Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Listen Oswald, I'm Not The Same As you...

Forgive me Manuel for I have sinned...

You get to know your regular customers. I mean other than what they like to eat and where they like to sit and that they like their steak medium with just a little blood but not so much blood that it runs etc etc etc. After a while they volunteer all sorts of information, where they are going on holiday, who in the family just got pregnant/married/promoted, how drunk somebody got last Saturday night. And it's not just the good stuff either you get to see their scars from operations and have to act as referee during little fights. You get let in on private and intimate secrets such as the lady who told me about her miscarriage. Months later she told me the IVF treatment had been successful and she was pregnant again. It was sweet to hear the end of the story.

People tell me the strangest things. They seem to trust me. Maybe they wouldn't if they knew about Well Done Fillet! Hell maybe they wouldn't if they knew I was blabbing to the kitchen staff minutes after they told me some deep dark secret. Well not all secrets are shared.

Customers make the terrible assumption that I am the same as them, that I have the same problems as them. I've never owned a Mercedes C-Class so how the fuck would I know how difficult it is to get reasonable insurance for one?! As a waiter I don't have the disposable income for weekends in the South of France so I have no frame of reference when it comes to the problem of finding a good chalet with staff. I am the person that brings you extra napkins and pours your wine, not your bloody golf buddy. Jesus wept!

But all that is tolerable, bearable, even welcome, in comparison to one particular strain of conversation that has reared it's very ugly head over the last few months. Here's how tonight's version went...

"Good evening. I hope you're all well. Can I get you something to drink?" I enquire in my affable and polite way.

"Oh good your local!" Exclaims suburban Nazi lady "Tim, the waiter's local! What a relief. We've had such trouble lately with, well you know, these damn Polish types."

"Don't speak a word of the language you know. Bloody terrible trouble trying to get a Gin and Tonic the other night. Brought me bloody Bacardi! Terrible night." Adds suburban Nazi man.

I blank them. You wont drag me into your Monday night rascitfest.

"They are coming for your job your know." Warns suburban Nazi lady in her sternest Gin soaked voice. Suburban Nazi man nodded along as he scanned the wine list.

I had a quick look around me but couldn't see any Polish waiters hiding anywhere. Maybe they were under table 7 or they were discussing tactics in the toilets.

"Oh I'm so glad you speak English. I couldn't bear another night of repeating myself to the waiter over and over again" Suburban Nazi lady was getting more than a touch melodramatic. It as if she had just arrived into the last remaining restaurant in Belfast.

I couldn't resist following with "Pardon?"

And on it went. They made numerous references to how glad they were that I wasn't a "bloody Pole or one of them Romanian gypsies".

It was the casual manner of their racism that got to me. They spoke to me as if we were all in the same club, "Middle Classes For Forced Repatriation". And that fucking got to me. They got to me. But what really got to me was that I never said anything. I never pulled them up on it. I never said "Go fuck yourself you dirty WASP bastards." (Or even something less likely to get me fired) I never stood up for the Polish waiters and barmen that I know. That I like and work with. I just blanked them. Silence. I didn't nod along or agree with them but I didn't defend people I know. That's cowardice. And I'm angry with myself.

It's the third or fourth time that this has happened. But no more silence. I'll be putting the little Brown Shirts in their place. They will be told firmly that I ain't the same as them and to stick their opinions up the asses. Or words to that effect.

And another thing whilst we are at it, I'm on a roll here, people who have affairs are getting on my tits too. Are they just dumb as fuck or what is it? There is a regular customer who has been eating at the restaurant for as long as I have worked there who it turns out is having an affair. Now I don't care about that. I don't like it, but it's not my concern. The younger lady who he regularly dines with, kisses across the table, feels up when he thinks no one can see him isn't his wife. I now know this as he brought his wife and son to the restaurant on Sunday for lunch!

ARE YOU FUCKING NUTS?

ARE YOU FOR REAL?

ARE YOU THAT FUCKING COCKY?

WAS THERE NO OTHER RESTAURANT YOU COULD HAVE GONE TO?

And to make it worse he pretended like he didn't know me. What a dick. God I hope he gets caught. That'll teach him to ignore me....

Now who else wants some? I'm in the mood for dropping soup on someone.

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29 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

Medbh said...

Oh, the racist fuckers, Manuel! Why do they assume that you share the same skewed view of humanity?
A pox upon their house.

Conortje said...

It's a difficult position for you to be in though isn't it? What will you actually say back without starting a debate or getting yourself fired? It is astonishing to hear that people come out with such offensive rubbish so easily. Baffling actually.

big gay al said...

I would giz in their soup.

tallulahbloom said...

My God I do not understand why people are so racist!! My mum is a nurse at a factory and when she was doing health checks one of her long term sick leave male patients moaned about all the bloody poles taking their jobs etc etc how they don't speak the language etc etc and she said it really upset her so she cancelled the man's sick leave and put him on a diet.

Manuel said...

Medbh: they could not be more mistaken

Conortje: I don't know exactly what I'll say the next time it happens, but I know I will say something. It's Gay Pride in Belfast this weekend, that always brings the "best" out in a certain section of society.

BGA: Wouldn't waste the man sauce on them...

Tullulahbloom: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA Brilliant! Well done the Tallulahmum!

ellie said...

Cocky bastard...... not you!

Was he feeling up his wife too?

gimme a minute said...

I hope you will strive to be at your most mincing for the weekend festivities.

And you don't have to waste your man juice in their soup, you can merely imply it. Aggressively.

'Soup salty enough?' the waiter leered menacingly...

finn said...

i'm guessing now is not the time for my Special Olympics joke.

sheepworrier said...

Spending most of my early twenties working in and around belshaft bars, I can completely sympatise Manuel.
Seems to mostly be the Malone Road brigade...
1st against the wall come the revolution!

big gay al said...

death by bumming!!

Gorilla Bananas said...

The next time the man having an affair comes around with his wife and son, you could say: "And will your lady friend be joining you today, sir?". How much would I need to pay you to say that?

Manuel said...

Ellie: Eh, I am modest, shy even... No he wasn't, definite problems in that house...

GAM: What with it being Gay Pride and George Michael performing nearby I have no choice.

Finn: Do it, as long as it's not about a Polish Special Person

Sheepworrier: Welcome. Believe me it crosses the class barrier. But I'd certainly join you in the firing squad...

BGA: You wish....

Manuel said...

Gorilla Bananas: Surprisingly enough it wouldn't take much. Tremendous way to get sacked though...

INNER VOICES said...

we get alot of that shit here too. my girlfriend works in a five star hotel/retreat and they even have codes for these people when they check in... MNWW, married not with wife. NPCFW, no phone calls from wife....etc.
all seems sort of funny. but imagine that phone call when making your reservation...
"um yeah, i like to book one of your ocean view rooms, i will be bringing two guests, and i don't want you to ring my room if my wife calls... i'm on a uhhh business trip. and dont want her knowing about my um, travel companions... thank you."

arseholes...

Manuel said...

Inner Voices: Dirty rotten bastards. Gets on my tits. It's the brassneck on them that really pisses me off...

Anonymous said...

Stand on their throats and piss in their wine. They will understand that

OneForTheRoad said...

They probably picked it up from the taxi driver.

You know..you can imagine them sitting there in the back seat as he vents spleen about "dem bleedin fordners comin over here, steelin are jobses".

Then on entering the resturaunt with his words ringing in their ears, they see another working class native" and decide that that's how to communicate with him. You know. on his own level. So he doesn't spit in our scallops."

So you should..because these people are idiots.

that is all.

Old Knudsen said...

Never mind the dirty Slavs its the Lemurs that'll get ya. Fuck I hate racists, especially black muslim ones.

Manuel said...

Old K: A racist is a racist no matter what. Lemurs? Pah, catch em, skin em, eat em.

Manuel said...

Whoops, eyesight's not what it was.

oftr: maybe I will, another casual racist will expose themselves this weekend. This time they are going to get a little more than they ordered. Cunts....

ironbed said...

Manuel I think you handled the homegrown Nazis well. You just blanked them. When morons are given the cold shoulder and see they are getting no endorsements from you and other people, local or new immigrants, they will soon see themselves for what they are: an islolated and bitter minority whose little world is changing right before their eyes and they don't like it. Change scares them. That's probably why they always get drunk before they can spew out their bile.

paddy said...

Thanks Manuel but I'll skip the soup. You get the Guillotine I'll sharpen the blade.
Y;-) Paddy

fatmammycat said...

Oh Manuel, I'd have been fired, rehired and fired again for not keeping my overly large gob shut. You have my sympathy and clearly the patience of a saint.

Manuel said...

Ironbed: I know, take the high ground and all that, but sometimes you just want to run at them from the high ground with fixed bayonets... Just as our anonymous friend urges

Anon: Yes, why not...

Paddy: Off with their heads...before we eat or cake...

FMC: I will die young due to the ulcer that is growing larger by the day...

bender's better brother said...

Maybe it's the palces I eat but I ususally finf the Polish, Lithuanian, Philipino staff more polite, genuine and efficient.
I can sympathise with folks like these if their beef is that the waiter doesn't have sufficient grasp of English to do the job.

To keep your own you better have rehearsed your planned comeback and be prepared for the ever present " I know the owner/manager" bullshit that everyone pulls in this 2 degrees of separation outpost.

Manuel said...

BBB: Welcome. It's not that those you mentioned are as a rule better waiters, some are good some are shite. Just like the locally reared staff. I was objecting to the we're all WASP's together sort of attitude.

My comeback will be "He touched me...."

Anonymous said...

Ask mister affair man if his lovely daughter will be coming soon. ~evil~

Anonymous said...

...speaking of racism, etc. etc., should not northern ireland stop calling itself plain "ireland"?... it's darn confusing :)

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