Many people, intentionally or otherwise, carry a sense of superiority into their dining experience. My favorite example of this “restaurant superiority complex” involves the unavoidable destruction of dishware. Anyone who’s waited tables will tell you that in the process of clearing a dirty table you will occasionally drop something on the floor. It’s inevitable. It’s part of the job. It usually happens to me when I’m trying to carry too much on one trip to the dish room. Something will slip while I’m balancing six glasses, four plates and seven or eight forks. I’ll drop a plate, glass, fork, spoon, or knife and nine times out of ten when you drop a ceramic plate from about four feet it will break. Spectacularly. I’ve seen this type of situation play out so many times, through my own doing and through the misfortune of my co-workers, that I can predict with absolute certainty what most people’s reaction to the destruction of said dishware will be. The second the dish hits the floor and shatters a horrible silence will fall upon the guests of the restaurant. Necks will crane, heads will swivel, and eyes will bulge in an attempt to see the aftermath of the fall. A smattering of applause will follow along with random laughter and pointing. Some people will be angered at the disturbance of their meal. Some people will be grateful for the entertainment. Some will definitely say, “Don’t have to wash that one” or “The dishes are DONE man”.
You know what I can unequivocally guarantee will not happen? Someone putting down their fork, getting up from their table, asking the server if they are O.K. and if there is anyway they can help. That is something I can honestly say has never happened in any of my experiences. The reason? The higherarchy of the restaurant experience does not allow for such behavior. Servers serve and guests receive service. People come to restaurants for their own selfish reasons. It is not expected that guests of a restaurant worry about the welfare of the restaurant, wait staff, or dishware. Totally reasonable people who would normally be the first to lend a hand in a situation like this, in this environment, will remain in their seats. Servers get tipped for their service to the guest. You don’t come to a restaurant to clean up dishes. There are more important things to address. Like dinner.
Note: This excerpt is from the upcoming book: “How to Get Your Food Spit In”.