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Give and Receive Love — At the Red Lobster

June 10, 2011
red lobster waitress

I think I know how she feels. She's thinking that no human should eat that man Cheddar Bay biscuits and be allowed to ask for more.

Okay, part three — are you ready? Or are you maybe sick of the topic? If you’re tired of it don’t worry I promise to write about something else on Monday — even if it is just about my domain-buying endeavors. Which I find thrilling, but I think my friends and family are getting tired of hearing about.

So, it occurred to me while I was toiling over how I can be “fully open” to give and receive love that although there aren’t a lot of socially acceptable ways to do so I actually get paid for a few of them — at Red Lobster.

That’s right. I wait tables so I am allowed, nay, encouraged to show love to absolute strangers. And you know what, as much as I was wishing there were more ways in our society to show love to one another — even strangers — I gotta say it’s tough. I worked three double-shifts in a row over Memorial Day weekend and by Monday night I was cussing under my breath and ready to dump the seventh glass of “Diet Coke with a lime” into a particular lady’s lap.

Of course it didn’t help that we were out of all the fish except for cod and she wanted Mahi Mahi.

I let her know that right away though — like any good server would. “We actually only have one fresh fish selection available today — and that’s our cod. It’s a mild fish with a large, firm flake and it is very popular.”

To which she responded, “You mean you don’t have Mahi Mahi.”

“No, I’m sorry. It’s  a very popular selection and our other patrons scooped it all up. All we have available today is cod,” I said grinning from ear to ear and hoping to help her find another item.

I went to get the drinks for the table (her first diet Coke with a lime) and she asked, “Do you Have any Tilapia?”

“No, I’m sorry. It was all eaten up along with our other fresh fish selections.” I said cheerfully but a bit dumbfounded. “We do have three servings of the cod left, and a wide variety of other meals in our menu (I swear she had been staring at the fresh fish board that only had cod on it since she got there), but no other fresh fish selections are available.”

“What about the Atlantic salmon?”

At this point I probably looked at her like she was stupid. I tried not to, but there is only so much a person can take. Even a waitress. So I took a deep breath, reminded myself that my personal goal at work is to give a little love to everyone who comes in,  and I just let her know that no, we did not have any salmon either. I tried to direct her to several other items on the menu in which time she sucked down the entirety of her first diet Coke with a lime. (Which is just such a pretentious thing to drink anyway.)

And moments later I was walking back to the kitchen to get her a refill while she decided what to order — while cussing under my breath a little bit. It’s true that some people are just harder to love.

She wound up getting the cod (along with those six more diet Coke refills) and not liking it. She poked it and pushed it around her plate like a little kid. And she kept talking to me about Mahi Mahi and salmon, lamenting it’s absence like it was an ex-lover who had been killed in a war. I could have slapped her. There are a lot of places a person can get salmon in town. Why didn’t she just leave?

Her dining companion on the other hand was a sweet man who liked his cod. I wanted to hug him. He was easy to love.

So, it is still my goal to give a little love to all of the people I serve at Red Lobster. I’ve been doing pretty good. And some of the patrons are difficult to love. While others are easy to love. Like the tiny little man who ordered the a four-pound lobster (STUFFED!) and then sat there and ate the whole thing while his family — who had all finished their food long before he even made a dent in that lobster — just watched him with little grins on their faces. They talked to him while he chewed and mumbled back. That was a highlight of Memorial weekend for sure.

Loving that guy came naturally and required no practice.

So I guess that’s the point. This is an exercise — a practice. It isn’t always going to be easy. Especially when I’m on my feet for hours and we are out of fish.

On a side note, I learned something else that weekend. I don’t think I can cut it as a full-time server even though that was sort of my plan. It doesn’t bring out the best in who I am and it does make me start to dislike people as a whole. And I don’t know if that’s something I’ll be able to overcome. So if I’m going to leave my primary job it probably won’t be to wait tables like I thought. Guess I should start looking for other alternatives.

11 Comments leave one →
  1. Nathan permalink
    June 14, 2011 11:50 am

    I like lime in my coke simply because it tastes good. I say that without any pretentiousness. 🙂


    • June 14, 2011 12:05 pm

      Nate, I see your smiley face, but I have to defend my position here and recommend that you tip highly if you are going to ask for something unusual like a lime (unless you are at a bar — and I mean sitting at a bar asking for the drink from a bartender).

      If it is a table service situation the waitress has to go out of her way for every little lime wedge you ask for because it is unusual — making it a SPECIAL request. And I’m sorry, buddy, but it is totally pretentious because it is asking for something extra as though it were no big deal.

      It is more work so it is a big deal. Especially if you ask for SEVEN of them.


      • Nathan permalink
        June 14, 2011 12:51 pm

        Wow…buddy! Obviously you are still quite upset about the whole thing. I agree that seven is a bit much (and apparently didn’t tip well as evidenced by your response), however, I was merely commenting that a lime and coke tastes good and I like them! I didn’t mean to set you off and don’t think I really deserved a lecture on the matter. Thanks.
        p.s. – I tip generously, by the way, and, more work = more tip! 🙂


  2. jgeerdes permalink
    June 14, 2011 12:16 pm

    And the funny thing is, the woman with the cod had probably never even tried cod. She simply thought she wanted the more exotic stuff (e.g., mahi mahi) because it was a exactly that: more exotic.

    Actually, on a serious note, there is a lot of truth here. Love is not easy. It takes practice, and there will be moments when we all fail. It’s hard work, especially when you run into those people that are just needy whiners. (Yes, I have a far easier time loving the man whose homeless and always needing money vs. the woman who doesn’t need any money but always complaining about something just because.) And it never fails that the hardest people show up when we have the lowest tolerance for them!

    Great post, Crystal. As usual.


  3. June 28, 2011 3:05 pm

    LOL….I work in the service industry….not waiting tables….but I COMPLETELY get you here! It’s those days where you set out to be the best person ever at your job that you are pushed over the edge! Good job keeping it together as much as you could! 🙂


  4. July 31, 2011 7:41 pm

    Sometimes people just don’t listen at all. I have had conversations like that.


    • August 1, 2011 9:03 am

      Exactly. And at the time I was SO angry and frustrated about it. But I realize she just really wanted fish. 😉


  5. August 2, 2011 5:19 am

    Crystal, this cracks me up because after just having left the service industry (again), PLEASE tell me if you figure out how to NOT let it bring out the worst in you. I think it’s common because dining out seems to bring out the worst in many others, and unfortunately, the waitress gets to feel the brunt of it.

    If you’re feeling down and need to commiserate, read this: Hopefully it will make you smile, because you KNOW. 🙂


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