Classic Waitressing: XLI: Father’s Day And Terrible Karma
This Father’s Day, I told a customer my dad was dead. This may be offensive to some, so read on with caution.
The first restaurant I ever worked at told us on Father’s Day to not say “Happy Father’s Day!” to the customers. Our manager: “You don’t know their situation. Their dad could be dead, he could have been an awful person, he could have been absent, etc. These people are coming out for a meal on a special day and many of them will be with someone who looks like he could be a father, but you just don’t know. Give them great service with a smile, the way you usually do, and that’s it.”
I really took this to heart. It’s no one’s business what I do, or do not do, on Father’s Day, and it’s no one’s business if I have a “happy” one.
Cut to last night.
I take the drink order on Table 2. “What’s your name?” the older man asks. He’s with a younger man who could be his son—I don’t know! I didn’t ask!
“And have you had a chance to celebrate Father’s Day, Eloise?” he leans forward in eager anticipation of my response. Already the warning bells are going off in my head.
“No, not yet.” I shrug to indicate this is not a big deal.
“Oh, that’s too bad. Well, me neither. My father’s been dead for a while. Where’s your father? Will you get a chance to celebrate with him later?”
“My father’s dead, too.” In a split second I have decided to teach this well-meaning gentleman a lesson on behalf of everyone who doesn’t have a great relationship with their dad, or whose dad was a terrible person, or whose dad is actually deceased. The words are out of my mouth before I can reconsider. I flush with shame because part of me cannot believe I actually said it and part of me is stubborn and wayyy pissed off at this nosy customer.
His face falls a little. “Oh, that’s awful. I’m so sorry. You’re just so young, I didn’t think…Well, hopefully you have great memories with him.” He smiles encouragingly.
Really dude? It wasn’t bad enough you had to remind me of my dead father, but now you’re trying to get me to recall all the wonderful memories I have with him? What if the memories are not so great? Would you get up and walk out of the restaurant if I told you my father raped and beat me?* Because some fathers do that and it would be really shitty if you were the guy making your waitress have to confront all that while she’s forced to interact with you because that’s how she makes money to support herself. Dick.
“Mmm…sure,” I mumble and run away to put in the drink order.
*My dad is not dead, nor has he ever raped or beat me. I just…can’t deal with people and their tactlessness sometimes.