them some peace of mind. Chances are, it’s happened to you.
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It’s not like we live in the US, where for some absurd reason, it’s considered fair game to make infinite alterations to your meal. Servers there actually need a notepad to keep track. “I’ll have the avocado smash, but swap out the poached eggs for a three-egg-white omelette. And hold the avocado because I don’t really like the texture. And can you run to the nearest Whole Foods and get that one bread I like? Thanks, bud.” Requests like these must be met with feverish agreement, literal bowing and all-round arse kissing, lest one lose their tip.
After I shared a few more thrilling hospo anecdotes my friend conceded that our situation didn’t demand a notepad. Our food arrived and I gave our waiter a curt nod that wordlessly communicated, Thank you fearless comrade, you’ve done our people proud.
My friend cut into her meal, revealing that the eggplant schnitty in question was indisputably chicken. My friend, who has been a vegetarian for more than a decade, was not impressed. Rather than concede my watertight sans-pad stance, I offered up another expert opinion: “Kitchen’s fault, I reckon.”