In The New York Times yesterday, a former waiter describes his experience working in a Michelin-starred New York house. For him, the job is summarized in a word. Soulless.
The writer, graduate student Edward Frame, describes the script and the tricks he used to get ’em in and get ’em out, turning tables as quickly as possible while making diners feel suitably important, given the fact that they were dropping dough, not infrequently, in four- and five-figure amounts.
At first, acting this role had its moments. “You could play guessing games like ‘hooker or daughter,’” Frame writes. “Or the ‘adjective game,’ where you competed to successfully sell a wine with the least helpful descriptors possible. ‘Haunted’ was a good one.”
Deception was the waiter’s stock in trade. Waiters had to learn tableside carving of the duck with both right and left hands, so diners never saw what Chef deemed the bird’s “unappealing” cavity. The perfectly timed joke, the affectation of constant poise—Frame described the benefit of his job as “the thrill of the con.”
Until it was no longer thrilling. All the elaborate play—plus, yes, interrupting coitus in the bathroom—began to wear on him until something happened in the dining room one night that revealed how deep the inhumanity ran.
You have to read this piece. Then, if you’re a server, please comment on how Seattle restaurants differ. I can’t imagine this kind of nonsense in a single Seattle restaurant. Maybe because I can't imagine a five-figure tab in Seattle.