I really do try to avoid being redundant on this blog. I have a growing list of topics that I want to cover and I feel those of you who read this blog deserve better than to have to hear the same old rant out of me. Yet, like Al Pacino said in The Godfather, “Everytime I try to get out they pull me back in.” For the second time in two weeks, Yahoo! decided to sell some advertisements by taking some shots at servers. This time they didn’t decide to tell their readers we are thieves, but rather that we are out to ruin their meals.
I was innocently checking my email yesterday when Yahoo! flashes across the screen “15 Secrets Your Waiter Will Never Tell You.” The article was actually published by Reader’s Digest. This brought to mind two questions. First, is Reader Digest really the primary channel by which servers pass top secret information to their guests? Second, Reader’s Digest is still being published? I received an answer to the second question later in the day, but more on that in the moment.
I generally hate these stories. This is because the stories of one server are conveyed to the reader as the normal behavior of all servers. Generally, they are based upon something that happened one time and are portrayed to the reader as standard operating procedure within restaurants nationwide. Most of the “secrets” disclosed in this article are common sense. The rest are worthy of rage. Here are some examples of the “secrets” that are so top secret I didn’t even know them.
We’re not allowed to tell our customers we don’t like a dish. So if you ask your server how something is and she says, “It’s one of our most popular dishes,” chances are she doesn’t like it.
—Waitress at a well-known pizza chain
If a guest asks me if I like an item, I tell them the truth. If I don’t like it, I tell them why and what I like more. When I say an item is our “most popular” it means that it is the item in a particular category that is most commonly ordered by guests.
We put sugar in our kids’ meals so kids will like them more. Seriously. We even put extra sugar in the dough for the kids’ pizzas.
-Waitress at a well-known pizza chain
Have any of you ever worked for a pizza chain? Of those who have, have any of you ever seen them make pizza dough in house? I have worked in a number of restaurants that served pizza, but none of them ever made their own dough. I spoke with a friend who works at the only “well-known pizza chain” that has waitresses, they don’t make their own dough. Why would a restaurant go through the trouble of making two separate batches of dough? More importantly, why would a waitress be the first person to speak to what goes in the pizza dough? Pizza dough requires sugar to feed the yeast. Even Jamie Oliver uses sugar in his pizza recipe.
If someone orders a frozen drink that’s annoying to make, I’ll say, “Oh, we’re out. Sorry!” when really I just don’t want to make it. But if you order water instead of another drink, suddenly we do have what you originally wanted because I don’t want to lose your drink on the bill.
—Waitress at a casual Mexican restaurant in Manhattan
Sometimes, if you’ve been especially nice to me, I’ll tell the bartender, “Give me a frozen margarita, and don’t put it in.” That totally gyps the company, but it helps me because you’ll give it back to me in tips, and the management won’t know the difference.
—Waitress at a casual Mexican restaurant in Manhattan
Wow, this may be a legendarily bad server. Does she make her own drinks or only the ones she charges for? Maybe next week Reader’s Digest can publish the “15 Things Your Financial Planner Won’t Tell You.” using anonymous quotes from Bernie Madoff and Michael Milken.
When I was at one bakery restaurant, they used to make this really yummy peach cobbler in a big tray. A lot of times, servers don’t have time to eat. So we all kept a fork in our aprons, and as we cruised through the kitchen, we’d stick our fork in the cobbler and take a bite. We’d use the same fork each time.
You are too lazy to get a fresh fork or eat before work? You would eat off of silverware that was in your apron? As a rule, servers don’t do this. Kathy Kniss is a dirty person.
Most of the things on this list were common knowledge to anyone who has ever served or known a server. Don’t order hot tea. Don’t snap your fingers at your server. Most of them were actually thoughtful and polite dining tips. Things that guests should know, but don’t really get people to hit the “share button” and drive traffic.
So how do they come up with stories like this? I can answer that question. One other thing stood out to me about the story: a familiar name. I picked up on the name Charity Ohlund right away. This name might not be familiar to everyone because she is more widely known in the server blogger world as CJ from FrothyGirlz. She also is the most famous former server blogger in my hometown. I sent her an email and asked her for the scoop on how a story like this comes together.
It turns out that the actual interview took place almost two years ago. This is also when the original version of this article came out. Number one on the list of things Reader’s Digest won’t tell their readers is that they shamelessly recycle articles for the sake of being able to grab reader’s attention with salacious headlines. This brings me back to the other surprise I recieved from Reader’s Digest yesterday.
My mailman, who I refer to as “Mr Dyslexia”, delivered the neighbor’s mail to me (again). In it was the month’s Readers Digest. I swear I could not make this up. This month’s cover stories include “NEWS THAT COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE” and “A serial killer stalked or daughter.” I don’t want to commit mail fraud, but if there is news that can save my life then I want to know it. So I went to their website to find the story and it is not available. Apparently, they are a little more concerned with freaking out your great grandparents than providing this information. Something tells me that it is just more of the same sensationalism, but if I die from not receiving one of these tips I am going to be pissed that they decided bashing servers was a more important article to print.
Either way, journalists need to develop some integrity of their own before questioning ours.