"Disheveled wait staff" is a cliché on Yelp! - people love to pluck away stars and blame the stained shirts, dirty fingernails, bad haircuts or collection of piercings glittering from a server's face. But the worst, least appealing bits of the wait staff may be lurking in the dark crevices just below their waists.
Read on for a look at the five staples of a server's apron.
Petrified lemon seeds or shards of ancient coleslaw The final research isn't in yet, but it's a fair bet that even the finest restaurants don't employ strictly acrobats. Plates get tipped, especially when they're being cleared from the table. Lemon seeds are trickier than you'd expect -- especially if you're slicing 12 lemon wedges for large party who ordered all water and no appetizers. Lint-sticky seeds rest in the corners of most aprons. Assuming your server wasn't raised by wolves, a washing machine should pick them out sooner or later.
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Sweaty pennies and dimes from that clever patron When I started serving, I liked the customers who left handfuls of pennies because I didn't have to use my own cash to make change. But now that my optimistic attitude has withered away, I cringe every time I pick up a book and a garlicky-smelling penny rolls out. A penny gained is a shitty guest.
Cracked clicky pens that will disappear before the end of the weekend. You are, by far, not the first person to write "Thanks for the pen! ;)" on your credit card receipt. It wasn't even cute the first time. You just spent $28.97 on two glasses of iced tea and a split appetizer. Break another five dollar bill and buy your own pack of Bics.
That black server's book with pictures of babies taped to the front. And it may not even be your server's baby. My mom used to sympathize with servers who taped pictures of their babies to their server's books because she knew what it was like to try to support children with a low income. Knowing this, I used to work with a guy who would Google pictures of babies, print them off and glue them to his book, then tell his tables about trying to afford daycare for triplets. Creepy? Extraordinarily so. Child solicitation? You bet. But he had the parents at his table guilt-ridden and swooning.
Wine key All the restaurants I've worked at have required me to carry a wine key. Any server who is worth a damn probably carries one. I do not because I am better at eating, drinking and complaining than I ever will be at serving. So I still have to ask which comes chilled -- the red wine, or the white wine? And I've been known to ask guests what brand of vodka they want in their margaritas. I sure hope this journalism thing works out.