Vegetable Platter and Adventures in Waitressing

A long, long time ago, far, far away, I worked at a family restaurant as a waitress. I had other girls there that were my age and we had so much fun in between killing ourselves serving, cleaning, bussing, and restocking. The cooks really liked to give us a hard time. They called me “Bird” and I could hear the big one scream that name from the kitchen when I did something wrong, which was quite often according to them. I can’t remember how many times the line cooks locked me in the walk-in freezer, making it look like I did it, only to “accidentally” find me and rescue me as if they were some kind of heroes. Or a real favorite was when one would sneak in behind an unsuspecting waitress, close the door, and turn the light out just to hear her scream. Dorks.

THE LAKE
The restaurant was on a little lake where we liked to ice skate after work in the winter. The lake was shallow and would freeze solid. The restaurant owner would plow it for us so that it would be smooth for our hockey games. That made the long and hard work worth it. One summer evening I was in the Green House, which was one of our more popular dining rooms, cleaning up and saw a hot air balloon crash out back behind the lake. I went screeching thought the kitchen yelling, “call 911, call 911 a hot air balloon just crashed!” No one believed me, the nerve. It did sound ridiculous as no one hot air balloons in South Jersey.


FIRE!
During a very busy dinner rush while I was taking this old lady’s order, she caught her menu on fire from the center piece lantern. I definitely noticed and wondered how long it would take her to notice. She never did. I grabbed the burning menu from her hands, blew out the fire and handed it back to her so she could finish ordering. Did you know she ratted me out and said that I grabbed the menu from her. My boss was on my side this time as the big burn hole gave her away. She still stiffed me though.

THE VEGGIE PLATTER
Anyway the Vegetable Platter was a very popular menu choice. There was always at least 10 vegetables to choose from along with staples such as potato salad, coleslaw, and apple sauce. One could choose 4 vegetables which were anchored to a plate by a fluffy mound of homemade mashed potatoes that almost tasted fake they put so much butter and milk. Each of the four veggies were divided with a little triangle of toast to fancy it up some. Last night we had Veggie Night in which I tried to make at least one of every one’s favorite vegetable. FAIL. I made roasted cauliflower and broccoli, yams, corn, Harvard Beets, pinto beans, and a raw vegetable tray with Ranch Dip. I enjoyed the meal immensely but I think my kids went to bed hungry.

Have you ever waited tables? Any good stories?


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25 Comments

  1. avatar EAT!
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 8:12 AM | Permalink

    I bussed tables while in high school. We used to fill the Heinz ketchup with some generic brand to save money. But the still thought they were getting the “expensive” ketchup.

    I loved riding my bike home with $25 in quarters. It was my tip money from the waitresses.

  2. avatar Sabrina
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 9:18 AM | Permalink

    You’re kidding. You saved that old bag from a fire and she stiffed you a tip.

    I hostessed at a cafeteria style place in the mall. There were signs everywhere that said ‘No Tipping Allowed’. I remember one time this man said ‘I have a tip for you. You should put your phone number on your name tag’. Sheesh… I was only 16 and totally flustered. So, I never went back to their table to refill the drinks.

  3. avatar Mari at Once Upon a Plate
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 9:31 AM | Permalink

    Only at home. :)

    Robin Sue, I love this veggie platter idea! I’m going to do it soon, thank you for the inspiration (and the fun stories of your waitressing experiences!) xo~m.

  4. avatar Netts Nook
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 9:42 AM | Permalink

    I remember Easter morning we were super busy, and a diaper bag tripped one waitress and it was a chain reaction needless to say honey,syrup pancakes, and waffles you name it what a mess. Thanks for sharing.

  5. avatar Rachael
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 9:44 AM | Permalink

    I waited tables in college…and HATED it! It was at a little coffee shop, and I found most people to be kind of rude. I hardly ever got a please or a thank you!

    Because of that, my hubby and I are extra attentive and polite to our restaurant servers. It goes a long way to be kind to them, most of the time they are working hard for a living!!!

  6. avatar Lisa
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 10:03 AM | Permalink

    I waitressed all throughout college and then some. Loved it. The funniest thing was when people ate a lot and I asked if I could bring them anything else and they would say a wheel barrow. That always cracked me up. I would picture rolling the customer to the car.

  7. avatar Dawn
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 10:17 AM | Permalink

    are you serious? that old fartknocker woman did that to you? geeez!
    I tried waitressing, and was horrible at it as I could not carry a tray. I carried it in front of me and walked slowly. So, yeah, that didn’t last long as I was the slowest waitress around. Bartending was more my strong point, no carrying of trays!!! lol

  8. avatar Anonymous
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 11:25 AM | Permalink

    Dad & I love veggie platters. There is always homemade pinto beans and we love fried okra. Sometimes there is green beans and I love to fry with oil, garlic and then sprinkled with parmesan cheese, cauliflower. I have at least 4 vegetables and always make corn bread and serve iced tea. Ma

  9. avatar biz319
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 1:54 PM | Permalink

    Too funny about the burning menu!

    I’ve waitressed far too many years than I would have liked. I mostly did it for extra income in high school and did that well through my 20′s. Then my hubby got laid off in 2005 and I had to go back. Of course, I didn’t tell this new place that I hadn’t done it in 10 years!

    I actually really liked it! Not the hours though – I worked my day job from 7:00 to 3:45 M-F, then on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday AND Sunday I worked from 4:30 to 11:00 p.m.! I did this for 8 months, but you know what? It paid our real estate taxes, put food on the table and we were able to pay all our bills.

    One last story – my twin sister and I worked in the same place in high school. The owner’s wife didn’t realize there was two of us and she stopped me one time and said “you are the fastest worker I’ve ever seen! You go in one door and out the other so quick!” Imagine her surprise when she saw us together for the first time!

  10. avatar Sabrina
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 4:01 PM | Permalink

    Oh, I forgot to tell you how much I love the veggie plate. That is my favorite thing to order at Cracker Barrel. I know it is loaded with butter but at least I am eating veggies. At least that is what I tell myself.

    Ma…. fried okra…ewww. My mom made me eat that. I get the shivers just thinking about it.

  11. avatar Robin Sue
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 4:48 PM | Permalink

    Eat!- I remeber always having change and lots of ones.

    Sabrina- Ah yes the old farts hitting on the young ladies, always a favorite of mine. They liked to ask me to marry them but I told them they were to young for me. They LOVED that! Oh I better take the fried okra off the Supper Club menu then!

    Netts- We did have lots of crashes too!

    Rachael- We leave big tips too!

    Dawn- My hubby is the bartender!

    Ma- You make the best!

    Biz 319- Twins! That IS a good one. I bet the lady thought she was going crazy! Man you could have really milked that one!

  12. avatar Karen
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 5:30 PM | Permalink

    I have never been a waitress which is a very good thing for restaurant patrons ;) I remember my Mom telling me that she waitressed back in 1945 after she and Dad were first married. She told a little white lie that she had experience. The routine was to put water glasses on the table upside down until someone sat there. You got it… Mom poured water from the pitcher right onto the bottom of the glass thinking it was upright and water everywhere. LOL

  13. avatar Kathleen
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 5:30 PM | Permalink

    Robin Sue,
    Was it a hot air balloon or not? Please oblige and let us know. Never waitressed until I got married and had children. Feel so blessed to be able to do this for them.

  14. avatar Robin Sue
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 6:18 PM | Permalink

    Karen- my husband’s cousin refilled every one’s coffee mugs but it wasn’t coffee it was beef au jus! For some reason the restaurant thought it was a good idea to keep it hot in a coffee pot!

    Kathleen- Yes it was a huge hot air balloon right there in South Jersey crashing behind the restaurant. They finally believed me when I ran out there to help out. Everyone was ok!

  15. avatar Joie de vivre
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 6:21 PM | Permalink

    I was never so cool as to waitress, but I was a dishwasher at a diner. I had friends who would come in and write messages to me by soaking their hash browns with ketchup and tracing in it with their fingers. It was sooooo soooo nasty.

  16. avatar Sheila
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 6:44 PM | Permalink

    I think God has blessed you with all of these wonderful happenings because you are a gifted story teller. When I waitressed nothing that exciting ever happened except getting a 25 dollar tip on a $90 ticket and that was my first week! I am not certain what that was all about….

    I love veggie platters, like Sabrina, from Cracker Barrel and have never thought of doing one at home. You are so smart!

  17. avatar That Girl
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 7:25 PM | Permalink

    I think waiting tables is something everyone should be forced to do, it really teaches you to be kind and appreciate those around you. I had quite a few patrons who were unbelievably rude, like their parents never taught them about respect.

    But I always had my dear, sweet regulars. Like the man who would come in every night with parkinson’s and I’d cut all his food for him so all he had to do was use the fork. He brought his daughter in to meet me and she told me how I made his days so much brighter.

    Or when Carl Karcher, the owner of Carl’s Jr. came in and left, in addition to a tip, a card that gives me a free burger at his restaurant for the rest of my life.

    And then there was the woman who came in with her children who just looked like she needed a break. I got the kids things to entertain them, and she left me a tip that was 3 times the cost of her meal.

  18. avatar Linda
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 9:59 PM | Permalink

    I was a waitress when I was 15…for 3 months…at a diner. Oh man, it was not the fun job I thought it was going to be. It was hard work. But I do have a better appreciation for those who do this for a living!

  19. avatar Nicole
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 10:25 PM | Permalink

    Ha ha ha. Funny stories. All of us waiters have them! It is fun to wait tables for a while… Until the point when you want to start dumping plated of food on people’s heads.

  20. avatar noble pig
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 11:07 PM | Permalink

    I’ve never waitressed thank goodness becuase I would have flipped out if that woman did that to me. What a turd.

  21. avatar Elyse
    Posted 02/10/2009 at 11:07 PM | Permalink

    I think everyone should have to wait tables at some point in their lives…what a humbling experience! Although I have a slew of comical stories, I have to say that the most obnoxious story happened to one of my co-workers. This old nag of a woman complained about everything the whole night. My poor friend is one of the sweetest people ever, and she was nice as can be to this woman. However, because my friend refused to comp this woman’s drink (yes, the woman said that she deserved a free drink because her first drink didn’t have enough alcohol in it), the woman wrote “see back” in the tip slot on the credit card slip. On the back, she wrote, “Here’s a tip: find a different profession.” How obnoxious, right?

  22. avatar Grace
    Posted 02/11/2009 at 10:33 AM | Permalink

    believe it or not, i’ve always secretly wanted to be a waitress, at least for a bit. i think i’d be really good at it…but i’d probably have some sort of rude awakening. :)

  23. avatar Laura
    Posted 02/11/2009 at 6:19 PM | Permalink

    This was hysterical start to finish.

    I waitressed one summer in between college semesters–and swore afterward I would never have anything to do with the food industry again. :)

  24. avatar tamilyn
    Posted 02/12/2009 at 10:08 AM | Permalink

    I waitressed for 6 weeks. It was awful. Everyone thought it was funny as I had been a cashier for years and was used to talking to people and exchanging pleasantries, but the whole “I have to wait on 9 tables at once and make sure they all get the right stuff?” Put at the register and I’ll get you out the door in under a minute!!

  25. avatar debzy
    Posted 02/12/2009 at 10:41 PM | Permalink

    I loved waitressing! I worked at an ice cream place and we used to put 5 or 6 sundes on a tray to deliver them – I carried my tray proudly to a table, leaned over to put a sundae on the table and crash, plop, uh oh…yep, dumped the whole lot onto this poor guy. He had whipped cream and hot fudge all over him, the table and the woman sitting next to them. I was horrified but they all just laughed and said let’s try that again, shall we? We got them all cleaned up and suffice it to say the next set of sundaes was “on the house” instead of on them!

    Those veggies look divine…too bad your kids didn’t think so :)

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