Say Queso!

25 Jan

I agreed to take a party this past Saturday to help out my manager (I work at a restaurant for those of you who did not know beforehand…I’m still a student cut me some slack). They weren’t meant to come in for two hours, but the job seemed easy enough so I started preparing and gloating to my fellow servers at my impending tip. Now here’s the thing about serving. If you’ve ever been a server, you know there are certain, ummm, stereotypes that more often than not prove to be true. You can imagine my reaction when, as I was setting up the buffet, in walks twenty or so Punjabs.

Just my fucking luck. Anyone who’s worked with me knows I’m a really nice guy. Up until the point someone pisses me off. Then I get irrationally angry. A few weeks ago, I had a party of teenagers dressed as if they just got out of an Egyptian orgy. Mostly girls, which I usually get through to, but I couldn’t read these. Makeup was caked on and the jewelry looked as if they fucked King Tutankhamen himself. I’d never seen anything like this in person or in a Ludacris video. Anyway, they left me three bucks on a seventy dollar check after I was super-phony nice to them and even gave them some free shit. Most people get upset, bitch to another server, and that’s the end of it. No. I wished cancer and lupus upon these teenagers. I told this to my co-workers. How do you react when someone tells you this? Well, they just shut the fuck up and didn’t say anything. I’ve broken glass and done other unspeakable things. All that being said, I’m a great fucking server.

Anyway, I digress. It turns out these people aren’t that bad. They’re actually really nice. Sure, they’re vegetarian and all, but I set up the area in a way that’s really comfortable for them and they’re really appreciative. Sure, I didn’t do anything by the books but I was far away from the main dining area. Consider my area Luxembourg. No one could tell me what to do. Things were going great. They loved me and in my eyes, if you looked real hard you could actually see dollar signs like some Warner Bros. cartoon.

Then it happened. One of the Indian uncles or something call me over and alert me that the tray of cheese enchiladas (that were obviously supposed to be vegetarian) had a meat sauce on it. I see the meat and what do I do? With a straight face, I tell them it’s not meat. Probably some sauce that’s crusted over or something. Don’t worry guys, eat and enjoy! Most of them believe this, while one incredulous guy tells me to make sure with the chef. Fuck.

I tell the manager what happened. Side bar: HOW FUCKING STUPID ARE THE FUCKING COOKS? YOU’RE GONNA SERVE A FUCKING MEAT SAUCE TO INDIANS? REALLY? YOU COME TO THIS COUNTRY AND TAKE OUR JOBS BUT YOU CAN’T EVEN DO IT WELL! Anyway, he apologizes and tosses in free dessert. But they were pretty sure dessert came with the buffet package he ordered. Plus, they already had an ice cream cake for the kid’s birthday they were celebrating. Fuck it, free brownies solve everything!

Of course, they were not pleased with this. I see my tip going down. I start to chuck up desperation three-pointers.

“Look guys, I’m gonna be perfectly frank with you. The communication in this place is terrible. I had no idea what was going on with this party until just a few minutes before you got here. The person who took your buffet order is different from the one’s preparing it and they just stick a college student here to be the face of this mistake. I won’t take it. I just want you guys to have a good time, I know when I go out with my family that’s what we’d want.”

Play to their emotions. Bingo. I was in. But I didn’t stop there.

You might as well have changed my last name to ‘Patel’ for the next three hours. While they refused to leave and were talking, three kids in the family, ages 8, 6, and 3 were running around throwing themselves down stairs, climbing on tables, just putting themselves in harm’s way. I turned a blind eye for the most part mostly because I don’t give a shit. They had been doing this most of the party and were now sitting up on a ledge, as if riding a horse. At this point, I walk over because if these kids fall and crack open their skull, I’d imagine my tip would suffer. I ask them politely to get down, I don’t want them to get hurt.

“Hey, do you wanna get on the rocket ship with us?”

“Wait what, excuse me?”

Apparently the ledge they were on was a rocket ship. I look around, make sure my manager is nowhere around, and I fucking climb aboard that motherfucking rocket ship. We take a tour of the solar system. While some of the older kid’s (see pic) facts are a little skewed concerning the planets, I’m surprised at how much he does know. We make it back to Earth and we get to talking. Sure they talk a lot and are kinda annoying, but they’re actually pretty funny. And they adore me. They can’t be so bad if they like me right? All this cause I rode on that rocket.

They tell me where they’re from, what they’re learning in school, pretty much everything about themselves. They then tell me they love the restaurant, it’s one of their favorites. Barf, OK if you say so kids. They tell me how good the cooks are and how they love the corn dogs. As they say this, one of the Mexican cooks walks in. I tell him this in Spanish from my seat on the rocket ship. He doesn’t know how to react. The kids continue on and say how the cooks must be good, since they go to college for cooking


They proceed to say “Hey, ifourdadletsuscanyoutakeusintothekitchenprettyprettypleeeeeeease?”

I consider my options. Fuck it. I’m all in.

I tell them to get in line that I would indeed take them into the kitchen. I walk them through the entire restaurant and bring them to the entrance of the kitchen. All the other servers are cracking up at this scene, me leading three Indian kids like a mother duck to the kitchen. My manager sees this and asks me what the fuck I was doing. Guess it’s time to head back.

We go back and we talk some more. After awhile, the adults are finished talking and ask me to take a group picture. I accept and as I’m looking through the viewfinder, I let out the cheesiest (pun intended) line I could come up with

“Say queso!”

Ladies and gentlemen, the Academy Award goes to…me.

They loved me again. After babysitting their kids and just being an overall nice guy, I turned a terrible situation into one that was manageable. Older relatives who couldn’t speak English came up to me and shook my hand. They gave me a rousing “Hip Hip Hooray!” (would’ve preferred “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” but I’ll take it) and while I only received a mediocre tip, I do realize it could’ve been much worse. I was more pissed off at the manager/cooks/busboys than them. I came in with one mindset and left with another.

As they were getting ready to leave, I took a picture with one of the kids and I told them that I’d have the rocket ship ready for them for when they came back. They said I was “awesome.” I said goodbye, collected my fifty dollar tip, and started cleaning up and getting ready for the dinner shift.

I suppose you’re thinking there’s a moral to the story. That I won’t judge people when they walk into the restaurant. Fuck that. Indians will almost always give you a shitty tip, be vegetarian, ask for water with no ice, and just be a general pain in the ass. But I suppose if there is a moral, it’s this: sometimes you just gotta let loose and have a little fun. Life can be too short.

P.S. Yes, I am indeed giving ‘the shocker’ in the above photograph



3 Responses to “Say Queso!”

  1. rich January 25, 2011 at 11:43 pm #

    in the immortal words of south park: guys, i learned something today

    and that kid looks hella fresh for an 8 year old

  2. Dr. Funaki January 26, 2011 at 6:09 am #

    The doctor approves.

  3. gib January 26, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    good stuff man.

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