You’ve probably heard that Eskimos have over 9000 words for snow, but none for whatever term that furthers the point of person using this statistic. This is a commonly accepted urban legend. In reality, societies create words to describe whatever the need to communicate. Language evolves to meet the needs of the society that uses it. There is no finite number of words and when one is needed it will be created. When a word ceases to be used it finds its way into extinction.
The restaurant industry is no different. We create words to describe the thoughts we are trying to express. When something occurs often enough that it becomes recognizable to others, we create a phrase or term to save a more wordy explanation. Language after all exists to convey meaning. Servers have created a variety of terms that allow them to describe situations quickly and easily as well. Most of these terms are not known by the general public, but today I thought I would share a few with you all.
Here is a bit of server jargon to put a light-hearted spin on situations we face.
Sticker Shock (aka Swing and a Miss): This is a term to describe a first time guest who sits down, looks at the prices, and immediately leaves. This is common at high end restaurants in tourist heavy areas. Can you reset table 32? They had a bit of sticker shock.
Deuced to Death: Having your tables seated with parties of two all evening. This generally leaves many open chairs in your section and limits your income. I am going to be lucky to break a bill if the hostess keeps deucing me to death.
Fly By: Walking by a table specifically to check out one of the people sitting there. This is often at the urging of a co-worker. You should do a fly by of table 32 and check out that outfit.
Crop Dust (aka Fart and Dart): Passing by a table and passing gas as a passive aggressive way of agitating them. Table 32 has been there for four hours, I am about to call for a crop dusting.
Sharking: When a server seats guests at the door in their section rather than following the rotation. This is a severe infraction of server etiquette. I only have one table because John is sharking everything that comes in.
Round Tripping: This describes a server bringing food to a guest, generally in a different server’s section, only to find that they are not ready for the food. I am round tripping every time I run food to John’s section.
One Time (aka Nickel and Dime): When a server is asked for something by a guest and when they return they are met with another request. This can happen in an endless cycle. Table 32 has been one timing me all night.
Irregulars: A guest who frequents the restaurant and requests a certain server who is not thrilled to see the guest. This is usually out of fear of stalker-ish tendencies. Hey John, your favorite irregular is here.
There are the first eight terms off my list. Another batch is following soon. None of these terms is meant in a mean-spirited sort of way. Serving means that you deal with the guests you receive during the course of an evening. Just as you have probably dined with less than pleasant companions before, not all guests are a joy. Having these terms reminds us that we are not the first server to deal with this situation. It allows us to commiserate without dwelling on the annoyances of the moment.
If you have some terms you like to use, the comment section is open. Stay tuned for the next post where I will define verbal tippers, campers, and cork sniffers.