Friday, February 12, 2010

Wait.

I thought of Chris this morning as I refilled The Husband’s coffee cup. Chris served a cup of coffee like no other waiter ever had or ever would again.

(Before I get too far and you start to love Chris too much, let me tell you Chris is no longer with us.  An accident with a train took his young life.  Sorry.)

If you've never been a waiter or waitress, let me assure you that we all hate it when a customer orders a cup of coffee “right away.” Usually, this kind of customer selfishly does not consider that we are also taking the drink orders of his/her tablemates, and gathering everyone’s drinks will slow down the arrival of his/her coffee in even the best scenario. Everyone gets their drinks as soon as humanly possible, but that is somehow not good enough for this kind of person. This kind of customer is never happy and does not tip well… if he/she tips at all.

Chris, however, became a hero the day a little old lady at one of his tables ordered her coffee “right away”. Other women at the table had ordered coffee as well, but she wanted hers… right away.

Chris replied, “Yes, ma’am!”, turned his back on her and her table full of friends, and sprinted (sprinted!) through the quiet but crowded dining room to the kitchen. Coffee pot in hand, he sprinted back through the room to her table and poured her coffee… right away.

Her friends chuckled. She was embarrassed. And Chris continued taking drink orders as if this was how he served coffee all the time.

Chris and I trained together as wait staff in the summer of 1987. He was a big, goofy creature (made especially goofy in the lederhosen the male staffers were required to wear, like this fellow from the actual restaurant>>>), always smiling, always looking for a good time. I don’t know if he was a good waiter, but Chris was memorable. Like his coffee service, his antics were the things of lore.

For instance…

Before they started cutting back for budgetary reasons, this German restaurant served all meals in five courses: bread, soup, salad, entrĂ©e, dessert. We were encouraged to push the fancy desserts (“If your table buys dessert, that will add another $10 to their bill and more money to your tip!”), but it was a hard sell. Most customers were happy enough with their free-with-every-meal sherbet cup.

Another special feature was the giblet gravy with real giblets. I never understood the fascination with the meaty lumps, but people seemed to like them. Some folks even requested extra giblets which we could provide at no extra charge.

It was fate that brought the parents with the fussy kid to Chris’ table. The parents were apologetic, but their young son insisted that he did not like the giblets in his gravy. He could not be convinced to accept this "contaminated" gravy, but Chris was cool with it.  He offered to take it back to the kitchen to get a new bowl that had never ever had giblets touching it. Of course, he simply took the gravy to the kitchen, strained out the meat, and brought it back.

He called the boy his little buddy. The parents loved him for creating a peaceful mealtime.

Chris further encouraged his little buddy to follow his parents’ instructions to eat just a little more and finish his veggies because Chris had a very special dessert for his “little buddy”.

What is it? What could it be?

The boy bounced in his seat, could barely contain himself, as Chris carried the final tray from the kitchen to their table.

And with great flair Chris presented the “very special” dessert:
A sherbet cup filled to overflowing with… giblets.

The parents burst into laughter as their son recoiled in horror.
Chris patted the boy’s shoulder. “Just kidding, buddy.” He removed the giblet cup and replaced it with two sherbets.

Before the family left, the father stood up and shook Chris’ hand. And pressed and very nice tip into his palm.

***

So, now you understand why, whenever The Husband asks for a refill on his coffee, and I ask if he wants it right away, he always replies, “No! No, just whenever you get to it.”

13 comments:

Dani said...

Yay lederhosen!

Boo people gone before their time!

Roses said...

Dani: Let's call it "yay"derhosen!

leeann said...

Did they make y'all yodel?
And I'm sorry Chris is gone. The world needs more Chrises.

Roses said...

leeann: Only to sing "Happy Birthday". (Not really, but that *would* have been funny.)

Roses said...

BTW... I debated whether or not to mention that Chris died, didn't want to make it a sad story, but I also didn't want you all to wonder where he is now and if he's still serving coffee somewhere. :-)

Thumper said...

I love waiters like that...my kid would be like that if the circumstances allowed it in the restaurant he works in. But I'd *really* like to see him in lederhosen ;)

Really sorry Chris is gone...he sounds like he was a hoot.

Bob said...

I notice your stat counter says I'm visitor #39,700.

By the way, they're gay-derhosen.

Roses said...

Bob: I dunno. The ladies seem to really like the leather shorts. Could be they're actually get-layed-erhosen.

vw bug said...

Love memories like that. Happy Valentine's day!

Andy said...

Roses, only 244 more visits until the big event. I'm keeping a sharp eye on it, and I am planning to win me that prize!

Good post. I like hearing the memories of others.

Priscilla said...

I laughed and cried while reading this. We were driving. I then read it aloud to BH who doesn't get my blogging fascination. He loved it and even said 'tell her hello for me and that I loved the story' He didn't say loved exactly, but he did love the story.

And hello from BH.

Happy Valentines day! !

Richmond said...

That's a GREAT story!! Even if I did get a teeny teary... Chris sounds like a terrific waiter and person. :)

Moogie P said...

Love the story, and I think I would've really liked Chris.

I never had to wear a dirndl while waiting tables, but, at one place, our "uniform" consisted of a hat similar to yours, leotard, and wraparound skirt. The management encouraged us to go braless and go into the walk-in often. I didn't last long there.