For a time I worked in a highly conservative restaurant in the DC area. I didn’t typically advertise my beliefs at work at the time but my political opinions were more unwelcome in this place than most. Did it bother me that the guests and I likely disagreed on matters including but not limited to gay marriage, basic human rights, gun control, etc? Sure, but I knew better than to bite the hand that fed me and speak up.
At first I was happy to keep my perspective to myself. The only thing people wanted to hear out of my mouth were the specials. It was a presentation 15 items long but I had it down to 90 seconds with 3 laugh breaks. I knew I had done my job well when no one needed to look a full menu, ever.
I attempted to compartmentalize the desire to truly converse with the guests. I didn’t want to stop and think of where the (good) money I made was really coming from because I knew deep down it was a dishonorable place. The hardest part was the people I served there. They were largely wonderful. It would have been so much easier to hate them if they weren’t so nice. Nice and rich! What a combo. I managed to provide good service to these people as long as I didn’t think too critically about where their money was made or the leanings they held.
Over time spent and rapport established, it occured to me some of these regulars would actually be interested in having a genuine dialogue. Hope is a beautiful thing and keeping my mouth shut was as poor a skill for me as it was a priority to this restaurant.
I was serving 2 regulars at the bar. Their preferences were routinely unbearable, and before I get to the point please allow me to demonstrate for you just how much brain power was devoted to these men routinely.
They both liked iced tea. One was simple, he liked his unsweetened, but he drank a whole pitcher of it every time they came in. the other liked his sweetened and though he drank far less of it, he wanted no lemon and no spoon cus think of the nasty germs of me touching that spoon to give to him and use. Drink-a-gallon of unsweet guy used to like simple things like pasta, but soon took to ordering what lemonless, no spoon, sweet tea guy ordered. a spinach salad with shaved parmesan (NOT CRUMBLED), chopped basil (NOT JUST WHOLE LEAVES, CHOP THE BASIL FOR HIM), add slice tomato and grilled chicken on a plate (NOT IN A BOWL YOU IDIOTS). Somehow it never came out 100% right.
They always had me recite the specials before ordering one of the same 3 things (not from the specials). Their order takes a couple minutes to ring in, modified to all hell, complete with kitchen spanish notation to explain what exactly TF they want. You can do that all you want people, but don’t be surprised when that order comes out 90% at best.
At the time, gay marriage had yet to be legalized nationally. During the NFL draft season Michael Sam, a top draft pick, had come out and as I recall, it made him the first potential NFL player to be openly gay. They were mansplaining to me how this would affect his draft pick, and without properly considering what side of issue they were on, I couldn’t contain a brazenly honest sentiment.
“I think we can safely agree that whether you’re for or against gay marriage, people who are against it are on the wrong side of history.”
Turns out, we cannot safely agree on that. Man, what a great way to swallow a bug. That comment was so unwelcome I saw lightning strike right through the center of my tip. Their faces recoiled as if they had just shot a firearm. I truly thought we were in a society where we could collectively acknowledge how dated this “marriage is for a man and a woman” concept was . But no, I was apparently the asshole there and it was time for me to shut up, refill the teas, and put it on my list of things to wonder if I should have said later.
Given the chance to see those men again, I would pour some sweet tea down their shirts and ask them how it feels to be on the wrong side of history AND covered in sugary tea. Except now I would just wish them love and light and hope they could one day discover their true love for each other, like I always suspected. Hey and now they can get married! They should have me marry them, because I remember all of their entitled preferences. If one of them gets sick from ingesting too much tea, the other can go visit them in the hospital and have all the same rights as straight couples.