On the art of waiting tables

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When we’re out we have one sit-down meal a day. (Which is hilarious because all we do is sit down!) What I mean is, we actually stop and try to obtain food that wasn’t microwaved into digestibility. I don’t know of many drivers out there who have both the time and money to eat more than one decent meal a day. Some people sustain life on burgers and fries alone. I need scrambled eggs to continue having such a sparkly personality, so we eat at a lot of breakfast joints. Also because breakfast is good and cheap in most places.

True waitresses are born. It’s an art, just like playing the cello. Often is the time a waitress at a truck stop restaurant is the only other real, live human being a driver will interact with all day. She can make or break the mood. A really good one feeds your belly and your soul. They are priceless. I’ve waited a table or two in my day, and I can tell you it’s not an easy job, nor one for the faint of heart.

When a harried server, taking care of six breakfast tables, notices I dropped my fork and brings me one without my having to ask, I immediately have a better day. So does she, because she immediately gets a bigger tip. And she should, because this is the difference between slinging food at people and serving them.

We met a waitress in Vermont who practiced service through intimidation. She had worked at the restaurant so long, she didn’t give a damn if you ate there or not and volunteered that information freely. She announced when we got there, “Food’s good. I’m crabby. Next restaurant is twelve miles down the road.”

At first she was super nice to me, because I didn’t complain about the brown gravy covering every inch of my hamburger and French fries, but she yelled at a guy who asked for ketchup and told him he couldn’t ruin her food with “no damn ketchup.” Then she yelled at me for not eating my peas, and I swear to God, I ate those peas. I hate peas. My husband was a good boy and didn’t get yelled at any. It was still some of the best food I’ve eaten on the road, even though I felt slightly uneasy every time she walked close to the table. I had the strong urge to lean just outside of her strike range.

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We met a waitress in Charlotte who called me a biker chick and still got a tip. She may have gotten the wrong idea when I threatened to hurt her if she touched my husband’s beard. It was a desperate situation, boundaries had to be drawn. There are some things you just don’t mess with. My old man’s epic beard is one of them.

It was tense for a few minutes, but she was a pro and smoothed things over with extra bacon. Bacon cures all wounds, but I still would have been forced to do something if she had touched the beard. Or at least write a scathing letter to her district manager. (Subject line: Beard Touching.)

The best waitress ever is still in North Carolina at one of our favorite places in the world. Seriously, I don’t plug places, but if you ever get to Maiden, do yourself a favor and go see Fran at the Country Market. You might not get the best service, and she may even be rude to you, but she will tell you stories that are incredible and well worth a $5 tip. Step outside to have a smoke with her and get a history lesson on the county and everyone in it. She handles the entire floor on Saturday nights, during the live Bluegrass show, and will literally stand at the back of the room and yell at you to come get your food. It’s like being at Granny’s house. Good stuff.

I love to watch truckers who have never been inside the Country walk in for the first time. The sheer delight on their faces is awesome. You can literally watch the tension of the road roll off as Fran screams at them to sit down and brings an entire pitcher of sweet tea to the table. They instinctively know for the next 45 minutes they’re going to be treated to a true human experience, and all is right with the world.