Monday, 16 June 2008

Friends

Having friends is great, it really is. Wouldn't life be very sad and lonely if we had no friends? There would be no one to share those exciting moment with, there probably wouldn't be any exciting moment without friends. Friends help us grow and they enrich our lives. The best of them are there through thick and thin. Whether your circle of friends is a large and varied one or a small and tight one it's just smashing to have them.

Friends...
...not mine.
Mine aren't that good looking, tidy, sober, etc.

Still, it's a real fucking pain in the waiter's hole when they book tables or even worse arrive unannounced at your place of employment. I really fucking detest serving friends at work. It's got nothing to do with being their waiter or being subservient to them, not that I am anyones gimp, but you know what I mean. It's just that I'm never sure how to serve them.

Am I supposed to be Manuel their friend or Manuel their waiter?

Some situations can be dealt with a quick swapping of sections or a well timed break but when the worst comes to the worst you have to serve them, your friend. Your friend that knows what you did that summer in the holiday cabin in Donegal with the thing and the stuff and knows you don't talk about it. Your friend that loves to embarrass you when you are being your most professional. Serving friends is two hours of sweat and nerve jangling torture, not always but mostly.

I've served numerous friends over the last few weeks. Some are better friends than others, some I'd rather serve than others. Actually there were a couple that I'd rather drown than serve. But hey ho a waiter's gotta do what a waiter's gotta do.

Serving your very best friends (is it still okay to have best friends when you are 35?) isn't so bad because you know they will cut you some slack if you are under pressure. They might give you some gentle-ish abuse at a later date but for the most part serving your grade -A Chums is okay. Things start getting a fair bit shitty as you move down the pecking order from Grade A chums to run of the mill chums to stop and chat friends then acquaintances to friends of friends and finishing off with the guy who is always in the shop when you are.

Oh and then there are ex-friends. But that's a whole other post and hierarchy of friendships, you know ex-girlfriends, ex-wife, friends of theirs and so on. And it's a stone wall guarantee that when an ex walks into your section she will look a million dollars her new chap will probably be worth a million dollars and you will be covered in chocolate sauce and smell of sour milk and or piss.

Guran-fucking-teed.

Like I say serving best friends is easy. Just as serving the guy who you always meet in the shop is easy. It's that middle group of hangers on friends that are the problem kids. Best friends you can tell to fuck away off if you have to and there wont be any come back. You hold no emotional attachment to the guy from the shop so he can be ignored if you have to. But the middle group of acquaintances and second order friends are just so bloody difficult to serve.

It's the small talk you see. Most tables require an certain amount of small talk during the meal, the weather, sport, cultural events, are they or aren't they secret service agents and so on. I'm very very good at small talk with people I don't know. I am very very shit at small talk with people I sort of know or are peripheral friends. Once you have covered the usual, "What you up to?" and "How's the family?" and "Have you seen John Doe recently?" type shite what else is there to talk about?"

It's at this point that awkwardness sets in. Now that's okay as long as it's me suffering from the awkwardness, I can just stay away from their table. But if the awkwardness is theirs then I start to feel bad and try to over compensate. It's all so unbearably horrible. I once did the, "When's it due?" thingy to a couple who were friends of my ex-wife's just to look like I cared and wasn't all bitter and what have you only to discover she was just carrying a few extra pounds. Cheeeerist.

I had more friends in On Friday with the table of 80 teachers. One of them I was delighted to see and we hugged it out and caught up on news and babies and that sort of stuff. The other conversation went something like this,

Work
News
Family
New house
Nodding head - me
Nodding head - her
Silence
Awkward silence
More head nodding
Embarrassed silence
"Okay then......."
Walk off.

It's such a drag. I'm resolved to not repeat such a carry on again and have decided just to act aloof when friends arrived for dinner. I still love you I just don't want to talk to you. And really isn't that what we all want from our friends? Maybe I just need some new friends with more interesting lives.

Maybe I need a more interesting life......

17 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

B said...

this reminds me, I bumped into an old friend recently, he had just won some award as best in europe for something and was doing a medical degree.
I, on the other hand, had somehow messed up filling out my CAO and had to take a year out.
We met by me popping outta a big bin full of all sorts of sh!t(meat mostly) and seeing him there... sorta like Oscar the Grouch.

Medbh said...

I was okay with waiting on friends when I tended bar but never when waiting tables.
I never wanted to learn how cheap they were or that they got off on me serving them.

Manuel said...

b: nice.....it;s the law of sod....

medbh: if it's good friends I normally refuse the tip.....anyone else had better tip big or i rat them out like fuck.......

Blondefabulous said...

For some reason, here in America, friends ALWAYS expect you to let them slide on the bill. No idea why they think this is ok.... Do I ask Jeff at the movies to let me in free? Do I ask Jenny at the boutique for a few free blouses?? Do I expect Johnny at the auto dealership to slide me a new car, sans payment??? Hell no! Pay up suckers!

MJ said...

Where do blogging friends fit in the friends hierarchy?

Are we high on the list or down with the guy who is always in the shop when you are?

And what would you do if a whole table of us sat down in your section?

(I'd grab your sugarloaf, by the way.)

savannah said...

you're never to old to have a best friend, sugar! ;-) xoxox

one of the things i like about living in a small town is that my friends either own the resto/bar or they're servers or chefs/cooks..it's just one big f&b family!

Anonymous Boxer said...

I have friends say "you're in plastics... great! I need....." and my eyes roll into my head and I think "NOOOOOOOO." I'm a bitch at work and I don't want them to know that!

However, I used to go to my friend who was a checker in food service and she always rang my stuff up as NO SALE. Loved her.

Anonymous Boxer said...

P.S. I hate charging friends for plastic stuff so they do usually end up getting it for free.

And MJ? NO! You can't have anything.

Quickroute said...

what do they say about mixing friends and pleasure / treasure and all that kind o' stuff! - tell them McD's is round the corner!

problemchildbride said...

Tell them that you would only say this to friends, but that the chef's got a gangrenous thumb he refused to bandage as he assured you "ah, they'll just think these are bacon bits"

Then watch them flee. They might even leave a tip for letting them know.

Manuel said...

blondie: Oh that's so true, they expect something for free or at least cheap.......never gonna happen!

mj: They are mostly imaginary so it doesn't really matter.....old knudsen isn't really a person, he's a fictional character from the pen of stephen j cannell.....

savannah: ah but family are a whole different animal.......

boxer: I used to have a friend in almost every takeaway joint in town.....those wee happy/fat days...

quickie: hell yeah....

sam: bwahahahahaha oh too cruel.....

toast said...

good post that - but what about fambly? - i have a family wedding gig this weekend and i am utterly utterly shitting it - i have never done a wedding before, as you read in my last blog post i have trashed 50% of my gear, and its my brother thats getting married. Shitting it.

Also - how do you feel about serving peers, do you let your guard down completleyl and all natural or do you put on a show - again on friday i had to photog a bunch of photographers - fucken hell i felt dumb as shoes standing there asking them to pose for me

sheepworrier said...

Didn't mind giving out the free pints as a barman, but can def feel your pain when I was waiting on friends and family. It was just the opposite of fun.

Manuel said...

toast: other waiters are for the most part huge fucking pains in the arse....but there's more to come later this week.....family, when customers become friends, and other waiters....

sheepo: the opposite of fun.....that's one way of putting it......the opposite of all that is right and holy......

B said...

sam's 100% right, tell them all the flaws and you'll never see them in the place again.

I said the staff toilets have no sink(they do, but everyone fell for it anyway).
Odd how cautious people are about other people not washing their hands after going to the toilet when so many people don't wash... I've hid in bathrooms to do surveys on this kind of thing, as did Chuck Berry.

jen said...

Tricky to judge how to handle that particular group... Like you say, at least with good friends you can tell them to fuck off. That's why they're good friends.

Reckon Sam's on to something there :-)

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