I’m Sorry. I’m Still Kinda New To This

There are times in life when no response seems adequate.  When through fate and circumstance you have been placed in a situation so absurd that you have no idea how to respond.  At these moment’s I usually turn to my best friend to make sense of the situation.  In true Deadhead form he usually responds with the line, “Sometimes there’s nothing left to do but smile smile smile.”  I am never quite sure what he means by it, but it is generally wiser than anything I can come up with.

When these situations are caused by a guest I am serving, I have a response of my own that I lean on.  I don’t use it often, but there are times where I have nothing better to say.  Occasionally a guest can put you in a situation through their words or actions that leave you no way out.  This usually occurs for me when they are so confidently incorrect that my only option is to escape.  At these moments a little voice in the back of my head always reminds me of the perfect line to use.  It is my “in case of emergency: break glass” line.

“I’m sorry. I’m still kind of new to this.”

The first time I used this phrase was back in 1997 when it was actually accurate.  I was working at an upscale casual restaurant named Paradise Grill in the suburbs of Kansas City.  The restaurant was located near very upscale residential area.  This led to any number of housewives and trophy wives coming in for drinks after a grueling day of shopping, tennis, or spa treatments.  One such group came in on this particular afternoon in their stylish tennis outfits after a match.  They sat in my section and began perusing the wine list.

As I was taking their drink order, one of them ordered a glass of “zinfandel.”  On our wine list we had one white zinfandel and eight (red) zinfandels.  When a guest orders “zinfandel” they generally want a red wine.  I decided as a precaution to make sure this is what she wanted.  I asked her if she wanted a red zinfandel or a white zinfandel.  She responded in a tone that implied complete disgust.  In the most patronizing tone I have ever heard she stated, “excuse me, but zinfandel is neither white or red, it is a rose.”  With every fiber of my being I wanted to explain to this guest that if she ever wanted to speak down to me she was going to need to stand on top of a table because it had become apparent that she lacked the mental stature to do so.  Instead a phrase that I had never used before suddenly crossed my lips:

“I’m sorry. I’m still kind of new to this.”

This line goes years without being used.  Just over a year ago, I had another occasion for it to pop out.  The fish special that evening at my restaurant was mahi-mahi.  As I started describing it to the table, a guest stops me.  He proceeds to explain to the table that mahi is dolphin and it is disgusting that we serve them because they are endangered.  I interjected that it was actually called dolphin fish because it had similar swimming habits to dolphins.  He replied to me that my boss probably just told me that because he didn’t want me to be upset trying to sell it.  I honestly could have crushed him with information about this topic, but didn’t see the point to it.  Instead the response that came to me was the correct response.

“I’m sorry.  I’m still kind of new to this.”

The most recent time this line had to be used was a couple of months ago.  A pair of couples came into the restaurant for the first time.  I work at a classic steakhouse in a classic steak town.  When you order a steak “rare” your steak will still be cool on the inside.  One of the wives at the table ordered her steak “medium rare with just a sliver of pink in it.”  I explained that our medium rare would be red on the inside with just a bit of pink around the edge and that what she was describing would be medium well.  She repeated her order and told me to pass it along to the chef because he would know what she meant.  I went to the computer and ordered her steak medium well.

When I came back to check on the steak after delivering it, she told me it was perfect.  She then said, “I knew the chef would know what I meant.”  I could have explained to her what I did.  I could have mentioned that I had a plaque that said “Best Server” from the local paper.  I could have told her about my blogs or the book that I was just a few weeks from releasing.  I could have explained that I have 16 years of experience ordering steaks at the right temperature to compensate for people who do not know what they are talking about.  It wouldn’t have done any good.  Instead, only one line seemed to fit the situation.

“I’m sorry.  I’m still kind of new to this,”

Submit to Best Restaurant Blogs
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
or copy the link

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 comments on “I’m Sorry. I’m Still Kinda New To This

  1. Nice writing, David. Well-told story, very enjoyable read. For my tastes, you should do more like this . . . you’re very good at it.

    • David Hayden on said:

      I try to throw “story” posts out there every so often. It is tough because I try to do mostly informative posts because that is the orientation of the blog. I have a few more that have been nixed by friends as too hostile. I really try not to post server rants. Lots of people already do that and I have always tried to be a bit different about it. I find when I start writing rants it affects my overall attidtude towards writing and my guests. When I can find a middle ground (not too sappy or too hostile) then I post them. Only about 1/3rd of the posts of this nature that I write ever see the light of day because I don’t like the tone of them upon review. I have a hand lithographed poster with this quote hanging above my computer to keep me in check.

      ” hate a song that makes you think that you are not any good. I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody. No good for nothing. Because you are too old or too young or too fat or too slim too ugly or too this or too that. Songs that run you down or poke fun at you on account of your bad luck or hard traveling. … I am out to fight those songs to my very last breath of air and my last drop of blood.
      I am out to sing songs that will prove to you that this is your world and that if it has hit you pretty hard and knocked you for a dozen loops, no matter what color, what size you are, how you are built, I am out to sing the songs that make you take pride in yourself and in your work.
      And the songs that I sing are made up for the most part by all sorts of folks just about like you. I could hire out to the other side, the big money side, and get several dollars every week just to quit singing my own kind of songs and to sing the kind that knock you down still farther and the ones that poke fun at you even more and the ones that make you think you’ve not any sense at all. But I decided a long time ago that I’d starve to death before I’d sing any such songs as that. The radio waves and your movies and your jukeboxes and your songbooks are already loaded down and running over with such no good songs as that anyhow.” -Woodie Guthrie

Leave a Reply

Web Design and Search Engine Optimization by Hosptiality Formula Kansas City SEO