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I Can't Get No Restaurant Service

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Everyone is born with a certain amount of talent. The catch is you have to figure out how to harness it and make it work in your favour. How many people with the talent and potential to become championship tennis players are working in some office cubicle right now because they never bothered to pick up a tennis racquet? How many people with the ability to out-sing Pavarotti are working at a dry cleaners because they were too shy to sing outside of the shower? How many people with enough genius to find a cure for a terminal illness are librarians who dropped out of grade 12 physics 'cause they liked English Lit. better?

Conversely, as much as everyone is bequeathed with a set amount of innate talents, we're also encumbered with an equal amount of innate shortcomings. For example, over the years, my attempts at singing have garnered enough positive response from people to continue singing publicly, but on the flipside I have no sense of direction and suffer from extreme bouts of impatience. These are merely deficiencies that I can, with a little concentration and determination, compensate fore. However, I do have a flair for a certain flaw that, no matter what I do to try and fix it, never fails to hose me every time -- I can NOT get service at restaurants.

Now please don't misunderstand, this observation isn't based on anything racial. Neither am I showing up to these establishments wearing plastic grocery bags for pants and/or in bad need of deodorant. For some inexplicable reason, I'm constantly seen as wallpaper to wait staff everywhere. How many times have I sat there waiting for menus, to order drinks, to order food while other tables who came after me progress onward with their meals, from appetizers to main courses? I can't count.

It has nothing to do with who's accompanying me to the meal either. I could be by myself, with friends, or on a date and it never fails that I'm mistakenly passed over as either the carpet or the wallpaper. So over the years I've learned a few tricks to grab people's attention. A big "Helllooooo" or a loud cough works often, but that's only because you're deliberately seeking attention. Even wallpaper gets looked at if someone's graffitied "eat shit and die" on it.

I've found eyebrow gesticulation accompanied with a smile or eyeball bulge only works when the dining room is half-full. Otherwise I'm looked at inquisitively, like when someone contemplating an overwatered houseplant.

When it comes to food service, you have to be careful to not cross lines of decorum. As someone who's spent a fair amount of time in the service industry, horror stories of saliva, mucus, rheum, sneezing, coughing being used as condiments can be true if a customer pushes the wrong buttons. I'm not saying I've done it, but I may have seen it done and courteously looked the other way in a gesture of short-order solidarity.

Knowing this, I may have a tendency to be overly polite, some may say to Eddie Haskel-esque degrees. I don't condescend to wait staff, but talk to them like one would their aunt or uncle or school principal -- well-mannered to the point of being barf-worthy.

Thing is, if this being-ignored business only happened occasionally I'd be inclined to blame it on a distracted employee. But I've had this happen enough times to begin counting and I'm up to around two dozen infractions in the last two years. This is beyond happenstance now and forcing me to give myself a cold hard look.

Why am I continually being ignored without the slightest provocation? I don't dress any more or less conspicuous than the next guy. Like I mentioned, I'm overly polite and clean and wait my turn patiently. I hardly ever complain about the choice of table, cutlery, room temperature or make any unneeded demands before service starts. And when service finally begins I'm usually overly grateful. So what gives?

I've come to the conclusion that I give off a first impression that resembles a fruit bowl placed on a table -- present and accounted for, but once acknowledged immediately forgotten. Truth be told, I enjoy the snubs. It keeps the fires burning. Fading into the background has always given me the impetus to step on a stage and demand people look at me. It's just that when it happens in restaurants my stomach gets louder than me.

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