So You Want To Be A Waiter

The best book on waiting tables that you have never read – yet

Dr. House and the waitress

OK, I admit it…I’m behind on my DVR watching. To be precise, I’m 4 episodes behind on House M.D.

Those of you who follow this blog know that I’m just behind on everything. I used to post, what, like 2 or 3 times a day, whereas now, I’m posting about 2 or 3 times every 2 weeks, if I’m lucky.

Hey, get off my back, will ya?

Just kidding. Back to the subject at hand.

Three episodes ago, Dr. Gregory House treated a waitress after she crashed and burned during a shift, right after she accidentally gave away some information that made one of her guests very uncomfortable. You see, she outed a lady who had actually come in to the restaurant “last August”, her boyfriend/husband/significant other not knowing that she had come in. The waitress proceeded to describe the exact date, what she was wearing and the fact that her eyes were puffy from crying. This allowed Joe Cuckhold to realize that this was the exact date of Darren’s birthday (his brother/best friend/proctologist/whatever) and that was the day that Darren was all upset because his ex-girlfriend “showed up and he had to cancel his party”. Braniac then puts two and two together and says that “Dammit, I knew it…ever since you two of you left the ski trip…”. Waitress realizes that she’s just lost any possibility of a tip and volunteers to go get their water and then turns and falls on her tray and broken glasses.

Paging Dr. House…paging Dr. House.

Apparently, this waitress is afflicted with hyperthymesia, a condition which he describes as “perfect memory” and which Google and Wikipedia confirm as a “superior autobiographical memory”. Apparently, according to Greg, this is a condition that only 5 people have been diagnosed with (Wikipedia claims 6) that allows the victim to remember everything that has ever happened to them. It’s like photographic memory times 100. She can remember exactly how many times she fell down in a year, she remembers what breakfast she had on Oct. 15th 1994 and the fact that her patron was excessively generous with a 25% tip the last time she came in because she was all flushed with the excitement of cheating on her man (well, I made up the last two).

After going though watching the credits and being nonplussed by the fact that apparently there are about a dozen “producers” and “assistant producers” on a typical television production (apparently everyone who isn’t a grip or a best boy is a producer these days), I found out that the episode was written by Kat(herine) Lingenfelter.

Thank you Kat, because it allows me to highlight an object lesson about waiting tables.

It’s a very well-known principle in country clubs that you never, I repeat never, acknowledge a previous visit of a patron. Why not, you might ask? It’s because of this very situation. Sure, it might not be a dalliance; it might be an important business meeting that shouldn’t be disclosed to the current dinner companion. You could screw up someone’s life in a big way. And country clubs are just filled with people who are super regulars, using the facilities over and over again.

For the rest of us, you might have the best memory in the world and you might use it as a parlor trick to build your tips; after all, everyone is impressed by your ability to remember an 8 top’s entire order without writing it down (but only if you get it right, of course). But you have to be very careful about mentioning previous visits.

I’m not saying that it’s always wrong to mention a previous visit. After all, that’s one of the ways that we establish a bond with our guests. We are constantly told that remembering a guest is the way to build call parties and regulars. But we should limit that to favorite drinks and other preferences, not the intimate details of their visits. And, occasionally, as in this fictional case, even the mention of a previous visit can out someone, so you have to be very careful about where and when and to whom you do this to.

Sure, there are situations where you can talk about previous visits. But you have to be very sure that you aren’t betraying a confidence. A “nice to see you again, Mr. Highroller” can convey the sense that you remember them, especially if you remember their drink. You don’t have to be very specific, especially if you don’t know them well.

You might ask, “Why is it my responsibility to cover for my guest”? Well, strictly it isn’t. If someone wants to be a sleazebag and bring his mistress to the restaurant on every other Wednesday, it’s they who are running the risk. It isn’t your place to be their alibi. But it’s also not your responsiblity to be private dick either. You are waiting on them. That’s it. Be neutral.

I know a guest who used to have a girlfriend who gave him blowjobs in return for rent. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. After all, I only knew that as a rumor. It wasn’t my place to inform his wife. After all, for all I know, she already knows. I only have a business relationship with him. If I were his or his wife’s friend, that would be a different moral dilemma.

So I hope you see where I’m going with this. Be very careful about what you say to a table about previous visits. You don’t want to be the subject of an ABC Afternoon Special.

Or an episode of House M.D.

PS, I stopped the viewing about 15 minutes into the episode. Please don’t spoil the rest of it or the next two episodes for me. Otherwise, I’ll have to come over to your house (pun intended) and kick your ass.

Gotta love it when Hugh Laurie plays air cane.

2 responses to “Dr. House and the waitress

  1. Pingback: Guest House Guide! Dr. House and the waitress « So You Want To Be A WaiterHow To Build A House | How To Build A House

  2. Lamar Bullard November 5, 2012 at 2:03 am

    i always watch house md because the story line is great and you learn something about medicine too. –

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