If you can handle that . . .

It amazes me the liberties some people take when they are talking to their server. Resties are treated with  a level of disdain and disrespect that no other people in any other line of work are treated with. Case in point: the line ‘If you can handle that.’

Some times not everything goes according to plan in a restaurant. A well done porterhouse might take longer than 12 minutes to cook, the fourth refill before the app might come slower than the customer expects it to, or an order with twenty modifiers on it might not come out with mod #18. Hell, sometimes we even make mistakes. It happens. We’re human.

But when a table scoffs and huffs and adds a ‘If you can handle that’ to the end of their order it really gets on my second to last AND last dick nerve. The famous quote ‘If a person is nice to you but isn’t nice to the waiter then they aren’t a nice person’ always comes to mind. In a perfect world we would pity people like that because they are so miserable and insecure that they have to treat those who they deem to be beneath them with hostility and contempt, taking out the frustrations they feel on someone who essentially can’t fight back. In reality the reason they don’t put the bev station in the walk-in is so that servers can’t go back there and stir those tables’ drinks balls-deep with their junk.

Okay that’s not really true. I have found the reports of food desecration to be little more than an urban legend. From what I’ve seen it just doesn’t really happen as much as people seem to fear that it does. But since the general public doesn’t fear much in the way of reprisals I’m not going to do a lot to dispel the myth that there actual is something we can do that could affect them.

One time I had this business guy come in for lunch. He was with colleagues from work and I guess he just wanted show who the alpha male was. He ordered his food in a pissy, haughty manner and capped it off with a ‘If you can handle that.’ Something about this incident made me want to perform an ad hoc sociological experiment.

You see, I’m a big dude-six feet two inches and 220+ pounds of rippling muscle. Okay maybe ‘muscle’ is the wrong word. And ‘rippling’. But I am a big guy. This guy wasn’t. This five foot one pinky-dicked cocksucker would never, EVER want to fuck with me in a dark alley street fight. And he knew it. So he verbally bitch slapped somebody who couldn’t touch him.

And I didn’t. But I did stare at him for a good three seconds.  Don’t think three seconds is a long time? Take an 8-top’s order at rapid fire speed and then take three seconds to stare down the guy who smarted off to you with the patented What-the-FUCK-did-you-just-say icy stare of death and see how long it is. Let’s put it this way: it was long enough for everyone at that table to realize something was terribly, terribly wrong. It was long enough that that guy never ever smarted off at me again. In fact he was always a perfect gentleman after that, as well as all his tablemates.

Maybe he was just having a bad day. Maybe he just need a reminder that his bad day could have gotten a LOT worse. Maybe the next time some pisshead gives me a ‘If you can handle that’ I’ll say what I’m really thinking-

Handle deez nuts, bitch! Learn how to talk to people.


Dignity and Respect

Me, The JerBear


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13 responses to “If you can handle that . . .

  1. Handled perfectly. We will educate these people, one customer at a time!! Enjoy the weekend, my friend. Sincerely-Patrick

  2. My restaurant serves a bisque that is poured tableside, The bowl comes out with a pillar of crab and rice, then the bisque is poured over it. The pouring occurs last because I generally leave my third and fourth arms at home when going to work. About 1 out of every 3 guests will freak out and announce that it wasn’t what they ordered. I then return with the pitcher of bisque and say, “Is there anything that I have done thus far that would lead you to believe that after 15 years of doing this that I would have forgotten to put soup in your bowl?” I say it with just enough of a smile that it gets the entire table laughing at them. It will probably be what gets me fired one day, but in the meantime it has shut up many guests like this.

    Good stuff man, I am adding you to my blogroll on The Hospitality Formula Network later today.

    • Smooth words on the soup bowl thing. Might have to steal that. Love your blog btw. I’ve spent hours on there. I agree with your philosophy that you have to put it out there to get the good tips and ‘go out on a limb sometimes in order to pick the sweetest fruit’ (not your exact words but I forget how you worded it-that’s still a pretty smooth way of putting that. Might have to steal that from myself).

  3. Another one I hate is “Are you sure?” No, fuckhead, I just work here.

    Being a girl will usually results in customers tacking on “sweetie” to the dreaded “if you can handle that.” I makes me want to punch people in the throat. Then in the balls. “Can you handle that, sweetie?” You know what, I don’t think I can. I’m a total idiot and don’t know why they hired me. I think I’ll go home now.

  4. Condescending at it’s finest. Great job with the stare down. Glad he straightened up.

    And I agree – messing with food is more an urban legend than anything. I have never done it, would never do it and have never worked with anyone who would. You would be stupid to do so.

    I think the fear came from the movie “Waiting”. What people don’t realize that although some of the stuff in the movie is true it is overdramatized to make a point and to get a laugh. I think I am the only [former] waitress in the world who hates that movie.

    • No, Skippy Mom, I absolutely hate that movie. I only got through 20 mins of it before I had to turn it off.
      Everyone (huge generalization) who works in a restaurant has said at one time or another “this shit is crazy. someone should make a (movie, sitcom, reality show) about us”. Guess what? They have, many times, and every one of them sucked. BUT… stay tuned… MY blog will (hopefully soon) feature an article highlighting some of the archetypes of the restaurant world, and this could be a good starting point for an aspiring writer to develop characters. (this article will take a while, I’m not that good at self-editing)

    • I had a table just last Saturday night ask me, “Have you seen that movie waiting? You’re going to do that to our food aren’t you?” Now of course they were aware that they were driving me nuts (back to the original topic, I am very good at “the look”), but instead of behaving they further insulted my integrity. I have never messed with a guest’s food. I will crop dust them to an early death, but I think there is a social contract that forbids messing with a guest’s food.

      Not to be the guys that posts links in the comment section, but I did a post a while back with 5 different groups that do some far more accurate server videos. The last one is called “Serving” and is being shopped. I think it is far more realistic that Waiting. http://www.restaurantlaughs.com/recommended-viewing-1115/2010/11/15/

  5. Very Nice! Way to put him back in line!! Great post!

  6. Great blog. I always wanted to be a “waitress.” That’s what they called it in my day, but my mother wouldn’t let me because she thought people would be mean to me. Was she ever right. And now that I work in a Union job I’d probably kill someone that talked to me like that.

    I am always, always nice to the wait staff. After all they are my equals – human beings, I think it’s called. I despise rude people We once had a woman at our table who corrected the waiter when he said “Would you like sour cream or chives with your potato.” And she said, “Honey, those are green onions.” I was so pissed off. My husband said, “We are never going to a restaurant with that bitch again.” Keep up the good service – most of us thoroughly appreciate it.

  7. Your blog entries are so well written and funny! If you wrote a book I’d read it. 😉

  8. Many people who come to the restaurant and hassle me, turn and run when they see me outside the restaurant. Oh yeah. I WILL tell your ass off when I don’t have to worry about losing my job.

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