A writer for UK's Guardian takes on a topic today that's near and dear to my probably-clogged heart: the writing down of orders.
You see it all the time, at restaurants of various levels of sophistication: the Penless Server. No matter how many people are in your party, no matter how complicated your orders, he refuses to write it down. (Or maybe she refuses, but it's usually a guy, because guys are much bigger assholes, and the Penless Server is always, always an asshole.) Off he goes to the kitchen, working your order in his head like your dinner is a game of Memory.
I brought this up at our food bloggers' meeting the other day. A couple folks with restaurant experience pointed out that whatever mistakes servers had made to light this fire inside me were likely the kitchen's fault, not the server's. I doubt that, but here's the thing: I'm not sure a Penless Server has ever even screwed up an order of mine. That's not the point.
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The point is, there's absolutely no upside to not writing it down. It doesn't save time, because the Penless Server inevitably has to ask someone at the table to remind him what was ordered the first time around. It doesn't save paper, because I always end up going home and sketching out elaborate murder plots on Moleskines that would be perfect for taking down orders. And it doesn't -- trust me here, guys -- it doesn't impress anyone. This is not a game show. Neither Pat Sajak nor Alex Trebek is going to step out of his age-stalling hyperbaric chamber to shake your hand and pretend to care about you and award you some amount of cash and prizes for doing literally the only thing your job entails.
And eventually, over time, you're going to get something wrong. Yes, a pen-wielding server can write something down wrong too, but the odds are definitively higher that you'll get something wrong without a pen than you will with one. And that error, the penless one, will be entirely unnecessary and totally unforgivable, and will result in you one day being greeted at the gates of hell with a pen, a notepad and a list of shitty specials to memorize.
Might as well just get it right the first time.
*Yes, I called you "Bub." No, I don't know what that means.