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Mr. Wrong

Just the Tip

Smell of Steve Inc.

By Joe MacLeod | Posted 6/6/2007

Hey, it's another exciting graduation season, with the colleges, trade schools, high schools, junior "community" colleges, and whatever all minting their latest edition of shiny-new graduates, so I would like to take this opportunity to remind The Public that for a modest honorarium of money, plus, like, you gotta cover my travel expenses and lodging (I like to stay at the Best Western brand of hotels), I am available for graduation ceremony speaking engagements, to speak at the youth and not-so-youth who are all no-more-pencils-no-more-books, but since nobody contacted me for any kind of speeching this year (I think maybe my e-mail was broken), I will take this opportunity to address the Graduating Class of 2007 here in my column inches of newspaper and/or computer-screen space, because at least I get paid for that, OK?

See, as a fellow Graduate, I understand the Color of Money, and I would like to con-graduate all of you out there who now have, like, a huge loan to start paying off, or maybe you are simply just out on the street looking for work, or at least some money, right? Good for you, welcome to the jungle, etc., and look, our Great Nation has a lot of problems, but right here in this Land of Opportunity, there is always a way to Get In On It, if you will, in the target-rich environment of Food Service.

Look around, graduates, seriously, there's people all over This Land of Ours who don't even speak English as good as you, what with your major-master's-minor degree in English as a First language or whatever is printed on that piece of paper somebody in a shiny robe handed you while you were busy snickering about not having anything on under yours, and now you're all bitching about, "Well, sure, I will move to a happening Major Metropolitan area and get a cool job after I enjoy the summer off, backpacking in Portugal," or some kinda hippie trip camp crap jazz like that, and meanwhile, back in the U.S. of A., hard-working immigrants, legal and otherwise, are steady stacking dollars in the Kitchens of America, busting their humps doing salad prep, getting the soup of the day going, hosing down dirty dishes, carrying stuff out to the Dumpster, and if they could work the counter or wait tables, they damn skippy would, but most of 'em lack the basic communication skills required for that part of any thriving food-service operation, and that's where you come in, mister sir or lady ms. graduate.

You're the one I gotta deal with when I need to know what's in that Western Omelette on the menu, and is the Spanish Omelette really Spanish, or is it scrambled eggs with salsa dumped on it? Hah? Hey, you know what the most important thing in the world is Right Now? It is the identity of today's Soup of the Day. C'mon, these are simple questions, so you better bone up on that shit pronto, capisce? Sure, School's Out for Summer, or maybe School's Out for Ever, but just because you're out in front at the restaurant, diner, café, carry-out, deli, delly, bistro, pizza place, bar, grille, bar and grille, or Applebee's doesn't mean you are allowed to stop using your brain. You've got the best job in the restaurant besides hostessing, which is another topic. Right now you are My Waiter, and you better wake up and smell the tip.

If you work at one of those places where you stand behind a counter, take orders, and then maybe hand stuff to people, I'm probably not going to tip more than a buck, but you know what? I won't even do that if you give me a hard time, so check yourself. As for the rest of you, hello, I am your customer, and I'm hungry. Please to feed me and not to be pissing me off, OK? I don't need any stress; I just want good digestion with my meal, so make it a pleasant one, please. Please. I mean, I'm willing to put money in your pocket for you to make that happen. I'm at your mercy. Feed me. Carry out your job description with a reasonable amount of attentiveness, and you're gonna get 20 percent from me, maybe more. All you gotta do is answer my questions about what I'm going to be putting in my mouth, keep my water glass full, and look over at my table every once in a while to see if my head is outta my plate, and we're golden. If you get overly familiar with me and start telling me Stuff About You, while I'm looking at you, smiling politely listening to you talk about your art or political theories, in my head, one of your dollars is flying off your pile of tip. And seriously, I have every intention of providing a nice tip for you, I'm not sitting here looking for you to make mistakes, I just want you to appear as if you actually give a shit about me getting my food, even if you don't agree with my choices, OK? Just focus on your job, man. If the food's late and you don't keep me in the loop about developments in the kitchen, I'm deducting a dollar. Just come by and tell me the truth. OK, maybe not the complete truth, you can clean it up a little. And look, don't make me beg for condiments or extra half-and-half for my coffee, which you shouldn't even be asking me if I want more of, you should just be refilling that bad boy, so I'm deducting a dollar if I gotta get up and go take a bottle of hot sauce off somebody else's table, and you know what? Not everybody likes grape jelly all the time. Maybe I want a nice piece of toast with some strawberry jam on it and some more coffee, please, after my big breakfast, so make sure that little basket or bowl of condiments has more than grape jelly or that awful "mixed fruit" crap, which is just, like, some gelatinized apple juice or something. I know you don't buy the condiments for the restaurant, just do whatever you can to make sure I can get some strawberry jam, OK? Congratulations!

Correction 6/13/2007: Judge Alan M. Wilner was incorrectly credited as authoring the opinion of the Maryland Court of Appeals' Valsamaki decision. Judge Dale R. Cathell authored that opinion.

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