Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Not laughing with you but at you.....

I am the master of the fake laugh. It's a key skill in the waiters armoury - the ability to laugh at the piss poor jokes, witless remarks and the supposedly "hilarious" shenanigans of guests. Don't get me wrong I appreciate that there are tougher gigs in life but it can still get you down. I mean the constant stream of balderdash and blather could have a lesser mortal reaching for the stabbing fork. But needs must and all that and if my fake laugh strokes their ego a bit then fake laugh I will.

The weekend past was filled with my fake laughter, so much so in fact that I couldn't tell what was genuinely funny and what was piteous pish. Bit like the audience at an Adam Sandler show.

a pheasant
not to be confused with a peasant....


"Let me see....." pondered the middle aged man, "....I'll have the roast peasant!" And with that he looked up at me with a huge grin as if he had just cracked the frigging enigma code or something. Making a play on the word pheasant doesn't make you Oscar Bloody Wilde.

"Ha indeed sir, roast peasant, very good. Would you like to choose the peasant yourself? We keep them in a cage out the back. We have all types - council estate, street urchins, there's a fresh batch of working class peasants just in. Eh they've been fattened up a bit with burgers and kebabs too. Or maybe the imported Romanian peasants would be more to your liking? They go particularly well with a bottle of Pinot Noir." Says I in reply without cracking even a hint of a smile or amusement.

He stared back blankly. I swear his top lip was quivering.

"Eh um eh er can I have it with champ?"

"Pheasant and champ it is sir, very good. Maybe try the peasant another day."

I didn't mean to piss on his chips so hard but I wasn't in the mood for jolly japes and poor puns. I would normally fake laugh that sort of line up with gusto and indeed quite probably embellish it with fake tears too. I can do that. But I had just had to go and admonish a table of twenty idiots who should really have known better.

For a gag they thought it would be dead fucking funny to hide items of food as we served them. Everyday it's something new yet depressingly similar. We would return to the kitchen to fetch more food only to return to find that we were still missing something. The old hide it under the table and pretend it's not there gag. I faked laughed the first time they did it but ended up scolding them like the badly behaved children they were when they persisted with it right up until they got their sweets. I wouldn't mind but the youngest was about 40! It wasn't my table but I had to step in as they were running waiter chum number four, one of the new kids, ragged. And being new she wasn't sure quite what to do about it. Right up until that moment she always believed the customer was always right.

Her wagon has indeed been fixed in that department now. Her dreams shattered and her heart hardened. She'll make a fine waiter.

I really do die a little, and not just on the inside, every time I have to feign my guffaws. But there I am every night of the week back slapping and ego stroking my way through another round of pretend complaints, "Oh that was just awful" as they stare up at you grinning gormlessly as you take away their empty plates. Oh good one, the old we really liked it but we said we didn't because that's sort of funny and you probably panicked a bit there when we said it wasn't nice routine. Well heres the news funny man it's not funny at all. It's tiresome. Please knock it the fuck off.

And I've had the pretend complaint routine backfire on me when I assumed a guest with an empty plate was joking when they said they didn't like it. They then complained to the manager that I laughed at their complaint. Don't get me wrong I quite often laugh at some guests complaints but never right in their faces. Let it be a salutary lesson to all you guests who like to cry wolf.

But the "fun" and "frolics" don't end there, no, like an Adam Sandler movie one predictable joke follows after another until you are knee deep in shit and in desperate need of a shower.

How would you like you steak cooked? "On a cooker...."

And how did you find the wine tonight sir? "No problem, it was just sitting there....."

Now can I get anyone a sweet? "No we're sweet enough..." Ironically that one always comes from the most sour faced person at the table.

"I suppose you want a tip? Don't eat yellow snow."

Still there are a few punters who manage to make me laugh, even if it is at my expense.

From Feb of this year...

"I thought you people were meant to be jolly and happy?"

You people?

You mean waiters?

"No, fat people"

Made me laugh.

Remember every time you crack a bad joke at a restaurant a waiter dies a little on the inside. So save a waiter and keep the bad jokes to yourself.

32 People trying to get Manuel's attention:

Medbh said...

Sometime try grabbing them, and screaming with laughter say "oh, but I've never heard that before, sir! Brilliant! You are so singularly hilarious! How did you come up with that!"
If you do it right (and I know you will) they will be left feeling horribly uncomfortable and unable to decide if you're being sarcastic or authentic.

Manuel said...

medbh: there speaks the voice of experience! yes I'd love to give them the full spit soaked roar.....

A.B. said...

I'm so very glad that most of my communication with customers is over the phone or via email. When I'm forced to listen to a stupid joke or story, they can't see me rolling my eyes or flipping off the phone. I only need to insert an occasional "tee hee".

Truly, I don't care if your child burped in Church. Trust me.

eguinan said...

Oh God, my dad does this. He thinks it's adorable. Well, better that than saying "Premier Dairies" out loud when a buxom lady walks past. (He does that too) Sigh.

Manuel said...

a.b: swapsies?

Manuel said...

eguinan: bwahahahaha! Your dad should meet my dad.....we could watch with wonder as they try to out do each other with bad jokes

mark said...

Would you really piss on a person's food?

Manuel said...

mark: dude! it's a figure of speech.....
From Urban Dictionary

Old Knudsen said...

With champ, thats a classic I always wondered what side dishes cannonballs eat.

For years I have imagined yer fake laugh everytime you comment on me............ it hurts, anyway how do you make waiters die on the outside?

MJ said...

Has my dead uncle been dining at your restaurant?

bendersbetterbrother said...

Suck it up, big lad, you need to get in the right frame of mind. Just a few weeks before the Christmas dinners start so practice that fake laugh for all you're worth.
Ching, ching.

Manuel said...

old k: bwahahahaha you're so funny......ha

mj: many dead uncles have been dining with me recently.....

bendersbetterbrother said...

mark said...

"Would you really piss on a person's food?"

to Mark, he didn't say he wouldn't.

Manuel said...

bbb: way hey! shhhhhh if you don't think about xmas it might not happen

Manuel said...

bbb: I was affronted by such a question!!

Red hair, Red face said...

just keep smiling and nodding...worked for me until the big RECESSION hit and now i just listen to my own meandering thoughts than my bosses "witty banter". He was down with the cool kids dont you know!

Manuel said...

red hair red face: cool with the kids bosses are the very worst.....

Karen said...

Ok, I actually spit all over my computer screen at eguinan's comment! Premier Dairies indeed. I'm going to start doing that immediately! And I'm a girl!

Ah old people, what would we do without them?

Manuel said...

karen: woah! don't be encouraging them.....old people grrrr saying that I hope to be old people myself one day

savannah said...

people just want their waiter to like them that's all, sugar! ;)

xoxxoo


(i only speak to my waiter when he/she speaks to me...no jokes, no extraneous conversation)

Manuel said...

savannah: and that's why we loves you.....

belfast plate carrier said...

I have this image that keeps recurring. It's of me, holding a baseball bat over my head while before me lies a tableau not to dissimilar to that bit in The Untouchables when DeNiro staves the goon's head in at the dinner table. Except it's not a goon. It's one of my customers.
The red rage has just subsided and I realise what I have done and that the rest of my life is probably going to be spent in a cosy room at sanity school. And the reason why this came to be?

"No thanks, I'm sweet enough"

Sweet suffering christ.

Old Knudsen said...

old k: bwahahahaha you're so funny......ha

stings like VD it does.

Waiter Extraordinaire said...

Come to think of it I probably should make more than I do right now but I don't cause in general I engage in so little conversation with my tables that if they crack a joke which few do I just sort of give them a deer in a headlight look , fake a smile while clearing the table and say something like Ha Ha and walk away.I just don't add to the conversation by replying.I search for the dessert menu right away.It just keeps my sanity...

Coco said...

We went for a family dinner in the restaurant of a gentleman with a very obvious columbian problem. My sister asked him in her best bogger accent if he had "anny poetaytoes". His reply was an incessant tapping of his fingers on the underside of the order pad. We were all very afraid that he might introduce us to his little friend. He didn't like people at all.

Manuel said...

BPC: I feel your pain and will appear as a witness for you in court.....

old k: being a good catholic boy I wouldn't know about such things...

steve: tremendous tactics.....

coco: jesus that sounds like me....minus the addiction of course.....I need to addiction to be an asshole.....

Conan Drumm said...

Heh, heh heh heh.. haha heh.. heh haha.. heh heh heh.. haha heh.. heh haha.. heh heh heh.. haha heh.. heh haha.. heh heh heh.. haha heh.. heh haha.. heh heh heh.. haha heh.. heh haha.. heh heh heh.. haha heh.. heh haha.. heh heh heh.. haha heh.. heh haha.. heh heh heh.. haha heh.. heh haha.. heh heh heh.. haha heh.. heh haha.. heh heh heh.. haha heh.. heh haha.. heh heh heh.. haha heh.. heh haha.. heh heh heh.. haha heh.. heh haha.. heh heh heh.. haha heh.. heh haha.. heh heh heh.. haha heh.. heh haha.. heh heh heh.. haha heh.. heh haha.. heh heh heh.. haha heh.. heh haha.. heh heh heh.. haha heh.. heh haha.. hee heh heh... h... eh, no honestly that was REALLLLY funny, you're wasted waiting tables..

Manuel said...

conan: I'm not talking to you any more.....I can smell sarcasm even through the internet....

Conan Drumm said...

:(

Manuel said...

conan: I'm over it again...

lolo said...

my favorite was always:

can i get you anything else tonite?

how about a winning lottery ticket?

or you can also go with a million bucks or whatever....

ugh

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