Wednesday, 6 August 2008

I'll ask the questions if you don't mind...

Sometimes I wonder if guests can actually see me let alone hear me. I'm short but I'm not a frigging midget and what I lose in height I make up for in bulk. I announce food at the table and no one takes a blind bit of notice. I ask if they are ready to order and no one answers. It's frustrating. Frustrating but sometimes understandable. I appreciate that you are deep in wonderful conversation and the waiter standing over your table with burning hot plates is nothing more than an inconvenience, a fly to be swatted away. Honestly I do understand it. But what I fail to understand is the person who feels the need to translate/parrot everything I say.

who's a pretty waiter then?
pretty waiter, pretty waiter....

It happens all the time and it's gets on my moobs.

There is always someone who considers themselves to be the leader at any table. It matters not whether it's a table of two or a table of twenty two, someone always has to be the leader. It goes something like this,

"Hi, can I get you something to drink, maybe some wine?" I'll ask in a clear and confident voice. There is no way the table hasn't heard me or misunderstood what I am asking. But our intrepid and no doubt fearless leader will step in and interpret for everyone. Cheers for that a-hole.

"Drinks? Would anybody like a drink? He's asking about drinks. Drinks eh?" as if I was speaking Swahili.

But as frustrating as that is there's worse to come. Instead of telling me what they want they tell the great leader! It's as if they aren't allowed to talk directly to me or I am fucking invisible. Believe me if I had the power of invisibility I wouldn't be wasting it working in a restaurant. I'd be, well I don't know what I'd be doing but waiting tables would seem like a waste.

"John, I'll have a Martini."

Eh don't tell John, tell me. I'm right fucking here. Hello!! Fat lad with order pad. And then they ask yer man questions to ask me. That just baffles me!

"Do they have Campari John? I'd love a Campari"

"I'll ask."

Get the fuck I'm STANDING RIGHT HERE! I can hear you talking. Bet they'd see me if I got my "waiter's friend" out and started waving it about like a mad man. That's right I mean penis!

"Waiter, do you have...."

"Campari? No we don't do it."

Jane waits for John to decipher the answer.

"Jane, he says they don't do it?"

Mother of the sweet perpetual light is there no end to this Tom Foolery? She must have heard me say it, she's like what, a foot away from me? She speaks English, I speak English. What gives people?

But the very best is still to come. With our translator having managed to do my job he turns to recite the whole thing to me. But the look of puzzlement on his little face is tremendous when I cut him off.

"Yeah it's okay I got it."

"You got it?" He asks puzzled by my ability to hear what people are saying who are sitting only a few feet away.

"Yes sir, I got it."

"You must have been listening. We'll have to watch you!"

Bite me.

And on it continues throughout the meal. It's very fucking tiring. I decided to bring this up today as I was inspired by a three top I had for dinner on Monday. It was a nice Japanese couple with a local chap. The Japanese couple seemed to have perfect English but this didn't stop the local guy from translating. I say translating but it was a whole lot more offensive than that.

"Hi can I get you guys a drink?" I asked all chipper and happy with life.

In steps our "translator" all slow and precise...

"Would you like a drinka?"

Drinka? I thought I was hearing things a first. But he persisted.

"Cokea? Winea? Beera?"

What the Gordon Ramsay was this? I know nothing about the Japanese language but I'm pretty sure you don't just stick an "a" on the end of English words to make it Japanese. This, as we all know, is how to speak Italian. He did it through the whole of the meal. They had steaka with champa, vegetablesa, and some oniona ringa. I was close to smacking the guy.

Jesusa wepta.

Please stop it. And if you cant understand what I'm saying get the person beside your computer to read it for you.

35 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

Magnets said...

I'm wondering if you'd find me guilty of this...

Some friends and I (anywhere from 6 to 12, depending on the week) have a standing booking at a local restaurant. We're pretty loud, and regularly quite tipsy, but it's appropriate for the venue.

Anyhow, when the waiter arrives with the meals and announces what they have, half the time they repeat a few times before someone finally wakes up and remembers what they ordered, and now that you've mentioned it, I realised I parrot the waiter so they don't have to keep asking. I don't attempt to translate like in your blog (he wants to know if we want drinks - nobody ever seems to have any trouble hearing that question!)

Is this a bad thing?

Manuel said...

magnets: NO! No that's perfectly fine. We don't want it to turn into a shouting match were the waiter is "auctioning" the food. If someone from the group can get a better response then that's cool with me....carry on old chum.....

savannah said...

OH.MY.GAWD.

i had to read this outloud to the MITM!!

Jesusa wepta.

perfection!

Manuel said...

savannah: at first I thought I was hearing things....but he kept doing it.....it was so weird...and so so wrong...

american.eejit said...

Maybe he suffers from O.C.Da.! That or he thinks his choice of dinner companions are stupid and he'll need to translate in their native tongue!

Manuel said...

america eejit: or a very bastardized version of it....

american.eejit said...

Oops, I meant the first scenario, not the one with the Asian couple lol!

Manuel said...

american eejit: hey it works in both scenarios....

bendersbetterbrother said...

You should have hit him with "Ah, I see you translate English. Very helpful. Thanks."

Manuel said...

bbb: I should have called him a wanka....

Anonymous said...

In Japanese, it's dorinku (drinku), ko-ku (coke), wain (wine, pretty much pronounced the same way), biiru (beer). He was probably thinking of "ku" but ended up adding "a" at the end of everything instead.

Not that it was necessary for him to "translate."

Silverstar said...

I've never seen this happen in the US or Canada. I must be going to the wrong sort of places. Of course, since I can barely afford Micky D's once a month these days, that may explain it.

bethanythemartian said...

Heh, we get that kind of thing for call in orders all the time. "What's your phone number?"

"Hey, John, what's the phone number?"

"Can I take your order."

"Yeah- Hey, John, what are we getting?"

"Could you hand the phone to the person who knows what you're getting?"

*sigh*

Native Minnow said...

I know nothing about the Japanese language but I'm pretty sure you don't just stick an "a" on the end of English words to make it Japanese. This, as we all know, is how to speak Italian.

The Italian part caught me off guard, and got a good laugh out of me. That's not so easy to do when I'm sitting by myself you know. Well done, Manuel. Well done.

Joanne said...

Hilarious! I love this blog.

carine said...

oh manuel you're a marvel.

the guy speakinga italiana to the japanese couple forgot that when communicating to foreigners you have to also SHOUTA VERYA SLOWLYA.

x

fatmammycat said...

dear lord...a. How on earth do you keep your cool?

Margaret said...

Oh sweet jesus, these people used to drive me to twitching.

M said...

I think that's me. I reckon it's former waiter syndrome - when I go out with my parents I tend to try and minimise the communication between them and the waiter, just to save the poor waiter wanting to bludgeon them over the head with a blunt instrument.

Manuel said...

bad blogger ate all my witty comments the fucker!

Manuel said...

oh now it works!

Manuel said...

cant be bothered now.......I'm going for lunch, back later......

Melissa said...

Nexta tima ya needa to smacka tha hella outa thema.

Manuel said...

melissa: very well put.......bwahahahaha

Sparkalina said...

In south Florida we speak Spanish by adding an 'O' to the end of words. ;-)

MJ said...

If you say "Eh?" after every sentence, you'll be understood by Canadians, eh?

Crispy said...

Jesusa wepta...this was even funnier than yesterday's. My mate is learning italian(o)at the minute and can't say anything without waving his right hand in the air....cappice!?

Sherry QuiteContrary said...

What Jesus was really thinking....

http://images2.wikia.nocookie.net/uncyclopedia/images/thumb/5/57/Jesus_wept.jpg/180px-Jesus_wept.jpg

Amy said...

This was hilarious!

That would drive me nuts and I'd end up getting fired. Do you ever just want to hand them your pad and tell them to write it down while they're at it?

Love your blog!

daisy mae said...

ooooh, i'm not the translator, but i am the one who tells the rest of the table to shut the fuck up when the server comes to take the order! i also end up translating the menu to dining companions on a regular basis - because i've always HATED it when people call me over to take their order, and ask questions about every. single. item. on. the. menu. it always happens on friday nites around 8, when i've got 5 bottles of wine to decant and serve, a chef on my ass for some mistake HE made, and a bartender that's nowhere to be found. and you know what the fockers who ask all the questions do? i explain the entire menu to them, the shrug, say 'hmmmm'.

and THEN say 'yep. i'm going to have what i always have.....'

i haven't waited tables in years, but damn manuel, you bring out the rage!

jen said...

That would drive me bonkers.

john said...

great stuff man - well done...

Medbh said...

Maybe at some level there's that old fashioned, conservative gender role thing where men spoke for women at the table. No one was ever stupid enough to do that with me, but I know it was a standard for years.

thewineguy said...

I once served a major Hollywood star, whose name rhymes with Balle Herry, who refused to speak directly to me.

She would ask her questions and place her orders through her minder who sat directly beside her even though I could clearly hear every word she spoke.

You could tell it just drove the guy crazy but "hey, a guy's gotta make a living".

Good tip though, the minder payed the bill.

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